Unassuming big-wave rider from Torquay, Victoria, Australia, described by surf journalist Steve Hawk as the "Forrest Gump of giant waves"; world-ranked #11 in 1992, and runner-up in the 1999 and 2002 editions of the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau contest at Waimea Bay.
Ray was born (1965) in Torquay, moved with his family to Coolangatta, Queensland, in 1970, and began surfing at age seven. In 1983—five years after moving back to Torquay—Ray placed third in the juniors division of the Australian National Titles; the following year he was runner-up in the men's division to future world tour powerhouse Gary Elkerton.
The slender-framed Ray was a function-first surfer, with little concern for the nicities of style, and a great natural instinct for the tube. He won his only world tour event in 1992, beating future world champion Kelly Slater at the Lacanau Pro in France. After retiring from the tour after the 1995 season, Ray began to concentrate on big-waves, and quickly developed a fearless, almost laconic approach to both paddle-in and tow-in riding.
On January 28, 1998, Ray and tow-in surfing partner Ross Clarke-Jones rode 30-foot-plus waves at Outside Log Cabins, on the North Shore of Oahu, during what soon came to be known as the "Biggest Wednesday" swell; later that year he placed second in the Reef Big-Wave World Championships at Todos Santos, Mexico. In 1999, he finished ninth in the Quiksilver Men Who Ride Mountains contest at Maverick's and second in the Quiksilver-Aikau event; in 2000 he placed third in the Quiksilver-Maverick's contest. Ray was announced as the winner of the 2002 Aikau event just after the contest ended, but a tabulating error was discovered a few hours later, and he ended up finishing second to Kelly Slater.
The soft-spoken Ray kept a friendly distance from the surf media, and appeared in just a few surf videos, including Mental Surfing (1993), Players (1995), Twenty Feet Under (1998), and Biggest Wednesday (1998).
Model and swimwear designer Saraha Ray is Tony Ray's daughter.