Mayes, Jack "Bluey"


Loud, strutting Australian regularfooter from Sydney's Bondi Beach; generally regarded as the country's best surfer from the early 1940s to the mid-'50s. Mayes was born (1922) in Sydney, raised in Bondi, and began surfing at age six, after stripping the cloth from his mother's ironing board. He earned notice in his early 20s, riding a 15' hollow board he nicknamed the "Golden Hawk." A turning point in Mayes's surfing life came in '56, when a group of Southern California surfers-lifeguards visited Australia and brought along their balsa-core "Malibu" boards, which were infinitely more maneuverable than the hollow plywood boards used by the locals.

The red-headed, barrel-chested Mayes adapted faster than anyone to the new Malibu-design boards and developed a flamboyant style that included deep-knee bends and scything arm movements, as well as a stance that switched frequently from regularfoot to goofyfoot. On land, Mayes was by turns belligerent and affable. "He knew everyone on the coast," friend and surf-travel partner Peter Bowes told Tracks magazine in '97. "We would stop in some little town, everything would be closed, and Jack would go into the pub and in a couple hours come out half-drunk with the keys to the local surf club."

Mayes wrote a semi-regular surfing column for the weekly Sunday Telegraph in the early- and mid- '60s, and placed runner-up in the senior men's division of the 1968 Australian Titles. He was featured briefly in Surf Down Under, a 1958 surf movie, and in a 1985 TV documentary titled the History of Australian Surfing. Brad Mayes, Jack Mayes's son, was one of Sydney's best surfers in the early- and mid-'70s and a semifinalist in both the '74 and '75 Coca-Cola Surfabout contests. Brad Mayes died of a heart attack at age 37. Jack Mayes died in 1997, at age 75.