Photo: Joli

Peter Drouyn lay curled on the cold tile floor, thoroughly defeated, a nature documentary on albatross playing on the TV. Surfing had both raised him and ruined him, and after two decades of travelling the world to find his true self – a clue, a crumb, anything – he lay there alone, vanquished and penniless. Then, on the stroke of midnight, he got up, walked out the door, and simply became someone else. Now, ascertaining where Peter Drouyn ends and Westerly Windina begins, well, therein lies some intrigue, for she’s much more than the man she once was.

Peter Drouyn’s contributions to surfing in Australia – unjustly – remain largely uncelebrated. He was the progenitor of power surfing in Australia, though you will hear few of his peers credit him in that way. Likewise with his role in the development of the shortboard. But MP and Wayne Lynch both idolised him, he was Australian champion in 1970, he invented man-on-man surfing at Burleigh Heads in 1977 and he took surfing to China. But Peter Drouyn was eccentric, he “wouldn’t play their game”, and he was destined to become a scribble in the margins. “They stole the whole thing and Peter was completely written out of history,” offers Westerly, who today refers to Peter in the third person. “He was used. Totally used. It just seems to me that he was so misunderstood on every level. He was ostracised because he was too bloody good for them.”

He was ostracised because he was too bloody good for them.

Fiercely intellectual, Drouyn studied, and has degrees in Law, Modern Asian Studies, Engineering, Marine Science and Dramatic Arts. And then he travelled the globe, living a Quixotic existence while searching for some kind of meaning in places like Angola, yemen, Kazakhstan. But he arrived home broke, broken, and driving taxis for a living on the Gold Coast. Then one night he got up, went down the beach and danced in the moonlight. It was the night Westerly was born, and while many of his peers unkindly joked that it was all a sham, a publicity stunt, in early 2013 Westerly traveled to Thailand and underwent gender reassignment surgery. Now she’s all woman – sporting platinum hair like Marilyn Monroe, wearing blue hot pants and hot pink lipstick – and she’s happier than Peter ever was. “Westerly’s achieved what she’s wanted for years and years… while she’s had to go through the tragic life of Peter.”

– Sean Doherty


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