A SMALL SLICE OF ONE AUSTRALIAN’S MEMORIES OF THE SMA
How great to receive the March email about the new SMA and reflect on adventures from times past.
Three visits to Tavarua commencing in 1991. Being very impressed with Druku and his appearance and manner, without getting to know him. Simon Leslie being the conduit through Dave Byrne to my even knowing about SMA. Geoff Booth, from Newcastle, Australia, after I had missed the plane from Sydney to Bali en route to Grajagan and arrived a day later but still in time to go across, thereafter referring to me as – “the late Mr Titus”.
Reading the story from Ethan Wilson about his busting two boards pretty quickly and recalling him dropping in on Rick Isbell’s sister out at Cloudbreak in a poor manners drop in and then finding out he lived way inland from the coast in Oregon, wore glasses and was probably dying to get onto a wave. But I gave him a wide berth.
Ward and Paula Smith and Les Saito, a New York lawyer and Ward, Les and myself grabbing a six-pack to go to the observation deck to look out onto Cloudbreak and talk about life in late afternoon gatherings.
Getting Restaurants on at 4 – to 5 foot for a couple of days. Surfing Cloudbreak very early in the morning on our last day, with a new crew coming in, at 10 foot and dead low tide and Joel Steinmen, from Brazil and parents from Ukraine or Middle Europe and a great guy saying to me – “Steve, I look at you, I look at me. I look at those waves. I think about how old we are. I think about our families and responsibility. I think – what the fuck are we doing out here!”
Dr Paul Despas, on my first trip, when I was aged 38 and he was 53 and Tom Kirsop 61, being such great company. Tom went on to co-found Surfrider in Australia after that trip when he met US guys involved with it. Tom later got an Order of Australia for his conservation work. Paul was funny. When an American guy paddled past us out at Cloudbreak wearing a full body rash suit, a wetsuit, booties and a Gath helmet, whilst we were wearing board shorts, saying – “these Americans dress up to go surfing”.
Paul’s best story was that he caught a decent size fish on the island and in his words:- “These two frigate birds started to work me. Have you seen frigate birds? They have a wingspan about 6 to 8 foot long with a beak about 4 inches long and big claws. The two of them are hovering round me staying just outside rod reach and despite my throwing stones and waving the rod they kept working on me. Just like soaring Pterodactyls. I gave them the fucking fish”.
The opening night talk was always good. Reinforcing a good attitude towards guys who might not be as good a surfer, saying they might have been saving people’s lives and therefore not able to spend time in the water and one should be considerate. Do not drop in.
And the night that I got back from my 1991 trip, in great spirits and met my wife, Joanne, and I have been with her now for 26 years.
Lots of good times and stories. And me as a lawyer being impressed by the generous and community minded nature of the medicos present, having clinics and donating books to the school and assisting, in a low-key way, implement good hygiene and health practices in the nearby villages.
Plus great surf-and tax effective.