Synonymous with the smoothest style around, a smile from ear to ear, spending long periods of time inside barrels around the globe, waving the flag for the Wollongong area and a place called Black Rock that was a regularly mind-surfed by mag readers of the 70’s and early 80’s, Terry Richardson is a mick-hair away from the launch of his autobiography “Richo – The Terry Richardson Story.”

No doubt another goldmine of insight into that magical and mystical period in surfing the majority of us only saw in Tracks, Surfing World etc or every so often when a rare movie blessed us with moving pictures. A time when the it was all about firsts, when the combination of progress and mistakes carved the road to pro surfing, the surfing industry and the way to the future.

Right now Richo is in the Maldives with a bunch of mates, hopefully scoring barrels and recharging the batteries before heading home and travelling the country on a series of book launches. I got hold of him just as pizzas were being delivered and beers cracked the night before heading off….

SL: Richo how exciting is it to finally be so close to releasing the book?

TR: Oh mate it’s insane. I can’t believe it’s finally done! It’s in Singapore being put together right now and will land back here in Wollongong on the tenth of August, then we’ve got fourteen openings to do to get it out there.

SL: How far and where are you heading for the openings?

TR: We’re gonna start in Yeppoon then head all the way back down through the Goldy, Byron, Yamba, work our way down to Newcastle, the Gong, then follow the coast south down to Philip Island, Bells Beach and Melbourne.

SL: I’m betting that’s gonna be a fun trip?

TR: I’m buzzing, it’s gonna be insane. So many people are excited about the book and I’m just stoked to have it done. It’s gonna be great catching up with old friends along the way, and if anything, it’s gonna be a great get together for me. I hope it’s gonna be a good read, but it’s taken so long to do I’m really proud of it. It hits the nail on the head in a lot of ways, a lot of legends in there and some really nice comments from a lot of the friends I gathered all through the years, so yeah I’m just over the moon with the whole thing.

SL: How long did it take you from start to finish?

TR: For myself it was like a ten year venture. When I was working in the coal mines in Queensland, (seven days on/seven days off) I’d get bored on the way up and coming back home, so I just started writing.

I initially got into the thought of doing an autobiography while surfing down at Werri Beach one day on my time off from the mines. I stumbled across this chap out in the water who I had a good time surfing with, and when we came in my girlfriend had coffee and breakfast ready so he came and joined us. We started chatting and my girlfriend mentioned that I was an ex-pro surfer and he got all interested, and stoked to hear all about it. He asked me what I do now and I told him about working up in the mines and underground and he couldn’t believe the extremes of going from one thing to the other and the road between. It sort of surprised me how interested he was but it turned out he was a movie maker and he was saying how the story would make the best movie, but he said you gotta do the book first. so that’s where we’re at. I’ve been keen to get a book into his hands now that we’re finished but we sort of lost contact and I haven’t been able to find him again, yet at least.

SL: The book obviously covers from day dot up till now, but some good stories and times along the way to tell us about I’m sure?

TR: Yeah well, pretty much the life and times of Terry Richardson, starting off as a grom in the Gong, doing my time and winning a few things, then turning pro and how that’s not all peaches and cream, the board building, owning surf shops, all the highs and lows and coping with life thereafter.

A lot of people don’t venture into much but I’m a big believer you have the leave the glory days behind……they’ve happened but you gotta live for now and just be a “Joe normal” Do your thing and be happy for the friends you’ve got that are around you and enjoy life. You can’t keep living in the past. You gotta live in the present, and aim toward the future. I’ve seen too many guys living in the past and they don’t know how to let it go, which is a shame because it doesn’t do them any favours.

I’m blessed with the life I’ve had and I’m just stoked to have the book done. There’s some awesome photos in there, I love them all, cause I’m one of those book readers that loves looking at the photos as well! (laughs) My biggest worry when I first started was if I had enough words to fill a decent book, but once we got going I was thinking “Wow, we’re gonna hit 300 pages” and we ended up around 350 and had to cut it short.

SL: From back in the day when there always seemed to be a regular pic somewhere of you at Black Rock (Aussie Pipe) it became a place you were synonymous with. Is it a focal point in some stages of the book?

TR: Oh mate definitely. It’s here and there all the way through it. Pipe down the coast, Torpedo Tubes, Pipeline itself, whatever you want to call it, it’s had that many names but to me it’s always been Aussie Pipe and that’s always sat in my heart since I was fifteen all the way through to these days. It;s been a lifelong story with me. I’ve had eighteen cover shots and I think every one, bar maybe one has been there. So I owe a lot to Pipe and everything it’s taught me and everything it’s helped me with during my whole career basically.

Setting one up on the nose.
New Jersey 1977
Photo John Ker

SL: Do you still get back there, or surf there regularly?

TR: Not anymore. I love to go down there but the last time I did was about two years ago, I went for a picnic and took my board down there. It was pumping, and it’s like hopping on a bike you know…..I just had to go out, and there was thirty or so very competent bodyboarders out there, and I was lucky to catch a wave. I got four really good waves and I got dropped in on…..and I don’t expect anyone to know me anymore or remember me or anything, but yeah times are different, and I’ve had my share and happy with how I’ve had it. So I just caught a little wave in and got a nice barrel and of all things this guy down there with a camera got it….me at sixty-two….and it was the wave of the day on Swellnet! I’m stoked being sixty-two and still surfing let alone getting a picture put out there. I was just blown away…….the very last time I surfed it and that happens? So I’m sort of contented to just let it go now, just get into the book and making the most of time with my family and my grandkids, a bit of fishing and move on you know!

SL: So how do we get hold of the book?

TR: You can pre-order it if you like at www.richosurfshop.com.au or it would be great to grab one while we’re doing the book launches up and down the coast. At any local book shops that are selling it we’ll have posters up so you know you can get it, but yeah the website is where you will always be able to get a copy of the book as well as boards and paraphernalia. Also we will have some footage of the Maldives trip on there when we get back too. I’m hoping to be the first person over the age of sixty to be recorded doing an air-reverse!

SL: Really? Well perfect waves to do it on, I’m sure you will…..

TR: Well you gotta be positive. (laughs) I’ve done three but I haven’t got one on film so that’s the mission! As long as I don’t bust anything trying, that’s the main thing! Hahaha

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