What’s Your Fantasy Island?
All surrounded by water, but that’s where the similarities end.
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.