Confessions Of A Box Beach Booger.
Cover image: @wedgeformer.
G’day Infoamed crew, I’m reflecting through a series of short articles on the growing pains and joys of life as a young Australian male in a small coastal town.
Cheers and warmest regards,
Episode 1: In the beginning…..
Box beach, a heralded playground for misfits of all watercraft.
A crossroads of the counter-culture that helped define so many trying to cut a sway through the ether.
What’s it like growing up at arguably one of the best waves on the east coast of Australia on its day?
Well sit back and light one up, I’ll try to put it all together.
Popping the Cherry
1995, I was in year 7 at the now dissolved Nelson Bay High School and I had joined my peers in term 3.
I was an avid ocean goer but was ultimately terrified of any wave over two foot at the time.
I befriended a couple of local skate rats and part-time woodwind enthusiasts that puffed in the local THC band.
(It would be some years till I accompanied them on the bamboo bugle in the dunes at Box Beach.)
Even though I had grown up around surfing on the Northern Beaches of Sydney it never really registered on my radar.
I had been drawn to the boog, and mostly so as the crew that I had found myself associated with also dragged the dong.
Surfers, at the time, were straight up fucking jocks from the perspective I approached their craft.
School bullies in Billabong attire that got the babes and listened to bad music.
Now, it wouldn’t be until the end of 1997 that I anchored myself into my first Box Beach portal.
I had fucked around on the fear-friendly waves of the Tomaree Peninsula for a couple of years on my bit of foam till I mustered the courage to mix it with the big boys at Boxy.
I had found myself on a Kainoa McGee Wave Rebel courtesy of heckling mum and dad for months after watching the great man pilot the thing on some ridiculous Pipe bombs on the North Shore.
If I’m being honest my new ride straight-up resembled a fucking pool toy.
A straight-edged slab of rubbery foam with a soft slicked bottom.
KM was truly a machine to get the thing through some of those seismic sessions he was famous for.
I remember that first wedge as clear as the night skies above Port Stephens in the depths of winter.
A north-easterly swell ranging between three and four foot was pulsing through as a prevailing westerly groomed the surface and made for skatepark like conditions.
Mechanical lines refracted like immaculate reflections off the prehistoric headland that rose from the Pacific.
It was as if all those sketches in my high school science book had sprung to life and I can still hear those prepubescent teens cheering on from the shoulder.
The peak of the set wave rose to meet me as side-wash bolstered its arrival to the shallows.
A pyramid drawn skyward as the water rushed along my rail and the ocean drained from my position.
It was a steep learning curve for any grom accustomed to the safety of long fat walls.
My fins licked the back of the team-sports haircut mum had demanded for me at the local snip clinic as I bounced like a trough lolly along the bottom.
In a blink of an eye I was pushed hastily as a shadow cast over me.
I could see daylight just ahead from the belly of this Box Beach beast.
A volt rush ensued as cascading water pressurised around me and I re-entered the world now a man.
There was a smile as a wide as a gold-toothed rats across my face.
This was it.
This is what the elders had talked about.