The Black-Out Tour
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.