The Life Australian: Essential Surf Equipment

Here in Coolangatta – latitude 28 degrees, roughly the same as the Bahamas – the pervasive warmth of air and water really pares down what gear you need to get by. Being a bit of a vagabond, hopping frequently from flat to hostel to borrowed couch (without a car), my need to travel light is all the greater. Hence my surf equipment is holding steady at three high-quality, indispensable items that neither weigh me down nor hinder my ability to surf as often and as poorly as I like. For an unsponsored surf roadie, this minimalist collection is worth its weight in ScarJo.

Channel Islands Double Helix Proton

Channel Islands Double Helix Proton


1. Channel Islands Double Helix Surfboard – The Proton Model

This board is so dialed for the Gold Coast that it has an Aussie accent. I can’t believe it wasn’t born here. If you don’t want to roll three boards deep, a single magic thruster (6’1″ in this case) is the key to the city. The Proton isn’t a Fishcuit or a …Lost 5’5″ x 19 1/4″, but it still works wonders in little surf. I still bog a lot, but what can I say? I’m a bogger, no matter what’s underfoot. Bilbo Boggins, bogspot-dot-com. Horrible at surfing. The board’s a keeper though. The downside: it’s solid yellow, so people can go, “God, that guy with the yellow board really sucks.” (You always tend to think people are watching, which is really quite ridiculous when Parko’s on the wave behind you and CJ’s on the one before.)


ONeill Jordy Smith Signature TIA Boardshort

O'Neill Jordy Smith Signature TIA Boardshort

2. O’Neill Jordy Smith Signature TIA Boardshorts

The good:

  • These trunks are made from O’Neill’s 4-way stretch material, which is thin and flexy and light as a pterodactyl feather. It’s easy to tune out the marketing noise that screams Revolutionary!/Groundbreaking!/Better than ScarJo! about every new product from fins to fullsuits. Boardshorts especially are drowned in hype sauce, ever since the first Superfreaks hit the market about 8 years ago. But this new series from the O’Neill labs is a giant leap forward in terms of comfort, and when you’re only toting a single pair of boardies around, you don’t want fit or friction to be an issue. How does a company from Santa Cruz make such good warm water-wear?
The bad:
  • The trunks are an eyesore. I want to get a really bad haircut just to distract attention from them. Tastes being what they are, the pink and blue zebra print (this should have been a sign that the design department was up to no good) sort of blends in with the bright tangerines, limes and highlighter yellows clinging to everyone’s hips around here. Australians are particularly high from sniffing 80’s glue – but still, I half expect the Stab Magazine fashion police to write me a ticket signed, “For being an ugly c–t.”
  • FYI, Jordy himself doesn’t even seem to be wearing them. He and the other O’Neill riders are decked out in the similarly glaring, but relatively conservative, Hyperfreaks. I’m excited about the next generation of boardshorts, but mostly for the superlative names: EcoFreaks, ComfortableWhenYouPutThemOnFreaks, ScarJoFreaks. Don’t steal those, they’re mine.
O'Neill Hyperfreak Boardshort

O'Neill Hyperfreak Boardshorts


Billabong Foil 2mm L/S Jacket

Billabong Foil 2mm L/S Jacket

3. Billabong Foil 2mm L/S Jacket


I get cold with at the slightest hint of wind or the mildest chill in the undercurrent, so this piece never leaves my hide. Plus, the sun burns you up here starting at 6:30AM and lasting until 6:30PM (after it sets, somehow. It’s not kidding around). Thus the Foil jacket serves a dual purpose. The mini-zip on the back makes getting in and out easy, and it clings tight around the waste without riding up or flooding. Also super stretchy and not a chore to paddle around in. It’s the only item in the collection that isn’t kind of funny looking – I don’t know, maybe I should cut a deep v-neck into the front or something.
So there you have it: all a kid needs to feast on the ample Coolangatta wavescape in early Fall. If you have some extra money to spend and space in your suitcase, other recommended accessories are:
  • A leash, to strangle other surfers
  • A sunscreen with at least 5% titanium dioxide, to stuff down the throats of other surfers and thus poison them
  • A gun, to shoot other surfers in the face
  • ScarJo
If any part of this post seems to require explanation: I just saw Lost in Translation and Match Point for the first time.