Bear: Ok let’s start with the obvious, when, where and what did you ride your first wave on?
Cookie: It would’ve been south Cronulla. Mum used to take me in the corner where all the ladies sun-baked. I remember riding air mattresses when I was about 4 or 5.
B: The first board you stood up on?
C: By six, I was in Nippers. We used foam rescue boards. I’d always try to stand up on them.
B: That’d be hard, those things have got a really rolled bottom. Do you think that played a part in developing your balance?
C: Now you mention it, yeah it probably did, but they were the only thing I could get my hands on, so I didn’t really know they were hard to ride. I just remember having a ball on them.
B: How was growing up on the south side? C: Oh man I just loved it, everyone knew each other, it was a really tight community, and I still live there now. I
loved it then, love it now. B: When I was a Grom, surfing just stuck with me from day one, did you have a similar experience?
C: Not straight away, I didn’t do it as much in the winter, at first it was more a summer thing. During winter I loved footy, and soccer and my Grandfather was really good at golf. He got me into that as well and I loved playing that in winter. I just loved sport, every sport, I played everything. It was about 12 or 13 I got right into surfing. It just took over and all I wanted to do was surf and watch surfing movies.
B: do you still play golf? C: no not really? (laughs) B: why not, is it the pants? (More laughs).
B: I grew up in an area with a lot of fun reef breaks. One of the things I found was that reef breaks tend to have a more intense crew. Have you noticed a similar phenomenon at your home breaks, and what do you think it is about reef breaks that has that effect on people?
C: When I was young it was super territorial. There was always 3 or 4 guys that had it wired. As a kid I was a bit scared to paddle out the back and join them.
C: I didn’t want to get in the way, and it was very much a hardcore scene back then. They had names like Psycho Sid etc. So at first I was kinda freaked
out and never went out the back. Over time I started to venture out. But you know, it was a different scene back then. You really had to wait your turn.
Over time you’d get your turn and get accepted. But if you didn’t wait your turn, well you know what it was like. Step out of line and
there was really big trouble. (laughs)
B: Thing I noticed with most reef breaks, is there tends to be one take off spot, a local hierarchy and consequences. Even if the crowd doesn’t flog you, the wave probably will. Was it similar where you grew up?
C: Yeah that’s it exactly, I remember when I was 13 I got hit by one of the more unstable blokes for stepping out of line.
B: You were only a Grom, that’s really heavy.
C: Yeah it was, but that’s how it was back then. He just paddled over and said hey, why’d ya drop in? Then he slammed me. I still remember the pain in my jaw was radical. Everyone was trying to help me out of the water. You know I was only 13 maybe 14 at the time. And that’s just the way it was at the time. It’s maybe not as bad now, But definitely back then you just didn’t drop in, you had to be really careful about what you were doing in the water or you got hurt.
B: That’s gnarly, but yeah it was the same where I grew up too.
C: Yeah the scene was really heavy back then at times.
B: These days there’s a romantic reminiscence for the 70’s. You know the soul surfing thing and all that. Yet in reality those days were actually pretty brutal at times. Is there anything from your surfing past you find yourself missing or longing for?
C: Well I really miss how quiet it was in the water, you know we’d wander down to my local reef break, and there’d be four guys out, now days you cruise down there and there’s a hundred.
B: Yeah that’s what I miss too, but pretty much only that. (laughs)
B: I’ve noticed you seem to ride pretty much anything. Do you have a favourite style of stick, or are you into them all?
C: Love em all. But the whole thing about riding different boards started when I first moved up north. I had an old Kingswood, about $100 in my pocket and a couple of boards, but I snapped them both, and was left with nothing to ride. I wandered into a pawn shop and found a really cheap old Peter Townend Tube shoot single fin. It was about 7’6” and it was just beautiful to ride.
C: It worked so well. I found I was going so fast, and getting into the flow of the thing. I couldn’t get off it, in fact I still got it.
I got utterly addicted to the feeling. I still remember it so vividly. I rode it for years then I tried a longboard, and my world grew even more.
B: So what got you on longboards?
C: Well I was living in Byron by then, and you just need one in the quiver there, or you miss out on a lot of surf. I soon got addicted to the smoothness and flow of longboarding. The stepping out and having to figure where to let the board sit. It was like learning to surf all over again, it was just so much fun. I really dig watching what all the guys and girls at The Pass are doing and I’ve been learning all that stuff. I’m really loving it.
B: You seem to be a fairly avid competitor, is there a goal there, or is it just a social thing?
C: It’s just such a social thing for me, I’ve never once entered a comp wanting to win. I’ve only ever gone to those events to meet up with people and have a good time. The amount of heats that I’ve missed because I was out the night before (laughs) or it’s just about friends for me.
B: Ok let’s change subject for a moment, can you elaborate on the Disco Techno thing painted on your board?
C: Aaaaaaw you know what I don’t know what I was thinking when I did that, (everyone cracks up) ummm maybe a few too many big nights. It was around the time that Daft Punk released their new album. Yeah I was just thinking about the discotheque and dancing that kinda thing.
B: So you love dancing?
C: Yeah so much, I love music and I love dancing and it feels almost like we intertwine both with surfing. You know with the sort of dancing on the board, out in the water. So whether dancing or listening to music or out in the water, it just feels like one big party to me. (laughs)
B: Ok, while we’re on the party topic, I gotta ask ya dude. Wigs man, what’s with the wigs and the dress ups? I mean really dude, how many wigs have you got?
C: (raucous laughter) yeah ok I admit it, I love dressing up. I just think it’s fun. Why you asking?
B: When I was a grom sometimes me and my mates would go somewhere in fancy dress, when it wasn’t fancy dress. You know, just to wind people up a bit. Is that similar to what you’re doing?
