With the 2017 Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach coming to a close just a few short days ago it seems pertinent to shine a light on an event that has been home to many iconic surfing milestones over the years. It is is the only event to appear on every world pro tour season schedule since the circuit’s 1976 founding.
It was also home to the infamous 1986 semifinal duel between Tom Curren and Mark Occhilupo. Perhaps most importantly, however, in 1981, Australian surfer Simon Anderson changed the future of surfboard design forever when he debuted three fins on his board at Bells.
Press Release: Prior to this event, surfers had been increasing their number of fins at a glacial pace with single-fins reigning for decades followed by the twin-fin setup coming to fruition around 1977. The waves that day were fifteen-foot, clean, practically perfect, and they needed a high-performance board. Anderson’s performance on his thruster board that day was a game-changer in the surfing world, with his new fin setup harnessing the strength needed to tackle such powerful waves.
He was victorious at the 1981 Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach and went on to win at the Surfabout and Pipe Masters too, proving to any skeptics that the thruster was the future of high-performance surfing.
Anderson retired from professional surfing in the mid-80s and never really took full commercial advantage or credit for his thruster concept. He said: “There were a lot of people at that time who were working toward the same ultimate goal I’m just a lucky one willing to contribute.”
Simon Anderson has gone on to win many accolades for his contribution to surfing including, but not limited to: Being named “Surfer of the Year” by Surfing magazine in 1981, winning the Australia Sports Medal in 2000 for his services to the design of surfboards, getting inducted into the Huntington Beach Surfing Walk of Fame in 2001, being honoured at the San Diego California Expo in 2010 and releasing an autobiography titled ‘Thruster: The Story of Simon Anderson’ in 2011.
Nearly 40 years later, 90% of surfers continue to ride boards that are a direct result of Anderson’s 1981 three-fin concept. He continues to make surfboards under the Simon Anderson Surfboards label, with Glassing Monkey manufacturing and distributing in Europe.