Real McCoys: Martin ‘Pottz’ Potter

One of the baddest surfers of all time: Martin Potter.

This is by no means an exhaustive biography but enough cool highlights for you to have a decent amount of knowledge about this legend. If nothing else, be sure to watch the first video clip down below. Enjoy.

Photo: Sean Davey 1992

Photo: Sean Davey 1992

Martin ‘Pottz’ Potter, (born October 28, 1965 in England – emigrated to Durban, South Africa when he was 2 years old) for those who weren’t yet born – Pottz was a badass who came into the pro surfing scene like a bull in a china shop at the age of FIFTEEN(!) and stompped out dozens of pro events which eventually led to a World Title in 1989.

“Pottz redefined competitive surfing through performing technically high-risk moves such as aerials (where a surfer is able to use the energy of a wave to launch themselves free of it together with their surfboard, and to land back down onto the water and continue on) and 360’s (the surfer and surfboard rotate on a wave 360 degrees before continuing on), which were previously only performed in the domain of free surfing (as opposed to competitively).

He was also responsible for the invention of several surfing maneuvers such as the “rock-n-roll” (the same as performed on a skateboard). From his success as a world champion, he led the call for a new form of competitive surfing; a judging format based on “risky surfing” – i.e. higher scoring being given to bigger and more critical maneuvering – which eventually became an accepted standard on what is now known as the World Championship Tour (WCT). Pottz is now a well respected commentator on the ASP world tour.”

“He began surfing off the beaches of his hometown Durban at age 10. By the age of 15, he was surfing 20+ foot waves at the infamous “Banzai Pipeline” surf break located on Hawaii’s North Shore.”

Pottz at SOLID Pipeline in 1982 at the ripe old age of 17 where while surfing against his hero's snagged this bomb in a heat.

Pottz at SOLID Pipeline in 1982 at the ripe old age of 17 where while surfing against his hero’s snagged this bomb in a heat.

He was a mercurial presence on the world-tour—brooding and angry at times, acting like a spoiled child, then festive, loud, and matey, drinking until the bars closed and later carrying the party into the streets and hotel rooms. “The scary thing for me,” Potter said later, “was that I could go out and have a big night, drink heaps of beer, and wake up the next morning without a hangover. My body dealt with everything. There were contests I won after staying up all night.”


To remember Martin Potter surfing at his peak is to realize that performance has really only progressed by small degrees. Speed, power and risk would always be the essence. Matt Archbold would later tell Surfer Magazine, “He’d get on a wave and fly—literally fly. Other people looked like they were dragging anchors behind their boards compared to him. He fricken made everybody else look fricken stupid. And he was this 15-year-old man! A full-grown hairy man! At 15!”

Potter had one of the best roundhouses in the game. Photo Paul Sargeant 1993

Potter had one of the best roundhouses in the game. Photo Paul Sargeant 1993

Ripping in Wave Warriors 3 (1987):

Section from Wave Warriors 2:

Potter 1984 Surfing Magazine Cover Shot by Aaron Chang:

Cutback at Rocky Point Oahu – ON A TWIN FIN! Photo Aaron Chang:
This turn would still be a show stopper at any pro event

The layback snap that was the inspiration for surfers around the globe:

Herbie Fletcher towing Martin Potter, Third Reef Pipeline in the 80’s. Photo: Aaron Chang

Martin Potter is the Real McCoy. If you’re active on instagram, you can check out his page @mrpottz

Thoughts on what Martin Potter’s done for the sport? Have another ‘real mccoy’ in mind? Let us know in the comment area below.


About The Author

When A.B.'s not keeping you on top of the ever-changing surf and weather conditions and writing the occasional article, you can find him getting pseudo barrels under palm trees in his front yard

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