Nat Young speaks about the Church of the Open Sky

Stu Nettle
Swellnet Dispatch

It's been twenty years since Nat Young released 'Nat's Nat and That's That', one of the great surf books from one of the great surfers. These days we more often hear about his sons, yet for four decades Nat was an enormous presence in Australian surfing.

Comprehensive though it was, 'Nat's Nat' wasn't exhaustive, there were many more stories waiting to be told, and while recovering from surgery Nat busied himself crafting those tales.

The result is 'Church of the Open Sky' a book that Nat says is an extension of his autobiography yet feels altogether different in execution. The chapters aren't chronological, but rather they jump around, each is its own story, included to complete a history that Nat sees as fragmentary and, in some cases, incorrect.

Nat recently spoke to Swellnet about the book and its contents.

Swellnet: Your autobiography 'Nat's Nat and That's That' was a comprehensive book. How is 'Church of the Open Sky' different?
Nat: Well, it's an extension of it really. I mean, I was hung up with a knee replacement two years ago, and after the surgery, which was based on Tom Carroll's successful knee replacement, I was in bed and doing the rehab, and I just wasn't very good about it. I've never been very good sitting around and doing nothing, so I started to write again. 

I had all the notes, and I just kept working on them and got them up to where it actually looked like a few chapters. Then Bryce bought down some diaries from the farm, cause I've kept diaries from when I was 16. That's how 'Nat's Nat' was written too, so I just used the diaries - got the dates and facts together - to construct the stories.

Yet you've not necessarily written about events that happened after 1998, when 'Nat's Nat' was published. There are stories from earlier than that.
Yeah, there's a chapter called, The Real Miki. I was a bit disillusioned that people that had done all these stories about Miki Dora, yet none of them talked about what a great friend he was. And he was a really good friend of mine, so I really wanted to tell the stories of what it was like to have somebody like that as a really close friend. 

We travelled in Afghanistan, and Nepal, and Pakistan in the early 70s together, and among other things I wanted to tell those stories.

What did you think of David Renson's bio on Miki?
I thought it was good. I'm not saying that there haven't been some great things written on Miki, all I'm doing is writing about a guy that was a close friend, you know. We did a lot of travelling together, and a lot of surfing, and I travelled on airline tickets that he had forged. It was pretty great to have someone like that as a mate. He was very, very loyal to his friends.

As a young Australian you would've been a bit green, considering Miki's worldly ways.
Oh, totally. Really, I didn't have a clue. At that first Duke contest - which I wrote about in 'Nat's Nat' - we got put into the same room because he was billetted there too. We went out to the Royal Hawaiian and he was just bizarre. He was already a hero 'cause he was Miki Dora, but when he took me out for a drink....well, he turned me on to his world. We had more fun with that then we did at the Duke contest. I didn't really relate to the contest as well. I just hung out with Miki, and from there it just went from one step to another.

I went to California, and my first wife and I stayed with him. He had to load us in through the garage, and he had bars on all the windows and bear traps on the inside. One night, my wife put her hand under the pillow and she felt a gun. This is just the sort of stuff that he kept around. He was a bizarre character. It's things like that, those sort of stories, that are the reason for writing the book.

I see my obligation as being a bit of a historian. Someone that can tell stories about the way it was because I was there back then and I'm still surfing now. You know, some of those people just don't surf anymore so all they do is sit around and bullshit. Well I don't have any need to do that. I know where my head's at with this whole thing.

Nat carving not far from home (Chris Hewgill - Hewysurf)

Just as you you write about Miki, Midget was another person who loomed large in your life, although he wasn't always an ally.
At the end of that chapter I say it's the last time I'm ever going to ever talk about Midget, which is true. The problem, I believe, was that he was insanely jealous. I don't believe there's anything that I ever wrote or said that was derogatory towards Midget, it was all on the other foot. He was the one who felt this way.

He once made the classic line, he said, "I really like being your enemy". It was while I was editing 'The History of Australian Surfing' in Sydney and I flew the seaplane home to get around the traffic. My wife picked me up, we drove up to Palm Beach and Midget was the only other car in the carpark there. I decided it was time to try to clear the air, so I tried to engage in conversation, and I said, "Look can we have dinner and talk about this?"

I'll never forget that reply 'cause no one's ever said anything like it. I just went, "Okay". I turned around and 'cause we were parked really close my wife heard it. I got in the car and we said, "Well, what do we do? That's it, we tried". That's all you can ever do, isn't it? 

He was a very strange, complex character. It may have been the English background, possibly, the whole migrant problem, being told that you're a star, that you're fantastic, and then somebody else virtually replacing you who had better Australian credentials then what he had.

In the end I really, genuinely, don't know, or don't understand it.

So why write it?
What I wanted to do was just present the facts, and then everyone can say, "Okay fine, I think Nat's full of shit", or, "I think what he's saying sounds reasonable". And I reckon it's probably going to be a well-received chapter, but I think there'll be people that are going to be feeling a certain way about me or the chapter, and other people that are going to go, "Well, now we understand".

Earlier you mentioned your role as a historian, that it's your job to tell these stories. It used to be that surf magazines would tell our stories but that doesn't happen as much anymore for obvious reasons, and social media is immediate, it can't illuminate the past. It falls upon authors such as yourself to tell these stories because we really do need them.
Yeah, I think so too. I've had this discussion with many people in the surfing world and it's totally true. As we all know, with magazines you have to be an incredibly wealthy philanthropist to support it, or you have to be able to write books about it - which is my position. I've done six books now, and they've done well. 'Nat's Nat' sold 84,000 copies, 'Surfing Fundamentals' sold even more. But all of these things are great projects, even though 'Surf Rage' probably only sold 10,000 because people didn't want to know about that! There's some contradictions in there, the localism thing. That was okay with me.

Like you said, it's a great thing to be able to tell these stories because people really do need to know about our culture. It's the essence of my work. I really think we've got to know the stories of our elders, like Kevin Platt for example.

Go on.
Kevin was a great guy. He was also on my first trip to Hawaii with Midget Farrelly. He was Midget's best friend and his Mum was the first person to make boardshorts in Australia.

