Geoff Helisma |
Yamba and the Clarence Coast to the north and south are blessed with numerous quality surfing breaks along a relatively short length of coastline.
This, along with Angourie Point’s almost mythical stature in the surfing world – declared NSW’s first Crown surfing reserve on January 12, 2007 –, provides an ideal canvas for nurturing talented surfers.
But it’s not just the availability of good surf breaks, there’s more to it than that, perhaps best summed up by surf writer Sean Doherty when he writes about Angourie Point in his book, 50 places to surf before you die: “It’s got the history and it’s got a certain intangible feel to the place that makes it a little more special than a lot of other better waves.”
The recently deceased David ‘Baddy’ Treloar once told the Independent that “no two waves are the same and no two swells are the same; that’s the uniqueness of it”. These aspects and what Treloar called “the natural feel of the place” all add up to something special.
Treloar’s legacy will live forever in surfing folklore but, closer to home, his position as a virtual guardian of the point and father figure to young surfers learning their craft remains alive in two young surfers, Dakoda Walters, 18, and Frank Murphy, 19, who are currently taking on the world of competitive surfing.
Walters is currently rated #1 on the World Surf League’s (WSL) Australia/Oceania junior surf tour, with two wins and a second under his belt. This places Walters in a good position to represent his region at the WSL Junior Championships, tentatively slated to take place at Jinzun Harbor, Taiwan, from November 26 to December 1.
There are five regional junior tours throughout the world and the highest rating surfers from each tour – best five results count – compete at the world championships.
Walters dedicated his recent win at the Hydralyte Sports NSW Pro Junior to Treloar. “Coming into this year, I wasn’t sure if I was going to do the pro junior events, but I really wanted to prove to myself that I could win one. Baddy was the biggest legend ever, so it’s awesome to get this win for him.”
Last week, Walters won the Gold Coast Pro Junior.
Murphy, who has qualified for the 2019 International Surfing Association (ISA) World Longboard Surfing Championship in Biarritz, France, May 26 – June 2, says his dad, Kevin, introduced him to Treloar. “Ever since I surfed the point as a 9-year-old Baddy nurtured me,” he says. “On big days he always watched me and called me into bombs [the best and often biggest waves on offer].
“He pushed my limits, but at the same time he was looking after me. He wasn’t a fan of my long-boarding at the start; then one day he told me, ‘That was it Frank, that was epic!’ and he pretty well encouraged me to take [long-boarding] on.”
Murphy also enjoys the luxury of being mentored by three-time world long-boarding champion Taylor Jensen, an American who often resides at Angourie with his wife, Nava Young, daughter of surfing icon Nat Young.
“Taylor has helped me in a lot of ways,” says Murphy. “There are a lot of people to look up to around here: [long-boarding peer] Joel Skinner when he was surfing a lot and twice world champion Harley Ingleby from Coffs Harbour … Nat helps a lot, too.”
Murphy, who is in the last year of his “chippy apprenticeship”, says he “really appreciates the sponsorship help from Family Dental Yamba”.
“Beyond competing for the world title, finishing my apprenticeship is my first priority,” he says. “When I finish that I aim to travel and do more comps.”
Walters was competing in the open division at the Gold Coast Open when the Independent called, however, his father, Jeremy, took the call.
Jeremy, who was with Treloar when he succumbed to a heart attack, says, “Dave pushed Dakoda and encouraged him to catch the best waves he could. He lived next door so we saw him every day.
“He was always stopping my boys saying, ‘Do you know what swell’s coming and … he would sit down and watch them surf and give them so much good positive feedback.
“If he was still around, he’d be knocking on our door to congratulate Dakoda, he would be so proud.
“Dave did the same for me – he used to take Dan Ross [former World Championship Tour surfer] and his older brother Ben, who came third at an Aussie titles, and I to comps and out in his boat to remote breaks.
“All the pros would come through, too, and we’d watch what they were up to and be so excited that they were here.”
Note: Jeremy Walters was the Australian Championship Circuit winner in 1998 and spent two years competing on the world qualifying circuit before starting his family in 2001. Dakoda is in Year 12 at Maclean High School.
The ISA is recognised by the International Olympic Committee as the world governing authority for surfing.