1967 Queensland State Titles at Burleigh, Gold Coast, Queensland. PIC: Eddie Sawden.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Russell Hughes 1946 - 2011.

One of Australia's all time surfing greats from the '60s and '70s, Russell Hughes passed away in Quebec, Canada on 26th of May 2011 after a long fight with cancer. He was 64 years of age.
Originally from Brisbane Queensland, Russell began his surfing career with the Surfers Paradise Surf Lifesaving Club in the early sixties. He left home at 14 years of age and headed for Sydney knocking on Bob McTavish's door at the home of Paul Witzig announcing, "Hi I'm Russell Hughes and I'm here to surf!"
It wasn't long before Russell took off to Noosa with McTavish riding the uncrowded perfect waves of the Noosa points where his surfing really took off. "They called me the Mayor of Noosa," recalls Bob "but Russell was the King of First Point!"
By 1966 Russell hit the big time, placing third in the Australian Titles Open Men's final at Coolangatta, behind Bob in second, and Nat Young the unanimous winner. It was the start of a whole new era of progressive surfing from traditional to modern manoeuvres.
In 1967, Russell created a huge upset by defeating local Gold Coast hero Peter Drouyn at Burleigh Point for the Queensland Open Men's State Title. Later that year he claimed his biggest win in the prestigious Newcastle Mattara Open final.
According to Midget Farrelly, "Russell was a real chance to take the 1968 World Title at Puerto Rico." Russell placed third, behind Midget in second, and Hawaii's Fred Hemmings deemed the winner.

"He was so smooth and stylish in the big waves of Rincon, Puerto Rico," said Nat Young, who placed fourth, and was a very close friend of Russell's. Both lived in Byron Bay and regularly surfed Broken Head and Lennox Point during Alby Falzons "Morning of the Earth" movie and the early'70s period.
Hughes faded from competition and enjoyed cult hero status as a stylish soul surfer largely underground and avoiding the spotlight. Above all he loved surfing perfect uncrowded waves with his friends and adapted naturally from the longboard to shortboard transition.
By the 1980s, Russell had moved to California and then Mexico, and it was during this time that he incurred early cancer which he successfully beat with chemotherapy.
With his beautiful French Canadian partner Monik, he returned to Australia momentarily living at Margaret River in West Australia, surfing with old mates Robert Conneeley and John Adrian who organised a Legends Event that Russell won.
By the '90s Russell and Monique moved back to Byron Bay living at the Belongil enjoying his surfing, playing tennis and keeping fit. Unfortunately the cancer returned and he decided to move back to Monik's home in Quebec, Canada to be close to the snow.
Apart from being a super stylish surfer, Russell was equally proficient at windsurfing, kite-surfing and snowboarding. 

A humble, courteous, and a highly individual character Russell Hughes was the ultimate style master with incredible charm and charisma who enjoyed his lifestyle and the freedom that it gave him while sharing it with family and friends.
Keep on soul arching brother; you'll always be in our hearts and minds! Russell is survived by son Kokee.
R.I.P. Russell.

- Andrew McKinnon

Russell celebrates winning the 1967 Queensland Open Men's State Title at Burleigh, Gold Coast, Queensland. PIC: Eddie Sawden.


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