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Surfing legend Kim ‘Fly’ Bradley dies in Bali
April 3rd, 2009

Australian surfing pioneer Kim “Fly” Bradley died last week at his home on Bali, the Indonesian island he surfed almost alone in the early 1970s. He was 54.

His daughter, Dewi Bradley, said he died on March 26, a spiritual holiday for Balinese Hindus known as the “Day of Silence.”

Family members found him two days later, in his favourite room in the house he built overlooking Kuta beach, she said.

The surfing legend and father-of-two from Sydney had battled skin cancer for years but the official cause of death had not been determined.

“My father had long suffered from skin disease, but the cause of death will be issued in two weeks by the hospital,” Dewi told AFP, adding that her father, a convert to Hinduism, would be cremated at the end of April.

Fair-skinned and fair-haired, Bradley grew up surfing Sydney’s northern beaches in the 1960s before the days of effective sunscreen.

In his later years his condition was so bad he was unable to venture out in the sun, let alone on to the waves, so he busied himself with surfboard design and shaping.

Known as “the Fly” because of his small stature, Bradley claimed to have made the first surfboard built in Indonesia and later started a successful clothing business with his Balinese wife, Made.

His friend, Dian Hadiani, said he would often talk about his early days on Bali when he surfed the famous breaks of Dreamland, Nusa Dua and Balangan alone, having flown to the island on a whim in 1974 aged just 19.

“The last time I met him was a week before he died. He hugged me tightly and quite long. He then gave me a pile of his diaries and photos and asked me to keep them,” she said.

“I didn’t find anything wrong with his health — he smoked cigarettes as usual.”

In a 2007 interview with “Surfer’s Path” magazine, Bradley recalled the excitement of exploring Bali’s huge offshore breaks with a small group of other surfers.

“We had to work it out for ourselves… there’s like 26 breaks or something on the Bukit Peninsula now, but when I came we knew of two,” he was quoted as saying.

“Paddling out at 12 foot (four metres) Nusa Dua by yourself… even at eight foot it’s pretty scary.

“You’re looking out there and it’s 10-12 foot but it’s too good to resist so I’d say a quiet word to myself and my master: ‘Well if it’s today, it’s a good day to die.’

“If I die standing up in a 12-foot barrel, if the master says it’s my time to go… then what a way to go.”

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