New Zealand Surfing - - Between Sets - Words and Pho­tos: Cory

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.

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