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smorgasboarder<br />

SURF<br />

2023<br />

#58<br />

magazine<br />

Ocean lore<br />

Hugh Powell<br />

Under Sail<br />

Forrest Ladkin<br />

Man of many<br />

Kale Brock

Celebrating<br />

48 YEARS<br />

Celebrating<br />

45 YEARS<br />

Gerringong | 90mins south of Sydney<br />

Online<br />

+<br />

In-store<br />

Australia’s Largest Independent Surf Shop.<br />

Proudly Family Owned & Run.<br />

w w w . n a t u r a l n e c e s s i t y . c o m . a u<br />

S H O P O N L I N E<br />

1,000+ surfboardS swiMwear heaven IN-STORE VEGO CAFE

#58<br />


2023<br />

46<br />

36<br />

72<br />

92<br />


18 STUFF/NEWS<br />



36 KALE BROCK<br />


72 HUGH POWELL<br />


92 CURL<br />


98 ALOHA BARRY<br />

smorgasboarders<br />

Editorial | Amber O’Dell<br />

amber@smorgasboarder.com.au<br />

0420 615 107<br />

Editorial & Advertising | Dave Swan<br />

dave@smorgasboarder.com.au<br />

0401 345 201<br />

Social Media | Phoebe Swan<br />

phoebe@smorgasboarder.com.au<br />

0459 705 404<br />

New Zealand | Jiff Morris<br />

jeff@smorgasboarder.co.nz<br />

0220 943 913<br />

South Australia | Jimmy Ellis<br />

james@smorgasboarder.com.au<br />

0410 175 552<br />

Design | Horse & Water Creative<br />

mark, val, helen, taylah, sarah<br />

mark@horseandwater.com.au<br />

Accounts | Louise Gough<br />

louise@smorgasboarder.com.au<br />

smorgasboarder<br />

SURF<br />

Ocean lore<br />

Hugh Powell<br />

Under Sail<br />

Forrest Ladkin<br />

2023<br />

#58<br />

magazine<br />

Man of many<br />

Kale Brock<br />

our cover<br />

Photo: Daygin Prescott<br />

Surfer: Hugh Powell<br />

get involved<br />

Stories, photos, ideas, new and<br />

interesting surf-related stuff you<br />

want to share? Drop us a line on<br />

editorial@smorgasboarder.com.au<br />

get your fix<br />

1. Subscribe — the mag is still<br />

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smorgasboarder.com.au.<br />

Smorgasboarder is published by Huge C Media PTY LTD ABN 30944673055. All information is correct at time of going to press. The publication cannot<br />

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see the wood<br />

photo credit: Lukie Surf ‘n Sun

for the seas<br />

Eco-conscious. Sustainable.<br />

Hand-made. High performance.<br />

All Australian. Built to last.<br />

Boards. Kits. Fins. Blanks. Accessories.<br />







STORES, BIG W &<br />



Be happy<br />

“What do you want to be when you grow up? What do you want to do when you finish<br />

school?”<br />

My youngest child Sam recently celebrated the completion of his schooling years as this<br />

edition went to print. I couldn’t recall how many times he was asked that question through the<br />

years, the former more recently of course. And while both are valid questions, I couldn’t help<br />

but think that possibly a more appropriate question might be, “What makes you happy? Now<br />

that school is finished, how will you pursue what makes you happy?”<br />

Concerningly, it would appear that so many people undertake a career or a trade because<br />

of what they have been cajoled into pursuing. Sometimes that might be due to their grades,<br />

their parents own occupations, school career counsellors and/or their wider circle of family<br />

and friends. The last criteria however would appear to be that said individual’s interests. We<br />

spend so much of our lives working, surely it is plain common sense that we must first make<br />

sure we enjoy what we do to earn a dollar?<br />

“Don’t you want to go to uni? Shouldn’t you know by now what you want to do?” The<br />

endless procession of questions ensues. We seem to pressure our youth to come up with an<br />

immediate answer to what they want to do with their lives when so many of us change our<br />

studies and jobs incessantly until we at least hit our thirties. A lucky few know what they want<br />

to do throughout the entirety of their lives, but they are the exception rather than the rule.<br />

Why is it so pivotal that there must be an answer to this question when one finishes school?<br />

Sam doesn’t know what he wants to do, and you know what, I don’t care. I only care that he<br />

is happy and what he does makes him happy. At one stage he wanted to be a professional<br />

footballer, but his passion waned and he changed his mind. While I was initially disappointed,<br />

as I felt he might be wasting his talent, I agreed with his decision because I am cognisant of<br />

the fact that if you don’t have a true passion for what you do, you will never put in the hard<br />

yards to realise that dream. When you do something you love, you will always put in the effort<br />

to make it worthwhile. Sure, the desire and love for that certain pursuit may wax and wane<br />

from time to time, but there will always be an underlying passion driving you to succeed.<br />

So, most importantly, I want Sam to be happy, to live life and enjoy everything he does, work<br />

and play. Too many young adults today battle depression and some unfortunately commit<br />

suicide for us all not to be concerned about their happiness, first and foremost, above all<br />

else, including their careers and salaries.<br />

I consider Katie and I fortunate that our kids are so far pursuing what they want to do and are<br />

loving life. Mikaela is belting away on her drums, playing with a host of bands while selling her<br />

art at the markets and most recently hosting her first ever exhibition. Phoebe works with me<br />

at Horse & Water, our creative agency, which also produces this esteemed publication, and<br />

so of course she loves what she does and considers herself so incredibly fortunate to work<br />

with such an amazing boss. And I have full confidence that Sam will figure out in due course<br />

what he wants to do because he is a smart cookie. My only bit of guidance is to pursue what<br />

makes him happy, and perhaps pay him a little bit of money so I don’t have to constantly<br />

refuel his car.<br />

Where am I going with all of this? Well, this is the ‘long-winded edition’… Jokes aside, this<br />

edition has a bit to do with aspirations and passions. Our feature story is about a young man<br />

by the name of Forrest Ladkin. Forrest regales his early childhood dream of being a pirate<br />

and how he has kind of realised that dream. Sailing the seas, not the plundering. He is an<br />

incredibly talented waterman but had next to no experience sailing a yacht. Despite this he<br />

pursued his dreams by going over to Sweden to buy himself a yacht. His ensuing journey<br />

ultimately brought him all the way down to Tahiti and Sumbawa, which are certainly nice<br />

places to end up in the pursuit of your dreams.<br />

In this edition we also talk to the one and only Mitchell Rae, surfboard alchemist, artisan and<br />

every other complimentary superlative you can think of. Mitchell’s pursuit of his passion,<br />

crafting magical surfboards, has enabled him to live the life he desired. Best of all, he has<br />

recently been acclaimed as one of the best in the world at doing what he loves. What a<br />

beautiful accolade.<br />

Mark Riley and Stephen Halpin also love what they do. The pride and passion they put into<br />

each of their boards is on clear display. We chat with them about their big wave wooden guns<br />

in particular.<br />

We also chat with surfing legal eagle Hugh Powell about ocean law and former television<br />

personality turned surf coach Kale Brock who can certainly rip (pictured here pulling a nice<br />

floater). If that wasn’t enough, even our good mate Darren Marks, aka Curl, who brings to<br />

us the antics of Aloha Barry each edition, talks about his love of drawing. Curl will have you<br />

rolling around in stitches as he describes the immense joy he feels working with us. Hell,<br />

even our controversy column talks about pursuing what interests you and not what’s deemed<br />

cool. The weird and wonderful have always appealed to us and it’s amazing how many of<br />

the inventions we’ve tested through the years might appear out of the ordinary, but their<br />

performance most certainly is, for all the right reasons.<br />

So, be happy people. It is a joyous time of year, the season to be jolly. Make sure to seize the<br />

day and live your life to the fullest. Merry Christmas from all of us at Smorgasboarder.<br />

The Smorgasboarders

Photo supplied courtesy of Kale Brock

CUSTOM<br />


SINCE 1969.<br />

COWES 03 5952 2578<br />

147 Thompson Ave, Cowes<br />

SMITHS 03 5952 3443<br />

225 Smiths Beach Rd, Smiths Beach


DROP IN<br />

Latest summer<br />

stock in store now.<br />

Reader photos<br />

Joe Brayford at G-Land tucking into<br />

a few small ones. He also happens to<br />

be a Team Rider for Mark Benson of<br />

Mr Damage Surfboards in SA.<br />


Contact Peter 0417 727 875 peter@kpsgroup.com.au<br />

1/12 The Terrace,<br />

Brunswick Heads NSW<br />

p: 02 6685 1283<br />

# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />






words: dave swan<br />


& ANYTHING<br />

Fish Finger<br />

MORE Surfboards<br />

Rather than a controversial<br />

topic per say, or my regular<br />

rant as this column has<br />

so often become depending<br />

on my mood, the topic of<br />

conversation this time<br />

around is more of a personal<br />

observation. I believe<br />

surfers today, in the main,<br />

are averse to new things.<br />

By ‘things’ I mean new<br />

approaches to surfboard<br />

design, technology, fins and<br />

basically anything out of<br />

the mainstream. Essentially,<br />

if it’s not endorsed by a pro<br />

surfer, it isn’t any good.<br />

What makes this stance quite intriguing is that the<br />

whole evolution of surfing, and indeed surfboard design,<br />

including the shortboard revolution and so on, were<br />

brought about by a free-thinking, exploratory, free-spirited<br />

approach to almost everything related to surfing.<br />

Alternatives were imagined, considered and trialled<br />

regarding surfboard design, whether it be length, plan<br />

shape, deck profile, bottom profile, concave, rocker,<br />

materials employed, fins, fin systems, deck pads, leashes<br />

and more.<br />

Some might argue that this is proof it has all been trialled<br />

before and we’ve stuck with what’s proven. However,<br />

have surfing styles not progressed since back when these<br />

various creations were developed? Maybe they’re more<br />

relevant to today’s varied surfing styles?<br />

With regards to pro-surfer endorsements, these certainly<br />

validate the effectiveness of a said product. The question<br />

remains however, how much can that product benefit an<br />

everyday surfer? Will it make a bee’s d*ck of difference to<br />

Joe or Josy Average? I don’t know about you, but I don’t<br />

surf like a pro surfer and am not going to anytime soon.<br />

One could argue, “If you best want to emulate how a<br />

pro surfer surfs, you would be well placed to buy the<br />

boards and equipment they do.” Personally, I think that<br />

perspective is bollocks. I don’t have their ability, nor their<br />

stature, so maybe I am better served by looking into<br />

equipment that will help compensate for my shortcomings,<br />

things that will serve to enhance my strengths. Plus,<br />

maybe I am not trying to just go fast and pull off a massive<br />

air or cutback. Maybe I just want to drift and slide the ass<br />

of my board out as I attempt a bottom turn or slowly draw<br />

out a massive arc on the wave face.<br />

Getting back to this risk averse observation of mine, think<br />

to yourself how many times you have heard your mates<br />

when they’ve seen something new go, “Oh, that won’t<br />

work. Oh, that’s for kooks. That’s just weird.” This is<br />

despite the fact that they may have never tried the product.<br />

What ever happened to our good old Australian saying,<br />

“You’ll never know unless you give it a go.” It should now<br />

be replaced with, “Yeah nah, I don’t try anything new for<br />

fear of being labelled uncool or a kook.”<br />

FOILZ<br />

5 degree planular section<br />

Fish Finger<br />

training wheels<br />

# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />

16<br />

Paul cole and<br />

his fat penguin

winglets<br />

foil-section<br />

shaped tip<br />



low taper<br />

ratio<br />

The Wavegrinder<br />

5.5 fin for thrusters<br />

high aspect<br />

ratio<br />

planform<br />

rounded nose<br />

section<br />

Some people might not believe this statement to be true,<br />

but allow me to give you a little insight into the last 14 years<br />

of Smorgasboarder. Through this time, we have come to<br />

know of, hear about and subsequently trial so many new/<br />

reinvigorated/reimagined surfboard designs, products and<br />

technologies. I couldn’t count how many times we were<br />

stopped in the street and questioned as to whether they<br />

worked. Although I should rephrase that, by “questioned”,<br />

I should say the way in which the question was asked,<br />

along with the facial expression, inferred part scorn, part<br />

belittlement and part bemusement, as if to say, “Surely that<br />

doesn’t work”. My reply would always be, “I don’t know,<br />

but there is only one way to find out and it will be fun all the<br />

same.”<br />

So, what are some of these creations? Adorned on this<br />

spread is but a few. Each heightened a certain aspect of<br />

surfing I love but not necessarily all at once — from speed<br />

to glide drifting, manoeuvrability, mellow cruising and<br />

noseriding. Surfing to me is a bit like music. I like everything<br />

from thrash metal through to classical, jazz, rap, reggae, rock,<br />

country and everything else in between. It just depends on my<br />

mood.<br />

So, what led me to pen this article? It was a recent<br />

conversation I had with Jack Field of Surfoilz who has been<br />

trialling his boards with the FoilDrive system, which basically<br />

speeds up the whole learn-to-foil process. This bit of tech<br />

enables you to get up on foil (the hardest part) and then, it is<br />

all up to you.<br />

Jack mentioned how reticent surfers were to try new things,<br />

like foiling and new technologies like the FoilDrive. I was<br />

trying to convince him that was not the case. However, the<br />

more I thought about it, the more I questioned my conviction.<br />

I then reconsidered my stance somewhat in light of the little<br />

community we have got going thanks to Smorgasboarder.<br />

In some small way, I would like to think we have influenced<br />

a shift in narrative and encouraged more people to try new<br />

things and simply go out there and have fun. Screw the<br />

naysayers. Just consider the revolution that is going on with<br />

Keith “Robbo” Robinson’s Gut Slider of late reintroducing<br />

those whose knees have given up long ago to the joys of<br />

surfing once more.<br />

Anyhow, I argued that may be the case with surfers in the<br />

main, but Smorgasboarders are a different breed. We follow<br />

the beat of a different drum. Through the years of us trialling<br />

the weird and wonderful, we have hopefully opened our<br />

reader’s minds to the endless possibilities for fun out on the<br />

water. Surfing everything and anything is a Smorgasboarder’s<br />

mantra – it’s our creed. Continue to open your minds to the<br />

endless possibilities good people.<br />

NASA 0012<br />

foil section<br />

cutaway<br />


Harvey Surfboards<br />

goberlygook<br />

by GLENN CAT<br />

low sweepback<br />

angle<br />

forwardly<br />

projecting fin root<br />


Tom Wegener<br />

Mark Rabbidge’s<br />

Five Finger Splade<br />

# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />


Drowning: at what cost<br />

to rescue another?<br />

As the summer holidays draw near, beachgoers and ocean-lovers will flee to the water in<br />

Australia. Being in the ocean brings with it a feeling of freedom, adventure and holidays.<br />

But the beach is also Australia’s leading coastal drowning location.<br />

# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />

18<br />

Year in and year out, hundreds drown. Each is tragic. Each is avoidable.<br />

Bystanders, particularly surfers, play a pivotal role in preventing drowning.<br />

But, at what cost?<br />

The National Drowning Report 2023 recorded 281 drownings in the last<br />

year. 75 of those were at the beach, which is a 29% increase on the 10-<br />

year average. Rip currents are the number one coastal hazard and are on<br />

the rise with men being the highest fatality. Most beach drownings occur at<br />

the height of the summer holidays – January and February on Saturday and<br />

Sundays.<br />

About two thirds of drownings happen more than one kilometre away from<br />

a Surf Life Saving service. This is unsurprising, given that only about 4% of<br />

the 11,000-odd beaches in Australia are patrolled in some form. Inevitably,<br />

emergency assistance falls to bystanders in the absence of Surf Life Saving<br />

support, usually surfers or other beachgoers.<br />

13% of drownings at beaches in 2022/23 were an attempted rescue of<br />

another. That’s 10 people in the last year who tried to do the right thing but<br />

paid the ultimate price.<br />

The lack of accurate data about successful bystander rescuers could be<br />

because most go unreported. However, some studies suggest that surfers<br />

make as many rescues as trained professional lifeguards. Most surfers do not<br />

possess the same level of skill to save a life as a trained lifeguard. An average<br />

of 10 surfers drown themselves each year and nearly 40% of surfers have<br />

rated themselves as being a weak or average swimmer. So, what liability<br />

could attach to a surfer who attempts to rescue another, but whose good<br />

intentions do not save a life?<br />

Firstly, there is no proactive duty to rescue someone in danger. It is a moral<br />

obligation that compels us to act. Apart from the morally questionable nature<br />

of the issue, while it will always depend on the circumstances, it is hard to<br />

envisage a situation where a viable claim would arise due to the numerous<br />

defences available. One exception could be if the rescue was conducted in a<br />

grossly negligent or reckless manner. And what if the surfer is injured during<br />

the rescue?<br />

A claim could potentially be pursued directly against the person being rescued<br />

if the injury was a reasonably foreseeable consequence of the situation.<br />

There is clearly value in generally allowing lifeguards (employed and<br />

volunteer) to conduct rescues without fear of being sued. In Queensland,<br />

generally no liability will attach to a lifeguard for an act done while rendering<br />

first aid or assistance to another in an emergency. The situation in New South<br />

Wales is slightly different in that volunteer lifeguards are still protected, but<br />

vicarious liability could attach to their club or the council depending on the<br />

circumstances.<br />

While Australia has always had a strong professional lifeguarding and<br />

volunteer Surf Life Saving service, it is inherently impossible for all beaches to<br />

be patrolled at all times. Surfers and other beachgoers have historically done<br />

their best to plug the gap and sometimes, this has sadly cost them their lives.<br />

