Inductee - Paul Neilsen

Surfing Hawaii

Paul Neilsen


Paul Neilsen is one of the Gold Coast's surfing greats.

Neilsen, like illustrious contemporaries Wayne 'Rabbit' Bartholomew, Michael Peterson, Peter Townend and Peter Drouyn, was born and bred on the Coast.

The sons of Surfer Paradise's first professional life guard Bill Neilsen, Paul and his brother Rick both were brought up on the beach, a passion for surfing instilled in them for an early age.

Paul, his casual surfing style was honed in the famed Gold Coast point breaks of Burleigh Heads and Kirra, started entering contests and won the Australian title at Bells Beach in 1971.

Possessing a cavalier approach to big waves, Neilsen ventured to Hawaii where he won the prestigious Smirnoff Classic to become the 1972 World Pro-am Champion. He also scored major placings in events including the Stubbies famous Classic at Burleigh Heads.

Neilsen retired from pro surfing in the late 1970's to concentrate on his burgeoning surf retailing business, Brothers Neilsen.

The Neilsen brothers, Paul, Rick and older sibling Len opened their first shop in the Centre Arcade Surfers Paradise in 1971. Their first day's takings were a princely 24 cents for a block of wax.

Today Brothers Neilsen in a $30 million empire, with around two dozen surf shops around Australia.

Paul Neilsen, literally and figuratively-speaking, is chairman of the board.