Watch and read: Maurice Cole // The First Wave

Peter Baker
Swellnet Dispatch

I was drawn to Maurice's story because when I started surfing down the west coast of Victoria in my mid-teens, I used to go to the beach with another family and surf with their son, Geoff Allen. Geoff was my age and he had this beautiful 6’3” swallowtail shaped by Maurice under his label, Maurice Cole Soul Creations. I was in awe of it and was amped to try to persuade my parents to get me one, however one of the other parents said it wouldn't be possible to get a board from MC because he'd been put in prison, they were really sad about it and couldn't believe the harshness of the penalty he'd gotten from the judiciary, plus the added indignity of being stripped of the two Victorian titles he'd won at Bells.

It stuck with me and has always been in the back of my mind.

Later I got to meet him while making one of the Billabong Challenge movies up north in WA with Jack McCoy. I got to sit around the campfire at Gnaraloo with Maurice and play some tunes on guitar. He had a didge there as well. I got to know him a little bit and he struck me as a really interesting character. Slater and Machado were also there and brought their instruments. It was one of the most enjoyable working experiences I've ever had, and Jack's idea of bringing together eight of the best surfers in the world and taking them somewhere like that was groundbreaking and fantastic.

I moved back to Victoria a few years ago and got in contact with Maurice, having done a bit of research about his story and spent a fair bit of of time talking with him. He's a very inspiring human to be around, he has such a passion for surfing and shaping and that's what's sustained him throughout his life, as well as his love for his family. He also thinks a lot about about politics and community and he's not afraid to voice his ideas about anything. He's got a real integrity about him and it doesn't take much to ignite the fire in his belly. He calls a spade a spade (or a f’ing shovel!). He’s taken the lead on creating and preserving the Bells Surfing Reserve - the place is pretty special and sacred to him.

In the film, which is very short, I tried to concentrate on how things changed when he caught his first wave because I could identify with it and thought others would too.

Feeling like he didn't really belong anywhere until he found surfing is something I, and I think quite a few other people, can relate to. We all have challenges and obstacles and sometimes those things are ongoing. I can recall the time I first stood up on a surfboard really clearly, and the sense that this was something I'd always want to be doing, so I relate to that and am sure others do too. Maurice's story is one that I hope is as inspiring to other people as it is to me.  He's a survivor. His story is massive. He's lived a very big life with a lot of different chapters and it's not done yet, there's more to come.

MC almost goes into a trance-like state when he's shaping a board, You can see how he's fully engaged and pouring his soul into what he's doing when he's shaping, even though he's done it tens of thousands of times before. I asked him what's going on in his mind when he's shaping and he said he's thinking about the person he's shaping it for and how to make something that will work best for them in the kinds of waves they'll be riding. He often calls the person he’s making it for on the phone when he's finished to tell them what's done.

Maurice knows Bells better than probably anyone and when the CT contest is on visiting pros look to him for advice on equipment, which waves to choose, and where to sit in the lineup. He's shaped boards for world champions, boards that themselves have become famous. He’s made equipment for Tom Curren, Tom Carroll, Occy, Taj and others that gave them an edge. He's well-known, loved, respected, and he's accepted with open arms all around the world.

Just quietly, I think it’d be great if Surfing Victoria decided to re-instate him as Victorian champion for the years he won it in the 70’s.

// PETER BAKER

Comments

Rhyno76's picture
Rhyno76's picture
Rhyno76 commented Thursday, 9 Jan 2020 at 2:31pm

Here here, Aussie legend.

Ash's picture
Ash's picture
Ash commented Thursday, 9 Jan 2020 at 2:44pm

Legend
Nice clip Peter. Hopefully an inclusive book one day too. And MC I still want to plug in the Strat one day, that's got some history too.

Peter Baker's picture
Peter Baker's picture
Peter Baker commented Sunday, 12 Jan 2020 at 8:28am

Thanks mate, glad you enjoyed it.

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Thursday, 9 Jan 2020 at 3:39pm

Cool little bio of an interesting fella.

Can’t believe they haven’t reinstated those Vicco titles. That’s very uncool.

Personally, I’d particularly like to thank MC for his insights into the way suppressed emotion and stress manifest physically , which I’ve discovered during various interviews I’ve heard and read. I’m sure he shapes a mean stick , but that wisdom has been useful in my life.