With the summer holidays now upon us and temperatures predicted to be<br />

higher than ever, there will be more people in the water and more pressure<br />

on our Surf Life Saving services. The beach is a hazardous and unpredictable<br />

environment, so let’s be safe this summer as we remember the brave people<br />

who put their own lives at risk to save another.<br />

schultzlaw.com.au<br />


NEWS<br />

Building a surfboard with your dad, mother,<br />

brother, sister, uncle or good friend is more than<br />

just the joy of crafting something with your own<br />

hands. It is the opportunity to spend quality time<br />

with those you love. This Christmas, if you’re<br />

considering what may be the perfect gift for<br />

that special someone who loves to surf, think<br />

no further than a board building course. They<br />

will not only have something tangible they can<br />

take away from the experience, it will also be<br />

something they can enjoy over and over again<br />

and, most importantly of all, you will both have<br />

an indelible memory of that special time spent<br />

together. That’s how special bonds are formed.<br />

Conor Hegyi bought a board building course for<br />

his father Charles last Father’s Day. He spoke of<br />

the memorable experience.<br />

“I had such a great time creating these boards<br />

with Dad.<br />

“If you are lucky enough to still have your dad<br />

with you and you were thinking it’s time to do<br />

something meaningful together, then this is your<br />

reminder. We don’t live forever so go make it<br />

happen. Go make some memories.<br />

“Thank you Mark Riley at Riley Balsa Surfboards<br />

for making this opportunity possible. It was an<br />

honour to meet you and work with you learning<br />

your art.”<br />

Mark conducts a number of board building<br />

courses throughout the year and yes, gift<br />

certificates are available for Christmas.<br />

There are indeed many reputable places around<br />

Australia that host board building courses,<br />

ranging from hollow wooden surfboards through<br />

to solid balsa classics, eco-friendly creations<br />

and those made of foam and fibreglass.<br />

Listed below are a number of courses that have<br />

appeared in the pages of Smorgasboarder throughout<br />

the years:<br />

balsawoodsurfboardsriley.com<br />

(Cronulla, New South Wales)<br />

www.facebook.com/treehouse.shapes/<br />

(Helensburgh, New South Wales)<br />

shapesbysteveo.com (Sunshine Coast, Queensland)<br />

tomwegenersurfboards.com<br />

(Sunshine Coast, Queensland)<br />

barenakedboards.com.au<br />

(Sunshine Coast, Queensland)<br />

bywaterdesign.com.au (Brisbane, Queensland)<br />

treetosea.com.au (Mt Eliza, Victoria)<br />

thesurfboardstudio.com.au (Melbourne, Victoria)<br />

connectedby.org (Perth, Western Australia)<br />

redleafsurfboards.com (North Island, New Zealand)<br />

# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />


stuff<br />

SET YOUR<br />

Riding with sunglasses can be a<br />

SIGHTS<br />

hassle. They fog up, get splattered<br />

with water droplets that hamper your<br />

vision and can fall off and sink to the<br />

bottom of the ocean. New technology<br />

now makes those stereotypical<br />

problems a thing of the past, as seen<br />

HIGHER<br />

in this interview with Pete Walmsley<br />

from LiP Sunglasses Australia as he<br />

discusses eye protection in the water.<br />

Realistically, how much of a problem is the<br />

sun's glare for our eyes and how much worse<br />

does it become when combined with water?<br />

The core risk to eye health is from UV radiation. Most<br />

of us are aware that the sun's ultraviolet rays are<br />

completely invisible yet damaging to our skin and<br />

can lead to sunburn and skin cancer. It's why we use<br />

sunscreen to block out these harmful rays.<br />

The eyes and the skin around the eyes can also be<br />

damaged by exposure to UV radiation. Like visible<br />

light, UV light reflects off water and increases your<br />

exposure to UV radiation and the associated risks to<br />

your eye health. A secondary but also important issue<br />

associated with the sun's glare is the loss of visual<br />

performance. Glare can be extremely uncomfortable,<br />

quickly leading to irritation (redness and dryness),<br />

headache and blurred vision.<br />

# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />

20<br />

What happens to our eyes when directly zapped<br />

by sunlight glare?<br />

Without UV blocking lenses, UV-A radiation can<br />

damage the macula, a part of the retina at the back<br />

of the eye, whereas UV-B radiation can damage the<br />

front of the eyes like the cornea and lens. Macular<br />

degeneration, cataracts, pterygium (aka: 'surfer's<br />

eye'), skin cancer and corneal sunburn all result from<br />

UV exposure to the eyes and can lead to temporary<br />

or even permanent blindness. Most importantly, the<br />

damage that UV does to our eyes is cumulative over<br />

our lifetime, so it's really important to get into the habit<br />

of wearing sunglasses at an early age.<br />

What should we consider when protecting our<br />

eyes from UV radiation on the water?<br />

Our eyes may be protected from UV damage with UV<br />

blocking sunglasses, but the degree to which they<br />

are protected will also be determined by the shape of

stuff<br />

the frame we are wearing. UV is indiscriminate and<br />

ubiquitous and there is an abundance of reflected<br />

UV flying around when we are out on the water.<br />

All of our watershades are an 8-base (or 'wrap') fit,<br />

which means the frame closely contours the face.<br />

This has the dual benefit of minimising UV and<br />

light leakage from the sides, top and bottom of the<br />

frame, and also significantly enhances peripheral<br />

vision, which has a big advantage for fast-moving<br />

watersports. In combination with UV blocking<br />

lenses, this helps to minimise the amount of UV that<br />

can penetrate behind the lenses from the sides,<br />

bottom and top. The larger the gap between the<br />

frame and face, the more likely UV will penetrate<br />

into the eyes and the skin around the eyes.<br />

How should we reduce glare when out on the<br />

water?<br />

The best way to reduce glare is to wear sunglasses<br />

with polarised lenses. Polarised lenses have a<br />

special filter that blocks out horizontally reflected<br />

light that comes off surfaces like water and snow,<br />

which we perceive as glare.<br />

How do lenses differ? What makes a highperformance<br />

lens?<br />

It is helpful to think about lenses as comprised of<br />

two components – one, the lens material substrate,<br />

and two, the lens coatings.<br />

There are many materials used in lenses, ranging<br />

from glass to polyurethane. Each material has its<br />

own characteristics in terms of clarity, weight,<br />

impact resistance, refractive index and scratch<br />

resistance. For impact sports like surfing,<br />

kiteboarding and wing foiling, lightweight and highly<br />

impact resistant materials like polycarbonate, trivex<br />

or nylon are the most suitable.<br />

Coatings can be applied to the base lens material<br />

to provide enhanced functionality and performance.<br />

Coatings like anti-fog, anti-reflection, hydrophobic,<br />

anti-scratch, mirror and, in some cases, polarisation<br />

are all applied on top of the substrate. It is the<br />

addition of these coatings that differentiate one<br />

lens from another in terms of functionality and<br />

performance but, as with everything in life, you get<br />

what you pay for as not all lens coatings are created<br />

equally. We only source our lenses from leading<br />

lens suppliers. Most of our sunglasses have ZEISS<br />

lenses, as the quality of their lens substrates and<br />

coatings is unrivalled in the industry.<br />

When did LiP Sunglasses produce their first<br />

shades for water use?<br />

We are passionate watersports people and aim to<br />

do everything we can to ensure people can spend<br />

more time out in the water doing what they love<br />

while also protecting their eyes.<br />

Our first watersports sunglasses design, the<br />

Typhoon, was created in 2012. The name was<br />

inspired by a South Korean windsurfer, 'Typhoon<br />

Jeon', who spent much of his time windsurfing on<br />

the island of Boracay with our founders. Since then,<br />

we have continued to refine our designs and grow<br />

the range from one to three different models with a<br />

variety of lens tints and frame colour combinations.<br />

What makes LiP Sunglasses different?<br />

Our sunglasses utilise state-of-the-art lens and<br />

coating technology supported within lightweight<br />

and flexible frames that are comfortable and can<br />

absorb impact loads. The frame designs also offer<br />

an optimal field of view with a wrapped frame<br />

curvature and extensive eye protection.<br />

We utilise a premium hydrophobic coating on the<br />

inside and outside of our lenses which aggressively<br />

repels water to keep the lenses clear. We have<br />

also developed a unique double-stage retainer<br />

system so you can’t lose your sunglasses, even in<br />

the biggest wipeouts. We are so confident in the<br />

quality of our sunglasses that we offer a three-year<br />

warranty across all models.<br />

As a way of acknowledging<br />

and celebrating the passionate<br />

watersports readers of this<br />

publication we are pleased to offer a<br />

10% OFF COUPON<br />

for a limited time<br />

‘SmorgasboarderSunnies’<br />

Visit lip-sunglasses.com.au, choose<br />

your sunnies, pop in the coupon code at<br />

checkout, get your<br />

sunnies in the post<br />

and then spend more<br />

time out there on<br />

the water, without<br />

the glare, while also<br />

protecting your eyes.<br />

lip-sunglasses.com.au<br />

# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />


IN!<br />

WIN!WIN!<br />

WIN!<br />

GHOST<br />

RACKS<br />

comp<br />

LIKE TO<br />

WIN A<br />

VOODOO<br />

CHILD?<br />

Here’s your chance to<br />

be the proud-owner<br />

of this 6’4” quad/<br />

thruster hand-crafted<br />

by Stephen Halpin.<br />

Board<br />

The board you are in the running<br />

to win is this magic 6’4” x 22” x 2<br />

5/8”. Super responsive and an easy<br />

paddler, it’s sure to get you onto<br />

plenty of waves. Featuring beautiful<br />

pin lines and Hawaiian hibiscus fabric<br />

inlay, it is truly a sight to behold.<br />

We must sure like these Ghost Racks because we now have quite<br />

a few around the place — at home, in the office… The reason being<br />

quite simply because they don’t detract from the display of your<br />

beloved surfboard, skateboard, snowboard and now guitar.<br />

Ghost Racks are a near transparent, super strong acrylic rack system.<br />

The appeal is undeniable and the reason why the racks have taken<br />

the world by storm.<br />

The good folks at Ghost Racks now make every kind of rack<br />

imaginable from surfboard racks to skateboard racks, corner racks,<br />

horizontal, vertical, multi-angle, free standing and overhead options…<br />

you name it, they have it. Better yet, Ghost Racks cater for a diverse<br />

array of board shapes and fin setups too, so your board doesn't<br />

get jeopardised. We love them so much at Smorgasboarder we are<br />

offering up a set of Ghost Racks for one lucky reader in every edition.<br />

So how do you enter?<br />

This is a game of chance. All you need to do is<br />

two things to be in with a chance to win:<br />

1. Signup to the Smorgasboarder newsletter,<br />

if you have not already. Go to our website<br />

smorgasboarder.com.au and click on the<br />

Newsletter Sign Me Up link and enter your<br />

email details<br />

2. Go to our Smorgasboarder Instagram page:<br />

a. Follow our Smorgasboarder Insta page<br />

b. Like the WIN A VOODOO CHILD post<br />

c. Share it on your Instagram page<br />

d. Tag us on your shared post<br />

Things you need to know…<br />

We’ll pick a winner on Wednesday 31st January 2024, so you<br />

have plenty of time to enter. We will announce the winner on our<br />

Instagram via an update to our GHOST RACKS COMP post.<br />

This competition is open to Smorgasboarder readers worldwide.<br />

The prize will be your choice of either a vertical or horizontal<br />

wall rack from the Ghost Racks surf range. We will even post<br />

the racks to you at their expense! This is a game of chance.<br />

Things you need to know…<br />

We’ll pick a winner on Wednesday 31st<br />

January 2024, so you have plenty of time to<br />

enter. We will announce the winner in our<br />

March 2024 Easter edition.<br />

This competition is open to Smorgasboarder<br />

readers throughout Australia and New<br />

Zealand.<br />

# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />

22<br />

how to enter<br />

Go to our Smorgasboarder<br />

Instagram page:<br />

a. Follow our Smorgasboarder Instagram page<br />

b. Like the GHOST RACKS COMP post<br />

c. Share it on your Instagram page<br />

d. Tag Smorgasboarder and Ghost Racks on your<br />

shared post<br />

It’s that simple.<br />

Please note: It will be the winner’s<br />

responsibility to collect their prize from<br />

Shapes by Steveo at Shed 30, 133 Quanda<br />

Road, Coolum, Queensland.<br />

Kaizen and Shapes by SteveO<br />

Aside from his hollow wooden surfboards and Hemp Tech eco-friendly range,<br />

Stephen also crafts a number of traditional foam and fibreglass models under<br />

his Kaizen brand, “Kaizen” being a Japanese term meaning change for the<br />

better or continuous improvement. Upon viewing Stephen at work in his<br />

factory you can see the various design templates and construction techniques<br />

he employs in his continual pursuit to refine and improve the boards he<br />

makes. You can tell he lives and breathes this philosophy.<br />


# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />


# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />


Across the ditch<br />

Most surfers are in tune with nature in some form or another, at the very least. As a result,<br />

an appreciation and respect for nature is almost a given. Well, there is no better place to be<br />

completely awestruck by Mother Nature than New Zealand. In this edition, we head inland<br />

somewhat to marvel at her natural wonders. Hey, you can’t surf 24/7, seven days a week.<br />

# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />


Across the ditch<br />

words: amber o’dell<br />

A STEP<br />


There’s a reason that, out of all the beautiful<br />

places in the world, New Zealand was chosen to<br />

host the greatest high fantasy adaptation of all<br />

time. The island’s landscape is beyond majestic,<br />

and we aren’t just talking about the coast.<br />

# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />


Across the ditch<br />

To say that we love the surf in New Zealand would<br />

be an understatement. The country has a heavenly<br />

15,000 kilometres of coastline, with each stretch<br />

being made up of turquoise swells, black sand bays<br />

and long beaches, some even framed by snowcapped<br />

mountains and temperate rainforests. Also,<br />

as most of you know already, we are suckers for<br />

cold water surfing.<br />

Every one of the island’s dreamlike beaches and<br />

secluded coves ooze paradise, which must say<br />

a whole lot about what lies further inland, deeper<br />

among New Zealand’s mountains, fjords, lakes and<br />

volcanoes. Our curiosity was officially piqued when<br />

an insightful little book came across our desks –<br />

Greatest Walks of the World.<br />

As surfers, we cannot help but feel the desire to<br />

chase and conquer all of the natural wonders that<br />

cross our path. Needless to say, we were quite<br />

taken by this comprehensive guide to the world’s<br />

most famous nature trails – each chosen for their<br />

outstanding natural beauty and popularity among<br />

the hiking community.<br />

Published earlier this year, Greatest Walks of the<br />

World is written by Stuart Butler and Mary Caperton<br />

Morgan Stuart – authors who share the belief that<br />

“there’s no more satisfying way of exploring the<br />

world than on foot”. In addition to being avid hikers,<br />

Stuart and Mary are science, guidebook and travel<br />

writers for publications such as Lonely Planet and<br />

Canon’s EOS magazine, so they really do know their<br />

stuff.<br />

As you can imagine, we initially flicked straight<br />

to the New Zealand section of the guide, which<br />

features walks that weave through glaciers, jagged<br />

cliffsides, forests, volcanic plateaus and some of the<br />

highest waterfalls in the world. It really does take<br />

a whole lot of planning and experience to navigate<br />

this exhilarating stuff, which is one of the problems<br />

that this book aims to solve.<br />

The read obviously features many of the major<br />

international walks that appear on a lot of people’s<br />

bucket lists, but what makes it especially handy is<br />

that its pages are filled to the brim with local insider<br />

advice – which is really some of the most valuable<br />

travel insights you can get.<br />

When it comes to the Land of the Long White<br />

Cloud, it’s no surprise that we were drawn to its<br />

most magnificent and well-known trail – the Milford<br />

Track. Built upon the ancient Māori footpaths<br />

that make up the Fiordland National Park on the<br />

South Island, the walk follows a 53-kilometre route<br />

linking enormous glacier-carved valleys along the<br />

southwest coast.<br />

While the first few days of the walk (which includes<br />

a long, scenic boat ride to the north shore of Lake<br />

Te Anau) seem pretty cruisy, the book goes on to<br />

explain that the biggest physical test of this track<br />

makes itself known on day three, with the hike up<br />

McKinnon Pass.<br />

“Māori call this pass Omanui, meaning the ‘great<br />

escape’, as it’s a bit of a hidden route up and over<br />

the mountains between the Clinton River valley and<br />

the Arthur River valley. The trail zigzags up through<br />

dense rainforest before emerging into the alpine<br />

zone between Mount Hart and Mount Balloon,<br />

gaining more than 731 metres of elevation.<br />

“On clear days, you’ll be rewarded with a<br />

360-degree view of the surrounding landscape, but<br />

these days are rare, as visibility at the pass is often<br />

restricted by clouds and rain. But even wet weather<br />

is beautiful here, as fog adds an air of mystery to<br />

the landscape.<br />

“If you find yourself wet and shivering at the top of<br />

the pass, warm up in Pass Hut – a day lodge at the<br />

summit. The current hut is the fifth built at the pass,<br />

with three of the previous four having been blown<br />

off the summit by high winds.”<br />

Yeah, it’s a bit dicey, and a little different from the<br />

kinds of dangers that the ocean normally throws our<br />

way, but it’s all a part of the experience in regards<br />

to New Zealand’s beautiful untamed wilderness –<br />

expect wind and a whole lot of rain.<br />

After a four-day trek, the Milford Track comes to a<br />

spectacular end at Milford Sound, also known by<br />

its Māori name, Piopiotahi. In addition to looking<br />

like one of Bob Ross’s dramatic landscape oil<br />

paintings come to life, this famous fjord is known for<br />

its breathtaking views, which encompass towering<br />

rock faces and waterfalls that drop over 152-metres<br />

on either side of the Tasman Sea.<br />

Scenery like this really makes you understand why<br />

people spend days navigating some of the most<br />

perilous and unexplored corners of the world.<br />

The read obviously features<br />

many of the major international<br />

walks that appear on a lot of<br />

people's bucket lists, but what<br />

makes it especially handy is that<br />

its pages are filled to the brim<br />

with local insider advice .<br />

# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />


Across the ditch<br />

# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />

28<br />

Speaking of which, despite featuring 200 different trails<br />

(with each having its own set of unbelievable photos, might<br />

we add), the book really is thorough, and even specifies<br />

difficulty ratings with plenty of detail around the duration<br />

of the trek, the severity of its elevation and inclines, the<br />

types of equipment needed and the amount of experience<br />

required.<br />

Which is great, because unlike the Milford Track, New<br />

Zealand’s Tongariro Alpine Crossing requires a lot more grit,<br />

In addition to being avid hikers,<br />

Stuart and Mary are science,<br />

guidebook and travel writers for<br />

publications such as Lonely Planet<br />

and Canon's EOS magazine, so they<br />

really do know their stuff.<br />

The<br />

authors<br />

Mary Caperton Morton<br />

Stuart Butler<br />

especially since the trail passes through a valley of active<br />

volcanoes, meaning eruptions could happen at any time.<br />

Toted as one of the best day hikes in the world, the<br />

19.5-kilometre walk takes you through the alpine landscape<br />

of Tongariro National Park, which is littered with luminous<br />

pools and dominated by the region’s three largest<br />

volcanoes – Ruapehu, Ngāuruhoe and Tongariro.<br />

The book describes that, for the entire length of the<br />

crossing, you’ll be hiking on solidified lava flows, loose<br />

tephra (smaller rock particles ejected from the volcanic<br />

vent), lava bombs and larger rocks that were thrown by the<br />

volcano during its past eruptions.<br />

“The landscape is amazingly colourful with many hues of<br />

red iron and yellow sulphur standing out against the dark<br />

rock. In several areas, active fumaroles roil at the surface,<br />

spewing steam and sulphur dioxide.<br />

“In August and November 2012, the Te Maari craters<br />

on Mount Tongariro erupted, showering the route with a<br />

layer of ash and volcanic rocks. Nobody was hurt, but the<br />

Ketetahi Hut was damaged by volcanic bombs, and the trail<br />

was closed for several days after both eruptions.<br />

“Ngāuruhoe has erupted more than sixty times in the last<br />

150 years, with the most recent events occurring in 1973<br />

and 1975.”<br />

Obviously, Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a pretty hardcore<br />

trek, but despite its obvious intensity, many might be<br />

swayed to take it on due to the simple fact that Ngāuruhoe<br />

was the mountain used to represent Mount Doom in the<br />

Lord of the Rings series. In fact, plenty of breathtaking<br />

settings in Middle Earth were filmed along the trails featured<br />

in the book. You’ve got to admit, it does add to the fanciful<br />

experience of being immersed in some of the most outthere<br />

landscapes on earth.

