Surfing legend

surfing legend

There are times when you meet extraordinary people.  Those that surprise you and touch you in a way you didn’t think would.  I was watching Steve in the car park at Nobbys Beach Newcastle.  Here was this older tanned dude who was commanding the car park like a conductor leading an orchestra.  When I say he was commanding the car park I don’t mean he was the car park attendant, he just owned the space he was in.  He was one of the most animated, excited and passionate people there.  He was talking to everyone and anyone and they all new him and he new everyone.  Watching him I new he was Newcastle history.  In that hour I waited it was almost hypnotic.  His presents was such that you didn’t and couldn’t take your eyes off him.

What I got was a man who talked a million miles an hour and should be employed by Newcastle to promote this wonderful place.  He loves Newcastle, he knows Newcastle and he will die in Newcastle.

I rarely put full names in my blog but today I make a exception and want to introduce you to Steven Butterworth or Steve.  Steve is a surfer back in the 70s represented his state and I believe his country.  Here is a guy that for all intense purposes should be wearing reading glasses and thinking about afternoon naps, but no he is wearing Oakley’s better than most people half his age, is still ripped and looks as if he could paddle out catch the biggest wave, come in and polish off a round of fish and chips followed up with a cracking yarn, about the surf.  He is the surfer’s surfer and he is still a surfer and a board designer who is only currently working on the holy grail of surfboard design, the no fin board.

What Steve told me about Newcastle showed the true pride and love he has for Newcastle.  He pointed to the hill above the beach “that’s where the cannon fired the first shots at the Japs’s, didn’t hit a bloody thing but scared the buggery out of them, a week later Sydney was attached by a mini-sub”.  He then talked about the story of how the gunner was being driven by cab to the point and the cabbie kicked him out of the car before he arrived afraid he would be fired on.  So the gunner had to run the rest of the way.

Next with a spun as if he was riding a wave and pointed to the lighthouse.  “First in Australia, manned by a convict, would stay out their week at a time, best bloody job, his mates would be over here digging he would be fishing and swimming”.

Spins again, “behind us coal, this is what made Australia worthwhile to the Brits, finally they could make money from us”.

With hands spinning in all directions “you have best beaches, look at this beach beautiful breaks, warm days and not even crowded”.

“What other beach in Australia is 500m walk from the city! You have lawyers, judges, office workers coming down at lunch for a surf”  He says with youthful exuberance that makes you think you are talking to a man who has just found the fountain of youth and wants people to share in it.

“Oh and did I tell you best wines in Australia, all here!” spoken with a cracking laugh as if he can’t believe his own luck to be living here.

The thing is this wasn’t the first things Steve told me about himself.  He started out by telling me, “you know I should be dead, have cancer, nasty one”  He as Acute lymphoblastic leukemia, quite rare and generally doesn’t come with a great outcome.  But yet he says this as if it was a side point to the more important story, which was about Newcastle his love.  I couldn’t help but ask what keeps him so positive.  He tells me without missing a beat “mate I’m happy and I have work to do”.  And then he goes into the story about the board he is developing and how the no fin board will work.  I don’t surf but at that moment I wanted to paddle out and try and have Steve show me a thing or two.

He then says “yea the doctors don’t know why I am alive, just tell me to keep doing what I am doing, so I do.”  He then laughs and tells me how when he goes into see the doctors he spends the time cheering up them and tells me “wish that could be my job”.  Steve you doing that, I watch you for an hour in that car park, people hang off your every word.

Here is what I know about Newcastle from Steve, its a better place because he is there and when that last wave comes in it will be a slightly sadder place when he is not.  But we have a deal, in a year or so time when this board is in production I will blog about it.  I really hope I get that chance.  Legends are few and far between these days but I truly think on this day I met a living legend.

Thanks for your story Steve,

Cheers Faces

P.s. I take quite a few photos of each person and I often add these to the Facebook site, so if you would like to see more like the site.


18 thoughts on “Surfing legend

  1. thanx for this GREAT blog
    Stevie left us today…RIP
    i hope that u do not mind me posting this on my Facebook page

  2. G day mate I really like yr story you hit th nail on th head right there ! Can I plagiarise this for the ledges send off?

  3. Just saw your blog online and read your wonderful story about Steve . I was fortunate to have spent some time with him mid last year. (2012) I was just informed Steve B passed away today. 13/05/2013. Thanks for your inspiration to keep innovating and surfing . Mick Graham

  4. As one of the grommets from newy in the 80’s and 90’s I had the pleasure of spending a lot of time with Steve in and out of the water and the things Steve knew about surfing and board design and past onto myself and the other groms was mind blowing. Steve was a man who we all looked up to as a mentor and friend who always had time to stop for a chat or to pull up into line with a stern look and then a smile…you will be missed Steve and what you did for me as a grom will never be forgotten . To blade and family hold your heads high as Steve was a true gentleman and legend who’s legacy will live on forever… R.I.P Steve

  5. Mate would really appreciate it if you could send me sone of those photos so I can put them on our Facebook if possible

  6. Sam and I feel as though we have always known Steve. He always had that exuberance, and encouraged Luke at every turn RIP Steve – Marg and Sam Egan

  7. Steve Butterworth – A legend still see him in my minds eye , gracefull ripping style , late take off perfectionist &
    side slipping master. May you still breath air & stay above the ground for many more years- Darryl Green

  8. Thanks so much for your wonderful story. I knew Steve in the 70’s through a girlfriend and he was a beautiful larger-than-life man then. So sad to hear of his passing but lovely to hear that he lived his life with such joy!. RIP Steve.

  9. I knew Steve in the 70’s through a girlfriend and he was a beautiful larger-than-life man then with the most beautiful smile that lit up an entire room. So sad to hear of his passing but lovely to know that he lived his life with such joy. RIP Steve – I am sure you will continue to shine your light in the next world.

  10. Always the legend on the beach and don’t forget his TV day’s, when local producers needed a fit bronzed aussie it was always Steve who got the call! He was about the best looking guy in Newcastle & then surprised everyone by being one of the nicest.Thanks for being……….RIP Steve

  11. I knew ‘Butterballs’ through my brother Danso back in Newcastle — he was pretty close to us all and always round at Mum & Dad’s place at John Pde Merewether. I heard about his passing and it made me sad — but then quickly very happy as well that I got to know him so well. Great talent, unbridled enthusiasm and pure energy — a glowing soul.

  12. I didn’t know Steve had passed. I was in the same year as Steve at school and was his girlfriend for a very short time when he was first surfing. It was obvious then what a talent he would be. Such a lovely guy and who could forget that smile.
    I’ll always remember (about 1966) when one day we were walking on the beach near the lighthouse at Nobby’s and he said “This is the life, a bird in one hand and a board in the other”. Actually it was the other way around and I knew in that moment that surfing would always come first in his life.
    I feel sad that we didn’t keep contact over the years and so sad to hear he is no longer with us.
    Sending you love now Steve, you will always be in my heart.
    Vicki (Sutherland) Burford

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