Review: Holding On, The Film That Will Define An Era In Wave Riding
COASTALWATCH | Reviews
Growing up as a bodyboarder in Sydney it was surreal to think that a feature length documentary, showcasing the growth of bodyboarding would be ever be created. However, thanks to a momentous Kickstarter campaign (where die-hard fans chipped in their own money to get the whole process rolling), a couple of devoted and persistent production crew; namely Simon Bruncke and Trent Beattie were able to turn this surrealism into reality to produce a world first: “Holding On”.
I was lucky enough to score a ticket to the premiere at the Sharkies Leagues Club in Cronulla. This highly anticipated documentary sold out days before screening and so expectations were loaded as 600 people piled into the venue. There was a real buzz when I walked into the temporary cinema, everybody was already in amped for what was to come. After a few brief words from Mark Sorensen, Jarrod Gibson and Simon Bruncke, the screening commenced and the crowd erupted.
Holding On is a documentary about six Cronulla bodyboarders known as the “Skid Kids” who grew up in the 1980s-1990s, and loved surfing solid Shark Island. The Skid Kids (Nathan “Nugget” Purcell, Matt Percy, Dave Ballard, Adam “Wingnut” Smith, Mark Fordham and Christian “Rissole” Riguccini) were a somewhat rebellious group who took it upon themselves to turn the Australian bodyboarding scene on its head, give it a voice and expose the real potential of the sport.
The documentary began in the early days, of the 1970s when bodyboarding was starting to breathe. It was at this time that surfers dominated the entire Cronulla stretch, excluding Shark Island of course, which was deemed unrideable. Thanks to a bit of good luck and a few pioneers, the bodyboard itself was introduced to Australia and turned out to be the perfect craft for tackling this unreadable break.
A handful of local chargers rose up in the early 1980s, exposing the sport and it’s potential to stand alone respectfully and credibly. They were the Skid Kids. The crew wanted none of the beachie groveling that was being ridden, they wanted cold, hard, challenging slabs, they wanted to push the limits as hard as they could, leaving behind the soppy beach break events run by the Australian Bodyboard Association. With the industry booming, the boys were on cloud nine and nothing could stop them in their tracks. Wingnut changed all that; he lost the plot. One of their best mates passed away and all major funding was slashed from bodyboarding, effectively destroying the industry.
It wasn’t all bad though. This period was after all, a time of transition. It was at this time, that we were introduced to the infamous Underground Tapes that showcased to the world what bodyboarding really is. Through their fearless approach to heavy waves like Shark Island, bodyboarders began to earn the respect from fellow wave riders all around the globe. This was particularly evident upon the creation of the Shark Island Challenge, which in my eyes was the biggest and best legacy left by the Skid Kids.
A great feature of this movie was the way in which each member of the Skid Kids crew was able to reflect back on the peaks and troughs of these times through some forthright interviews. We were even given an insight from unlikely sources such like Luke Egan (ex-pro surfer) and Eric Grothe Jnr (former NRL player) which was a pleasant surprise. The only thing better than the interviews was the footage. The old school footage of Shark Island and the whole party scene back in the day was incredible. It was obvious that a lot of work and research had gone into retrieving this archival footage from videographers like Chris Stroh and Darryl Menzies.
Technically, the cinemaphotography was spot on; the amazing shots were complimented by a moody, emphatic soundtrack that seamlessly tied together the extreme action footage, the well-written story, biographies, and interviews.
Holding On is a must see if you love your bodyboarding. Heck, I recommend it as great viewing for anyone who loves the ocean and a bit of sports history. Admittedly, I didn’t know too much about the history of the bodyboarding before seeing this documentary. It was definitely an eye-opener and has lead me to a deeper appreciation of what I have always taken for granted: the versatility of the wave riding sport that is bodyboarding.
Make sure you get along to one of the Australia-wide screenings!
Wednesday, February 10: Arcadia Twin Cinemas, Ulladulla
Thursday, February 11: Hoyts, Warringah Mall Friday,
February 12: Avoca Beach Theatre, Avoca Beach
Saturday, February 13: Greater Union, Newcastle
Thursday, February 18: Majestic Cinema, Port Macquarie Friday,
February 19: Event Cinema, Coffs Harbour Saturday,
February 20: Pighouse Flicks, Byron Bay Friday,
February 26: Event Cinema, Coolangatta Saturday,
February 27: Event Cinema, Noosa Thursday,
March 3: The Backlot, Perth Friday,
March 4: Arts, Margaret River Wednesday,
March 9: Mercury Cinema, Adelaide Thursday,
March 10: Jam Factory, Melbourne Friday,
March 11: Peninsula Cinema, Sorrento
Tickets for all stops of the premiere tour can be purchased via Moshtix
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