Stubbies Surf Classic
Sun-baked world pro tour contest held from 1977 to 1986 at Burleigh Heads, Queensland, Australia, usually in March; created by former Australian national champion Peter Drouyn, who used the event to introduce the now-standard man-on-man competition format.
The Brisbane-based Edward Fletcher clothing company, makers of a bargain-priced line of surf trunks called Stubbies, put up $14,400 to sponsor the inaugural Stubbies Surf Classic in 1977, making it the second-richest event on the tour schedule, behind the $16,000 Coca-Cola Surfabout in Sydney. Fletcher also hired the eccentric but charismatic Drouyn, winner of the 1970 Australian National Titles, as event director. It was Drouyn's decision to stage the contest in the beautiful point surf at Burleigh; he also developed a tennis-tournament-style man-on-man format to replace the five- or six-man heats then favored by the world tour.
Because the tour had been somewhat hastily conceived just a few months earlier, resulting in a slap-dash 1976 season, many of the 44 men-only invitees viewed the 1977 Stubbies as the world tour's official debut. Given the new competition format, the higher-than-average prize money, and Burleigh's reputation for good waves, the Stubbies was one of the most anticipated surf events of the decade. None of the contest organizers or competitors, however, could have predicted the long run of clear skies, light offshore winds, and long, tubing six-foot surf that rolled in day after day during the weeklong event. "Drouyn obviously has a direct line to The Creator," Australian surf journalist Phil Jarratt wrote, reporting from the spectator-packed Burleigh beachfront. "There's an air of excitement building around this contest like no other."
Virtually every match from the quarterfinals on was a high-performance cliff-hanger, filled with long tuberides and gouging turns, and in the end the $5,000 winner's check went to local surfer Michael Peterson, in what would turn out to be the last win of a storied career. None of the Stubbies Classic events in years to come matched the 1977 contest, but it remained the season opener in 1978, 1979, and 1981, and as such carried a built-in excitement.
In 1987, one year after the final Stubbies Classic was held, a Stubbies Masters event was staged for pro surfers 27 and over, the first "old-timers" event of its kind. Stubbies also sponsored a series of regional trials events in California, Florida, and Hawaii in the early '80s, with the winners qualifying for the Stubbies Classic. Tom Curren's first win as a professional came in the 1982 California Stubbies Trials.
From 1984 to 1988, the Stubbies Pro was held in Oceanside, California. A Stubbies Classic women's division was held in 1978, 1985, and 1986; due to a world tour scheduling change, two Stubbies Classic events were held in 1986. Combined men's and women's Stubbies prize money in the second 1986 event was $85,000. Stubbies Surf Classic results are as follows:
1977: Michael Peterson
1978: Wayne Bartholomew, Margo Oberg
1979: Mark Richards
1980: Peter Harris
1981: Mark Richards
1982: Cheyne Horan
1983: Martin Potter
1984: Tom Carroll
1985: Tom Curren, Liz Benavidez
1986: Tom Curren, Wendy Botha
1986: Damien Hardman, Wendy Botha