COASTALWATCH | SEAN DOHERTY | BOOK EXCERPT
The next is an excerpt from Sean Doherty’s new e-book – Golden Days: The Easiest Years of Australian Surfing – which tells the tale of Australian browsing throughout the lives of the Australian Surfing Corridor of Popularity contributors, 365 days at a time from 1915 to lately. Closing week we went again to Parko’s 2012 Global Name.This week, it is 77 Aussie Champ and Narrabeen legend, Col Smith.
“I Was once At all times Seeking to Do Stuff That No One Else May Do”
Col Smith had simply been requested in a 1977 Tracks interview if his browsing revolved round pulling off ‘gravity defying stunts’. Col wasn’t positive if the interviewer was once taking the piss. ‘Smartly, let me put it this fashion…’ After a weighty pause Col instructed it immediately. ‘There are specific manoeuvres which can be close to unattainable… and I’m going for the ones manoeuvres. I don’t in point of fact like going for tubes at all times. If there’s a tube there and I will’t steer clear of it I’ll opt for it, however there’s not anything very tough about getting tubes. I’m now not going for the packet of masses and 1000’s… I’m going for the large one!” This wasn’t a hole boast. Col Smith would possibly were historical at 28… however he was once the oldest, maximum radical surfer on the earth.
Going for the large one had just lately landed him in sanatorium. ‘I used to be at all times seeking to do stuff that nobody else may just do,’ Col recollects lately, ‘and the article nobody else may just do was once a barrel roll. To show round, upside-down within the barrel and land it. The primary man I ever noticed do one was once a mud motorbike champion named Herbie Jefferson. He did a barrel roll on a kneeboard at Angourie and made it. I went, that is appears just right. If he can do it on a kneeboard, I will do it status up. So at the present time at Automobile Park Rights at Narrabeen the waves have been simply extra special. I dropped down this wave on my backhand, jammed a flip and long past proper around within the wave. I made the barrel roll, I used to be 99 in step with cent there, however got here down and fell off the entrance of the board. It whacked me within the mouth. The nostril of the board hit me and snapped off in my face. I pulled this little bit of fibreglass out and went, what is this? I pulled it out and my bloody best and backside lip just about fell off! I were given 100 stitches, however I’d been beautiful with regards to making it.’ To at the present time no surfer ever has.
Col Smith’s radical streak had began early in existence. Quickly after shifting to Narrabeen at age 10, he’d taken his mom’s picket ironing board, stripped all of the steel fittings off, reduce his denims down into shorts and long past browsing. A few years later his brother introduced him house a 10’6” balsa nostril rider from the States, which Col had no purpose of nostril driving. ‘Chris Crozier and I reduce 3 ft off it and that was once our shortboard.’ Col was once a kid of the shortboard revolution and prefer maximum of the ones youngsters would nearly in an instant take it too a long way. ‘We made them smaller and smaller and smaller to the purpose the place I finished up 365 days driving a 4’10” board at 15-foot Margaret River. Very laborious to get into them, however as soon as you were given up you have been high quality. Forums simply stored getting smaller and all other types. I made a board that just about gave the impression of a soccer, handiest five-foot lengthy, super-round, however you want to kind of dangle ten on it.’ As a child Col additionally rode skateboards for the Midget Farrelly skate group. ‘I consider I did a demo at Dee Why and any other out at Ryde the place the large buying groceries centre is. It was once a little bit frightening, downhill racing at Dee Why in naked ft and a see-through skateboard.’
Possibly the most important affect on Col Smith’s browsing despite the fact that was once a child his personal age. Col doesn’t consider ever in fact browsing with Wayne Lynch, however in the ones years earlier than Wayne stepped clear of the highlight he was once roughly laborious to omit. Specifically it was once Wayne’s backhand re-entry that stuck Col’s consideration. ‘Time and again I’d watch him and assume, gee whiz, I’d care to do that.’ If Wayne was once the primary to coach the board vertically on the lip on his backhand, Col was once the person who took it previous its bodily prohibit. ‘It were given to the degree the place I believed, glance, lots of the browsing contests are held in righthanders, I’ll trip rights higher than I will trip lefts. And that’s the reason precisely what I may just do.’ Narrabeen was once the most efficient left in Sydney. Col most well-liked Automobile Park Rights, simply down the seashore.
The most important affect on Col alternatively was once Narrabeen itself. ‘As a child you were not allowed to surf Narrabeen till you have been just right sufficient. They have been the foundations. It was once strict.’ Younger Col labored his means up the seashore from Waterloo Side road to The Pines and sooner or later to The Alley. Col recollects the ‘Log Mob’, a hardcore workforce who hung round a log that had washed up at the seashore. Earlier than it was once Narrabeen towards the sector, it was once at all times Narrabeen towards Narrabeen. ‘It was once dominated with an iron fist,’ remembers Col of the Narrabeen scene. ‘Very sturdy however very shut. It is more than likely the nearest neighborhood I have ever been concerned with.’
