Go West, Young Man
Here’s what most Americans know about Australia:
1. It’s on an island somewhere.2. It was an English penal colony back in, like, the 1950s. (FYI: “penal” and “penile” aren’t the same thing.)3. Isn’t the Americas Cup there, or whatever?4. Russell Crowe’s a little heavy, but he’s still hot!5. There’s a massive desert in the middle of Australia full of hard-to-spell animals.6. No matter how normal and adjusted people with the word “Crockodile” in their nicknames might seem, they aren’t to be messed with.7. “Fosters” is Australian for “beer.”
But despite our Hollywood-ized ignorance about most foreign places, Americans who’ve taken the time and laid out the cash to visit Oz (pun sometimes intended) know it isn’t nearly as easy to stereotype, categorize, or pigeonhole as popular culture would have the less-traveled believe. Like the U.S.A., Australia is dynamic-from its population and geography to its sports of choice. Nowhere is this fact as blatantly apparent as in the Australian professional surf scene.
From the Warhol-esque flair of Ozzie Wright to the technical precision of Taj Burrow, the soulful fearlessness of Dave Rastovich, and the world-champion potential of Mick Fanning, Australian surfing is currently experiencing a golden generation. In large part, this can be accredited to their location. Wedged solidly between the Pacific and Indian Oceans, and surrounded by various other seas, including the Arafura, the Coral, and the Tasman, the sixth-largest country in the world is completely surrounded by water and is blessed with the full spectrum of climate and weather. They have the tropical Gold Coast in the north, the temperate climate of New South Wales, Victoria’s snowy winter nights, and the fabled year-round perfection of the Western frontier. It’s no wonder Australia is in the process of producing the new crop of öbersurfers.
During the months of March and April, the WCT and WQS invades Australia to host a half-dozen contests, bringing surfing’s freak show in tow. Interested in learning more, we enlisted the help of several of our best photographers and Waves magazine’s Global Editor Adam Blakey to bring us a little bit closer to the continent we know so little about yet think so often of. The result is a 22-page article we hope might motivate some of you to get off the couch, quit the pizza-delivery job, and experience the world outside our borders by some means other than beer commercials.The frothing begins on page 84.-Joel