BEN/ HUTCHING S
Born and raised in Australia to a kiwi father and Australian mum, Benny had always wanted to return to the places his father had spoken so fondly of, so in 1968 along with Bob Rasby, Benny hit the Bombay hills and having to decide between the West or East Coast, the two headed for Gisborne where Benny dug his feet in. With a background in surfboard production Benny came into Gisborne and found a need for a local manufacturer as Bob Davies had moved to the Mount, so in 68 Benny went into partnership in Surfboards Gisborne which he ran for 22 years. While Benny was first a surfer like many surfers of that era he was heavily involved in surf lifesaving and was the 1971 NZ Ironman Champion and went on to represent NZ at The World Ironman Championships in Victoria Australia. In 1971 Benny placed 3rd at the National Champs in New Plymouth which qualified him for the NZ Team who went to the World Champs in San Diego in 72. In 1975 Benny won the National Champs held in Gisborne which by way of winning got him an invite to compete in the Smirnoff event at Sunset Beach, Hawaii late 1975. Benny impressed with his charging and had only just returned home when he was called up by contest organisers in Hawaii and invited back to compete in the Duke event held at Waimea Bay and the World Cup of Surfing held at Haleiwa. At the time, this was the equivalent of the modern-day Triple Crown. Benny surfed Waimea in round 1 of the Duke and progressed before Waimea completely closed out at 30 feet plus, and the event was shifted to 18-20 Makaha where Benny surfed against Jeff Hackman and lost. At the World Cup at Haleiwa Benny finished 12th. Benny began to expand his interests and in 1977 won the NZ Kneeboard National Title, and began to paddle kayaks. His paddling saw him in the mix for the 1980 Moscow Olympics in the Kayak before the NZ government boycotted the games. Benny returned to the Olympic scene in 1984 and 1988 as coach of the NZ Kayak Team that was responsible for the kiwi’s greatest haul at the Olympics winning 4 golds. Benny is still actively surfing at 70 years old, and divides his time between Cabarita in Oz and Gisborne. He also still travels the world surfing and every season he visits G-Land once or twice and is credited with being the eldest surfer to take on the legendary reef.
ABOVE LEFT: The faces say it all, Benny grooms his chin pondering how he got in this position, Michael Ho looks like he’s about to cry and Barry Kanaiapuni (with board) looks a little worried, out in front of them Waimea is 30 foot + closeouts.
TOP AND BOTTOM INSETS: Benny with guns and his whip Sunset Beach 75.
SEQUENCE RIGHT: The wrap around power hack that blew minds across the world is still a sight to behold. Photo: Cory