INTERVIEW: Craig Anderson

4 Sep 2012 0 Share

The Makings of a Style Master

By Jed Smith

Freesurfer's trophy!

Freesurfer's trophy!

When Coastalwatch first met Craig Anderson he couldn’t have been any lower on the pro surfing pecking order. The kid couldn’t even score a slice of couch to sleep on during his first ever magazine trip, instead setting himself up in the corner of the lounge room with a couple of beach towels as his mattress (leaving the beds to Dion Agius, Wade Goodall, Yadin Nicol and CJ Hobgood who were also on the trip).

Today, he’s one of the most recognisable surfers in the world and, in what you might call an ironic twist, it’s his enthusiasm to live the life of a vagrant that’s played an integral role in his rise. Nothing stands between Ando and his desire to score waves these days. Right now, he’s making his way to a land camp on a remote Indonesian island where he’ll spend the next week putting that oily style of his through it's paces in front of an appreciative camera. We caught up with the South African born Novocastrian before he left, to talk about style, modern surfing and where this curious career of his is heading.

CW: Let’s go back to the very beginning and your upbringing in South Africa, Ando. Can you tell us about that?

I grew up in a coastal town called Blue Water Bay about a ten-minute drive out of Port Elizabeth. There was basically a two-lane road and then the bushes and the sand dunes started. I had two dogs and I’d run out and look to see whether there were any cars coming and I’d just surf everyday across the road. At Port Elizabeth there were quite a few good surfers that lived there and I used to go to J Bay on weekends with my dad. My mates had holiday houses at J Bay so we’d go and post up there but I wouldn’t surf at Supertubes, more down the point when I was younger. I surfed there quite often.

Is that where you developed the economy of movement and flow that’s come to define your style?

Yeah, when I think about it, it kind of makes sense. The guys I grew up looking at all had super clean styles and no one was in a rush to do anything on waves. Dylan Stone was my hero growing up and I saw him recently surfing J Bay and he looked like Parko out there. It tripped me out. It’s definitely not easy to surf those points well.

What are your favourite things about surfing?

Everything about it and everything that goes with it. The cruisy vibes, the lifestyle, the good times.

You were at the skate park when you first picked up the phone. I hear you’re a big skate fan. What do you like about that sub-culture?

The general feel to skate culture is rock and roll. They smoke ciggies, drink a lot, they’ll skate all night and sleep all day. They do what they want. I feel like there is more responsibility as a pro surfer because the brands are more commercialized. I guess skaters have always been pretty rebellious but then you’ve got guys like (Matt) Hoy (a mentor of sorts to Craig) who have always done what they want and it’s turned out well for them. I stay up with him and his mates when they are drunk and just listen to their stories. Those guys and their surf culture was radical. But surf culture is still rad even though it’s changed a lot since those early days.

Why do you think it changed?

There’s just more money in it these days.

Quite a few top pros from your generation didn’t even attempt to join the World Tour. Why is that?

Being on the tour you’ve got a schedule, you’ve gotta be at a certain place at a certain time and the ocean doesn’t always cooperate. To have fun all the stars have to align and to set periods like that, it’s tough. I think when we were on the (Australian) Junior series there was someone like Kai (Neville) who was doing rad stuff with Youth on the Run, the whole younger momentum crew, and it gave us an avenue. I think the whole surfing community, everyone is super nice and super rad it’s just that competitive vibe. It’s gnarly. You go to a contest and you see everyone and it’s like ‘Hey, how you doing.’ You have your close buddies who you communicate with but it seems like everyone can’t be friends cause they want to beat each other. Then when we hang out in Byron with Waz (Smith), Dion (Agius) and Rangi (Ormond), we have the best time ever.

Who have you been most influenced by?

There are a bunch of people. At Merewether (Newcastle), I met Hoy and always looked up to him. Hanging with him and hearing the stories it might make you think differently about shit. Guys like Kai (Neville) and Dion Agius and Dane (Reynolds) and how they do what they want. They’re all pretty influential dudes in surfing in general. They’re just groovy cats. There are a lot of people who I look up to who have done things differently. The older guys who started the whole freesurfing deal; (Brendan) Margo, Ozzie (Wright), Rasta. I’ve always looked up to them. And all the guys in those old Taylor Steele movies and the Momentum crew.

How do you make a career out of surfing these days?

You’ve just gotta be unique in a way and do something that someone isn’t doing or have something no one else has. Video segments are way more important than good comp results. I can’t remember who won a couple of ‘CTs ago but I will always put a DVD on and get psyched to go surfing. The Modern Collective or Lost Atlas is always good to watch but you’re not gonna log back onto the J Bay site and watch Jordy and Julian.

How do you set goals in your ambiguous career path?

I never set goals, ever. My dad always told me to write down goals but I don’t think I ever did it. With what I’m doing now, I’d just be stoked if I’m around and blessed and able to be a freesurfer. In a couple of years if I can keep doing this I’ll be over the moon. I still enjoy surfing different boards and the other side of surfing, the not so radical. I find it just as fun maybe even a bit more fun for me. Surfing is in a cool place at the moment so it will be interesting to see what happens over the decade or so.

Tags: interview , jed smith , sean roche , craig anderson (create Alert from these tags)

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