New Zealand Surfing - - Behind The Cover -

Epic surf doesn’t al­ways pro­duce great surfers and it’s no mis­take that surf zones across the world such as in Brazil and the USA’s Florida have pro­duced some of the best surfers of all time com­ing out of a sta­ple diet of less than con­sis­tent beach breaks. Here in NZ the surf qual­ity and con­sis­tency of Christchurch would rate some­where down near the bot­tom on the list of surf zones, yet that has not held back Can­ter­bury surfers one lit­tle bit over the years, in fact its prob­a­bly made them hun­grier and more adapt so mak­ing some­thing out of noth­ing, whether that be speed or ma­noeu­vres, so when they do get a chance to open up, look out! Some of our big­gest names of NZ surf­ing were born from the waves of Christchurch, Iain ‘Ratso’ Buchanan, Ton Deken, Nuku Nash, Jai Earn­shaw, Manu Schaf­fer and Hay­den Brain to name only a few of many. Myka Black is the latest prodigy to flour­ish from the waves of New Brighton and im­press­ing wher­ever he pad­dles out across the coun­try.

Name: Myka John Black Age: 14 Where are you from? New Brighton Beach, Christchurch How did your first surf­ing ex­pe­ri­ence come about?

Well, I can't ac­tu­ally re­mem­ber my first surf­ing ex­pe­ri­ence be­cause I moved to Australia when I was two years old and lived there un­til I was nine. I only surfed a hand­ful of times when I lived there, be­cause I lived with my mum, and she lived near the theme parks which is a solid 40 min­utes away from the near­est beach. But how­ever, my dad hap­pened to live there by the beach, but I only stayed with him ev­ery sec­ond week­end and I wasn't into surf­ing, I was a lit­tle skatepark rat. When I was seven my dad moved back to NZ due to my lit­tle sis­ter's ill­ness (Mus­cu­lar Dys­tro­phy) and two years later I was there for a hol­i­day with my Mum and Fam­ily. We de­cided that it would cool to move back. While I was there I stayed with my dad and watched him surf a cou­ple times, then dad wanted me to get into surf­ing so he brought me a wet­suit from Quiksilver New Brighton and we bor­rowed the store soft-top. He took me and my brother Jahquinn out at 1-2 ft Sum­ner it was super fun and clean. Af­ter my first wave, I found out what the hobby for the rest of my life would be. Your old boy was a top kiwi surfer back in the day, and he still rips, how’s that hav­ing your old boys ex­pe­ri­ence to help you along?

Yeah, it's re­ally great and I am thank­ful for him. He is a very knowl­edge­able per­son and al­ways has things to say and teach that I haven't learnt or thought about be­fore. He al­ways sup­ports the Can­ter­bury groms and al­ways has time to coach us out of his free will. I couldn't be hap­pier with a father like him be­cause al­ways want's the best for me and my surf­ing. Tell us about the lo­cal surf con­di­tions,. My lo­cal con­di­tions are not what the ideal surfer want's to ride, but it has its days. This win­ter has been the best for waves ever in Christchurch. Ev­ery week pretty much at least had 2-3 days of 3-4 ft and off­shore and some weeks ev­ery day was pump­ing. But now com­ing into sum­mer the waves are slow­ing down, more on­shores are com­ing up and less swell is ar­riv­ing. I surf at least 3-6 times a week prob­a­bly more. My favourite lo­cal breaks would have to be Pier Bank Lefts, Lever Ter­race rip bank, that bank comes and goes and def­i­nitely some se­cret spots that crank on the weekly, depend­ing on swell, wind and weather. Christchurch surf can be test­ing to say the least, and while the re­gion is one of the lesser qual­ity surf of­fer­ing spots in the coun­try there have been some epic surfers de­velop from the line­ups of ChCh, what drives a lo­cal surfer and which surfers have in­spired and en­cour­aged you lo­cally?

