The Return of Peg Leg
John Kirk but most people knew him as Peg Leg returned to Trealors on Easter Sunday for a quiet surf with his grandson. Luckily Andrew Gibson told me he was down there and I grabbed my camera and got a couple of classic shots of him back in action. Anyone over 40 who surfed Pines or Big Left would have memories of him charging across the critical faces, often terrorising those silly enough to paddle out in the impact zone.
Paul and I learnt very early that John got all the best waves and the secret was to take off inside of him, he used to congratulate us on our manoeuvres as we paddled back out. He was still wearing his summer and winter woollen jumper, life jacket, crash helmet and speedo’s. Wetsuits were way too difficult for him to get in and out of so he likes to keep it simple. Somebody over the summer declared that we belonged to a special group of surfers that wore footy jumpers and shorts.
Watching John in the water set up his red bouy and even though it was small he got every good wave that came through, positioning himself perfectly on each of them, not bad for an 85 year old. I helped him out of the water and then carried his ski up the beach, it was incredibly heavy. John said he built both the 12’ boards, one in 1951 the second in 1961 each weighting 60lbs (27.2kg), he surfed Torquay in 1947, massive waves at the Bombie or Big Left as we know it and Pines in 1960. Hopefully we’ll get together again and record a lot more of the history of our coast.
See you at the beach,
Follow up story from Ray
I was surfing with some mates at the Big Left about 1973-74, I was 16 and playing cricket in the 14 to 16 year old age group. (This has some bearing on my story) my mum used to drive me and my mates to Flinders and sit in the car and knit while we went surfing (aren’t mums great). We were out at Big Left and I used to go through the white water backwards in those days, no duck diving. From memory this way of dealing with white water was not uncommon. Anyhow on this one day in particular I was going through a wave backwards, when the next thing I knew there was a almighty whack on the back of my head, next thing I remember I was on the beach at the golf course on the front of peg legs ski. Someone had apparently taken off in front of him whilst he was already on the wave, and to miss them he turned back towards the whitewash and straight over the top off me.
He found me under the water by searching near my board and luckily managed to grab the neck of my wetsuit and haul me onto his ski, as I was out cold. He then headed for the beach, my mates saw it happen and paddled in and got mum to drive down to pick me up. Things are very blurry here but it was off to Hastings Hospital, where I got 16 stitches and spent the night. The next day I was supposed to play cricket at Balnarring but instead I just went and watched with a great story to tell everyone at the cricket!
After that I saw Peg many times surfing at Flinders and Pines but never spoke to him, until one day at Pines I paddled over to him and asked if he could remember that day at Flinders? He replied yes, then I told him that I was the kid. He was very happy and he said a bit relieved as he sometimes wondered what had ever happen to me. He also said that he didn’t know exactly where I was under the water and just felt around until he found me so really he saved my life! It is unbelievable that at 85 he can still get in the water! That’s fantastic and a real inspiration.
If you have any interesting stories or photos of your own that you would like to share about Peg Leg or any other surfing icons from around the Peninsula, feel free to e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org