New books reveals “The epic life and mysterious death” of a wanna-be pro surfing British viscount…
Twenty-three years ago, the 11th Earl of Coventry, and wanna-be pro surfer, Ted Deerhurst was found dead in the tub of his condo at the Kuilima, the residential development that surrounds the Turtle Bay Hotel on the North Shore.
Deerhurst’s celebrity, if you can call it that, had peaked fifteen years earlier in 1982 when filmmakers Dick Hoole and Jackie McCoy devoted a hunk of their classic surf movie Storm Riders to Lord Ted.
If we peer into the corners of surf history via Warshaw’s impeccable archive, we find,
Despite the fact that he had only middling success as an amateur, Deerhurst turned pro in 1977. He was handsome and likable, and while some pros resented the fact that he had essentially bought his way into the profession, he was for the most part a popular addition to the world tour. For years, Deerhurst was the only touring British pro. He came to the attention of the surfing world in 1982, when he was featured on the cover of Surfer magazine, posed with five custom surfboards and two hunting hounds on the rolling lawn in front of the family manor. He was nicknamed “The British Lion,” although his world tour friends called him “Lord Ted.”
Deerhust world tour trials and tribulations, year after year, became both a source of amusement and inspiration. “Try as he might,” surf journalist Nick Carroll later remembered, “Ted could not get through a heat. Even when he was in form, something would go wrong; he’d miss his third wave, snap his leash, lose the shorebreak reform. But somhow, next event, Ted would be back, the British Lion, trying as hard as ever.
Deerhurst died of heart failure in 1997, brought on by an epileptic seizure, in a North Shore hotel room.”
So far so ordinary, no?
Now, a new book by British author Andy Martin, whose 1991 surf memoir Walking on Water won the William Hill Sports Book of the Year, claims Deerhurst was murdered in his tub at the behest of a shadowy North Shore gangster.
In Surf, Sweat and Tears, the epic life and mysterious death of Edward George William Omar Deerhurst, which has just been released on OR Books, buy here etc, we find Deerhurst, besotted by a Honolulu stripper to the point where he loses his mind over her, and even when he’s warned away by a nicknamed “Pit Bull”, he keeps coming back.
Now falling in love with strippers ain’t uncommon.
Who can blame a man when he falls under the spell of those women with the big velvety eyes and the heavy animal perfume and sinuous snaky bodies and with sparks no ordinary woman can match.
But, in Deerhurst’s case, he wants to marry his stripper, and he winds up breathing his last breath, in an empty bath tub.
In SST, Martin talks to a man who found the royal’s body.
“Dan got back to 100 East Kuilima around 7:30 pm. The house was quiet…Ted was in the bath. He was naked. And he was dead. But he hadn’t been having a peaceful bath and sailed away into the great beyond. Something violent had happened to him. There was no water in the bath for one thing… Ted is face down in the bath with his legs sticking out at the side. He is not breathing. His lips have turned blue and rigorous mortis has set in. There is blood in the bath. There is a “contusion” (as it says in the report) at the back of his head. And there are injuries to his face too: cuts on his nose, a black eye. He looks, prima facie, as if he has been beaten up. But, say the price, Ted beat himself up.”
It’s a wild ride.
“In death,” writes Martin, “Ted had finally become the hero he always wanted to be.”