I have been surfing since I was four years old, so as long as I can remember! So many of my childhood memories are of days by the sea or camping in the National Parks and surfing and exploring the coastline with my family and friends. My proudest sporting moment. Personally it would be winning Teahupo’o in Tahiti on the World Tour against my childhood idol Kelly Slater. The culmination of a life's work - from posters on the wall as a kid with wide eyes and big dreams, injuries and hardships along the way, then the hard work, belief and opportunities that follow. That and travelling the World on Tour with my wife and 3 kids. It was bloody hard but we had a lot of fun doing it.
From a young age I had a social and environmental curiosity that led to a consciousness and desire to advocate for positive change. That came from my parents who left South Africa in the late 70’s at the height of apartheid looking for a better place to raise a family. I grew up in a mud-brick house that my dad built from the materials he could recycle in our area. By the time I was 11 I had written a story that explored social themes between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians, Climate Change and of course surfing! It ultimately ended up being turned into a children’s book called “Macka’s barrel into the Dreamtime”.
Surfers for Climate was started by a bunch of passionate, like minded ocean lovers advocating for grass roots action on climate change. It’s based around educating and empowering people at a community level so they’re best informed to take the actions suited to them to have a meaningful impact. Surfer’s have always had a sense of custodianship over the ocean but have at times been too apathetic to the climate movement, especially at an elite and industry level. But I’m proud to say that’s changing quickly. Surfers and Ocean loving Australians were a huge part of the Green and Teal wave and the shift to more progressive Climate policy generally at the last election.
I’m excited about the entrepreneurship and innovation that young individuals are showing. There’s a big demand for more sustainable materials and products in the surf and outdoor industry. Things like the shift away from petroleum based wetsuits to Yulex based and towards more sustainable surfboard materials like timber and eco-resins. I’m also really excited about my friend Sam Elsom’s project Sea Forest that cultivates asparagopsis to include in feed for livestock which drastically reduces their methane emissions.
Just knowing that small actions combined make a difference and that if we all vote for the change that we want to see we can impact things at a policy level. We all have a unique role to play and just identifying that and leaning into it. As an athlete, I’m trying to use my platform to advocate for positive and sustainable change and to inspire and educate the next generation to take action.