Paull, Keith


Square-jawed regularfoot surfer from Queensland, Australia; winner of the 1968 Australian National Titles, and described by 1978 world champion Wayne Bartholomew as having "the most beautiful style in surfing."

Paull was born (1946) and raised on Queensland's Gold Coast, and began riding waves at age 14. The master of what was called the "power-crouch" style, Paull defeated world champions Midget Farrelly and Nat Young to win the 1968 Australian National Titles, prompting Surfing magazine to introduce the well-built vegetarian as "the most powerful all-around performer in Australian waters today." He also finished runner-up in the 1968 Bells Beach event, won the small-wave portion of the 1969 Peru International, and finished third in the 1970 Australian National Titles. A respected surfboard shaper, Paull opened Keith Paull Surfboards and Harmony Surfboards in the Gold Coast, around 1970.

LSD amplifed Paull's long-undiagnosed schizophrenia, which began taking over his life in the early '70s. Some of Paull's breakdowns were perversely funny. At a 1974 surf contest function, he drove his panel van up the stairs and halfway through the front door of a hotel pub in Queensland, then stepped out of the car wearing silver knee-high boots and blue Superman briefs, with concentric blue circles painted on his shaved head. He quit surfing and shaping altogether in 1976, as his mental problems grew worse, and died in 2004, at age 57, alone in a Brisbane hotel room.

Paul appeared in a small number of surf movies, including A Life in the Sun (1966), The Way We Like It (1968), Evolution (1969), and Waves of Change (1970).