Aired on 2022, Apr 13th  in Legends and much more! / Podcast / Surfers

Interview with Ian Cairns


welcome to the seventh episode of our legend series! Today with us from California, Australian, 1973, world surfing champion Ian Cairns. We discussed with him about being a world champion, his legacy, future of surfing and his amazing career!

Please forgive us for any missing parts in the transcribed version.

You can find the episode on all major podcast platforms or just read the transcribed version here, on our website……Mahalo!

TTOS:  Aloha Mr. Cairns, welcome to our show, I'm so happy you are with us today! I have so many questions for you, but the first question is, in your opinion, what is the most important thing in surfing?

It actually made me think back to 1968, the shortboard revolution, I went from a nine foot six surfboard to an eight foot V bottom and then, in 1976, it's just eight years that we went from long boards to short boards and we had a world tour and I went, “oh, wow, that's a very short period of time”seemed like a long time at the time, but it's was a very, very short period. Since that time, the number of sports sort of spun off from that original surfing is quite big…  whether it's body boarding, wake boarding, kite, foiling or standard paddle….. all of these things are derivatives of surfing.

What's the most important thing in surfing for me is the revelation that there is so much more to surfing more than this very, very narrow channel that I had been in.

Therefore I just become more accepting celebratory of all of these other people doing amazing surfing and it really opened my eyes and changed my life, you know, because they're all riding waves and it's all good, I want to understand surfing general…..

Surfing is in every piece of water, the last few years have been really eye-opening for me and now, because I'm more open to this stuff, I deliberately reach out to people because I just wanna understand the story of what's going on. There are surfers going in surf contests and paddling and doing all of this sort of stuff.

I find that so interesting that in every piece of water in the world, there are people riding, some sort of a board thinking that they're surfing. When you start to recognize how good these people are and how exciting their story is, it really adds value to your life, it makes me happy when I see people ride waves. It's beautiful.

It's a beautiful thing to see like how in unexpected places, you know people are finding ability to just riding away or whatever it looks like away, you know? Of course, technology, surf pools help…, but we can still travel the world looking for new waves….

TTOS:  I'm actually very interested in your first board. Do you still remember it? Do you still have that?

Well, I don't have it…. I lived in Avalon near Sydney and my parents were  very resistant to me being a surfer because surfers had such a bad reputation in Australia. In 1965/1966 my father had a job in Western Australia, I was still in Sydney and my brother and sister and my aunt chipped in to buy me a surfboard for Christmas of 1965.

It was a nine foot seven Dale Velzy, very heavy wooden nose block, a wooden tail block, just a big old board and then, in January of 1966, we got in our car and drove across country from Sydney to Perth, which in those days, the main highway through south Australia into Western Australia was 1,200 miles of dirt road, it was potholes dust, the whole thing. My surfboard was on the roof of the Falcon driving across the country in 1966, we pulled up, my dad had rented a house in Perth at a town called CSLO, we were five houses from the beach of a surf spot called “isolated”. I transferred my life from Sydney to Western Australia and started to surf like every morning, every evening, the whole thing, and started to get good.

Because I got good and because I got adopted as a west Australian, my entire surfing career sort of emanated from Western Australia…..

TTOS:  It's amazing, you're referring to 1966 and then 1973, you won the world championship! It's like seven years…….

It was very intense, in 1967 I won a state championship at my local break…. I was surfing eight to ten hours a day, surfing eat surf, eat, sleep.

Nothing was going on in my life, so I put in surfing a lot of time….. I competed in, you know, in 1968 it was my first time to an Australian championship, it was at in Sydney…. I flew across back to Sydney as a member of the west Australian team. I watched, of course in the junior division, Wayne Lynch was in the junior division he was by far, the best surfer in the world at that young age. That year, Keith Paul won that Australia’s title….in the finals there were Keith Paul, Nat Young, Midget Farrelly , Frank Ladder, Robert Cannelly and Ted Spencer.  

I watched those guys, you know, surfing and those names, if you wanna look those guys up, they are some of the greatest surfers in the world. That's the inspiration that that was back is the late sixties. I was on the junior Australian team at Bells Beach and competing, you know, with all of those guys just watching… Corky Carroll, Margo Oberg,  the Hawaiian team.

In 1972, I was on the Australian team that came from Australia to San Diego, at ocean beach, Jimmy Blairs won that contest, a small beach break waves and I didn't do very well at all, but if you look at the roster of that team, which is me, Simon Anderson and Terry Fitzgerald Rabbit Bartholomew, Mark Richards…. I think you get that….the “who's who” of surfing for the next 10 years.

Every saturday we go down to San Diego to meet with my son,  he's working down there, we would meet up at ocean beach. The very first time, I'm at ocean beach, I'm just going “oh, 50 years ago, I was here”. Could you imagine that it's and the place is still kind of crappy? It's a California beach town that could do do with some work, you know what I'm saying?

Do you want to know more about the career of Ian Cairns? His meeting with Midget Farrelly and his legacy ?

Do you want to know more about NFT and Metaverse for the world of surfing? Click the Spotify link below and don’t forget to rate us! Mahalo!

TTOS:  we are going to finish our interview with a short question and answer session, please answer the first thing that comes up to your mind…

The best surfboard that you ever rode….

I shaped that board, I won the Smirnoff Pro on a seven foot, six, red board, it was published on double page spread in Sports illustrated

TTOS:  Favorite shaper of all time….

Midget Farrelly was a great shaper….. I've surfed Rusty’s…. I also shaped about a thousand boards. I won a world title on my board . the guy that i really love is Tom Parrish, he gave me a lot of boards when I was in Hawaii.... great shaper, awesome guy!

TTOS:  personal question, what is your favorite song?

Layla of Eric Clapton, I grew up in the fifties and sixties, you know, "rock and roll man!".

TTOS:  Favorite surf spot…..

North point Guruma.

TTOS:  Favorite surfer of all time

I think I have to say Midget Farrelly.

TTOS:  Last question is a little bit unusual, I would like to know a great relationship advice…

Marry a surfer!

My wife is Alyssa Schwartzstein. she won the ISA, she was fourth in the world in the pros. She wakes up in the morning and looks at surfline and we're never happier…. if we have relationship problems, we go surfing suddenly we can figure it out.

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