The waves had been good for a few days, but I’d been lazy. I have a view up to The Alley from where I live, so I could see there were some spitting barrels and already a few ski teams on it. I drove and checked Kirra and Greenmount around 7:30am with the intention of trying to surf. I usually have my camera with me so I shot a few line-ups. It was so crowded though and Kirra seemed too high. I swung past Currumbin on the way home and it was still pumping. Too many ski teams (and too sweepy) to really be able to paddle the place, so I settled for creeping out in the bushes with my camera.It’s the first time I’ve ever shot it. I don’t really think it’s all that photogenic until it gets to this size at least. In fact, I’ve always known it as “Crumbling Alley”, although I believe it has had a “best ever” bank for a good part of 2011, so the locals say.It’s tough for me to comment, as I surf there so rarely, but I’d say in terms of some of the individual waves coming through, this day is as good as it gets. The difficulty with all the Queensland points is that once it gets to a certain size it’s near-impossible to paddle, purely based on the sweep. You simply can’t sit in the right spot to get the best waves, so skis become essential. I’m from WA originally and I always find myself wishing the GC had an equivalent of North Point. Somewhere that handles the swell size, but still allows you to paddle.
The Cooly Kid planets don’t align so much these days… different waves, different wives, different lives. But in Tahiti this year Joel, Mick and Deano got the band back together. When the big swell hit on the morning of August 27, Deano dropped his bags on Parko’s veranda, grabbed whatever protective equipment he could – two lifevests and a gold helmet – and headed straight for oblivion. One wave and a busted fetlock later, Deano took up residence on Joel’s couch. Joel relished having his little mate around. It was the most time they’d spent together in years. Five days later, and after fetching 200 beers and making 20 cheese baguettes for his little injured mate, Joel realised there is such a thing as spending too much time together, and went surfing instead.
"We didn't catch a wave until midnight, and we were already exhausted before we even got out there. We'd surfed all afternoon and we were already so tires. And driving the skis out of Botany Bay we were almost nodding off. It was pitch black and as we were driving out we almost ran into one of those big pylons they tie the tugs off to. You couldn't see shit. But then as you come around the headland and you could see Ours from a distance under lights, it was like running on to the field for the Grand Final. It looked so crazy. And suddenly you're not one bit tired. We were buzzing out there. We were like little kids. It was the weirdest, wildest feeling being out in the water in the middle of the night in a big swell. From the water looking into the barrel was like watching something from another planet. They just didn't look real." – Mark Mathews
It was the wave of Nathan Fletcher’s life. As he dropped into the Teahupoo beast, Bruce Irons yelled out in alarm, “No, Nay-Nay!” But Fletcher disappeared over the ledge regardless. In a heartbeat he found himself inside a tube five times overhead… and locked into a hellish three-storey Dali painting. He floats the foamball of the 30-footer. He airdrops back into the flats. He falls, and the inevitable incineration follows soon after. Koby Abberton went to find what was left of the Californian in the lagoon, wary of him suddenly resurfacing in front of his ski. Eventually, 200 metres away, he popped up. His first words? “I think I should probably go in.”
"That wave I got, I knew it was a good size wave but - whooo - as soon as you drop down the swell, holy s#*t, you see the boats going higher and higher you go shit, I thought I was on the shoulder! You see the boats go high but after that you're not looking at the nose of your board because the water is sucking and all you're doing is making sure the nose of your board is staying on this fucking plane. People don't understand it's like riding a flowrider. The water is moving so fast and you're just fighting it. I was riding Dingo's board and I knew nothing about tow boards and I was just angling so hard, I'm turning, turning, turning and it's black or brown or green or whatever, and I'm suddenly just thinking, am I really in this situation? Is this for real? I'm in this vortexing tornado and I'm looking toward the beach but I'm focussing on the single six-by-six window in front of me. I don't see a lip, I don't see a boat, I don't see anything but the nose of my board which I'm trying to keep from catching an edge and it's just… raaaahhh, and suddenly the rail bites and in a heartbeat I'm going up and over and I'm weightless and just kind of went, Is this really going on?" - Bruce Irons.
