Life on the Gold Coast Pt. VII by Kevin Huang

Part VII.

Epilogue:

Time is Up

Gold Coast clouds

As epic as that previous week was, it was the beginning of the end. 

We got a couple more swells, and I spent more than a handful of days doing nothing but inhaling food, sleeping, and surfing.  But deep down, I knew something was changing.  After a two week run of perfection, things started to slow down again. 

Eventually, a hurricane hit in late March, flooding parts of Queensland and NSW.  With it came the cold.  The ocean became yellow and brown due to the runoff from the hurricane and water visibility dropped to nothing.  The water got so cold I had to take my wetsuit out again. 

During this time, I also saw my girlfriend for the last time.  Surfing had allowed me to distract myself from the reality of the situation, but as the swell dropped and the cold hit, it slowly dawned on me that I wasn’t ever going to see her again. 

Indo teasers.  Basically this was blowing up my Insta feed during my last weeks in Oz.  I ended up taking this photo a month later in Indo.  A little preview of what was to come...

During the last few weeks I had begun to see pictures surfacing from around various locations in Indo, teasing my Instagram feed with shots of perfect, empty waves.  The early season swells had begun to hit, and the crowds hadn’t caught on yet.  With the Superbank firing on all cylinders, my lust for waves was kept in check, but as the swell and the water temps dropped, the call to leave Oz for Indo became inescapable.  My Visa was running out as well, and I was going to have to leave the country to renew my Visa anyway, so the call to leave for Indo became unavoidable.  When two of my Slovenian roommates moved out of the house, I knew beyond a doubt that the time had come. 

 

  The Indo quiver.  From left to right:   [The all arounder/pointbreak machine.  The fish.  The step-up/gun.  The go-to shortboard.] 

The Indo quiver.  From left to right:  [The all arounder/pointbreak machine.  The fish.  The step-up/gun.  The go-to shortboard.] 

And so with a heavy heart, I packed my bags, sent off one last message to my now ex, and hopped on a plane bound for Kuala Lumpur, the first leg on my journey to Indo, – alone. 

 

To this day, I still can’t really put my finger on why we broke up.  As usual, I spent a lot of time trying to work out why.  I kept going over all of our conversations and texts with a fine toothed comb trying to find some shred of a clue, but the more I thought about it, the more complicated things became.  There were many possible answers, all valid, but the more I thought about it, the simple answer which she had given me when we last spoke was more than enough.  She just felt like she needed to be alone.  

The more and more that I think about it, the more and more that I respect her for it.   

Prepped for Indo.  This lasted me about 3 weeks. 

 

I can’t really say much except that the woman who I had reconnected with on the Gold Coast was not the same woman I had met in the jungle.  Deep down, she was still in there somewhere, but her return to “the real world” had brought up some ghosts of her past, and she was in a place where she needed to take care of them on her own.  As much as I wished I could help her, I had been in her shoes once, and I knew that introspection is something that at times, needs to be undertaken alone. 

Thinking back on the whole situation though, I couldn’t even fault her for anything.  I’ve had messy breakups in the past, but this time, she stayed true to her word and we both peacefully went our separate ways.  I can’t thank her enough for that.   She was undoubtedly a special little human.  Without a doubt I will love that woman till the day that I die. 

And with that final loose end taken care of and nothing holding me back, I hopped on a plane and took off to Indo.  The adventure I had waited my whole life for was about to begin...  

And that concludes the Gold Coast chapter. If you're itching to find out what happens next, don't worry.... I don't know when I'll drop it, but you can look forward to the Indo chapters sometime in the near future. Until then, if you want a little sneak preview into what happened during my time in Indo, check this article .

Thanks for reading guys!  I really do appreciate the love and support.  Stay tuned for more soon!

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Life on the Gold Coast Pt. VI by Kevin Huang

Part. VI

The Beast Awakens

As soon as I got a look at the ocean I knew the swell had arrived.