Across the ditch<br />

However, as tempting as it might be to try to re-create some<br />

of the dramatic scenes on Mount Doom, Greatest Walks of<br />

the World states that the local Māori tribe campaigned to<br />

have Ngāuruhoe closed to outsiders after the movie in order<br />

to protect the mountain from erosion.<br />

“But don’t be too disappointed – the volcano’s steep slopes<br />

are covered in loose, volcanic ash, and the hike to the<br />

summit is a slog. If you really want to tag a high point along<br />

this route, Tongariro is a far better climb to a spectacular<br />

view. Just be aware that it adds considerable mileage and<br />

elevation gain onto an already long day.”<br />

Conveniently, every featured trail in the book comes with<br />

suggestions for similar walks to try next, with each trek<br />

linked by a common theme such as the type of terrain,<br />

region and wildlife. It was within these recommendations<br />

following the raw volcanic beauty of the Tongariro Alpine<br />

Crossing that we recognised Mount Taranaki – the second<br />

highest mountain on the North Island.<br />

There are few sights more striking than a lonely, snowcapped<br />

mountain almost entirely surrounded by ocean in<br />

the middle of a temperate forest. The Mount Taranaki trail<br />

really is beautiful, and most importantly, it is only a little over<br />

30 kilometres as the crow flies from the region’s famed surf<br />

breaks, like Stent Road and Graveyards.<br />

While our infatuation with New Zealand led us down the<br />

path of exploring its many famous trails, there are quite<br />

literally hundreds more hiking routes in this handy little<br />

book. We recommend checking out Greatest Walks of<br />

the World for those that seek adventures beyond the<br />

coastline, whether that be closer to home among the capes,<br />

mountains and prehistoric trails of Australia or somewhere<br />

far off on the other side of the earth.<br />

# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />


Across the ditch<br />

As the days grow longer, and the<br />

sun bites at our shoulders,<br />

We ride a nice little right-hander,<br />

before turning to paddle back out.<br />

It’s summer for us, and there’s so<br />

much fun to be had.<br />

But, as the saying goes...<br />

# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />

30<br />

it’s always<br />

Winter somewhere!

Across the ditch<br />

The shop is again bulging at the seams with our summer watersports<br />

lines — the likes of Torq & Modern surfboards, RedAir Inflatable<br />

SUP’s, Ripcurl and Vissla wetsuits and Hyperlite and Liquid Force<br />

wakeboard packages, to name just a few.<br />

Ironically, with a plethora of summer product instore, this time of year<br />

we are also taking delivery of all that great new winter product, ready<br />

for your Northern Hemisphere sojourns or preparing yourself for winter<br />

2024. As we struggle for shop space, all this preseason product can<br />

be seen on our newly redesigned website — www.nzshred.co.nz.<br />

Between days in the shop and trips down the coast, we’ve been<br />

spending a few moments, fine tuning the details of our annual Japan<br />

snow experiences. Based over a 21+ day excursion, we frequent both<br />

islands of Honshu and Hokkaido, visiting smaller towns and resorts<br />

while still having the comforts of quality infrastructure, with traditional<br />

Japanese charm. Doing both islands, allows participants to undertake<br />

in the whole trip or pick a leg to suit their own work or personal<br />

situations.<br />

Having the chance to travel to the “Land of the Rising Sun” some<br />

dozen times now, it is always such an experience and privilege. And<br />

the mix of group members is also a highlight, both for us organising<br />

and for often life-long friendships that are developed from this time<br />

away.<br />

But, we can’t kid ourselves… it’s yuki that we’re all really going for…<br />

and there is a truck-tonne of it. Wherever you go, whatever you do,<br />

a Japanese winter has an amazing amount of snow. The resorts we<br />

frequent, register an average snowfall of 13+ metres through these<br />

colder months, with some even pushing the 16m bar.<br />

And it’s not all about holidays and fun times. With the help of a variety<br />

of brands such as Oakley, Jones, Nitro and Burton, we take a whole<br />

lot of winter gear to demo – this is passed around the group and gives<br />

us a chance to get real-time feedback on how products perform and<br />

how it suits potential customers in the field.<br />

To check out the newly landed winter product and our huge range of<br />

summer clothing and toys, jump on our website or contact us directly.<br />

Keep an eye on our social channels to keep up with our day-to-day<br />

activities, as well as the 2024 Japan snow trips.<br />

NZ SHRED<br />

www.nzshred.co.nz<br />

# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />


Explore our region<br />

by Sup, Kayak<br />


Visit our world famous Whenuakura Island also<br />

known as Donut Island.<br />

Try a sailing excursion on Argonauta, a Classic<br />

44ft sailing yacht, in conjunction with our<br />

partner TRU NORTH OCEAN<br />

Stay and play on our multiple beach surf breaks.<br />



pedalandpaddle.co.nz<br />

027 224 2207<br />

Ultimate Surf<br />

& Skate<br />

# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />

32<br />

Ultimate Surf & Skate has been<br />

Auckland’s premium core surf & skate<br />

shop since 2000, supplying New Zealand<br />

with quality gear that’s been tested and<br />

proven by our crew.<br />

We’re New Zealand’s biggest stockist of<br />

Firewire and Haydenshapes surfboards,<br />

with many other amazing brands such as<br />

Christenson, Tokoro, Salt Gypsy, NSP<br />

and many more.<br />

Tested and proven wetsuits from<br />

Billabong, Vissla, C-Skins and<br />

Sisstrevolution.<br />

Next time you’re up in Auckland<br />

come visit us in our huge<br />

showroom and have a chat<br />

with our very experienced,<br />

knowledgeable and friendly<br />

staff. We’ll make sure you’re on<br />

the correct gear and/or advice<br />

before leaving the store<br />

+64 9 476 7000<br />

ultimatesurfnskate.co.nz<br />

‘Ultimate Surf & Skate -<br />

by surfers, for surfers’


SURF<br />

APPAREL.<br />



*$20 flat rate shipping to Aussie

Across the ditch<br />

SUPcentre<br />

Real Surf<br />

“Real Surf is a locally owned and operated core surf store<br />

specialising in surfboards, wetsuits, hardware and rentals. Come<br />

check out our new store just down the road at 5/56 Kingsford Smith<br />

Street, Lyall Bay, Wellington.<br />

We’re open seven days a week with a friendly and experienced team<br />

ready to help out with your next purchase!<br />

Alternatively check out our website for the latest products and sale<br />

deals at www.realsurf.co.nz or find us on social media.”<br />

+64 4 387 8798<br />

www.realsurf.co.nz<br />

team@realsurf.co.nz<br />

(Not Just A Stand Up Paddle Board Store)<br />

“What began as a specialist stand up paddle store over 10 years ago has<br />

now grown in to one of New Zealand’s best SUP, surf and wing-foil stores.<br />

Not only do we have a unique store in the heart of Newmarket, Auckland,<br />

but we also have a fantastic website, so no matter where you are located in<br />

New Zealand you can shop online and we will get what you need to you.<br />

We still carry a huge range of stand up paddle boards, paddles, fins and<br />

SUP accessories. However, now you’ll also find a wide range of surfboards,<br />

surf fins, leashes and wetsuits. Or, if wing-foiling is your new passion, then<br />

check out our quality range of wing-foil boards, wind wings, foils and foiling<br />

accessories. Whatever you need, visit us instore or online.”<br />

+64 9 520 3366<br />

www.supcentre.co.nz<br />

sales@supcentre.co.nz<br />

MOANA<br />

SUP and Surf<br />

Your stand up paddleboarding specialists<br />

Beachstreet<br />

“Beachstreet Surf Shop is a core surf shop, locally owned and<br />

operated just up from Fitzroy Beach.<br />

We stock surfing products for all types of wave riding. Home to local<br />

brands Lost in the 60’s and Blacksand.<br />

Also offering trade ins, ding repair, hire equipment and stand-up<br />

paddle and surf coaching.<br />

Beachstreet Surf Shop, it’s all about surfing!”<br />

+64 6-758 0400<br />

chip@hotmail.co.nz<br />

Moana SUP and Surf is Nelson’s iconic little surf store, locally<br />

owned and operated with a full range of SUP, Surf and foil<br />

boards. Moana SUP & Surf offers expert advice to get you<br />

geared up for paddling. The sister company Paddle Nelson,<br />

offers a range of unique paddling experiences for all to enjoy,<br />

including our latest and greatest Night SUP Guided Tour.<br />

We ship nation wide.<br />

Shop 2, 623 Rocks Rd, Moana, Nelson, 7011<br />

boards@moananzsup.co.nz | 027 285 0772<br />


welcome to the newest<br />

team rider...<br />

bavarian big wave charger, schitz panz!<br />


Schitz<br />

Schitz’s mother,<br />

Vrau Notwerrin Pänz<br />

only the best ride knobs.*<br />

This is why we we’re over the moon to drop our Pänz announcement! I mean, just look at that<br />

crowd here at Nazare, just to see the man go!** When our news of Schitz hit these fans, our<br />

beautiful little nuggets of sticky, waxy joy will fly, so get yours quick before they’re all gone.<br />





FREE<br />

STICKER! ****<br />

wax, t-shirts & assorted<br />

silliness available at<br />

surfknobs.com.au<br />

Important dickslamers: *This is not true. Any idiot can do it. **This is not true at all. In fact, this is 100% made up. ***Probably not true, but you never know.<br />

****Partially true: while you do get a sticker and we pretend it’s free, we’ve absolutely added every cent of it to the cost. So really, you’re paying for it. We will not be held<br />

responsible for purchases, loving of knobs, riding of knobs or any knobs-related actions based on misunderstanding, silliness or general willful ignorance.

# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />

36<br />

photo: guy williment

interview<br />

words: amber o’dell<br />

MAN<br />

OF<br />

MANY<br />







SMORGA<strong>SB</strong>OARDER, FROM<br />





Most surfers pick up one or two of these<br />

pastimes and run with them, but Kale Brock is<br />

not most people – he does it all. On the surface,<br />

he travels the world surfing while telling stories<br />

about surfing, but there’s a lot more to his<br />

vibrant, multifaceted career than that.<br />

Before his days of television, film and social<br />

media stardom, Kale grew up in Adelaide,<br />

which, as he pointed out, has a lot of ocean but<br />

not a lot of waves.<br />

“Adelaide is a good place to grow up, but it’s<br />

tough as a surfer. You’ve really got to put time<br />

in the car to go and find waves. I first interacted<br />

with the ocean on a regular basis through Surf<br />

Life Saving, which I started when I was really<br />

young, maybe six or seven. Through that I got<br />

introduced to some surfers and caught my first<br />

wave when I was about ten on someone else’s<br />

longboard, just a little whitewater.<br />

“I remember catching that wave and getting<br />

that feeling of the glide and going, okay, I think<br />

this is pretty serious. I said to Mum afterwards,<br />

‘Oh, there’s something pretty special about this<br />

sport.’<br />

“I didn’t really start surfing regularly until I was<br />

maybe 15 when my brother got his licence so<br />

we could drive. Then it became more of an<br />

obsession. I ended up giving up Aussie Rules<br />

football, which was going to be my career at<br />

that point. But I just didn’t love it as much as<br />

surfing, so I thought, nah, I need to just commit<br />

to surfing.”<br />

“I remember catching<br />

that wave and getting<br />

that feeling of the glide<br />

and going, okay, I think<br />

this is pretty serious. I<br />

said to Mum afterwards,<br />

‘Oh, there’s something<br />

pretty special about this<br />

sport.”<br />

We know as well as anybody else that it takes a long<br />

time for a surfing beginner to go from falling off and<br />

stumbling on surfboards to carving through waves<br />

with ease (although, wipeouts are still half the fun,<br />

even for such talented surfers as ourselves, Mark<br />

excluded).<br />

Learning to surf is hard, and yet, despite growing<br />

up on a waveless coastline and being unable to<br />

surf properly until his mid-teens, Kale’s surfing<br />

progression could be best described as meteoric.<br />

Kale informed us that a part of the reason why he<br />

developed his surfing skills so quickly was due to the<br />

surfing trips he often took with his older brother and<br />

friends.<br />

# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />


interview<br />

# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />

38<br />

“Naturally, they were a lot better. You sort of catch<br />

up very quickly when you surf with people who<br />

are better than you. My second rapid progression<br />

I would say happened when I actually started<br />

coaching people, funnily enough.<br />

“I had to reverse engineer surf techniques, so once<br />

I started doing that, I started looking at my own<br />

technique and going, ‘Oh hang on, what am I doing<br />

there? Why isn’t that working?’ I would see the<br />

footage and reprogram. That was a really big help<br />

to start developing some better habits.<br />

“I think that those two major milestones are where<br />

my surfing progressed most. I mean, obviously<br />

there are much better surfers than me around the<br />

world, but I think I’m quite capable, especially for<br />

someone who grew up in Adelaide.”<br />

Remarkably, Kale started coaching surfers when<br />

he was only in his mid-twenties. Over the years,<br />

he has perfected the intricate art of helping surfers<br />

access their peak performance by producing a<br />

myriad of content, including courses, tailor-made<br />

surfing experiences, video analyses and surfing<br />

retreats.<br />

Kale let us know that, when it comes to coaching,<br />

he focuses predominately on high-performance<br />

shortboarding.<br />

“I can coach people who ride longboards, and I<br />

can coach them in the basics of fundamental surf<br />

techniques like bottom turns, catching waves,<br />

positioning, angle take-offs and whatnot, but when<br />

it comes to actually cross-stepping, it’s not my<br />

forte, so I can’t really coach it.<br />

“But, you know, you can achieve high-performance<br />

shortboard style surfing on performance midlengths,<br />

which I think is an expanding category<br />

and one that deserves more interest and use<br />

throughout surfing demographics.”<br />

No matter how many years you’ve been surfing for,<br />

and no matter how much of a pro-surfer you think<br />

you might be, there will always be that lingering<br />

curiosity that drives you to find new ways to<br />

improve your form, or at least shake it up a little bit.<br />

When we asked what kind of go-to learning<br />

resources Kale takes advantage of to help other<br />

surfers evolve their skills, he said one of the primary<br />

tools he uses is SmoothStar – a skateboard<br />

designed to simulate the feeling of riding a wave<br />

that allows people to practice outside of the water.<br />

“I’ve worked with them from the start because they<br />

reached out and said they would love me to try out<br />

their boards. I instantly thought that wow, these<br />

are amazing. They’re really good at getting people<br />

to iron out their technique, as it’s high repetition<br />

without the need to actually catch a wave. That’s<br />

why they’re so effective.<br />

“They have really good crossover too, and need<br />

the same movements that are required to get a<br />

board moving. They’ve been a really good tool for<br />

my students and myself as well, particularly on my<br />

back end, as it really cleans up some technique<br />

issues. It can come across as a little bit kooky and<br />

even at face value, you know, ostensibly it kind of<br />

is kooky, but it’s just such a helpful training tool<br />

that I can’t not use or recommend. It’s really good.”<br />

“I had to reverse engineer surf techniques,<br />

so once I started doing that, I started<br />

looking at my own technique and going,<br />

‘Oh hang on, what am I doing there? Why<br />

isn’t that working?’ I would see the footage<br />

and reprogram. That was a really big help to<br />

start developing some better habits.”

interview<br />

photo credit: matt pearson<br />

# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />


interview<br />

# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />

40<br />




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Of course, when you are lucky enough to come across a renowned<br />

surf coach as detail-oriented as Kale, you have just got to ask about<br />

their boards. If you couldn’t tell already, he is definitely a shortboard<br />

kind of guy. However, when it comes to the rest of his quiver, Kale<br />

said he rides anything that is appropriate for the conditions, which he<br />

thinks is a big lesson that many people should try to abide by.<br />

“A lot of people just ride the same board all the time, regardless of<br />

the surf. As I’ve progressed in my own surfing, I’ve started to have a<br />

broader quiver and I’ll have boards for different conditions, which puts<br />

me in a good stead to travel the world and extract as much joy from<br />

each session as possible.<br />

“I must say, it totally depends on the conditions. I think I get the most<br />

joy out of catching tubes. So whatever board is appropriate for the<br />

tubes, be it an everyday shortboard or a bit of a high-performance<br />

shortboard, those are generally the sessions that I like most.”<br />

As a creative storyteller who documents some of the best waves that<br />

this planet has to offer, Kale has been fortunate to surf an unbelievable<br />

number of breaks. Most recently, his trips have led him to the beaches<br />

of Morocco, Spain, Portugal, Central America, Bali and the Maldives,<br />

in addition to a surf resort in Texas – just to name a few.<br />

So, you can imagine our surprise when, after drawing upon his<br />

worldwide surfing experiences, Kale said his favourite place to surf is<br />

at home.<br />

“There’s some really good waves at home. It’s quiet, there aren’t too<br />

many people and I know the spots very intimately. It will always have a<br />

special place in my heart.<br />

“At the same time, my work tends to take me all around the world. I<br />

was just in Nicaragua and had an incredible experience there. I’m in<br />

France right now and it’s been pumping and the weather’s amazing.<br />

It’s been absolutely incredible.<br />

“I also love the northern New South Wales coast. It’s such a beautiful<br />

part of the world. Australia in general is just the best I think for surfing<br />

anywhere, so that’s always been my preference.”<br />

Our chat with Kale soon gravitated towards the topic of big, heavy<br />

and intimidating waves – you know, the ones that send chills up your<br />

spine and adrenalin coursing through your veins. Yet again, Kale said<br />

that out of everywhere he has travelled, nothing compares to South<br />

Australia.<br />

“It’s the best. It’s the heaviest. It’s the scariest. Of all of the glory<br />

waves that I’ve had in my life, the best waves have all happened back<br />

home.<br />

“The only place I haven’t been that I would probably expect to be<br />

on that list is Hawaii, and I haven’t been there because the crowd<br />

situation kind of scares me. Growing up in South Oz, I’m very allergic<br />

to crowds.<br />

“There are a few breaks at home that make me very nervous. Not<br />

just because of the waves, but also because of what’s potentially<br />

underneath the waves, but I won’t share the names of those…”<br />

Naturally, as with all Smorgasboarder interviews, sharks creeped their<br />

way into the conversation. While Kale mentioned that he’s had a scare<br />

or two from sharks across his twenty-odd years of surfing (again,<br />

mostly at his home in South Australia), he also said that he’s dealt<br />

with his fair share of something else that strikes fear into the hearts of<br />

surfers – localism.<br />

“Spain was actually the worst experience I’ve ever had surfing in<br />

terms of localism. It was just absolute chaos and unjustified hierarchy<br />

where kooks were ruining the lineup and it was just a bizarre<br />

experience. I probably won’t go back to Spain for that reason, at least<br />

for surfing.<br />

“Otherwise, most people are super chill. I get approached all the time<br />

when I’m in a surf location by people who watch the videos and who<br />

have an in with the local crowd. Then all of a sudden I’m paddling<br />

out with the King of Anchor Point in Morocco and getting called into<br />

eight-foot bombs ahead of everyone else because I’ve just met this<br />

wonderful human.<br />

“So, you know, there’s good and bad examples of that. I would say<br />

most of my experiences are very positive in that respect.”