Indeed, Platts.
Yet so many people don't know this sort of stuff! They all think it's fucking Quiksilver or Billabong, they were ten years behind Jean Platt. Platts were way in front.

Kevin was on a trip to Angourie, the first trip to Angourie in 1962, with Bob Evans, Bobby Brown, and myself. Part of that story is in the book, so Angourie comes into one of the stories but I don't obviously push it too much. There are lots of great people that shouldn't be forgotten in Australian surfing.

And the losses, like Bobby Brown for example, are just tragic. That's cultural too. That would never probably happen in Europe for instance.

Sorry, what wouldn't happen Nat?
Well, that someone could be in a pub and get into a confrontation over whose 20 cents is on the end of the pool table that ends with a smashed beer glass in the jugular [in 1967, Bobby Brown was killed in a barfight at the Taren Point Hotel, near Cronulla]. 

To my mind it's incomprehensible. That side of Australian culture is one of the reasons I haven't gone near hotels in forever, even though there was a time where I had a sponsorship through Bundaberg Rum. I'd have to take a case of that shit to bloody hotels and get them all drunk, you know.

I know what our culture is, and I really think it's a terrible thing about Australia. I'm afraid I see it as part of our Australian identity.

'Church of the Open Sky' is the title of your book. That's a Tom Blake saying, correct?
Yeah, Tom Blake was the first person that actually said that phrase to me, but it was subtitled, Nature Equals God.

Tom was very philosophical about the way surfing should be perceived. In saying that, he put on the first surfing contest in America, yet after a few years he realised surfing contests were a complete misnomer, and that's when he got into the whole thing with Nature Equals God. He developed a whole understanding of life based upon surfing, describing what an incredible, personal pursuit it can be.

Tom was a great guy. He wrote me letters and as a mentor in surfing....well, you couldn't have anybody better really.

You were a successful competitor, but then you also had the quote: "When they asked us what is surfing, I wish I said that it's a spiritual activity, and not just a sport, cause that's what put us on the wrong track". 
Yeah, you got to be careful when you're being dogmatic about things like that. You've got to make up your own mind, you know. I think you'll find that most surfers around the world understand that. You've got the gist of what I'm on about there.

I dedicate the book to Tom. In fact this is the second book that I've dedicated to him, which says something in itself. There are so many people in this book that have been important to me, but Tom more personally.

'Church of the Open Sky' is published by Penguin and is available online.

Comments

memlasurf's picture
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memlasurf commented Friday, 30 Aug 2019 at 2:00pm

Sounds interesting Stu however I think Nat is well and truly stuck in the past re' pubs at least in the major towns and cities. That side of Oz culture seems to have vanished and it really finished up as a dominant element by the 80's. All the Anglo younger generations now a talking about cocktails, mixed drinks, quality wine and craft beer - and if you are a rich footy player, cocaine, even Ganga is seen as passé. The Chinese females don't indulge at all and the Indians are pretty light on as well. Non of them hang out at pubs, and wine bars and breweries have proliferated. I really don't think he knows what our culture is today (doesn't he live in the States?). It is so diverse from what it was in the 1960's and the population has more than doubled from that time, it really is a different world.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Friday, 30 Aug 2019 at 2:05pm

It was strange.

Does he think bar fights only happen in Australia?

He's obviously never been to America then, or hung around outside closing time in English pubs.

peterb's picture
peterb's picture
peterb commented Friday, 30 Aug 2019 at 2:53pm

aye to that ..

willibutler's picture
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willibutler commented Saturday, 31 Aug 2019 at 12:41am

Think he lives in angourie now adays

murphy-s-law's picture
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murphy-s-law commented Friday, 30 Aug 2019 at 8:27pm

I think you hit the nail on the head there mem.
Who the hell is going to smash a $10 pint of craft beer over another hipsters head whilst arguing over twinnies and asyms?
Nobody.
T-shirsts cost $100, and ripped jeans even more.

larry.lynch's picture
larry.lynch's picture
larry.lynch commented Sunday, 1 Sep 2019 at 8:11am

It sure has changed. But Nat grew up in that 60s Australia pub scene, where one of his best mates (Bobby Brown) was murdered. I think that would have an effect on anyone? I am sure he saw some gnarly fights and things back then too. Totally understandable he is not a fan of pub life thereafter. He is very well traveled is Nat Young.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Friday, 30 Aug 2019 at 2:03pm

"At the end of that chapter I say it's the last time I'm ever going to ever talk about Midget, which is true. The problem, I believe, was that he was insanely jealous."

Absolutely classic Nat Young quote.

glassworks.san-elanda's picture
glassworks.san-elanda's picture
glassworks.san-... commented Saturday, 31 Aug 2019 at 9:01pm

You think that ego freak
is classic-- get all your facts straight about midget before you blow your horn

andrew-pitt's picture
andrew-pitt's picture
andrew-pitt commented Friday, 30 Aug 2019 at 2:08pm

Church, culture, history, elders - these are new themes for surf writing - yes, i will buy this book just for a look see.
Published by Penguin, i will check with my bro's at Australia's largest distributor of surf books https://renniks.com/product-category/books-publications/surf-books

andrew-pitt's picture
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andrew-pitt commented Friday, 30 Aug 2019 at 2:09pm

no, they are not stocking it.... yet

justin-meleo's picture
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justin-meleo commented Friday, 30 Aug 2019 at 5:38pm

Make sure you let us know when Beaky!

lives in hope's picture
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lives in hope commented Saturday, 7 Sep 2019 at 10:00am

listened to thats nat and thats that on audio last month, like anything its one mans version of his life and how he sees everyone and everything else. I enjoyed it. If you fall asleep after reading 3 pages or clock up a few k's in the ute for work like me make like the new generation and download and listen to it as an audiobook. 6 hours long, beats listening to the news on repeat

peterb's picture
peterb's picture
peterb commented Friday, 30 Aug 2019 at 2:28pm

"Only" ten thousand copies ... will that bloke ever submit to modesty, ever?

memlasurf's picture
memlasurf's picture
memlasurf commented Friday, 30 Aug 2019 at 3:01pm

