One of the most eclectic, polarising and talented characters in surfing history. Nat Young won four longboard world titles though ironically it was his early tinkerings with longboard board design that set the short board revolution in motion. Raised on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, Nat was a regular at the high performance breeding grounds of Narrabeen and Manly.
The man leading the surf scene back then was Midget Farrelly, a Manly local, who would heavily influence Nat before the two entered a fierce rivalry that ultimately ended with the two as enemies. After winning the Australian titles in 1963, Nat was handed a round the world ticket as his prize. Then 17 years old, Nat went straight to Hawaii where he broke new ground with his stylish speed trims and pocket surfing (he was arrested shortly after on his way back through California for being an unaccompanied minor).
Desperate to claim the longboard world title in 1966, he began tinkering with board design with the help of shaper Bob McTavish and George Greenough. The result was “Sam” – a shortened, thinner version of the malibu that allowed Nat to turn hard and generate tons of speed. His performance at Honolua Bay in the seminal performance film of the day, Hot Generation, broke new ground in terms of speed, style and manoeuvrability and lead directly to the short board revolution. He would also star in Morning of The Earth and was among the first surfers to explore Indonesia. Nat remained a respected style master well into his forties and would also produce several books and films on surf culture. He would also suffer some significant misfortune, most notably in the form of a vicious beating at his home break of Angourie by a fellow surfer that left him close to death. – JS