Celebrating 10 Years of Standup Journaling
Issue: Standup Journal Winter 2008-2009
(Left) Chris De Aboitiz is one of those characters who gets hold of a sport or a pastime just as it’s rearing its head and quickly masters it long before it becomes mainstream. He’s done it with kiteboarding, the re-emergence of tandem surfing in the mid‘90s (Chris was world tandem champ in ’99) and now sup. Having also completed long distance paddles in Australia and Indonesia, Chris is a true waterman
(Right) Noosa Heads is a jewel in the crown of Australian surfing. Sure, there’s the much vaunted Superbank, Snapper Rocks, Burleigh Heads, Lennox Head, Angourie, Cronulla, Bells Beach, Margaret River, but Noosa Heads, while known, is often ignored by traveling surfers – it’s rarely powerful and far from super grinding, hell-man status waves. But that suits many people just fine—long, easy rides and a family friendly atmosphere. It can get crowded but it’s not too hard to get a wave to yourself.
Australia is renown for sun, surf and sand as well as hosting some of the best surf setups on the planet. But it’s the state of Queensland that’s Point Break Central. Everyone’s heard of Snapper and the Superbank on the Gold Coast but a couple of hours north is the Sunshine Coast and the small holiday town of Noosa. A lot less crowded and commercialized, it provides one of the best series of point breaks in the country.
But before I start ranting about how great the place is, I should really fess up and be honest here. If you’re looking for powerful waves and dodging coral reef closeouts Noosa ain’t the place. However, if you’re looking for some fun, non-life threatening world-class point waves with lips you can slap with impunity, there’s bound to be a swell here with your name on it. Prime time for swell is between February and June—if the points are flat the more exposed beaches will be working, and if the beaches are closing out the points will be firing! With 80 kilometers of open beaches stretching to the south from Noosa, the rivermouth and five (yes five!) sand-bottomed point breaks lying next to each, you’ll find the wave you’re looking for.
(Top) Paddle scraping the surface, pre bottom turn swoop – Noel Woods eases into it. Function with a dash of flair. An all boarder for many years, Noel recently lost his enthusiasm for longboarding and stuck with his shortboards… then sup hit.
(Above left) Josh Constable, just perfect … wave, lighting and positioning. He rarely holds back – paddle becoming buried and rail set.
(Above right) Eugene Marsh, otherwise known as ‘Woogie’, has been at the forefront of both surf and flat water sup R&D since its inception in Oz. He was the first person I saw on a 9’0”, pulling off shortboard type cutbacks.
The open beaches hold up to six feet of solid swell before they start closing out. And the points will hold whatever’s thrown at them— usually best at two to five feet—but rarely get big. The water is always warm—boardshorts in summer and a 3/2 short arm/short leg wetsuit for winter—and crystal clear. Water pollution is unheard of. The bay is a haven for dolphins as well as bikini clad tourists. It’s worth noting how fast the waves break even if the points are only waist high—a section may be collapsing in front of you, but it’s pretty easy to use your paddle and turning speed and just rocket around it. Another of the wonders of Noosa is flatwater standup paddling the vast network of canals and rivers winding around town, providing a peaceful and beautiful place for some sunset cruising. –Neil “Moonwalker” Armstrong
(Top left) Tully St. John, rides wafer thin high performance shortboards and sup’s, rarely anything in between. He’s the head shaper and owner of Noosa Surfworks and is one of the only shapers on the east coast of Australia really pushing the sup boundaries. Paying attention to detail as only a craftsman can, he’s dropping the sizes of his high performance wave sup’s and adding length to his distance sup’s. The one he and Woogie are currently working on for ultra long distances is 18’9”! His boards feature anything from intricate resin tints and patterns to plain, light-as-a-feather epoxy creations. He’s working on carbon fiber creations as you’re reading this.
(Top middle) Taking a 10’0” topside – 2006 World Longboard Champ and Noosa icon Josh Constable puts it up there at the first sup competition outside of Noosa, marking also the first time standup boards had appeared en mass at the Superbank – May 2007. That’s the Burleigh headland in the background. And just in case you were wondering, yep, Josh won that one too, taking down a couple of supexperienced Hawaiians along the way.
(Top right) East Coast Oz. Yep, it’s pretty densely populated (for Australia) but generally it’s far from being a concrete jungle; still many areas where bush meets the sea. For the most part beach access is pretty easy, local councils provide stairs, ramps, showers and nine out of ten times: free parking.
(Above left) Annie Broomham’s been riding First Point for years on a longboard and knows the wave well. She’s made the transition to sup seamlessly.
(Above middle) Not content with pioneering sup in Oz himself, Chris De Aboitiz had to get his dog, Lani, up to speed with the program. Now she jumps on Chris’s board as soon as he’s at the waters edge and gets a little peeved whenever she’s left behind. And as you can see, she’s mastered hanging five. However, rumors that she and Chris will be entering tandem contests are, as of this moment, unfounded… mainly, I recon, because Lani hasn’t found a bikini she likes yet.
(Above right) Standup made its official debut in Noosa and Australia at the 2007 Noosa Festival of Surfing, held in March each year. When the sup boys first paddled out people were openly saying, “Oh crap, what the hell is this, a joke?” and, “So this is the next fad huh, it’ll go the same way of tandem surfing.” Then the invited Hawaiians blew the crowd away by doing full-railed, paddle-aided cutbacks, tucking into little spinning barrels and pulling off floaters. The crowd was agape. By the end of the festival there were far more orders placed for sups than there were boards in the country. The boom began back then and has still showed no signs of slowing. This shot is from the 2008 Noosa Festival where the standup division was looked upon more in admiration.