Cheyne Horan was born in 1960, a dedicated competitor and self-proclaimed advocate of individualism and innovation.
Throughout his life, he stayed true to this mantra of not ‘following the crowd’ and as such he surfed very different craft to what most professionals were riding.
In doing this he forged a staunch relationship with Geoff McCoy’s needle or ‘No’ nosed, wide-tailed Lazor Zaps, upon which he was at times unbeatable in small to medium surf.
His alternative approach left many to ponder, did the difference in craft help or hinder his World title aspirations finishing Runner-up 4 times, 78-79′ 81-82′?
What’s for sure is he was a radical surfer for his era. Horan won the inaugural Op Pro in 1982 with a crowd-pleasing backhand 360 in the final. After winning countless titles he ended his career in 1993 with 12 career world tour victories.
His popularity peaked with a win in the 1983 Surfer Poll and a spot in a widely distributed Sunkist soda commercial.
The McCoy ‘No Nose’ boards he popularized through his competition success are today some of the most appreciated collectible vintage boards. Also, perhaps most significantly they are directly credited by Simon Anderson as being part of the design inspiration for the plan shape of the Thruster that would go on to dominate board design and competition success.
After his professional career, he pursued Big Wave surfing in the mid 90’s where he famously tested both his ‘metal’ and board innovation theories at once. Surfing Hawaii’s Waimea Bay on a 5’8 board in a 20ft swell, he sought to escape the tracking tendencies of the prevailing approach on 10ft plus boards used for the paddling power and early wave entry.
At the time, reporting of the event was often harsh though he successfully caught a number of ‘bombs’. In the fullness of time, the design of the modern tow board suggests his approach was indeed innovative and needing only the early entry the Jetski would ultimately provide.
Also of note, he developed a winged keel fin based on the successful Australia ll America’s Cup sailboat design with iconic nautical architect Ben Lexcen, RIP. The Star Fin has been a success for Cheyne and continues to sell well today.
Today, he’s a family man and still a dedicated devotee to Mother Ocean, while he operates a surf school at Burleigh Heads on the Gold Coast.
When asked would he take the same approach again he responds insightfully, “I would pursue board innovation and design but on my own time. In competition, I would ride the same craft as my competition and thus compete on skill, wave selection and the provision of Mother Nature.” Respect!
Mc COY LAZOR ZAP 1985 (pictured, on display at The Boarding Office Mooloolaba while another is proudly on show at Nambour)
The Lazor Zap was popularized by iconic surf star Cheyne Horan who conquered many achievements on these boards. They are created for quick, short arc, high-performance surfing. The concept for the board, according to creator Geoff McCoy was based on his Energy Theory – that energy turns into wave formations and objects react in different ways to those formations.