The story so far

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Meeting Bob McTavish

Last autumn in England, before I went to Australia, I went down to visit my brother in Devon.  Mike had previously helped me acquire a new longboard to replace the 7'6" minimal I had been using.  This longboard is a beauty, it is a 9'6" McTavish longboard and it rides like a dream.  If the waves are good in Devon, when I get on that board I am in heaven.

My brother raved on about Bob McTavish, telling me he was a really cool surfing legend from the 60s who had pioneered new technicques in surfing and shaping.  I just wanted to get out on the board.

When we bought it, both Hannah and I found it quite amusing that it was made near Byron Bay in Australia, but perhaps even more so when we put it back in a container a couple of months ago to make the trip, along with two didjeridoos and a boomerang back to the homeland.  If that isn't a bad carbon fotprint, I'm not sure what is!.
Anyway, last autumn, with Mike, he was telling me, in between games of Call of Duty Modern Warfare, that there had been a number of surfing legends including Bob McTavish in Devon that summer.  It sounded interesting, but we were both focussed on removing the head of a soviet arms dealer from a Chernobyl factory, two km away with changing wind conditions and the correolis effect to deal with.  No only that, but instructions were being whispered to us by a scotsman in a ghillie suit in a raw glaswegian accent.  Concentration was key and talks about surfing in Devon took a backseat.
I dug up this footage on uTube to illustrate what I mean:

We are currently staying in Surfers paradise and since being in Australia I've not surfed.  That has been gnawing away at me because, although money is tight and my boards will be with me in February, now would be the best time to put in some serious surfing time and hopefully get back in shape.  With luch, I will have a job in January and this may get in the way somewhat.

So yesterday, I took a trip with Zoe in the car along the Pacific highway to investigate the price of surfboards.  In the first shop, the guy was very helpful and I worked out I could get a "foamy" for around $300 dollars, or a second hand longboard for around $500.

I thought I would stop at one more shop on the way back in mermaid beach.  In here, the helpgul proprietor Mark gave me about an hour of his time, going through all the options I had.  There were a few board here to choose from including a Van Straalen single fin with a broken nose, but repaired and probably needing not much else doing to it for $425.  Tempting.

Anyway, they sold brand new McTavish fireballs in that shop and I was telling Mark how I had one of those on the way over.  A little while later, he nudged me and said "Hey, do you know who that is?" "No?"  I said.  "That's Bob McTavish" he told me.

It turns out that he pops in from time to time, he seems to be involved in promoting his boards and his new book which he has on sale there.  Anyway, a kiwi was at the counter buying a board and was also buying Bob McTavish's new book "Stoked" on surfing culture and characters from the 60s.  As he was buying the book, the shop staff suggested he have Bob sign it.

Once the Kiwi had left, I offered to buy a book if Bob would sign it for me.  He told me "Of course I will!" and proceeded to talk to me and the two shop guys about life, surfing and the universe.

He'd been on the radio for an hour and had been a little apprehensive, but had described how the radio dj had started asking him questions off-air and had just kept asking questions, kept it flowing and just flipped the switch and put him on air almost without him noticing.

I told him about how I had one of his boards and how I had bought it in Devon and was importing it back to Austalia.  He then told me about his time in Devon, where he had visited the shop that sells his boards, had surfed the famous Putsborough wave as can be seen in the video and had struggled with the narrow lanes in Devon which you have to use to get to the beach.

This was a thouroughly nice guy, really encouraging about my surfing and wrote an excellent message for me and for Zoe in the front of the book I bought.  I was truly inspired in a way I never thought I would be, just by meeting a legend, who turned out to be a really nice, genuine and approachable guy.

I now yearn to surf more than every.  Hannah on hearing the prices of the boards has other ideas.  Watch this space!


  1. Hey Nick/Hannah/Zoe/Esme

    I have been keeping an interested eye on things from afar (and behind a desk at work) and have to say everything looks and sounds amazing, and that you look like you are all enjoying yourselves.

    Hopefully many more blog posts will continue to appear to I can check out all that is happening, and good luck with the job hunts still - unless there is a blog post in waiting with updates!

    The surf over there is certainly looking better than what we have with the new artificial surf reef here in Bournemouth - am still awaiting for it to prove its worth.

    Perhaps I should look at making a trip over next year to see the "proper" stuff. Have to say it is rather tempting!

    Hope all is well, and best wishes

    Rob Troll
    (I send my family's best regards too even if they live miles away!)

  2. Rob,

    Thanks for taking the time to follow us. If you want to come next year, you would be more than welcome to stay and it would be great to see you.