Most surfers, particularly the more senior among us, have heard about Michael Peterson's infamous car chase in 1983. The one that began at Beenleigh, north of the Gold Coast, involved up to twenty police cars, and ended with MP being hauled into Boggo Road Gaol. What many people don't know is that MP was on his way to Noosa for a surf, and what even fewer know is that he was heading there not simply to surf, but to windsurf.
Yeah, MP, the greatest surfer of his generation, took a shine to the burgeoning sport of windsurfing in the early-80s. We could take guesses why he did so, maybe he was jaded with surfing's creeping commercialism, or perhaps he felt hidebound by public expectation, but we'd never know for sure; MP was largely lost to the surfing public during those years as he wavered between addiction and abstinence, wagered a fight against his mental demons, and increasingly spent time away from the spotlight on the far south coast of NSW.Recently, photographer Greg Button was going through some of his photo archives and found these photos of MP windsurfing at Currumbin. Button was on the Gold Coast to shoot the 1981 Stubbies at Burleigh Heads, the contest which four years earlier, Peterson had won. It was his last professional victory.Greg takes up the story:"During the Stubbies surfing contest in 1981 I stayed in an old wooden house on the beach front road that runs along towards the Currumbin river mouth. Late one afternoon we were sitting on the veranda having a beer or two. The surfers we were staying with happened to mention that Michael Peterson often went windsurfing off the beach by himself and sure enough MP turned up on the that cloudy late afternoon.Michael rigged his craft and spent the next hour or so sailing in solitude off the beach with no audience or onlookers. I quickly grabbed my trusty camera, telephoto lens, set it up on the veranda and shot a roll of 400 A.S.A. film in the fading light.With Michael Peterson's passing these photos now might be able to show that, although not surfing much in the early eighties, he was still privately pursuing his love of the ocean.These photos were contributed to
Tracks magazine at the time but were returned as unsuitable but I now believe they maybe the only photos of the great MP windsurfing."
All photos by Greg Button."