All over the ‘70s Col Smith was once the alpha male at North Narrabeen… essentially the most alpha line-up in Australia. Col had the ladies. Col had the soul patch beard and Col had the automobiles. He’d do burn-outs within the Narrabeen automotive park in his FJ, smoking where up till the diff blew. Col would sometimes paddle out with a cigarette in his mouth and drop in on any person with it nonetheless alight. He’d scold the native grommets for now not hitting the lip laborious sufficient. ‘All of the competitiveness was once out within the water,’ Col remembers. ‘It did not topic who was once who; you have been going in the market to surf… you weren’t going in the market to make pals. It had a name for that.’ At a time when it gave the impression each browsing seashore had their resident browsing animal, a wild guy out and in of the water, Narrabeen had Col Smith.
Surfing Narrabeen wouldn’t be sufficient for a aggressive animal like Col. He wanted different retailers. A herbal athlete and all-round sportsman, he excelled at the entirety he grew to become his hand to. Col was once an ideal tennis participant, footballer and ice hockey participant. He’d by no means ice skated earlier than however was once enjoying Sydney first grade inside 9 months. The physicality of ice hockey suited him completely. ‘That was once to learn to battle,’ he laughs. ‘Each time you pass on you’re in a battle. I consider this man smashed me into the railing so I let him have it. And that was once my occupation in first grade ice hockey. Immediately into the sin bin. However I cherished it. I used to do barrel leaping at the ice. I may just leap 10 barrels. If I took one thing up I sought after to get full-on into it.’
Automobiles have been his actual vice. Col was once a automotive man. ‘Was once I ever. I put a 351 Ford right into a four-cylinder Transit van. Mate, that was once the quickest factor in the world. It had 4 wheels at the again and I may just wheel spin them as much as 60 miles an hour. Then I purchased myself a ‘66 Pontiac GTO, two-door, two-speed powerglide, 100 mile an hour in first equipment. I additionally had an outdated Ford Fairmont station wagon that I had reduced with all of the whiteys on them.’ He helped construct the quickest sedan racer within the nation, and even though he didn’t race it himself, he was once a demon in the back of the wheel. He remembers riding north on a surf go back and forth to Newcastle and being overtaken by way of any other automotive doing 80 miles an hour. ‘This automotive shot previous me, blew me off the street. I’ve tightened the seatbelt up after which took off after him. It felt like the auto was once floating. I seemed on the speedo which went as much as 120. The needle had long past previous that and was once nearly again round at 0.’ When requested the way it ended, Col responded, ‘The auto in entrance blew up.’ Col’s riding was once a little bit like Col’s browsing – now not precisely sleek, however at all times within the crimson.
Col earned his dwelling shaping surfboards. His shaping mirrored his riding. ‘I used to be an overly, very speedy shaper. I may just end up a board in 12 mins. They were not actual just right however I used to be nonetheless getting them out.’ Col had were given his get started at 18, when Denny Keogh introduced him a role down at Brookvale. ‘I used to be a chippie earlier than that. I may just reduce the outlines out just about best possible, however the remainder of it was once beautiful unhealthy. I finished up with a large number of wafers and this facet’s thicker than the opposite.’ He laughs. ‘However after doing twenty or thirty thousand I were given there sooner or later.’
At Keyo’s he formed along Geoff McCoy and found out Narrabeen competitiveness didn’t prevent on the tide line. ‘Geoff and I have been pals, however I’ll by no means fail to remember he mentioned to me, “I will by no means ever display you learn how to form a surfboard.” And I went, “Why now not?” He is going, “As a result of each board you form is one I don’t!” I have by no means forgotten that. Each time I see him I remind him.’
Col formed with Terry Fitzgerald at Sizzling Buttered earlier than going out on his personal in 1973 with Morning Superstar surfboards. ‘The theory by no means entered my head, however someday Wayne Warner mentioned to me, “You wish to have to make surfboards?” I mentioned, “Oh yeah.” He requested, “What quantity of money you were given?” I responded, “Possibly 150 dollars.” And he mentioned, “Smartly I were given 250. Let’s pass make surfboards.” So we ended up making ‘em in his storage in Lawn Side road and that was once our get started.’ Morning Superstar moved to Darley Highway, Mona Vale, then opened a store at Dee Why. Col even hired a tender Simon Anderson. They then opened a surf store within the Western Suburbs. ‘Nat, Wayne and I went thirds in a store in the market at the nook of Bellfield Highway, which was once about 3 kilometres from Bankstown Sq.. There have been no different surf retail outlets for 25km in any route in the market. We have been handiest open 13 hours every week, however we took extra money than some other surf store in Brookvale. We had ’em covered up happening the road to get in.’
