People and Places
29/05/2019
Surfing through time with the Trigger Brothers

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Synonymous with the Mornington Peninsula is Trigger Brothers — a surfing powerhouse with its roots originally in Haldane St, Bonbeach. In the ‘50s, the Trigger Brothers’ name adorned the family’s grocer in Queenscliff. Smashed-up Queen Anne tables were treated as bodyboards in the surf with flippers. After moving to Queensland and then to Bonbeach, they began shaping boards in their backyard in 1968.

Surfing messy ‘bay waves’ at Bonbeach and The Hump at Point Leo were some of their surfing firsts. “In those days, the Suicide Savages at Point Leo terrorised the local surfing community — they’d run you over in the surf and push you off the rocks,” Phil Trigger recalls.

Manufacturing from the aptly named Trigger Brothers surf shop began in Chelsea in 1972. Later entrants were sent into the Victorian title race, where the agro east versus west Victoria hostility led to smashed-up boards and abuse. 

“I ended up buying an FJ Holden; we took local kids surfing that went on to win Victorian titles,” Phil says. “We were very competitive coming in and we stacked a Surfing Victoria meeting to get an even balance, so that events could be held on the Peninsula at Gunnamatta and Point Leo.” 

The sea of people taking up surfing pushed them to charge down the coast from Quarantine to Cape Schanck away from the crowds. “It became territorial. My brother, Paul, had all four of his tyres let down, but that didn’t stop us. We were always looking for the best wave. Quarantine is one of the best left-handers, and when Bells is on we get 40 boats out there and the pros come over.”

The brothers’ Peninsula-based surf shops have become a platform for giving back, from running surf groms for kids to donating boards to the Mornington Peninsula Disabled Surfers Association. “Surfing is one of the great pleasures,” Phil says. 

Phil has this advice for beginners: “Cheat — and by cheat I mean start with a big board.”

CAMERON HOWE

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