Nat Young is one of the legends of Australian surf. He has won World Surfing Titles (1966), won contests around the world, won the Bells Beach Surfing Contest (four times), produced films, written books on the history of surfing, surf rage and is currently touring Australia with his latest book, ‘The Church Of The Open Sky’.
Nat has always been an enigma. Whilst competing at the 1970 World Surfing Titles at Bells Beach he stated that surfing wasn’t a sport and he didn’t like surf contests (he made the final!). During the early seventies, he moved up the coast and lived off the land cultivating a ‘hippie’ image whilst still competing and earning a living from surfing.
Nat has run for Parliament, modelled clothes in France and been beaten up at his home surf break (he wrote about the incident in his book SURF RAGE and donated thousands of dollars to support anti-surf rage programs around Australia).
Nat has fought the government, fought other surfers, and for decades stoked the fires of his famous feud with ‘Midget’ Farrelly, another surfing legend from Sydney. He might be one of the world’s great surfers but he has always managed to rub people up the wrong way. He is clearly one of the angriest hippies in Australia.
Nat is now seventy and still surfs. His latest book is a bit of a surprise given he already has an autobiography and other ‘like’ books on the shelves. CHURCH OF THE OPEN SKY explores Nat’s life through the eyes of the people he has met and the places he has visited. He writes about Midget, Dora (Miki Dora, not the girl with the backpack), Weber, Miller and many others.
He writes about his times at Bells Beach, Byron Bay, Southern Cal, France and Hawaii, the contests, the big days and the surfers that helped shape his life.
Love him or hate him, Nat has played a significant role in the history of surfing in Australia. You can catch him on his Australian tour as he tells yarns and flogs books at surf museums and shops from Burleigh to Bells.
The book title has a great story. It is a quote from Tom Blake who was one of the most influential surfers in the USA last century. Tom firmly believed that surfing was a religion held out in the open on the sea. 90 years later, there are many devotees around to his ‘church of the open sky’.
Written by John Foss