Peter Townend was the first World Professional Surfing Champion, crowned in 1976, just seven years after he started to surf competitively. At 18, Townend ditched a scholarship, moved into a suitcase and tackled the world with his own brand of domination.
Townend’s surfing record included dominating surfing’s formative years with top five finishes in 1976 through 1979. But domination of the contest scene was just one of the empires Townend was after.
While Townend traveled and competed, he wrote for Sydney’s Daily Mirror, covering the surf beat. He became a regular in Surfing Magazine. Knowing that surfing couldn’t give him a security, he looked outside his industry. He landed a role in “Big Wednesday”, surfing with heavies like Gerry Lopez and Ian Cairns.
Townend landed in Southern California where he became the Executive Director for the National Scholastic Surfing Association (NSSA), organizing and promoting surf events as well as coaching the United States Surf Team. He coached the 1982 and 1984 teams at the International Surfing Association World Amateur Championships, winning the title with surfing great Tom Curren.
In the mid-1980s Townend moved back into journalism. He became the advertising director and associate publisher for Western Empire Publications Surfing Group. To get a better view of the surfing industry, he became the marketing and global branding director in the late 1990s for Rusty/Rusty Girl apparel, accessories and surfboards.
But Townend never gave up on professional surfing. He became surfing’s voice for Prime Ticket and ESPN, broadcasting from the Bud Pro Surfing Tour and the Association of Surfing Professionals World Championship Tour.
In 2000, he returned to Primedia where he moved from publisher to marketing and events director for the Action Sports Group. But to completely conquer the media world, Townend created The ActivEmpire, a brand consultancy company specializing in brand management, athlete representation and special event marketing in the surf and skate markets.
Townend’s drive and passion for promoting his sport gives him a crown unlike any other. His fortitude has made him a permanent fixture in the surfing community; serving as president of Surfing America and coaching his local middle school’s surf team.