Talk to Slater, spend a summer in France, catch a wave at Teahupoo, order a board from this century's Duke…
1. Surf Teahupoo: It doesn’t have to be big, it doesn’t even have to be six foot. You just have to feel it: the long paddle from the end of the road, skirting the reef and paddling around the channel markers, up the point and pulling up at the world’s most infamous and photographed hunk of volcanic rock. It won’t be crowded, at least it won’t be if you avoid the two weeks of the Billabong Pro, and you’ll sit up on your board and see the green-covered mountains throttling upwards from the shore, the reef fish swimming among the crevices below your feet, the fishermen hurtling through the dynamited channel close to shore in their speedboats steered by two levers and a wave that’ll come from either a south or west direction. As a Teahupoo novice, select the south swell running up the point. It’ll let you in easy and, more importantly, it’ll let you out. If you’ve got a stab of courage in your gut, take on a west swell. Once committed, it’s a clean, in-out tube or a wrestle with your craft as you ride the cylinder straight onto dry rock. Whatever the outcome, when conversation with non-surfers turns to surf and someone asks: Have you ever surfed Teahupoo? You can confidently and honestly tell the truth and bask in the wave’s associated cred.
2. Order a surfboard from Simon Anderson: Imagine your grandfather putting you on his knee and describing the time he had a board personally built for him by Duke Kahanomoku. Do your future grandchildren a service by ordering up a craft from the inventor of the thruster, Mr Simon Anderson. Despite his reputation, Simon works out of a small factory in an anonymous industrial estate in Mona Vale on Sydney’s northern beaches. Call, make an appointment, and share a cup of tea (this is Australia, saddled with so many English cultural references) with the most influential man in surfboard design while seated on stools in a backroom brimful of boards destined to all four corners of the world. Simon will repay your handful of gold (a paltry $900) with a beautiful surfboard and an experience that will pay for itself over and over. Remember to keep the order form with Simon’s notes.
3. Be towed into a big wave/have a small-wave whip in sesh: You don’t like jetskis? You’re not alone. There’s a plague of the things. Anyone with access to a benevolent parent or personal loan is stumping up the green for a little jet power. Meanwhile, you sit in the lineup and you can’t believe the clowns on the things. What a joke? Who do they think they are, Laird Hamilton? But, if something’s popular, it’s gotta have something going for it, right? By whatever means, get yourself a couple of sessions behind a ski. Be towed into a 12-foot wave. Be launched into a four-foot ramp. Then tell the world how fucked it is.
4. Be coached by the Martin Dunn: It’s horrible to think about and even worse to admit, but most of us surf with an appalling technique. We try to hit the lip a second too early or late, we outrun sections, we only try cutbacks when we’re a mile away from the tube, our airs are dreadful throwaways and backdside tuberiding is something we can only enjoy vicariously through video of Dorian or AI. For the price of a couple of sticks ($330 a day, private, or $165 a day if you can find two other souls) and maybe an airfare from wherever you are, you will stay with super coach Martin Dunn, surf three times a day, and have every session videoed and analysed. You will leave either a vastly improved surfer or so discouraged by the shit you saw on the tv, you’ll never want to touch the sport ever again. As for Martin’s credentials, have you seen how good his kid, Ben, surfs?
5. Visit the Mentawais on a luxury charter vessel: For the last 15 years, the surf mags have poured a tsunami of ink onto their pages documenting the Mentawai islands. Is it as perfect as you’ve been led to believe? Only one way to find out. And if you’re going to go, save a little longer, save an extra couple of grand and experience it as if you were a millionaire professional surfer. Air con cabins, a fast boat, hot showers, a king’s supply of Bintang and food so artfully prepared your taste buds will weep with joy. This, and waves you’ve only ever seen in the movies.
6. Surf in South Australia: Ever since the Great White had the bounty lifted off its head in 1999 (July 16, mark it on your calendar), they’ve become so plentiful Port Lincoln fishermen reckon some days you can just about walk from boat to boat on their backs. Good news? Of course! What paranoid, weed-smoking locals wobbling around with shotguns couldn’t achieve, the conservationists have with the protection of the Great White – zero crowds! Experience hot days, cold nights, cold water and a cold frission of fear every time you paddle across the bottomless channels. You’ll either die in the mouth of a primitive mammal or leave with a headful of memories of desert barrels.
7. Spend December on the North Shore: Like the Mentawais, it’s just one of those joints you have to see once in a lifetime. Pick up your rental pickup (black) from Alamo, follow the signs to the North Shore and stay at your pre-booked beachfront house at Off The Wall. Go to the opening ceremony of the Eddie, visit Foodland every day, eat at Café Haleiwa, surf Rocky Point and Sunset and the various Pipe waves (Backdoor, Off the Wall, Pipeline), watch the Pipe Masters, get yourself on a nodding basis with Kala Alexander in the Pipe lineup and pick yourself up a sweet mainlander looking for surfer prime beef. Just once.
8. Spend a summer in France: Think you know it all? Think France in summer really is a kaleidoscope of naked Lolitas with bushels of pubic hair beckoning you to their favourite sand dune while sand-bottom barrels spin off on dreamy uncrowded banks? Reality is never like the dream. Sometimes better, often worse. It’s your duty to discover the truth.
9. Have a conversation with Kelly Slater: As irony would have it, the most in-demand surfer in the world is also the most approachable. For the sake of a memory bank you’ll need to access when age and decay force you out of the water, engage the best surfer ever in a conversation. He isn’t hard to find – his movements are posted on the WSL website in a section entitled Events. Don’t be drunk, don’t overfawn, treat the champ with dignity and respect and you’ll be rewarded with candour and insight.
10. Get stitched by a skipper: You haven’t lived until you’ve drunk half a bottle of Captain Morgan’s rum and had the skipper of your charter vessel crudely weave your split knee/arm/back/skull back into shape. Now that’s a scar you can brag about.