Swells, they come and go. Walks, good ones, you remember… but not always in the same way. Here are two gems from Saturday, March 5, right in the middle of the Code Brown event. It was Sydney’s first half-clear morning in almost two weeks.
“I’m a chippie by trade. Also, I work as a lifeguard in Bondi. I do three or four days of rescue, then on rest days I work with a mason friend. It’s pretty good; you work hard one day then. the next day you’re basically on the beach with your friends.
“I haven’t been much of a traveler, I’ve mostly been the surfing type in the area and on the south coast on good days. Now that I’m a bit older and have some money, I’ll probably start traveling. But it’s been such a gift that we have this wave in our backyards.
“The first time I surfed it I was 13 and had a few bad wipeouts – I hit my femur once and thought it was broken, luckily it was just a bad cap. It’s a wave of consequence. If you fall near the takeoff, you’ll head for the rocks. If you pass by there, you’ll head for a safer place, but you can still touch the reef there and it’s pretty sharp, I can tell you, it all happens very fast and there are so many things that can go wrong.
“I ride a Warner, a ‘Ours Special’. This name comes from when Kobes (Koby Abberton) and Marky (Mathews) and crew used to surf it all the time. Warner designed these boards for this, they’re basically the same size and height as you, glazed with six ounce double glass and heavy rope so they won’t break. No straps for towing, you would have your ankles bent in all the water movement.
“Today, to be honest, was a typical day. I knew it was going to be difficult because of the angle of the swell, when it’s a bit north in it. I didn’t get too many waves because a couple of my homies were out and I was towing them most of the time, but I got some eventually. I think Jesse Pollock towed me into this one, the hands-free pull-in. I like this. I can’t describe the feeling of riding a wave like this without gripping the rail the whole way. I just like to stay there. At Bear, when he’s big and flowing off the reef, you can’t drag your butt to slow down anyway, he’s pulling away from the reef so hard you just get sucked in with it.
“It was a weird time for me. I had just done the Port Stephens QS event, thinking of racking up points and doing the Challengers later this year. It ended on Tuesday. I checked the roads up the coast (Hog lives in Pottsville) and they said you can drive to St Helena Tunnel near Byron and then take the side roads after that, if you can prove you are a resident. So I hit it, got to Little Italy about 90 ks from Ballina, and was turned away – sent back to Sydney.
“I went back there on Thursday. It was massive. I think I saw some of the biggest I saw in Southy, but the wind was terrible. I went down to Manly and surfed just to get ready for Maroubra, which was going to be the next QS (the even has since been cancelled). I stayed three or four days, waiting to see what would happen with the roads.
“At the time, I was hearing all the crew rescuing people in the Tweed and the Richmond, Joel and MF and everyone, and I was just disappointed that I wasn’t there to help them. Their hearts shine far beyond their world titles, these guys. That’s why I didn’t put this ride on Instagram or anything, I didn’t feel 1000% doing it, when I knew I could have been somewhere else doing good.
“But Saturday came, the morning was calm and off. I wasn’t moving, it didn’t seem that big, and I thought maybe it should be cleaned up after all the mess. I rowed at 7am and it was much cleaner than I thought. Jarrod McCullough and Tom Myers were out, but it was pretty straight – not a lot of turns. Then the tide turned and pushed the swell, it got bigger and these teepees started passing.
“I was 6’2” but I wasn’t confident to handle the lineup. I was with Matty Grainger and Matty had an 8’0” in the car. I walked in and grabbed it and that’s when the session changed. I thought it might be a little long and winding, but no. This wave came in, it was like an Aussie beachie version of a reef pipe second wave. It took me a while to adjust to the long train tracks. Then I was behind the curtain and had this super clean moment of reflection, I need to be laid back here. Then the tail started to rear up and slide a little, and I thought, hmmm, maybe I was a little too flippant! But the long rail simply took it away.
“The highway opened on Sunday morning. Southy was still fine, but there was a SSO wind blowing her up and I had a little knee issue. I thought, don’t irritate him. I got in the car and drove and got home around 1am. I’m leaving now to drive to Lismore and see how I can help.