The beach which for the last month had looked no different than the side of a lake was now delivering line after line of ruler edged perfection.  For an entire mile I rode my bike along the beach towards the head of Snapper rocks, and for an entire mile I saw waves stacked to the horizon.  If I had not seen it with my own two eyes I would have never believed it.  Where there were once no waves, there were now waves that seemingly defied the laws of physics.  People were getting barreled for over 100 yards.  It didn’t seem real. 

Julian Wilson

For a few minutes all I could do was stare and hoot as I saw chargers pull into perfect azure caverns.  My mouth grew dryer with every passing second as each successive wave that broke in front of me crushed my sense of reality.  I had been surfing for nearly a decade and I had never seen anything like this.   These were without a doubt some of the best waves I had ever seen in my entire life.

Eventually, my eagerness overcame my awe and I quickly locked my bike up, grabbed my surfboard and made my way out into the lineup.  Just as I was about to reach the lineup a set came and broke right in front of me.  The last thing I saw before a perfect double overhead screamer crashed down on top of me was Jack Freestone pulling into a giant tube.  His wetsuit jacket was unzipped and it fluttered in the wind as he flew down the face of the wave.  Yup, it was on.

Gabriel Medina

That set thwarted my first attempt to paddle out and washed me down the beach, causing me to miss the entry point.  The current was ripping super hard.  In about 5 minutes I had gone from Snapper all the way to Coolangatta.  I decided to cut my losses, get out, and do another lap to the top of Snapper.  On this second attempt, I made it out. 

John John Florence

Owen Wright

Sitting in the lineup was sort of like going to a Hollywood movie premiere for the first time.  The lineup was filled with people who I clearly recognized but had never met in person.  Pro surfers on tour, freesurfers, and random surf industry people who I had seen on the internet were all around me in the lineup.   I spent half the time out in the water just staring in awe at pros making waves that didn’t seem possible.   Guys were taking off behind the groin at Snapper – a feat which surely would have killed a mere mortal - and not only making the wave but getting insanely barreled.   I ended up sitting further down the line, and when my turn finally came, I whipped it, paddled, dropped in, and was engulfed in a full on tube before (of course) someone dropped in on me and the wave closed out.  But it was a start.  For the next 6 hours I proceeded to pull into waves I had only dreamed of.  The crowd and the tide came, and went, and then came again, and I was still there.  The waves were just too good.  I don’t even remember how many laps I did from Kirra back to Snapper.  I must have spent almost as much time walking back up the point than actually surfing it.   

Never in my life had I ever seen anything like it.  Each wave I caught was longer than any other wave I had ever surfed – point breaks included.  The wave looked like a point, but surfed like a beachie.  It was the weirdest feeling.  It was like the best of both worlds.  The length and never ending ride of a point mixed with the speed, and power of a beach break.  

For three days the swell continued.  Funnily enough, even though I’m a surf photographer, I didn’t take any pictures until the third day.  The waves were so good I couldn’t bring myself to stop surfing long enough to even grab my camera.  While the pictures I snagged from this swell are good, conditions were nowhere near as good as the first two days.  But then again, there was already plenty of coverage from the horde of surf photographers there.  There was no need for me to document anything.  Besides, I was on vacation.      

The swell came just in time, as the Quicksilver pro ended up being the following week.  Because of this, every pro was in the water at some point during that swell getting ready for the contest to come.  I spent one afternoon just taking pictures at Snapper.  That session was a goldmine.  Roughly half of the guys I grew up watching in surf movies were shredding right in front of me in the space of a single afternoon.  It was one of the trippiest experiences of my life.  

The following week, for the contest, we got another round of swell, slightly smaller but just as epic.  The waves were smaller, but the conditions were arguably better, and the crowd lightened up (since everyone was at the contest).  Ironically, I didn’t even watch a single heat of the Quickie pro.  The waves were so good I ended up surfing another spot and getting tubed the entire time.   There was one session in particular - the water was perfect, silver reflective glass, like ichor, and barrel after barrel was coming through with only a handful of guys out.  The only sound was the pitter patter of light rain hitting the water, the spray of offshore wind, and the loudspeaker from the Quickie pro announcing heat results far off in the distance.

 Took this  after  the swell dropped.

Took this after the swell dropped.

