The Black-Out Tour

New Zealand Surfing - - Between Sets -

Take 10 surf starved stu­dents, fresh out of an in­ten­sive few weeks of ex­ams, a seven-hour bus ride and a three-day power cut. Add in pump­ing waves and we have an­other epic Pita Pit Roady.

Ever since is­sue one we have also placed mas­sive im­por­tance on the leg­endary “Roady” and NZ Surf Mag Roady’s over the years be­came stuff of folk­lore and grew into what has been ac­cepted as an in­sti­tu­tion. With a makeup of good times, epic waves, and hi­lar­i­ous mo­ments, each and ev­ery roady has been unique and those that have taken part have them stuffed away in their mem­ory banks for safe keep­ing to pull out later in life in their rock­ing chair sto­ries at the Rest Home. Back in the 80’s be­ing on the dole (un­em­ploy­ment ben­e­fit) seemed the rage, and most of the best surfers utilised this “Gov­ern­ment Surf Team” fund­ing as their way to spend all day in the wa­ter to im­prove their surf­ing. There was no such thing as be­ing able to go to school and surf! Only a mad man would have ever thought of such a ridicu­lous thing. School was where you went to ei­ther each other’s lunches, or study Latin and Ja­panese cause with­out such skills in life you were never go­ing to even­tu­ate to much. Some­where along the way, the world changed, sport grew to a point where it was seen as a busi­ness and a way of mak­ing a liv­ing. With this cur­ricu­lums changed and be­fore we knew it ’Surf­ing’ had be­come a subject at school and elder surfers felt ripped off and wanted to go back to class. One of the first ed­u­ca­tion out­lets to grasp this way of think­ing was the Raglan Area School, which launched the Raglan Surf Academy in 1999 and since then has helped pump out, not only many great surfers but also great aca­demics. So for us here at NZ Surf Mag it was a no brainer to get in be­hind and sup­port this ini­tia­tive and the fu­ture of our sport and along with the epic crew at Pita Pit NZ, who also love to get in be­hind our youth and sports pro­mot­ing a health­ier choice, each and ev­ery year we hit the road with the Academy. How­ever, it is not an ex­pec­ta­tion but a priv­i­lege to get to head off chas­ing waves for a week, the stu­dents have this car­rot dan­gled in front of their noses through­out the year with their re­sults ul­ti­mately af­fect­ing their par­tic­i­pa­tion, fall be­hind is class and you’re stay­ing be­hind! It is amaz­ing the mo­ti­va­tion this will pro­vide and in the last week of the 2016 school year the Class of 16 piled into their bus, with re­sults locked into their CV’s, and went in search of surf. Lee Rir­inui, NZ Ju­nior Surf Team Mem­ber and the Surf Academy’s top scholar shares with us his take on the roady.

