Fresh off the press is Tracks Magazine, and in it, features local Forster surfer Joe Haddon. A builder by trade, Joe is now enjoying a professional surfing career. He shares his success, inspirations and Indigenous heritage with us.
> When did you start surfing?
I started surfing when I was around seven. My first memories would be of travelling the coast with my Dad; he used to take me everywhere on little camping trips, and its through those little adventures that I started to learn how to surf. I have one sister and by the time I was 12 she started surfing as well, so it was good growing up and surfing as a family.
> When did you know you wanted to pursue surfing professionally?
It found me. By the age of 15, I started doing pretty well in the contests I was competing in here and there locally.
Surfing began taking me to places like the Gold Coast and Sydney … and at about 16, I began doing the Pro Junior Series and that started taking off as I turned 18.
> Do you remember being star-struck by the surfers who had a strong presence in the magazines when you began on those tours?
Definitely. Last year I had to surf against Mick Fanning. It was a good feeling. I got to meet him, and the whole journey was amazing. As it started getting harder in the competition, I began getting more focused. I was pumped to be surfing with those guys.
> Are there any guys who inspire you in particular?
Yeah, of course – but it’s always hard to narrow it down. You can’t go past Kelly Slater. He is crazy. I have met him once before, but to watch him surf, it’s magic. The ultimate mad dog!
Also, Beau Emerton. He came through Forster when I was younger, and he is a great surfer. Beau charges big waves and is always fun to watch in the water.
My good mate Ben and I went to Bali together recently, and he pushes me to surf harder. And in Forster there is a small group of us who surf together for fun.
> You recently scored a double page spread in Tracks Magazine – the Australian surfing bible. How did that come about?
A local photographer who goes by the name of Dave Sparks contacted me to shoot some stuff. He was inspired by the aftermaths of the Tsunami in Thailand (families and communities being there for one another) and we headed over there to do the story. Straight away when he asked, I said “Sign me up.”
Dave got some really good shots, and Tracks ended up running the whole story. It was unreal – and an eye opening experience. Everyone was stoked.
> Let’s talk about your heritage; you are part Aboriginal. Tell us more about your background.
My mum is half Aboriginal and she grew up in the local mission here in Forster, but left when she was 16. My nan, who is 100% Aboriginal, is still there looking after the kids and playing ultimate mum for everyone. I have a lot of cousins here that do Aboriginal paintings and artworks; one of my great mates goes really well at footy too … it’s good.
> Do you think you inspire the young kids to get out into the water and do something they really, really love?
Yeah, for sure. I am always getting asked to take a few crews surfing and down to the beach, and it’s good. We always have a lot of fun.
I have also been invited to a couple of schools to give talks about my experiences and hopefully to inspire others and get them on a board! The water changes people and makes you see life more positively.
> Is surfing something you want to do for the rest of your life?
Without a doubt, yes. I am also a builder by trade with my dad, and I love doing that too. If I can keep those two good things going, I’ll be happy for the rest of my life.
> Travel wise, have you got anything planned?
I have been doing a lot of Bali time; it’s beautiful over there. The place is buzzing with videographers, photographers, surfers – and the fact that it’s so close to home makes it so much easier.
I am also looking at going to Hawaii at the end of the season too.
> And what do you love most about living in Forster?
Friends … family … the ocean. It’s there every day. You don’t have to drive an hour to get waves! It’s perfect.
> Anyone you would like to thank?
Pat Breese from Strut PR for helping with local publicity for Focus, my dad and my major sponsor, Rusty.
> Thank you Joe.