Tracks - - Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants -

Taj Bur­row has al­ways been a ma­jor in­flu­ence. He’s still prob­a­bly my favourite surfer of all time but I’m go­ing to say Dave Neil­son. Peo­ple for­get about him but he was The Man, the orig­i­na­tor of aerial surf­ing in Aus­tralia. When I was grow­ing up I’d see photos of him in the mags and he was in a very dif­fer­ent scene to me. I still re­mem­ber meet­ing him. I flew to New Zealand by my­self for my first air comp. I was about 15. I had no plan, hardly any money. I just waited at the air­port un­til I saw some­one I recog­nised. Jarred Sullivan gave me a lift and let me stay in his tent. We ate field mush­rooms – not magic ones – for din­ner and drank rum be­cause it was cold. The next day I met Dave on the beach and I was trip­ping be­cause I think he had a red back spi­der pat­tern shaved into his head, or it might have been a green mo­hawk. He opened my mind to a dif­fer­ent world – the ex­act opposite of lit­tle kids con­tests in Aus­tralia. It was all about real peo­ple, real surf­ing and full on par­ty­ing. Trav­el­ling and living rather than just go­ing in con­tests. I owe heaps to him for in­flu­enc­ing the way I surf – he al­ways taught me to surf ex­actly how you want, to go nuts and never hold back. Be a psy­cho but a nice psy­cho. He taught me how to fight too. He al­ways said if any­one wants to fight you just beat your­self up be­fore they get a chance and they usu­ally just walk away. They ei­ther think you’re a psy­chopath or that you en­joy it. I ap­plied it a few times and it fully got me out of some gnarly sit­u­a­tions. You won’t find much footage of Dave surf­ing – he’s very much an un­der­ground dude. He had that punk sen­si­bil­ity and at­ti­tude that guys in Amer­ica were fa­mous for – like Rat­boy and Bar­ney – he was the Aus­tralian coun­ter­part to that move­ment. And just a re­ally nice bloke. If you were a nice per­son he’d re­ally go out of his way to look af­ter you. We did the Air­show cir­cuit to­gether and we never got in any trou­ble but we’d find our­selves go­ing back to the same towns and there’d be photos of us behind the bars say­ing we were banned. I loved ev­ery minute of par­ty­ing with him. Dave’s from Umina on the Cen­tral Coast but I grew up with a lot of sim­i­larly-minded peo­ple on the Sunny Coast. For the time his airs were big and pretty tech­ni­cal and he’d send it to the flats. No one was surf­ing like that in Aus­tralia at that time. He was just a good fun dude who taught me how to be my­self and not give a rats.

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