As a part of the Raglan Surf­ing Academy we train and study hard, and as a re­sult we get the priv­i­lege to have shorter hours at school to go surf­ing. If you don’t turn up to train­ing or you are be­hind with school work, it’s sim­ple, you suf­fer the con­se­quence of stay­ing be­hind at school com­plet­ing work while ev­ery­one else gets to surf. This re­ally hurts when it’s pump­ing and the fol­low­ing day you watch over other mem­ber’s footage. We all knew about the photo shoot that would be the re­ward for hard work through­out the year so we made sure that we par­tic­i­pated and gave our all dur­ing train­ings along with mak­ing sure that our school­work was also up to a high stan­dard. Many surf academy stu­dents passed with course and level en­dorse­ments as a re­sult of this. When it came to the end of Term 3 we started plan­ning out the trip. We needed to find a time-slot where; it didn’t place a hin­der­ance to ex­ter­nals, find a lo­ca­tion that was pump­ing along­side good weather and when Cory was avail­able to shoot. This ended up be­ing a lot harder said than done. We had ex­ter­nals for the first half of Term 4 and the weather pat­terns weren't look­ing that great any­time soon. How­ever, an op­por­tu­nity pre­sented it­self at the start of De­cem­ber, the surf was look­ing good in Gis­borne, the weather was also look­ing good, ex­ter­nals were fin­ished and Cory was free and primed to go. Af­ter a seven-hour trip in the Surf Academy’s bus we fi­nally ar­rived in Gis­borne on the 12th, only to be wel­comed by a three-day power cut coast wide which left most of us with a se­ries of ques­tions; How will we charge our phones? Will the wifi still work? Does that mean we can’t watch TV? We soon found out that it wasn’t last­ing days with­out our phones, wifi or a tele­vi­sion that would be our biggest strug­gle, but rather it was hav­ing to find a toi­let in work­ing or­der, re­solv­ing mo­tel dilem­mas and the has­sles of get­ting gro­ceries. We first tried the toilets at Stock­route where a few lucky class­mates were able to use the fa­cil­i­ties be­fore a worker from the coun­cil came and screwed down the toi­let seat, leav­ing the rest of the Academy in des­per­ate need of find­ing an­other toi­let block. We went to var­i­ous toilets through­out the dis­trict but no mat­ter where we went the same coun­cil worker was al­ways one step ahead of us, screw­ing toi­let seat af­ter toi­let seat. Half an hour later, with butt-cheeks clinched we started to re­ally worry, how­ever, our luck turned and we found a toi­let block that we were able to use. The re­lief on our faces as we walked out of the toi­let one by one was price­less. With no power through­out the en­tire Gis­borne coast­line the mo­tel we were meant to stay in was un­able to pro­vide us with any­thing but bed­ding. No toilets, no show­ers and ob­vi­ously, no power for cook­ing or en­ter­tain­ment pur­poses. The girls started to worry once they heard there were no show­ers, op­posed to the guys who weren't phased; us guys all agreed that surf­ing was a good enough wash. There was a small de­bate on whether we should stay or try our luck on find­ing an­other place with work­ing fa­cil­i­ties. The de­bate was set­tled once a tiny six-week old pug came run­ning out from the main of­fice trip­ping over it­self from the ex­cite­ment and lack of co-or­di­na­tion. As we ran around with the lit­tle fur ball our teach­ers Deane and Larry were busy sweet talk­ing with the own­ers. Their charm must’ve worked as the mo­tel owner promised each of us a fifty-dol­lar re­fund and al­though our par­ents paid for our ac­com­mo­da­tion I’m not sure how many par­ents were ac­tu­ally in­formed of this by their child. The Mo­tel own­ers were ab­so­lute leg­ends with let­ting us stay through­out the power cut and we re­ally ap­pre­ci­ated their great hos­pi­tal­ity!

Our next chal­lenge that we faced was at the supermarket. A men­ac­ing mood em­braced us as the ma­jor­ity of Gis­borne's pop­u­la­tion surged within, push­ing and shov­ing their way through, ar­eas of the supermarket taped off with work­ers di­rect­ing us where to go, lights flick­er­ing and the lines enour­mous. It felt sur­real, like we were in the mid­dle of a world dis­as­ter or zom­bie apoca­lypse. Not only did we have trou­ble find­ing our way around the supermarket but we were clue­less with what we were go­ing to do for meals. There were no cook­ing fa­cil­i­ties there­fore we weren't able to cook any meat, re­frig­er­ate milk or even boil hot wa­ter for noo­dles. We all re­signed to hav­ing sand­wiches and snack foods for break­fast, lunch and din­ners. A large amount of us also bought car­bon­ated wa­ter by mis­take which we were all re­volted by, so we im­pro­vised when we saw some peo­ple buy­ing Raro pack­ets. With a se­ries of bad luck we were des­tined to have some good luck com­ing our way, so we went out surf­ing Schools with a cou­ple hours of day­light left. The surf was 3ft and cross-shore, how­ever, we were all fizzing out for a wave. Al­though the surf wasn't the great­est and we were told by lo­cal groms Manawa Ruru and Finn John­son that “you should've been here this morn­ing, it was cook­ing,” we were still stoked to be on some waves. The next morn­ing came and we all ran down to check the surf at Stock­route. The bad luck con­tin­ued… It was 1ft and cross-shore. With the small surf we de­cided to search for a spot where the wind would be a bit more favourable and with a bit more size. We were con­stantly look­ing ‘around the cor­ner’ un­til To­laga Bay (I wouldn't con­sider an hour drive “just around the cor­ner”) where it was off­shore, but, it was only half a foot big­ger than Wainui. So we con­tin­ued to go ‘around the cor­ner’ un­til we reached Ka­iawa where it was 2-3ft, off­shore and what looked like fun waves. We suited up and went surf­ing. The first 45 min­utes was re­ally fun with some left han­ders grind­ing through, how­ever, this only lasted 45 min­utes be­fore the swell dropped to 1-2ft and on­shore. We stayed out for a while be­fore head­ing into To­laga Bay for food and a skate at their mint skate park. While Gis­borne and the sur­round­ing ar­eas were in a black­out and gen­er­a­tors were be­ing trucked in from Auck­land, up here at To­laga they had power, and the town was pump­ing with vis­it­ing Gis­borne crew who all had the days off work. Once we were all fu­elled up and ready to go again we went back to Ka­iawa in hope the surf was bet­ter. It was still 1-2ft and on­shore yet we didn't come all that way not to surf so we were straight back out there and luck­ily for us there were a cou­ple of fun waves to be had! Once we got back from the surf we found that