The seventies was once the Golden Age of Surfing in Narrabeen. Guys like Terry Fitz, Grant Oliver, Mark Warren and Simon Anderson have been profitable contests everywhere the rustic, and in time everywhere in the global. Col’s dominance of the Narrabeen line-up alternatively by no means translated to wider contest good fortune. He’d by no means gained a big identify outdoor of Sydney. He’d been to Hawaii however by no means won invitations to the contests there. He in fact did obtain an invitation in ’76 however no person instructed him. Judging throughout the seventies additionally favoured numbers of turns, now not one giant radical flip. Loads and 1000’s, now not the large one. ‘Although I would possibly handiest be doing one manoeuvre,’ he instructed Tracks, ‘that’s were given to be higher than doing a dozen different much less radical ones.’
Through 1977 essentially the most radical surfer in Australia was once getting on. Col was once 28, married with a two-year-old daughter, now not browsing as a lot and dealing lengthy hours at Morning Superstar. He was once alternatively preserving the faintest hope alive for a big contest win. Professional browsing had arrived however he felt like an interloper to it. He was once being overtaken by way of more youthful guys. In 1977 he surfed all 4 Australian professional occasions however handiest controlled to complete mid-field in they all. When Col seemed on the rankings he noticed his identify respectably top. Then he noticed his identify once more, means down the listing in the similar rankings. The man upper up was once Col Smith, an intensive younger goofyfooter from Newcastle. Col Smith from Newcastle had handiest surfed one tournament and was once means forward of Col Smith from Narrabeen, who’d surfed 4. Narrabeen Col bristled, taking some comfort that a minimum of a Narrabeen surfer – Simon Anderson – was once main the rankings.
Simon were a Col Smith protégé, a task now being stuffed by way of 16-year-old Tom Carroll. In spite of dwelling up the peninsula at Newport, Tom was once a standard down at Narrabeen as he was once running a panelbeating apprenticeship there. Col was once shaping his forums, and when Tom were given a get started within the Stubbies at Burleigh – the primary tournament of the primary complete skilled season – he jumped within the entrance seat of Col’s FJ. ‘It was once cool,’ remembers Col. ‘I used to be the oldest so I at all times used to must cart everyone round. I took Tommy to his first browsing contest. That was once the Stubbies that Peter Drouyn ran. At 10 o’clock within the morning the surf was once going off and Drouyn would pass, “Ok, contest over for the day!” Everyone misplaced it. He mentioned, “Don’t fear, the waves are going to be higher the following day.” He did this for 11 days and each unmarried day the surf were given larger. It was once completely extra special. Tommy needed to pass and surf towards Shaun Tomson, who was once the most important surfer on the earth on the time. I mentioned, “Shit, mate, you wish to have me to come back down and stand at the rocks with you?”’
However that also left the ’77 Australian Titles, because of be held at Narrabeen. Col had flirted with the Aussie Name previously, having completed 10th, 9th, 8th, 7th, 6th, 4th and fourth. The previous two Aussie Titles had, alternatively, been gained by way of Narrabeen surfers – Fitzy in ’75, and Mark Warren in ’76. Col Smith’s largest risk for the identify was once Col Smith. The 2 Cols – who didn’t in point of fact know every different on the time – ended up browsing in combination within the ultimate. ‘That was once amusing,’ remembers Col Smith from Narrabeen, who gained the general. ‘Col Smith first and Col Smith 2nd and the write-up within the paper going, “This isn’t a misprint.”’
For his win, Col was once intended to obtain an airline price ticket to Brazil to compete within the professional tournament there that 12 months. The price ticket by no means grew to become up. The professional excursion took off with out Col. ‘It was once a little bit laborious as a result of I had the circle of relatives. I went to a couple of contests – I may just’ve long past to much more – however I’d’ve been clear of house an excessive amount of. I’d have to go away the children in the back of and to find anyone do the shaping. I used to be getting too outdated and it was once getting too pricey and I wasn’t hanging as top as I must. So yeah, I gave it a omit after that.’
Col did the Tracks interview the week after his Aussie Name win, sitting at the bonnet of the FJ. Tied to the roof racks have been a collection of snow skis. ‘I simply spent my first 3 days within the snow and I’m terrified of it! You notice, if I am getting to love it, and I’m stoked on it, I would possibly must surrender browsing for some time. I’ve been fascinated by it since I were given again. It perceived to me that I realized extra within the 3 days I spent there than guys who’ve been snowboarding for a few complete seasons.’ For the following 5 iciness seasons, Col – perpetually obsessive – would make 20 journeys a 12 months all the way down to the snow. In years yet to come snow snowboarding would get replaced by way of fishing, and later, by way of Ceroc jive dancing.