"I got a borrowed car, no money, no assets but I own a couple of great guitars. I've never been happier."
Today’s guest on Dirty Water, Maurice Cole, is described in the encyclopedia of surfing as “chubby”, “bearish” and “with a hair-trigger temper”.
Cole, sixty-seven, was there at the birth of the surf industry in Torquay in 1969, first sewing wetsuits for Rip Curl, then as a sponsored shredder for offshoot boardshort company Quiskilver.
In 1976, and shortly before a two-year stint in jail, he was Australia’s most highly paid surfboard shaper.
Through the seventies and into the eighties, with black hair long-bobbed and flying, he was one of the world’s best surfers.
Long before it became a byword for beach break barrels he moved to Hossegor, France, and it was here he met an American ex-pat, a soon-to-be-world champ called Tom Curren. Their friendship peaked with Curren’s 1990 World Title on Cole’s boards and the reverse vee design of 1991.
He pioneered tow-in board design and surfing wild offshore reefs with Noah Johnson and Ross Clarke-Jones and, for a time there, with his happy koala bear logo, was the most in demand shaper in the world, Kelly Slater a vocal fan.
In 2003, Cole became a part of the mega-surfboard company BASE, which would collapse eight years later, millions of dollars in debt, and leaving our guest, in his own words, “disillusioned, bitter and twisted and in a very dark place.”
Perhaps his most marked characteristic is his extraordinary ability to go right to the heart of a problem and reduce difficulties to their right proportion.
Note to listeners: the interview ends suddenly due to audio blow-out.