C: Yeah absolutely, that’s it. If I could just go fancy dress every day and cruise around in say a purple suit to Woollies, it would just be so much more fun. You know how it is, it’s just for giggles.
B: So back to surfing, would you’d say you’re more into fun and function rather than fashion?
C: Yeah absolutely, when it comes to my boards, it’s about what works for me or will be the most fun on the day. Like seriously, to take something like a little thruster out in those soft waves we surfed today, is just beyond my thinking. What would be the point?
B: Which leads to my next question. Do you ever look at people getting frustrated and upset with longboarders when it’s small. And think to yourself, well dude, don’t blame me because you brought the wrong equipment?
C: Absolutely just so much. I know a place that’s the perfect example of that. There’s all these guys who are so against longboarding, they say they’d rather be dead than ride a longboard. It’s bizarre they’re just so closed about it. They’ve never ridden one, they have no idea how much fun it is. They sit out there and moan and groan and bitch about longboarders getting into the waves. And I’m looking at them and thinking, well you know it’s like 1-2 foot. It’s perfect for longboards what are you even going to do if you manage to catch a wave? Just pump and flap around then sink? I just don’t get that.
B: You seem to have respect towards your fellow sliders in the water regardless of the level of ability they have.
I like that. Who taught you that level of respect towards others, and does it ever concern you that the level of respect seems to be
less in the water these days?
C: Oh yeah, there is way less respect these days. But the way I am, I think, is because of what happened to me growing up in Cronulla. You know, there’s no way I’d hit a grommet. That’s not teaching respect, that’s about instilling fear.
B: Yeah I totally agree.
C: So I think I just want everyone to try and have a good time but in a respectful manner towards each other.
B: So what you’d like to see is less agro and more people having fun, but not at the expense of their fellow surfers?
C: Yeah absolutely. Like if I see a Grommie struggling I go help them, not hassle them. It’s like I want to leave what I’m doing on land behind me for a few hours. I want to come in from a surf peaceful not stressed. The best way to do that is be respectful to my fellow sliders. I just can’t stand it when people are fighting over waves, it’ brings such a bad vibe into the water. But sadly that happens a fair bit.
B: This thing that seems to be spreading in surfing, about judging someone by what they ride. And I’m not just talking about short versus long here.
It goes deeper than that, it seems to be spreading right through the lifestyle we love too. For me it makes me really uncomfortable
when I witness it. Is there anything about surfing that at times makes you really uncomfortable when it happens?
C: I get very uncomfortable about the thruster tri fin longboard, versus the single fin log thing.
B: you mean the current rift within the longboarding community?
C: Yeah, I feel, that that wasn’t even a talked about issue until very recently.
B: It’s gotten pretty heavy and at times even nasty.
C: Yeah, it’s gotten so heavy. I always come back to, riding the right board for the right conditions or that I’ll have the most fun on. Now I could take, my two plus one performance longboard, say out 6 foot Tallows, no worries, it’ll work. But I’m not going to take my single fin log out there, because for me, that wouldn’t work. Same with say Lennox at 6 foot, good for the two plus one, but wrong, for me, on a log. So I don’t see what it’s all about. I think, you ride whatever you want, whenever you want, based on what works for you. I don’t want someone telling me what I should ride or how, when or where I should ride it. Like seriously, telling me that it’s not cool or it’s not hip enough, or short enough or long enough or whatever. I just don’t get that crap, I really don’t. (We all crack up) I also don’t get the attitude of the, I’m only going to ride single fin guys. It’s no different to the, I’ll die before I ride a longboard guys. Like I’m not for or against anything, because I tend to like many style of boards, and I really like to try them all.
B: Do you wonder if this rift in the longboard world maybe has something to do with fighting over who gets the sponsorship bucks?
C: Man that’s a really good question. See there’s something going on that I don’t get. Don’t get me wrong, because I love riding my log, I totally dig it. But this is what I don’t get. The hard core log guys used to be really anti-competition soul surfers. Now they’re full on pro competition, and hunting to be the main event. It’s like when High performance was dropped for pro log. What was that about, I mean why not just run both? It just seems weird that a bunch of guys that were so anti-comp are suddenly now pro comp. Yeah I reckon it could be about the money.
B: Ok this one kind of fits with what we do at Slideaholics. Do you find yourself obsessing over when you can get your next wave?
Do you ever look at curved surfaces and imagine yourself sliding it. Do you see boat wakes and micro barrels and wish you were 6 inches tall shredding it up?
C: Yeah, yeah, actually, I really do. I find that even when I’m riding my bike, skateboard or even driving my car. I’m looking at lines, smooth lines, you know, which line is the best to pull. Like when I was a Grommie walking next to dunes and flicking imaginary re-entries off em. Every driveway and gutter on a skatey, always looking for where to pull the right turn.
B: So you’re the kinda guy that walks across a golf course, and see’s the curve in a bunker and thinks man I wish that was concrete.
C: Yeah, absolutely, I see that stuff everywhere, I’m always thinking about surfing, or skating, sliding, you know what it’s like. Always checking what way the wind is blowing, checking the tides, watching the maps. You know how it is, like all your local breaks work in different conditions so you’re always watch what’s going on and thinking, hmmm are there waves?
B: Yeah Cookie, I get it, you’re a slideaholic too.
- slideaholics journal # 4
- Coffee With Cookie
- publisher | longboard clinic pty ltd
- photography | yoko & bear bennink
- photography | ben kiggins
- editor | bear bennink
- digital production | yoko bennink
- copy writing | bear bennink
- copyright©slideaholics.com 2017
- copyright©longboardclinic pty ltd 2017