Road Trip to the Mid North & National Longboard Titles 2014

Words by Arturo

10.30 am approx, Friday 8th of August: Rusty Miller just took off on a really wide bomb and has disappeared into the bay rocketing down the line (at age 71 he still seems stoked as ever!). MR is gliding across the face of another 4ft bowl throwing spray like it is 1979. Nat “the animal” Young keeps singing and whistling as he takes off deep and seems doggedly determined to be happy and positive in the water. To top it off, Phil Trigger has just paddled out and is ripping up all the inside peelers riding a bright pink 9ft mal with massive Trigger decals. Phil can hardly hear a thing (he really needs his ears drilled) but is still loving life and surfing fast. He is talking really loudly telling me to catch a wave with him and try some crossovers. My face is aching from all the hooting and smiling, and my legs are getting sore from wave after wave of shoulder high fun in the sun. Okay, so it’s not 6ft + Indonesian barrels, incomprehensible tow in slabs, or ramping beachies, but for me this is pure magic. The sun is warm, the crowd is small (and seemingly full of ex world champs and surfing royalty), and an Osprey has been gliding above the grassy headland for the past half hour or so. Life is good – I better rewind and explain……….

My face is aching from all the hooting and smiling, and my legs are getting sore from wave after wave of shoulder high fun in the sun.Phil and I were both recently on the Mid North Coast representing Victoria at the 2014 Australian Longboard Titles. Well actually, that’s not entirely correct. I had road tripped my way to Coffs Harbour (the contest venue), but Phil had flown all the way up to the Gold Coast and was reluctant to come down until he really had to. Phil seems addicted to Burleigh/Snapper/The Super Bank etc and I’m pretty sure the only reason he could pry himself away from QLD was because he is also addicted to competition.

After numerous phone calls, I finally got a hold of him via a landline and his wife Trish. Phil was already out in the water somewhere so I left the message that he better get down to Arrawarra quick smart because, due to a last minute change of schedule, his over 60’s heat was now going to hit the water very soon. I successfully spoke to the contest director to get the heat moved to at least midday to buy Phil some time. Trish already had the car packed (how is that for service!) and reckoned they would make it down from the Goldy in three hours or so. With Phil all sorted, and with my division on hold for the foreseeable future, it seemed like a good time to hit the open road and go searching for waves elsewhere. I had previously scored perfect longboard waves at Crescent Head on my brand new custom Triggers Brothers mal (thanks so much to Trigg’s, and all the boys out the back at Pt. Leo, you’re all master craftsman!). The sand is just right at Crescent at the moment and the swell just seems to reel off perfect 2 to 3 foot sliders – uncrowded warm winter waves, an epic new board, and solitary beachies around each headland if you went for a wander. My old man and I would head back there for sure, but for now we were keen to head north; this was mainly because last time I saw Phil he had strongly advised me to head to Angourie if I got the chance. Thanks Phil!

Nat Young still takes off deep and is actually a really positive and friendly dude (most of the time!)Next morning Phil gave me a call to hassle me for not telling him that I had gone to Angourie the day before. Apparently that was poor form. I proceeded to tell him that I had had such a good time that me and my old man were already zipping up the tent and heading back for more. And so it was on – Phil was raring to go and said he’d meet us there to share some waves. From that point on my memory is a little blurry; my brain got fried having too much fun in the sea, hour after hour, day after day. Phil ripped up the waves with his boundless energy and stoke, MR is a gentleman and a phenomenal surfer to boot, Rusty Miller charges, and Nat Young still takes off deep and is actually a really positive and friendly dude (most of the time!). If you show proper respect to the locals and the wave, and your content to take the left overs with a smile on your face, pure stoke is assured. I only hope that one day I get the privilege of seeing the place really pumping. Angourie is definitely a magic place, you don’t have to score it perfect to have a blast there, the landscape is epic and the waves have real power in them too. I can only imagine how awesome it must have been to discover it back in the early days.

The camaraderie of a great surf contest, the good people I had the privilege of befriending, and the many waves we got to sample in the Coffs region, made it an Aussie Titles to remember. The competition location varied from small peeling point waves at Arrawarra, to punchy short beach breaks at Emerald Beach, to fun long sand bottom walls at Sawtell. Apart from one or two ordinary days the waves for the contest were generally clean and in the 2 to 3 foot range. Watching some of the best longboarders in the country was inspirational and very humbling. As usual Phil was right up there in the race for another title, but the ocean was not on his side and he fell just short in the semis. Given his long list of competitive wins I am sure he will rectify the result next year. For me, a national title was never even a remote chance, but being lucky enough to pull on the comp singlet and be a part of the VIC team made the whole trip more than worthwhile. I also highly recommend the fish and chips in Sawtell – the flathead was all time. And despite bombing out of the contest pretty early I somehow managed to snag a photo in the local paper; the surfer with the biggest smile wins.

Check out the photo journal pics to see some of the waves, good vibes, and wildlife spotted wandering from Crescent to Angourie (and a fair few spots in between). Hopefully they motivate you to pack the boards and hit the road to explore more of our great country sometime soon. Unfortunately, the surfing pics are mostly of me but they give you an idea of the fun waves that were on offer (check out Phil’s pink board – pretty hard for him to keep a low profile in the Angourie line up!). Congratulations to the Vicco crew who took home their respective division titles (5 in total!), thanks to my old man for the great times and the surfing shots, my thanks and love to my beautiful fiancé Anna for putting up with my surfing obsession, and a huge thank you to Phil Trigger for the waves shared and his stories about the old days.
No matter what your age, ability, or chosen length of board, life really doesn’t get any better than being happy and free in the rolling sea.
Keep smiling and respect the ocean.