We started making surfboard fins. Surfboard fins and windsurf fins and we sold them to Santosha in Perth. Spider Fins we called it. I was young, just turning 17, I didn’t even have my licence. We drove up to Perth because Santosha won an Australian design award. And we sat at the same table as Dire Straits. We made two surfboards for Dire Straits with guitars on the bottom, and they came down to Dunsborough and picked them up.
Everyone was working at Santosha at the time; Twiggy, Col Ladhams, Al Bean, Mick Manolas, Greg Laurenson, Chubby, Keith and Mick Button. Bert Burger was working there too, which is Sunova and Firewire Surfboards.
I first came to Dunsborough to get involved with the Beach Cottages on the foreshore. My family came up from Bridgetown, I was only young. Most of my primary and high school years my parents owned the old Beach Store and we ran the wildlife park with the Evans’ up where Clancys is now.
I went to Perth when I was 20 years old and did 20 years there altogether. I didn’t think I’d last five minutes as the city scared the shit out of me. I drove up to Perth for a job and got to the middle of the city and it just freaked me out. I’d never been to a city before, I was just a country kid. I pulled in to a shop that was Get Wet at the time because I knew a girl working there. I was living with Hillsy’s sister at the time and the Power Station, where Hillsy worked, had just taken over this shop. Hillsy teed me up with a job and I worked there for years.
We really ran amok in the city, partying and having fun. Surfing was the biggest thing around and everyone wanted to be a part of it. Pubs and nightclubs all wanted to do promotions with surfing and I was lucky enough to be involved with a couple of big shops that had big energy. I fell on my feet the whole way.
I knew Oggy from working with him at Ken Vidler’s place, and we’ve always had a great relationship. We did great things in that place but I got to a point where I just threw it all in. I’d been in the surf industry since high school; I started with cleaning up shaping bays and doing wet and dry rails, then moved onto Santosha and it all just evolved from there.
I wanted to try something totally different and I went into timber flooring and had a lot of success with my business. I had a house in Yallingup and a house in Melville so I was going back and forth all the time. Hillsy was working at Yahoo and had asked me a couple of times to come back and do summers, but I always said no. I’d moved on from that industry.
It wasn’t until a couple of years ago when Oggy asked if I wanted to come and do a couple of days at Yahoo that I sat down and thought about it. I’d be going up and down between Yallingup and Perth for years and a mate of mine just said to me, “What are you doing? You’re just messing around”, and he was sort of right. So I thought, I’ll put my business on the market and if it sells I’ll move down. It sold. This was at a time when things didn’t sell. Sometimes you’ve just got to go with it.
When I decided to do the full time thing back here I didn’t realise how quick time had gone. All of a sudden you go from being a 20 year old running amok in the city and suddenly you’re 40 and you just think, fuck this. I didn’t want to swap money for time anymore. The most valuable thing we’re given and we swap it for money.
I believe in this industry, the surf sports industry, there are just so many different dimensions to it. Different lifestyles, different people, it’s not just your hardcore surfer.
I believe in the accountability of contribution; you build it, they will come. What we’ve got at Yahoo is great and the momentum is building. Everyone in the team wants to contribute and chip in. There’s big energy here, and we get up and get in to it.