Now this is where you want to be. 8am. Blue cloudless sky. Dunes, surf undulating behind them and a group of local ‘grommets’ just itching to get into the water.
Gunnamatta Beach has always been a lady who sends mixed messages. She oozes wild beauty but behind her grand façade she is well known for being dangerous and downright deathly. That doesn’t seem to bother the 10 local surfers ranging from eight to 20 years of age who have come to participate in the free elite surf coaching session put on by the travelling Hurley Surf Club. They’re just stoked and ready to surf.
There will be three sessions over the day and 22 ‘gromms’ participating. Hurley’s personal video coaching mobile (where the kids will watch themselves on the waves later) has travelled from Queensland and New South Wales and will be heading to Torquay - but let’s get back to Gunnamatta.
World Surfing three-time champion and Hurley international surf ambassador Wayne ‘Rabbit’ Bartholomew is checking out the conditions while the kids slip on their wetsuits. Let’s say I’m fairly impressed to be in the same carpark as this surfing legend (I grew up watching him riding waves across the planet). The kids don’t have much of an idea who he is until we mention it and they get onto YouTube and have their minds blown. 13-year-old Jake Pancic and his sister Sasha (10) from Blairgowrie, 10-year-old Luke Hickson and his eight-year-old sister Sarah (their cousins) have been surfing with their parents for much of their young lives and don’t seem to be bothered that the waves are twice their size and angry (their dads are out there with them).
Older Mount Martha ‘gromms’ Andrew Juchnevicius, Alex Cook and Cam Myers are amazed the event is free and are suitably impressed by Rabbit’s credentials, while local 15-year-old St Andrews surfer Jett Dickinson is so chilled out he could be in a freezer. After a quick warm up on the beach they all slip into the surf.
“Look at that rip out there”, says Rabbit. “They are unbelievable. Some of them are so little, but look at them go.” I’ve never seen anything like it. The courage, physical strength and confidence of these kids is, well, nuts! Each surfer is filmed. Once on Terra Firma the guys hunker down in the Hurley van and go over the material with Head Coach Tim McDonald and Rabbit. Jett’s mum Danni talks. “This is so good. What an opportunity to have the best check out Jett’s surfing” (all they had to do was sign up online, submit a questionnaire and upload a one-minute video to YouTube to be part of it). The program’s global roster of coaches includes former world champion and Aussie surfing legend Barton Lynch, plus there’s free how to videos breaking down the techniques of top pros on the Hurley Surf Club website.
For more info log onto nike.com/au/en_gb/c/hurley/surf-club. Sick.