Interview: Davey Cathels and The Jim Beam Surftag Win
Slavey Davey Leads the Narra Boardriders
By Jed Smith
Davey Cathels began his path to redemption last week with a stellar performance at the 2013 Jim Beam Surftag Australian Championships. Coastalwatch sat down with him to talk about representing Australia's most formidable beach and how he's going to resurrect his career.
“It’s just a kick up the bum,” shrugs Davey Cathels, the Narrabeen junior star who was recently axed by his major sponsor, Rip Curl. The beads of sweat are still glistening on his forehead, courtesy of a grueling three-hour training session at surfing’s High Performance Center at Casuarina, when Coastalwatch sat down with him. Formerly the toast of Australian junior surfing, with a World Pro Junior win to his name, Davey was a shock omission from the Rip Curl team late last year. Far from bitter, he’s training harder than ever and last week put on a stellar performance at the Jim Beam Surftag Australian Championships to lead his native North Narrabeen to victory.
CW: How important was winning this event for you?
DC: It was pretty big. The last two times I’ve been in it where we won I felt like I’d done shit; hadn’t competed good. To come away from the northern beaches and win it up here (at D’bah), we were proud of ourselves. We came up with a full game plan to stay away from the Goldy because we always come up during the Kirra teams and we all just end up partying and getting caught up in the nightlife and we get our minds off it. Noodles (Nathan Webster) said he was only gonna come up if we were gonna do it right. Our coach was the same, so we got a really nice house in Chinderah away from the Goldy, we got a bunch of food before we came up and we had a guy who cooked really good breakfasts, lunch and dinner. The day before we were training and running a few (mock) heats. It was one of those contests where - I’ve felt it before in comps - everything felt too good to the point it felt like we couldn’t lose.
You guys upped the ante in the professionalism stakes compared to most beaches. What was the motivation to do that?
We feel the pressure, or not the pressure, but the legacy of our beach and the guys who have come before us. It’s kind of like we’re out there doing it for a reason: to prove that Narrabeen is the most prestigious and best boardriders club in Australia. And that’s a lot to do with the people who’ve come before us.
So surfing for Narrabeen is like driving for Ferrari or playing for the All Blacks where anything less than a first place is failure?
Pretty much. Last year when we didn’t qualify for the nationals and state was at our beach it was pretty heavy. I wasn’t in it, I was injured and a few of the other boys were away. We thought our team would get through to State (titles) and then we could get to the Nationals. Everyone was pretty off it when we lost. Nothing got that heavy but everyone was aware that we had to do better next time.
You had guys like Nathan Hedge, Nathan ‘Noodles’ Webster and Chris Davidson in your team – all guys who are in the twilight of their careers. What are they like once you get them in a contest jersey?
As soon as those guys put a rashie on they’re on. They’re not there to fuck around, especially Nudes. He’s the oldest and has been competing for the longest but as soon as he puts the rashie on there’s no fucking around.
Those three guys in particular have all had their ups and downs. Hedgey has been off the drink for a year now, what’s it like being surrounded by those kind of characters?
Yeah, it’s just good to know they’re there and giving it 100%. And yeah, those guys have been through some stuff so it’s good to know that we all enjoy each other’s company and have good team camaraderie. Going up here and having five guys on the beach just cheering for you and going mad, it’s a funny feeling ‘cause as soon as you hit the beach you’re screaming for them, too. You get pretty emotional, it’s weird. Surfing is such an individual sport, so it’s rare to have that kind of team camaraderie. The whole event is pretty cool ’cause Australia is the only country that does it really. It’s pretty unique and yeah, it’s a pretty sick feeling to have in surfing.
You’re going through your own sponsorship dramas at the moment. How helpful have Hedgey and Davo - two guys who’ve been through similar troughs in their career - been with that?
We talk about it, you know, we just talk about it. There’s not much help they can give really. We’re all trying to get sponsored but I mean, yeah you just know you have someone to talk about stuff with. Even going through things like dry spells with winning comps, you can talk to them and they’ve been through it and to have those guys who have been through everything before it’s really cool, and Nudes as well. It’s pretty cool having those guys in your team that you can always depend on who are happy to talk to you about stuff.
Having been dropped by Rip Curl did you feel you had something to prove at the event?
Definitely. When I was sponsored I was maybe taking things for granted a little bit. I was always waiting for Rip Curl to do things for me, waiting for them to make a name for me but nowadays you’ve pretty much go out and make your own image. I sat back and waited for Rip Curl to make an image for me. I’ve realized now you can’t do that you’ve gotta go out and do it for yourself.
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