I heard some guys complaining that they should have run the contest the previous week since the waves were better.  One of their friends overhead and interjected- if they had, the locals wouldn’t have gotten a chance to surf it.  He was right.  Sometimes, things work out exactly as they should. 

[to be continued...]

Life on the Gold Coast Pt. V by Kevin Huang

Part V.

Omens

 Ghosts

Ghosts

Looking back on it, it was undoubtedly a stroke of fate that I ended up living close to Snapper Rocks.  I had come to the Gold Coast for reasons other than surf, and I hadn’t even bothered to do any research on any of the waves before I arrived.   I really only ended up living in Coolangatta because the rent was decent, my girlfriend was there, and I got lucky (see Pt. III lol). 

However, after I got settled and my mind shifted to thoughts other than survival, I finally started paying attention to the surf. 

 Yup.  That was the very one.

Yup.  That was the very one.

The most obvious omen that there were good waves around the area was the massive poster of Jack Freestone threading a massive drainer pinned up on the side of Kirra Surf Shop, which just so happened to be down the street from my house.  The photo was literally taken at the beach right across the street from the surf shop (although it took me a while to put two and two together).

My Slovenian roommates (mostly the Vegan fitness instructor) would constantly complain about how the waves were shit (despite weeks upon weeks of beautiful A frame runners at D-bah).  But, if you offered them a little sympathy, they would sometimes start reminiscing about the times when there was good swell.  After complaining about how they should have stayed in Indo for another few weeks, stories of perfect double overhead tubes running from Snapper Rocks all the way through Kirra began to surface.  Whispers of lines stacked to the horizon, with enough waves to appease the hordes of frothing surfers began to stir and tease my imagination. 

 Hoax?   Source:  glassy.pro

Hoax?  Source: glassy.pro

I would usually go surfing after hearing these stories.  I would almost always pass by Snapper on my way to surf Dbah, and it would always be about ankle high.

I would stare at the waves for a bit, squinting at the ocean in the hope of coaxing the sea to send a good wave through, but that never seemed to work.  However, even on the smallest of days, when out of desperation people would whip out their SUP’s in order to catch SOMETHING, it seemed like there was always a little something to ride.  But, for the most part, the wait continued.  Hilariously, even with the ankle biters, Snapper Rocks was still crowded.  My doubts that I would ever see this wave break properly started to grow.  

I mean.... it's not bad.... but it's not SNAPPER ROCKS if you know what I mean

The days wore on, and I slowly started getting fed up with all of the hordes of aggro surfers endlessly dropping in on me at Dbah and my patience started to grow thin. 

 Kooks... every single one of them

Kooks... every single one of them

On the home front, things started to grow complicated as well.  My girlfriend was getting busier and busier at work and it was getting more and more difficult to find time to hang out with her.  Eventually the tension between us reached a tipping point and we got into an argument.  By this time, the girl who I had met in the jungle was almost nonexistent.  The lust for life which had come so easily to her when we lived simply in the jungle together, had been buried deep down by the soul crushing responsibilities of “reality.”  Ironically, living together in the jungles of Central America felt a thousand times more real than the “reality” of the concrete jungle we now lived in.  But of course, imagine how hard it was to try and convince her of that.  God, but despite the struggles, I still remember how good she looked in her workout outfit as she stood in the driveway with a big frown on her face.  It was torture. 

Feels

It was at this moment that the swell finally decided to intervene.      

I hadn’t even bothered to check the forecast due to the stress she was causing me.  But, that next morning, with the renewed vigor to surf that only a fight with your girlfriend can bring you, I woke up to a Gold alert on Surfline.  And when I checked the cam on swellnet the Superbank was absolutely cranking. CRANKING.  And if you can tell it’s cranking on the trash quality cam feed then you KNOW it’s on.

Within record time my bike was packed.  I didn’t even bother to bring anything, I just put my boardies and my rashie on, strapped the board to the rack and hopped on my bike.   There were still huge conspicuous gobs of white sun screen lathered on my face but I didn’t care.  At that moment all that mattered was the sea. 

 

It was coming...

[to be continued...]