“As I’ve progressed in my own<br />

surfing, I’ve started to have a<br />

broader quiver and I’ll have boards<br />

for different conditions, which<br />

puts me in a good stead to travel<br />

the world and extract as much joy<br />

from each session as possible.”<br />

# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />


interview<br />

There’s this common snippet of trivia about the true meaning<br />

of passion. The word comes from the Latin root for suffer, and<br />

generally means a willingness to sacrifice for what you love.<br />

Not only has Kale had to juggle a lot while pursuing his many<br />

passions, but has also had to travel an insane amount while<br />

doing so. When asked if being constantly on the move ever<br />

gets draining for him, without hesitation, Kale simply said yes.<br />

“I love the travel, and I’m really grateful that I get to do it, but<br />

as time has gone on, I wane. I’ve travelled now for probably<br />

ten years for at least three months of every year, if not six<br />

to nine months. I’m just a little bit tired and feeling quite<br />

fatigued, so I’ve been looking at buying a house, settling down<br />

in Australia and being more tight around my schedule if it<br />

involves travel.<br />

“It’s important to build a good team too. I have a wonderful<br />

assistant, and I’m about to get a second assistant. I have a<br />

manager who manages all of my collaborations, and my mum<br />

is also my accountant. So I have some really big help, which<br />

is great. That’s how I do it, but it’s not easy and I find myself<br />

requiring more and more meditation as time goes on.<br />

One of the first spheres of work Kale was enticed into was<br />

wellbeing and inner health, which was actually initiated by an<br />

unfortunate heart condition he had when he was 16 called<br />

supraventricular tachycardia.<br />

“I love the travel, and I’m really grateful<br />

that I get to do it, but as time has gone<br />

on, I wane [...]<br />

I’m just a little bit tired and feeling quite<br />

fatigued, so I’ve been looking at buying<br />

a house, settling down in Australia and<br />

being more tight around my schedule if it<br />

involves travel.”<br />

# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />

42<br />

At the time, Kale said he was offered an ablation, which is<br />

a procedure aimed at burning away the sinoatrial node, the<br />

electrical conductor of the heart that manages the electrical<br />

currents across the four different chambers, as it just wasn’t<br />

working properly.<br />

“I thought, hang on, this is really illogical. Why are they burning<br />

the thing that’s not working properly? I’m 16 – I don’t want<br />

to have heart surgery. That just shot me off in a different<br />

direction. Long story short, I was able to turn that condition<br />

around within about a year and then manage it consistently up<br />

until now, just with a good diet and supplementation.<br />

“There’s obviously a lot more to it than that, but that sparked<br />

not just a personal journey, but also a career. The health and<br />

wellbeing side of things was definitely a past occupation<br />

and not something I really focus on now outside of my own<br />

personal pursuits in those spaces. But I was in that space for<br />

eight or nine years and it was really fun. I learned a lot, but I<br />

just ran out of gas from a professional standpoint.<br />

“Plus, as if I would choose that over surfing. I think surfing<br />

offers a juncture at which all those different points cross<br />

– spirituality, well-being, health, mind and body. That in<br />

itself enables me to juggle so many different aspects of the<br />

business, because I feel looked after and refuelled every day<br />

because I’m surfing every day. So I think that’s one of the<br />

most important things.”

interview<br />

It was Kale’s expertise in all things nutrition paired with his knack<br />

for words, creativity and storytelling that led him to publish The Gut<br />

Healing Protocol: An 8 Week, Holistic Guide to Rebalancing Your<br />

Gut, The Art of Probiotic Nutrition: Mastering Fermented Foods For<br />

Better Digestion, Weight Control, Immunity & Longevity and Mandy<br />

Microbe’s Big Gut Adventure, a book aimed at teaching gut health<br />

lessons to children.<br />

As an incredibly healthy guy and renowned surf coach, we couldn’t<br />

help but pick Kale’s brain for the magic ingredients to a healthy<br />

diet. Kale said he normally sticks to seasonal, local, organic, whole<br />

food in addition to lots of vegetables, some animal protein and a<br />

little bit of fruit.<br />

“If I’m within that, then I feel pretty comfortable. Nothing beats the<br />

feeling of having a healthy routine. I find that when I’m travelling it’s<br />

a little bit hard to stick to those routines, so I always feel the best<br />

and healthiest at home for sure.<br />

“I’m in France, so I’m having a lot more bread than I normally<br />

do. I don’t eat any bread at all unless it’s gluten-free sourdough,<br />

but they make such good sourdough over here that I’ve been<br />

having bread with a lot of my meals. I’m not too pedantic about<br />

it anymore, but I definitely like feeling really alive, electric and<br />

healthy, and I think that comes from a clean dietary approach.<br />

“Supplement-wise, I take a few things. I’ll generally take a green<br />

powder, and I take a little bit of herbal extracts. At the moment I’ve<br />

got elk antler, which is a pretty interesting one. I don’t take it all the<br />

time, but I tend to rotate between some pretty high-potency herbal<br />

extracts.<br />

“There’s only so much you can take, and you don’t want to overdo<br />

it because then you don’t know what’s working too. But nothing<br />

feels as good as walking out of a good surf – so that’s really<br />

probably the most important factor there.”<br />

Throughout his many ventures, Kale is probably best known for<br />

writing, directing and starring in The Gut Movie (2018) – a film that<br />

investigates the human microbiome through a scientific, quirky and<br />

fun journey where Kale travels to Namibia to live with the San Tribe.<br />

And because he seemed incapable of slowing down, it was only<br />

a year later that Kale released The Longevity Film, where he is<br />

featured travelling to the world’s ‘blue zones’ to investigate the<br />

dietary and lifestyle factors that cause their extraordinary health<br />

and longevity.<br />

While still generally focused on mental and physical wellbeing,<br />

Kale’s online presence has since shifted, with his social media,<br />

videos and documentaries being centred completely around<br />

coaching and surfing content. In relation to his current film<br />

schedule, Kale said he is constantly travelling with the team<br />

members he mentioned previously in addition to his filmmaker and<br />

editor.<br />

“We’re looking at sort of shifting into more tight schedules where<br />

I’ll film in like two to four-week blocks instead of extended trips,<br />

just because it does get a little bit draining having to feel like you’re<br />

on that content treadmill.<br />

“In the past, it’s been very ad hoc. It’s been very creative and very<br />

whimsical. What’s the surf doing? What sort of message haven’t<br />

I shared? Let’s shoot that. Whereas now, because everything’s<br />

grown so much and it’s getting pretty chaotic, I actually just find I<br />

need to be more structured in that approach.<br />

“Nothing beats the feeling of having a healthy<br />

routine. I find that when I’m travelling it’s a little bit<br />

hard to stick to those routines, so I always feel the<br />

best and healthiest at home for sure.”<br />

# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />


interview<br />

# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />

44<br />

“So working with those people that I mentioned before, we’re<br />

starting to develop a content schedule that spans out three<br />

months, six months, 12 months and 24 months, and then<br />

working towards that. I hope that comes into play in the next<br />

couple of months, because right now everything’s in my head,<br />

which is not that fun.”<br />

Before his life became so crazy, and prior to his films, books and<br />

social media fame, Kale’s career actually began in television on<br />

the well-known children’s show, Totally Wild. After working at<br />

Channel Ten for two years, he put his articulate nature to good<br />

use by doing a lot of podcasting and speaking on stage.<br />

In addition to his work in overlapping industries, Kale chalks a<br />

majority of his reach up to his approach to surf coaching, as it<br />

helped him amass a large following relatively quickly.<br />

“I think, in surfing, there was such a big gap between core surf<br />

culture and this huge influx of people we’ve seen getting into the<br />

sport. There was no roadmap as to how to become ‘a surfer’,<br />

particularly when it came to technique.<br />

“I just had to reverse engineer a lot of the technique stuff that<br />

I’ve talked about because, in my opinion, there was just nothing<br />

out there. Nothing was effective, relatable or comprehensive. So<br />

I think the main driver and goal for everything that I was doing<br />

was, ‘Hey, how can I help people move from wherever they are<br />

on that roadmap further along their journey so that they can get<br />

closer to achieving those peak experiences on a regular basis?’<br />

“I think it would also be remiss of me not to acknowledge my<br />

past media experience. I think with that, I’ve been able to fall<br />

back on a large skill set. It’s this cross-section of thinking I’m<br />

great at editing, there are better editors than me, but I’m great at<br />

it. There are better surfers than me, but I’m good at it. There are<br />

better storytellers and presenters than me, but I’m good at it.<br />

“I think it’s the combination of having those three fundamental<br />

skills that have enabled me to build a good media catalogue that<br />

is comprehensive and relatable for people.”<br />

Needless to say, Kale has carved out a niche for himself in<br />

surfing media. The engaging storytelling, creative coaching<br />

methods and intuitive perspective that he delivers through social<br />

media is certainly unique in the fact that it can be enjoyed by<br />

everyone.<br />

With that said, given that he is not a former professional surfer,<br />

his modern approach to surf coaching has created quite a stir<br />

in the industry, particularly within certain sections of surf media<br />

that seem to unfairly contest the ability of social media surfers<br />

against professional surfers.<br />

In response to this, Kale said he has had both positive and<br />

negative experiences when it comes to the core surfing<br />

community.<br />

“Most of the time it’s been really positive. Just getting<br />

begrudgingly endorsed by them has been kind of satisfying<br />

in a way, even though I’m not looking for validation from<br />

them anymore like I was when I was 16. I’ve sort of created<br />

my own lane here, and I’m very comfortable doing what I’m<br />

doing without worrying about what’s going on in the core surf<br />

community.<br />

“I think the core surfing media represent such a tiny portion of<br />

the actual total surfing demographic, so it’s just irrelevant what<br />

they think of me and what they say about me. Most of the time,<br />

as far as I know, they’re not really talking about me.<br />

“To be honest, and it sounds a bit arrogant, but I surf better than<br />

most of them anyway, so I mean, fair enough. If there’s a prosurfer<br />

who doesn’t like what I’m doing, whatever, I’m not going<br />

to change their mind anyway. But most of the people I’ve found<br />

who criticise me are not that good of surfers, and they would<br />

actually benefit from the information and the coaching that I<br />

have. So yeah, I don’t really care.”

All of this, and we still haven’t mentioned perhaps the magnum opus of<br />

Kale’s coaching legacy, The Surfers Roadmap – a structured follow-along<br />

series of programs fit for surfers wanting to progress their surfing journey,<br />

and the ultimate expression of Kale’s surfing knowledge combined with the<br />

passion he has for the industry.<br />

Out of everything he has done throughout his colourful career, Kale said<br />

the most rewarding experiences have been simply interacting and living<br />

alongside other surfers – which is something a lot of us can look up to and<br />

relate with.<br />

“We obviously put out a lot of free content on YouTube, and a lot of that<br />

drives people to The Surfer’s Roadmap because it is a structured, step-bystep<br />

approach to improving your surfing. From there, people tend to join<br />

me on a retreat and that’s where I feel most fulfilled.<br />

“Working with people one-on-one or in a small group, depending on the<br />

retreat, is my jam. Sitting down for dinner with people, getting to know<br />

them for over a week and just learning about them is such a pleasure in<br />

addition to helping advance them on their journey towards more peak<br />

experiences through surfing. It is just such a wonderful job. I couldn’t ask<br />

for anything more.<br />

“I don’t know where my fulfilment would come from if I was just focusing<br />

on myself and my surfing. I’m a lot more interested in hanging out with<br />

interesting people who surf rather than surfers. A lot of my students have<br />

become friends, investors or advisors. It’s such a wonderful experience.<br />

“I think that’s really what I’m focused on from a professional standpoint<br />

and obviously from a personal standpoint. I’m just looking at growing and<br />

becoming a better human every day. I feel like my work is a reflection of<br />

where I’m at personally. So yeah, if I keep myself in good stead, then I’m<br />

offering the best service that I can to the world, and I think that’s a good<br />

place to be.”<br />

Pic _ @pointshoot808<br />



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# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />


words & photos: Forrest Ladkin<br />

SWEDEN<br />

to<br />

SPAIN<br />

b<br />

Sail y<br />

# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />


Sailing into Dominca in the Carribean West Indies whilst onboard Sailing Virgins 40ft Beneteau Libby..<br />

This is the story of a young Aussie who sailed through the<br />

North Sea, eight metre tides and the busiest shipping lane in<br />

the world only to be (temporarily) arrested in Spain.<br />

As with most good sailing stories, a man overboard, romance in<br />

France and a near catastrophic collision also play their part.<br />

# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />


The Dream<br />

My name’s Forrest, I’m 29 years old from Gerringong<br />

on the south coast of New South Wales. Like many<br />

Australians, I have a love for the ocean and travelling.<br />

Maybe you’re one of these people too. Combining these<br />

and sailing the world one day was the logical dream.<br />

At as young as five years old I insisted to my parents that when<br />

I grew up, one day, I would be a pirate. Thankfully I outgrew the<br />

idea of travelling the world pillaging as I pleased, but the sailing<br />

part stuck with me. As I grew up though, I was sucked into<br />

the narrative that many people have about becoming an oceangoing<br />

skipper, that unless you’ve got loads of money and half<br />

a lifetime’s worth of experience, it’s simply too expensive and<br />

dangerous to participate in. I resigned myself to the fact that it<br />

wasn’t realistic and maybe one day, when I was much older, I<br />

could embark on this adventure.<br />

Thankfully, two things happened in my early 20’s that broke<br />

this illusion. The first was meeting Julius, a young German/<br />

Portuguese surfer traveling Australia in his van. My family<br />

embraced him, and we spent a whole summer living together<br />

surfing, windsurfing and diving. One day coming out of the<br />

water, he mentioned that in a few years’ time he planned to buy<br />

a sailboat in the north of Europe and live on it while studying.<br />

Assuming he must have a trust fund I didn’t know about, he<br />

went on to explain that boats are dramatically cheaper in Europe<br />

(and at times, half of what we pay in Australia). He concluded<br />

that as long as you didn’t mind living in a relatively small space,<br />

you could get a sturdy, ocean-going sailboat for less than a<br />

Toyota 4WD here.<br />

# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />

48<br />

Yet still the doubts about becoming a skipper endured… I’d<br />

never even been on an actual sailboat and the few sailors I’d<br />

come across had big-noted themselves and their exploits,<br />

making it sound like only them, with their wealth of experience<br />

and skills, could have survived their harrowing voyages. Then,<br />

out of the blue I came across a video on YouTube that changed<br />

everything. Riley and Elayna were a young Australian couple<br />

who had defied the naysayers, bought a yacht in Europe with<br />

no experience and started sailing around the world, figuring it<br />

out as they went. At the time of their inception eight years ago,<br />

channels like theirs (Sailing La Vagabonde) didn’t exist and this<br />

story was a revelation. The expression ‘If you can see it, you can<br />

do it.’ really rang true for me in this instance, and I have them<br />

to thank for pushing me over the edge. The money I had saved<br />

for five years as an intended house deposit suddenly had a new<br />

cause. I was going to buy a boat in Europe, move onto it and<br />

see how far I could sail.

The Boat<br />

With Julius’s help we made a shortlist of<br />

boats and got ready to make a decision.<br />

In the end, instead of going for a modern<br />

French production sailboat (which sailed<br />

fast, but arguably lacked safety in heavy<br />

seas) we opted for an almost 50-year-old,<br />

31-foot Swedish Hallberg-Rassy (HR).<br />

We soon learnt HR was one of the most<br />

prestigious boat builders in the world,<br />

famous for making classy ocean-going<br />

sailboats that were slower but built like<br />

tanks. Before I knew it, the paperwork<br />

was done, the majority of my life savings<br />

were transferred and I was stepping onto a<br />

sailboat for the first time in my life. My new<br />

home ‘Bellis’ had been meticulously looked<br />

after, but still had one major downside.<br />

The original 47-year-old Volvo engine was<br />

somehow still going. Rusting, leaking oil<br />

and (comically) needing to be hand cranked<br />

due to a dying starter motor, it was clearly<br />

coming towards the end of its long life.<br />

Parts of the Northern European Baltic Sea<br />

freeze during the winter and the sailing<br />

season was already drawing to a close<br />

when I bought Bellis. So Julius and my<br />

girlfriend at the time, Tarryn, decided to<br />

spend a month sailing through Denmark<br />

and Sweden before hauling the boat out<br />

for the winter. That way, I could prepare for<br />

the big journey the following spring. Tarryn<br />

did an incredible job of turning the bare<br />

boat into a home that felt warm and vibrant,<br />

while Julius and I did our best to learn the<br />

systems on the boat and get us sailing. It<br />

turns out reading forecasts and actually<br />

sailing was surprisingly easy, and no doubt<br />

helped by a shared background in surfing<br />

and windsurfing. However, when it came to<br />

navigating, docking and everything to do<br />

with maintaining a yacht, we were woefully<br />

ill-prepared. Despite this, the books came<br />

out, we researched hard and we soon learnt<br />

fast from trial and error (lots of trial and<br />

error).<br />

Glassfibre reinforced plastic (GRP). Fuel tank<br />

and floor moulded in GRP. Ballast keel, iron,<br />

moulded in GRP. Main bulkheads laminated to<br />

the hull on both sides.<br />

Light alloy fore hatch with<br />

translucent acrylic glass panel and<br />

heavy framing, type Gebo or equal.<br />

My new home ‘Bellis’ had been meticulously<br />

looked after, but still had one major downside...<br />


Length overall<br />

Length in wl<br />

Beam<br />

Draft<br />

Displacement<br />

Keelweight<br />

Sail area<br />

Height of mast above wl<br />

Number of berths<br />

Speed under power<br />

9.36m<br />

7.50m<br />

2.87m<br />

1.40m<br />

abt 4.2 tons<br />

1.9 tons<br />

39 sqm<br />

abt 12.8m<br />

6<br />

7,2 knots

Bellis, Swedens west archipeago<br />

I’ll never forget the first time we decided to<br />

anchor instead of finding a marina to safely<br />

tie up in. Underestimating our passage time,<br />

we arrived in complete darkness (mistake<br />

#1). It then became apparent we both<br />

thought the other was the one who knew<br />

how to actually anchor properly. So lacking<br />

in confidence of our eventual technique, we<br />

put every possible fender around the boat<br />

in case we hit something during the night.<br />

After this embarrassing first attempt, we soon<br />

researched the dynamics of safely anchoring a<br />

five-ton sailboat.<br />

# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />

50<br />

Our trio’s time came to an end. The boat was<br />

safe in a Swedish boatyard and I had the<br />

whole Australian summer to research and<br />

plan my trip down the west coast of Europe<br />

the following spring. It would be a journey<br />

through eight countries, and from what I had<br />

been told by other sailors, some of the most<br />

difficult sailing around. Compared to the<br />

protected and tideless Baltic Sea, infamously<br />

huge tides, strong currents and the heaviest<br />

shipping traffic in the world lay between me,<br />

the warmer weather and prospect of surfing in<br />

southern Europe. I was giddy with excitement,<br />

but also extremely nervous that I was taking<br />

on too much too quickly. Tarryn and Julius<br />

wouldn’t be with me this time, so I was either<br />

going solo or with whatever friends happened<br />

to be traveling Europe at the time.<br />

Julius, Baltic Sea<br />


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# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />


The warm weather<br />

and 20-degree<br />

water we had<br />

experienced the<br />

previous year was<br />

replaced with an<br />

unusually cold<br />

and stormy spring.<br />

A scary start in Scandinavia<br />

# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />

52<br />

Finally the European spring came around and<br />

I flew into Sweden, only to receive a shock.<br />

The warm weather and 20-degree water<br />

we had experienced the previous year was<br />

replaced with an unusually cold and stormy<br />

spring. The ocean was still a dangerously low<br />

eight degrees and, more than once, hail and<br />

even snow broke out overhead while trying to<br />

get the boat ready. In Sweden it’s custom to<br />

take your mast off during the winter. This is<br />

easy enough, but putting the rigging back on<br />

correctly requires some knowledge. I didn’t<br />

have the budget for a professional rigger but<br />

was blessed with the next best thing. I had met<br />

David two years earlier Windsurfing in Peru and<br />

he just so happened to live an hour away and<br />

knew how to rig a boat (perhaps this shouldn’t<br />

have been a surprise, I went on to learn Sweden<br />

has the highest number of sailors in the world<br />

per capita). While having never done a boat this<br />

size before, I’ll always be grateful for David’s<br />

optimistic grin as we craned the mast back on<br />

and adjusted the rigging. I’d worked hard for<br />

weeks to give Bellis an epoxy bottom coat and<br />

fresh anti-foul, and now we’d even managed<br />

to rig the boat ourselves. It was a huge relief<br />

and sense of accomplishment for someone<br />

who was admittedly far from handy on the tools<br />

back home. Aside from David, I was touched by<br />

how generous the mum and dad owners of the<br />

boat yard had been in guiding me to complete<br />

my work. They’d even gone out of their way to<br />

introduce me to a salty old grandfather who<br />

used to own the same model boat as Bellis.<br />

He spent hours showing me sides of the boat<br />

I never knew about, telling stories of his time<br />

sailing the Swedish archipelago and even gave<br />

me a tour of his wooden boat workshop. These<br />

unplanned interactions were surely one of the<br />

most special things about traveling, I reflected.<br />

The afternoon before departure, I was getting<br />

ready to attach a forgotten VHF radio antenna<br />

to the top of the mast, just as a passing<br />

German Shepard and his owner knocked the<br />

antenna off the dock and into the water. “Are<br />

you the young Australian who’s living on his<br />

boat here?” he said. Looking away from the<br />

antenna on the bottom of the harbour and up<br />

at the silver-bearded Swede, I replied “I am”.<br />

Upon learning it was my last night in Sweden,<br />

this dad in his 60’s helped me fish the antenna<br />

out and insisted on escorting me out to sea with<br />

his boat at sunset (so I could test sail Bellis and<br />

her engine with a backup vessel close by). If<br />

that hadn’t been enough generosity, he then<br />

insisted on cooking me and my recently arrived<br />

crew home-made Swedish meat balls for our<br />

final dinner.

At 3:30am my alarm went off and we began our first ever<br />

crossing. It was 100 kilometres to Denmark over the Vikings<br />

famed Kattegat Sea and I estimated it would take us around<br />

14 hours. With the help of my two crew we had both sails up<br />

quickly and were soon aiming for an empty horizon. My crew<br />

were fresh out of Byron Bay High School and at the start of<br />

their European gap year. Jarrah (my cousin) and his best mate<br />

Archie would join me for a full month, all the way to Amsterdam.<br />

At least that was the plan.<br />

The morning started off in high spirits with a golden haze<br />

creeping over the horizon. Excitement soon turned to anxiety<br />

as the haze developed into a thick unforecasted fog. We’d<br />

barely started and already found ourselves in a challenging<br />

situation. The stormy spring weather had made it difficult to<br />

find a window with favourable wind, so we decided to continue<br />

as long as the visibility didn’t drop below 50 metres. The boat<br />

wasn’t equipped with AIS (an instrument that allows you to see<br />

other vessels plotted on your GPS chart), so we were relying<br />

solely on our eyes and ears. It was a freezing and draining<br />

first day and sure enough, as we approached the shipping<br />

lane 50 kilometres out to sea, a huge tanker loomed out in the<br />

distance. My heart was racing but the fog had slowly started<br />

to recede, so I knew we had just enough visibility to navigate<br />

the lane safely.<br />

As darkness crept in, we passed right by a huge offshore<br />

wind farm, which absolutely dwarfed our little boat. Right on<br />

schedule we floated up to the Danish coastline and the first<br />

Carlsberg’s of the trip were enjoyed. Later we would come to<br />

find out that while we had been crossing, a fast ferry to the<br />

south near Copenhagen had come flying out of the same fog<br />

and hit a sailboat, virtually splitting it in two. Fog was suddenly<br />

much scarier than high winds and rough seas.<br />

# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />


# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />


Moored in paradise later on in this journey<br />

At as young as five years old I<br />

insisted to my parents that when<br />

I grew up, one day, I would be<br />

a pirate. Thankfully I outgrew<br />

the idea of travelling the world<br />

pillaging as I pleased, but the<br />

sailing part stuck with me.<br />

# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />


Highs and lows in the North Sea<br />

It had been almost a month since we crossed the<br />

Kattegat Sea to Denmark. We had settled into life on the<br />

boat as we cruised down the protected Danish coast<br />

and through the Kiel canal. Statistically the busiest<br />

canal in the world, the Kiel canal funnels shipping over<br />

the German mainland, connecting the Baltic Sea to the<br />

North Sea. Unlike the Panama Canal which requires an<br />

expensive guide and multiple locks to cross, in typical<br />

German fashion the Kiel canal was highly efficient. A<br />

payment of 10 euro is made at a booth right at the start<br />

and a series of huge lights indicate when it’s time to enter<br />

the canal. The real challenge lay at the other side, as the<br />

river Elba flows out from Hamburg, passes the Kiel Canal<br />

and spills into the exposed North Sea. Suddenly we<br />

found ourselves in huge tides, strong currents and the<br />

largest concentration of shipping traffic in the world. The<br />

currents in this region are so strong at times, that even<br />

when sailing and motoring at maximum speed, you’ll still<br />

be going backwards. On top of that, 350 kilometres of<br />

exposed tidal sand bars lay between us and safety at<br />

the first deep water port to the south in Holland. Bellis<br />

only travelled at around 10km/h, so this felt like a serious<br />

undertaking. Timing the tides, currents and winds was<br />

critical. The hundreds of wrecks littering the North Sea<br />

serve as a reminder of what happens if you don’t.<br />

I’d now been waiting for over a week on the edge of the<br />

river Elba. The weather window finally arrived and Bellis<br />

cast her lines from the marina right on the turn of the<br />

tide. The faint glow of morning could be seen as the river<br />

grabbed Bellis and sucked her straight out of the marina<br />

entrance. In a swirl of eddying currents we hurtled along<br />

at double our usual speed over ground. The Elba was<br />

getting ready to shoot us straight out into the North Sea<br />

like a cork from a bottle. The thought of not being able to<br />

turn around for the first time due to the current churned<br />

in my stomach. It was also going to be our first multi day<br />

and night passage. We had seriously better have our act<br />

together.<br />

As it turns out, the captain of the tanker coming in the<br />

opposite direction didn’t think so. With the boys now<br />

back asleep and myself momentarily adjusting the<br />

foot of the main sail, the autopilot had quietly become<br />

overwhelmed by the swirling currents and was now<br />

sending us on a direct course for the oncoming ship,<br />

straight up the wrong side of the Traffic Separation<br />

Scheme (TSS). Adrenaline pumping, I scrambled back<br />

to the cockpit and turned the boat immediately back into<br />

our lane. Moments later the ship came towering past us.<br />

To my sheer embarrassment, the well-dressed captain<br />

of the German tanker had left his position inside and<br />

come all the way out to the railing to look down at me.<br />

We made eye contact, and he threw his arms up in the<br />

universally recognised sign for ‘what the f*ck’. I gestured<br />

as apologetically as I could and sank back into the<br />

cockpit completely rattled. I’d been told it was a 4,000<br />

euro on-the-spot fine for not navigating this critical TSS<br />

properly. For hours I waited for the German police cutter<br />

to hunt us down, perhaps the tanker captain had even<br />

radioed them. Thankfully my paranoia was unfound, and<br />

the morning progressed into a beautiful day.<br />

Forrest, Jarrah, Archie and Anders (a young professional sailor who helped the crew out in Aarhus)<br />

# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />


It was 100<br />

kilometres to<br />

Denmark over the<br />

Vikings famed<br />

Kattegat Sea and<br />

I estimated it<br />

would take us<br />

around 14 hours.<br />

The boys kept watch during the day and I rested,<br />

preparing myself for the overnight sail ahead. As<br />

the sun faded, dark and moody clouds rolled in<br />

and lightning flickering in the distance. Anxiety<br />

started to grip me and my thoughts raced. What if<br />

the forecast was wrong? Was I prepared enough<br />

for the worst-case scenario? How long would it<br />

take us to find shelter if conditions changed for<br />

the worst? For literally days I calculated.<br />

With no moon, a complete darkness set in. I<br />

flicked the navigation lights on and looked up to<br />

make sure they were working. The red and green<br />

lights attached to the bow shone bright, and<br />

then suddenly went out. I couldn’t believe it, my<br />

stomach sank, and I ran forward to check if they<br />

were truly broken. They were. Okay, no critical<br />

navigation lights and no AIS for the entire night<br />

ahead. My anxiety peaked and I dry retched over<br />

the side of the boat. Careful not to let the boys<br />

see how I was feeling, I steadied myself and put<br />

things back into perspective. We were safe and<br />

could take whatever came. This anxiety was<br />

really just a form of excitement, I told myself.<br />

There was a wind change expected, and sure<br />

enough the dark clouds had brought with them<br />

an utterly still night. Hours or minutes later a<br />

strange blue glow caught my eye, so I looked over<br />

the side of the boat and couldn’t believe what I<br />

was seeing. Electric blue bioluminescence was<br />

glowing in spectacular ebbing and flowing waves<br />

around the boat. At the same time I realised the<br />

clouds had cleared, revealing the spectacularly<br />

vivid Milky Way. I stood up and stared around,<br />

gripped by genuine awe. The stars were mirrored<br />

off of what was now a perfectly glassy North<br />

Sea. Suddenly it felt like we were gently floating<br />

through space. Stars above and below, the<br />

horizon hard to distinguish and the propellor<br />

firing a bright blue jet of bioluminescence astern.<br />

It was so beautiful I think I even laughed. The<br />

night that had started with dry retching had<br />

suddenly become one of the most soothing and<br />

beautiful experiences I’ve ever had.<br />

An hour before dawn, the wind change finally<br />

hit, a brisk offshore filled the sails of Bellis and<br />

she began cutting through the North Sea on<br />

a lean once more. Apart from the delay, the<br />

wind forecast had been bang on. We sailed all<br />

day and found ourselves in a new country. The<br />

Netherlands and a fun night out in Amsterdam<br />

was literally just over the horizon.<br />

# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />


Pints in the<br />

English Channel<br />

Jarrah, Archie and I said our goodbyes after<br />

what was sure enough a memorable night out<br />

in Amsterdam. Cabin fever had well and truly<br />

set in by the time we made it to Holland and<br />

being able to pull up right next to one of the<br />

coolest cities in the world, we thought, was<br />

pretty bloody great. Remembering my two<br />

18-year-old companions eye the size of dinner<br />

plates as we did the obligatory walk through<br />

the famous red-light district still makes me<br />

laugh. They’d never come across anything<br />

quite like this growing up in Byron.<br />

The next leg of the journey was the one time<br />

I was able to find a fellow sailor to come join<br />

me, and I was extremely glad for it. I met Bob<br />

from the UK for about 10 minutes at a cousin’s<br />

wedding a few months earlier in Australia.<br />

His daughter Kat was the bride and a flippant<br />

comment about sailing together ended up with<br />

the two of us sailing through four countries in<br />

just two weeks. With what became a funny<br />

father-and-son dynamic, we pushed the boat<br />

in 30 knot head winds, had a pint in Dover<br />

and explored Hitler's anti-tank wall in the<br />

Channel Islands before finally breaking out<br />

of the muddy, turbulent waters of the English<br />

Channel and right into the Atlantic Ocean. We<br />

had barely hit the stunning blue water before a<br />

pod of dolphins descended on Bellis’ bow for<br />

the first time. They continued to surf our wake<br />

for over 40 minutes. The way I saw it, this was<br />

both a welcome to the Atlantic and a reminder<br />

it was finally time to unzip the board bag.<br />

We had barely hit the stunning blue water before<br />

a pod of dolphins descended on Bellis’ bow for the<br />

first time. They continued to surf our wake for<br />

over 40 minutes.<br />

# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />


A close (French) shave<br />

The welcome was short-lived. The forecast<br />

breeze never eventuated, and we had to motor<br />

all through the night. The sun was slowly<br />

coming up and it shed light on a site I’d never<br />

seen. A sheer, towering wall of fog for as far<br />

as you could see was approaching. Almost<br />

instantly we were engulfed, barely able to see<br />

past the bow of the boat. This was like no fog<br />

I had ever been in and clearly, it was no joke.<br />

We lowered our speed, the airhorn came out<br />

and we began giving fog blasts as often as we<br />

could. My hand was shaking slightly on the<br />

tiller, ready to throw the boat in either direction<br />

at a moment’s notice. Sure enough the notice<br />

came, about two seconds worth in the form of<br />

another sailboat appearing suddenly straight<br />

ahead. I threw the tiller quickly to port as far as it<br />

would go. The oncoming boat also veered, and<br />

I had just enough time to see a French flag, a<br />

moustache and the flash of a smile as the other<br />

captain passed, disappearing into grey nothing<br />

just as quickly as he had appeared. My heart<br />

was racing and I swore to myself I’d save up for<br />

an AIS system as soon as I could.<br />

And then it was over. We came bursting out<br />

of one grey world and right into another. It<br />

was a crisp bluebird day and I laid eyes on<br />

France for the very first time – a rolling green<br />

country side complete with crumbling castles.<br />

This felt so much cooler than arriving in an<br />

airport somewhere for the first time, I thought.<br />

We rounded the corner of Brittany and soon<br />

had a rubber ducky alongside us. My French<br />

mate Benoit just happened to live in this quiet<br />

corner of France and there he was, yelling and<br />

laughing with his hands up in the air, clearly<br />

finding it surreal to find his Australian mate on<br />

his doorstep in a little boat from Sweden. After<br />

insisting on finding us a free local mooring ball,<br />

they ferried us to shore and straight into a huge<br />

home-cooked French lunch. I soon came to<br />

strongly admire Benoit’s family and the way<br />

they lived. The Carpentier’s were a special kind.<br />

"Suddenly though,<br />

summer hit that little<br />

corner of France and<br />

I was living in board<br />

shorts, surfing with<br />

my mates every day<br />

and above all, feeling<br />

a burning sense of<br />

accomplishment."<br />

# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />


# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />

60<br />

Benoit has gone on to<br />

become world champion in<br />

stand-up paddle surfing,<br />

now alongside names like<br />

Kai Lenny. He is also one<br />

of the highest ranked<br />

competitive longboarders<br />

in Europe...

A replica of the famous 1779 French War Ship ‘Hermione’ and Benoit pictured on foil<br />

While I’d never trade the months leading up to<br />

France because of what it taught me in tough<br />

sailing conditions, the reality was that most the<br />

time it had been thoroughly uncomfortable and<br />

unenjoyable. It had been freezing, mostly raining<br />

and I was tired of living in heavy, foul weather gear<br />

day and night. I had found myself questioning<br />

what the hell I’d been thinking. I could be living<br />

like a king in Mexico with a nice van for what this<br />

had already cost me in maintenance. Suddenly<br />

though, summer hit that little corner of France and<br />

I was living in board shorts, surfing with my mates<br />

every day and above all, feeling a burning sense<br />

of accomplishment for making it this far. It had<br />

all been worth it, and better yet the trip was just<br />

beginning.<br />

Apart from being extremely welcoming and<br />

generous people, the Carpentier’s love for the<br />

ocean, family and traveling was evident in every<br />

aspect of their lives. The family owned and<br />

ran the local surf school, they still had meals<br />

together almost every day and they were sharing<br />

moments in the water together nonstop at home<br />

and overseas. Benoit has gone on to become<br />

world champion in stand-up paddle surfing, now<br />

alongside names like Kai Lenny. He is also one of<br />

the highest ranked competitive longboarders in<br />

Europe, but more to the point, he is a humble guy<br />

and rips on everything. Shortboard, foil, you name<br />

it. They even get the bodyboards out occasionally<br />

in winter to surf a few local slabs. To me, their<br />

openness in riding everything, regardless of its<br />

perception of being cool or not, says everything.<br />

My time with Bob was coming to an end, but not<br />

before an interesting shift seemed to occur. True<br />

to the English stereotype, Bob had expressed to<br />

me at the start of the trip that he wasn’t particularly<br />

fond of the French, and for this reason we had<br />

gone out of our way to follow the British coast as<br />

far as possible before crossing the channel again<br />

and heading south. Would there be a culture clash<br />

when we met Benoit’s family, I wondered. But the<br />

absolute opposite took place, and while there was<br />

a clear cultural difference, it was met with respect<br />

and curiosity from both sides. Watching the<br />

friendship and laughs grow throughout the week<br />

was honestly heart-warming. Both parties told me<br />

at the end how much they were going to miss the<br />

other.<br />

# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />


Forrest, Billy and Falcon<br />

Best mates & baguettes<br />

# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />

62<br />

Billy and Falcon started laughing, an apprehensive but ‘screw it’ sort<br />

of laugh. Bellis was tied to her mooring ball well off the shore and I was<br />

explaining operation ‘get to the boat with all of our gear dry’. There<br />

was no outboard engine on my little red dingy yet, but if I swam and<br />

they rowed, we could do it in one trip. The pair were two of my best<br />

mates and they’d just arrived. Also from Gerringong, Falcon you might<br />

recognise from what is now one half of ‘The Inspired Unemployed’.<br />

We’d all been to school together, travelled together and even had jobs<br />

together back home. It was going to be my first time sailing with really<br />

close friends my own age. Little did we know over the coming weeks<br />

Falcon would fall in love for the first time, the boat would almost crash<br />

at full speed and I would be taken away in the back of a Spanish police<br />

car (completely sober). We did know one thing for sure though – we<br />

were about to have a great bloody time.<br />

Instead of crossing the 600-kilometre-wide Bay of Biscay directly to<br />

Spain, the boys insisted we go the long way so I could visit Hossegor<br />

for the first time. They had friends there and we could park the boat<br />

up right near the centre of town. The couple of weeks it took us to sail<br />

there were some of the happiest of my life, the boys enthusiastically<br />

embraced learning how to sail, the sun was beaming every day and<br />

we soon settled into a flowy sort of rhythm. Reading, dragging off the<br />

back of the boat, cooking hearty meals and ending each day with a<br />

glass of red, cards and the sort of deep conversations that only seem<br />

to come about when you’re somewhere totally isolated and content –<br />

this was the sailing life I’d dreamt of. We still had our fair share of tense<br />

moments, challenging conditions and long nights, but we later reflected<br />

that it was because of the slight adversity and the camaraderie that<br />

comes from it, which actually made the trip so special. Fun in the sun<br />

with a sprinkling of ‘Are we going to die tonight?’<br />

Hossegor (the unofficial surfing capital of Europe) was even better<br />

than I’d imagined. Fun surf, cool people from all over the world and<br />

long, warm nights drinking and laughing in the town square. We could<br />

skate everywhere, had a local group of mates and before long Falcon<br />

had fallen for a beautiful French girl, Flora. When we finally departed<br />

for Basque country in Spain, as soon as we arrived in San Sebastian<br />

he decided to catch a bus straight back to spend a few more days<br />

with her. They’d go on to travel through northern Europe together later<br />

in the year.

