“ONE” the hard yards

Please note that this post was first published in August 28, 2015, and some of the details, links and offers may no longer be active.

I spent two days after this shot was taken sore and dehydrated. The story is probably better than the photo, but its the struggle behind the picture that makes this one mean a little more to me than it otherwise should.

It was back on the 2nd August 2013 when Johnny Craig and I decided to surf/shoot an outer reef north of Coffs Harbour. It’s about a 400 meter paddle off the beach to this spot over some deep blue water, but first I had to get me and my camera past the shorebreakers. This spot needs at least 4 foot of swell to start breaking, so the beach break in front of it had some pretty solid waves breaking this day.

I decided to use a bodyboard rather than swim to help cover the distance to the outer reef, so I put my camera (water housing protected) into a backpack and started kicking my boogie board through the shore breakers, I almost got out the back of the inside section when a set wave pounded me and snapped the backpack strap and ripped it off my shoulders, I managed to hold on to it, but had to return to shore. Johnny came in with me (bless him) I was going call it a day, but then spotted a good one off the reef. So I just did a granny knot in the strap and tried again. This time the inside section paddle was easy. The deep water paddle out to the reef was also not a drama.

Finally I was side on to this draining reef in the middle of the ocean and Johnny was hooting a hollering in anticipation of what he hoped was coming. It took a while thou, it was so fickle that day, not every set hit the reef, some would push wide, some would go dry, there seemed to be every angle of swell except the right one. There was also plenty of water moving around, so holding position was a constant battle.

John got a few small nuggets that didn’t really do anything, before finally getting this one… the only half keeper that I shot of him that day. The half light was looking nice, a real cool tone that looked electric, this wave was wobbly but he took off behind the peak and got a few seconds of cover…. he then said “Tommy Ive gotta go to work dude, Im outta here” and paddled in.

I wanted to get at least one more shot for all my troubles so far, so I decided to stay out and all by myself to get an empty wave pic. I probably only waited another 10 minutes tops before nailing a okay empty and then started my paddle back to shore.

Thats when things turned to hard work. I was already pretty exhausted from the paddle out and holding position for the last few hours, but that was nothing compared to the struggle it was to get back in.

A forceful current was sucking out to sea and kept me in a holding pattern, I made no ground for a good 15 minutes. Still 200 meters from shore I decided to paddle across to get out of the current but it got worse. I was over heating in my wetsuit… red faced, breathing hard and getting no where.

After what seemed like 40 minutes of trying to paddle this bloody boggie board to get to the shore, I finally reached the breakers. I have zero experience on a body board, so my techniques on getting the sponge through the water efficiently probably weren’t ideal, but it felt bloody good when a set wave picked me up and washed me right into the beach and on to dry sand. I think I laid there for a good 10 minutes with my head laying on the sand before gathering myself together and making the short walk up to carpark.

I called up Johnny when I got back to the car, who was already at work and having his first smoko by the time I got dry…. he just laughed at me and said when are we going again?? “Not for a few days Johnny”. I have been out there a few times since, but I choose to paddle my surfboard out there instead and it was a piece of cake… Still haven’t nailed a epic shot of this spot, but one day I will… maybe when the shark hype dies down a bit huh… its a long way out!

CAMERA INFO || Shot with the Canon 5D, 100mm Canon lens and AquaTech water housing : shutter speed 1/1600 sec aperture 4.5 with ISO set at 200

Johnny is such a tube hound always on the hunt for the hollow curves… I thought this would be a good opportunity to run a short clip I made of him surfing around the Coffs Coast a few years ago… he knows how to find the kegs….check it below…. this still pumps me up to go surfing around here!



this weekend is the last chance to take advantage of the fathers day sale… every picture on our website is 20% off all canvas mounts. You just need the code word “dadscanvas” at the checkout stage of the online shop to get the savings. We only do 2 sales per year, so get on to it, finishes in a few days…..

Or you can go to XS SURF shop at Woolgoolga to score 40% OFF their entire winter range of clothing!!!


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