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                    Interviews

click here for our Tom Carroll interview

Taco Warr

 

This month we catch up with tow-in legend Damien (Taco) Warr who recently won the Best Overall Performance award in the Oakley/ASL Big Wave awards. 

   

You are originally a Longy (Long Reef) boy.  How long have you been living in Yallingup WA?  

Yeah, grew up surfing Long Reef and moved to WA 8 years ago. I originally came over in the early 90ís for the Aussie Titles, then years later traveled a lot overseas. After that I needed to get out of Sydney,  I was getting stuck in a rut, partying, spending too much money and it was getting way too busy.  Came over to Yallingup with Ozzie Wright to stay with Paul Pato in í99 and fell in love with the area. I loved the space here and the amazing beaches along this coastline.

When did you first start tow in surfing?

In 1996 I had just come home from 4 months in Hawaii, working in a surf shop and surfing. I guess it was around that time that tow in surfing was making quite an impact in Hawaii. I was lucky in the fact that my old man, Noel, had been using jetskis and riding waves a good 10 years prior to then, so he was really familiar with using skiís in those types of conditions.  I remember a day when the swell was really big, I had ridden down on my pushie, and saw that all the bombieís where breaking around the tip of Long Reef. I came back home and dad was frothing to take the ski out to try and tow me into a few! We where at the boat ramp, it was a 4ft shorie and we only just managed to get the ski out through all of the seaweed. I had a brand new Jeff Bushman 7ft, that I had only used a couple of times, and was looking forward to getting back into the water again. We ended up towing a place on the northern side of Long Reef called ďCenturiesĒ which was a big fat right hander in the 8-10ft range. My old boy managed to get me into some great waves, the only problem was, as I was surfing the waves, he was also doing the same thing on his ski, so most of the time I was going over his wake!!! Never the less it was an amazing experience for both of us, and something weíll always remember. A few hours later, of coming in, Guy Finlay, who used to make movies and lived on the northern beaches, came up and interviewed me, saying it was the first time someone had tried tow in surfing in Sydney, and he got the session on film. It would be great to be able to look back on that footage now.

Besides towing what else do you do to keep busy in WA?

I still love all aspects of surfing and being in the ocean, whether itís riding a mal or an old single fin, stand up paddle boards, foils or my short boards. Being in the ocean always makes you feel good, I guess itís a form of meditation for me. Other than that on a work front, I am living and working on an amazing vineyard property managing chalet accommodation.

 

Do you mostly tow with the same guy?

No, generally when the waves are really good and for trips up and down the coast, itís with Dave Lewis. Otherwise when heís not around, who ever is free at the time.

 

Those couple of days at cows looked crazy.  Can it do it again?

For sure anything is possible. I have been surfing out there for the past 4 years, generally only getting out there a couple of times per year. Last year was crazy, we got out there 6 times, 2 where unbelievable and pretty well documented, but the other days where still amazing. Either light onshore, cloudy, no photographers, just friends out and still huge. For me those days where just as good as any other.

 

Do you think cows is over-crowded now?

That one day. was definitely over the top, there were about 8 people towing. You had your local crew, then had people from all over hunting that day, it was a bit of joke. But at the end of the day, the people who had surfed there on a regular basis over the years, seemed to be those that got the best waves.

 

Towing is becoming much more popular on the East coast.  How about WA?

Yeah, every year there seems to be more and more skiís in the area. More people coming down from Perth too. Weíve just established an association SWTISA (South West Tow In Surfing Association) which has been started by a group of local guys who tow on a regular basis. Basically, something needed to be done now before it is too late, seeing as a lot more skiís are now operating in the area. Setting rules, regulations and guidelines, that we hope people will respect and abide by. We donít want the same thing that has happened on the east coast, with jetskiís being banned in certain areas.

 

You like to surf up the North Coast of WA.  Do you just go or do you watch the weather forecasts first?

I donít want to give all my secrets away! But we all know these days the internet can help with your decisions but you should never rely on what your computer says either.
  

Would you like to tow anywhere else like Shipsterns?

Shit yeah! But it seems like that place has a pack on it every time it breaks, so not sure I would be keen to travel that far for the crowds. There are definitely some waves like that around in these parts, as good as that and with a lot less people on it. You just need to look around the corner and open your eyes, you never know what youíll find!

 

You have been foiling (airboard) Ė is it as fun as it looks?

Been foiling for about 3 years now, probably donít get out as much as Iíd like, the boys seem a bit hesitant of it! Once youíve tried it, its addictive, but taxing on your body! Itís definitely challenging, totally different form of surfing. The feeling is amazing, especially riding ocean swells which donít break.  Being so high above water, going so fast, not feeling or hearing anything, except for the keel slicing through the water. Itís like a hot knife going through butter!