“I don’t often ride boards much longer than 5’8”. I often ride boards much shorter. I have a coffin board that’s 5’2”. I’ve been enjoying that. It scares little kids though, especially if I walk down the beach with my hombre lobo mask on. I probably shouldn’t growl and beat my chest as I walk down either, or rip the heads off seagulls and drink their blood right there on the sand. I can imagine that’d be quite a traumatic thing for a kid to see. Anyway the only problem with my smaller boards is I can’t paddle them fast enough to catch waves when the surf picks up. When I was in Bali I bought three Dylan Longbottoms for bigger waves. The board on the cover is the 6’4” he made me. When I got them I took them all to this awesome surf shop in Poppy’s lane. Inside was this dude just surrounded by paint, smoking gudangs and looking super ghetto. He painted my happy rainbow board and a red board with a white lightning bolt and a black one with a white lightning bolt. I had another black lightning bolt board that I got from a guy named Chook at Ulus but that was a different board. The Dylan lightning bolt was a rounded pin and a lot easier to paddle into waves. It went super fast out Ulu and it was pretty sick for carving. I love carving especially on the street on my skateboard with soft wheels. I also carved some surfboard foam into a two headed Batman once and that was pretty cool. I don’t so much remember this exact wave. Waves in Bali are so mechanical and perfect. I don’t know where that board is today either. I left it at Bob Moore’s place so hopefully it’s still there. It better be or I’ll rip his head off and drink his blood on the next full moon. ”
Kai Otton pulled into a little car park that runs along a clump of shops on a Queenscliff street. It was 5am on a Thursday and still dark except for passing cars and the warm glow of his local bakery. It’s the only place he can get a coffee around there at that hour. He walked in and ordered his regular. Next to some guys in work boots and hi-vis vests were Sam Page and Luke Cheadle, as planned. Their bleary eyed heads sat deep under hooded jumpers. They clenched the ends of their sleeves over the cold skin on the backs of their hands until their orders were ready. When the coffee in cardboard cups and pastries in white paper bags were distributed, the small surf team got back into their cars. Kai's was packed with a stack of boards ready for anything the ocean could throw at him in the next week. Next to them were his other essentials - a swag, a drizabone, camping boots, and other trinkets you see in far corners of camping stores. He was ready. "This is south of Bondi reality," he'd smile later, kitted out in the sort of gear that didn't worry about the pouring rain while the rest of us shivered in fleece jumpers. Headlights were flicked on, keys were turned in ignitions, and the two car convoy got ready to get on that road. A surf trip like this has a beginning that's individual to every person involved. It can start as one packs a board-bag the night before, or perhaps as they arrive at the destination, or maybe the moment flights are booked and boarded. For Kai Otton, it most definitely started there on the road out of his current suburb. With a scroll through his iPhone to K, for Kyuss, and an acceleration out of the car park, the adventure to this wave had begun.
