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Hundreds farewell Michael Peterson

Peter Townend flew in from the US to pay his respects at Michael Peterson's funeral, pouring sand on the coffin.
Peter Townend flew in from the US to pay his respects at Michael Peterson's funeral, pouring sand on the coffin. John Gass

THE coast's surfing community said goodbye to the "King of Cooly" today.

About 400 mourners were at Tweed Crematorium and Memorial Gardens to remember surfing great Michael Peterson, who died last week following a heart attack.

Peers considered the man known as MP to be the greatest surfer of his generation and his skill with a single-fin surfboard in the 70s was years ahead of his time.

In the early 70s MP couldn't be touched, earning the title of Australian champion in 1972 and winning three consecutive Bells Beach titles from 1973.

One of MP's greatest rivalries during his days on the southern Gold Coast breaks was with Peter Townend who spoke highly of his friend at the service.

Mr Townend flew out of Los Angles for his mate's funeral and was one of four who spoke.

"The MP I want to remember is a photo of him sitting on a little bike on the top of D'bah (Duranbah) Hill when he didn't have a care in the world," Mr Townend said.

"They were some of the best years of our life.

"He was the king of Cooly and I was the prince."

Fellow surfers and friends Wayne "Rabbit" Bartholomew, Andrew McKinnon and his brother Tommy Peterson also delivered eulogies about the man who's attitude and determination helped to definesurfing culture on the southern Gold Coast and Tweed.

"At Snapper he didn't rule it behind the rock, he owned it behind the rock," Mr McKinnon said.

"His best surfing wasn't captured on film."

Later in life MP, diagnosed with schizophrenia, lived with his mother in Tweed Heads South.

"We (McKinnon and Bartholomew) regretted that MP didn't keep surfing," Mr Townend said.

"He was too ... proud. He couldn't paddle out with me and Bugs (Bartholomew) now because he couldn't be the king of Coolangatta," he said choking back tears.

Topics:  funeral, michael peterson, surf


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