As the sun melts behind the horizon Balaram Stack slips into a 4-foot tube in the foreground. He emerges with the spit, kicks out in front of a cluster of exposed rocks and paddles in over the shallow inside shelf. When he hits the beach Yadin Nicol meets him with an ice-cold beer and a job well done high-five. The rest of us are huddled around an impromptu beach barbecue watching Ry Craike poke at a pile of steak and sausage. The smell of simmering meat fills the crisp evening air.
"You boys get a few out there?" Ry asks in his deep, West OZ drawl, gesturing toward the point. Ry was on a job with his dad, delivering a boat, and only just showed up. He didn't get a chance to join our crew today out at the ridiculously good, picturesque left point that helped him become one of the best surfers in the world.
"F–k yeah," Ian Crane answers, with the biggest smile. "Today was the best day ever."
"Bummed I missed it. Where can I see all the footy?"
Parker Coffin turns his iPhone screen to Ry and shows him a 15-second Instagram teaser of a couple waves from earlier in the day. "The whole edit will be online in a couple hours," Parker quips.
Ry is impressed. And also surprised. "That's....from today?"
It sure is. If this were a normal surf trip Ry would have to wait a few months before we'd release all of the goods. But this isn't a normal surf trip. This is the SURFING Factory -- the second of its kind -- and on The Factory we aren't saving anything. If it happened this morning it's already edited and online. If it happened a few minutes ago, it's currently being uploaded to Instagram.
The Factory is The Real World meets The Drive Thru, except with all of the fun and none of the drama. We're 12 days into a 20-day trip. Noa Deane and Matt Banting have already come, conquered and left. We've produced eight edits, four photo galleries and two Factory parts, and uploaded a shit-ton of social posts. And the second crew has only just arrived.
The Factory is also a motivator. When you're releasing content as it happens, the surfers are extra fired up to perform every single day. The other morning I watched Yadin Nicol study his surfing after a session at windy, chunky North Point the same way football players study game tape. He broke everything down. Watched every clip at least three times. And then he went back out to North Point that same afternoon and nailed keeper clips back to back to back, doing some of the best surfing I've ever witnessed in person. In that way, just like a Detroit Ford factory pumping out parts, our Factory is highly productive. But unlike a Detroit Ford factory, ours is a whole lot more fun, and a place where drinking beer is very much an integral part of the job.
Because fun is the most important aspect of The Factory. It's everything a surf trip should be. A group of friends talking shit, drinking beers, staying up late, waking up early, piling into rental cars, eating meat pies for breakfast and ice cream for dinner and driving hundreds of miles and countless hours in pursuit of good surf. And, in the case of this trip, sharing all of that fun with the world as it unfolds and then packaging it into an entire issue of glorious print after the dust has all settled.
"Today was f–ked-up good," Yadin says, ripping into a mouthful of meat straight off the grill. It's nearly dark now but none of us wants to leave the beach. We arrived before the sun this morning. Stayed in our wetsuits all day. We'll leave after the sun tonight.
"I still trip out," Yadin continues, to nobody in particular. "That this is what we all do for work."
Yep, there ain't no other Factory quite like this one. --Zander Morton