Cheyne Horan "2023 Surf Champion"
Won 14 Championship Tour events, including the famous 1982 Op Pro in Huntington Beach
One of surfing’s true individualists, Cheyne Horan is a true icon. From competitive brilliance, to innovative surfboard design concepts, to charging some of the biggest waves on the planet, there isn’t much he hasn’t done in his 60-plus years on this beautiful blue planet.
Born on March 26, 1960, in Sydney, Australia, Horan’s journey from a young boy with a deep connection to the ocean to a celebrated professional surfer is nothing short of inspirational. Raised on the quiet suburb of Bronte, his childhood was marked by a deep affinity for the sea. Encouraged by his father, a surfer himself, Horan began his journey as a surfer when he was 10 years old. By the time he was 13 he’d won the juniors division state title and one of the country’s top skateboarders. It was during these formative years that he developed a unique style, blending power, grace, and an unyielding determination that would come to define his career.
In 1977, Horan burst onto the competitive surfing scene turning pro and finishing seventh in his first world tour event. A sign of things to come, armed with his trademark alternative surfboards, which became known as the Laser Zap — and were sometimes affectionately referred to by Horan as “cheese knives” — the Aussie pushed the boundaries of conventional surfing. These unconventional designs, characterized by their deep concaves, unique fin design and sharp, odd outlines, allowed Horan to experiment with radical maneuvers and showcase his exceptional control on the waves.
“Cheyne was always riding something different, something that made you go, 'Wow, what is that?' He had this ability to make waves his own canvas, drawing lines and making turns that no one else was doing,” recalls two-time world champ Tom Carroll.
While Horan's innovative boards gained attention, his competitive achievements were equally impressive. He would finish runner-up to the world title 1978, 1979, 1981, and 1982, earning him the dubious distinction of being one of the most successful competitive surfers to have never won a world title.
“It’s bittersweet to come so close but not quite reach the pinnacle,” reflected after he retired from competition in 1993. “But I have no regrets. The journey has been incredible, and the experiences I’ve had along the way have shaped me as a surfer and as a person.”
In total, Horan would win 14 Championship Tour events, including the famous 1982 Op Pro in Huntington Beach, before hanging up the jersey. But hardly done pushing the sport forward, he dove headlong into exploring the big-wave realm on revolutionary tow equipment he created.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Cheyne Horan
A regular invitee to the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau contest at Waimea Bay, Horan finished fifth in the 2002 Tow-In World Cup at Jaws followed by a runner-up result in the “Biggest Wave” category at the 2003 Billabong XXL Awards thanks to a 60-footer he rode at Jaws.
Beyond the surf, Horan has dedicated himself to environmental activism and his passion for protecting the world’s oceans. He continues to be a vocal advocate for sustainable practices within the surfing industry, emphasizing the need for surfers to become stewards of the sea that has given them so much.