Thanks.

radiationrules's picture
radiationrules's picture
radiationrules commented Thursday, 9 Jan 2020 at 4:48pm

Hi Blowin,

On the topic of "suppressed emotion and stress manifest physically", there is a now a lot of science to back that up. If your interested, one of the leading practitioners and their seminal work on the subject is:

The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma
by Bessel van der Kolk M.D

RR

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Thursday, 9 Jan 2020 at 5:31pm

Thanks RR , I’ll check it out.

brutus's picture
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brutus commented Friday, 10 Jan 2020 at 12:03pm

Blowin , suppressed emotion and stress ...which can also be blaming everyone else for any negative shit in your life . It seems to me that polarization of people's arguments and positions on issues create blame , then stress which seriously affects your physical well being , which has happened to me the last 6- 12 mths , now looking down the Mr C barrel again , blame no.....understanding and taking ownership of past behaviour , now that's the challenge ......

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Friday, 10 Jan 2020 at 1:34pm

Shit....that news isn’t great. No doubt you’ll put The C back in its box again .
The physical manifestation of stress and anger has been weighing on my mind lately. The recent fire threat here brought talk of the last fire which burnt to the verandah and cooked the places on either side.

My Father in law received word of the fire when they were up the coast a bit and drove like the wind to get back. The whole deal from go to whoa was over in less than a day. The fire sparked then spread , Father in law got word and drove hard.

So he’d spent approx 5 hours in the car freaking out as he drove like a madman , then got here to see help them put out the blaze .

Apparently, when the fire was finally out he sat down and just started shaking relentlessly. He had a couple of beers with the fire crew and he appeared to calm.

But within a few days he’d developed a tremor in his hand which never left and was finally diagnosed as Parkinson’s. In the next couple of years he went from fit as fuck....I mean really , really physically strong and unstressed....and then he had a stroke , got Ross River , the Parkinson’s and then prostate cancer.

I’ve been hearing other similar stories. A fella I met got a cray pot rope wrapped around his leg and he got dragged down into the water with it after he threw it overboard. He survived but got a hectic scar and half his hair and beard went white overnight.

Other stories similar, more acute stress which is more easily correlative with the following illness than prolonged anger/ stress which may not be associated with the resultant illness which may occur later.

Your personal story was informative and the wisdom you’d taken from it helped me learn to deal with shit.

Still trying....but it’s good to be aware as a starting point.

Cheers.

PS Would you want those Vicco titles back ? Fuck ,mate....you earned them . You ripped harder than everyone else , not much point refusing them just to spite the irrelevant bureaucracy and the clowns who denied you.

zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain commented Friday, 10 Jan 2020 at 3:23pm

I'm starting to become aware of the effects of stress and how left unchecked or managed how detrimental it can be on your personal wellbeing.

And now this is not about me but I know I come across as perfect- happy, charming, big cock, hot wife etc and for the most part that's true but the last few years have been pretty forgetful. I've been suffering probs some of the worst stress i've ever had and it's mostly financial. Some of its been my own doing and some out of my control. I went in a few short years having built my business and killing it to wondering how the fuck i was going to feed myself and my dependents. It was a combination of legal troubles and a downturn in business. The sound of the phone made me physically sick. A good day was when the letterbox was empty. My health was going backwards and because i was drinking myself stupid to try and cope, my liver was suffering.

Anyway, i've dug myself out of that hole and the future is bright. But i can tell you, some mornings when all alone pre-dawn walking the dog, i really found myself questioning why i kept on.

Dunno, hard to explain and now i have to get back to work.

1173

goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot commented Friday, 10 Jan 2020 at 3:34pm

...and big cock

garyg1412's picture
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garyg1412 commented Friday, 10 Jan 2020 at 4:13pm

Zen - been there done that due to being short changed a couple of hundred big ones on a building contract. Thing is I dug myself out of the hole as well, but once I had I only realised then how it had fucked the rest of my family up as well. And they didn't deserve it. Life's little box of chocolates hey??

I do think one comes out the other end a better person though, able to handle the curveballs better. My doc told me anxiety is worrying about shit before it happens and it's destructive I tell you what. So nowadays I just switch off to the less important problems in life, get wet now and then, and life is peachy.

brutus's picture
brutus's picture
brutus commented Friday, 10 Jan 2020 at 3:55pm

sounds like ya father in law , got a dose of PTSD , which can turn into depression , which in turn leads to your Immune system shutting down, or becomes ineffective.....as all of a sudden situations and issues that never bothered you before , stress you out , and trigger physical manifestations , such as cancer etc......

I think the lesson is choose your battles carefully , as anger is a catalyst for stress , they go hand and hand....and really create a negative reaction in your life on all levels!

I really don't give a shit about the Vic title...it's all about moving forward with the least amount of baggage as possible.......not very connected to "stuff"......or possessions .....live it LARGE....