things started to swing in our favour for once. The power was back up and run­ning and with the fore­cast look­ing good for the Wednes­day and Thurs­day we all crashed out fairly early and pre­pared for the fol­low­ing days ahead. The day fi­nally came and with the re­ports look­ing good, we ran down from our mo­tel to check the surf. We couldn't be­lieve our eyes. ‘Schools’ was 3-4ft with off­shore winds, peaks ev­ery­where we looked and the sun was in the sky. It was pure per­fec­tion. We raced backed to the mo­tel to ready our­selves for a ses­sion of a life­time. We scored pump­ing waves for hours on end shar­ing them with var­i­ous lo­cal leg­ends such as Maz Quinn. His mas­sive man-hacks and his up­side-down back­hand were very hum­bling to us all. In for a quick snack and then back out, still the surf was per­fec­tion. Peo­ple were get­ting bar­relled or per­form­ing huge turns ev­ery­where you looked! Al­though we could hardly lift our arms we stayed out un­til day­light ran out, it wasn't pos­si­ble to go in know­ing that the surf was as good as it was. That night we fell asleep be­fore our heads hit our pil­lows, we were knack­ered. Nev­er­the­less, we were want­ing to catch the last of the swell be­fore we left back to Raglan on Thurs­day. The morn­ing ar­rived and as hard as it was to get out of bed we were all surf­ing Stock­route bright and early with the fact of hav­ing to leave at mid­day lurk­ing in the back of our minds. There were more fun waves to be had. With 2-3ft, glassy con­di­tions the amount of fun we had was well worth sac­ri­fic­ing a few hours of sleep. Un­for­tu­nately, mid­day crept up on us quickly and be­fore we knew it, it was time to leave. For the next seven hours, all we did was rem­i­nisce an ex­tremely mem­o­rable trip filled with good old kiwi in­ge­nu­ity, lots of laugh­ter and the best of all, pump­ing waves!

The Class of 2016 - Lib­erty Brad­shaw, Lee Rir­inui, Ziggy Knuiman, Jay Piper-Healion, Tom Burns, Belle Woolas­ton, Larry Fisher, Jack Lee, Kaleb Fisher, Josh Wal­lis.

TOP: The kind of wave that had the Raglan based groms foam­ing BOT­TOM: Have bus, will travel.

TOP: Jay Piper-Healion wrap­ping a smooth arc. BOT­TOM: Take a look at this pic in a mir­ror and its hard not to com­pare the styles of fa­ther and son, Kaleb Fisher look­ing rather Larry like.

TOP: Jack Lee is a new in­stall­ment for 2017 yet he joined the gang for his first ex­pe­ri­ence in the Academy. IN­SERTS TOP TO BOT­TOM: Josh Wal­lis whip­ping. / With the stu­dents surfed out day 3 dawned to this sight and the dead arms were kicked into gear with stoke. / Lib­erty Brad­shaw fly­ing the flag for the girls.

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