The waves def­i­nitely have an im­pact on how good surfers come out of Christchurch, we tend to be more grate­ful for the surf then peo­ple from wave spoiled spots around the coun­try, this drives us to surf any con­di­tions at our doorstep even if it is 1 ft wind swell and 20 knots on­shore. My favourite lo­cal surfers would have to be Nuku Nash, Ash­lee Sul­li­vann, Har­ri­son White­side, Rodney the South African, Puke (Mark Per­ana), Hay­den Brain, my Dad and of course King of the Pier Sammy Sands. When con­di­tions lo­cally haven’t been able to offer a de­cent wave, Christchurch surfers would tra­di­tion­ally head on up to Kaik­oura for a dose of wave stoke, when the earthquake iso­lated Kaiks, how tough was that, and have you man­aged to get up that way and search for any newly formed waves since the roads opened? Yeah, Kaiks is Such a treat for us Chch surfers, I think of it as a two-hour drive to heaven. I've been up there a hand­ful of times since the earthquake and have scored fun waves but not all time Kaiks. There is a new beach in town, but it's only suit­able for learners, and Dave Lyons runs his surf school in there. Even though I haven't scored crank­ing Kaiks since the quake I have seen videos and photos of the lo­cal breaks go­ing off up there. The best waves you've ever scored on your lo­cal coast­line?

Def­i­nitely, pump­ing Maunga in Kaik­oura, 2-4 ft and just reel­ing for­ever from out the back all the way to the creek on the in­side, it was per­fectly crisp off­shore and even bar­rels on the in­side sec­tion. I think I prob­a­bly surfed for 5-7 hours all up that day, but I've surfed many other days that have ri­valled that day, but noth­ing beats a good sesh at Maunga ha­haha. Who has been the best vis­it­ing surfer you have seen at your lo­cal breaks?

Prob­a­bly Maz Quinn at the Can­ter­bury Champs, ev­ery year he comes to dom­i­nate the open and show ev­ery­one who's boss, I still haven't had the chance to chal­lenge him in a heat but I'm sure he'll whip my back­side. It's good to see some­one from up north like him par­tic­i­pate in all the comps down here, and it's also a plea­sure watch­ing him throw buck­ets ev­ery time he catches a wave. What else do you get up to when not surf­ing?

Not much, prob­a­bly sleep­ing, talk­ing smack to the boys, try­ing to do cashies for my dads mates to earn some coin or eat­ing. I don't miss many days surf­ing be­cause I feel like I'm go­ing to lose rhythm in my surf­ing, me need­ing to go for a surf is like an ad­dic­tive smoker need­ing to puff on a cig­a­rette ev­ery ten min­utes ha­haha. Who do you surf with most?

This is a hard one I have three honourable men­tions be­fore I can ac­tu­ally say who I surf with the most, Koby Cameron, Mitchell

Cameron and Sam Sands. But my good mate Neko To­hiariki def­i­nitely Surfs with me the most. We are al­ways frothing to go for a wave and flick each other a mes­sage if we're heading out

What does surf­ing mean to you? Hav­ing a good time with mates, try­ing to find new breaks, surf­ing pump­ing waves, try­ing to im­prove day by day but def­i­nitely go­ing on surf trips is the best, it beats any­thing for me even win­ning a com­pe­ti­tion. Where would you like to take your surf­ing? Hope­fully, I don't lose the hunger to com­pete in the North Is­land to com­pete against the coun­tries best, be­cause I was think­ing about tak­ing two years away from com­pet­ing up there, but af­ter my re­sult at schools I re­ally want to have a good dig at a com­pet­i­tive ca­reer and hope­fully have a good crack at the Q’s one day, this would be the dream but I'm not too fussed where my ca­reer goes but that's where I'd like to get to. You and a few mates re­cently showed up at the Na­tional Scholastics Champs with hair­cuts that looked like Viet­namese Cage Fighters, what spawned such a fash­ion state­ment? Well if you get cho­sen for the Can­ter- bury team and it's your first year rep­re­sent­ing them, you get a hair­cut to rock the whole con­test at scholastics. This tra­di­tion has been go­ing on since the 1997 team when the comp was in West­port. My dad also told me to make your first cut a good one so you won't have to do it again. So I de­cided to make my cut one of the most mon­grel any­one had ever seen. So I shaved my full head and left a filthy rats tail at the back to ruin some­one's day, my good mate Koby also did the same but with a big­ger rats tail. Your favourite NZ waves and why?

Would have to say Kaik­oura be­cause it pumps of­ten and it's less crowded than the fa­mous surf breaks in New Zealand. Also, some lo­cal river mouths that pro­duce some epic surf, and of course the se­cret spots ha­haha. Favourite Surfers from NZ and Over­seas? NZ would have to be Craig Grimshaw, Doug Young, Dan Smith, Sam Hawke, El­liot Brown, Levi O'Con­nor, Jai Earn­shaw, Hay­den Brain, Dane Robert­son and of course my Dad. Be­cause they are all Some of New Zealand's Great­est surfers and are all from the South Is­land. My favourite surfers from over­seas would have to be Zeke Lau and Dusty Payne. Ever surfed over­seas? And where?