 

Jetpilot have sponsored you with their products.  It must be good to have them behind you?

JP have been behind me out for about 3 years now. Iím fortunate to have them helping me along the way. Itís great to see a company that recognizes tow surfing as an extreme sport. They are definitely leading the way with their PFDís. also they are starting to release some good tow ropes and in the future, sleds and other tow related accessories.

 

If there was going to be a one day (with a 2 week waiting time) tow contest in Australia, would you be keen?

There is no way in the world you would be able to hold a tow contest with a 2 week waiting period, to get the best conditions it would have to be a minimum of 3 months. Generally Iím not really interested in competing, the reason I stopped when I was younger was because I donít deal with pressure and the waves were always shit. But I guess if it was held in a good spot and the waves where pumping, Iíd love to have a dig.

 

I sent you over a Towsurf custom 4 fin tow board.  How has it been going for you? 

Most appreciated! Iíve tried both your 5í8 and 5í10 now. I got to ride the 5í8 at Cow in October last year. Waves where around 15 to 20 feet and it seemed to go unreal. The thing with the quads, is that they are super fast, they feel like you have endless amounts of speed, and you donít feel like they would cava Tate.  I still feel I need to surf them more in different conditions and experiment with a couple of different outlines.       

 

How would you describe the difference between a four fin quad to a three fin thruster on big waves?  

I think quads will go better in more top end conditions, seeing that you have that amount of speed. Quads turn differently to a thruster, you have to adapt your style of surfing to them. They seem to like big, long, drawn out turns, which hold well, where as the thruster, turns better in the pocket.

 

Weight is a very important factor.  How much weight do you load on your tow board? It is variable. All of my boards are weighted, it is important for keeping the board in the water and for holding momentum once you have let go of the rope. Itís also important to have the weight in the correct place on your board, so that the board is well balanced. My all rounder, has lead built in which is about 2kg with a total board weight of app 4kg. My top end, have detachable weights, which vary and can be interchanged depending on the conditions. These range from 2-6 kg. Total board weight app 8-12 kg.

 

 

  =

Tom Carroll

Whether paddling-in or towing, Tom Carroll

is always an inspiration.  This month Towsurf

Australia catches up with Tom for a quick chat

about towsurfing in Aus.   

 

Photo: The Crossing

Itchy: You love to tow whenever you  get the chance and are always trying
something different.  I've noticed you have been playing  around with
different weight distributions on your boards.  What have you come up with
as your  best set up so far?

Tom: I have been experimenting both on paddle-in and tow-in boards. Paddle in:
with four small compartments spread evenly down the deck from slightly
forward of my front foot to slightly forward of my back foot Each holding
300gms of weight each max. Only using two compartments with weight at any
given time. Not surprising was that with the forward two compartments filled
the 5'11"x181/4" handled extremely well in two metre top to bottom barrels.
As opposed to when the rear compartments filled - weight distributed evenly
between my feet - the handling became less predictable. As for tow-in -
weight is necessary for momentum and handling at high speed. Simple
science.  Heavy conditions - heavy board. Clean conditions lighter weight, but
still very much in process of understanding where to place the weight
forward or between the feet.

Itchy:  There's also been a lot of  experimentation with tow board materials.
Any thoughts on any materials that  seem to work especially well for you?

Tom: One thing is for sure a super rigid construction of heavy fibreglass weave and

carbon layups top and bottom gives me more certain feedback under my feet.

Itchy: Some of the new towboards are coming though with four fins.  Do  you
think this provides any extra benefit to the traditional thruster set  up?

Tom: Good question.  The reasoning behind the four fin is to simply apply a correct
angle of attack to water flow with regard to all fin placement under the
board. The twin fin, for a long time now has been know as the swiftest glide
in surfboard design.  This always came at some cost in handling
characteristics, especially to power orientated surfers who pivot throughout
rail transitions. Often finding themselves worse for wear (albeit with a red
faced return to the line up). The four fin configuration simply attempts to
addresses this instability issue without compromising water flow exiting the
tail. A very important issue especially with tow-in or in particular Kite
boarding/windsurfing high speed handling. The size of your fins also plays a
huge role with regard to drag. Less is more. The four fin is still in very
early days with what promises to be a pandora's box of possibilities.


Itchy: Towsurfing is obviously as  very addictive sport but is naturally
pretty dangerous.  Can you see the sport expanding in the future?

Tom: I see a steady expansion through the medium term. It is very important to be
fully prepared before practicing tow-in. Surfers are not accustomed to a
great deal of equipment preparation - dangerously so when it comes to tow-in.
Please have your shit together!! Don't compromise when looking for second
hand goods, it could save your life and that of others

Itchy: Sitting in the surf line-up  it seems that some people like to moan
about towsurfers.  How do you think towsurfing managed to  get a bad
reputation?  Do you think that they a had a go they would  change their
opinion?

