1952 - 2012
Photo: Peter Crawford
The legendary Michael Peterson sadly passed away this morning after suffering a heart attack in his Coolangatta home.
He will be remembered and immortalised as one of the greatest ever wave riders and an icon of the Australian surfing identity.
"He was our Miki Dora, James Dean and Marlon Brando all rolled into one, only he surfed like a man on a mission and rode our waves in the 'Gatta like it mattered."
Peter Townend – 1976 World Champion, grommethood rival and lifelong friend of MP
Surfing World senior writer and Michael Peterson's biographer Sean Doherty pays tribute:
Having been in poor health for a number of years I suppose there was a sense of inevitability about his passing. But in saying that, Michael – and the whole Peterson family for that matter – had been through so much over the years, and displayed such resilience and strength in the face of Michael’s mental illness and all the episodes that played out as a result, that you felt Michael could live on forever. And in a way, I suppose, he will.
My thoughts today are with the Peterson family, his brother Tommy and sisters Dot and Denise. But most of all they are with his mother Joan, a woman of incredible heart whose love got her son through some dark years. Without her, we would have been morning Michael’s passing decades ago.
The last time I saw Michael was just before Christmas. We had lunch at the Sands Hotel, Michael choosing the darkest and quietest table in the place. While he wasn’t in great health, he was in good spirits. He talked with old family friend, Dick Hoole and I about matters surfing, we talked about the sand at Kirra, before Michael hinted to us he was still contemplating a comeback to the surf as he’d threatened to do on occasion over the years.
Michael always had a great sense of timing. During his three-year unbeaten run at Bells Beach he was famous for not turning up before his heat, only to come from the clouds at the last minute and ghost into the lineup and take his opponents to pieces. Michael’s passing four days before the Bells event is predicted to start in epic conditions, will ensure the event will be surfed in his memory.
Australian surfing has lost one of its greats. We’ll miss you, mate. – SD