I've only surfed New Cale­do­nia and Australia. New Cal has some epic reef breaks that pro­duce some per­fect waves I surfed the most fun right-hand reef and an epic left-hand sand­bar that had 1-3 minute rides on one day. I also re­cently went to Australia and scored punchy hol­low beach breaks which were a treat, and also got to surf 2-4 ft clean snap­per which was a dream come true for me. Your dream surf trip?

Road trip with my mates hunt­ing and ex­plor­ing for waves around the coun­try, and also surf­ing fa­mous breaks that we haven't al­ready surfed. Shout outs to your big­gest sup­port­ers:

Dad, Puke, Pommy all sup­ported me dur­ing schools and gave me valu­able ad­vice that I will keep with me for the rest of my surf­ing ca­reer and carry down to the next gen­er­a­tions. All my fam­ily espe­cially my lit­tle sis­ter Ayla, and ev­ery­one who has sup­ported and helped me get to where I am now in my surf­ing. Also, shout out to the boys Josef Finn and Munz for just be­ing leg­endz yew. To my spon­sors Exit Surf, Xcel, Par­sons Surf­boards, Pier Peo­ple cloth­ing and of course my par­ents ha­haha.

Dur­ing the course of over 20 years run­ning the Gash Gore seg­ment we’ve seen a lot of hor­rific surf­ing in­juries, and while most come with a cer­tain story of re­cov­ery and “I’m back in the wa­ter” acknowledgements. We stare in hor­ror at the surf­ing in­flicted in­juries, don't wish them on oth­ers and rest easy know­ing the vic­tim has re­cov­ered. And for this latest Skull­candy Gash Gore it all started no dif­fer­ent. Mt Maun­ganui’s larger than life char­ac­ter Travis McCoy had only days ear­lier re­turned from an­other stint in Indo guid­ing at a Mentawai Surf Camp, when he sent us a mes­sage of a hor­rific head in­jury, but in true Trav style he was still all smiles. Straight away we replied “Holy crap bro, you’ve def­i­nitely won this is­sues prize, surely you didn’t have to go to such measures? Now get to the hos­pi­tal and get it sorted.” Well Trav was ob­vi­ously hurt in a big way, but he went on to ask if we had scored in the same swell, be­fore ar­riv­ing at the hos­pi­tal where over the next few hours it be­came clear that Trav’s life was about to enter a crazy place. Surf in­juries seem to haunt Trav and over the last few years he has had more than his fair share, but even in the dark­est of times when Trav is forced from the wa­ter all that oc­cu­pies his mind is get­ting through it so he can score the next swell rolling in, driven by an in­ner pos­i­tive vibe. His first ma­jor in­jury oc­curred at the slab wave of Mul­lagh­more in Ire­land where he face planted the reef lost a ma­jor chunk of flesh from his chin, scored a black eye, bro­ken nose and stitches above his eye and came close to break­ing his neck. Af­ter re­turn­ing home from Indo he got hit in the back of the head re­quir­ing sta­ples to his scalp, then he went back to Indo and chipped his el­bow and stripped and blew his ear drum. He then got a board to the back of the head as soon as he was back in the wa­ter, and then an­other in­jury to his face where he re­ceived 22 stitches, so it’s fair to say Trav has been in the wars. “The ear drum in­jury was the worst, as my ear was blocked with sand, wa­ter and blood that I couldn’t re­lieve the pres­sure and I was stuck out in the Mentawai Is­lands with no med­i­cal help, I lit­er­ally had to squeeze my head to stop the pain and I lit­er­ally passed out, the pres­sure was so heavy it felt like my head was go­ing to ex­plode, and I passed out with my head on my shoul­der, I woke about four hours later and luck­ily thanks to the way I had fallen to sleep the an­gle of my head had al­lowed ev­ery­thing to drain and there was blood all down my shoul­der and chest, it was 4AM out on my own out in the Mentawai’s” Trav ad­mits that through all these in­juries in such a short pe­riod what gut­ted him the most was the time out of the waves. But were these in­juries try­ing to tell him some­thing? Was there a deeper mean­ing be­hind such a run of head in­juries? Trav was about to find out! As ex­plained Trav had only been back from