It all started when I was 10 years old. That's when my dad taught me how to bodysurf. A former South African gold medalist on the trampoline, my dad is a total hellman and my wave riding hero. We’d be on holidays at Nelson Bay or Byron Bay on Australia’s East Coast. He would strip down to his bright yellow budgies, butterfly his way straight out the back and pile drive himself down massive dumping waves – head first, chest out, hands behind his back – while yodelling an ecstatic “Woohoohoohoo!” that you could hear from the shore.
Skip forward 25 years and a work mate from a new job told me about an old frother from North Cronulla who made life changing handplanes. I bought one and after using it for the first time I was so stoked I couldn’t sleep that night. From that point on I was hooked. I’ve spent every spare moment since riding, designing, making, thinking, preaching and singing about handplanes and bodysurfing.
My obsession evolved into BELLY. A bodysurfing movement that’s all about fun, creativity, inclusivity and not taking yourself too seriously. It’s also about giving a massive F-Yew! to the things that are ready to be phased out of surf culture like exclusivity, localism, macho bravado and pressure to conform.
The people! Through BELLY I have met heaps of creative, weird, hilarious, aquatically gifted and humble legends. They inspire, entertain and amaze me every day. I feel enormously proud to be part of the Aussie bodysurfing community.
I watched a lot of WWF wrestling when I was younger. I like to think that Belly Slater is the equivalent of the Ultimate Warrior, but if I’m honest with myself he’s probably closer to Jimmy “The Mouth of the South” Heart.
The power to declare public holidays when it’s pumping.
Probably trademark issues.
Tutti Frutti by Little Richard.
If I’m allowed to choose 3 people it has to be my kids. It’ll be so awesome when they are old enough to join me for a bash. Not long now!
If I’m only allowed 2 people, I’d choose @benwei5050 and @stoke_farmer and pick their mad scientist minds on handplane theory, design and construction.
Narrabeen Beach on Sydney’s Northern Beaches is my favorite local beach. It usually throws up massive un-makeable closeouts. But on it’s day it can be sublime. The best waves I’ve ever bodysurfed were at Narrabeen.
As far as bucket list waves go – I’m itching to get back to Mazunte, in Oaxaca, Mexico. My mate and I came upon it by chance in the Summer of 2004. No cam checks, no planning – we just rocked up there in the back of a bumpy old military colletivo. Maztune gifted us a four hour conveyer belt of perfect perky moistures that slapped the soles of our bare feet high five as they guided us gently but quickly all the way to shore.
We hitched a ride back to our hostel with a local lifeguard – an actual caveman – sitting in the boot of his car – sandfly bitten sunburnt feet hovering just above the dirt track – laughing our asses off in disbelief.