Never met the guy however he has the rep of a person with an indomitable ego

peterb's picture
peterb's picture
peterb commented Friday, 30 Aug 2019 at 3:17pm

I remember a gent dominating him down Yamba way some years back, then, a couple of weeks later I was walking through the Cathay Pacific 1st class lounge at HK airport (not every surfer is a mug) and saw his unmistakable head on the cover of Vogue magazine. Full pose - all that wavy hair, those flinty eyes, that firm jaw, and a cashmere scarf wrapped loosely around his neck.
How we laughed.

joesydney's picture
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joesydney commented Friday, 30 Aug 2019 at 10:09pm

Nah definitely a mug when you feel the need to mention it was the first class lounge........

the-spleen_2's picture
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the-spleen_2 commented Friday, 30 Aug 2019 at 3:26pm

"That my friend is the California Wind Test and today is your lucky day."
Epic chapter from his first book.

lives in hope's picture
lives in hope's picture
lives in hope commented Saturday, 7 Sep 2019 at 10:01am

hahaha lucky escape and what a nice cop

chewgill's picture
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chewgill commented Friday, 30 Aug 2019 at 3:44pm

Had the luck to take this shot of Nat on a classic day at a certain point break up north, timelessly carving up the place at 71yrs of age..Hewysurf Photography

hewy

bipola's picture
bipola's picture
bipola commented Friday, 30 Aug 2019 at 5:04pm

what size board was he riding in the photo

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo commented Friday, 30 Aug 2019 at 5:10pm

7:3 Assym - Shaped by Ryan Burch

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Friday, 30 Aug 2019 at 4:09pm

he might have an ego the size of Texas but no-one can take that surfing style away from him.

stunet's picture
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stunet commented Friday, 30 Aug 2019 at 4:15pm

There's a couple of waves he rides at Lennox in Steve Core's 'In Natural Flow' that really stand out, just flawlessly manhandled.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Friday, 30 Aug 2019 at 4:25pm

I'm sure this will not make the book but in the July 2001 as big as it gets as good as it gets swell Nat was out there (Lennox) on a pretty short board and got nothing.
he wasn't the only legend humbled.

btw, the shot at old legends who don't surf but sit around and bullshitt all day was also classic Nat.

Ash's picture
Ash's picture
Ash commented Friday, 30 Aug 2019 at 4:58pm

He's 71 and carving like that? I haven't had a decent wave this winter and have been a little down on myself at turning 60, getting old and blah, blah, blah. That's made my day, and re-enforced the value of not giving yourself excuses to feel your age and just be happy to surf.

bipola's picture
bipola's picture
bipola commented Friday, 30 Aug 2019 at 5:09pm

I still remember Bobby Browns death it was a real shock.
I am getting old now 68. but still try to surf everyday. and train lifting small weights.
people ask me why I train and I say so I can still rip. I am still good for an 1 hour out there.

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Friday, 30 Aug 2019 at 5:13pm

Good on ya , Bipola.

Hope you get some good ones.

simba's picture
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simba commented Friday, 30 Aug 2019 at 5:29pm

Sitting out at angas chewing the fat early one morning when Nat notices all these blowins coming out...........'Where the fuk are these guys coming from'.......well they were staying at his units....that he advertised on every holiday show on t.v....

simba

Blowin's picture
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Blowin commented Friday, 30 Aug 2019 at 5:38pm

Yep. I shared small Angourie with just him and his daughter. He whinged the whole time.

His daughter was nice.

dandob's picture
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dandob commented Friday, 30 Aug 2019 at 7:25pm

I was teaching my kids to surf on mals at a really soft point break near home, super chilled vibe, just me my kids and a mate and his brood. Kids were loving it getting some of there first open faced waves. Nat paddles out on a big 12fter, no nods, no smiles for the kids, head down no acknowledgement of anyone and proceeds to catch as many waves as he can, just doing laps, paddling past everyone everytime. My mate said to him something along the lines of " haven't you had enough waves in your life that you could share some with the kids" and he bristled up. Fair dinkum totally killed the experience for all with his selfishness.

velocityjohnno's picture
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velocityjohnno commented Friday, 30 Aug 2019 at 9:48pm

I don't always use a 12 footer, but when I do, I do it for the children

goofyfoot's picture
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goofyfoot commented Friday, 30 Aug 2019 at 8:02pm

Does anyone like this guy?

NDC's picture
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NDC commented Friday, 30 Aug 2019 at 8:26pm

‘fraid I have to chime in on the side of many folks who find him 100% tied up with his own ego

... plenty of humble people, who have the longevity to be the elders, historians and storytellers of our community. I’ll enjoy their books and pass on the ministry of Nat, by Nat n that’s that

DBEARINDARE's picture
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DBEARINDARE commented Friday, 30 Aug 2019 at 10:11pm

There is a reason Nat got the snot punched out of him. And it can vary every time he speaks it seems.

freerider.'s picture
freerider.'s picture
freerider. commented Saturday, 31 Aug 2019 at 7:32pm

It was a little (a lot) more than just getting the snot punched out of him.
Always thought Wayne Lynch was way way ahead and more radical than Young, Lynch never seemed like he sought out the attention either. Lynch was cool.......

willibutler's picture
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willibutler commented Saturday, 31 Aug 2019 at 12:53am

I got to surf with Nat about a month ago at angourie and without knowing much about his history and who he was. In the water everyone seemed to respect him highly and he was nice enough to be talking to everyone out there. He also was telling great stories. And he gave me a couple of sets waves so that was a plus. On top of this he rips and in particular I remember one wave where he took off way deeper than most air dropped straight into the barrel everyone thought he would’ve fallen off looking from behind and he popped up over the over the shoulder and everyone starting hooting and clapping, pretty impressive for a 70 year old!! His son has to be considered one of the best surfers in the world aswel who was also charging all the local slabs in the area. Can’t wait for his tour to vicco to find out more about him

Supafreak's picture
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Supafreak commented Saturday, 31 Aug 2019 at 5:40am