"I thought it would be easier to make a fun single fin than like a high performance normal board. I've always wanted to make one. These winter mornings when it's kind of small, you're like, 'F#*k, where can I get a single fin?' You go and ask all the old dogs and they are like, 'Yeah we've got one but it's mine and it's old.' A single fin is your board, you know what I mean? I've got one now so I'm stoked. I went in thinking, "I like 5'8"s so it's gonna be a 5'8". There's gonna be a wider nose pulled into the tail." And, um, that's pretty much what we did. It's a little but thicker than my normal boards but the tail's pretty thin, it was too thin to even put a box in there for the fin so we had to put a set fin in it, so it's thick but way thinner than your typical old school board. It was looking a little bit too wide and straight so I brought the tail in and just chopped a straight cut tail. I don't know why I did that. Probably because of Dane Reynolds. I saw him do that on his site. Greg (Webb, one of Chippa's shapers) was showing me what to do but I think he knew that he wanted me to shape it rather than him, so he would show me then just walk off and I'd be like, 'Umm… is this what I'm doing.' Once It was finished though and I put it under my arm it felt so sick. It felt like it was gonna go off." – Chippa Wilson
Excerpt from THE FIVE PILLARS by Michael Kew from SW323The first wave spits. Craig Anderson sits. “This place is on par with HTs,” he says in Newcastle tongue.Craig’s on the concrete steps at the base of the pier. His black boardshorts drip. His moppy hair is damp and his shoulders ache.“Except at HTs, you have five perfect waves in a set, whereas here you might only get one. Maybe.”He points at the line-up.“But look at this!”Brendon Gibbens bottom-turns full rail, stalls, disappears for six seconds. He emerges, digs a deep carnivorous gouge, exits the wave. Standard procedure. On the second wave, bearded/longhaired Chadd Konig styles and highlines into the tube, a picture straight from Morning Of The Earth. Trevor Gordon, on an orange 6’7” Lovelace hull, blitzes through the third. The spit stings his back.“That was a nice set,” Jones says to Anderson. “Probably going to get better this afternoon, eh? This place is way better than those other two islands.”Anderson nods again, finishes his tea, crushes the cup in his hand. “We didn’t think we were gonna get it this good,” he says.
Alan van Gysen
"The tides this summer were super high, which is pretty unusual. Low tides when there's not much swell means pretty bad waves around home but all summer was really good and extra ripable. We had a lot of days about three-to-four foot and even a few barrels here and there too. It was actually perfect for just flaring above the lip as much as possible. That's the kind of surfing I've always loved and it's still my focus now. Pretty much more than ever.Every year about this time I start getting really excited for the tour. I crave it. I need it. This year is going to be so crazy with all the young guys. The way they surf and the results they've already had inspires me because that was what you had to do to get results. But now the game is changing. It's all above the lip."
With the right board, Pipeline really was not as difficult as it appeared. This was a good board, most of my Pipe boards were 8'-0" and somehow I hung on to this one through the years. Randy Rarick refurbished it and sold it in one of his surf auctions for a ridiculous amount of money .... but then Randy is able to take a beat up old board and make it look, literally, brand new.
Michael used to come around to my place at Fingal and get his drinking water from my rainwater tank. He’d come down at two in the morning sometimes. He thought he was being poisoned by tap water so he’d come and fill these big containers. He could taste it and knew he could trust us. He was big about water. He was really into everything organic and healthy and he knew he was made of 70 per cent water, so he focussed on that and felt it was really important.I was surfing between Fingal and Brunswick a lot with Michael around that time. This wasn’t long before he was institutionalised, and he wanted to get away from the Gold Coast and all his troubles up there. When he’d come down and get water he’d come in and have a cup of tea with my girlfriend and I. My girlfriend’s mother was a classic. She was the most down to Earth Aussie woman ever, and she’d spar with Michael when he came around; “Are you on drugs or something, are you?” And Michael would just chuckle and laugh it off. People saw Michael as a doped-up, aggro dark kind of guy, but that was a side of Michael I never knew. Michael was shy, humble even, and once you got his trust he’d open up to you. And we had a lot of great surfs together on that stretch of coast.This image is my favourite memory of Michael. It’s a piece of film that I found in my files, a scrappy piece of film that I found and took a frame grab off. It’s as rough as guts and scratched up and imperfect which is why I love it. It’s symbolic. I think it was taken at Burleigh, and he’s got the Fangtail, the craziest surfboard ever, and he’s bolting out to the point. That whole picture has such a dynamic to it. It’s an MP sighting. It’s like a Sasquatch sighting; he just happened to be caught by my lens. This one picture says everything about Michael. Look at him, he’s happy! He’s going surfing. He’s leaving us, but he’s happy. – Jack McCoy