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.
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.
Itchy: You love to tow whenever you get the chance and
are always trying
Tom: I have been experimenting both on paddle-in and
tow-in boards. Paddle in:
Itchy: There's also been a lot of
experimentation with tow board materials.
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.
Tom: Good question. The reasoning behind the four
fin is to simply apply a correct
Tom: I see a steady expansion through the medium term.
It is very important to be
Tom: That is up to the individual. I am sure there is a
kaleidoscope of reasons
Tom: To date there appears to be plenty of positivity
surrounding those I have
Tom: Take heed of the above and be thoroughly prepared
for the worse case
Tom: It's a violent act being ripped around behind the
jet. One big day on the
Tom: Well I see it as another reason to get into the
water. We are now discovering
Tom: Yes, but, like all tow-in event aspirations they
fall heavily into the deep
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
to you as a great surfer Garret...just a simple reality.
Tom: Ab-sa-bloody-lutely!!!! No end in sight
Jet 1 Marine
If you haven't got a ski you are not going
anywhere so this month we catch up with