The Sydney surf community is in mourning today after learning the surfer who tragically drowned at Little Avalon yesterday was local legend ‘LA Bob’.
The 62 year old was out surfing at his beloved local reef on Tuesday morning, when his leash reportedly became tangled around a rock, holding him under the water. Fellow surfers rushed to his aid, carrying him to the shore, where they administered CPR. An ambulance arrived soon after and took over the resuscitation efforts, however Bob was sadly pronounced dead at the scene.
The 62 year old shot to fame last year after a film celebrating his life picked up a string of awards at surf film festivals around the world, before going viral online as a Vimeo staff pick.
In the film Bob explains how his life trajectory lead him to live in his van at his favourite beach and surf everyday. It’s a beautiful story about an inspiring individual who made the best of the situations life threw at him.
Back in 2016, Surfing World Magazine produced an issue dedicated to the 50 most intriguing people in surfing, edited by acclaimed surf journalist Vaughan Blakey. The introduction was dedicated to Bob and now serves as a moving tribute to an inspiring surfer who will undoubtedly be missed by all who knew him.
“In the pre dawn darkness of every morning, Bob parks his van on top of the South Avalon headland, turns the lights and engine off and lets the hum of the motor fade into crickets. Somewhere down below, the little right hand reef he loves to surf is hissing and bubbling away, waiting for him. Bob loves this place. He loves the time. In the back of his van lie Bob’s boards. He’s shaped them exclusively for this reef. If he knows it’s on, he’ll wax one up, get into his full length steamer, climb down the goat track and paddle out in the dark. He’ll be out there before the first bird call. If the swell is from the wrong angle or it’s a little small, he might just sit in the van and wait for enough light to confirm what he already knows – it’s shit – and then he might hang a while longer and watch bemused as a parade of other people wander up with their morning coffee hoping for something but leaving disappointed. They don’t know what Bob knows. If I start walking up the hill in the morning and his van isn’t there, I turn straight around and go back to bed. I know that Bob knows.
To me, Bob is one of the most intriguing surfers around. We’ve rarely spoken but for a few early morning courtesies, and yet every time I see him I get so stoked on the fact he has his own deal going on.
Recently Surfing Australia held its Hall of Fame ceremony and announced the 10 Most Influential Australian Surfers of All-Time. It was a gala evening attended by Treasurer Wayne Swan, Sports Minister Kate Lundy and State Treasurer Mike Baird. Julia Gillard made a speech via video and most surfing royalty was in attendance, including Nat Young, Occy and Bob McTavish.
However there were notable absentees. Midget, who made the influential Top 10, didn’t show. Neither did Wayne Lynch, Terry Fitzgerald or Geoff McCoy. Peter Drouyn didn’t turn up either, although he sent Westerly Windina in his place.
This is not a list of the greatest or most influential. This is not a list designed to ostracize or celebrate who will challenge us to open our minds, encourage us to reconsider what we thought we already knew and maybe have some affect on the way we ride waves in the course of the next 12 months.
Just as Bob has his own deal. So to do the 50 surfers within this list. We welcome your suggestions and criticisms.” – Vaughan Blakey