Behind the shot: Scott Harris, Kirra, by Josh Bystrom

Stu Nettle picture
Stu Nettle (stunet)
Swellnet Dispatch

You could get frustrated by this or feel a quiet thrill. Depends on your point of view.

Last Wednesday, as a season-long wave drought broke on the Gold Coast, photographer Josh Bystrom launched into the Kirra Express. The sweep was so strong he could only hope for a half dozen hook ups at best before he was deposited at Bilinga.

He sent the shots on to Swellnet for perusal. Here’s Mick in sequence working up a head of steam, there’s Steph gliding in with finesse, Seabass is deep but recognisable, and who the hell is this?

It’s the best wave of the lot, hands down, and I can’t make a positive ID. Zoom in a bit but there’s no giveaways, no sponsors, no familiar features, just an unassuming bloke on a white board making good moves on the wave of the day.

It’s puzzling.

And thrilling.

Cos everyone loves the underdog - or they should.

Like the back of a milk carton I put the call out to Facebook: “Do you know this man?” Josh did the same. But for two days we heard nothing until we got a bite on the website.

Scott Harris is an old sea dog - I don’t think he’d mind me saying that. Fella has worked on boats throughout Indo and West Oz, in fact he's spent so long in Indonesia he has a local wife, and he’s still a contender at maxing Kirra - age be damned.

Swellnet: How old are you Scott?
Scott:, well I’m 52 going on 53.

And how long you been surfing Kirra for?
Aww, since the late 70s early 80s, not really sure which year.

How would last Wednesday rate in your experience?
It wasn't classic Kirra as the banks still aren't as good as they were way back then.

Before the pumping system and the Superbank, you mean?’s not as good as it was. The actual point through to Butterbox is still pretty straight and closes out. But for what they are now it was a pretty good morning.

Can you recall your best ever swell at Kirra?
Oh yeah, the 40 day swell in ‘86 or ‘87.

Quick answer! You got some memorable waves I take it.

And what about crowds back then?
They were pretty heavy when the swell first started, but because of how long the swell went they started to thin out, people were getting surfed out, and also Burleigh was going off as well. So it wasn't too bad at all.

And the crowds the other morning, what were they like?
I didn’t find it that bad when I first got out. You know, it wasnt that bad.

So you got a few waves then?
Yeah, I think I got two off Big Groyne straight away and then I got one down off the point that was pretty good.

Can you recall the wave that appears in the photo?
That was one of the ones off Big Groyne. It was the first one I paddled into. There was a guy on the inside of me but I was waiting, it was really my wave, so I said ‘no way’, I called him off then went straight into it.

Did you make it?
I made it a fair way. I was in it for quite a while and then it closed out.

Looked like you had a bit of length under your feet. How long was the board?

Who shaped it?
Darryl Bulger. It was actually shaped as an Indo board but it went really well out there.

Well here's hoping for plenty more, eh?


Rise of the waves 2017's picture
Rise of the waves 2017's picture
Rise of the wav... Monday, 13 Mar 2017 at 7:27am

Classic... And it's about time some surfers that get a good one or just someone who rips gets a few pics and a chat.. keeps it fresh and interesting as much as I want to see all my sticker heroes I am way more exited to see this every now and then...

Kooza's picture
Kooza's picture
Kooza Monday, 13 Mar 2017 at 7:38am

Epic shot......can we have more of these underdog/charger segments and less of the Industry dibble please.

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo Monday, 13 Mar 2017 at 8:04am

There was a guy on the inside of me ..but it was my turn i called him off !
Good one Scotty thats the way.

Rockhopper's picture
Rockhopper's picture
Rockhopper Monday, 13 Mar 2017 at 8:19am

Agreed more segments like this. I'm sure we all like hearing about the life of sponsored surfers and their trips and shots of uncrowned line -ups most of us can only dream of. BUT...

All of us can relate to a peer punter and his joy of scoring a few descent ones in between, work, family and the temptation of a few two many Friday night cans with the boys.

Bring it on. Clickerty Click.

Halfscousehalfcockneyfullaussie's picture
Halfscousehalfcockneyfullaussie's picture
Halfscousehalfc... Monday, 13 Mar 2017 at 9:24am

Nice one

zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain Monday, 13 Mar 2017 at 10:12am

Cool, agree with all comments above.

There's an idea for a series of articles, kind of like the 'Front Up' show they used to have on SBS. just pick an everyday randon surfer and see where the interview goes. Could make for some fascinating reading.

Second, when Scottie was asked did he make it? I was half expecting him to say, 'Nah, Dean Morrison dropped in on me down the line':)

mick-free's picture
mick-free's picture
mick-free Monday, 13 Mar 2017 at 10:19am

Great stuff straight to lord status for Scott.

Pigdog2's picture
Pigdog2's picture
Pigdog2 Monday, 13 Mar 2017 at 10:46am

Yep - quick - someone get him a sponno

Wharfjunkie's picture
Wharfjunkie's picture
Wharfjunkie Monday, 13 Mar 2017 at 1:14pm

Well done sir even better that you called someone on the inside off who wasn't going to take his turn.

MRsinglefin's picture
MRsinglefin's picture
MRsinglefin Tuesday, 14 Mar 2017 at 7:48am

Now thats what surfing is all about. Great read. Most locals have a few underground legends who come out of the woodwork when its on. 2291 and 2464 have a few who charge on the epic days. I remember one of the surf mags did a feature issue " King of the Point / Beach" ? about 10 years ago featuring non sponsored surfers. Maybe Swellnet could do a similar theme working through the postcodes around Oz. Also include the female chargers

crg's picture
crg's picture
crg Tuesday, 14 Mar 2017 at 10:09am

Also remember ASL I think did an issue of underground chargers where they went around Aus and compiled a list of local legends complete with photos and a short interview.
One of my favourite ever surf mag reads.

PCS PeterPan's picture
PCS PeterPan's picture
PCS PeterPan Tuesday, 14 Mar 2017 at 11:15am

Absolute GOLD !!!
Thanks Swellnet for such a down to earth , real world story . Judging from the above comments , most readers like this sort of storyline . Good to see average punters get a bit of
WEll done STU and hats off to you Scott , Keep pullin in son.