Surfers Joel Parkinson, Julian Wilson and Luke Egan have all been enjoying waves in the area recently. Pro surfers Craig Anderson (Ando) and fellow Quiksilver stablemate Dane Reynolds tore into some waves a few weeks back as well.
Karen Farrell caught up with Ando to discuss what he loves about travelling up from his current Newcastle hometown to surf our local waves …
You visited Forster-Tuncurry recently and were doing some film recording. What were you up to?
That trip was for Monster Children magazine … We had two photographers on the trip – one of them works for the magazine and the other one was a skateboarder photographer. We were also travelling with three surfers and four skate boarders from America and one Australian skate boarder. We just wanted to do an East Coast trip all the way from Sydney up to the Gold Coast. The skateboarders have surf boards and the surfers have skateboards, and we just hung out and surfed all up the coast.
Nice! Was it a good trip?
It was a really fun 10-day trip. I think we spent three of those days in Forster.
You got some really good waves in the area over that period of time …
Yeah, we were pretty lucky. There are always really fun waves on the east coast around summer.
We’ve got a really hard-core contingency of surfers here who would claim that it’s the best wave in the world. How would you rate surfing in our area compared to some of the other waves that you’ve travelled to?
I would definitely agree with all the local guys. I always try get up here as much as possible. I can sort of compare it to D’Bar on the Gold Coast, but there you’re going to have like 50 or so people out in the water, and people say that D’Bar is one of the best waves in the world.
I think Tuncurry is equally as good or even better, because of the crowd situation. For high performance surfing, I don’t think you can get any better … you get like a southerly wind off cross-shore and for any surfer who loves doing aerials, it’s pretty ideal conditions.
There are obviously certain codes in surfing. It’s just a really good crew of surfers here who understand the way it works, respect-wise …
Yeah, for sure. To me, Forster’s still this little town with not that many people living there. I get out there a bit with a few of the local guys, and they have always been so cool. You travel to other places in the world and even in Newcastle, you get guys who don’t really enjoy themselves as much as opposed to Forster, where everyone’s just having a good time. At Tuncurry there’s a vibe in the water – everyone’s just happy to be surfing and everyone’s friends. The guys were so pumped on how friendly the local guys were and how cool they were to everyone – they would wait their turn, whereas out at Mereweather, if a good wave comes through they just drop in and paddle in the inside and take off. Up at Forster, everyone is just cruising.
So on the Quiksilver website, who you’re of course sponsored by, it says
your style is “syrupy and effortless”… I’ve also heard you say as well in
an interview that you have almost got a lazy style – of course this wouldn’t
be ‘lazy’, but perhaps relaxed.
I don’t really talk about my style in general … I always get a little weird when someone asks me about that because you know, I just paddle out there and get to my feet, and I can’t really think about what I’m doing …
Just like the way a person walks or the way they talk. It’s just instinct, and surfing is second nature to you?
Yes, for sure.
What’s it like to share a few waves and a road trip with your mate, Dane Reynolds?
I’ve been spending a bit of time with him over the last few months through the Quiksilver avenue. It’s super cool watching him surf. He has just been up there with the best of the world. In a row he will just pull off five crazy clips or layers. I get a little down seeing how crazy he is at surfing, and I’m just sitting there. It’s rad though; it’s really cool surfing with him. It definitely lifts your standard of surfing.
Yeah, absolutely. I guess it’s like sparring in a way.
Totally. That’s exactly the way I look at it, but sometimes when you’re out there and he is lighting up every wave, it’s like, “Woah, what am I even doing here!”
Do you think you’ll ever attack the WCT?
I just don’t think I could stand out in that arena in the way that I surf a wave. A lot of the guys in the contest just viciously attack a wave, and I don’t like to do that. I like to sit back and let the wave do what it wants me to do. I just think if I started doing contests, I wouldn’t really go anywhere.
It’s really interesting, I guess in a sense, because for many surfers it’s about being natural, and I guess what you’re saying is competition is in conflict with that.
And all those guys who love to win, and they’re really hungry. They’re just professional athletes, and I just don’t see myself as one of those people. When I was growing up and competing, I won a heat, I lost a heat. I didn’t really care much about that stuff.
But then I see my younger sister, and she’s like 19 and doing the WQS up at the Roxy Pro this year. She won the trials and got into the main event; she’s just really motivated and wants to win. I think she got that gene out of the family pool, and I don’t really care about proving myself to people and judges.
On the WCT, who do you think will go well this year?
I think Kelly will win again. I think he will keep winning for however long he wants to win. Watching him surf up on the Gold Coast, he just looks amazing in the water. He just seems to have this freakish ability to always get the best waves, never falls off so I think he will win again.
Would it be fair to say that he’s the best athlete of all time?
He has got to be, for sure. He is up there with Michael Jordan and all those guys. It’s just how consistent he is – how many heats and contests he has won.
The ocean is not like a basketball hoop where it’s not going to move; you can be out of rhythm with the ocean quite easily. There are just so many features when you’re dealing with nature, and Kelly always seems to come up on top.
What’s in your car CD at the moment?
I’ve been getting into all the old stuff like the Rolling Stones and the Beatles and The Doors.
What are you watching at the moment?
I picked up a couple of old skate videos on the road trip, so I’ve been getting into those and looking for inspiration.
What’s your favourite website?
Check out www.stabmagazine.com for all the surfing and what’s going on in the surfing world. I also check out all the forecast websites.
Check out Monster Children magazine …
Interview by Karen Farrell.
Thanks to Benny Sounness from NCAC for hooking me up with Ando. A massive thank you also to Bosko (Peter Boskovic) – Senior Photographer at WAVES magazine for supplying our awesome cover shot and inside surf shots of Ando. Check out Bosko’s shots at instagram, BOSKOPHOTO.
This story was published in issue 63 of Manning Great Lakes Focus