By Jason Slezak
Follow REAL kiteboarding's Jason "Slezy-J" Slezak as he travels around Australia and attends the upcoming 100% Mambo Contest. This segment will be updated 3 times weekly to keep you up to date on his trip riding and contest results.
Postcard #5 : Newcastle Surf Session
We recently ran into a few days of chilly, stormy weather. Since we are traveling through Spring in the Southern Hemisphere, the weather is similar to the east coast in mid-Spring; overcast and rainy for a few days and then sunny and warm for a few days. Sunday and Monday were rainy with not much wind. Without wind on Sunday, Dimi decided to take the crew to a man-made wakeboard lake filled with kickers and sliders just outside of the town of Port Macquarie.
We rolled in on the last day of a weekend "expression session" type comp that was happening. The lake was still filled with little grom wakeboarders, so we scouted out a few spots to ride along the coast while Dimi lined up accommodations at the lake and a ski for the morning. We had no luck with the wind but while checking the wind we ran into two other cars packed with kiters that were heading to the Mambo. The crew included Zack, Woodsey, Funky, and Jamie(a LF rider from the Gold Coast). They decided to join us for the night and all of us sat down for a killer steak dinner before heading back to the cabins on the lake.
In the morning we were greeted with grey skies again but that didn't stop Dimi from throwing his ski in the lake and shooting while Tony, Amber Wing (Aussi pro wakeboarder), and I beat ourselves up on the kickers and sliders. After a fun wake session it was back on the road. We have been driving through some of the most beautiful scenery! We will be motoring through lush green hills and valleys one minute and then treated to the most insane coastal views the next.
Next up, we headed to New Castle for a kite-slider session. . . or so we thought. “ESS”, a local shop trailered a floating "dragon" rail to the beach. When we showed up it was 10m weather, with flat water on the inside of the rocks and waist to chest high waves wrapping around the rock point. We were all set to get the slider into the water when the boys realized that no one remembered to bring the anchors! While we were rigging up, Beaver received a call from Dimi letting us know that he would not be making it because the brakes went out on his van about two hours north of where we were riding.
Joel, Beaver, Tony, Tuterai, and I went out with all the local riders to smash some waves until sunset. With our train of vehicles now split up due to Dimi's brake malfunction, we grabbed a quick pizza dinner with couple of other riders and then crashed early. We were totally worked from a full day of sessions (wake, driving, and kiting).
Postcard #4 : Topless Byron and the Chickee Monkeys
Continuing our southbound trek we left the Gold Coast and crossed from Queensland (QLD) to New South Whales (NSW). NSW observes daylight savings time so we lost an hour as we as we crossed the boarder. As we cruised on our way to Byron Bay we stopped of in Tweed Heads at A.R. Wake n' Surf to visit Moti the East Coast kite repair guru to pick up a few of the boys kites that were ready to go. Moti can fix any damaged kite and will even repair the bladders, no matter how bad!!! He even fixed Tony's 15, which had a very intimate encounter with a gnarly rock jetty. After grabbing the gear, signing some posters and taking some pics for the shop, we rolled out on our way to Byron Bay.
Pulling into Byron, we found the holy grail of the trip so far. The sun was shining, it was 12m weather, and there were topless girls everywhere. For a group of guys traveling the coast kiting those are basically the essentials for sustaining life, other than food and water ! After scouting the beaches a bit (for a good place to ride. . . I swear!) we rolled out to a spot called “The Pass”. The Pass is a reknowned surfing spot with one of the most perfect and longest right hand waves in New South Whales. We we not lucky enough to have much swell, but we did have sick wind and good knee to waist high kickers rolling in.
All the boys were throwing down but it was a bit hard getting a few of the boys off the beach due to the scenery. I rode a Spectrum II 12 and my Drop 136 for well over four hours until I was exhausted. I said bye to Moe (he had to head back to Hawaii for 3 days to shoot a Nissan X-terra TV commercial) and literally collapsed and passed out in the top bunk of the RV. I woke up just after we pulled into a nearby RV park for the night. We cruised out for a killer steak dinner at the famous Hogs Breath Cafe and then out for a night in Byron which ended at a club called Chickee Monkeys. Chickee Monkeys is set up so you can dance on the tables and chairs in the restaurant until 3 am!
In the morning we were greeted by overcast skies and light wind so after a healthy breaky at one of Byron's fruit and juice bars we checked out the view from the lighthouse that overlooks the bay. This headland is the easternmost point in Australia and from the top we could see waves breaking for miles up and down the coast. With no wind forecasted
in Byron for the day and wind already blowing at some spots further south, we hit the road.
We headed to a town a few hours south called Woolgoolga. We were greeted to gusty windsbrought in by the front passing overhead. Six riders plus Dimi and Buster loaded gear into some 4wd's and headed a few miles upwind on a remote beach to a rock point. Beaver and I tossed up 8's while Tony went out on Moe's Spectrum II 6m. GUSTY winds and rocks that kept creeping above the surface with the dropping tide made for a short session. I did get to ride the downwinder back to the car with fun waist high waves and side-off winds. Back in the RV heading for dinner to get ready to ride in the AM with all of us hoping that the storm passes overnight and the wind cleans up tomorrow.
Postcard #3 : Let the Riding Begin!