Indo for a cou­ple of days, when a thick and chunky swell ap­peared at his lo­cal, along with best mate Alex Dive the two headed out to do some step off’s in the raw swell, and Alex had whipped Trav into a thick nugget be­fore tak­ing off to park the ski on the beach. What he didn’t know was that deep in­side that nugget, Trav had been swal­lowed up and flipped com­ing down on what he thinks was the fin of his board which gouged deep into his fore­head “I just went weight­less in­side the big­gest pit I’ve ever had there, and then it was like some­one blind shot­ted me from around the cor­ner with a base­ball bat, when I sur­faced I was all pins and nee­dles and the wa­ter was full of blood around me and I reached up to touch my head and my hands were cov­ered in blood, I took a cou­ple more waves on the head be­fore be­ing washed in”. Alex parked up on the beach with the ski had no idea what Trav had just done and was wav­ing out all stoked on the heavy wave. But within sec­onds it all be­came very clear when Trav ar­rived re­mov­ing his hand to ask Alex how bad it was, Alex could see Travis skull and im­me­di­ately knew if they didn’t get of this beach Trav could bleed out. Trav was get­ting dizzier by the sec­ond and blood was run­ning off his chin no mat­ter how hard he pressed on the wound. But the boys had a rather heavy sit­u­a­tion un­fold­ing, here we had Trav in im­me­di­ate need of med­i­cal care and with a huge swell rolling in the ski had been pushed up the beach and was stuck, Trav at­tempted to help Alex pull the ski out from be­ing bogged in the sand, yet when he pulled blood would run even harder from his wound and al­ready a pud­dle of blood had formed at his feet. Luck­ily an­other one of his good mates Benny Knee­bone was also there with their ski and upon be­ing waved in, helped get Trav an­other ten-minute jet-ski ride back to the boat ramp. Af­ter bust­ing from the ramp with only a pair of board shorts pressed on his scalp to stop the bleed­ing he ar­rived at Tau­ranga A&E, Trav was forced to wait half an hour in the wait­ing room un­til he was fi­nally seen, upon first in­spec­tion the doc­tor said, “Holy Shit, we can’t fix that up for you, we need to get an­other doc­tor in” So Trav was put back out into the wait­ing room for a fur­ther two hour wait. Once the spe­cial­ist had ar­rived to tend to Trav’s wound she im­me­di­ately no­ticed a ser­rated line across Travis skull, run­ning from just above his eye­brow to the up­per hair­line. With such a nasty in­jury di­rectly to the bone it was de­cided that Trav should un­der­take a CT scan to rule out any fur­ther in­jury that could not be seen by the naked eye. At this point Trav was still in good spir­its and was al­ready try­ing to work out how long his re­cov­ery would be till he could chase the next swell. And soon af­ter his scan he was all but ex­pect­ing to be re­leased when doc­tors came back in to say that as well as the ser­ra­tion marks there were also stress lines on his skull and swelling of the brain, and they couldn’t be­lieve that with an im­pact so vi­o­lent Trav had not been knocked un­con­scious and drowned. But they also came with the news that they’d like to do an­other scan this time with dye, yet didn’t give any­thing away as to why, they were just mak­ing sure there was no in­ter­nal bleed­ing. But when the re­sults from that sec­ond scan came back Trav en­tered into the dark­est 24 hours of his life. “The doc­tor came in and said, “you need to call some­one close to you and get them to come in, per­haps your mum or dad” im­me­di­ately I said, na I’m not calling any­one what is it, and the doc pro­ceeded to tell me they’d found some­thing else com­pletely un-re­lated to the in­jury, and that they’d found a tu­mour in the back of my head”. An MRI soon af­ter con­firmed the worst and Trav was whisked in to see a neu­ro­sur­geon where he was to learn the se­ri­ous­ness of his con­di­tion. “The sur­geon ex­plained to me the type of tu­mour I had, and that it was grow­ing from the in­side out deep in my brain, in an area that con­trols my ner­vous sys­tem and

