Surfing master drops 24kg in bid for new title
FORMER world surfing tour three-time runner-up Gary "Kong" Elkerton has dropped 22 kilograms in weight ahead of the 2018 Azore Airlines World Masters and Grand Masters Championships later this month.
The now 54-year-old, who dominated professional surfing through the 1980s to the mid 1990s, had blown out to 126kg before embarking on a Ketogenic diet at the start of this year.
Gary said this week that ideally he needed to trim back to 95kg but the weight loss achieved to date coupled with a disciplined fitness regime had set him up for a showdown against his former world tour competitors.
With a record that ranks him easily as the best-ever Sunshine Coast competitive surfer, he will be chasing a fourth world masters title after winning three back to back in the late 1990s.
He faces a tough task on a black sand beach break on the Portuguese island of San Michel in a field which included 45 year olds Brasilian Fabio Gouveia and American Shane Beschen as well fomer world title holder Damien Hardman.
At his peak Elkerton was consistently at the head of the pack, securing 12 world tour victories, the prestigious Hawaiian Triple Crown twice and with the late Andy Irons and French Polynesian Michel Bourez being only one of three surfers to win all three professional events on the Oahu North Shore.
In total his competitive career spanned 22 years and was followed big wave surfing off the French Atlantic coast, racing motorcross and snowboarding, regularly featuring on European action sports channels.
Asked about the urge to again compete with the best of his generation he responded "the singlet (competition) never gets dry".
But Gary is under no illusion about the erosion of age on performance.
"The first turns are slow," he said. "But they get stronger down the line.
"The past two or three years I let myself go. I was out to 126kgs. I was into work, family and my motorbike."
When he learnt at the Quiksilver Pro on the Gold Coast earlier this year that the World Masters, an invitational event, was on again he realised he needed to get a program.
A Ketogenic program removes carbohydrates from the diet - although for Gary a beer once a week has been on the menu - and replaces them with fatty foods.
Bacon and eggs for breakfast comes wrapped in a lettuce leaf rather than perched on toast.
Getting to the starting line has been helped by partner Erica Henderson, Tara Spicer, World Surfaris where he is a brand ambassador, Peter Sullivan and Greg Oliver.
The Azores Airlines World Masters and Grand Masters championships run from September 18-23.
The 12-man Masters field includes Martin Potter (Britain), Sunny Garcia (Hawaii), Damien Hardman (Aust), Derek Ho (Hawaii), Tom Curren (USA), Luke Egan (Aust), Dave Macaulay (Aust), Fabio Gouveia (Brazil), Shane Beschen (USA) and Joao Alexandre (Portgual) with a replacement to be named for Mark Occhilupo who has withdrawn.