Surfing legend dies after tucking into big barrel

A WELL-KNOWN Coast surfer has gone out the way he would have wanted - in the waves - after catching a big barrel.

Les "Noro" Norish started surfing on the Coast when he was about 14 and lived with mates in a house on Hastings St at Noosa in the 1960s.

The goofy-footer loved going left and sought out breaks from the northern to the southern ends of the Sunshine Coast where he could do that.

Former Coast surfer Les Norish relaxes with his daughter Suzie and granddaughter Isla.
Former Coast surfer Les Norish relaxes with his daughter Suzie and granddaughter Isla. Contributed

His death on Friday morning while surfing in Western Australia has come as a shock to the Sunshine Coast surfing community.

He was 66.

Mr Norish moved to Kalbarri, north of Geraldton, in 1990 after finding his dream place where the desert met the ocean.

Close friend Lidya Kowalewycz had known him since the 1970s.

Her partner Russell Jurss had known Mr Norish since they were teenagers.

Mr Norish introduced the couple.

Former Coast surfer Les Norish (left) and his mate Russell
Former Coast surfer Les Norish (left) and his mate Russell "Rat" Jurss embark on a surfing adventure in Western Australia in 1984. Contributed

Lidya said Mr Norish had lived at different places on the Coast but was mostly known for his time in the Caloundra area.

She said he shaped his own surfboards and was known to make boards for young surfers.

He would also repair damaged boards for surfers who were short on money.

"He has always looked after the young kids and mentored them," Lidya said.

She said he was always in the water at dawn and would teach others about surf etiquette.

He wore a self-made helmet to protect his ears from the effects of being in the ocean every day.

Former Sunshine Coast surfer Les Norish goes left at Mooloolaba in 1973.
Former Sunshine Coast surfer Les Norish goes left at Mooloolaba in 1973. Contributed

Mr Norish is believed to have suffered a heart attack while in the water at Jakes Point in Kalbarri.

The surf was between two to three metres.

"He was getting some big barrels," Lidya said.

She had been told he caught a wave, got a barrel and was paddling back out when he had the attack.

"If there was a way for him to go, that is the way for him to go.

"He wouldn't want it any other way."

Fellow friend and Coast surfer Gary O'Donnell said many people had left tributes online since learning of Mr Norish's death.

He and a few other friends went up to Moffat Beach headland on Friday night to have a few beers in honour of him.

"He was such a friendly person," Mr O'Donnell said.

He said young people on the Coast used to call him "Uncle Les" and he was known by many in Western Australia as "Old Spice".

"He was everyone's friend."


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