THE XPAT FILES TOBY HURREN
You’re half way across the world and you are ordering food at a restaurant trying to avoid your best kiwi slang so as to be understood, when a cry comes out from across the room “Hey mate! Are you a bloody Kiwi? Shit man good to hear someone from back home, how are the Warriors doing?” The conversation broadens and the next thing you know you’re out on the town and invited to a bbq the next day with a bunch of your fellow Kiwis. Expats, yep they’re everywhere. It is almost statistically possible that there are more kiwis abroad than living back home. Many left for love, some business, others went travelling on their big OE and got stuck, but wherever they are based New York, London to Hong Kong and everywhere in between they are still as proud as hell to be a Kiwi. In a regular column we catch with Kiwi expat surfers on how they got to where they are at and how they get their fill of waves.
Like most young kiwi kids growing up in coastal towns with surf lapping on the doorstep, Toby fell in love with the ocean very early at the age of five. Living in the Bay Of Plenty town of Ohope under the watchful eye of his father he had a good role more. His father was a keen waterman who encouraged his two boys and two girls to love all that the region offered; with outstanding fishing and diving straight off the beach, nearby bays and reefs on the flat days, he pushed the lads into their first waves when the swell was up in front of the Ohope Surf Club on his ‘Wave Graffitti’ shaped by the then local shaper the late Craig Hughes who had his factory just down the road. From that first wave Toby was hooked on surfing (when he wasn’t at school attending Ohope Primary and Whakatane High School, or terrorising the streets of Ohope). Trips down the coast to the East Cape river bars were memorable, as were epic sessions at Whakatane Heads and up the coast at Matata. Toby’s life took a 180 degree turn when at 14 the family packed up the life they were accustomed to and moved down to Wanaka where his dad had work painting and his mum teaching at the local school. With the ocean being hundreds of miles away Toby turned his attention to the powdery mountain slopes where he quickly picked up the art of snowboarding excelling to a point where he became a sponsored freestyle boarder riding for Rip Curl and Forum. Surfing slowed down somewhat although along with his brother Mark they would do missions down to the Catlins, or over to the Haast for some watery salvation. After three years the family decided to move back to Ohope, however Toby didn’t budge, he was in love with his new lifestyle and snowboarding was taking him places with international travel to the USA, Canada, Alaska and Switzerland. Upon leaving school Toby took on an electrical apprenticeship in Wanaka and after a few years started to get a little over the work, feeling the urge to push his boarding to new heights. At the same time he suffered a back injury which put the boarding on ice for a while. This injury, perhaps a blessing in disguise, was the catalyst for his decision to knuckle down and finish his apprenticeship and after a year being qualified Toby took off to West Oz to Margaret River where he did what he could to get by; bar tending in a winery, surfing every day and working afternoons where his favourite trick became pretending that the premium bottles of wine were corked so that they were thrown away and Toby would sneak them off home. After six months a mates dad suggested that Toby come and work on the Rigs and put his electrical skills to work. The high paying work, which saw him travel all around the world to rigs in the middle of nowhere, enabled Toby to save up enough coin to buy a house in Margies. In 2007 Toby discovered Indo doing a boat trip to Panaitan and immediately returned to West Oz and put his house on the market, and made the call to establish Bali as his home base. With its close proximity to jobs he gets called in for in Asia, Papua New Guinea and Australia, it is a short hop back to Bali in his down time to surf and hang with a close group of mates that he has met over the years, most working in similar fields. With plenty of work on offer Toby is currently working casual, picking and choosing his work stints around the wave season. Bali is base for the dry season but as soon as that rain starts falling and the consistent swells slow up, Toby heads back to the slopes, and this year is eyeing up a trip to Europe and perhaps Japan where he has yet to board. When the subject of a return to Aotearoa arises Toby’s face lights up “Oh yeah, home is home bro, it will always be number one. I was recently at home for a week and even though it was winter it was blue sky everyday, epic waves, good diving and all time love from the family. One day I know I’ll return home, you can’t beat that place, but for now I’m just living in the moment, cruising and intend on living this lifestyle for as long as I can drag it out for”.