Our tour south is under way! The Toyota Mini-van has been traded in for a six person RV and a sick brand new Holden ?? station wagon. It is amazing how fast a group of kiteboarders can destroy a rental vehicle. We only had the mini-van for a few days but in those 4 days it suffered years of abuse (the hand brake was not working from the start . . . I swear!!). Along with picking up our new vehicles we had to snatch Tuterai from the airport and also retreive Busters water housing (which the airline had lost on his way here a few days earlier). With Busters housing on board and our full crew now assembled we were ready to hit the Gold Coast.
Just as we started heading down the road, Beavers phone rang. A smile came across his face and he passed on the message that was given to him, "Get your asses down here. Its windy!!" That was all we needed to hear we were on it!
As we cruised down the Gold Coast driving through coastal towns and crossing bridges over beautiful river mouths opening into the ocean we started spotting kites popping up in the distance on the water. Pulling into our destination for the day, Currumbin Alley, we were greeted by about 15 local kiters either pumping up, already on the water, or just chilling. The spot is sick. An inlet with two different slicks on the inside one created by a rock jetty that lines one side of the inlet to help protect against beach erosion, the other created by a sandy beach that is on the other side of the inlet. In the inlet itself you have either standing waves or rollers depending on what the tide is doing. On the outside there is super fun beach break on both sides of the inlet.
We rode 15m kites and surfboards playing in the beach break for most of the day. After sunset we packed it in and headed to the house of three of the local riders, Woodsey, Zack, and Funky where we were able to plug the RV in and grab a shower. They treated us to an insane evening that consisted of a stretch limo ride to downtown Surfers Paradise with the first stop being Hollywood Showgirls, a fine fine establishment for some drinks and then to a dance club called "The Drink" where we danced our asses of until 3 am.
Thursday morning started a bit slower after hanging with the Aussies on their home turf. We were still up by a respectable 8:15 am and cruising to Breaky (Austrailian slang for breakfast) by 8:45. Eating at a outdoor waterfront cafe we could see that it was already whitecapping. We headed back to Currumbin straight away!
The day was setting up perfect; blue skies, good wind, and sunshine. The tide was still coming in so we headed out around the rocks rode the rolling kickers and the beach break outside of the inlet. After the tide switched we rode the inlet and then as it dropped to only knee deep in the flats the boys broke out their slider, a double PVC wide 3m up to 6m flat rail that stuck in the sand. It was on!
Moe, Tony, Joel, Woodsey, Zack, and I sessioned the slider until sunset. Dimi showed up an hour or so into it and shot a bit and Buster filmed the entire day. It feels so good to sore and tired, and now I am wrecked and ready for bed, only to wake up and do it again tomorrow!
Postcard #2 : The Crockadile Hunter
My luggage made it, delivered to Beaver's doorstep, about a day and a half after I did. Our first leg of the journey was an overnighter a few hours north of Brisbane to Tannum Sands where we picked up one of the Aussi LF team riders Tony Prest.
We were skunked on the breeze but checked out a few of the local riding spots and did the bro down deal with the local LF dealer. With one more person added to the mini van and another board bag on top we were definitely pushing the limits of the capacity of the Toyota.
One major difference that I have noticed down under is the intensity of the sun! As a result of the super sun it is very hard to sleep in. So after waking at 5:30 am (which has become our standard so far) and scoring a fun glassy thigh to chest high surf session until about 7am we decided to take in some Australian culture and go visit Steve Irwin's (The Crockadile Hunter) Australia Zoo. CRIKEY! Steve was not available to show us around but Beaver lined up the next best thing and had a friend of his that works at the zoo give us a V.I.P. tour that was unbelivable!
We were taken behind the scenes to meet the animals and their handlers. We got an up close and personal tour of the "Big Cat House" with both Bengal and Sumatrian tigers. Next we were treated to being able to hold, touch, and/or pet a few crazy creatures. A 174 year old turtle, 10 foot long python, pair of parrots, a wedge tail eagle, some kangaroos, a kawola bear, and to top it all off we watched the zoos world famous snake, crock, and tiger show!
At dinner that evening Moe took the liberty of proposing a seperate toast for each and every animal that we saw at the zoo earlier in the day. Needless to say that set the tone for the rest of the evening as we left dinner to scope out the night life on the Sunshine Coast.
Postcard #1 : Where is November 12th??
I knew when I left my house at 10am on Thursday the 11th that I had a long journey ahead of me. But it didn't really hit me until just over 36hrs and one missing day (that one will always freak me out I will never have a November 12th, 2004. . . where did it go?!) sitting in front of the arrival terminal in Brisbane that I was on the other side of the freakin' world!
As I was in LA sprinting from terminal 6 to terminal 4 with only 20 min before boarding to check in for the longest leg of my trip, a 14.5 hr non-stop flight from LA to Sydney, I had two main concerns. 1. Hope that i don't get stuck next to someone who I can't stand for the duration of the flight. & 2. Hope that my bags make the plane. After checking in and heading to the gate the first came screaming into view.
Just as I was starting to wonder, a good friend of mine Tonya Farman (Slingshot) came up and spooked me from behind. She and I managed to share a row with an empty seat in the middle. First concern wiped away! The second concern didn't hit me until I was standing at the baggage claim with no luggage.
So as I sit here waiting for Beaver and Moe to pick me up I am stoked to find what the next few weeks hold in store. And I also really, really hope that my clothes and gear make it here!!