The Chrysalis: Nicholas Veldekis.
By Spiro Veldekis.
All images: @southofthebridge
We arrive at 5.30 am and meet up with CEO of Handpicked bodyboards Michael Ostler, local surfer and photographer Pete Balmer surfer and Handpicked team rider Mark Saddler.
The boys are hoping the anticipated East Coast low swell has finally arrived having walked the 1.5k into the park the day before on the chance it had arrived earlier than expected.
Anticipation was high and the vibes were strong. We quickly took off with one head torch and trecked in darkness through the bush.
As we arrive the boys start cheering.
It’s on! Six foot, pumping, no one about. As my son gets into his wettie I’m watching the swell roll in. It’s heavy and it wraping in hard under the rock shelf. It looks scary, and as any dad will attest, you second guess whether your doing the right thing letting your fourteen year old out in large swell, especially at this reef break.
I can see the apprehension in his eyes.
“You’ll be fine mate, you’ve got the skill, you can do this. Just catch a few smaller ones first you don’t have to go the bombs” I tell him.
Ostler says “Come on Rudders (Nicholas’s nickname) it’s time you prove yourself and take this wave on”.
As the sun rises they negotiate the entry and paddle out to an empty line up. No one else out, just the three of them and Pete with his camera in hand waiting for some in water action.
I set up my camera and wait as anxious as all hell, still wondering if I’ve done the right thing as a parent. Saddler pick off the first one, first to go,then Ostler and then Nick on a smaller one.
The pressure is off to a degree and I’m cheering from the headland. Luke O’Connor is on the scene now with Jack Baker, two locals always on the hunt for good swell this will make for some good shooting. With 5 in the line up Luke and Jack are quick to show there dominance on this wave, not just settling for barrels but throwing in tight spins in the in the heaving pits.
Shaun Pyne and big swell chaser Cholo Edgar are soon out there to. Pyno shows everyone how it’s done with a late take off, deep barrel, spin, barrel again. He sure can surf!
Cholo, not one to be out done, waits for a bigger and makes it look like a walk in the park. What a waterman he is.
As the next large pulse pushes in I see Nick paddle and scoops before disapearing into the white wash before exiting in the channel with a huge smile on his face. He later tells me that Pyno had said “Time for you to get a bomb grom” and that’s all it took. “When Pyno calls you on to a wave you got a go, all I could hear was everyone screaming paddle, Rudders, paddle so I did”.
I was so proud of him and he was so stoked to share the line up with his Idols. The next day was Nick’s fifteenth birthday and the water shots Pete took arrived the same day. Best birthday present ever! Thanks to Pete Balmer you bloody legend for captured a moment he’ll forget.
Sessions like this one are why bodyboarding as a community is so great. Your older, experienced riders both look out for, and push younger riders to achieve what they may never have without the encouragement and guidance of elder statesmen and women of our sports.