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Nat Young, c. 1968

by Albert Falzon

Robert Young grew up in Collaroy, Sydney, where he gained the nickname Gnat. Having grown, and changed his name to Nat, he won the 1963 Australian Invitational Surfing Championships at Bondi at the age of 16 and the world championship competition at San Diego in 1966. In 1967, on Maui with Ted Spencer, George Greenough and Bob McTavish, his intimidating physical presence, shortened board, and brilliantly aggressive, ‘animal’ style worked together in a sensational performance that was described by John Witzig, with some arrogance, in the American magazine Surfer. It’s Young who dazzles in the water at the beginning of Morning of the Earth before coming in to feed his chickens, his red setters gently nosing around and Stephen Cooney shyly standing by. Falzon’s photograph has never before been printed uncropped. The hitherto-unseen figure in the foreground serves to demonstrate that when Young was around, everyone else looked sort-of less-than- present; comparatively unfocused; a bit drab.

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