What’s Your Fan­tasy Is­land?

All sur­rounded by wa­ter, but that’s where the sim­i­lar­i­ties end.

Tracks - - Regulars - By Luke Kennedy

From the mo­ment they watched Steve Cooney slide across a shim­mer­ing Uluwatu wall in ‘Morn­ing of the Earth’ in the early 70s, Bali has had surfers un­der a spell. Since then the wave-blessed In­done­sian Is­land has evolved into a travel me­trop­o­lis, vis­ited by an es­ti­mated av­er­age of five mil­lion peo­ple a year.

De­spite the crowds, the traf­fic chaos, the threat of earthquakes and the scars of ter­ror­ism, Bali still re­mains a ver­sion of par­adise for many. On an is­land where the sen­sory over­load has al­ways seemed like a con­stant, Canggu has emerged as a kind of black sand Bo­hemia, where surfers and trav­ellers can lose them­selves in a heady mix of fun waves, surf­board plu­ral­ism, trend­ing philoso­phies, yoga poses and al­lur­ing night life.

This is­sue, the colour and dy­namism of Canggu is cap­tured with com­pelling hon­esty by Matt Ge­orge as he un­der­takes a roam­ing lit­er­ary jour­ney that is at once hi­lar­i­ous and painfully tragic. As he manoeuvres through the var­i­ous Canggu sub­cul­tures, Matt’s fea­ture, ‘Eat Pray F&$k’ (p.56) serves as the per­fect mile­post for gaug­ing how Bali has evolved since surfers first wan­dered its shores.

In ‘Mr Ship­sterns’ (p32) Jed Smith tells the story of a dif­fer­ent kind of is­land. Many of us imag­ine Tas­ma­nia as a cold, in­hos­pitable place where huge swells pound pre­his­toric bays and much of the coast­line is in­ac­ces­si­ble. While a cer­tain grit­ti­ness of dis­po­si­tion may be re­quired to live and surf there, for the in­trepid soul it’s a won­der­land. Grow­ing up amongst a plucky group of Tassi friends, Marti Par­a­di­sis al­ways led the charge and ul­ti­mately be­came syn­ony­mous with the wave at Ship­stern Bluff. Jed’s piece looks at the forces, which have shaped Marti, trac­ing his story back to the Greek fa­ther who jumped ship in south Aus­tralia to stay alive, through to Marti’s first en­coun­ters at Ship­sterns and his more re­cent bat­tles with de­pres­sion. It’s a uniquely Aus­tralian tale, which re­veals much about one of Aus­tralian surf­ing’s cult heroes and in­vites you into a surf­ing scene most main-lan­ders know lit­tle about.

Phil Jar­ratt couldn’t be­lieve his luck when he got the call up to head to the Azores Is­lands for the re­cently held World Mas­ters. The Azores boasts soar­ing, vol­canic to­pog­ra­phy, an abun­dance of waves (plenty of peaks away from the pros) and good wine – ev­ery­thing a ma­ture surf jour­nal­ist craves. The jun­ket also placed Jar­ratt, the most cel­e­brated of Tracks ed­i­tors, amongst com­pany he had been writ­ing about for nearly half a cen­tury.

Jar­ratt helped shape the orig­i­nal pro surf­ing nar­ra­tive, giv­ing mean­ing to the world ti­tle quest and colour to the char­ac­ters who were de­ter­mined to make a job out of rid­ing waves. In ‘Re­mem­ber the Ti­tans’ (p90) Jar­ratt is at his witty and in­sight­ful best; still find­ing the sub­lime bal­ance be­tween pok­ing fun at the pro surf­ing egos on dis­play and re­mind­ing us why they are still larger than life le­gends.

Fiji (p42) is splashed across the pages as a scream­ing blue call­ing to re­lin­quish the Cloud­break ob­ses­sion and ex­plore the Co­ral Coast.

Seen through the lens of Rus­sell Ord and fea­tur­ing the ex­ploits of Chippa Wil­son and Asher Wales, the re­gion is an un­crowded mon­tage of crys­talline tubes, lo­cal rit­u­als and end­less fun. Isn’t this just the sur­fis­land cliché? Per­haps, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still en­joy it.

Be­yond the is­lands there is a bunch of other good stuff in the mag, in­clud­ing sto­ries on newly minted ju­nior champ Kehu But­ler, and the first women’s world cham­pion, the de­light­ful Phyl­lis O’Don­nell. We also dis­cuss the con­tro­versy sur­round­ing the WSL’s pro­posal to host an event in north­west WA and chat to Benji Weather­ley about the re­cently re­leased ‘Mo­men­tum Gen­er­a­tion’ doc­u­men­tary. En­joy the ride.

Main: Chippa Wil­son glid­ing through a dreamy fun­nel with the kind of pro­por­tions we can all fan­ta­size about.

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