The Gold Coast wunderkind who thrives on competition.
While Julian Wilson is well in contention for his first world title, there have been recent rumblings about Australia losing its grip on the upper echelons of professional surfing. In such uncertain times it’s reassuring to know there are young surfers in Oz who look set to tear their way into the ranks of the WCT in a few years time. 12-year-old Ty Richardson, who lives at Palm Beach and surfs for Snapper Rocks, has a long way to go and we don’t want to place any unnecessary pressure on the kid, but he certainly appears to have the makings of a champion, professional surfer. Ty’s uncle, Joel Parkinson, is the perfect mentor for the young, Gold Coast ripper. “Ty is a great kid with a huge amount of talent! Not to mention he comes from a family where surfing runs in our blood,” suggests Joel. “I can’t wait to see what the future holds for him!”
Ty’s father, Mark, is a five-times Australian champion and a full-time coach, while Mum, Bianca, is a Naturopath who ensures her prodigious son is fuelling his ambitions with the right food.
Last year Ty went on a blitz, racking up more than half a dozen victories in prestigious junior events. So far this year he’s already won the Bede Durbidge grom comp and the Eager Beaver Memorial Pairs event, where he teamed up with uncle Joel.
It seems like you have your heart set on pursuing a career as a professional surfer. Tell us about your coaching and training schedule? I have been surfing since I was really young; as my family owns a surf school I surf every day there are waves. My dad has been a coach for a long time so I train a lot with him. Also at school I’m in The Palm Beach Currumbin State High School surfing excellence program, so I get to surf even at school now. My training also includes surf
fitness, gym, swimming and breath training – plus I try to eat healthy. It is my dream to be able to travel around the world and surf pumping waves for my job.
Do you think it’s important to keep schoolwork in focus also? Yes, for sure it’s my first year of high school as well as the surfing program. I’m in the academic excellence program too so I have heaps more homework. So I definitely have to take time out to study and do my assignments on time. Most of my school-work I complete when there’s no swell so I can surf more when it’s pumping. I think managing surfing time and school-work is important.
Your uncle Joel is well known for being one of the most stylish surfers ever to pick up a board. Does his reputation for flow and form on rail influence how you approach surfing? Yeah, I love watching uncle Joel surf. We have always watched every heat he surfs on the WSL tour, plus his old videos, and I learn heaps trying to take things out of his surfing that I can put into my own.
Does Joel go surfing with you? Does he let you drop in on him if he snags a deep one? Yeah, he does I remember one surf together, when I was younger at Snapper, and Joel would take off on the set behind the rock and then I would sit down the line and drop in on him. In January we were stoked we won the local Eager Beaver Memorial – a pairs comp. Joel reckons I got the highest scores in the semis but he defiantly helped us claim the win in the Finals. Joel has also taken me on his jet ski to do step-offs, helping me get comfortable on the ski.
Are you comfortable behind the rock at Snapper? I love surfing behind the rock. I have got a few cuts from getting washed into the rocks and I’ve had some big wipe-outs from the backwash. Surfing behind the rock is so fun but there is always a bit of fear when you’re paddling for one from way back. It can be scary jumping off the rocks too but I’m used to it now.
Do you spend a lot of time developing your progressive attack? I love trying progressive moves and pushing myself to go bigger and better with my repertoire. In between comps I try to have a few sessions where I just go as big as I can on every section.
Can you find the balance between airs and rail surfing? Who is doing the best job of it now? Yeah, I definitely try to find a good balance between rail surfing and airs. I think Italo Ferreira has been surfing next level lately, especially at Keramas. His backhand airs were so sick and his turns were too. I really like how on one wave he was doing back to back, backside turns and then finishing the wave with a lofty air.
Whose footage do you have on high rotation? My uncle Joel Parkinson, Italo Ferreira, Griffin Colapinto and Michel Bourez are the main four that I like to watch to get psyched before a surf. They are all different surfers and absolutely rip in their own way.
What do you love about competing? I love trying to perform at the highestlevel I can under pressure and the competitiveness and strategic side of competing is so cool. I like to try and test myself against the best surfers.
Is Snapper Rocks the best training ground? Snapper is a world class training ground; you can practice barrels, airs, snaps and carves all on one wave at Snapper. The local beachies are good to surf too, so I can dodge the crowds. My dad’s a goofy foot so we always try and find some lefts to work on my backhand too.
Are you already conscious of the need to
learn to surf other waves? Reefs and slabs and beachies etc? Do you get away? I really try to vary the type of waves I surf. I think there needs to be a balance between surfing reefs, point-breaks and beachies so you are a well rounded surfer.
With so much training, competing and time in the water, what’s your secret for ensuring it’s all still fun? To keep it fun I like changing up my boards and trying to land bigger moves. Also, changing the waves you surf keeps it fun. Like one day surf Snapper, then next surf a beachie. Mixing it up I can ride all types of waves and different kinds of boards. I work closely with my dad and my board shaper trying new boards as I’m always preparing for the next comp or surf trip. Surfing also brings my mates together whether we are free surfing, competing or travelling to find the perfect waves. That really is what makes surfing so much fun.
Ty Richardson employing classic style as he threads a crystalline cubbyhole. Photo: Nicolas Palacios
Ty adding a little panache to a clean face carve in Hawaii.