A vintage interview that features sickly cameos from Craig Anderson and Jordy Smith…
The well-known Australian surfer… but perhaps it’s best not say exactly which well-known Australian surfer – they’re a sensitive breed!
And why would the gentlemen we’re about to surprise be an exception? But what the fuck, Mitch Coleborn, it is Mitch Coleborn, sits on one of the marble steps leading to the top floor of this, his penthouse suite. There are 17 altogether, plus four bedrooms, a dining area, kitchen (with open floorplan) flowing to a large living area flowing to a large deck. The floor is a white marble with grey veins and the ceiling lights are recessed. The bathrooms don’t have doors but opaque pull shades instead. The furniture is white leather. It feels, like, today. Modern, without being well-thought but also without being garish. It is the sort of modern that Balinese specialise in. Unobtrusive. Stainless steel appliances and smoked glass. The large deck overlooks Uluwatu.
Mitch is sitting and smiling broadly because he doesn’t feel the least bit sick. His voice is full of light. His Volcom Hawaiian print shirt pressed and unbuttoned three from the neck. Brixton sailor cap perched, jauntily, on his brown curls.
“So, yeah, last night. We went out for a sniff but kind of got there too early. Waaaaay too many Bintang singlets floating around. I had another shitty session yesterday, so I just fucken felt like a Bintang and then one drink led to another and I thought we’d go out and have a look and a couple more drinks and ummmmm…”
“What time was it Mitch? I didn’t think anyone would be out at all…” Craig Anderson, interrupting, is laying on one of the downstairs bedrooms’ queen beds. We surprise him too and he feels a lot sick. And he looks it, though fully dressed, his normally inquisitive chocolate eyes are dull and flat. His South African-tinged Australian accent weak.
“Ahhh, it was shit but it felt good just to get out of the fucking house,” Mitch continues. “And so we got there and Jordy just ruled. He’d talk to anyone. Anyone in the whole place.” Mitch’s laugh imitates his broad, healthy smile. It is robust.
“I was friendly,” Jordy clarifies. He is not surprised at all and is on another downstairs bedroom queen bed. A different bedroom from Craig, but both heads are pressed against the same interior wall and both doors are open. Craig and Jordy are mirror images of each other (as seen from the author’s perch in the hallway). Jordy is sick too. Sick in the stomach. Like Craig.
“Super friendly,” Mitch adds.
Did Jordy brave the night with sickness already gripping is large intestine or did the wretched curse take him midway?
“Uhhhh, last night it did come on. It was actually pretty weird. I was, like, talking and then the next thing I’d say is, ‘Ahhh, I have to stop talking to you because I have to go to the bathroom’.” Jordy looks disgusted with himself but also a touch amused. His eyes are on fire and he is tucked under his sheets plus baby blue comforter. He must be sicker than Craig.
What is Jordy’s prescription for stomach illness? Does he ride it out? Does he call for a doctor? The way a man handles illness, and especially that of the stomach, intrigues. “Ahhh, if I can get a doctor I get a doctor. One came in this morning.” Craig Anderson looks up, nods his head. He saw the doctor too. Then goes back to studying the casing on his computer. Mitch asks what he is looking at. “My computer. Someone dropped it on the floor.” (It was the author).
Jordy, suddenly animated, lifts up to an elbow, lounging like Cleopatra. “Well, that’s karma. Too much Facebooking. Yah.”
Does Craig do the most Facebooking out of anybody? Mitch doesn’t need to think. “
Yes,” he says.
Jordy too, “Without a doubt.”
Craig jumps to the defensive. “Ahhhhhh, whatever. You are the biggest liar ever.”
Jordy tells him he (Craig) bought three (and holds up his fingers to emphasise. Three. Even though Craig can’t see him) internet cards yesterday.
Craig parries, “Noooo! I bought one and then I lost it then I bought another one. You Skype and Facebook waaaay more than I do.”
Jordy seems shocked by this allegation. “No. That’s a lie.”
Craig presses. “No it’s not.” Jordy gives ground. “I might Skype. Skype yah. But that is talking face to face.”
Craig smugly asks, “Why do you Skype?” And Jordy ends this particular line of questioning with a tautology. “It is face to face.”
Silence. Mitch, looking at both Craig, who is lying on his back now, dark blue shorts scrunched high, and Jordy, who is still lounging like Cleopatra with sheet tight under his armpit, continues his story. “So we get to the bar, Craikey (Ry Craike) went to the bar and ordered…”
Jordy cuts in, “the worst fucking drink ever.”
Mitch laughs. “…these awfucking strawberry drinks but they were voted the best drinks in Bali. That’s what, that’s what pulled him into ‘em. And, they were easily the worst drink I’ve ever had. The whole thing was like pulp. Like red pulp. And you’d have a sip and then turn around, talking to the boys and they’d start laughing at ya and I was like, ‘I’ve got something in my teeth, don’t I?’ It’d be all red. Disgusting.”
Jordy adds the drinks had leaves in the bottom of them.
