One of the most respected figures in New Zealand surfing is fighting for his life in a Bali hospital following a motorcycle accident. Allan Byrne, 62, is holidaying on the Indonesian island but was involved in an accident last Friday. He was taken to hospital with a broken arm but doctors diagnosed a fractured skull and a bleeding on the brain. He slipped into a coma and is now on life-support.
Now a resident in Australia, Byrne’s wife Jane and son Jamie have flown to Bali to be with him.
Byrne is a four-time New Zealand open champion and also won the junior title four times during the 1960s and 1970s. Byrne was born in Hamilton but developed his surfing skills in Gisborne and contested the world championships in 1966, 1968 and 1970.
There was no official world tour when Byrne was at the peak of his powers but he received many invitations into international events and his standout result was a second placing to Australian Simon Anderson at the Pipeline Masters in 1981, surfed at the legendary break on Hawaii’s North Shore.
He made his name internationally as a shaper, moving to Australia’s Gold Coast in 1977 where he made boards for world champion Wayne Bartholomew and three-time runner-up Gary Elkerton.
Byrne’s signature boards featured the design breakthrough channel bottom that produced more speed and better handling. He developed the idea from aerodynamics learned form his time in the New Zealand Air Force.
Byrne remained active in surfing, with a liking for big waves as he continued to surf many of Hawaii’s and Indonesia’s better breaks right up to the time of his accident.
He was due to surf in the masters division at the Rip Curl Cup at the Padang break in Bali this week.