Optimist's picture
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Optimist commented Thursday, 9 Jan 2020 at 3:52pm

Loved that, was really good to watch him surf and hear him speak. He does both very well.

NDC's picture
NDC's picture
NDC commented Thursday, 9 Jan 2020 at 3:53pm

v nice little clip...

bishmann's picture
bishmann's picture
bishmann commented Thursday, 9 Jan 2020 at 4:16pm

Great little clip that one , makes some nice looking craft as well .

Ape Anonymous's picture
Ape Anonymous's picture
Ape Anonymous commented Thursday, 9 Jan 2020 at 4:25pm

Beautiful surfing film. Surfing saves lives.

Peter Baker's picture
Peter Baker's picture
Peter Baker commented Sunday, 12 Jan 2020 at 8:30am

Cheers mate, agreed!

bipola's picture
bipola's picture
bipola commented Thursday, 9 Jan 2020 at 4:47pm

surfing seriously saves lives, it saved mine and keeps me going.

radiationrules's picture
radiationrules's picture
radiationrules commented Thursday, 9 Jan 2020 at 4:54pm

Fantasty 101 - getting THE "magic" board from Maurice Cole and riding for the rest of my live until the fibreglass seams split, through over use!!

A genuine man of great interest. thanks Peter. Come on Surfing Victoria - what are you thinking? The worlds moved on. It was possession of cannabis, now available in retail environments, in a specialised pharmacy near you!

Ash's picture
Ash's picture
Ash commented Thursday, 9 Jan 2020 at 5:01pm

Agree with re-instating MC's state titles, it would be a milestone moment both for him and Surfing Vic, we have moved on from the 70's

indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming commented Thursday, 9 Jan 2020 at 5:05pm

Nice little clip, dont always agree with everything when he post in the forums :P, but like and highly respect him, and damn FFS give the man back his tittle's it's 2020 was obviously a wrong decision.

Please Stunet give me an ignore button for Talking Turkey, Shatners Basoon, Dale Cooper, Factotum, Pupkin, and any new fake profile he decides to create.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Thursday, 9 Jan 2020 at 5:12pm

man I had some good surfs last winter on a magic 6'3" pintail protow MC made me.

SI's picture
SI's picture
SI commented Thursday, 9 Jan 2020 at 5:37pm

I agree give him back his titles. Sheesh, done for possession - nearly everyone back then had possession of something. Just have a look in the old tracks mags for captain goodvibes. It was a huge part of the surf culture especially in Vicco, I was there and saw it. I’ve got heaps of respect for Mourice - he deserves his title for sure!! I feel like it’s got a whiff of the old racism about it - like he said early on Aboriginal people were not included as persons who could vote under Australia’s constitution. It’s just a wrong that should be righted...if he surfed and won, then he won, it’s his title!

Barrelrider

simba's picture
simba's picture
simba commented Thursday, 9 Jan 2020 at 5:43pm

Second all of the above,one of surfings great characters ......yeah and return the titles that were stolen from him.

simba

zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain commented Thursday, 9 Jan 2020 at 5:47pm

No mention that he's beaten cancer- twice.

I could listen to him chat all day, especially the back stories. Man, that old bear could fill up several lives.

The big surfs i've had recently were on a MC Protow and he truly does shape a lovely board.

If SN wanted to get a change.org petition together reinstating his titles, i'd gladly sign.

1173

innatube's picture
innatube's picture
innatube commented Thursday, 9 Jan 2020 at 5:55pm

Beautiful story from Maurice and glad to hear he's managing some problems that a lot of us are probably dealing with. A nice story in SW recently about how he battled cancer for a long time and the day he discovered he was cancer free he found incurable cancer in his beloved dog, who is now buried in a magic spot overlooking Bells. Top bloke.

Ash's picture
Ash's picture
Ash commented Thursday, 9 Jan 2020 at 5:56pm

Yup, it whiffs of '70's racism and should be put right
My two Protows are exceptional with the 6'10" being an all time favorite, we've had a few intense moments in Indo together and a few surprising ones at less intense waves

Roystein's picture
Roystein's picture
Roystein commented Thursday, 9 Jan 2020 at 6:00pm

Onya Maurice
Keep living life
Thanks for the 6’8 pintail, circa early 2000s, early in my standup surfing life, got some beautiful waves on it at Kuta outer reefs
We ride a lot of boards over time and some stand out as having the magic and that one was one of them

bluediamond's picture
bluediamond's picture
bluediamond commented Thursday, 9 Jan 2020 at 6:00pm

Bloody ripping still too. Some of those top turns carving up out of the lip were sublime. The fact they haven't given him his well earned titles back is unbelievable..for someone who has contributed so much to surfing...internationally but particularly in Vicco.

ringmaster's picture
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ringmaster commented Thursday, 9 Jan 2020 at 7:42pm

I lived in Mundaka for 18 months back in the early 90's and saw M.C close up on a few occasions when it was pumping. He'd come down from France when conditions were right and get stuck right into it. One particular 6-8 ft day comes to mind when it was picture perfect and he was going ballistic. Talented, fearless surfer and low key in the water (over there) but always on the better waves.

