Former Australian surfing star Chris Davidson dies after alleged assault on North Coast
Former surfing star Chris Davidson has died after a suspected assault on the New South Wales north coast overnight.
- Chris Davidson was allegedly hit in the head outside a licensed venue
- A 42-year-old man has been charged with assault causing death in connection with the incident
- Mr Davidson is remembered as one of the most gifted surfers in the world at the height of his powers
Tributes began to pour in for the 45-year-old, with fellow Australian surfer and former world champion Mark Occhilupo saying it was “tragic news”.
Just after 11pm on Saturday evening, police were called to Sportsmans Way in South West Rocks following reports that Mr Davidson had been hit on the head outside a licensed establishment.
The Sydney-born surfer fell to the ground, hit his head against the pavement and was unconscious before being treated by paramedics.
He was taken to Kempsey Hospital where he died shortly afterwards.
A 42-year-old man has been arrested and charged with assault causing death.
Mr Davidson, affectionately known as ‘Davo’, had represented Australia in competitions around the world, including the 2009 Billabong Pro in Spain, where he reached the final but was eliminated by Brazilian Adriano de Souza.
His long relationship with the Rip Curl Search team began at a young age, where he and friend Mick Fanning filmed a number of free-surf films.
The famous surfing magazine Tracks called him “one of the most gifted surfers in the world” at the height of his powers.
Mr Occhilupo said ‘Davo’ was an amazing but very underrated surfer.
“At a young age he shot Kelly Slater a few times at Bells Beach,” he said.
“He was always in good shape, even though he was behind the eight ball, he always performed well and got the job done… He wasn’t the guy you would like to draw into an innings.”
The last time the two saw each other, “Davo” was genuinely happy.
“I had just done something with Chris last year,” Mr. Occhilupo said.
“We did a podcast together on stage, a live in Port Macquarie and he was really happy – you know, he’s had some tough times in his life but it seemed like he was in a good place.”
Surfing NSW executive director Mark Windon said he heard rumors today that Mr Davidson had died, before seeing social media posts and receiving a few confirming phone calls.
Mr Windon said he ‘couldn’t believe it’ when he heard the news.
“[Mr Davidson] was a larger than life character, and for his life to end like this is truly sad,” he said.
“He was one of the most stylish surfers we’ve ever produced in this country. He was an absolute prodigious talent and as flamboyant as he was in the water.”
He added that Mr Davidson was just a great guy who was ‘at the top of the professional world for a number of years and in his day could beat anybody’.
The surf community is expected to come together in the coming days.
“We’ll have to come together like we always do, and we’ll do a big paddle for him,” Mr Occhilupo said.