Hey Mark, tell us about the moment you...
…surfed over a reef for the first time? Y’know the work experience you did when you were at school? I went and did mine with Sunny Abberton, Koby’s older brother, and he was starting up PSA, the clothing company. I thought I’d hang out and surf the whole time, instead I just mowed his lawns and shit. But one day that week he took me to this reef break near Maroubra. It was nuts, six-foot, super shallow, and my first introduction to surfing a reef break. I was shitting myself, I barely took off. This wave is ridiculously shallow on the take off and I can remember paddling into it and it being about a foot deep, the image of seeing reef below the water for the first time like that, it was pretty gnarly.
…obsessed over a surf movie? North Shore. I had it recorded on a video cassette and I used to watch it every morning, I just thought it was amazing, surfing Pipe and Waimea and shit, I thought it was the best thing ever. There are the funniest shots in it, like a dude pulling in on a shortboard and kicking out on a mal. At the time I was just like, “YES, this is the best thing ever!” That, and I remember my dad showing me Endless Summer and that scene of them walking over the hill to Cape St. Francis is scarred into my brain. As a kid you were just like, “That is the ultimate, that wave.”
…thought you might die? The wave I rode at Cyclops is the most terrifying experience I’ve had. It’s the most scared I’ve ever been while riding a wave, I remember coming from behind it and it went below sea-level, and it was like a ten-12 foot wave. It was freaking bare rock. I went off a ledge in front of the bare rock and I remember thinking I was going to die. But somehow it managed to suck me up and I made it out to the shoulder. I’ve never been there ever again, and I never want to surf it ever again!
…started public speaking? The talks I do are motivational kind of talks about fear and dealing with stress and I basically tell the story of my career. I show them video footage of the first time I surfed Shipsterns, what happened when I wiped out and hurt my neck, my leg injury, coming back from that, and different stuff I’ve learnt along the way. I did a course once and one of the techniques that they put you through was to get up in front of the group and tell a story with as over exaggerated gestures as possible. I’d never spoken in front of anyone in my life before and it was so embarrassing, I figured I was being ridiculous but everyone said, “Nah, that looked pretty normal.” That put the whole thing in perspective for me, how you feel in front of people is not how you come across all the time. It completely changed the way I feel about that stuff.
…had a confrontation with a shark? There was one down in South Oz that was crazy spooky. I was sitting in the line-up with Ryan Hipwood when my eyes flashed out to the horizon and I saw the white belly of a thing the size of a bus. It was 100m out from us and it was absolutely terrifying. I screamed at Hippo and we were just sprinting in, Richie Vas saw us as he was paddling back out and he freaked out as well. The wave we were surfing was on the most jagged rocks ever and the three of us threw ourselves on them. Tim Bonython was standing there filming and was like, “Nah, it was a seal.” It was pumping and I think he wanted us to keep surfing. A local guy said later, “I can’t believe you guys kept surfing.” We went back out and then saw the biggest fin ever. I guess Tim saw something else.