Snapper Rocks

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...]

Life on the Gold Coast Pt. I by Kevin Huang

A U S T R A L I A

INTRO:

The Backstory

 @julian_wilson absolutely shredding just before the #quicksilverpro. @hurley @redbull_surfing // Snapper Rocks

So, I've never had the time to sort of explain what's happened, but I'm home now, and for the first time in months I have a little down time.


My goal, for years, was set on Indo - the world's most perfect surfing playground - at least that's what surf media and the internet had convinced 15 year old me of. But, Indo is quite literally on the other side of the world. It's an exact 12 hour time difference depending on which time zone you're in. And, as it always is when traveling to the other side of the world, it's a bit of a journey.


If you look at a map, there are two ways to get there from the United States.

You either go east, or you west. You either cross the Atlantic, Europe, the Middle East, India, and you arrive in Kuala Lumpur..... or you go west, across the entire continental United States (in my case), refuel in Hawaii, and then hit KUL.

Julian Wilson

 

Well, it wasn't a very difficult decision whether I wanted to go to Hawaii vs the Middle East and if you're going to Hawaii then you might as well go to fucking Australia. So boom, three months later I was in Australia lol.


And of course, two really, really good friends of mine were in Australia. So it was a no brainer.

Typical scene at #snapperrocks.

The Gold Coast is an interesting place.


It's the kind of place that you are lured to for reasons other than surf.


Maybe it's a new job. Maybe your family lives here. Maybe, you're tired of surfing your shitty, blown out home break and you see the opportunity for a better life in Oz. For most of the people who surf on the Gold Coast, this is their reality.


The beauty of this place is that by coming here, you are essentially stumbling upon one of the greatest wave parks on the planet.


Just pray you're not goofy.

Morning glass 💎✨🌊

The Crown Jewel 💎 ✨

The Crown Jewel 💎 ✨

As these types of stories often begin, I ended up on the Gold Coast because of a girl. 

I had met this girl in the jungle, on the other side of the planet.  Long story short, we were separated.  

But, she was the kind of girl worth chasing around the world...

 And so I did. For the first time in a long time she gave me hope for a life different than the one I was living.  She meant everything to me. 

And now, she was living on the Gold Coast. 

 

[to be continued.  Check back when I drop a new post on Instagram!]