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KANGA - The Trials and Triumphs of Ian Cairns

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Kanga - The Trials and Triumphs of Ian Cairns - Stories of Professional Surfing -

By Wayne Patrick Murphy (Author), Ian Cairns (Author)

is an adventure story, sports biography and surf history wrapped into one. Professional surfing was embryonic in the early 1970s when Ian “Kanga” Cairns emerged from the isolation of Western Australia to test himself in Hawaii’s powerful surf. A core group of the world’s best surfers were enthusiastic and hungry like Ian. They dreamed of traveling to different countries feasting on perfect waves while sharing fun times and the spoils of their imagined success. Against the odds they forged ahead and made pro surfing happen. This project tells of their journey. It is an inside story of how surfing grew from an off-beat pastime in the 1950s to become globally popular and one of the most unlikely sports in the world today. Ian Cairns provides a firsthand account of numerous obstacles faced as his dream to make surfing more than just a lifestyle became reality. Famous surf champions and great rivals contribute in these two books. 

Volume 1 follows the remarkable ascent of Ian Cairns, from early beginnings in Sydney and Western Australia, to status as a champion surfer and preeminent big wave charger in Hawaii. Along the way Ian is confronted with serious challenges, not just in huge surf. His strong desire to follow his own path, to be respected and successful while making a living from the joyful pursuit he loves, is largely achieved. The story culminates during the tumultuous year of 1976 on Hawaii’s awesome North Shore. The Bronzed Aussies, International Professional Surfing, and the Black Shorts are all formed within weeks of each other. All three bodies are inextricably linked in a battle to control and gain from surfing. The cut and thrust between the main players from these dynamic groups has consequences for the surfing world at large. Profit, losses, and sacrifices are made. Blood is spilled too with clashes along the way. Ian is at the forefront in this explosive environment. He continues winning events in giant surf while fighting his battles on land as pro surfing is born with its first official world championship tour. Volume 2 is the story of a powerful man going full circle to redeem himself. Ian Cairns relocates to California to expand the Bronzed Aussie brand. After working on the Hollywood surf movie Big Wednesday, he coaches a new breed of dedicated American surfers to take on the world. Ian forms the Association of Surfing Professionals in direct conflict with Fred Hemmings and his Hawaiian-based IPS business. A power struggle for supremacy ensues. There are casualties. Ian is targeted for perceived injustices inflicted upon Hawaiian surfers. Then it happens, his astonishing fall. Ian’s rapid demise begins in 1986 with a massive beach riot at the biggest surf contest in the world. He resigns as chief executive of the ASP and flees California to start afresh in the isolated security of his beloved Western Australia. Everything he touches there fails in spectacular fashion too. Ian returns to California in 1991 to regain all he has lost. There are more big tests, unimaginable wealth and huge losses awaiting him. He must overcome his enemies and new challenges as surfing becomes a multi-billion dollar industry with Olympic Games recognition. Today, battle scarred and forever changed, this epic surf journey has made Ian Cairns a wiser man after having faced his numerous ordeals. A must read for anybody interested in the dramatic changes surfing and surfboards underwent through the short board revolution to reach the high performance skills and equipment of today’s best riders. This is a surfing odyssey as we follow Cairns from the stoked young teenager with a love of waves, to the ambitious and outspoken young man who rose quickly from the obscurity of Western Australia to become an acclaimed big wave rider and international champion, then trail-blazing sports administrator and winning coach in the USA.

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