Me and two mates doing a road trip traveling down from tweed byron area in 1988 paddled out at sun up to 6’-8’ with bigger bombs the best Angourie l have seen. There were two blokes out Baddy ( R.I.P.) and nat , there were 6 waves in a set and really consistent. Baddy said hello and nat told us to fuck off and go back to where we came from lol we wrote him off for the arrogant dickhead he is and had a great surf , after we went back to baddy house at spookies and pulled a few cones laughing about nat . I also witnessed him at Ulu’s in late 80’s dropping in on everyone when 8’-10’ and 6 guys out . The guy is a dead set knob jockey.

backyard's picture
backyard's picture
backyard commented Saturday, 31 Aug 2019 at 7:56am

I'm glad to see there is no need to mention his character, as everybody seams to be on it. I will comment on him referring to himself as a historian - to be within a history does not make you a historian, perhaps he should have read Herodotus before he began. As for speaking ill of the dead, it just sounds like a bitter muttering that you would hear from an old drunk along a bar, anywhere in the world.

backyard

Elliedog's picture
Elliedog's picture
Elliedog commented Saturday, 31 Aug 2019 at 8:03am

Ah Nat.... stirring things up once again!!!!. Talk about mileage .... he knows how to milk it. Incredible life really.

Luba

TK's picture
TK's picture
TK commented Saturday, 31 Aug 2019 at 8:35am

A few years back a teacher from a small Queensland country school asked if I knew a surf coach who could give her class a free lesson.
The bush kids' families were doing it tough during a long drought and had no money for a much-needed holiday.
A Gold Coast coach agreed to spend an afternoon with the kids at Hastings Point. The bush teacher had also contacted Nat Young with the same request, which I wasn't aware of at the time.
When we rocked up at the Peninsula St carpark, Nat was already there waxing up his boards, and my coaching mate gave me a WTF look. He more or less said: "The ego has landed, I won't get a word in."
But the alpha antics didn't happen.
Nat had driven up from Angourie about two hours away, blended into the happy scene and graciously gave his time to the kids without any fanfare.
While my coaching mate went through the usual beginner ritual (beach instructions first, then into the whitewater), Nat cut to the wave chase and took a few bored kids out on his mal straight away.
Most of them were able to stand up near the nose after a couple of goes, while Nat steadied the board, lying at the back.
Boredom begone!
They had no idea who Nat was, but their reactions while riding a wave instead of a horse promised life-long memories.
Onya Nat! You made their day.

peterb's picture
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peterb commented Saturday, 31 Aug 2019 at 8:41am

Back in the day when TC and Potts and the rest of that irregular crew used to drink and play pool at Whalebeach, somebody began to roll a movie on the wall featuring Young.
It didn’t go down well and the vociferations became so intense they pulled it to everyone’s great delight.
There was another time, about fifty plus years ago when he lived at Collaroy. I happened to catch a wave first, in front of his house, on the inside, only to have Young paddle on and sweep around in a cutback, taking me out with his elbow.

How he laughed.

simba's picture
simba's picture
simba commented Saturday, 31 Aug 2019 at 9:12am

Shame about Nat as the 'Tribe' as he called us, who lived for surfing, really wanted to respect him not only as a surfer but as someone who could be the spokesman for what surfing was back in the 70s 80s and 90s ,but you cant repect total arrogance and hence the beating he got.

simba

PCS PeterPan's picture
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PCS PeterPan commented Saturday, 31 Aug 2019 at 11:09am

Lots of people know how arrogant I am . Feck , some days , even I can't stand myself .
Nat isn't the only surfer of note who burns other less skilled surfers . Most of us have done it. I'm sure he has even coaxed the odd fellow surfer into the odd wave .
Back in my youth , Nat would offer advice on my shaping , and never in a condescending way , always efficient and on point.

Terminal's picture
Terminal's picture
Terminal commented Saturday, 31 Aug 2019 at 12:11pm

Pardon my ignorance, but isn't church of the open sky something to do with Nathan Oldfield?

stunet's picture
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stunet commented Saturday, 31 Aug 2019 at 12:51pm

Nah, it's from a 1969 Tom Blake essay 'Voice of the Wave'. Been used a few times since.

larry.lynch's picture
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larry.lynch commented Sunday, 1 Sep 2019 at 8:16am

Tom Blake coined the phrase in the 1960s 'Church Of The Open Sky' in his essay 'Voice Of The Atom', it was published in his book 'Uncommon Journey of a Pioneer Waterman' and has been used by surfers, film makers etc thereafter. But the phrase was 100% Mr TOM BLAKE and is now on Nat's book and Nathan's film too.

MOre on Tom Blake's Church Of The Open Sky here, http://www.integralworld.net/lane112.html

Terminal's picture
Terminal's picture
Terminal commented Sunday, 1 Sep 2019 at 10:23am

Thanks for the background Larry and Stu (and the link)

P'tai's picture
P'tai's picture
P'tai commented Saturday, 31 Aug 2019 at 12:51pm

Yes, it is Nathan's beautifully shot movie.

crg's picture
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crg commented Saturday, 31 Aug 2019 at 1:55pm

I go to Angourie about 5-6 times a year and stay with a 2nd generation family who I've been friends with for thirty years. Nat has never said a word of hello or conversation with me even though he knows where I stay and who with. He always has time to chat to my wife on the beach when I'm surfing but never says a word when I'm on the beach with her.
Still rips but a cockhead in my book.

I'm not cheap,
But I'm free.

Blowin's picture
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Blowin commented Saturday, 31 Aug 2019 at 2:10pm

There was once a famous surfer who “coauthored” a surfing atlas with another fella. The other fella did all of the work and the famous surfer had his name on the cover.

I ran into the other fella last year and had a bit of a chat. Apparently the famous surfer never payed him for writing the book.

Still hadn’t payed him decades later.

