I heard your old man is a shaper and a bit of a charger himself, presumably it was him that sparked your interest in the big stuff?
My dad used to surf the outer reefs on the North Shore of Oahu, often going out by himself.
Shipstern's and The Right are two of my favourite waves and I can't wait to surf them more.He shaped boards for Mark Healy, Jamie Sterling, Kohl Christensen and a bunch of other North Shore chargers. I grew up with dad's interest in big waves around me all the time and I guess he passed it down to me. Whenever he was going to surf big waves all I wanted to do was go with him.
For your age you sure have a taste fort the heavy stuff, what are your favourite waves?
There's a few slabs and bombies around home that I love to surf. Shipstern and The Right are two of my favourite waves and I can't wait to surf them more.
I saw you took a trip to hit up Shipstern last month, how was that?
I went down with Mark Mathews, Riley Laing and Max McGuigan for The Crew TV show. Mark is taking us to these waves and mentoring us for the third season of the show. It was pretty inconsistent at Shippies but at one point only the four of us out so it was a great experience to get to know the wave a bit better. Though I did get dragged through huge boulders and was really lucky to not hit my head. I'll take a deep water flogging over reef any day.
The wave itself is amazing, it's super thick, fast and heavy but so predictable and perfect.
And you hit up Tahiti the other week?
It was my first trip to Teahupoo – I've wanted to go there for forever and to finally get there was incredible. The wave itself is amazing, it's super thick, fast and heavy but so predictable and perfect. Unlike the stepped-out, unpredictable slabs in Australia. In a way it's easier to surf but the consequences are a lot worse.
Once I finish school I'll have a lot more time to chase swells, hopefully I can spend a few months in the Northern Hemisphere while it's flat here in Australia.
Any major floggings?
I only fell on a couple waves but hit the bottom nearly every time, which is razor sharp. I didn't even hit it hard but ended up with shredded boardies and cuts up both of my legs. Having to scrub them with lime afterwards is by far the worst part. Travelling back with all of my cuts was pretty painful. It felt like they were starting to get infected so I'm on antibiotics and out of the water for the next couple of days. Hopefully they'll heal before the next swell.
What does the next 12 months look like for you?
The next 12 months will be a bit of a balancing act for me. I'm halfway through finishing year 12 and trying to keep chasing swells at the same time. Once I finish school I'll have a lot more time to chase swells, hopefully I can spend a few months in the Northern Hemisphere while it's flat here in Australia.
I really hope to make a career out of big wave surfing, if the Big Wave Tour keeps growing it would be incredible to compete with the best big wave surfers in the world.
My perspective on surfing changed after I saw the first proper set. The place is crazy.
How was that Teahupoo swell with Russ?
Yeah it was sick. The vibe really set in when we where on the plane. We were scrolling through the the little screens that are on the back of the seats and came across Encoded, a video on Teahupoo that Tim Bonython made. I could see Russ was really studying it, he looks and approaches big waves differently. We hung out and got awesome waves, my perspective on surfing changed after I saw the first proper set. The place is crazy. I can't wait to get back there.
Bad floggings, or did you imagine to avoid the antibiotics unlike Russ?
For sure, on one wave I was smashed on the reef. I had a brand new wettie top on as well as new boardies and they were completely ripped apart, plus my new surfboard had five creases across it. The next wave sent me for a trip into the lagoon where I was saved by a ski. I was taken to land and limed-up. I've been home for a while and my back is just starting to feel alright. I was lucky to steer clear of infection so I didn’t need antibiotics but hearing Russ had to go to a doctor is gnarly. I watched him pour alcohol on his cuts then scrub them with lime. The pain's incredible but better than getting staph.
I’m from the South Coast and you will catch me at a few spots down there in north swells, but I live on Shark Island in Cronulla and it's pretty rare for me to miss a good day at Cape Solander.
Between him [Russ] and my dad throwing me into death slabs at thirteen, it has definitely helped me build a passion and confidence in heavy waves.
What's been your worst beating?
Well I got a massive North one at Cape Solander. No one managed to shoot it because it was early in the morning, I pulled into a closeout and got a two wave hold-down. As I popped up the third wave hit me up on top of the rocks and my board was scatted around the line up in 20 pieces. My dad got me on the ski and bandaged my feet up because they where ripped to shreds. Easily the heaviest thing that's every happened to me in the surf, I thought I had no chance of surviving, I gave up underwater.
[Despite being his worst beating moments later he pulled into the wave in the shot below, check out the bandaging on his left foot.]
I’m really keen to travel and surf new waves. I’m pretty young so everything is very flexible so I'll just chase swells and surf perfect waves.
And 10 years?
I have a few little plans but we will see what happens, I’m just going to take everything as it comes.
Did bouncing off Russ surfing heavy stuff push you both growing up?
Most definitely, he has always gone hard. Between him and my dad throwing me into death slabs at 13-years-old, it has definitely helped me build a passion and confidence in heavy waves.
Growing up on the South Coast was perfect. The waves are crazy and there is so many underground charges, Brett Burcher, Paul Morgan, Scott Dennis just to name a few. I guess we are all mates and we all have a passion for surfing, it's a cool community and everyone looks after each other. I'd definitely have to say Peter Taplin, one of the older gents as well as Shaun Dickson were awesome showing me the ropes at a big bombie on the South Coast and looking after me when I was nearly drowning. Cheers boys.