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This Is Northern New South Wales

Festival of Stoke

With the swell pumping all week everyone was plenty warmed up for the Byron Bay Surf Festival on the weekend. There were obscure board-shapes, lots of beards, Japanese journalists, a couple of leotards, a million smiles and more stoke than you can point an Alaia at.

The morning started grey and stayed that way, but the sun did creep through the clouds to greet me, alone on the beach, at dawn. I shot over to Watego’s to catch a solid crew doing a paddle-out in honor of Donald Takayama, the board-shaping pioneer and all round lord who recently passed away.

The car-park was full before 9am and soon the grass was covered in boards of every shape and colour and manner of construction. Long, short, tiny belly boards, vintage fabric inlays and hand-sewn gold strands. There were big guys on big boards in small speedos, there were surf comps and crew sliding without fins, there was even a workshop where the masters would help you craft your own hand-plain.

There were pudgy 2-footers lumbering through, it was classic Wategos. All day long there were folks dashing in and out of the water, grabbing this plank or that log, throwing around foam like it was christmas.

It was a sprawling mass, piles of frothing surf culture and every element was a positive take on the sport we love. I shared so much great banter, trying to find the vocabulary to describe the feeling of riding a certain board, a certain shape, is an art in itself and on Sunday the pros were out in force, good times.

Written by Johnny Treadgold 

More photos can be found on the La Sunshine website HERE.