Just thought I’d mention it while we are talking about the history of surfing , the relationships formed through it and the importance of its spirituality in our lives.

peterb's picture
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peterb commented Saturday, 31 Aug 2019 at 3:33pm

Bob Cooper was the first surfer I ever saw pick up someone else's carpark rubbish and put it in the bin. Every now and then Bob McT strolls over for a chat when we're both eating sushi up at Federal, Dooma gave me a massive grin after I washed shore at Warriewood after being belted by the biggest barrel I've ever attempted, Mick Dooley never forgets an old friend, Midget didn't mind sharing a joke on the headland overlooking Arawarra, Bonzer Bob stills laughs about being near castrated by his fin the day he decided to ride his board upside down, Kevin Brennan wished me luck when I sat for the Leaving Certificate, Corky Carroll sold me one of his old boards at mates rates, Ray Young flew one of his own balsa boards up to the goldie when mine wasn't ready ...
We are, all of us, historians in our way.

freerider.'s picture
freerider.'s picture
freerider. commented Saturday, 31 Aug 2019 at 7:05pm

.....

Bob Hawke Surf Team's picture
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Bob Hawke Surf Team commented Saturday, 31 Aug 2019 at 7:05pm

Boutique beer? $100 T shirts? Designer Ripped Jeans? Internet Profiles?
No wonder our generation sits around lamenting on wtf has happened to surf culture. Just surf and shut the f**k up!

bobhawkesurfteam

DBEARINDARE's picture
DBEARINDARE's picture
DBEARINDARE commented Saturday, 31 Aug 2019 at 10:30pm

Does shut the f**k up mean, no writing books too?

If so. Then tell N.Y to shut the f**k up.
See how that goes for ya!

Bob Hawke Surf Team's picture
Bob Hawke Surf Team's picture
Bob Hawke Surf Team commented Sunday, 1 Sep 2019 at 12:08am

...pretty sure I just did.

bobhawkesurfteam

velocityjohnno's picture
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velocityjohnno commented Saturday, 31 Aug 2019 at 10:57pm
Terminal's picture
Terminal's picture
Terminal commented Sunday, 1 Sep 2019 at 4:08pm

.

Bob Hawke Surf Team's picture
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Bob Hawke Surf Team commented Sunday, 1 Sep 2019 at 12:34pm

How's this...Nat and McTavish even tried to usurp the thruster glory! I remember a blue thruster pin (ungainly looking thing) prominently displayed on a stand right beside the entrance to the Sky showroom in Byron a very short time after Simon's Bells win with a long rant taped to the deck about how they'd been developing it for months and it was one of if not the first...seems a definite pattern developing here. We just thought wtf is that all about? Twinnies were all over the place from late 70's and GT was absolutely tearing Broken apart on them with full carving 360's, throwing huge rooster tails and deep figure 8 cutbacks all the way back into the pocket. Put MR (true legend) to shame I thought. And while I'm having a rant Richard Cram surfing at Burleigh during the Stubbies was something else. Just so much more vertical with more board out the top of the wave than any one else. Except for maybe Doris.

bobhawkesurfteam

velocityjohnno's picture
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velocityjohnno commented Sunday, 1 Sep 2019 at 4:17pm

Doris shaped my first board. Legend. Still have the board, still goes well.

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Supafreak commented Sunday, 1 Sep 2019 at 4:26pm

Great to read someone else who witnessed GT doing carving 360s , l saw him do 3 on one wave at dbar , some people believe only KS has ever done a proper carving 360 lol , GT and Cozi were riding twin fins before MR , Reno , ST , they actually saw one for the first time in Byron and hassled Cozi for the specs , Mikey C was ahead of his time.

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Bob Hawke Surf Team commented Monday, 2 Sep 2019 at 11:58pm

Cundith's channel bottom twinnies were the late 70's surfboard version of the F22 Raptors of today. He was so far ahead of his time. Phil Myers did ok too in Ballina.

bobhawkesurfteam

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Bob Hawke Surf Team commented Sunday, 1 Sep 2019 at 12:39pm

Now I know what Midget was thinking. Wankers are such wankers.

bobhawkesurfteam

Terminal's picture
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Terminal commented Sunday, 1 Sep 2019 at 4:05pm

Not the first time GT's prowess on a twin fin has been noted here, would've been unreal to see him during that period...

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velocityjohnno commented Sunday, 1 Sep 2019 at 4:24pm

I dropped the link in there as I'm interested in proper historical process (as a trained graduate in this discipline). For someone to claim "I'm a historian..." er, no, you're not, unless you have the training and the ticket.

In his article, Midget is putting forward primary evidence - footage from March, 1967; photos of his board from mid '67 and it being surfed in the finals in November '67 - and states that he made the board in mid 1967 and that he surfed in the November finals on it (true). He also notes it gave him the time to work out the limitations of the design, which is logical; and also that a vee when shaped far forward will tend to steer the board and make it a handful. Genuine footage of the others on vee bottoms earlier than mid 1967 would be enough to challenge Midget's primary sources. So a big plus to Midget from me for structuring his argument that way.

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lawncigar commented Sunday, 1 Sep 2019 at 5:58pm

ok. he bangs on about pub culture and not being able to deal with it, but brings the same kind of vibe into the water ... gimme a break ..

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Bob Hawke Surf Team commented Sunday, 1 Sep 2019 at 6:29pm

...Nat was too stoned to go to the pub his caftan would have caught on the door.

bobhawkesurfteam

reay mcguinness's picture
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reay mcguinness commented Monday, 2 Sep 2019 at 8:33am

Nat gives his time generously to Surfaid, without fuss. Which is very much appreciated.

Old fella

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deanw12 commented Monday, 2 Sep 2019 at 11:01am

Who is GT?

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo commented Monday, 2 Sep 2019 at 11:14am

Gary Timperley
GT declined an offer to become a Bronzed Aussie

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zenagain commented Monday, 2 Sep 2019 at 12:05pm

I wish I could find it but I remember a pic of Gary Timperly taken from North Burleigh (maybe an elevated shot taken with a zoom lens), of the most perfectly insane lined up empty Burleigh, with GT so slotted.

One of those shots that's burned into my memory. Think it was in a pommy surf mag of all things.

Btw, i've never met Nat, but about a decade ago he was in my area of Japan for a day or two. Everybody said he was cool.

Watashi wa metabo oyagi desu.

