This is one brain freezie that will give you the melts. (Shield)

Soli Bailey Raids The Treasure!

On King Island

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Soli and I booked our flights the night before, after tracking a swell all week. Shieldsy was all frothing, he’d been there before and knew it was gonna be on. We flew into Melbourne just as the storm of the century hit. Ando and Rasta were supposed to go on this trip too but their plane got grounded. But our pilot – this girl – she was like, “Oh yeah it’s all good, we’ve already done a flight today.” It was actually nuts – a 20 seater plane in the biggest storm ever. There was that much turbulence, you couldn’t see anything outside, just black clouds. We were coming down into the Island full tail whipping – it was the most hectic thing ever. That exact same plane had crashed into a shopping mall that same week and looking back at it now, it was the scariest flight I’ve ever done in my life.

Luckily, we landed safe and settled in. King Island’s only got a population of about 50, and of all the people in the world, who did we see but Pottz – standing there in the soup aisle of the King Island IGA with a confused look on his face. We just eyeballed each other like, ‘What the fuck are you doing here?’ Then both of us burst out laughing. That was the first and last time we saw Pottz the whole trip; it was real weird. We woke early the next morning, stinging for pits, to find the most surreal stretch of sand you could possibly imagine. These were perfect four to five foot A-frames as far as the eye could see, with not a soul around, except for me and Soli. It was almost frustrating watching all these empties going unridden. You’d catch yourself yelling, “I wanna be on that one!’ It’s the same deal when you’re out there too, there’re so many peaks it’s almost overwhelming – you really need to hunt the good ones or you end up paddling around in circles. Picture a coldwater Straddie, with howling offshore winds – the Victorian elements, as harsh as they get. The wind’s so strong you’ve gotta stomp your board down or you’ll take off like a kite in a blizzard, and that wind factor means you’re always taking the drop super late. We suited up – 3mm boots, 4mm steamer, gloves and hood. Soli ended up having to ditch the last two items and froze his tits off just to try and get a bit more mobility.

King Soli’s mine – swept by wind and the odd aviation disaster. (Shield)

The waves were pumping the whole time. We stayed in our wetties for 12 hours straight, trading tubes. It may have only been four to five foot, but these things were real square. Most of them you couldn’t even paddle into, you really had to pick and choose because there was a bunch of ugly ones too, that’s why it was so good to have Soli there pushing it. When you scratched under that lip they’d open up into the sickest, roundest barrels. At one point we got hit by a hail storm and had to wait it out in the ute, huddled together eating cheese… King Island is pretty famous for it’s cheese…

Soli is a crazy good tube rider, as we all saw at Pipe this year. It was good to have someone like that pushing that little bit deeper and going hard. So deep in fact, that he ended up snapping his board. He was trying to hunt a right, took one real late, got pitched over the falls and came up with a board in splinters, that was pretty funny. But seriously Soli’s an animal, he’s going no matter what, and it’s so sick to see, especially on some of those backhand pits. You wouldn’t pick it, but he’s one of those silent assassins. If that beach was anywhere else in the world, anywhere warm… it would be my favourite place on Earth. 12 hours of uncrowded pits and only our footprints left in the sand. It was a sick day.

Connor O'Leary