From the moment I first discovered surfing during family holidays at Kirra in Queensland and Byron Bay in northern NSW, that was it. I was hooked. Surfing became my obsession.
As I developed into a better than average juvenile grom with big dreams, school became an irritating disruption to my life in the water and so I took it upon myself to study oceanography out of the classroom. By the time Year 10 had ended I had clocked up around 150 hours (50 days) to the subject, but still managed to get my School Certificate.
I really believed I was going places when I flew the coop from my part-time job at the chicken shop into Pete Daniell’s original surf shop at St. Ives (Snives) in northern Sydney alongside my surfing hero at the time: the 18 year-old blond mustachioed Andrew Downs. Although I failed miserably at ding repairs, Pete gave me another chance in the shop’s renowned retail division.
In the meantime, my surfing was getting pretty good, I acquired a couple of minor sponsors and dreamt of professional surfing. Aware of my stubbornness, Mum and Dad reluctantly supported my decision to leave school and devote my time and energies to surfing, which often meant driving me up and down the NSW coast for local competitions. Surfing 3 times a day, 5 days a week was definitely the life, but before the ‘prove yourself or back to study’ time limit imposed by my parents was up, I had come to a decision. It’s amazing what sitting out on your board day after day at Mona Vale, Bungan or Avalon can achieve. For me it was a new perspective on myself: I really wasn’t good enough to compete successfully, and in fact competing was spoiling my enjoyment of the sport. If I was ever to avoid money issues, I’d better get back to some form of study.
While surfing would continue to be a passion, I went back to study, attending a private art college specializing in graphic design and pioneering in computer graphics (the original Apple Macs). Graduating with 2 diplomas, I was all set to enter a world of advertising as a computer graphic designer. By the age of 30, I was a Senior Creative, won multiple international awards and was on top of my game. My advertising career was played out in 11 countries, but after a 16-year stint in Asia, I felt the need to return home and it was not long before I was reunited with my first love: surfing.
The years in advertising had been good to me but I was carrying more weight than was necessary so I followed a six-month plan to get surfing fit, which I completed with the enthusiasm of a 29 year-old frother. Now, living on the Northern Beaches, I surf most days at Mona Vale where it began all those years ago. Shortly after returning from overseas, I looked up Pete Daniell, board shaper and former employer, sponsor and friend. I now have 5 Division boards from Pete ranging from a 5’11 Burito to 7’6 hot dog mini-mal, covering all conditions.
While the Northern Beaches – along with the rest of the world – has become a busier place to surf, it was apparent when I returned to Oz, that the local and rather aggressive scene from years ago had almost vanished. Good in some respects I guess, but now we have a passive line up of surfers who don’t know, or even bother to learn, the rules and ethics of surfing before they paddle out. Once upon a time the locals would berate any surfer who paddled out to their break, disrespecting the code. A tough education with a few stern words and even the odd fight clearly made the line-up a safer place. Harsh though it might have been, it got the message across that anyone deciding to take up surfing had to understand that there are consequences to their actions. In basic terms, surfers behaving like idiots would not be tolerated.
Enter 1 Love, a real surfer’s brand, born out of a passion for surfing, a need to create a product that reflects that passion, and frustration. The 1 Love brand is unique in that it is not simply a product but a movement, a society of surfers who respect Mother Nature, the ethics of surfing and most of all the freedom to explore their own limitations. Do you qualify to be cool?