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jacksprat commented Tuesday, 10 Sep 2019 at 10:23am

I believe the shot is in Mark Warren's surf atlas. Maybe an early edition.

onetimeonly

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zenagain commented Tuesday, 10 Sep 2019 at 11:07pm

Yep, i've got the book but it's not that shot, even though it's a cracker.

I'm 90% sure it was in an English surf mag and the shot I'm talking about was more pulled back. Pretty sure it would be the same session though.

If i recall the caption in Mark Warren's book goes somewhere along the lines of "Gary Timperly in a no lose situation..."

Watashi wa metabo oyagi desu.

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Blowin commented Tuesday, 10 Sep 2019 at 11:41am

Peter Crawford photo

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cycd commented Monday, 2 Sep 2019 at 4:10pm

I can also speak from personal experience that Nat Young is a dead set wanker in the water and on land... couldn't give a fuck what that egotistical fuckwit has to say at all. I was glad when he got dealt with on the beach all those years ago (my dad also beat the shit out of him in Narrabeen many many moons ago after Nat Young tested the old bull one time too many)

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larry.lynch commented Tuesday, 3 Sep 2019 at 10:40am

Interesting. I only met him once, it was at Angourie and he was super nice and gave me some waves and told me some great stories.

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cycd commented Tuesday, 3 Sep 2019 at 10:53am

You must have met him on a rare day by the sounds of the forums experiences.

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factotum commented Monday, 2 Sep 2019 at 4:15pm

One of my first boards as a kid was a gift from an uncle. A yellow Sky twinnie shaped by Gary Timperley.

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factotum commented Monday, 2 Sep 2019 at 4:28pm

My one & only Nat Young story:

The day after the Bells final one year. Absolutely cranking. All pros and locals out there. Made the mags etc. Total madhouse.

Out paddles Nat with a young long-haired blonde in a pink wetsuit (if I recall correctly) in tow. Both on mals. As they paddled past the main pack and out to sea, the ribbing was relentless, ruthless, and hilarious. Especially from the Newport contingent.

The blonde with the flowing locks was in fact a young Joel Tudor. This may give a clue as to the kind of comments that were being bandied about.

And these comments went into overdrive when the couple caught a huge wide one together and proceeded to crossover as it were.

Pretty amazing session actually. I even inadvertently burned a pro! Pauline Menczer! Sorry mate.

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nick.minor commented Monday, 2 Sep 2019 at 4:59pm

Pretty rad song inspired by Miki Dora. https://youtu.be/I94RZbAXF3Y

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theinsider commented Monday, 2 Sep 2019 at 5:35pm

I surfed with a fella this morning who told me how his Mum was intentionally run over by Nat whilst surfing at Collaroy, told to fuck off cause chicks weren't welcome and left her with a lifetime back injury. He might crave respect, but he has done precious little in his life to deserve it.

yadayadayadayada

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Blowin commented Monday, 2 Sep 2019 at 6:01pm

There’s enough stories on here for Nat to fill another book.

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Topher Rex commented Friday, 11 Oct 2019 at 3:23pm

So many blow back stories about NY here paint a sorry picture. A few years ago visiting Byron and checking out the shape at Tallows when my 14yo lad comes running over with glazed eyes coz Matt Wilkinson has just walked past and said hello to him. 14yo then follows MW out into the water just to be near him. When 14yo gets back with more glaze in his eyes describes how MW talked to him and even pulled back when paddling for a wave and called 14yo on when 14yo happened to be on the inside. Seems NY didn't learn this doesn't cost. Maybe because his ego is oversize.

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factotum commented Monday, 2 Sep 2019 at 6:38pm

Nat's a twat, and that's that?

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Bob Hawke Surf Team commented Monday, 2 Sep 2019 at 7:23pm

.

bobhawkesurfteam

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nextswell commented Monday, 2 Sep 2019 at 7:06pm

Funny the next generation of surf ‘legends’ (parko, fanning and dingo to name a few) also have questionable surf ethic. However somehow maintain their ‘legend’ status in society. A testament to the scope of f*ck wit nat must be. All the skill and surf prowess, yet so disliked.

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Shaun Hanson commented Monday, 2 Sep 2019 at 8:15pm

I remember around 1980 sometime i would of been about 10 or 12 years old mid winter tea tree noosa i was on a short board waves were slow with the odd 2 footer just me and a bloke on a mal who didnt let me get a decent wave and when i said somtehing to him he said get a mal and a wetsuit its cold and paddled around me ... ! And then about 3or 4 yrs ago i was sitting wide out the back on a good clean east swell at angas with the same bloke rest of the mob where up on the inside a bit when a good one came my way he padlled around me and went and so did i when i paddled back he wasnt happy but i fkn was

Pastmypeak

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Jackh commented Tuesday, 3 Sep 2019 at 11:14am

I surfed at the point very recently and Nat was still up to his old tricks. Basically just taking off on any wave he wanted, blatantly just dropping in on folks and fading them like they didn't exist.... I did see him go over the falls a couple of times and also have to knee board some of the waves....however I do tip my hat to him for still being out there at 71 and still getting some nice waves. I just wish as an elder statesmen he could show some humility and show the younger generation a better way of conducting yourself in the water....

Another time i was out there and Nat's youngest son Bryce Young was in the water. This is the guy who portrays himself as the peace loving free wheeling spirit in the surf media and here he is the most aggressive guy in the water. Him and his mate were basically taking every wave on offer, and after he would get the best waves of the set he would charge back up the point as fast as he could, straight to the inside and take the first wave in the next set, many times not even stopping to paddle -- just complete arrogance as if nobody else existed. And you would think after he caught one of these set waves he would paddle back out with a big grin on his face...no, he would paddle back out with a scowl on his face giving everybody the stink eye....unbelievable. Have not watched one of his video's since! I can't believe that the locals let him get away with it as he was burning them as well. I guess it runs in the genes.....

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ringmaster commented Tuesday, 3 Sep 2019 at 11:33am

'I can't believe that the locals let him get away with it as he was burning them as well.'

