Australian surfer Chris Davidson dies after punch outside pub

A man has faced court over the death of the former surfing champion Chris Davidson who died after being punched outside a pub on the New South Wales mid-north coast.

Police said they were called to Sportsmans Way at South West Rocks just after 11pm on Saturday following reports a man had been punched in the face, fallen and hit his head on the pavement.

Officers found 45-year-old Davidson unconscious on the ground. He was treated at the scene by ambulance paramedics before being taken to Kempsey hospital, where he died a short time later.

Police arrested a 42-year-old man at home in South West Rocks early on Sunday and charged him with assault causing death.

He was refused bail and appeared in Port Macquarie bail court on Sunday.

Davidson, who grew up surfing at North Narrabeen on Sydney’s northern beaches, competed on the world professional surfing tour in 2010 and 2011.

Surfing Australia says the sport’s community is mourning the loss of the man affectionately known as “Davo”.

“Davo was an incredibly talented surfer and a true individual in our sport and community,” the organisation said on Facebook.

“Our thoughts go out to his two children, friends and family at this time.”

Eleven-time World Surf League champion Kelly Slater, who Davidson beat in two consecutive heats at Bells Beach as a 19-year-old wildcard entrant in 1996, called him one of the most naturally talented surfers he ever knew.

“Lost another soldier yesterday. #RipChrisDavo. Had many a good battle with this guy,” Slater said on Instagram.

Davidson, who grew up surfing at North Narrabeen on Sydney’s northern beaches, competed on the World Surf League championship tour in 2010 and 2011.

His best result was a tie for third at the 2010 Portugal event, when he was narrowly defeated by Slater, who won the event.

Australian surfer Chris Davidson ties for third in 2010 Rip Curl Pro event – video
“I felt like I surfed pretty well against Kelly, but when he goes and pulls a 360 Alley-Oop on a nothing wave, it’s hard to fight back,” Davidson told surfing magazine Tracks at the time.

Friend Nathan Hedge told Nine’s Today show Davidson’s death was tragic, and that Davidson was a unique character, kind-hearted, charismatic and the life of the party.

“He just wanted to make sure you had a good time as well,” he said.