In 1977, in front of 20 000 people, MP beat future 4 times world champion Mark Richards to win the first event of the surfing world tour. It was his last competition and he was only seen occasionally until 1983 when he was arrested in a 15-car police chase from Coolangatta to Brisbane. He never surfed again and, after years in Boggo Road goal, he was finally diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.
The 1970's were experimental times and against the backdrop of a social revolution surfers discovered the classic point waves and relaxed lifestyle of North Coast.
...Boards were getting shorter and surfers were
learning how to ride deep inside the barrel...
One world-class wave that was perfectly suited to the new style of hotdog surfing was Kirra on the NSW and Queensland border.
Michael Peterson and his brother Tommy, through a series of family misadventures found themselves living directly in front of Kirra and, like many kids from broken families, the beach became their adventure playground and minder.
Obsessed by the ocean Michael and his brother quickly hooked up with other kids in the area and began scheming to get their hands on surfboards. The garage under the house became a shaping bay and the boys would gather up old surfboards, cut them down before re-glassing and reshaping them. The other boys they hooked up with were Wayne 'Rabbit' Bartholomew, who became 1977 World Surfing Champion, Peter Townend, who became 1976 world surfing champion and Mark Richards who became world surfing champion between 1979-1983.
It was Michael however who was the best out of
all of them. His superhuman strength, extreme
cunning and competitive drive became legendary
and he would often have the others
out-psyched before they hit the water.
In 1972 Michael won the Australian titles at 18. He then went on, among others, to the win the first pro event at Bells Beach in 1973 and again in 74 and 75. He won the first Coke Classic, the richest surf event in Australia in 1974 and then in 1977 he won the Stubbies, the first man-on-man surfing event and the first event of the modern world surfing tour.