Pretty basic really. Someone tests the limits, doesn't get a negative reaction so it's standard human (or animal) behaviour to continue on in the same vein over and over again. Over 4 decades of surfing I've never even seen Nat Young so I'm not qualified to have an opinion on him.

What I'd put money on though, is if that bloke who pounded the shit out of him a few years ago was sharing a line up with old Nat again, the old boy wouldn't even look at a wave he was on.

No use whining on the internet. If some cunt takes the sort of liberty's described above then address it at the time or shut the fuck up.

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Vic Local commented Tuesday, 3 Sep 2019 at 11:39am

While staying up in Angourie a dog rocked up to our accommodation by itself. The collar had an address on it so I returned the hound to its home. Knocked on the door and handed the dog back to Nat.
No thanks, just a grunt like I'd delivered a turd instead of his hound.

"angry online, smiley in the brine"

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goofyfoot commented Tuesday, 3 Sep 2019 at 12:21pm

I’ve never seen one guy get so shitcanned by so many people before! Never met him myself

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Blowin commented Tuesday, 3 Sep 2019 at 12:45pm

Now you know why his biographies are autobiographical.

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Bob Hawke Surf Team commented Tuesday, 3 Sep 2019 at 6:29pm

That's quite witty...

bobhawkesurfteam

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ojackojacko commented Wednesday, 4 Sep 2019 at 12:52am

hey goofy - check the thread on mark thomson after he assaulted jodie cooper

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peterb commented Tuesday, 3 Sep 2019 at 2:03pm

Only some surfers know the feeling.

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velocityjohnno commented Tuesday, 3 Sep 2019 at 8:12pm

.

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Island Bay commented Tuesday, 3 Sep 2019 at 3:19pm

He has a point about the drinking culture, but it's an Anglo thing, not just Aussie.

Poms, Scots, Kiwis, Aussies all drink till they're fcuken blotto, and then get dumb and aggressive. Seldom seen in France, Italy, Spain etc.

But he still sounds like a knob...

Blowin's picture
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Blowin commented Tuesday, 3 Sep 2019 at 3:31pm

An Anglo thing ?

Not sure how you can live in New Zealand and not be aware of the Maori drinking culture ?

velocityjohnno's picture
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velocityjohnno commented Tuesday, 3 Sep 2019 at 8:16pm

One fine example was two young Irish fellows, pissed as newts, who decided to do commentary of a tennis game I was playing, quite entertaining

anyway drinking is for amateurs:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GmXGVDnPU9o

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Island Bay commented Wednesday, 4 Sep 2019 at 5:21am

NZ is an Anglo culture. Our drinking 'culture' certainly is. But yeah, everybody here drinks.

freeride76's picture
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freeride76 commented Tuesday, 3 Sep 2019 at 7:37pm

and Americans.

Japanese love getting shitfaced too, on any night of the week.

they usually don't get aggro though, just fall over.

Phillipinos love getting hammered. In the south they drink rum, in the north, gin.

velocityjohnno's picture
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velocityjohnno commented Tuesday, 3 Sep 2019 at 8:09pm

Have heard the finns are pretty hardcore too, it must be tough with all that endless night stuff, so go reach for the vodka

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maddogmorley commented Tuesday, 3 Sep 2019 at 9:25pm

Don't forget the Koreans and their soju! Same as Japanese - don't get aggro - just fall over.

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tonks commented Tuesday, 3 Sep 2019 at 11:17pm

Nats nickname is the” Animal”, he surfs like 1.Saw him surfing in the movie, Morning of the Earth,he was unreal.Would love to meet him ,he’s is a true legend of the sport & tells some great yarns!

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Spuddups commented Wednesday, 4 Sep 2019 at 2:01pm

It must have been difficult for the guys who were surfing in the early 60's before surfing really blew up. Most of them just carried on, but others seemed like they couldn't deal with the bitterness they felt about "their" spots becoming crowded. I've come across a few in the latter category over the years. They're usually not very pleasant to surf with, and generally make every session they're surfing miserable for everyone including themselves.
I think you guys know what I'm talking about...

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peterb commented Wednesday, 4 Sep 2019 at 6:10pm

There's no place for a cranky old man in good waves ... he's had thousands, the young kids out there are just starting their collection. A man has to know when to stay ashore.

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Spuddups commented Wednesday, 4 Sep 2019 at 5:49pm

I have a mate that I surf with when I'm down in Dunedin. He's 76 I think and surfs nearly every day. He's one of those guys that when he paddles out there's always a good vibe. Always enthusiastic, sharing the waves, hooting etc. People are always stoked to see him. So basically if you're old it doesn't mean you have to be a grumpy cunt. But yeah, I agree with you, people that are old and grumpy would probably be better off sitting on the beach.

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maddogmorley commented Wednesday, 4 Sep 2019 at 5:57pm

Good call Spuddups

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stunet commented Thursday, 5 Sep 2019 at 8:58am

Bloke down my way, now aged in his seventies, goes by the name of 'Midnight', a nickname acquired when he was a kid bragging about surfing the point back in the days when admission was by invitation only. One of the then old boys piped up and asked derisively, "When do you surf the point, midnight?"

And just like that he copped a lifelong nickname.

Middy's whole domestic life can be triangulated around the point: born in a house at Thirroul overlooking the point from the north, then his parents acquired one of the first housing commission homes in '53, and he now lives in a house that backs onto the old rifle range on the south side of the point.

He told me recently how his surfing ability is deteriorating and as it does a pattern from his youth is reversing. He recalls being a young kid hanging down towards the boatsheds, then building up the courage to move up to the Ledge, then Third Peg, then back boils when they were on. Now with age he's slowly backpedalling down the point, hitting the same markers but in reverse.

He laughed about it, took it in good humour, but he also said there's a lot of new faces in the water and they don't give him a shot anymore, and it made me realise how it's incumbent on the surfers who know local history to word up those who don't.

They're not all like Nat.

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Island Bay commented Thursday, 5 Sep 2019 at 9:19am

Good story, Stu.
I hope someone does pipe up and make sure Middy gets his waves.

And Spud, go the Good Vibes guys. Man, it makes a difference, doesn't it. And good riddance to the GCs.

