Michael Peterson: Australian surf icon

Australian surf icon Michael Peterson has passed away at the age of 59, after suffering an heart attack. The three-time winner of the Bells Beach Surf Classic was known for his long hair and outstanding surfing skills.


Michael Peterson is one of the best surfers of all time. He starred in the famous surf movie "Morning of the Earth", in 1971. In "Searching for Michael Peterson", a beautiful documentary, filmmaker Jolyon Hoff show us original footage of Peterson's life as well as interviews with his friends and surfing rivals.

The unbeatable Aussie lived a trouble life after getting into the world of drugs. Peterson had a jail experience and spent time in psychiatric hospitals due to his undiagnosed schizophrenic health.

He was chased by policemen, he enjoyed windsurfing, had a phobia about needles, he had a surf shop and surfboards with his name on. Michael Peterson lived more than anyone. In the 1970's, the surfer from Coolangatta dominated Australian surfing. He simply collected title after title.

"You are better than me, MP", Kelly Slater once told Peterson. In the last years, the surf legend recovered from him difficult problems and was seen in a few social events.

In South Tweed, Michael Peterson lived a quiet life with his mother Joan Watt. Sean Doherty has written a Michael Peterson biography. "MP, The Life of Michael Peterson" has also inspired the novel "The Life", by Malcolm Knox.

The tributes are pouring. ""R.I.P. MP My thoughts are with Dot, Tommy and the rest of the Peterson Family," Slater tweeted. "RIP Michael Peterson one of the greatest surfers ever," Sunny Garcia messaged.

"He was our Miki Dora, James Dean and Marlon Brando all rolled into one, only he surfed like a man on a mission and rode our waves in the 'Gatta like it mattered," Peter Townsend said. Watch a flashback of his life.

Watch Michael Peterson surfing Stubbies, the first man-on-man surfing contest held at Burleigh Heads, Queensland, in 1977. Michael Peterson defeated Wayne "Rabbit" Bartholomew in the semifinal and then Mark Richards in the final.