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Bicycle used to tow surf ski ST CHRIS

Date: 1940-1960
Overall: 1040 x 1700 x 500 mm
Medium: Metal, plastic
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from the Estate of John Mervin 'Jack' O'Brien
Object Name: Bicycle
Object No: 00039649

User Terms

    This Blackbird bicycle was used by Jack O'Brien to tow his single surf ski ST CHRIS from his home in North Manly to the beach using a wooden trolley.

    ST CHRIS is a 3.9m long plywood surf ski that was built by Herb Robson for John Mervyn 'Jack' O’Brien in 1953. O'Brien was a surf and fitness enthusiast and ST CHRIS was one of at least three skis that he owned and used off the northern beaches of Sydney where he lived.
    SignificanceThe use of this bicycle as a towing mechanism is an excellent example of the self sufficiency and ingenuity of John 'Jack' O'Brien, who was an Australian pioneer of endurance surf ski paddling.
    HistoryJohn 'Jack' O'Brien, former Queenscliff lifesaver and professional boxer, was a pioneer of endurance solo paddling using single and double surf skis. Over the course of ten trips from 1940 to 1962 he attempted or set non-stop paddling records on ocean trips between Wollongong, Sydney and Newcastle. His training regime included cycling 48 km a day, following a strict vegetarian diet and 24 hour endurance paddling sessions.

    Being tied to his craft in rough seas, navigating by day and night and avoiding hazards such as reefs, rocks and sharks were all part of the challenge. In 1952 he claimed a world record for the greatest distance for non-stop ocean paddling in a 24 hour period, paddling 128km in 22 hours between Watson's Bay and Newcastle. Although his claims were contested in the media and subsequently bettered by others, he is remembered for pushing the boundaries of ocean paddling on surf skis.
    Additional Titles

    Assigned title: Jack O'Brien's bicycle

    Web title: Bicycle used to tow surf ski ST CHRIS

    Related People
    Manufacturer: Don Blackman

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