To the cen­tre of the Uni­verse

New Zealand Surfing - - News - Words and Im­ages by Cory

Most surfers have their lo­cal, the spot they call home or reg­u­lar, they've come to know its moods and the oth­ers that utilise its space. A sense of own­er­ship grows and they can at times pro­tect it fiercely, they rarely stray, in­stead pre­fer­ring to dis­play a deep sense of loy­alty hop­ing that in turn that will be re­paid in the cur­rency they trade in, 'Epic Waves'! Jobs back home and fam­ily com­mit­ments are heaped in a pile in the 'To Do' bas­ket. For now and for most days of their surf­ing lives, this is the cen­tre of their uni­verse. Our Primo Roady sto­ries usu­ally be­gin with a story of my­self tear­ing through the k's wear­ing out rub­ber and sink­ing co­pi­ous amounts of en­ergy drinks to chase down the epic waves at ei­ther end of this coun­try. This is­sue I am glad to re­port that I sat in the com­fort of my own home and drove eight min­utes to the beach once all the gla­di­a­tors had as­sem­bled ready to rip and tear! You see there were surfers all over the coun­try over who were sim­ply hang­ing to get a wave over the hol­i­day pe­riod this sum­mer, many hadn't even seen a wave in many weeks let alone rid­den one. Their own lit­tle uni­verses had dried up and de­serted them, so they came far and wide to share with a few lo­cal lads a wave at one of Gis­borne’s most favoured surf­ing lo­cales "Cen­tres" of Mako­rori. To in­tro­duce the lads who filled the lineup this day I will start with Mount Maun­ganui's Tim O’Con­nor. Now Timmy has grown from a froth­ing grom to a man in a mat­ter of months; it's ac­tu­ally been years but it feels like months, he now works full time and the days of sift­ing around look­ing for waves are over. He must make the most of hit and run weekend mis­sions and al­though he had been mak­ing noises about cruis­ing down to Gizzy for months, one sniff of a six inch run­ner down at his lo­cal 'The Blow­hole' was enough for Timmy to pull pin, now even his beloved Blowie had all but de­serted him. En­ter his part­ner in crime and co-pi­lot Micheal Wheeler for his weekend roadie. Wheel Nut was fresh out of spend­ing months on the road him­self in his new role as the RPM rep, where he mes­merises clients with mag­i­cal Jedi moves forc­ing them into or­ders and get­ting tips from Lance Arm­strong on blood dop­ing where they re­place all the blood in their sys­tem with caf­feine in an ef­fort to pro­duce a more pro­duc­tive, faster sell­ing rep. Wheeler was sim­ply rinsed and needed some away time in the briny, so he jumped into the pas­sen­ger seat of Timmy's whip and slept the whole way to Gizzy. Epic wing­man!

Then we had the two groms Korbin Hutch­ings and Kehu But­ler, now these two are the fu­ture faces of our sport and they had been down com­pet­ing in the Na­tional Champs but Kehu for­got to leave and who could blame him. Just when it looked as if the swell would dry up an­other pulse came through and Kehu and his fam­ily chalked up an­other day in the Tairawhiti sun. I'm pretty sure that Kehu ac­tu­ally came to Gis­borne two weeks prior, pad­dled out and hadn't come in yet, he had done some se­ri­ous hours and was al­ways in his wet­suit. In the case of Korbin he was born and bred on this coast but a cou­ple of years ago moved to the epi­cen­tre of world surf­ing at Coolan­gata on the Gold Coast, he had come home to com­pete in the na­tion­als as well and show the skills he has picked up rub­bing shoul­ders with the best. Then round­ing out the pack out the back were lo­cals Bobby Hansen and Maz Quinn, this is Bobby's uni­verse and his turf and Maz turned up a lit­tle late as he was back in town try­ing to ap­ply for a visa to head over the hill from Wainui for the day. Au­thor­i­ties were not im­pressed when he was also seen try­ing to smug­gle over the Makanui bor­der a bearded refugee in the form of Coff Dog. And last but not least Piha's Tane Wal­lis pad­dled out late arvo af­ter scour­ing the coast all day be­fore boomerang­ing back to town and pad­dling out to lay a few hell carves. Back in the carpark, the self-im­posed care­tak­ers of this break were sim­ply stoked to be watch­ing the lads rip it up, af­ter all they were worn out from day af­ter day of waves, so were now be­com­ing a lit­tle se­lec­tive, wouldn't that be a lux­ury you'd want as a New Year’s gift. These lads do their time here and it would be scary to find out the amount of hours a 'Cen­tres' Stal­wart like John Gisby has put in, not only in the wa­ter here but yarn­ing in the carpark. A lit­tle while back the break was rocked with con­tro­versy when the lo­cal coun­cil de­cided to bar­rier the road­side and re­move nearly all of the reg­u­lars his­tor­i­cal carparks, you try telling Gisby he can no longer park in the spot he made his own over the last 40 odd years. But that's ex­actly what the lo­cal coun­cil did, all in the name of log­ging truck safety, you see ap­par­ently this hill is so steep they need to speed up to 180 km/h to make the hill and a waist high gal­vanised steel eye­sore of a bar­rier will stop that truck go­ing over the hill if it crashes. Cue Tuis ad "Yeah Right!"