"Fun in the sun with a<br />

sprinkling of, 'Are we going<br />

to die tonight?’"<br />

# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />

63<br />

Anchored off Île de Guiriden, 12km off the coast of France

A series of<br />

unfortunate<br />

events in Spain<br />

Another friend from back home arrived and with<br />

him, perhaps the three biggest incidents of the<br />

entire trip (completely coincidental of course).<br />

His name is Dom, but you might know him as Big<br />

Twisty or simply the funniest dude you’ve ever<br />

come across on Instagram. A storm was on its<br />

way to us, funnelling out of the North Atlantic and<br />

right towards our region. The only choice was to<br />

find somewhere to bunker down for a few days.<br />

It was the calm before the storm and we had 24<br />

hours before the weather was due so I decided<br />

that we’d motor through the night and make it to<br />

a town called Gijón. The ocean was calm, boat<br />

traffic was virtually non-existent and there was<br />

four of us to rotate two-hour shifts. A cruisy night.<br />

Suddenly I woke. It was morning and a hazy glow<br />

could be seen through my hatch, I made my way<br />

through the boat and into the cockpit which, to<br />

my horror, was totally surrounded by thick fog<br />

glowing golden in the early morning light. We were<br />

still motoring at full speed, so and I turned to Billy<br />

quickly and asked if we had just hit the fog bank.<br />

“No it’s been like this for a while now”, he said.<br />

Shaken, I slowed the engine down and got the fog<br />

horn out. “Something else happened as well by<br />

the way…” Billy explained that he had been on his<br />

shift, looked up from his book and suddenly saw a<br />

big wooden Spanish fishing boat right next to us.<br />

It had been stationary and we’d almost t-boned<br />

it. “When we made eye contact the captain had<br />

his hands up in the air, he didn’t look happy”,<br />

he said. I let that soak in and felt ashamed.<br />

It was obviously completely my fault and my<br />

responsibility, and while I’d told everyone to wake<br />

me at the slightest disturbance, I hadn’t thought<br />

to mention fog as one of the dangers to look out<br />

for. We hadn’t seen another boat in 10 hours and<br />

the ocean was still calm, so the boys figured it<br />

was business as usual. Yet again the sea fog had<br />

been completely unforecasted and came from a<br />

perfectly clear night. The fog was unrelenting as<br />

we slowly motored into Gijón, constantly on edge<br />

waiting for something to appear before us.<br />

# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />

64<br />

Finally docked, a wave of relief<br />

came over me, only to be replaced<br />

by anxiety again as two maritime<br />

police appeared out of the fog.<br />

Finally docked, a wave of relief came over me, only<br />

to be replaced by anxiety again as two maritime<br />

police appeared out of the fog. With zero English<br />

they asked for all of our passports and gestured<br />

angrily to my mast. Where there was supposed<br />

to be a Spanish ‘courtesy flag’ on the starboard<br />

spreader, there was nothing. I later found out<br />

that depending on where you are in the world,<br />

courtesy flags can either be optional and seen<br />

as a fun form of tradition, or as I was about to<br />

find out, mandatory and vital to showing respect<br />

and perhaps even following the law. We’d later<br />

find out this coastline was the biggest entry point<br />

for cocaine in Europe, so that’s why there was<br />

maritime police here in the first place. Regardless,<br />

these two macho Spaniards weren’t impressed<br />

at all. We could barely string a few sentences<br />

together in their language and we weren’t even<br />

flying their flag. They were going to teach us a<br />

lesson if they could.

Vince, Basque country while waiting out head winds<br />

Pouring through our passports for half an hour,<br />

they finally found something to take issue with in<br />

mine. I had gone out of my way to be stamped into<br />

the UK but hadn’t managed to get one when I was<br />

leaving. This meant they could technically choose<br />

not to deduct any of my time in the UK from my<br />

time in the European Schengen zone. I had kept<br />

marina records and receipts to prove my time in<br />

the UK, but they didn’t care. By the book I had<br />

now overstayed my visa by a whole week. I was an<br />

illegal alien fit for deportation. Next thing I knew I<br />

was looking through the back window of the police<br />

car, Bellis and my friends looking equally forlorn.<br />

I was held for half a day before being led to an<br />

office. The captain of the Gijón Police Station was<br />

huge, deep voiced and had a head of bulging frizzy<br />

hair (in fact she looked remarkably like the Spanish<br />

version of Miss Trunchbull from Roald Dahl’s<br />

Matilda). Regardless of her appearance, one thing<br />

was clear, this women had clearly seen some sh*t<br />

in her time and was not to be f*cked with. Speaking<br />

quickly in Spanish she started questioning me.<br />

I replied in broken Spanish that I was very sorry<br />

but didn’t speak much Spanish, and asked if there<br />

someone who does and could help us. No one in<br />

the station spoke English, but thankfully they had a<br />

friend who was a school teacher and could help us.<br />

They got her on the phone and thank god the<br />

woman was an absolute saint. She soon explained<br />

that they were waiting for a decision from Madrid<br />

on what to do with me and they took the matter<br />

quite seriously. It was within their rights to fine<br />

me, deport me and then ban me from Europe for<br />

a period of time. I connected with the woman,<br />

and she sympathetically explained my case to the<br />

officers. In the end they said the best they could do<br />

is give me a stamp in my passport that says I have<br />

72 hours to leave the EU or face imprisonment<br />

and deportation. If I wanted to get a two-week<br />

extension so I could complete my journey and<br />

make it to the marina I’d organised to leave Bellis<br />

at for the winter, I’d need to write a letter and go<br />

to the local government building two hours away,<br />

although they stressed there was no guarantees<br />

they would help me. The officers dropped me<br />

back and I stayed up all night crafting the letter. I<br />

shaved, found a collared shirt and left the boat first<br />

thing in the morning. Just as I was passing through<br />

# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />


A memorable moment as Billy stepped up to become captain<br />

# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />

66<br />

the marina office, a hand caught my shoulder and<br />

one of the policemen from the day before handed<br />

me a piece of paper. “Dos semanas”, he said,<br />

raising two fingers. The piece of paper afforded<br />

me two extra weeks in Europe, all I needed to<br />

complete the trip. I couldn’t have been more<br />

relieved. Grinning, I ran back to the boat to share<br />

the news. The sangria flowed in town that night. I<br />

never found out why the police said it was out of<br />

their hands but then helped me anyway. My guess<br />

is the sweet and compassionate translator had a<br />

hand in it, or maybe in the end they appreciated<br />

that I never got angry or argumentative. I’d<br />

actually thanked them at the end of the day<br />

and said I understood they were just doing their<br />

jobs. I could see I had made a mistake and was<br />

genuinely sorry for it.<br />

Bellis had now sailed thousands of miles and<br />

visited eight countries, and I could hardly believe<br />

it was now the final leg of the trip for that year.<br />

We said our farewell to Billy and welcomed a<br />

German/Danish mate onboard. Vince was doing<br />

his Biology PhD in Denmark. I had visited his lab<br />

on the way down the Danish coast months earlier.<br />

He is sponsored by Quiksilver Germany for<br />

surfing and has an almost overwhelming froth for<br />

surfing and the ocean. Having grown up fishing<br />

in fresh water, he had all his gear with him and<br />

was pumped to try saltwater fishing for the first<br />

time. Trawling off the back of the boat, he actually<br />

caught us all a nice fish for dinner on the first<br />

day. The second day couldn’t have been more<br />

different though. We were sailing faster, and from<br />

time to time the lurer would max out and skim<br />

the surface of the water. The afternoon light was<br />

reflecting off the white caps and Vince was just<br />

starting to accept defeat when the buzz of the<br />

fishing reel cut through the air, with our newest<br />

crew member literally screaming with excitement.<br />

Those screams soon turned to collective moan as<br />

we all saw what was really on the end of the line.<br />

A fully grown cormorant sea bird had taken the<br />

bait and was being dragged, thrashing through<br />

the whitecaps. While not the size of a pelican,<br />

this was no mere chip thieving seagull. It’s huge,<br />

hooked beak could be seen from a mile away.<br />

There was never a question to cut the line, we<br />

were either going to set it free or put it out of its<br />

misery. With sails still up, we did two drive-bys<br />

while Vince frantically tried to grab the squawking<br />

animal from over the side. It was no use – the boat<br />

was too high out of the water. I looked around to<br />

assess the conditions, then Vince and I looked<br />

at each other and we both knew he was going<br />

in. The German surfer was in his underpants<br />

and overboard in a matter of seconds. The wind<br />

was onshore and with little swell I knew Vince<br />

could (absolute worst case) swim the few miles<br />

into shore. Sails still up, I circled Vince and the<br />

thrashing bird while bellowing at Falcon to get out<br />

of bed and come help me get the sails down.<br />

While Dom had brought the most laughs, he’d<br />

unfortunately also brought with him an exotic virus<br />

that was slowly but surely taking down the whole<br />

boat. Falcon was currently very ill and fighting<br />

off a fever. His voice was completely gone, but<br />

still he was my only hope to help get the sails<br />

down fast, and it was important that Dom kept<br />

eyes on Vince at all times. Credit to Falcon, he<br />

literally crawled out of his sick den and up to the<br />

tiller, doona still wrapped loosely around him with<br />

a weary, punished look in his eyes. I ran forward,<br />

desperately trying to pull the main sail down at<br />

the foot of the mast, but the boat was still slightly<br />

off course relative to the wind and waves.<br />

We made eye contact and I yelled at him to turn<br />

more towards port, he tried to yell back, but<br />

nothing came out. Doona now over his head,<br />

he slumped forward in defeat. In the water,<br />

the situation was also deteriorating, Vince had<br />

successfully intercepted the cormorant and was<br />

desperately trying to calm the bird down but it<br />

was no use, every time he tried to untangle<br />

the mess of lines the bird would fiercely attack<br />

him. To make matters worse, Vince’s legs had<br />

become tightly wrapped in the trailing fishing<br />

line. “We need to get the bird on the boat with a

smorgasboarder<br />


Sticker packs<br />

available at the<br />

Smorgastore<br />

smorgasboarder.com.au<br />

pair of scissors!”, he yelled. Falcon and I had finally got the sails<br />

down and were now successfully stalling the boat, bow into the<br />

white caps. In a commendable effort, Vince somehow held onto<br />

the attacking bird with both hands and kicked mermaid-style all<br />

the way upwind to the back of the boat. Meanwhile, I had gone<br />

flying into the kitchen to grab whatever I could think of to put the<br />

poor animal out of its misery should the worst-case scenario be<br />

realised and the lure been swallowed whole. I came back with an<br />

Ikea bread cutting knife… great.<br />

Thankfully it never came to that, as Vince approached the stern<br />

he explained the bird was only entangled and we just needed to<br />

cut it free. Now it was finally Dom’s time to shine. Leaning over<br />

the back of the boat, he managed to grab the large, struggling<br />

sea bird and carefully raise it to eye level, both arms stretched<br />

straight in front of him. The moment felt uncannily like when<br />

Simba is raised in front of a crowd atop pride rock in The Lion<br />

King. Alas, our Disney moment was short lived. In a scene that<br />

seemed to slow down time, the long head and neck of the<br />

cormorant lashed out straight for Dom’s face. Unable to protect<br />

himself for fear of dropping the creature, all he could do was stand<br />

there and yell in pain. The sharp hooked beak found its mark on<br />

his left eyebrow, leaving a small pincer mark like he’d just had<br />

it pierced. It was not lost on Dom that he’d narrowly avoided<br />

losing an eye (and becoming a real pirate) so the bird was hastily<br />

placed inside the cockpit instead. Vince was soon half way up the<br />

ladder and leaning over into the cockpit with scissors, with Dom<br />

holding it back from anymore eyeball attempts. Before long the<br />

struggling bird was free and Vince was yelling at Dom to get the<br />

bird back overboard. Maybe he thought it would be like releasing<br />

a dove, or maybe it was just the most efficient way to depart the<br />

enraged bird, but Dom stood up and shot-put the bird. If you<br />

hadn’t already guessed, it didn’t take to the sky like a dove, but<br />

face-planted awkwardly into the sea below. No one said a word<br />

as we all stood over the railing, staring and waiting with bated<br />

breath. The bird sat still in the water, collecting itself with deep<br />

breaths. 30 seconds passed, still nothing… Then suddenly in a<br />

flash of perfectly unbroken wings it flew off gracefully like nothing<br />

had ever happened. Adrenaline still pumping, the boat erupted in<br />

over-the-top celebration. Everyone had played a part in what we<br />

were convinced was the greatest rescue in history.<br />


CAFE<br />

Later that evening, parked up safely in a harbour, Vince and I<br />

prepared to jump into the smelly marina water to help an old<br />

French couple with a propeller wrap from some fishing ropes.<br />

Upon cutting the rope free, the couple handed Vince a bottle of<br />

wine and began speaking to him enquiringly in French. Vince<br />

spoke perfect French, but I watched confusion spread over his<br />

face nonetheless. Eventually he cleared up whatever it was they<br />

had asked and we headed off. Laughing, Vince explained that<br />

the couple had sailed right past us in the peak of our cormorant<br />

catching operation and had politely asked him how it had tasted.<br />

They thought we’d captured the bird to eat.

An unexpected<br />

new chapter<br />

I’m happy to say that from there onwards, it was<br />

finally smooth sailing. Anchored across the bay from<br />

A Coruña on our final night, the marina there ready to<br />

take Bellis in for the winter, I’d never felt such a feeling<br />

of relief and accomplishment. I realised however, I<br />

shouldn’t need to feel hugely relieved just to make it<br />

from point A to B. Now finally understanding I should<br />

have done this from the outset, it was time to finally<br />

get experience under some real, seasoned sailors.<br />

I reflected that the best surfers in the world didn’t<br />

become the best by keeping themselves isolated<br />

from others, they analyse, surf with and are inspired<br />

by those who are better than themselves.<br />

To my surprise I got a reply from the very first<br />

email I sent to an offshore sailing school run by<br />

fellow Aussies with a home base in the Caribbean<br />

and operations all over the world. It was a dream.<br />

They were willing to trade my occupation as a<br />

photographer/videographer for their ocean skipper<br />

courses instructed by seasoned yacht masters. What<br />

was supposed to be one week in Croatia turned<br />

into two months sailing up and down the windward<br />

islands of the Caribbean and a particularly special<br />

week in Tahiti. When Covid19 hit, Bellis was left<br />

stranded, with Julius visiting her when he could. Last<br />

year we were finally reunited. Now with significantly<br />

more skill and experience, I decided it was time<br />

to step up and sail single-handed down the coast<br />

of Portugal. The old engine now all but useless, it<br />

turned into an equally eventful voyage… But that’s a<br />

whole ‘nother story.<br />

In a surreal turn of events I now work for the YouTube<br />

channel that inspired me from the start, Sailing La<br />

Vagabonde. Our most recent trip was actually on<br />

surfer Torren Martyn’s borrowed sailboat, Calypte.<br />

The trip across the top of Sumbawa couldn’t have<br />

been more eventful and the hour-long video they<br />

ended up producing from it, titled ‘7 days at Sea to<br />

find this!’, has reached 1.2 million views on YouTube.<br />

But now, after years of work they’re about to launch<br />

their custom 60 foot trimaran. Complete with electric<br />

engines, hydro generation and a top speed of over<br />

50km/h, it’s enough to make any sailor… you know.<br />

I’m obviously really looking forward to helping<br />

document their adventures as best I can, while<br />

slowly learning the art of fast multihull sailing, which<br />

is something that will be completely new to me.<br />

# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />


# #58 // smorgasboarder //<br />


I hope you enjoyed my long-winded<br />

story. As my 30th birthday approaches,<br />

if I’m honest, I do look back and cringe<br />

at many of the risks I initially took with<br />

my friends onboard. I’m grateful we<br />

made it through those times unscathed<br />

– even the bird!<br />

If you’ve ever considered getting into<br />

sailing, I hope you do. Assuming I’ve<br />

turned you off the idea of just winging<br />

it, I can recommend Sailing Virgins or<br />

Vagabonde Adventures. They offer<br />

courses for all levels as well as just<br />

weeks cruising about to see what life<br />

on the water is like. I’ve found it doesn’t<br />

matter how beautiful a place is if you’re<br />

sharing a small space with the wrong<br />

people. These two companies are ran<br />

by professional skippers who are just as<br />

importantly humble and fun to be around.<br />

Their websites will have everything you<br />

need to know. You can also get in touch<br />

with me at forrest.ladkin@me.com or<br />

through my Instagram – @forrest_ladkin.<br />

Cheers!<br />

# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />


#58 // smorgasboarder //<br />


# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />

72<br />

words amber o’dell<br />

URFING<br />

THE LAW<br />

In the words of our surfing solicitor<br />

Hugh Powell, it’s fair to say that<br />

these days, surfers are much more of<br />

a diverse bunch than they used to be.

