The Kid in The Picture
Russell Bierke is f inally on the cover .
A little over four years ago a shot arrived in the Tracks inbox featuring a kid slaloming down the face of a colossal South Coast bombie. Truth be told, it was slotted as a potential cover. Then we found out the kid was 15 and felt like maybe we had a duty of care. If we ran the shot we might compel this precocious youth to take even bigger risks before he was ready. Nobody wanted that on their conscience. There were also misgivings about showcasing a fifteen-year-old as a superior big wave rider – could it make all those other career hellmen feel inferior? Didn’t they deserve a cover before this blonde-mopped stick insect claimed the coveted slot? Half a decade later and Russell Bierke is finally gracing the cover of Tracks, ironically spearing through a hole in the ocean at the same deep water left. He’s still only 20, but is undeniably already an established member of the big wave surfing elite. Brett Burcher’s entertaining profile on Russ starts a generation back with the exploits of Russ’s Dad, Kirk, before detailing Russ’s journey from wunderkind to world-beater. If Russell Bierke goes big, then Ezekiel Lau is simply a big human. The hulk framed Hawaiian has made his presence felt on tour in his first year, most notably with a semi-final finish at Bells. Zeke’s warrior focus and fierce Polynesian pride are complemented by a dynamic surfing approach – raw power blended with on rail precision and a sophisticated aerial repertoire – making him a compelling surfer to watch. In Jock Serong’s in-depth interview Zeke discusses his heritage along with his dedication to mental and physical preparation for surfing’s elite realm. Like Zeke, Pama Davies has Polynesian roots, but grew up in Bondi instead of Oahu’s south shore. Pama’s still old enough to remember when his home suburb had a little more Bronx than bling, but has certainly rolled with the changes he’s seen. Raised on a staple diet of closeout beachies, he learned to punt to keep things interesting. I think you’ll agree that the shot on his second spread features a divine collaboration between surfer and photographer. If you’ve chosen the freesurfing route, as Pama has, it’s the ability to pull off hook-ups like this that pays the bills. You also have to be prepared to take off to strange locations at the behest of the creative directors of the companies who sponsor you. Pama finds himself wandering down technicolour mountains in the Colorado desert. Meanwhile, former Tracks editor and decorated writer, Phil Jarratt, is far more concerned with the contingent who pull on contest singlets for a living; where they began and to what ends they are evolving. How much do you really know about the origins of the sport you love and what can past experiences tell us about where the WSL will end up in a universe with wave pools, no Kelly Slater and an elusive billionaire named Dirk covering costs til it turns a buck. Don’t miss Jarratt’s revealing two-part feature or his recently released memoir, TheLifeofBrine. (Look out for an excerpt next month). Lastly, we put Coolangatta under the microscope – a town that runs on the supply of sand and the scent of surfing glory. Several individuals with very different perspectives detail their respective journeys down the line at Cooly. We also farewell Derek Recio after more than ten years of service to the Tracks Advertising team. His passion for the brand and entertaining banter will be sorelymissed.
These days, someone is following Russell Bierke from every angle.