After a nearly a month of traveling around Australia, as well as the past winter in Hawai’i, I’ve come to the realization that there’s a giant crop of amazing young surfers coming out of Australia. And for them, the one thing that makes or breaks a young surfer’s career is the Australian junior series. A series of events held all over the country where the heats are stacked from round one on. Last year’s overall champ was Dan Ross, a young, powerful surfer from Yamba (about four hours south of the Gold Coast). Rossy’s a very complete surfer from his array of power slashes in two-foot surf to deadly drops at the Box in West Oz. Look more from this guy.—Checkskevich
You won the overall title of the Australian junior series last year. You competed against the rest of Australia’s Juniors., why do you think that they are stronger?
Every year you have the Junior series and pretty much start when your really young—you start competing when your in like thirteen, fourteen, fifteen. You just take progression from there. I don’t know, there just seems to be so many good young Aussie surfers that sort of push each other and thrive off each other doing well. It just comes down to who’s getting the best waves and who’s on a bit of a roll.
From Mick and Parko down, what other effects do you think make the Australian Juniors so good right now?
I guess there’s always been that push, ever since the guys before—Joel had Wink (Lee Winkler) and Phil Macca (MacDonald) and all those boys. They were setting the standard pushing Mick and those guys as well. When Mick won Bells when he was still in the juniors—the same as Joel—lots of guys were looking at that just thinking, “Shit, that sort of sets the standard, and they were surfing so good that you felt stupid if your weren’t surfing as good. I don’t know, I guess each generation pushed the generation before.
What has winning the series done for your career?
It’s basically made my career. I’ve been doing it for the last few years I didn’t have a lot of really good results in the start. I made a few falls here and there and I met a lot of people on the way who helped make my surfing. That little bit of traveling and sorta’ mini-WQS tour just prepares you for what you got ahead of you.
Yamba’s kinda far away from everything. Is it kinda hard for you to not only get to the airport, but to just to be around other people, to see other guys surfing?
Yeah I guess it is, but that’s what Yamba is—I think. It’s different from a few other country towns. There’s so many good surfers in this area. It’s a mission getting to the airports and stuff like that. Also, let’s say you live on the Gold Coast and you’re doing well, everyone hears about it. If you’re from here and you’re doing pretty well you might not get as much media coverage and as much hype as you would in the cities. It’s better sometimes because you go away and there’s so much in your face. I reckon it’s better to get back to a place like this and do your own thing—in the winter there’s hardly anyone around.
Do you feel privileged to grow up in a place like this, around the great variety of breaks like Angourie?
Definitely, there’s so many good waves and so many different waves over here. Long-running rights at the point or hollow barreling lefts at Green Point, Spooky Point—places like that. You get that whole variety in your surfing—that’s what helps. Then you also got all the beachies as well which is good ’cause if the waves are pumping you can choose what you like because it’s less crowded and you can catch three times as many waves as you would in a place like Sydney when it’s pumping. The more waves you catch, the better your surfing gets—having all those breaks has definitely helped me.
You’ve been riding for Salomon for three years. You could have gone with the normal, standard company, but you took a chance witth the boards and the company itself. What was the thinking behind that?
Basically, when I met them, I went and did a wetsuit testing day with them down in Forster and that was all I knew of them—it was just a company I barely knew vaguely from the skis, snowboards. They just wanted to do this wetsuit testing day and get our opinions on what we thought their wetsuits were like. I actually did that with them and it went from there. And at that time I didn’t know, but they were looking for a young junior surfer and they ended up getting back to me with a sort of good offer and a plan on what they were looking at doing with their boards. It was all sort of coming together really well and looked really well. There was no pressure on me at the start like, “You gotta do this, it was more like, “Will you help us with our technology. Anyone in their right mind would have done what I did.
What’s it been like working with the new technology? Do feel you’re onto something? How noticeable is the difference?
I’ve had times where I’ve jumped on the boards and have one of the best surfs in my life. I get that feeling sometimes whether it’s because the boards are so light or whether it’s the inside core. But from my experience, I’ve just had surfs where even a little while ago I caught a wave at back beach Angourie where I did four or five of the best turns I’ve done on my backhand—it’s surfs like that are sort of irreplaceable. I seem to be have a lot of those surfs. I think there’s something there—they definitely have a place in the future of surfing. Kieren’s been surfing crazy on them in Hawai’i or wherever. They’re improving them and getting better and better.[IMAGE 3]