How the fuck he was stripped of two Vic titles cause of having some hooter is totally illogical. Surely in 2020 Surfing Vic can fix that up.

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo commented Thursday, 9 Jan 2020 at 8:47pm

Cool clip
Maurice Cole Full interview - Leaf rocks the planet - Utube.

Fuck some heavy words from Reno A couple of years back..hope you two can sort that out MC..

waxyfeet's picture
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waxyfeet commented Friday, 10 Jan 2020 at 1:14pm

His interview on Surfsplendor was fantastic, if you've not listened to it, I recommend you do.

My dad's not a surfer / knows anything about it really (even though he lives in Jbay), and even he was hanging onto the words spoken while we were on a drive down the coast.

zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain commented Friday, 10 Jan 2020 at 2:57pm

It's a great interview and hard not to laugh or cry when a bloke opens up like that.

1173

stunet's picture
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stunet commented Friday, 10 Jan 2020 at 2:59pm

Fully agree.

BigZ's picture
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BigZ commented Thursday, 9 Jan 2020 at 9:24pm

We go through our lives wondering on our roll, is it that those of us that enter into the wild things are just meant to be there, there is no other explanation in this, we are nutured by the energy, we just love being bitch slapped for our efforts. Maurice if offered don't except those medals , you know, we know what you have achieved, it will only feed there egos not yours, you are pure. A qausi business entity is soulless, as is the people that align with it, don't roll over to it
p.s ordering one of those protows this year to go with Red Dingo

BigZ

Bnkref's picture
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Bnkref commented Thursday, 9 Jan 2020 at 9:27pm

That was great.

Always good to see MC with his unique style on the best waves at Bells.

wbat's picture
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wbat commented Thursday, 9 Jan 2020 at 9:54pm

Loved it.

Got to treasure these guys. They won't be with us for ever.

snakeman's picture
snakeman's picture
snakeman commented Friday, 10 Jan 2020 at 8:09am

What a refreshing change to watch & read a great insight into a man's life rather than the "look at me , look at me" self-promoting crap that's served up so often.

regydogy's picture
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regydogy commented Friday, 10 Jan 2020 at 8:42am

thats unreal , what a legend , yep ive been bitch slaped by mother nature a few times buddy . she knows i needed it . im 52 surfed all my life , still do , allways will till i die , shes pulled me through the worst times and given me my best times

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Friday, 10 Jan 2020 at 1:24pm

Yep, really enjoyed that and also seeing that board continue to generate speed down the line past sections. Thanks for getting it together Peter and for sharing MC.

Peter Baker's picture
Peter Baker's picture
Peter Baker commented Sunday, 12 Jan 2020 at 8:31am

Cheers mate.

nextswell's picture
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nextswell commented Friday, 10 Jan 2020 at 2:19pm

Really gives perspective. The power of the ocean and strength of character. Loved the line about going to the beach at least 3/4 times a day.

Lanky Dean's picture
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Lanky Dean commented Friday, 10 Jan 2020 at 3:29pm

I hope someone pens a book about this man,
What a gift to surfing ! On ya MC!

Island Bay's picture
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Island Bay commented Friday, 10 Jan 2020 at 4:27pm

You're a rare bird, Maurice, and your stories obviously touch many of us. I'm so sorry to hear that Mr C has returned, and sincerely hope that you can once again knock it on the head.

All the best from us.

D-Rex's picture
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D-Rex commented Friday, 10 Jan 2020 at 8:29pm

One of a kind, onya Maurie.

tip-top1's picture
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tip-top1 commented Friday, 10 Jan 2020 at 9:03pm

, so good !!!!!!something could be said about the way indigenous surfers connect with the ocean and its surroundings , one of my good mates is indigenous and he's an absoulute magnet when it comes to the water ,

wally's picture
wally's picture
wally commented Friday, 10 Jan 2020 at 9:59pm

I agree with all the comments. All the best, MC.

