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Forty-six years later the 1977 Stubbies is still recognised as one of the greatest surf contests of all time. Peter Drouyn’s vision for man-on-man competition was realised at Burleigh. “We want some physical and mental contact where surfers can vibrate off one another,” the flamboyant Drouyn had pronounced in the lead up to the event. He got what he wished for as the waves pumped and crowds swarmed over the Burleigh headland. The sun-bronzed masses payed a buck each to enter a contest area cordoned off by a hessian fence.
With the pro tour entering its second official year, there were invitees from around the world for the inaugural Stubbies. Instead of singlets competitors had to wear the bright, ‘Stubbies’ shorts which tended to crawl uncomfortably up your legs. However, with $5000 in prize money available for first place competitors would have happily surfed in anything.
When Michael Peterson lined up for the final he still had that air of omnipotence that made him seem almost unbeatable. The other finalist, Mark Richards, was a quietly determined 20-year-old from Newcastle, but as he stood in the shadow of MP, before the roaring Gold Coast crowd it was hard to suppress the nerves. Making his way through a throng of locals on the hill at Burleigh, Richards vividly recalls what was said to him. “Just as I was about to paddle out for the final Paul Hallas from Hot Stuff surfboards bailed me up and said, ‘He’s going to fucken’ kill you’!”
History shows MP got the nod in an incredibly close final – MP’s power chops, deep tubes and rapid direction changes just eclipsing MR’s silky, swoop-to-snap wmpion.