Revisit: The Country Feeling Dream Sequence
The best surfing I’ve ever seen was MR, Col Smith and my Dad at a North Coast rivermouth on New Years Day in 1984. There’re no photos of it. There’re no stories about it. But it stays in my mind as one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen because it was 10 foot, perfect and there were only a dozen guys out. MR was out there, Col Smith from Newy was out there – so Mick Adams was probably out there too – and then my Dad turned up and paddled out there. I hadn’t come up with Dad, I was staying at my Nan’s, so when I saw him about to paddle out I was like, “What are you doing here? You’re gonna get smashed!” It was huge, mate. Haha! But he paddled out and I just stood there on the break wall, watching and thinking, “This is fucking amazing.” I must have been 14. It was New Years Day and I didn’t have a hangover, that’s how long ago it was. </b
If I had to pick the best surfing I’ve ever seen since then though it would probably be the week of Billabong Country Feeling Dream Sequence at Jeffreys in 91. Not one person in particular, but everyone who was there that week was surfing as good as they could surf. It was six foot, absolutely pumping and everyone was ripping.
The contest itself was classic. Derek Hynd came up with it. The format was invitation only, everyone had three chances to surf, there were no scores, no prizemoney, no hassling, just good vibes. The winner got a block of land on the point at J-Bay. Derek nailed it. He put it on and he pulled it off. There should be more comps like that today.
“In those days you could hire a Mercedes or a BMW at the same price as hiring a little heap of shit so all the guys on tour were getting around in these expensive European cars just drag racing and rally driving the dirt roads from the hills down to the beach every day.”
J-Bay was still pretty quiet around this time. There were only a couple of houses on the point, one pub in town – the Savoy – and most of us were staying up in the hills. It was my second time in South Africa and in those days you could hire a Mercedes or a BMW at the same price as hiring a little heap of shit so all the guys on tour were getting around in these expensive European cars just drag racing and rally driving the dirt roads from the hills down to the beach everyday. Completely thrashing the shit out of them.
It was a good time to be in South Africa too because apartheid got abolished the day we landed. The country was going mad celebrating but to be honest J-Bay was like a country town and we hardly even noticed, not because we didn’t care but because we all hung out with everyone anyway. White, black, it didn’t matter. If you were hanging out you were hanging out. And everyone was stoked because the surf was pumping.
The sand on the point was different back then. It really packed in there. I don’t know if the development of recent years has had an affect on the sand flow but there was a ton of sand all up and down the point and it barreled all the way. On certain tides you’d get big double ups, not just at Supers but right up off the take off. The swell was a perfect direction and Dooma, Gerr, Law, Munga, Poto… they were all ripping. I was riding the first of my black and white Maltese Cross boards. I only ever had five of those boards but during those J-Bay sessions I got more photos than pretty much the rest of my career. That board and those sessions kinda took my career to a whole new level.
The comp ran in the first few days. Louie (Luke Egan) won it and a block of land on the point. I dunno if he still has it. He probably does. Everyone stuck around for an extra week after that surfing their brains out. It got to the point where you could hang out in the front yard at Cheron’s house and when a set came you could run down paddle and get on a wave. I’m not joking. It was unreal.
After J-Bay everyone went to the Gunston event in Durban. After a week of surfing the most perfect waves with all our best mates in the most beautiful environment ever we were off to the city to surf an event sponsored by a cigarette company. And those Gunstons were like Winnie Reds mate, heavy shit. Didn’t stop us from smoking tonnes of ‘em and going out all night though. I think Gerr won that event. I dunno. I remember the session at Tuncurry when I was 14 better than I remember any comps in Durban.