photo: daygin prescott<br />

# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />


interview<br />








You could place any profession or personality next<br />

to the words “don’t surf” and chances are, they<br />

have been uttered before. And yet, thanks to the<br />

countless people we have been fortunate enough<br />

to meet through this magazine, we have seen for<br />

ourselves that these statements are, more often<br />

than not, nonsense.<br />

That’s the thing about surfing – it’s free. From<br />

doctors and scientists to architects and lawyers,<br />

everyone surfs. Don’t get us wrong, these<br />

misconceptions go both ways too. Hugh agrees<br />

that, nowadays, surfing seems to have lost a lot of<br />

the negative associations it once had.<br />

“The broader acceptance of surfing in society has<br />

certainly opened the door to more and more giving<br />

it a crack. In my view, there’s no better and more<br />

enjoyable way to stay fit and healthy.”<br />

Readers may recognise Hugh as the curator of<br />

Smorgasboarder’s ‘Above Board’ column, where<br />

every edition he delves into legislation that is<br />

becoming increasingly relevant to the world of<br />

surfing. Hailing from Travis Schultz & Partners, a<br />

boutique law firm on the Sunshine Coast, he is as in<br />

tune with the law as he is with the waves.<br />

Naturally, we were curious about what came first –<br />

the lawyer or the surfer? Hugh informed us that he<br />

has always been enamoured with the sea, and said<br />

he was fortunate enough to have grown up on the<br />

pristine beaches of Caloundra.<br />

“My dad has always been, and still is, an avid surfer<br />

and would take me out to Happy Valley on an old<br />

single fin in the early days.<br />

“From there, I have spent most of my time out<br />

at Moffat – a great and, in my biased view,<br />

underappreciated right hand point.<br />

“Like most places, it gets pretty busy these days<br />

but there are still plenty of days where I can jag it by<br />

# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />


interview<br />

photo supplied<br />

myself or with just a couple of others out.”<br />

We really do mean it when we say that this man can<br />

surf – just look at the incredible photos gracing this<br />

spread. Like most other groms growing up on the<br />

shoreline, Hugh did the usual competition circuits<br />

around the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast through<br />

school, but soon branched out to work in different<br />

areas of his community.<br />

Despite the obvious talent that he showcases when he<br />

is amongst the waves, Hugh said that the competitive<br />

surfing industry was never really for him.<br />

“I enjoy the element of solace in surfing, and just being<br />

immersed in nature. I surfed around Iceland a few<br />

years ago, and had great waves with no one around.<br />

Though that was definitely one of the few occasions<br />

where it would have been nice to see people in the<br />

lineup.<br />

“More recently, my family and I did a trip to the<br />

southern atolls of the Maldives earlier this year and<br />

managed to score a great run there. Nothing solid, but<br />

just super friendly, fun and perfect waves in crystal<br />

clear water. That’s hard to beat.”<br />

It’s hard to imagine how blissful of an escape surfing<br />

must be for someone in a profession that is so<br />

infamous for its intellectual and emotional demand –<br />

but that is not all Hugh occupies his time with.<br />

In addition to trying his best to keep his young family’s<br />

veggie garden alive and well, he is also a board<br />

member of Sunshine Coast Rugby Union, a volunteer<br />

solicitor at Suncoast Community Legal Service and a<br />

former committee member of the Sunshine Coast Law<br />

Association.<br />

In between all of these responsibilities, we couldn’t<br />

help but wonder what kinds of boards Hugh grabs on<br />

the way out the door when he does get the chance to<br />

disappear into the waves. We were interested to know<br />

that, when it comes to his surfing preferences, he<br />

tends to pick and stick.<br />

“I’ve never been one to be too experimental or out<br />

there with board selection, mostly jumping between<br />

two boards. My go-to for the last 15 or so years has<br />

been a 5’7 original Lost Rocket – fast, loose and fun.<br />

“It’s the perfect board for the Sunshine Coast given<br />

that it rarely gets above 5 to 6 ft throughout the year. I<br />

usually just swap back and forth between the Rocket<br />

and a performance shortboard, which is currently a<br />

Highline Pyzel, for when it is a bit more solid.”<br />

Of course, when he is not carving it up on the shores<br />

of the Sunshine Coast and taking up important<br />

roles within his community, Hugh works as a highly<br />

regarded lawyer.<br />

While the cliché of a ‘stiff’ lawyer combined with a<br />

‘chill’ surfer certainly makes for an interesting contrast,<br />

the demand for all legal lines of work in Australia has<br />

actually increased by 45 percent since 2011, so it’s<br />

really no surprise that we are seeing more and more<br />

surfers embracing a career in law and breaking the<br />

flimsy stereotypes that surround both lifestyles.<br />

Hugh said there wasn’t any one particular thing that<br />

led him into the world of law, as it was a natural<br />

fascination that simply grew over time.<br />

“I developed a general interest in it during high school<br />

and then dived straight into studying law at university.<br />

I then found myself working in insurance litigation in<br />

Maroochydore, which is the defence of personal injury<br />

claims on behalf of insurance companies.<br />

“After a while, it became a bit soul-destroying working<br />

for insurers. When I was struggling to answer for<br />

myself what value I was giving back to the community,<br />

I realised it was time to move on. I eventually saw the<br />

light and jumped across the other side of the table,<br />

joining Travis Schultz & Partners in 2019.<br />

“I am now a Partner and head up the Sunshine<br />

Coast office of the law firm. We are a specialist<br />

compensation law dedicated to making a positive<br />

impact on our clients and throughout the community<br />

by offering expert legal advice without the price tag.”<br />

After successfully completing his Bachelor of Laws<br />

from the University of Queensland in 2011, Hugh<br />

zeroed in on personal injury and compensation law –<br />

also known as tort law. For those that aren’t fluent in<br />

legalese (us), tort law is essentially civil wrongdoing<br />

committed by one party against another, and includes<br />

cases around negligence, trespass, defamation and<br />

personal injury.<br />

Not only did Hugh become highly experienced in this<br />

specialised area, but he also went so far as to reach<br />

the finals at the prestigious Ron Shorter Awards in<br />

2018 run by the Australian Insurance Law Association.<br />

Hugh said he has also been fortunate enough to have<br />

received some recognition by his peers over the past<br />

couple of years in Doyles Guide – awards that are<br />

determined by peer-review based surveys as well as<br />

extensive telephone and face-to-face interviews with<br />

clients, peers and relevant industry bodies.<br />

“This year in Queensland I was recognised as a<br />

Leading Lawyer in Workers Compensation and Public<br />

Liability law as well as a Recommended Lawyer in<br />

Accident Compensation.<br />

“In reality, any recognition like this is more a reflection<br />

of the great team and people we have at Travis<br />

Schultz & Partners who all individually contribute to<br />

the outcomes we achieve.”<br />

It was Hugh’s expertise in all things compensation<br />

that led to his insightful articles on tort law and public<br />

liability – topics that overlap with the surf a lot more<br />

than you might think, especially considering the boom<br />

in surfing statistics over the years and the increasing<br />

number of people moving to the coastal towns of<br />

Australia.<br />

As you would expect, Hugh has dealt with his fair<br />

share of beachside cases while working for a law firm<br />

nestled behind the shoreline of Mooloolaba. When<br />

asked about the fascinating crossroads between<br />

legislature and surfing, Hugh said that, interestingly,<br />

some of the landmark cases in tort law have involved<br />

people injured while at the beach or in the ocean.<br />

“For example, Wyong Shire Council v Shirt (1980) 146<br />

CLR 40 involved a situation where the Council was<br />

held to be negligent for a water skier who broke their<br />

neck because the Council placed a ‘deep water’ sign<br />

where the water was actually shallow.<br />

# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />


interview<br />




“There have otherwise been countless cases over the years<br />

involving injuries from diving from bridges and other platforms<br />

as well as into sandbanks. Some won, some lost.<br />

“There have also been numerous cases involving injuries<br />

suffered when struck by a surfboard between the flags. There<br />

has been the odd successful case, usually on the basis that<br />

the beach or the area between the flags was not sufficiently<br />

patrolled or supervised, but many have been dismissed.<br />

“The reason why these cases always involve the injured person<br />

being between the flags is because that allows the claim to be<br />

pursued against either the local council or lifesaving club, who<br />

are insured against these events, rather than the person who<br />

actually caused the harm, who is likely to be uninsured and<br />

more difficult to recover anything from.”<br />

After making the rounds in the media earlier this year, perhaps<br />

the most significant legal development that has caught the<br />

attention of the surfers recently was the ground-breaking<br />

decision by the Byron Shire Council to make legropes<br />

compulsory when using a surfboard.<br />

This change was sparked by an incident at Wategos Beach<br />

in Byron Bay after surfer Matthew Cassidy was struck by a<br />

stray surfboard before suffering life-threatening injuries. Hugh<br />

discussed this incident in Smorgasboarder’s very first ‘Above<br />

Board’ column, as the revived discussion about the use of leg<br />

ropes compelled people to think a little bit differently about how<br />

the law interacts with the lives of everyday surfers.<br />

Hugh let us know that he is not aware of any legal action that<br />

arose from that incident, but the potential is certainly there<br />

given the nature of what happened.<br />

“What we could see happen is that this incident, and the Byron<br />

Shire Council’s decision to mandate the use of leg ropes, could<br />

actually be a catalyst for claims in that region.<br />

“Having made its well-publicised decision, the Council has<br />

inherently acknowledged the risks associated with surfers failing<br />

to wear leg ropes in crowded breaks were significant enough<br />

to warrant some action in response – unless this is properly<br />

enforced by the Council, it could come back to bite them.”<br />

Given the increase in the number of surfing-related incidents<br />

over the years, and considering that surfing is one of the fastest<br />

growing activities, we are certainly grateful to be able to pick<br />

the brain of Hugh on how to stay safe and reduce risk amongst<br />

the waves.<br />

Needless to say, lawyers do surf, and it’s a very good thing<br />

they do too. Who else will be there to speak on behalf of surfers<br />

and help maintain the essence of surfing within legislature?<br />

Especially when more laws, and more people, are becoming so<br />

intrinsically tied to our way of life.<br />

# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />

76<br />

photo supplied


1/1-7 Canterbury Rd, Braeside, VIC<br />

P: 03 9587 3553<br />

E: rory@okesurfboards.com<br />

# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />


gear<br />

words: dave swan<br />

DUE<br />


The induction of Mitchell Rae into the International Surfboard<br />

Builders Hall of Fame has truly been one of the highlights<br />

of our year here at Smorgasboarder. In our humble opinion,<br />

Mitchell’s work is the pinnacle of everything we have seen in<br />

the board building sphere in our collective lifetimes. If you<br />

ever get a chance to call into his factory on the North Coast of<br />

New South Wales, and we strongly suggest you do, you will be<br />

amazed at the workmanship before your eyes. It is something<br />

to behold.<br />

# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />

78<br />

7’10 Zen Blade, full carbon, Flex Tail<br />

/ 3 kinds of carbon fibre, EVA foam /<br />

hand painted original art.

gear<br />

Lydie & Mitchell Rae<br />

We recently caught up with Mitchell on his<br />

return from the United States for a quick<br />

Q&A just before we went to print.<br />

Being inducted into the International<br />

Surfboard Builders Hall of Fame I<br />

believe is a fitting reward for your<br />

artisanal work at the cutting edge of<br />

surfboard design and construction.<br />

That’s my opinion however, more<br />

importantly, what does the award mean<br />

to you personally?<br />

I am truly honoured to be inducted<br />

into the International Hall of Fame, an<br />

acknowledgement I think of my life’s work.<br />

It is the highest honour one can receive as<br />

a surfboard designer and builder.<br />

As a grommet, my mates and I would<br />

pore over the latest surfing mags from the<br />

States, drool over the surfboard ads from<br />

Hobie, Velzy, Greg Noll, Yater, Jacobs,<br />

Hansen, the photos by Severson and<br />

Grannis of Phil Edwards, Dora, Robert<br />

August, David Nuuhiwa, Mike Doyle,<br />

Rabbit Kekai, Dewey Weber, Donald<br />

Takayama, Billy Hamilton and Linda<br />

Benson surfing those legendary breaks<br />

like Malibu, Rincon, Huntington and The<br />

Ranch.<br />

So, for me, this was in a way, a pilgrimage<br />

to my surfing mecca, a journey to pay<br />

tribute to those who paved the way for my<br />

career and lifestyle.<br />

Can you please tell us a little about the<br />

event itself and the awards ceremony?<br />

The award was conceived and introduced<br />

in 2000 by Bob Bolen and Mike Ester to<br />

honour the lifetime achievements of its<br />

inductees who are involved in the surfing<br />

industry.<br />

The list of inductees is a veritable roll call<br />

of surfboard building royalty, from Duke<br />

Kahanamoku at the top, through all the<br />

greats of California and Hawaii… George<br />

Downing, Pat Curren, Phil Edwards, Renny<br />

Yater, Dick Brewer, Bob Simmons, Barry<br />

Kanaiaupuni, Skip Frye, Greg Noll… the list<br />

is stellar, including our own Midget Farrelly,<br />

Joe Larkin, Bill Wallace, Barry Bennett,<br />

Bob McTavish, Mark Richards and my<br />

mate Dick Van Straalen, who nominated<br />

me for the award. Too many to list here.<br />

The event itself was held at Huntington<br />

Beach Pier, the day was perfect with a blue<br />

sky and perfect waves breaking out the<br />

front. It was quite a ceremony with many of<br />

the previous inductees in attendance.<br />

Hawaiian hula girls and a kahuna blowing<br />

a conch set the tone for the ceremonies.<br />

This year there were seven inductees,<br />

including the Campbell Bros of “Bonzer”<br />

“The event itself was held at Huntington<br />

Beach Pier, the day was perfect with a blue<br />

sky and perfect waves breaking out the front.<br />

It was quite a ceremony with many of the<br />

previous inductees in attendance.”<br />

# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />


gear<br />

fame, Craig Sugihara of Town & Country Surfboards,<br />

Californian legends John Kies, Wayne Brown, Bernie<br />

Crouch and myself.<br />

Do you feel this accolade recognises, and indeed<br />

validates your devotion to a lifetime of board<br />

building?<br />

I built my first board when I was 12 under a mate’s<br />

house. I rode that board in the first Australian<br />

schoolboy’s competition, making it into the finals with<br />

Mark Richards. Funnily enough, Mark was one of the<br />

first to message me congratulating me on my award.<br />

Back then, around ’67, the only way for me to make a<br />

living from surfing was by making boards.<br />

My first job was as a sander at Peter Clark Surfboards<br />

in Brookvale. After a year of sanding, I got a gig as a<br />

shaper. Not long after, with two friends we started Outer<br />

Island.<br />

Midget Farrelly was moving his factory to Brookvale, so<br />

we stepped straight into his old factory in a boatshed at<br />

Palm Beach.<br />

As the factory grom, I cut and glued blanks with multiple<br />

stringers, glassed, sanded, polished, made fins and<br />

shaped.<br />

You might say I have paid my dues!<br />

You have employed various technologies and<br />

design nuances to heighten the properties of flex<br />

in a surfboard, none more so than your ‘flextail’.<br />

Some may have scoffed at the relevance of flex<br />

in surfboard design, more specifically the flextail<br />

component. Does this award give you a wry sense<br />

of ‘told you so’ to the naysayers through the years?<br />

It must be incredibly satisfying to see this aspect of<br />

your design has been recognised on the world stage<br />

by your peers?<br />

I think that my contribution to surfing is considerably<br />

broader than just the Flex Tail. I did a lot of early work<br />

with deep concaves and hard edges in the late 60’s and<br />

early 70’s, before they were a ‘thing’. The exploration of<br />

variable curves and different ways to achieve controlled<br />

flex and flex construction is another. I’m confident in the<br />

performance of my designs and don’t need validation by<br />

those who don’t ‘get it’.<br />

Through the years you have maintained your ‘cottage<br />

industry’ approach to surfboard manufacturing,<br />

resisting the temptation to mass produce and make<br />

big dollars. Have you ever regretted that decision?<br />

Small independent surfer shapers are the core of<br />

surfboard design. I have no regrets about staying close<br />

to my roots.<br />

How does it feel to be internationally recognised?<br />

One of the highlights of my trip was a visit to the surfing<br />

heritage and culture centre at San Clemente. To quote<br />

PT (Peter Townend – Australian surf legend and first IPS/<br />

ASP World Surfing Champion) it is, “the best collection<br />

of surfboards on the planet”.<br />

The curator Barry K. Haun certainly knows his surfing<br />

history. He gave me a personal guided tour of the surf<br />

museum and anecdotes about many of the exhibits.<br />

The collection chronicles the development of surfboard<br />

design from the Duke’s solid redwoods, through<br />

Simmons, Pat Curren guns for Waimea, original boards<br />

by Dale Velzy, Greg Noll, Yater, a turning point down rail<br />

board by Mike Hynson, Greenough spoons, McTavish V<br />

bottoms.<br />

Every board there is of real significance with its own<br />

story to tell. I have been invited to contribute one of<br />

mine to the collection.<br />

It gave me a deep sense of perspective on the history of<br />

the evolution of surfboard design.<br />

It made me very conscious of what a great honour it<br />

is to be included in this role call for the International<br />

Surfboard Builders Hall of Fame.<br />

It is undeniably an honour well deserved in our<br />

opinion. Mitchell deserves his place in the sun.<br />

8’4 Super Mal for Toes on the Nose<br />

Bird’s Surf Shed, San Diego<br />

Kirk & Mitchell<br />

with Zen Blade<br />

# 56 // smorgasboarder //<br />


San Clemente sunset<br />

Richard from Toes and Mitchell<br />

7’10 Flextail, variable curve<br />

V2 Flex. Greenough inspired<br />

transparent tail<br />

Board on stands / Simmons<br />

at the SHAAC Museum<br />

# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />


GUN SHOW<br />


STICK<br />


gear<br />











Well, when the swell climbs above 10ft, you<br />

need something with a fair bit of bloody<br />

force — a big stick just like these magnificent<br />

big wave guns, and these quietly spoken<br />

gentlemen are the guys to talk to about that.<br />

Now most of you would be aware, Mark Riley<br />

is a good friend of mine. My friendship is<br />

nearly as strong as my love for his boards.<br />

Jokes aside, Mark’s boards are exquisite,<br />

particularly his big wave guns. Sleek,<br />

beautiful and precision-engineered, they are<br />

like Formula One racing cars.<br />

# 58 // // smorgasboarder // //<br />

82<br />

If Mark’s guns are like a McLaren, the board<br />

I recently received from Stephen Halpin to<br />

test is like the big wave equivalent of a Dodge<br />

Ram. It is a big solid brute built to tackle<br />

some serious swell. My only concern is that as<br />

I get older, I get more chicken, but I shall wait<br />

in readiness until some cyclone wells arrive<br />

later this year.<br />

Following is a bit of a rundown on these two<br />

beautiful boards.



