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Image 1 for John Cunningham RIP

John “Cunny” Cunningham at Byron in 1962. He was a goofy but switched stance to ride the points. Photo: Mal Sutherland

Image 2 for John Cunningham RIP

At Currumbin Alley in 1962. Photo: Mal Sutherland

John Cunningham RIP

2 May 22

With the passing of John Cunningham Queensland has lost one of its larger-than-life surfing pioneers and personalities. As well as being one of Queensland’s top competitive lifesavers of the ’50s and early ’60s John was one of our early pioneers of the Malibu board. 

Known by all as ‘Cunny’, John was a Greenmount lifeguard for 40+ years and a regular feature in the surf from Currumbin to Cabarita. He was one of those rare characters who always had a smile on his face, never said a bad word about anyone and gave encouragement and advice to other surfers. Many of the young Greenmount/Snapper surfers of the ’60s were mentored by him.   

When the Americans introduced us to the Malibu Board in 1956 Cunny embraced its introduction with enthusiasm and was a prominent board rider in those early years. Naturally a goofy footer, he changed his stance to suit the righthand wave breaks of Snapper, Kirra and Currumbin, becoming one of the original switch-foot surfers.  

Admired by all who knew him Cunny was true waterman. Fearless in the ocean he was not intimidated by the size of the surf and made many rescues in all surf conditions. In 1967 at North Kirra in what has been described as the worst cyclonic seas ever witnessed he was responsible for one of the most dramatic surf rescues ever witnessed on the coast, an event for which he received a bravery award.

A well loved local Legend who will be missed by all who knew him.

 - Tribute from Cunny’s long-time mate Mal Sutherland.

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