I was only four years old in ’78
so I was not really sure what the surf was or how to ride it
but my older brother thought he knew the tricks. He had an old
single stringer 6’7 pintail single fin that I think belonged
to a mate, of a mate, of a mate but ended up becoming his.
Anyway as the story goes, he and a couple of mates were making
their way from Opotiki to Whangamata for a bit of a weekend
away “surfing” and raising havoc. So off they drove in the EH
Holden, having to stop every 40kms or so to put more water in
the radiator, dressed in stubbies and singlets and thinking
that if they got any cooler it would be a crime
Finally they reached Whangamata
after a 6 hour trip, (what happened along the way is another
story) they headed straight down the beach, waxed up this fine
single fin (one board for four guys) stuck it vertical in the
sand and proceeded to lay about and drink beer. For the rest
of the afternoon they sat there and drank beer… According to
my brother the surf was pumping but they never actually went
out, because none of them actually knew how to surf. They
spent three days in Whangamata sitting in the same spot,
occasionally waxing this surfboard whenever a nice looking
girl walked past and didn’t go surfing.
It only occurred to me years later after he handed that board
down to me and that he was one of the first “highway” surfers
and didn’t actually know how to surf. (Note “highway surfers”
are the kind that have their boards on the roof of the car,
drive up and down the highway but never get in the water)
A few years later, I
discovered that board in the garage, all covered in dust and
unloved. It was all the encouragement I needed to get out in
the surf after recently graduating to standing up on my
polystyrene “surfboard”. It was the first board I got
barrelled on, the first board I got air on and I gave my first
“surfing” lesson to a girl on it.
That single fin got stolen from out in front of our house; I
wish I still had it cos I would teach my kids to surf on it.
It was like a tank in the water, I think the rails were about
four inches thick; it was so buoyant it wasn’t funny and for
such a heavy thing it could drive a lot of speed off the
bottom. As grommet I had to carry it on my head cos my arms
weren’t big enough to get around it. You would have had to
drive a small truck over it to damage it.
I’m glad my brother didn’t
know how to surf though because I inherited that board at the
age of 10, and I rode it until I turned 14 and progressed to a
“Saltwater” twin fin. I rode that twin fin hard, it was the
first board I accidentally landed a reverse 360 on, I even
snapped about 6 inches off the nose on it and being a grommet
with no money I duct taped it up and continued to surf it.
My brother still doesn’t
surf, but he’s a bloody good bloke and if it wasn’t for him I
would probably never got into surfing.
Thanks to my brother for the hand me down, because now I’m a
surfer and for those of you who know, surfing's not a sport
it’s a way of life…