Surfing legend in hall of fame

By Ian Beeck | posted on May 28, 2020

ALBANY-BORN surfing legend Jodie Cooper was inducted into the 2020 Australian Surfing Awards Hall of Fame this week.

The renowned big-wave rider credited her upbringing in the powerful waves of WA as a major reason why she thrived in places like Hawaii where she won a number of titles.

Ms Cooper won 13 international surfing events and was runner-up a further 13 occasions in her professional career spanning 20 years.

The 56-year-old is globally recognised as the best women’s surfer never to win a world title.

In 1991, Ms Cooper starred as a surfing stunt double for actress Lori Perry in the Hollywood blockbuster film Point Break starring Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves.

“That was epic, I worked there for over a month in locations from California to Hawaii,” she said.

“It’s an iconic film and still plays regularly on TV.”

She also assisted in the 2017 movie Breath, a film adaptation of Tim Winton’s novel, with much of the action set in Denmark.

Ms Cooper’s surfing career started as an amateur in 1981 and turned professional two years later.

By the end of 1984 she was ranked number four in the world.

She had her first professional win at Huntington Beach in California at the start of 1985 and later in the year won the World Cup in Hawaii.

With a number of second and third placings, she ended that year number two in the world.

Ms Cooper said her most cherished victory was at Bells Beach in 1985 but also added that her titles in Hawaii were important.

“It’s just an intense wave, I still get overawed when surfing Hawaii,” she said.

“It’s just a rock in the middle of the ocean with no continental shelf.

“The strength and calibre of the waves is unmatched although the closest would be the breaks in southern WA.”

Ms Cooper quit the world tour in 1994 and after suffering a back injury, retired in 2002.

She acknowledged her hardest competitors were four-time world champion Wendy Botha and Pam Burridge although “on the day, anyone could beat you”.

The Jodie Cooper Award, first awarded in 1999, is made to the Western Australian Female Surfer of the Year.

Ms Cooper was made a Life Member of the Association of Surfing Professionals in 1994 and in 2001 was inducted into the Western Australian Hall of Champions.

Proud brother and Albany local Russ Cooper said Ms Cooper started surfing with him and his mates at some ‘gnarly, heavy waves’ including Sand Patch and Blowholes.

“She was fearless, only 55kg dripping wet yet charging,” he recalled.

“I remember one day she surfed Sunset Point at 22ft and was snapping boards and heading straight back out there.

“She would be the humblest person I know, she is admired and respected by the most powerful people in the surfing industry.”