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“The Time: Late September 1983. The Place: The terrace of Le Sables D’Or,Chambre d’Amour, Anglet, France. The Cast: Brian Hegarty – former All Black rugby tourist, local celebrity and centre for Biarritz Olympique. Miki Dora – maverick surfer, nomad , living legend. Yours truly. The reason: Dora and I are there for the free lunch (with wine). Brian is picking up the tab!

Brian settles himself into a chair that is slightly too small for his large frame. I am fresh out of the water, extremely excited and fit easily into the restaurant furniture as I never have quite enough to eat. Miki is taciturn, monosyllabic and probably irritated by the presence of yet another young punk surfer.

Neither Brian or I ask Miki too many surf related questions – Brian because he is already familiar with Miki (Miki used to park his large, green Mercedes van outside Brian’s house in order to hook up to his electricity) me because I am slightly in awe of the great man and do not want to appear over eager and gushing.

We turn our attention to the menu and wine list.

The wine helps the situation (a decent Banyuls Rose’), as does the glorious sunshine and beautiful 5ft waves peeling off the groins front and centre. Miki however, appears distracted and slightly rude – lacing his comments with a little too much cynicism for an optimistic young man like me.

I leave the lunch feeling let down, my meeting with an idol somewhat tarnished. I found out nearly thirty years later (from David Rensin’s admirable Biography of Dora “All for a few perfect waves“), that Miki was fresh out of federal custody and had just returned to France.

We never met again in a formal situation, but some weeks later he smiled and hailed me a rapid “Bonjour” in the car park at Les Cavaliers. 

It is the smile and the wave that stay, rather than the lunch – although I do recall that the food was good – Thanks Brian! 

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