Imagine me at age 12. I am carrying my light blue Brett Munro twin fin. Paul my step dad gave it to me. Before that I had my dad’s old yellow single fin stinger which I got when I was six. Before that I was getting painful and uncomfortable rashes with my polystyrene board at Waiake beach. My brother Jess had a red Mark Richards twin fin that was also Paul’s old board. Paul was working at Super Session making surfboards so he often got a new board. We had a Blue Peugeot 404 and my dad had one the same. Surfers didn’t have four wheel drives in 1982. I first stood up surfing when I was six. I did my first turn when I was 13 while surfing storm surf down long bay with my dad. Until I was 16 I was scared of waves over 3 foot. Yes that is pathetic. I learnt to drive on open roads and gravel when we went surfing up north. I was 14 when Paul first said wanna drive. Dad would never let me drive. By the time most kids were getting their first surfboard I was onto my third. At 13 I knew as much about the weather and the tides as surfers 3 times my age. I could tell you that Daniels was the place to go on a big northerly swell with a northerly wind, Mangawhai bar and forestry were sheltered in a NW, Takatu was only good at high tide and offshore on a southerly. I knew when and where to go when none of my mates had a clue. I listened alot while stuck in the back of Monzies car, or Redmans or ours. Our house had visitors 4 nights a week, they all surfed and all had good stories to tell over a big fat dube. I always listened because they were always so interesting, especially when the Caines came. But they could make a trip to the toilet sound interesting. I never got a choice to go surfing it’s just what we did. After school, after soccer, cricket, when the wind changed, east coast, west coast rain or shine. At first going to the beach meant just that and me and my brother would have to amuse ourselves for hours while Paul went surfing. Mum always brought a good lunch. We had surf mats. I got carsick. It was a long day. Then later going to the beach meant surf. It is hard to describe the pull it has but when it gets you, there is no letting go. And it was in my blood anyway. Even my mother used to surf. She said she first met dad when he dropped in on her at long bay reef. My dad never sees you on the inside because he cant where his glasses in the water. My brother always drops in regardless. Nothing changes. Sometimes Paul would pick us up from school at lunch so we could go surfing. My favourite wave was long bay. Basically my whole life was saturated by the smell of salt since the day I was born. I had no choice. Now I can’t go on holiday inland without a bloody good reason. And even though I was actually a timid reluctant contestant in the world of surfing I owe it to my family for immersing me in this culture and making me who I am. But my dads were the true animals of the sport. Their stories make any of mine seem like a visit to the library. My family has got off lightly. But they will be surfing too, wait and see.
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