There are rare moments in life when you get to meet an iconic person that blows you away. Recently I had the utmost pleasure, in getting to spend some time with bodysurfing virtuoso Mark Cunningham while he was touring Australia’s east coast.
The first time I saw Mark was on the Keith Malloy movie ‘Come Hell or Highwater’. The seminal bodysurfing film that more or less cracked the lid on the underground of bodysurfing and gave us new perspective and heroes of this overlooked sport. Mark was one such hero. How could you not be impressed by a mans credentials that include three decades as lifeguard, many of those on Hawaii’s north shore, multiple body surfing world championships earned at the fearsome Banzai pipeline and an innate grace and ability within the waves second to none.
The man himself is no less impressive. Up close, Mark is a tall, lean, fit man. He is also incredibly gracious and humble, if not a little embarrassed by all the fuss around his achievements and sudden notoriety. In some way a microcosm of bodysurfing as a whole. That said, he works the crowd like a seasoned veteran and is amazingly affable to those who had come to see and hear him speak. There are many and he finds time for all, leaving young and old with a personal word and touch.
Its not often you meet a hero and even less when they are all they are cracked up to be. The man is the real deal.
Some great tips from one of surfing’s legends
- Respect the ocean
- Learn to be a strong swimmer
- Wear tight shorts
- Put your arms out in front (sensible protection when charging skull forward to reef/sand bank)
- Kick like hell
- Have fun and come out smiling