The Hobo Guide to Surfing the Gold Coast
Ahh the Gold Coast: a surfer’s paradise, right? Where world-class right-hand point breaks peel along user-friendly sand bottoms accompanied by a vibrant nightlife.
The Gold Coast in fact blows: it’s almost more common to get punched whilst surfing Snapper than it is to get a wave. Swell droughts lasting months burden surfers all year round, and when the swell finally gets out of bed, every man and sometimes even his dog heads to Coolangatta (“Cooly”) for a surf, meaning the lineup is going to be more crowded than the Palm Beach Centrelink on payday.
People flock to the Cooly points from all over the globe in search of that perfect wave, only to be confronted with possibly the world’s busiest, most aggressive and competitive line-up. After spending my so-far short life growing up and surfing these breaks, I have broken down the three key points for consideration to avoid getting bashed, abused, run over, fin chopped and possibly even drowned in the world’s best stretch of blue.
- “You leaving mate?”
As trivial as it may sound, finding a park when the swell is up is harder than staying out of trouble on a night out on Orchid Avenue. It is not uncommon to spend an hour lapping the Cooly streets continuously asking if people are on their way out, only to be shut down almost every time.
Due to the wave’s famous status, finding a park can be near impossible, which seems ridiculous along a 2km stretch, but it’s legit. You will often find your self parking way back in the suburbs and making the trek. When the swell is big and from the south, there is always a strong southerly sweep, so leaving your car at Kirra Beach and making the walk isn’t a bad option.
- Getting Out
Walking towards Snapper usually gets the blood pumping and raises the stoke levels, watching wave after wave roll in with surfers getting barrelled or racing down a long wall. This is generally a massive let down, as getting one isn’t quite as easy as getting a root in Sin City. Perfect waves break as far as the eye can see, but none ever go unridden.
It is important to make sure you walk right to the end of Snapper, as paddling out anywhere else will see you swept towards Kirra before even getting out the back. There are basically three options here. Firstly, walk out beside the rocks, wait for a break in the waves, then paddle like a mad man. If a set rolls through now, expect to get run over. Learn to duck dive prior to paddling out to save your self a load of trouble. Secondly, you can jump off the rocks, but this is for locals and experienced surfers only. Thirdly, jump out in the key hole; this is the best option, as the water gets dragged back out and will take you with it.
After getting out the back, find some space (also difficult), regather and prepare for the next step.
- Getting Waves
How fun is surfing for three hours without even catching a wave? Yeah, not very. This is another likely scenario when surfing on the Gold Coast, as waves are a minute resource and there are more surfers out than waves to go round.
There are a few methods to beating this problem, with the first being sit deep and pick off the smaller waves. This is risky, as if a set comes, you’ll get caught inside, run over or possibly fin chopped. You might even break your board, which sucks. Another option is to sit wide and wait for the big, wide sets to come through, but you’ll most likely just be watching other people surf. The third option is to just sit with everyone else and hope for some good luck, like someone right next to you falling off.
Once you finally get a wave, get ready to play dodgem surfers. You’ll basically not have any time to focus on turns, as you’ll be busy not running people over before getting dropped in on and getting caught behind the section. This is generally where you think, Fuck Snapper, fuck that dude, fuck the Gold Coast, and head in and say to yourself, “I’m never coming back here,” only to find yourself gravitating back every damn swell.
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