When it comes to surf competitions not many come with more prestige than the Rip Curl Padang Cup. While most surf competitions set a specific date and run regardless of the conditions, the Padang Cup, since its inception, has stuck to its original values, that the comp would only be run when Padang Padang was at its finest. This year on the Cups 10th Anniversary we were lucky to have two Kiwis compete, firstly Sean Peggs (pictured here) and as a last minute rope-in, Richard Christie who is currently residing in Bali and after impressing the right people and with the Cup clashing with the Teahupoo Trials, Ric nailed a spot. After 42 days of 45 passed of the waiting period, the marketing catch phrase that has become synonymous with this event, "It's on when it's on" finally became "It's ON!" With the big morning high tide combined with a trade-wind that refused to blow for the first time in weeks, conditions were challenging to say the least with many favourite competitors falling victim to clamping tubes. However those that adjusted their game plan advanced onto what many knew would be epic conditions later in the day. Our own Sean Peggs was one who advanced through two big name packed heats to take out local favourite Garut Widiarta, teen superstar Jack Robinson and one of the world’s best tube riding freesurfing legends, Ry Craike on his way to the semi-finals. Stoked on his performance and the chance to get barrelled at one of the world’s best waves Pegsy described the day as one of the best days of his life.
Sometimes you just can’t say NO and when it comes to surf missions it's generally because you don't want to miss out and get that fateful line pop up on your phone, "you missed it". So after already turning down the trip I see the text message come through from Sanga Ball Banga reading, "Well I'm going enough said!" He was right, he’d said enough for me to think there is a 1001 chance I could miss out and I didn't want that. So I threw my things loosely into the car and drove frantically for six hours north to meet the crazed lads at the Billabong headquarters in Albany. If you'd have been a night security firm doing the rounds and peered into the underground basement, you'd have sworn you had stumbled onto the set of 'Home Improvement' with Tim the tool man (Sanga) and his sidekick Al (Matt Scorringe) there was no sign of the attractive co-host Heidi, perhaps she was hiding in the box marked 'ladies bottoms' stacked in the corner. But there I found the tool man with electric drill in hand drilling holes through the hull of the company jet ski. Rule number one: when preparing to go and ride huge waves it's not a great idea to have holes in the hull of your craft, but fear not! These were calculated precision drilled holes as overseen by the tool man’s sidekick, who had jumped on board this journey on a mission of retribution, after borrowing the ski a few months earlier to chase a big swell, and pulled up to launch only to find out somewhere along the journey through the night the ski's seat had flown off and he was staring at an exposed motor with a pumping swell pounding in full view.
The idea to improvise and strap an ABC beer crate down as a seat crossed his mind but with 20 grand of machinery on loan, he had to put the mission on ice. That ice had now thawed and this time the seats and hatches were being strapped down to fully prepare the ski for the rigours of tow surfing. The swell and weather models were both maxed out with swell in the red and the winds also in the red due to hit at the same time. We hit the road in hope that the swell would beat the wind and offer up a short window. That's how these sessions are anywhere in the world, a lot of time and effort go into getting the mission off the ground and each one of these sessions very rarely pump for hours on end, whether it be a Hawaiian outer reef, a South Pacific pass or a slab of rock in Tasmania. During all these showdowns with natures beauties there comes one point during the day of reckoning, that everything prior to that builds up to one moment, the moment when those in attendance all hope to be the next in line for.
Waking to the sound of rain isn't all that comforting, it could only mean one thing; that the weather was running early and with gusts forecast to reach 50 knots from the southerly direction, simply ridiculous to be at sea in. The northerly swell which by now should have been showing was still non-existent. Back to bed it was for a few hours before deciding that we should just head on out anyway, and be there waiting for when she showed. Over the next eight hours we drifted at sea waiting, every so often a glimmer of hope appeared and a semi respectable wave broke, forcing the question, "Was this the start of the moment?" then it would go flat again. The wind began to blow and just when it looked all said and done, would glass off again, before another semi moment peeled through. The game of tease continued until late arvo when we were resigned to the fact that although we had experienced a couple of thrills, that one moment that we had come in search of, this time wouldn't not happen. Until next time!
Toby standing tall at G-Land a regular favourite in between stints on the rigs.
A photographic dedication brought to you each issue, to blow your mind, make you scream WTF, or make the words "That's choice as" roll off your tongue.
Sanga the tool man, knows how to motivate a crew in search of a moment, and leads by example.
ABOVE: Flatmates and partners in wave crime. | BELOW: Hamish Clarke travelled from opposite ends of the country for his moment.
ABOVE: A moment missed! | BELOW: Unlike a golf major no one was yelling out “Get in the hole” but Sanga knew that was exactly what he should be doing.