Surfing World Camp
Singlefins, surfers, shapers, tipis, kids, live music, open fires, waves, yoga and a long weekend. These are the things dreams are made of, and the exact setting for Surfing World Magazines first Campout on Anzac weekend. This grassroots adventure was held at the Treachery campgrounds at Seal Rocks on Australia's Mid North Coast, April 24-26th, 2015.
Surfer/shaper Joel Fitzgerald and I arrived to the event late Friday night and slept in the van. With just a few hours of shut eye, Saturday started with black coffee for Joel, and a free yoga session in the main Tipi for me. We caught up fireside for a late breaky with our mates Dave Howell and Chris Chong of Misfit Shapes, and Josh Secomb of FCS. The gents had saved us a primo spot next to them on Shapers Alley, just near the dunes leading to the surf, which was most appreciated.
Since the hike though the sand dunes and bush from the Alley to the beach was lengthy we made as few trips as possible with the demo boards, and posted up all day. As intended each shaper invited brought ample boards to demo. For the lucky campers this meant that no surfer was heading out empty handed.
The surf was a consistent 3-4ft with some bigger rolling sets on the outside, that eventually dumped on the sucky sand bar inside. Not great for beginners, or long boarding, however exciting for the more experienced or adventurous surfers. After loaning out a few demos, Dave, Chris, Joel and I had a surf out the back. It was a long paddle, resulting in few waves for me. I had opted for my new canary yellow 5'5 Keel Fin Fish, aka the Dreamcatcher. After a few missed waves, I made my way to the inside, for my best rides. The others were much more successful outside, on their semi guns trading off wave for wave. Joel rode his father Terry Fitzgerald (TF) Hot Buttered singlefin Sunset gun, and was able to connect the wave from outside to the inside as only a Fitzy could.
TF's quiver of demos and the few historic boards he brought for show, were the standouts to me. Truly I admire his authentic original shapes, colors and designs. There is a richness to his work that can only come from a life time of surfing, continual refinement and original thinking. TF brought along a few rare boards from his personal collection, among them an original Bonzer Drifta 111 was my favorite. The camp was filled with talented people, and other stand shapers were; Dave Howell of Misfit Shapes, Bryan Bates and his beautiful drifters, Ashley Ward's Eagle Swords, Garry McNeill's divine Concepts, Andy Findlay's Gato Heori tribe, and Joel Fitzgerald's radical, experimental handshaped and glassed quiver.
The topic of shapes and designs however is best left to the experts, and that evening when TF and Simon Anderson spoke about boards, and the hard knocks of shaping everyone was listening. Terry and Simon have both significantly contributed and changed the surfboard forever. Simon having designed, shaped and ridden the first tri-fin short board that to this day prevails as the most popular kind of board. Terry contributed to the innovations that led to the short board revolution, was and is a style icon and much more.
Surfing World's editor Vaughn Blakey did an excellent job of playing interviewer to these two mega personalities. Coaxing from each of them gems of knowledge and history that I will treasure forever. It was a special and historical event having TF and Simon together like that, in such an organic and authentic setting true to the roots of our surfing culture. I wondered if it would ever happen again. The legends talk story session was promptly followed with the melodic tunes of Mylee & the Milkshakes, Ozzy Wrong, and the psychedelic 70's rockers The Babe Rainbow.
A meteor shower passed over head in the night sky, campfires burned all night and the music lulled early sleepers to bed. I danced till I could dance no more, then crawled in to the van, salty, smokey and stoked.
The wind came up in the night, and the next morning was howling onshore. After meditation in the Tipi, and a chai from the cute coffee caravan, we hit the road home with a fun crew; Lauren L Hill, Dave Rastovich, Madgi & Chris Del Moro and the groovy band guys for the Babe Rainbow. Over the next few days we enjoyed back beach goodness, national park picnics and Crescent Head peelers. Good company, wave slides, great tunes, and super vibes got us all back to Byron Bay filled with gratitude.
Below are my pics from the trip. A big Mahalo Nui Loa, Thank you very much to Robbie Warden, Vaughan and the Surfing World Magazine crew for having us. Joel and I had an awesome time and hope to be a part of the next one. More community building, surfing, outdoors, vanlife events like this please :)
To read Surfing World's full take on the event and see some amazing pics, head to your local news agent here in Australia and pick up the current issue 363 or click here to purchase online.