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With the world surf tour in town, it’s a good time to pay homage to surfing culture. A big part of that culture is surf films and magazines. Before the internet existed, the films and magazines made the culture. Young groups of surfers across the world would huddle together in front of old-school TVs to watch flickering, grainy VHS videotapes of surfing with music that became part of the soundtrack to their lives. These movies spread surfing subculture – along with its attitude and fashion – through the world in endless waves. Jack McCoy, now 72, was a filmmaking trailblazer who spread the surfing gospel to the masses. Born in Hawaii, Jack has made 27 surfing films in exotic locations, including Storm Riders (1982), Bunyip Dreaming (1990), Blue Horizon (2004) and A Deeper Shade of Blue (2011). He’ll host an event at Civic Theatre on Thursday night, titled Jack McCoy’s Surf Talk & Jam. Jack will be joined on stage by surfing legend Mark Occhilupo, along with Dion Agius – a modern-day surfing renaissance man. Dion’s new surf film, Dark Hollow, will be previewed at the event. Jack has documented the art of surfing for more than 40 years, capturing on film some of the greatest surfers in history such as Gerry Lopez, Tom Carroll, Andy Irons, Kelly Slater and Mark Richards. Jack no longer makes films, but shares the “stoke of surfing” through his live events. “My heroes were the original surf filmmakers,” he said, adding that he was part of the “third wave” of surf movies. “You shot the films, made them yourself, took them on the road and interacted with your audience. That was before YouTube, so I was the most welcome guy in town when I rocked up with a surf movie,” he said. The show begins at Civic Theatre at 7pm on Thursday. Sticking with surfing, we just watched the 2008 surf documentary Bustin’ Down the Door. It’s a compelling story of the early days of professional surfing and the Australian and South African trailblazers who took Hawaii by storm – including Newcastle’s four-time world champion Mark Richards. The film showed how Richards was among a handful of pro-surfing pioneers who displayed style, aggression and courage previously unseen on the famed North Shore of Hawaii. Australian surfers Wayne “Rabbit” Bartholomew and Ian Cairns upset the Hawaiian culture with their boasting and brashness, sparking a serious territorial conflict that involved violence and death threats. Richards, though, wasn’t targeted because he had earned respect from the Hawaiians. “The Hawaiians were initially very welcoming, but they felt like they’d been disrespected,” Richards said. Jack McCoy, who was in Hawaii at the time, said Richards “let his surfing do the talking”. Richards recalled making friends with legendary Hawaiian surfer Eddie Aikau. “He was a lifeguard at Waimea Bay. I’d go down, take a Vegemite sandwich and have lunch with him. He’d tell me stories of epic days at Waimea Bay and all the tourists he’d rescued from the shore break. It was like an education in Hawaiian culture. “I was fortunate that I understood the culture, quite possibly a little bit more than some of the other guys. Also my upbringing and living in Newcastle – no one likes a bragger. I won events but basically didn’t brag about it.”

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