Meet Reef Doig, Australian kid who grew up in the loving arms of Mother Bali…
In much the same manner as Beau Cram, the son of eighties pro Richard Cram, this month’s star of O’Neill’s O’riginals series is about the kid of a noted surfer who ditches tour dreams for a sublime life of waves and meaningful work.
Reef Doig, who is twenty-two, is the son of Geoff Doig, a hard-charging cat who co-owned Cronulla Point and Shark Island in the seventies, alongside names like Jim Banks and Gary Hughes.
Back when magazine covers meant something, Geoff nailed two with the one shot at Cronulla Point.
And when Geoff fathered twin boys, and named one of ’em Reef, and then split with the mother and moved the gang to Bali four years later, you know the kid was going to live in the ocean.
Reef says his childhood cruising Bali with his pals was of the sort that would give helicopter parents heart tremors.
“It was pretty wild,” he says. “We’d sneak out of the house, borrow motorbikes, scooters, get our boards and drive to where the waves were pumping, chill there all day and go mad at night.”
Reef was part of the Padma Boys, local Balo kids that hung out at the beach in Seminyak, surfing all day, pulling the yoke of clueless tourists and so on. Classic kid stuff.
He even has a Moroccan half-brother, whom he’s never met.
“Dad fell in love with a Moroccan. He’s probably thirty-something,” says Reef in his softly nuanced, accented English, his third language besides Balinese and Bahasa Indonesian.
Reef was never religious but he follows all the usual Hindu ceremonies and observes Nyepi, the six-day Balinese celebration where, on day three, and just after the dark moon of the spring equinox when the day and night are of equal length, the joint comes to a complete halt.
Lights out. Streets empty. Shops closed.
“It’s to kick all the bad spirits off the island,” he says.
Reef says he feels more Balinese than Australian which ain’t surprising. It was only when he decided to do his final two years of high school at Palm Beach Currumbin High, a joint famed for its surf program, that he spent a chunk of time in Australia.
“I’ve got more of the culture inside me as a Balinese person than an Australian,” he says. “When I went back to Australia people considered me a white Indo even though I had super blond hair. And I had this twisted American accent everyone was tripping on.”
The culture shock of returning to Australia, he lived with the family of a kid he met in the surf at Burleigh Heads, was “insane. Going from somewhere where you have complete freedom to adapting to all the rules was hard. You can’t even do half the shit you can in Bali.”
School in Australia wasn’t easy, either. But he put his head down and went from failing in year one to straight A’s in his graduation year.
Reef’s pro surfing dream was slowly coming true, too. He’d won a major Pro Junior and, on Hurley’s budget, was chasing the WQS.
“I wasn’t getting the results and the pressure kept building on me,” he says. “I’d always make it to the quarters, maybe the semi’s, but I never had win. I lost my love for surfing and I ended up getting dropped. Slowly, I’ve found my love for surfing again.”
For cash, Reef works at his buddy’s beach clubs and is pretty thrilled with the hospitality game. One day, he figures one of the beach clubs could be his.
He gets an airfare here and there from O’Neill to chase waves, a bunch of clothes and says “that’s all I need, mate.”
Daddy Doig, now sixty-three, is still surfing and would’ve been available to talk about his kid but had disappeared into the Mentawai Islands.