The song, “Regional Echo” by Jen Cloher, was a great choice as well.

n!ck's picture
n!ck's picture
n!ck commented Saturday, 11 Jan 2020 at 7:02am

Thank you Maurice. Lovely video of an inspiring human still doing beautiful turns after 50 years in the water. Keep it up Maurice, you legend.

Richard Milledge.'s picture
Richard Milledge.'s picture
Richard Milledge. commented Saturday, 11 Jan 2020 at 12:58pm

Hi Maurie

Cowabunga

Probably I was wrong Dicko..

lost's picture
lost's picture
lost commented Saturday, 11 Jan 2020 at 6:19pm

Is there a guy who knows that wave better. That was beautiful to watch and then I looked up his age. 66 Years of age - bloody hell and surfing that good still.

knB

billie's picture
billie's picture
billie commented Saturday, 11 Jan 2020 at 8:54pm

So nice to hear your vulnerability and authenticity Maurice. Thank you.

I have heard a lot of men talk about their experiences with PTSD, childhood trauma, depression etc through a therapy group I've attended for a couple of years. I have also done a lot of work on my own trauma there. The emotional language Maurice is speaking is familiar to me and also something I crave. When I hear other men share I am often prompted to go inward and reflect on my own truths.

I love this stuff so much. I wish it was more common. Hopefully, now that we can all share more intimately through social media, more stories and vulnerability will be shared and perhaps by the time my son is my age we will all talk openly about our shadows and trauma.

Billie

john.saba's picture
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john.saba commented Saturday, 11 Jan 2020 at 11:42pm

what a magic man .

Richard Milledge.'s picture
Richard Milledge.'s picture
Richard Milledge. commented Sunday, 12 Jan 2020 at 6:04am

get a handle on your big err monster wave mate at
Nazare

I focus's picture
I focus's picture
I focus commented Sunday, 12 Jan 2020 at 11:13am

Maurice one of the few threads on here where all agree and pay tribute, that's a life well lived, its pretty rare.

Good luck and best wishes in your battle against Johnny Dancer.

Great clip Peter

Peter Baker's picture
Peter Baker's picture
Peter Baker commented Monday, 13 Jan 2020 at 4:33am

Thanks mate, glad you enjoyed. it.

michaeljpetre's picture
michaeljpetre's picture
michaeljpetre commented Sunday, 12 Jan 2020 at 1:37pm

Surfed for a week with Maurice, Wayne and a mate at Johanna in 1979. Just 4 of us in the water all week - 4-6 foot offshore. Three surfs everyday. Maurice was friendly, full of stories, even though we came from Wollongong. We traded waves all day. A great guy. Wayne wasn't quite as friendly

belly's picture
belly's picture
belly commented Sunday, 12 Jan 2020 at 6:23pm

Grew up in Portland in the 80's, just down the road from Warrnambool. I was just a kid but was exposed to enough stuff to know it was very tough for our indigenous back then in those parts. Good on you Maurice!!!

tubeshooter's picture
tubeshooter's picture
tubeshooter commented Sunday, 12 Jan 2020 at 8:43pm

"Each of us has a spark of life inside us , and our highest endeavor ought to be to set off that spark in one another." Kenny Ausubel

zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain commented Monday, 13 Jan 2020 at 2:37pm

I re-watched this just then and when he says "every thing that's good about me came from surfing and family."

Never a truer word spoken.

PS- how good does that board go!

1173

matt59's picture
matt59's picture
matt59 commented Monday, 13 Jan 2020 at 9:49pm

Onya Maurice.
All the best.

mick-burnside's picture
mick-burnside's picture
mick-burnside commented Tuesday, 14 Jan 2020 at 8:23am

GREAT CLIP , COMPLETE WITH A REAL MESSAGE......ALWAYS A TREAT TO SEE MAURICE SURFING AT BELLS ....LIKE HEARING HIS VOICE SPOKEN WORD .....WEATHERING SOME LIFE STORMS AND AGEING BEAUTIFULLY .....SURFING CAN CERTAINLY SEE ONE THROUGH A TOUGH TIME.....TO LIVE A SURFERS LIFE IS A PRIVILEGE.

mick b

Bsm17's picture
Bsm17's picture
Bsm17 commented Tuesday, 14 Jan 2020 at 9:38am

Thank you Maurice for sharing your story. I admire people who come out and speak of their hard times not just the good times. Especially when its someone who has great influence like yourself.
A lot of us have our struggles in life, but few are willing to admit it, or realise the toll it takes. Im sure many watching this will strike a chord within there own lifes and hopefully have the courage you do to speak about it.