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jacksprat commented Thursday, 5 Sep 2019 at 10:11am

Just thought I'd add a different perspective. I'm a life long surfer and was lucky enough to surf during the late 60's to mid 70's. Surfed perfect Angourie with and friend and his father, uncrowded Lennox, empty Currumbin (before the groynes) in '73. Then into the 80's and 90's on the North Coast points and empty Seal Rocks for years (my wife's parents owned a house there). Moved to another city and surfed virtually alone for 10 years or so after that. But I was getting slower, less keen. And the crowds were growing; I could feel them like a cold breath on the back of my neck. And I found myself becoming that snarky, bitter old guy. So I walked away. Sold all my boards. Do I miss it - sometimes. I have other interests now I would have never pursued if I had been always looking for surf. The moral to this story. None. Life's short. Be nice. It's just play - use perspective as required. Enjoy.

onetimeonly

crg's picture
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crg commented Thursday, 5 Sep 2019 at 12:56pm

I think change is a great motivator in keeping the stoke alive.
I grew up on the Goldie, a product of that "dog eat dog" environment in the water. A couple of early Indo trips as a grom with my first shaper opened my eyes to a bigger picture but didn't create any awareness of my attitude in the water. A road trip around the bottom of Aus and up to Gnarloo and back surely did though.
Humbled would be the best word.
Moving to Byron as a base whilst travelling the globe in search of waves for twenty years you have to start again, learn the different spots, conditions, secrets etc. Earn your spot in the pecking order.
And now starting again on the MNC last year, same process, same enjoyment of the new journey.
Replacing entitlement with gratitude.
Humbled to still be alive and part of the ocean.

I'm not cheap,
But I'm free.

Spuddups's picture
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Spuddups commented Saturday, 7 Sep 2019 at 6:21am

You have a got a good attitude.

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DaveM commented Friday, 6 Sep 2019 at 1:35pm

The title of this is sooo cheeeeezy! ...Why doesnt he call it Drum Circle of the Open Sky, instead of bitting like a wanna be rap artist off people with actual beliefs...and, since when is the sky open? Is he saying that its open to aliens or what, similarly to kelly slaters outer known? and to put a fine point on it, what the F does an open sky have to do with surfing? nothing!!

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Blowin commented Friday, 6 Sep 2019 at 1:56pm

Digression- Has anyone ever bought an Outerknown product or known of anyone that has ? Are they in surf shops ?

$US 300 ( $AUD 450.14 ) flanno ....

lostdoggy's picture
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lostdoggy commented Friday, 6 Sep 2019 at 1:58pm

There was a sale 2-3 years ago where a lot of items were about 10% of the RRP and I almost bought some stuff.
Reasonable value at 90% off, otherwise, yeh nah

Blowin's picture
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Blowin commented Friday, 6 Sep 2019 at 2:33pm

That’s still a $45 flanno.

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peterb commented Friday, 6 Sep 2019 at 4:23pm

I’ll be in Lismore tomorrow, $8:50 per pair.

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Jono commented Friday, 6 Sep 2019 at 4:33pm

Outerknown has nothing on John Malkovich's online store, exhibit A: 
https://www.johnmalkovich.com/springsummer-shop/scott-edgar-bermuda-2

Seems to be a 50% sale at the moment making the prices a bit more realistic. But have a click around the shop, some great fashion on there.

Blowin's picture
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Blowin commented Friday, 6 Sep 2019 at 5:52pm

Jesus Christ.

mr mick's picture
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mr mick commented Friday, 6 Sep 2019 at 6:34pm

HAHA fuck that....... seen better fashion at Vinnies ...& cheaper.....obviously!

Mr mick

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AndyM commented Friday, 6 Sep 2019 at 7:01pm
mr mick's picture
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mr mick commented Friday, 6 Sep 2019 at 7:45pm

Haha,who the fuck would wear that?!!

Mr mick

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fuhrious commented Tuesday, 10 Sep 2019 at 12:36am

Interesting

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Geenie commented Friday, 6 Sep 2019 at 2:02pm

The first wave I ever stood up on was on a board generously lent to me by Nat Young when I knocked on his door and asked if I could rent a board. It was a knee-high insider at Spooky Beach, I still remember the bluey-green water sparkling, the moss-covered rocks passing underneath and the exhilaration of the slide. Thanks Nat.

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tripper commented Monday, 9 Sep 2019 at 9:19pm

I had the privilege of skiing with Nat and his fam in Italy. They just happen to be on the same tour. Would have been 99. I had no idea how much of a legend he was as I didn’t surf at the time. Nava was a shining blonde island goddess. Bryce was a more capable grommet than most pros. It inspired me to start surfing a couple years later as a 21 year old grom after traveling the world.
Looking back, everything about him had an aura from another time

Trippin, Sippin, Surfin

Ray Shirlaw's picture
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Ray Shirlaw commented Sunday, 13 Oct 2019 at 2:23pm

"From another time"... dead right,1971. How irritating is it that all measurements,be it a Six foot(1.82m) !! wave or 18 inch (45.72cm) !! wide board must be written up with a metric conversion?!! Maybe its just the publisher,I don't know. It wasn't the case in his beautiful 1983 book, History of Surfing

saltman's picture
saltman's picture
saltman commented Monday, 14 Oct 2019 at 11:21am

Met Nat a few times - in the surf on NB's and Angas, similar experiences re drop ins attitude etc
Then was introduced to him socially by some Yamba friends
I immediately regret reading anything he writes, like the interview above - so much BS and ego. Which is Just like he is in real life

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icandig commented Monday, 14 Oct 2019 at 2:27pm

I went to his book launch on the weekend. He was entertaining enough, although I wouldn't call him a world class raconteur. Anyone that didn't know a bit of surf history might have been a bit lost. Bought the book, got a selfie....wouldn't make the effort to go and listen to him again. He probably has a bit of an ego, but who wouldn't in his position? He just basically came across as a pretty normal 72 year old surfer, albeit a very good one. He's surely had plenty of crazy life experiences and was 'on the spot' in extraordinary times.