Sandy & M att Ryan

Tracks - - Phillip Island Views -

Sandy’s the son of Is­land Surf­boards founder Matt Ryan. As a grom­met he sat on the end-sec­tion of the bar­relling righthander at Ex­press Point, watch­ing his dad charg­ing down the line. In a way, that lin­eage makes him scion of the em­pire, but he’s 33 now, has his own fam­ily and a solid-gold surf­ing rep­u­ta­tion of his own.

He’s de­cep­tively laid-back, likes to smile and speaks qui­etly. He of­ten pad­dles a SUP from his home at Sun­der­land Bay to work at Smiths Beach. But there’s a core of some­thing much wilder un­der there some­where: he’s renowned for pad­dling out by him­self at some of the coun­try’s most in­tim­i­dat­ing breaks – Ship­sterns in­cluded. The first time he went wan­der­ing in there he got lost in the bush, but went surf­ing any­way, com­pletely un­fazed. He’s taken beat­ings there, bro­ken ribs and earned re­spect.

Sandy worked for a while as a boat boy at Tavarua along­side Shane Do­rian, Mark Healey and Dave Was­sel, and his surf­ing caught the eye of Kelly Slater. But his “big tran­si­tion”, he says, was meet­ing Marti Par­a­di­sis. The two of them have tack­led some fear­some surf, not for the footage, but purely for the act.

On the is­land, Sandy’s renowned for pi­o­neer­ing a wave that prob­a­bly isn’t a wave – it’s a slab just near the Nob­bies at the west­ern end of the is­land. “I’d been watch­ing the Blow­hole for ages,” he says. “It’s not a par­tic­u­larly good wave – it ledges and back­washes. Ringa was go­ing to surf it, but got de­stroyed. It looked like eight foot but it was prob­a­bly dou­ble that. I was un­der the gaze of the tourists watch­ing the seals at the Nob­bies. There’s heaps of marine life out there…it’s just the deep­est, black­est wa­ter.”

Sandy nom­i­nates Carl Wright, Si­mon McShane and Glyn­don as the is­landers who’ve chased big waves, fol­lowed by an­other gen­er­a­tion – Paul Hart, Ant Marl­bor­ough, Steve Demos and Steve Smart. There is a strong sense of history in is­land surf­ing, he in­sists. De­spite the lack of pubs there’s house par­ties, but the cul­ture passes mostly in the line­ups – one lo­cal break is known as ‘cup-o-tea cor­ner’ for that rea­son: peo­ple just sit out there and yack.

Sandy’s wife and his three chil­dren all surf – he proudly dis­plays footage on his phone of his 17-month old daugh­ter Tamika stand­ing on a mal hold­ing his hands. Life for Sandy is the surf shops and trav­el­ling: “I could be based off the is­land – I re­ally love Tassie – but here I’ve got con­sis­tency and va­ri­ety.”

Girls’ Is­land

Joe and Nikki van Dijk con­tinue to dom­i­nate cov­er­age of the is­land’ s surfers, and for good rea­son. At just 22 and with three com­pleted years on the world tour that peaked with a num­ber -12 fin­ish last year, Nikki is the is­land’ s most se­ri­ous con ten­der since G lyn­don. And at 18, Joe might have the goods to do some­thing sim­i­lar. Both have Chan­nel Is­lands and Rip Curl on their boards. The main ju­nior son the is­land at present are Cody Jef­fries, Chad Gar­rett and a host of girl-groms:12-year-old State champ Sage Goldswor­thy( who beat her own mum in the open round sat the state ti­tles ), Poppy and Daisy Cor­bett and Lanie Fostin. A host of fe­male Phillip Is­land surfers are dom­i­nat­ing the ranks of the state un­der-18s. In part, this is driven by an elite coach­ing squad be­ing run at the lo­cal high school New haven Col­lege by Andy Neal.

It’ s a healthy scene and a per­fect irony: Blokes’ Is­land is dom­i­nated by girls.

Fa­ther and son team, Sandy and Matt Ryan, be­hind the counter at the ‘Is­land Surfboards’ shop.

Main: Nikki Van Dijk light­ing up a Phillip Is­land cave.

In­set: Joe and Nikki lead­ing the charge for Phillip Is­land surfing.

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