Bustin’ Down the Door is a 2008 surfing documentary that tells the story of a pivotal point in surfing history.
Rated highly by critics and audiences alike, Bustin’ Down the Door (on Amazon Prime) is an eye-opening story filled with edge-of-the-seat storytelling and some fantastic archive footage showcasing the best professional surfers in their prime.
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What is Bustin’ Down the Door?
Bustin’ Down the Door was created by Jeremy Gosch, Monika Gosch, and Phil Jarratt. It is set in 1975 and follows a group of young surfers who changed surfing forever.
These Australian and South African surfers descended on the North Shore of Hawaii and began challenging the local pros. But the Hawaiians didn’t take too fondly to having foreigners on their beaches and gangs like the Black Shorts were created to fight back.
A time of hostility ensued, and this was eventually put to rest by the great Eddie Aikau, a Hawaiian surfer who essentially brokered peace between the young Australian and South African surfers and the established Hawaiians.
The youngsters were bold and brazen. They were full of bravado and confidence. But they also had the skill to back it up, and in the end, these upstarts changed the professional surfing tour forever, bringing more Aussies and South Africans into the sport and challenging conventions.
A Review of Bustin’ Down the Door
Bustin’ Down the Door is one of the best and most important surf documentaries ever created. That might sound like a bold statement, but it’s true, as it highlights a very important time in the history of professional surfing.
It’s not quite up there with Endless Summer and other classics, but it’s definitely worth watching if you want to learn more about the history of this great sport.
Bustin’ Down the Door also offers some insights into the inclusive surf culture that once existed around Hawaii, one that you could argue still exists in many areas. It was a culture that didn’t look too fondly on outsiders, especially if they were perceived to be doing things differently. After all, the arrival of surfers like Wayne Bartholomew was met with violence, death threats, and general chaos, as depicted in the film.
Where Are They Now?
After watching the amazing archive footage, hearing about the shocking stories, and seeing these young surfers in action, you may be wondering what happened to them.
After all, the documentary was set during the mid-70s, so all of those young, confident, and cocky kids are now seniors and grandparents.
Here’s a glimpse into what the documentary’s stars got up to:
Wayne “Rabbit” Bartholomew
Wayne Bartholomew was just twenty years old in 1975. A few years later, in 1978, he became the ASP World Surfing Champion. He competed on the tour until 1987 and was ranked as one of the five best surfers in the world throughout that time.
After calling time on his career, “Rabbit” Bartholomew became a mentor and coach. He was also the CEO and President of the Association of Surfing Professionals.
South African-born Shaun Tomson became the IPS World Champion in 1977 and by the end of his career, he was considered to be one of the 10 greatest surfers of the 20th century. He featured in a number of films, wrote several books, and has been heavily involved in environmental activism.
Shaun Tompson wrote a book about the time period: Bustin’ Down the Door: The Surf Revolution of ’75.
Australian Ian Cairns won several major surfing events during the 1970s, including the Duke Kahanamoku Invitational Surfing Championship. In the mid-1980s, he moved back to Australia for nearly 10 years before moving to California in the mid-90s.
He still lives in California and is married to Alisa Schwarzstein, a former surfing pro who was inducted into the Surfing Walk of Fame.
Mark Richards, or “MR”, as he liked to be known, won several major events between 1975 and 1982. He retired in 1983 due to back issues and these problems became so bad that he had to limit his surfing to occasional weekends.
Richards currently lives in Newcastle, Australia, where he runs a surf shop with his wife.
Peter Townend was considered to be one of the best surfers in the world throughout the ’70s and ’80s. He won numerous titles during this time and in the mid-’80s, he began working for Surfing Magazine as an associate publisher. In later years, Townend worked as a commentator and advisor. He was also part of the team that helped to make skateboarding an Olympic sport.