Surfing buddies who rode rich wave step ashore

The two founders of global surfwear label Rip Curl, Doug "Claw" Warbrick and Brian "Sing Ding" Singer, have stepped down from the company they created in the Victorian seaside town of Torquay, ending a 44-year stretch at the group that started life in a garage and on a pre-World War II sewing machine.

The two founders of global surfwear label Rip Curl, Doug "Claw" Warbrick and Brian "Sing Ding" Singer, have stepped down from the company they created in the Victorian seaside town of Torquay, ending a 44-year stretch at the group that started life in a garage and on a pre-World War II sewing machine.

Documents filed with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission show Mr Warbrick and Mr Singer ceased being directors of Rip Curl International last month, although they will retain a very large interest in the future of the surfwear retailer with a combined 72 per cent stake.

Both aged in their 70s, they recently abandoned a planned $400 million sale due to tough market conditions. In March Mr Singer announced he would step down as acting chief executive.

Rip Curl is chaired by Australia Post boss and former NAB executive Ahmed Fahour.

The two surfers, Warbrick and Singer, like-minded souls, were at the forefront of Australia's burgeoning surfwear apparel and equipment industry in the late 1960s and their Rip Curl boards soon became popular in a highly competitive market.

In 1970 the duo made an important change to their business model that would ultimately transform the still start-up Rip Curl into a global brand with revenues of more than $400 million a year and a loyal following of surfers from Australia to the US and beyond.

Realising the cold waters of Victoria could get in the way of a good time on the waves they decided to branch out into wetsuits, then an underserviced market.

Taking over an old house in Torquay Warbrick and Singer bought a pre-war sewing machine and, according to Rip Curl legend, cut out the rubber on the floor, handing the pieces to a machinist.

Through Rip Curl's success and expansion Warbrick and Singer remained committed to the philosophy of "The Search", the cornerstone of surfing. Making sure they weren't bogged down in endless strategy meetings and boardroom discussions the two spent a lot of time surfing and looking for the next great wave. They embarked on surfing expeditions to little-known island groups and far-flung coasts, often taking with them the surfers at the cutting edge.

In 1981 Rip Curl inked its first corporate licensee, in southern California. Today, a total of nine corporate licensees make and sell Rip Curl products in the US, France, South Africa, Japan, Indonesia, Brazil, Argentina, Peru and Chile.

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