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Noosa - Full Circle

Words by Ryan Delaney

Photos by Hunter Thomson

 

Fresh air. The new season sews the smell of eucalyptus up the East Coast but summer’s heat is still trapped in the dirt. At this time of year, you can both feel what’s been and sense what’s to come. Offshore, a storm broods but never arrives. Everything seems to be paused in quiet contemplation. Finally, a low pressure system stirs up some swell just in time for the coming festival. 

For many surfers, the annual Noosa Festival of Surfing is a time for clarity, reflection and pure stoke with friends from all over the world. It’s a time to check-in, to catch up with fellow surfing kin and to take a moment to manifest plans for the year ahead. These moments usually occur in-between the chaos of the festival — on solo walks around to Tea Tree, during chats with friends above deeper water or beers in vans bellow the shade of Noosa’s teeming national park. 

We chatted to team riders Kai Ellice-Flint and Paul Nunn about the magic of Noosa, the year just gone and their plans for 2017.

 

KAI ELLICE-FLINT




 

The present:

My life is a steady rollercoaster… A lot happens within a short time, so it’s keeping me on my toes and inspiring me to learn and enrich my life. It’s a lesson my work has taught me; to be open to unexpected situations when you’re on life’s journey. I’m currently in my second year of Surfboard Manufacturing; learning to laminate and sand. Still, after a year (2000+ boards) I’m improving my hot coats. They’re not perfect yet and that’s what I enjoy…the challenge.                                                                                                                   

Noosa Surf Festival 2017:

Vacay mode; hanging out with like-minded friends at the comp or back at the pad. I spent most mornings sleeping in due to my hangover. I’m sure there were pumping waves early but eh’, I’ll get em’ later. It sure didn’t help that we had to start on our driving bender; arriving at Noosa at a sour 4:00am. 

A lot of the time during the festival is spent with the friends you don’t see for the rest of the year. It’s obvious that people from all over the world come to compete but they also come to enjoy the vibes; for those long walks around to Tea Tree; to share in the feeling of having an aching body after surfing all day. That’s what makes Noosa. The weather and the waves are the bonus section. 


2016: 

Canada was a really good time. We trekked over to Vancouver Island for the Vans Duct Tape Invitational held in Tofino. A huge journey, especially with 32kg of luggage inside a 10ft board bag… My mind was blown from the beauty and raw energy around the shores of Tofino; a destination I’m bound to be heading back to in my lifetime. 

 

 

The year to come:  

I’m driven to make something of myself; to be productive, work hard and put 100% into the things I love. I’ve been given an opportunity to work overseas and I’m doing my best to get on top of that situation. Being young and living in Sydney ain’t easy! So I’m doing my best to push myself to work as hard as I can, to save some coin, plan a trip and wait for that swell (rather than booking a trip and hoping there will be surf). 2016 was full of that; travelling to surf shitty, mushy waves. On the bright side, I really enjoyed the cultural experiences. So South East Asia, the US and with all luck going, somewhere in Europe/North Africa will be my destinations this year. 

The future of surfing? 

It’s all been done. Trialled. Tested. Just gotta’ find what works for you! Take from the past, use the present and dial it in for something in the future. Personally, I see surf culture drawing on influential design moments in the times post-1967 (without ignoring prior years) and vamping it up with characteristics seen in the late 80’s and early 90’s.

 

 

TOM PAYNE

The present: 

Everything is really great at the moment! I'm in the middle of a carpentry apprenticeship learning lots of new skills. I’ve been working with Johnny Gill from Keyo Surfboards for the past few years now and he has been creating great traditional and modern boards. I’ve also been surfing lots and spending time with family and friends.          

Noosa Surf Festival 2017: 

Noosa is so sacred because of the perfect waves and its rich history. People have been travelling there for years to make the most of the points. Surfers such as Bob McTavish, Nat Young, Russell Hughes, George Greenough paved the way for the surfing culture that is cultivated there today.

2016: 

2016 was a great year for me. I had a number of awesome trips along the East coast of NSW and QLD plus a few overseas trips as well. The main highlight was being fortunate enough to be invited by Joel Tudor to surf in The Duct Tape Invitational during the US Open of Surfing at Huntington Beach. It was such a great time hanging-out and surfing with the guys and girls over there – it’s an experience I’ll never forget.

Myself and Johnny Gill also travelled to South Korea to meet up with some close friends of ours and to be a part of the Midnight Surf Festival. Our Korean pals are super psyched on the traditional and alternative surfing culture. They’re a really friendly and humble bunch of people. They took us in like family and we shared some really good times!

 

The year to come:

At the moment I don't have much planned. In-between work I’ll be doing some contests and possibly a few trips overseas later in the year.

The future of surfing?

I feel that board design is in good hands. There are quite a number of Australian shapers who are going down different paths and creating some really innovative boards. All contain different aspects and experiment with new ideas whilst remaining high-quality.

 

PAUL NUNN

The present: 

Life's been good; quite hectic working on and trying to sell my car in Coolangatta. I’ve been staying at master-shaper Corey Nunn's house — surfing, fishing. I travelled 6hrs west to grab Corey’s mint old land-cruiser. I tried to catch murray cod but the water was too dirty (apparently).  

Noosa Surf Festival 2017: 

Big important stuff. Haha nah’ just hanging out, keeping Tom Neville’s 60’ series on the road, surfing Tea Tree late in the arvo, catching party waves with good friends and watching Kai shred his own shape; doing it in style and ease — pulling off stuff many people wouldn't attempt. Noosa also involved a few late nights out on the town. I somehow followed Matty Chojnacki to local nightclub 'The Rock' where they played a mixture of ‘So Fresh’ hits and the Top 40... I also got to spend some good time with Evan Daley from Gato Heroi who has been shaping some sick boards for me lately, he knows what's up!

When I think of Noosa I think of Bob Mctavish, Nat Young and Wayne Parkes — really pushing those old style boards in a way that is far more complex than it seems. Seeing these guys surf these boards, then paddling out on similar equipment knowing that you're riding the same wave is iconic. 

2016: 

Last year I drove across Oz to visit Cactus Beach (Wayne Lynch in evolution and Sea of Joy). It involved working for Matt Chojnacki and his old man’s car restoration shop ‘TB Bodyworks’ in Brookvale, Sydney. South Oz was all time; very rewarding, proper waves. I was lucky enough to cook up some fresh-caught abalone in John Witzig's old shack. There was still magazine tear-outs of MP on the wall and a dug-out for shaping below the loft (probably not used for a while). Working for Matty and being around cars and surfboards from the 60’s was fresh. This was definitely a time of learning, with not much of this in my hometown in WA, I'm grateful to have shared that experience. 

The year to come: 

Flying back to WA to start a part-time job doing trial crops for the agriculture department. Planning on a few trips to Indo, South Oz and Gnarloo this year. When in West Oz, adventure is hard to resist. Especially when you're camping out in the desert with good friends, waves and fish.  

 

 

Each year, the Noosa Festival of Surfing is a cycle that comes full circle. It’s a time to realign between sets and reconnect beneath the gum trees. It is a time to see a whole new reflection in the water. 

We are looking forward to documenting what these guys and the rest of the team get up to this year. Until next time, TCSS.

 

 
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