Tom: That is up to the individual. I am sure there is a kaleidoscope of reasons
for and against. I certainly would like to say I will never tow-in around
paddle in surfers, but I have sinned here in the past. I obviously think
tow-in has it's place and time and it certainly doesn't make any friends
when unsettling the peace of paddle-in brothers and sisters. And of course -
give a human that kind of power and placed in the wrong hands.  Very scary
indeed.

Itchy: Do you think there is more  bad element than good in towsurfing these
days?

Tom: To date there appears to be plenty of positivity surrounding those I have
come into contact with in and around the crew I join in with here in the
Northern Beaches. As long as the respect of each other remains intact - which
I can't see changing in the foreseeable - good stuff will naturally flow on.

Itchy:  If you could give one piece  of advice for towsurfers what would it
be?

Tom: Take heed of the above and be thoroughly prepared for the worse case
scenario.  Be compliant with waterways regulations!!! That helps us be
accepted within the larger picture.

Itchy: I imagine you plan to keep towsurfing for a long time to come.   How
old do you think we can go?

Tom: It's a violent act being ripped around behind the jet.  One big day on the
rope and you're feeling it for few more down the track. I guess it becomes a
individual issue on how masochistic you are, how good your medical insurance
is, how well you've prepared physically for the pounding your body takes. I
like to think I will last out for a long time to come.

Itchy:  In the 'old days' surfing was all about  "getting away from it all",
do you think towsurfing is like that?

Tom: Well I see it as another reason to get into the water. We are now discovering
another side to our environment.  New breaks are popping up all over as a
direct result of tow-in mobility.  This plays into the core of a surfers
mind.....pure adventure!!!

Itchy: Wasn't there plans to hold a  tow-in contest on the Central Coast?
What happened?

Tom: Yes, but, like all tow-in event aspirations they fall heavily into the deep
mud of venue safety and the obvious local concerns. This is always very
understandable considering the potential glaring publicity the event - and
subsequently the venue - will attract. A great deal of work needs to be
processed to gain the kind of backing such an event requires. Also I might
mention as a simple truth. There just aren't many big swells hitting our
coastline that would warrant such an event.

Itchy: What do you think of the idea of something  like a mobile surf-a-bout
style contest that could be held anywhere, say, between Wollongong and
Forster?

Tom: I do question the whole legitimacy of competing under the current environment

of tow-in surfing. At such early stages in it's development I doubt the outcome

would hold much...water...for want of a better word. The only person claiming the

world championship is the very person himself Garret McNamurra...no one else.

We all know too well how narrow this vision is in comparison to the whole world

of tow-in and it's varied and very accomplished participants. No hard feelings and

due respect to you as a great surfer Garret...just a simple reality.

Itchy:  Do you think there are still many undiscovered tow-surfing waves
around Aus?

Tom:  Ab-sa-bloody-lutely!!!! No end in sight 

Photo courtesy:

Surf Aid International
 


 

                           Jet 1 Marine

If you haven't got a ski you are not going anywhere so this month we catch up with 
Sancho Kalcev from Jet 1 Marine.


Are many of your ski sales used for towsurfing? MORE AND MORE EACH YEAR


What is the most popular ski for towsurfing?


make                 model               cost
 Yamaha           XLT1200            $15,999 ON TRAILER

Yamaha            VX Sport           $13,999 ON TRAILER

Do Yamaha and Seadoo have new PWC models without all the extras?  YES

Is 4 better than 2 stroke for tow surfing? 4 STROKE IS QUIETER AND USES
LESS FUEL BUT IS HEAVIER AND MORE EXPENSIVE. 2 STROKE IS NOISIER , USES MORE
FUEL, IS LIGHTER AND CHEAPER SO ITS 50:50 BETWEEN THEM.

About how long will the typical life of a battery last?
FACTORY BATTERY 2
YEARS

To prolong the life of a battery should  recharge it every so often?
NO JUST START IT OCCASIONALLY

Do you guys fit hardware to skis to take sleds and ropes? YES WE DO FOR
PROSURFERS, AND SURF RESCUE. WE USE QUICK RELEASE STAINLESS STEEL FITTINGS

How long does it take to do a service?
1 DAY

Do you sell 2nd hand skis? YES

Do you offer inspections and warranties on 2nd handers? ALL USED SKIS WE SELL HAVE 1 OWNER
ONLY WITH HISTORY AND WARRANTY

Do you supply many of the towsurfers? BEAU EMERTON, RICHARD MARSH, KOBI
ABBERTON, TOM CARROLL, BARTER LYNCH

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