gear<br />

This 9ft classic balsa beauty was created<br />

and hand-built by Mark Riley for the<br />

American market. It’s the first Riley board<br />

to be built for the US market since Mark<br />

started building balsa boards in 1996.<br />

The surfboard features seven Australian<br />

redwood stringers with matching cedar<br />

balsa combination blocks to finish off the<br />

nose and tail with incredible workmanship.<br />

It has a recycled polystyrene core with the<br />

total weight coming in at just 5kgs.<br />

The board has been signed and numbered<br />

No. 1 by Mark for surfers or collectors in the<br />

USA.<br />

It has a matching wood-coloured fin<br />

box and a hand-foiled balsa and cedar<br />

laminated fin that shines and sparkles just<br />

as brilliantly as the board itself.<br />

Mark worked on this board for countless<br />

hours, blending balsa from South America<br />

and Papua New Guinea with Australian red<br />

cedar stringers.<br />

Shaped to classic Hawaiian templates, at<br />

9’0” x 19” x 3” it’s a proven big-wave plan<br />

shape and rocker and is sure to go like the<br />

clappers. This gun is a one-off and a labour<br />

of love for Mark and is most definitely in<br />

the collector’s category. The pride in his<br />

creation is clearly evident.<br />

“In our 25 years of building Riley Balsawood<br />

Surfboards this is the first of its kind for<br />

the USA. It was built with passion and<br />

solely by hand. Laid up with custom<br />

redwood/balsa nose and tail blocks, it has<br />

7 stringers using gorgeous deep red Aussie<br />

cedar. Yes, gorgeous! It’s fitted with a handmade<br />

cedar/balsa fin with the sunrise and<br />

wave design.<br />

“There is no denying the sensation of<br />

gliding through the water with a wooden<br />

surfboard like this is truly unique and<br />

cannot be replicated by any other material.<br />

The natural beauty and organic connection<br />

to the environment make handmade<br />

boards crafted from sustainable materials a<br />

top choice for surfers looking for a one-ofa-kind<br />

experience.”<br />

Mark has even crafted some handmade<br />

timber wall racks to match along with a<br />

signed framed photograph of Mark and the<br />

board. Someone in the US is sure to receive<br />

one hell of a Christmas present this year.<br />

# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />


gear<br />

# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />


gear<br />



Regular readers of Smorgasboarder would be<br />

familiar with Stephen Halpin’s stunning recycled<br />

wood creations. He lovingly crafts hollow wooden<br />

surfboards from fish to funboards, guns and<br />

malibus under the name of Shapes by Steveo,<br />

all made with a combination of salvaged and<br />

sustainable plantation-grown timber. What<br />

readers might not know however is the penchant<br />

this man has for monster swells – the kinds of<br />

waves most normal surfers like myself would see<br />

us doing our best impersonation of a squid under<br />

duress. I’ve seen the photos of Steveo surfing Red<br />

Bluff in Western Australia, that he is too humble<br />

to share with the general public, and the waves<br />

are frightening.<br />

This board he lovingly crafted to surf Pipe<br />

(Pipeline on the North Shore of Oahu in Hawaii)<br />

but constant lockdowns amidst the pandemic put<br />

paid to those dreams.<br />

It is 7’10” x 19 ½” x 3” with a 11 ½“ nose and a 11<br />

¾“ tail with 70/30 rails. It features an incredibly<br />

intricate cedar, paulownia and balsa parquetry<br />

nose and tail block. The deck and bottom are<br />

made from a combination of recycled cedar blinds<br />

with balsa decorative strips. The skill entailed<br />

in building a board like this is testament to the<br />

several decades Steveo’s spent plying his trade.<br />

“Boards like this aren’t just made to surf a cyclone<br />

swell or two. I’ve made this to surf a lifetime of<br />

cyclone swells. To damage this board, you would<br />

have to be chasing something bigger than I’ve<br />

ever surfed (and believe me when I say that is<br />

seriously big and not something mere mortals<br />

like myself would consider).<br />

“This is a board you can pass down from<br />

generation to generation. Now it’s over to you<br />

Dave to see what kind of history you can create<br />

with it. I hope you’re up to it.”<br />

Nothing like a bit of pressure to deliver the goods.<br />

I have no fear the board will hold up, it is just my<br />

ageing body. Anyhow, challenge accepted, let’s see<br />

what happens.<br />

# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />


gear<br />



Love the outline on this.<br />

Great shape for summer.<br />



Units 7 & 8, 9 Chapman Road,<br />

Hackham, SA<br />

E: leightonclark01@yahoo.com.au<br />

M: 0422 443 789<br />

Mark Benson | 0416 199 764<br />

44 Hill Street, Port Elliot SA<br />

@mrdamagesurfboards<br />

5’5” DARK SIDE<br />





SHAPES<br />

New Zealand’s fi nest manufacturers of<br />

longboards, hybrids and classic surfboards.<br />

All boards are crafted on site at our Raglan<br />

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using the fi nest materials available.<br />



# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />

86<br />

257c Wainui Road, RD3, Raglan 3297<br />

(on the way to the beach)<br />

SHOP PHONE: +64 7 825 0544<br />

MICKEY T: 0274 460 396<br />

EMAIL: mickeytsurf@hotmail.com<br />


gear<br />





0438 800 539<br />



@ nmc_surfboards



Paulownia, cedar, balsa combinations.<br />

Recycled or plantation wood used<br />

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All models can be made in any style be it HempTech<br />

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# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />

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gear<br />

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# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />

90<br />

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Whether you know exactly what<br />

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# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />


interview<br />

Oh, how we have enjoyed publishing the witty humour of Phillip Island cartoonist Darren<br />

Marks, aka Curl, and his beloved character Aloha Barry. After so many years we felt it was<br />

only fitting we publish a collection of his greatest works that have featured in the pages of<br />

Smorgasboarder (and some extras from around the traps).<br />

# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />

92<br />

The Aloha Barry hardcover — aptly entitled<br />

Sand in my Crack — has recently arrived back<br />

from the printers, just in time for Christmas. It’s<br />

perfect to gift to anyone you don’t think much<br />

of and couldn’t be tossed finding a present of<br />

any real value for.<br />

I recently caught up with Curl to ask a few<br />

questions about what it was like to publish<br />

his first hardcover and where, and on whom,<br />

he would be spending his immense riches<br />

on once the royalties start rolling in. Curl’s<br />

answers were quite the eye-opener I must say,<br />

and whilst we have not yet featured a sealed<br />

section in the pages of Smorgasboarder,<br />

this interview calls for it (although our printer<br />

unfortunately couldn’t oblige at such late<br />

notice). So please, to any of those who are<br />

easily offended, and who possibly don’t read<br />

Aloha Barry as a result, this is a warning to look<br />

away and strictly do not read on.<br />

With the imminent release of your hard<br />

cover Sand in My Crack, I’m guessing<br />

there’s a real sense that you’ve made it<br />

now?<br />

There is a deep swelling that’s for sure, and a<br />

sense of pride and accomplishment. I know<br />

we had a heated debate about whether we<br />

should release this as a quality hard cover or<br />

as a lower budget style magazine, but I think<br />

we have made the right decision. In my twilight<br />

years I think it will be more comfortable to<br />

construct a small hut out of unsold hardcovers<br />

to live in, rather than sleeping on a park bench<br />

under a handmade quilt of surplus magazines.<br />

As an artist with a retirement plan, yes, I<br />

certainly feel as though I’ve “made it”.<br />

Am I right in assuming 90% of the proceeds<br />

will go to the Smorgasboarder Charity<br />

Trust? We are, of course, a not-for-profit<br />

organisation.<br />

Certainly, that charity trust is a very noble and<br />

worthy cause. I would hate to think how many<br />

20-cent pieces have been shoved down the<br />

front of dancer’s undergarments in the name of<br />

charity over the years. I recall attending some<br />

of Smorgasboarder’s philanthropic evenings...<br />

Knickers were jingling like Christmas carols.<br />

The dedication to the redistribution of wealth<br />

on the Gold Coast alone, is something to be<br />

commended. I’m not too sure how many pole<br />

dancer’s* kids would have been put through<br />

school, but it must be in the thousands. They<br />

are truly doing the Lord’s work.<br />

No doubt you feel incredibly indebted to<br />

Mark and Dave for spring boarding your<br />

career by featuring Aloha Barry in their<br />

esteemed publication?<br />

Mark and Dave have been instrumental in the<br />

development and expansion of my artistic<br />

practice. Just as Don King was to Mike Tyson<br />

and Colonel Tom Parker to Elvis, these two<br />

infallible gents have squeezed every drop of<br />

creative juice from my plump plums, leaving<br />

me with dried out, desensitised prunes.<br />

When Mark and Dave invited me aboard their<br />

company yacht to discuss the contractual<br />

minutiae for the book, I was at first flattered,<br />

thinking I’d finally made it within the inner<br />

circle. It wasn’t until I found myself dangling<br />

in a bull shark infested estuary, clutching a<br />

cod carcass for a life preserver, that I thought<br />

maybe, just maybe, their interest in me was<br />

blackened by the shadow of financial gain.

interview<br />

“All my anticipated earnings have been already accounted for. I outlaid a large portion of<br />

my royalty advancement on upgrades to my seagull processing plant.” Curl said.<br />

# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />


interview<br />

“Just as Don King was to Mike Tyson and Colonel Tom Parker to Elvis,<br />

these two infallible gents have squeezed every drop of creative juice from<br />

my plump plums, leaving me with dried out, desensitised prunes.” said Curl.<br />

# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />

94<br />

What shenanigans are planned for the book<br />

launch afterparty?<br />

At this stage the book launch is scheduled to be held<br />

at the infamous ‘Chillhouse’ on Phillip Island. There<br />

will be an assortment of entertainments and activities<br />

planned, with honey wine samplings from Phillip<br />

Island Meadery, as well as the associated party<br />

accompaniments. When, and only when, the last<br />

book has been sold, we have a troupe of diminutive<br />

circus performers scheduled to arrive on goatback<br />

to enact a musical interpretation of “Ned Kelly’s<br />

Last Stand”. It will be performed in the round with a<br />

28-piece jazz ensemble and brought to life by a full<br />

light and sound spectacular.<br />

I believe we’re printing something like 500 copies<br />

of this book. How large is your family?<br />

My family is quite small and disinterested in my<br />

cultural comings and goings. I also think that the<br />

mere concept of Barry has brought much shame<br />

and embarrassment to my relatives. I don’t think<br />

they will be clambering over each other to claim a<br />

copy of the book or even to be associated with me<br />

as a published author. The mere mention of this<br />

book brings a polite smile and a gentle changing of<br />

the subject. To be honest with you, I think I will be<br />

disowned like my dear uncle Martin who was caught<br />

handing out yo-yos at a McDonalds playground.<br />

What do you plan to spend your immense<br />

royalties on?<br />

All my anticipated earnings have already been<br />

accounted for. I outlaid a large portion of my royalty<br />

advancement on upgrades to my seagull processing<br />

plant. We have been able to double production over<br />

the summer months and by December we hope<br />

to be announcing a new range of deep-fried treats<br />

which includes seagull nuggets, popcorn gull bites

interview<br />

and southern fried seagull tenders. We have an oversaturation of these filthy<br />

bastards down our way, and though their flesh is a little sinewy and muddy on<br />

the palette, it is a viable alternative to chicken and turkey. This may sound like<br />

a ridiculous claim but our humble company, The Succulent Seaside Seagull,<br />

hopes to have rotisserie cooked free range birds in most major supermarkets<br />

by the end of the 2023 financial year.<br />

Your explanation of the characters contained within, and the musings of<br />

your mind are quite deep, soulful, and insightful. Did someone else write<br />

this? Usually, you can’t string words together and yet you come out with<br />

something like this.<br />

Everything is ghost written. I have employed, well “engaged”, a gaggle of<br />

immigrants that I bribe with the fear of extradition. They come from all corners<br />

of continental Asia, with specific races being delegated to the various topics<br />

on which I muse. There is Miss Sing Dong, a Thai ladyboy who writes on all<br />

matters sexual and a Buddhist monk from Laos named Grahame who is my<br />

spiritual scribe. I have a couple of Balo’s who specialise in the ways of the<br />

Aussie Bogan. I also keep a rotating assortment of intellectuals from mainland<br />

China who have a wealth of knowledge on diverse topics such as 19th-century<br />

Romanian poetry, Lithuania’s economic foreign policy and the fascinating<br />

intricacies of the West African hippopotamus’ breeding cycle.<br />

Our favourite character, Kevin the Dolphin, seems<br />

to have fallen on hard times. What started his downward spiral and is<br />

it true he has a shot at redemption as the mascot for the Sushi Train<br />

restaurant franchise?<br />

Kevin’s story is sad and confusing. His opportunities in life have been bountiful,<br />

yet he continues to jeopardise himself with certain proclivities, addictions, and<br />

lifestyle choices. While his intentions are pure, there is a thick rope of selfdestruction<br />

that knots and tangles itself around the propellor of his life. He<br />

has, as you mentioned, been offered a senior ambassador position with the<br />

franchise and will be the face of their new dolphin meat range. Kev travels to<br />

shopping malls across Australasia spruiking the health benefits of this life-giving<br />

flesh. The new range of sushi rolls include braised blowhole, deep fried dorsal<br />

fin, and pickled porpoise anus. The decision has obviously caused a stir within<br />

the pod, but Kevin seems to be embracing this redeeming opportunity to feed<br />

the hand that bites him.<br />

Whatever happened to Barry’s dog Pimples? Was it true he tried his hand<br />

at greyhound racing and hasn’t been seen since?<br />

Ahh, sorry there must have been a miscommunication, it wasn’t greyhound<br />

racing, it was greyhound rooting. Pimples was going out with a three-time<br />

Sandown Park winner, “Butternut Lass”, who was getting bored with the shady<br />

racing scene. Pimples would be waiting in the mounting yard with his milk crate<br />

and as a result even sired a fine young son “Pimplenuts”. His son had the longbodied<br />

grace of his mother, but the stumpy muscular legs of his Jack Russell<br />

father, which is the kiss of death in the world of the dish lickers. Barry and<br />

Pimples continue to be on good terms, and we may even see Pimples return to<br />

the coast as his relationship with Butternut Lass didn’t survive her penchant for<br />

the pokies.<br />

In the unlikely event this does nothing for you career, will you return to<br />

bottomless waitering?<br />

Bottomless waitering continues to be an ongoing and reliable source of income<br />

in the unpredictable world of a semi-professional artist. I’m currently on hiatus<br />

after incurring a nasty injury at my previous employment. I think that as nature<br />

runs its course, and certain body parts sag and elongate, you must be smarter<br />

with your workplace choices. Korean BBQ is perhaps a little precarious for<br />

a middle-aged gent with exorbitantly low hanging fruit. Luckily kimchi helps<br />

prevent swelling and inflammation if applied in a timely manner. I currently have<br />

a resume with a frozen yoghurt franchise, it doesn’t pay much, but it should at<br />

least aid with the healing process.<br />

*Note, pole dancers refer to the traditional dancers of Poland. We have no idea<br />

what you might have been thinking.<br />

At this stage the book launch is<br />

scheduled to be held at the infamous<br />

‘Chillhouse’ on Phillip Island.<br />

# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />



Who could forget the meteoric rise of Knobs Surf Wax? Though, as quickly as it appeared, it all<br />

seemed to vanish into thin air, disappearing out of sight like a gerbil in a bathhouse.<br />

So, what exactly happened to Knobs? We recently caught up with Bradley Aubergine, the<br />

mastermind behind the brand who formulated his white gold using the recycled scraps from his<br />

Brazilian waxing salon. Bradley was not only a demigod of repurposing waste, but also a passionate<br />

equal opportunity employer. He was dedicated to giving those considered ‘beyond their prime’ an<br />

opportunity to join the workforce once again with meaning. Devastatingly, his honest and good<br />

meaning endeavours all came crashing down like the rafters in the Knobs Surf Wax building when<br />

a fire engulfed the facility. The report below from Smorgasboarder correspondent I.P. Knightley<br />

gives a graphic account of the tragic scenes that unfolded that fateful night.<br />

# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />

96<br />

It was a sad day when the factory burned down, everything Bradley had<br />

worked so hard for was all but lost. An unstoppable blazing decimation<br />

of his third storey Parramatta factory left nothing but a hot, dripping<br />

pile of hairs from the nether regions, wax and cinders. The loss was<br />

immense, 3.8 tonnes of recycled body wax — disintegrated, 14 bales of<br />

pubic hair — singed, 37 elderly workers — medium rare.<br />

Knobs surf wax, since its inception, was revolutionising the surf industry.<br />

It’s prize-winning formula and reputation for recycling ingenuity had<br />

seen sales numbers skyrocket as customers craved its sticky, white<br />

goodness between their toes. Bradley was forced to upscale with haste<br />

and rented an open floored factory space in Sydney’s northwest. This<br />

was now ground zero for his recycled body wax de-pubing operation.<br />

Senior citizens were bussed in from all over the metropolitan area, given<br />

a rigorous arthritis examination and then provided an opportunity to<br />

supplement their dwindling pensions with tweezers and a steady hand.<br />

Opportunities were even created for those with deteriorating motor<br />

skills to sort the pubic hairs by length, universal frizz metric (UFN) and<br />

then colour coded for bundling. Business was booming in the world of<br />

depluming.<br />

Details of how the blaze started remains a little cloudy. One of the few<br />

survivors reported seeing 83-year-old Clarry Thompson fumble a scotch<br />

finger biscuit while on an unofficial tea break at around 2am on the<br />

Tuesday morning shift. Clarry tried retrieving the soggy morsel from his<br />

hot tea, burning his fingers, which caused him to release a lit Dunhill<br />

gold into the bushel of 'Ginger Glory' he was packing. The blaze was<br />

soon unstoppable in the mountainous pile of crotch fleece.<br />

Thick smoke quickly engulfed the factory as the elderly work force made<br />

a slow-motion stampede towards the door. The real tragedy unfolded,<br />

however, when a cluster of walking frames became entangled in the<br />

rush to make it safely down the rickety steps. It was a truly dramatic exit<br />

for the avalanche of the aged in the stairwell that night.<br />

Bradley was understandably devastated. A multimillion-dollar<br />

incineration of his dreams and business left a pain in his soul that would<br />

take more than an endless procession of warm hugs from devastated<br />

families to soothe. There was nothing he could do but dance.<br />

‘BUSHfire’ the musical was born. An interpretive celebration of rhythmic<br />

human movement to a curated contemporary playlist, accompanied<br />

by a state-of-the-art laser light experience. It captivated audiences<br />

from its first performance in the burned-out factory shell, which was<br />

live streamed on Facebook. Viral videos exploded with standout clips<br />

featuring Bradley expressing himself to Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m On<br />

Fire” and the Australian classic “Burn For You” by the iconic John<br />

Farnham.<br />

A long-standing residency was offered by the Rooty Hill RSL, and over<br />

the next 18 months Bradley cemented himself in the history books<br />

as the longest continually running interpretive dance experience this<br />

country has ever seen. He was even acknowledged with an ARIA<br />

nomination for “Best Marginally Bearable Cabaret, And Or Other,<br />

Performance By An Individual”, being narrowly defeated by the lead in<br />

the Shepparton production of “Menopause the Musical”.<br />

Without a doubt though, one day the music must inevitably stop. All<br />

that can be heard now are the painful screams of the ghosts of groaning<br />

geriatrics. The curtain has now been drawn and as he sits alone<br />

backstage a burning question remains. Can Bradley Aubergine make<br />

Knobs rise again?<br />

...it has.<br />

Like a phoenix,<br />

Knobs have<br />


# 58 // smorgasboarder //<br />


Well, lah-de-dah...<br />

So, you thought Aloha Barry couldn’t get any classier?<br />

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