It is agreed, those old school carparks were an ac­ci­dent wait­ing to hap­pen, but shouldn't the truck­ies be made to slow down to 50? Con­sid­er­ing it's a high traf­fic area, it goes to show logs and mak­ing money are more im­por­tant than surf­ing to the rule mak­ers. And my god there were a few rat­tled in­di­vid­u­als whose uni­verse had been tipped on its head dur­ing this time. More than a year later with the road­ing im­prove­ments, we still parked in a dusty dirt carpark sur­rounded by over­grown weeds, and they call this im­prove­ments? The surf hasn't changed thank god! And as the tide moved in and out the moods of Cen­tre Break mor­phed dis­play­ing dif­fer­ent shapes through­out the day. Just when it looked like she was done and dusted and the im­pa­tient grom­mets came in the more ex­pe­ri­enced heads stuck it out and within min­utes it was fir­ing again. The groms would then re­turn from the shop back over the hill with a pie in their hands, munch it back and pad­dle back out. Some things never change through the gen­er­a­tions! The surf starved work­ers how­ever; they weren't com­ing in sim­ply be­cause the

shape had changed a lit­tle. They didn't need pies, or to change fins, they sim­ply needed waves. It must be said that they did race in only af­ter long waves to the shore to re-ap­ply sun­screen to their beet­root coloured mel­ons ev­ery few hours, good men, some­one has been lis­ten­ing to all the 'Slip Slop Slap' pro­mos in their younger years. All the lads surfed till they could no longer move their arms or see from their swollen eyes, af­ter all it could be flat the next day and then it was back to the grind and a week of work be­fore any chance of an­other wave would arise. The prob­lem was the two day roady awoke to its sec­ond half to find the waves still smok­ing and an­other in­tense day of dig­ging deep and push­ing through the pain of aching shoul­ders, rashed necks and bleed­ing eyes. With an­other eight hour ses­sion al­most match­ing the day be­fores 10 it was time to farewell these shores of sal­va­tion. Korbin flew on back to his Gold Coast base and the Bay of Plenty lads, Wheel brace and Rimmy, took turns power nap­ping their way back across the East Cape for work the fol­low­ing morn­ing which couldn't of been at all semi pro­duc­tive. Kehu But­ler, well he was still out surf­ing and with the pos­si­bil­ity of small waves left over the next day, he more than likely stayed on for more ac­tion. Un­til the next Primo Roady, com­ing to the cen­tre of your uni­verse soon!

Kehu But­ler and his 9th day in a row of spend­ing all day in his wet­suit. A back­hand shhhn­nar­rpy for Timmy OC.

TOP: Maz brought the power play over the hill to the Primo Roady. BOT­TOM: Bobby Hansen style, speed and pre­ci­sion at the break he cut his teeth on.

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