Relive The Best Weekender Of Everyone's Lives
THE SURFING WORLD CAMP 2017
With Vaughan Blakey
Shaper’s Alley is fizzing with opportunity. The outlines, bottom curves, rockers, colour tints, and fin setups are freshly squeezed juice for the imagination. So much variety. So many choices. There’s a flavour for every type of wave and wave riding style imaginable, and crew of all ages, shapes, and sizes are lining up to see what they can learn from the masters of the craft.
The mood on the beach is one of celebration. Yeah, there was a bit of rain last night, but all it served to do was bring the campers together under the Katalane Tipi for some chat time with Chippa Wilson, Otis Carey, Doug Lees, Joel Fitzgerald, and the Misfit lads, and also to enjoy a special big screen viewing of the SW Grom Bash flick. It was feel good and intimate, warm and welcoming, a perfect kickstart to another classic surf trip in the great Australian bush.
Back in the water Lachie Rombauts, the big wave legend from the East Coast Swell of 2016, is riding a board that looks longer than the Great Wall of China. He swoops low and arcs the thing masterfully. I wonder if he’s been to China and checked the rail line on the Great Wall? If anyone could surf it, it’s Lachie.
Down the beach the high flyers are in action. Otis Carey, Fraser Dovell, Holly Wawn, and Letty Mortensen shred. Joel Fitz is flying smooth and high on his Dream Catcher twinnie, and fellow shaper Jye Byrnes is ripping the lid off wash-through sets on one of his remarkable quad designs. Jaleesa Vincent from the Sunny Coast is bouncing from board to board like a ball over the lyrics of a Play School song. She’s keen to feel them all out but it’s the big red single that best suits her Reno Abellira inspired flared wettie. Keyo Rhodes – a grom we had in for work experience – dazzles with captivating style in the crunching left shories. It doesn’t stop us from burying him in the sand up to his head and shoving a live crab in his mouth, but he’s earned a new respect outside the office.
Gary McNeill twinnies are shooting left, right, and centre. Art and science together at last. What a masterful shaper, and the smiles from those whipping past sections with barely a wiggle confirms he understands the relationship between foam, glass, and water as good or better than anyone, ever. Richie Lovett turns up with a clutch of high tech GSI 7S, Modern and Creative Army shapes from the future and in the water they zip and zap like Buck Rogers on a space bender. There’s electricity in those jets. Rich is also looking like my long lost doppleganger. We talk about going bald and laugh because going bald never gets old – unless you’re still in the anger and denial stages of losing your hair. Crumpy is here too. What a legend. We love the Crump.
The day moves slowly. People mingle. People talk. People rides waves. The Futures Fins legends are schooling crew on how to get more speed, drive, and manoeuvrability from their current fin setups, and the O’Neill mob enlighten everyone on the next big leap with their outstanding rubber (you can see it on page 105). A dog rides a wave. A man wearing dive goggles and pink budgie smugglers lands a mighty impressive finner. In the Sun Bum tent, CW editor Sally Mac is offering free sun cream application massages. A kid named Nate jams a wicked pocket snap into the pit and is chaired up the beach towards the biggest payday of his life, the $1000 Sun Bum ‘Bum Rush challenge’. Lovers walk down the beach holding hands. Somewhere in the distance, on a wireless radio, Lionel Richie is singing ‘Easy’. Sculpt boards are littered on the sand and through the line-up like a dropped packet of hundreds and thousands. Nick Miles’s ingenious mix of stringerless foam cores and epoxy acid wash sealings make for a riding experience unlike any other. I bought one after a single wave last year.
I wander past the Misfit tent where Chongy is chilling, Oaty is chilling, Lehman is chilling, Cam Stymes is chilling, Bez is chilling and shaper Dave is Howling. He walks over to me. “You should try The Suspended Particle, it’ll work for you, it’s physics,” he says. I paddle out and surf on The Suspended Particle and punch the angriest nooner I’ve done in years. “Dave is a shaping Einstein,” I think to myself. I should nominate him for a Nobel prize.
With the swell still rising, the line-up begins to wash out. The sun is setting on a full day of ripping, experimentation, and genuine froth. Back at the camp refuelling becomes the imperative. Gas stoves at every site send plumes of aromatic spices into the air courtesy of the deliciously convenient Amy’s Kitchen sample packs. Those too lazy to cook are smashing the Mexicano boys’ paella bowl like it’s manna from latino heaven. And while the arms are sore, the belly’s full, the private areas chaffed, and the eyes severely bloodshot, the promise of the night’s entertainment quickly overwhelm any signs of fatigue. The crack of the first Corona a familiar and welcome starting gun...
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