Craig is listening, not very amused. Would he have gotten that particular drink?
“No.” What would he have had? “A beer.”
Jordy disagrees. “Craig would have had a strawberry milkshake.”
In any case, the awfucking strawberry drinks led to one thing which led to another which led to the boys out at a tranny bar being ogled by beautiful (wo)men with beautiful adams apples. A big night indeed, but not necessarily out of place. These are professional surfers. And Jordy is the most professional. He is so big, even lying in bed, sick, still physically dominant. Wild eyes matched by a wild haircut chopped with dull shears, tousled by salt breezes, colored by sun. A black O’Neil shirt stained with life. If anyone were to be master of his fate, captain of his soul, it’d be Jordy Smith. He is South African. A poster of Afrikaner might.
Photographer Ryan Miller, editing pictures nearby, says, “I was with Jordy for, like, a week or 10 days in South Africa and out every single night and not one person said, ‘Hey are you Jordy Smith’ or ‘Hey can I get an autograph?’ or ‘Hey can I get a photograph?’ One chick randomly, in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of the country, walked up and asked if she could get a photo. Asked where she was from. Newport Beach.”
Jordy says he thinks it’s better than cool to be left alone. “Yah, it’s awesome. It’s really good. It’s super mellow back home and I can just get away from everyone. Home is where you’d think people would want you more but it’s pretty cool to go home and just be able to relax.”
How often does he spend in South Africa every year, relaxing? “Maybe three or four months a year. You don’t get to spend much time anywhere in the world.”
Craig, listening in, says, “Three months is a long time to spend in one place. In a whole year, I haven’t even been home for four weeks this year.”
Mitch contributes a caveat, “That’s by your choice though. You little workhorse you. Comin’ on to the scene. Comin’ in hot. Fucken… too cool to go on trips with Quiksilver.” Craig tells him to fuck off.
Mitch says, “Him and Dane.” Jordy laughs. Mitch laughs.
What is Mitch doing? “I’ll do the Europe leg of the QS. How fucken fun does that sound? Yeah, just try to get a few results in the bag so I can get into some comps next year. Fuck. I’ve been trying to get results but it hasn’t really happened yet.”
It really hasn’t happened. He has been no good, in competition. Why? “I don’t know. I’m not… something is wrong. Jordy’s trying to be my mentor.” Does Jordy give tips? Mitch says he doesn’t ask for tips but Jordy gives anyhow. Do they help?
Jordy says, “We’ll all wait and see.”
At Margaret River Mitch didn’t get out of the trials. He is told Craig made it to the main event (as an injury wild card).
“Yeah, I got a 4.7.” Craig says, nonplussed.
In Brazil Mitch didn’t get past the round of 96. Craig asks, “Did you have three Brazzos in your heat?”
Mitch replies, “Two, and where is Arritz from?” Someone says, “France.”
Both Craig and Jordy say, “Spain.”
Jordy laughs, then asks Mitch what ticks him off. Mitch asks for clarification. Jordy clarifies. “What makes you angry? You’re never angry.”
Mitch asks, “I’m never angry?”
And Jordy tells him that he has never seen him angry.
Mitch says, “Deep down inside I’m pretty angry all the time.”
Jordy, intrigued, says, “Really?”
Mitch says, “Nahhh.”
Then Craig speaks up, “Remember at Reunion? You were pretty angry then. I was angry too. We had those meltdown sessions.”
And Mitch remembers. “Ah yeah, yeah, yeah. Bad freesurfing sessions piss me off way more than losing in a connest. Way more.”
Jordy understands this, instinctively. “Yah and if the waves are really good and you can’t surf…”
Mitch says, “Kind of like yesterday.” And Jordy continues, “I guess it’s all different. Sometimes in comps when the waves are really bad you have some of your best sessions.”
Mitch, looking a little bit forlorn, says, “I would way rather do that then when the waves are really good and you have a fucken bad session.”
Does he ever punch his board? “Yes.”
Does Craig, “Nah, not really.”
Does Jordy? “I used to when I was younger. I started hitting the stringer and it hurt so I started punching my grip.”
Craig asks, “Punching the grip?” And Jordy responds, “Yah.” Craig says, “Punching the grip. I’ve done that before and I punched through to the other side. Punch right through it. I’ve done that before.” Clean through? “No, no, not my whole hand but like a ding on the other side.”
Jordy says, “Wow Craig. You must be strong.”
Mitch laughs, free and easy, “Craig probably really has to shit but he has this paranoia. Like, look at the bathroom. There is no wall. You can just lift the blind up. He probably needs to shit so bad right now. Look at him. You should just go shit in the pool.”
Craig says, “I don’t need to shit. I promise.”
Craig keeps his promise. The next day Mitch, Jordy and Craig surf world-class Keramas. The day after too. They return to the penthouse each night before going out and being large. They each live the life you wish you could.
(Editor’s note: This interview was recorded five-ish years ago and first appeared in Stab magazine.)