Inspirations: Damien Hardman
Damien Hardman’s results in the surf speak for themselves, with a total of 19 tour wins and countless awards.
While his nicknames include “Iceman” and “Dooma”, it is perhaps his actual name that says it all: Damian was a “hard man” to beat in competition, as well as a hard man for the public to warm to.
Despite his precision and skills in the water, Hardman never gained the international coverage or respect he deserved. One American surf writer even described him as “monstrously capable, but cursed to be the Richard Nixon of the surfing world; the Iceman is coldly serious and basically impossible for teenage girls to get a crush on.”
But it was clear that Hardman had the passion, dedication and drive for improvement in the surf from a very early age.
Like many other pro surfers in Australia, Hardman was raised around some of Sydney’s hottest surf spots, starting at Sydney’s Warriewood Beach when he was 10. Not long after he started on a board, his family moved to nearby Narrabeen – a training ground for other talented surfers like Simon Anderson, Terry Fitzgerald and Col Smith.
Three years later Hardman was regularly competing and winning surf contests, securing his spot on the team of famed surfboard shaper Geoff McCoy alongside other up-and-coming surf legends, including world tour runner-up Cheyne Horan.
At 16, Hardman’s momentum continued to build as he finished in 3rd as a junior at the 1982 Australian National Titles. He won the Nationals again two years later as well as the World Championship contest, and finished off 1984 ranked at #36 despite competing in only a handful of pro tour events.
In 1987 Hardman won the world title in what the Encyclopedia of Surfing describes as “a thrilling showdown against fellow Australian Gary Elkerton in the season’s last contest at Sydney’s Manly Beach”.
The next year was even bigger as his abilities and focus drove him to become the first male surfer to win seven events in one season.
Although his dedication and passion did not translate with all critics and fans, it did win over his family: his father, Brian Hardman, became one of the Association of Surfing Professional’s most effective media directors, coordinating achievements such as the Coke Classic’s 1990 live telecast on Australian network television
Other pro tour wins in Hardman’s career include the 1986 Stubbies Classic, the Rip Curl Pro in 1988 and 1993, and the Rip Curl Hossegor Pro in 1998. But he got his second world title in 1991, following in the footsteps of Tom Curren to become the second man to win after a break.
Hardman was inducted into the Australian Hall of Fame in 1999 and, although he is now invested in family life, he still has time for the surf. In fact, he even won Four Seasons Maldives Surfing Champions Trophy in 2012 – an invitational event between Hardman, Tom Curren, Mark Occhilupo, Martin Potter and Rhil Rajzman.
“I can’t remember the last time I won sixteen grand,” Hardman told press at the time, adding that for their ages, “we are all surfing on top of our game.”
“It was a serious contest out there, but at the same time I had a lot of fun,” he said, shedding light on what really matters most in the surf.