the right side of my body, it was ex­plained that any op­er­a­tion would come with risks of af­fect­ing the mo­bil­ity in the right side of my body. It was sug­gested that if it wasn’t grow­ing at any alarm­ing rate then just leave it, and with con­stant mon­i­tor­ing if there was any change then surgery would need to hap­pen. So, the whole thing is re­ally scary, and even if I am to have the op­er­a­tion, they’re not 100% of be­ing able to get it all, which could mean on­go­ing growth. But I look at it like it could be worse! But it could also be a hell of a lot bet­ter!” In the weeks since his di­ag­no­sis Trav has searched for peace of mind and reached out to oth­ers that have been through life threat­en­ing sit­u­a­tions such as Matt Scor­ringe who sur­vived cancer. Hear­ing first hand from guys like this has armed Trav with a will­ing­ness to beat it and try not to let it get him down, with Matty sug­gest­ing pos­i­tiv­ity and a clean diet would do the world of good. While Trav ad­mits he was in a pretty dark place for a solid week, he’s feel­ing good about it right now, but knows that upon the next scan that could all change. Much re­flec­tion on what he has achieved and done in life has gone down, and Trav holds his head high, cur­rently he has no phys­i­cal or men­tal side ef­fects, and he has taken upon a new ca­reer in Bee Keep­ing which keeps him busy and hopes it can be a flex­i­ble ca­reer in the fu­ture so that so he can chase waves when they show, and is al­ready fo­cused on plan­ning his next win­ters get­away. Trav knows the path ahead won’t be all roses but is up­beat and pos­i­tive “At the end of the day if I have to take a year out of the wa­ter to re­cover, I’ll al­ways have those pic­tures and videos of me in Indo get­ting shacked to keep me fo­cused on get­ting back in the wa­ter and thats an in­cred­i­ble driv­ing force. It’s all cer­tainly given me a dif­fer­ent out­look on life and I feel proud of what I’ve al­ready done in my life, you know I’ve done a lot of things that most peo­ple only dream of do­ing, and I did that through hard work and stay­ing fo­cused on the prize. I’d go over­seas and score the best waves of my life and then come home and knuckle down and work my ass off, sav­ing up ev­ery penny so I could get back there and do it again, I didn’t go par­ty­ing and booze up my money ev­ery night of the sum­mer or blow it all on ma­te­ri­al­is­tic shit, I put all my re­sources into chas­ing crazy waves. And as bad as it sounds, if the doc­tor was to sit me down and say “Hey you’ve got a year to live” which I am sure he won’t, I can say this even though I’m only 26, the life that I’ve lived so far and the crazy places and the ex­pe­ri­ences that I’ve had, while at times I’ve had no money and felt I’ve had no long steady ca­reer in a spe­cific di­rec­tion like most peo­ple, at least the things I’ve seen and the waves I’ve surfed are the best in the world, and those mem­o­ries can never be taken away from me. In a crazy way once I was di­ag­nosed and the re­al­ity hit me, I thought jeez life’s crazy how things work out, and that was prob­a­bly why my life had per­haps gone down that path”. Trav’s story since it was made pub­lic has been shared by news and surf me­dia through­out the world and the mes­sages of good­will and sup­port have come flood­ing in, but while Trav ap­pre­ci­ates all the mes­sages he said he only wanted to share his story as a mo­ti­va­tional force for oth­ers to live for the now “It was cool that peo­ple showed a lot of sup­port from my story, but I just hope that the mes­sage I am shar­ing is picked up by those that want to do the things I’ve done, but al­ways find an ex­cuse and put their dreams on the back burner, I’m just hop­ing that my point gets across, that you don’t al­ways have five years or even ten and if you deep down want to do some­thing now, that if you fo­cus on that you can, stop think­ing about it, just find a way to make it hap­pen cause the world and life works in mys­te­ri­ous ways. Those dreams won’t be out there for ever so just grab them by the balls and run with it and the sense of re­lief from just do­ing what is sim­ply the best in the world”.

Myka sim­ply blew minds at the Na­tional Scholastics fin­ish­ing sec­ond in the U14’s with pow­er­ful ma­ture surf­ing. Photo: Cory

A head split open and mas­sive blood loss still can't con­tain the smile and stoke of the Trav Meis­ter.

Think you’ve got the goods for the next is­sue? Show us your wor­thy gash and we’ll be the judge. Send clear hi-res jpegs to cory@paci­fic­me­dia.co.nz, put Skull­can­dy­gash­gore in the sub­ject field...

The chan­nel is hoot­ing and Trav is locked in his happy place, it's moments such as these that will keep Trav fo­cussed and pos­i­tive to beat his next chal­lenge.

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