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In the first issue of the ‘flipbook’ format, we have an interview with Rich Evans. The bodysurfer and remedial massage therapist from Australia’s Northern Beaches. He is highly regarded for charging the heavy waves to be found within his locality and the surrounding area. We caught up to find out more about him as he prepares to head for the North Shore, Hawaii, prior to the Pipeline Bodysurfing Classic 2023.

You can follow Rich on Instagram - @rich3vans

The views expressed in Bodysurfer Magazine and this interview are those of the respective contributors and interviewees and are not necessarily those of the editor, interviewer or staff. All contents are copyright protected and property of Bodysurfer Magazine and contributors. All the photographs are copyright protected and property of the credited photographers and may not be copied, reproduced or used in any way without the permission of the relevant photographer.

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Cover photograph: Shane Rice

Photographers: Curtis Redden

Phil Cook

Bill Morris


Editors: MRM @bodysurfer_magazine

Logo Design: Marjorie Carlotti

General Design: @bodysurfer_magazine 3
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Northen Beaches, Australia

Q: When did you first bodysurf and what is it that’s kept you bodysurfing today?

My first experience of bodysurfing was when my little sister and I would take turns piggybacking on our uncle Tony - we would hang on for dear life while he bodysurfed the white water. As a little nipper aged eight, I learnt to catch a wave to the beach in swimming races, but it was a few years later that I learnt to bodysurf. I’d seen some clubbies bodysurfing along the face of waves getting barrelled at Mooloolaba. Being a junior member I thought it was only right they showed me how.

It’s for pure enjoyment that I continue to bodysurf. On a deeper level it connects me with nature in a way that is both intimate and intense, as well as being an ongoing source of health, well-being and vibrant friendships.

Q: Were there older bodysurfers that you were inspired by or could learn from?

Primarily it was the Surf Life Saving Club members that took me under their wing. My parents had split and I was living with dad who was having a hard time with the break up. Life at home was unstable to say the least. These guys became my role models and they taught me a lot. I would watch them compete in carnivals or sometimes perform rescues while on patrol. This was in the late seventies - then in 1980 at the age of 16, Grant Kenny won both the Junior and Senior Australian Ironman events. Hard not to be inspired really. I lived only a stone’s throw from Kenny’s family home in Alexandra Headlands. After leaving the area I would bodysurf from time to time on my own or go body-bashing with my mates but board-riding took precedence and that was it for a time. 7
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Fast forward to 2019 and having not been in the surf for over a decade, a friend took me bodysurfing with fins, I was hooked. I had never used fins before and now living in Bronte I was soon to be introduced to a bodysurfing culture that,until then, I knew nothing about. On the odd occasion I would see some guys surf as a group, I eventually found out they were ESBS (East Sydney Bodysurfers). One that stood out was Dean Jezard. His layback style, line and speed blew me away. Eventually I met James Hasemer who got me an introduction to the ESBS Whatsapp group. Most had DaFins and a WAW handplane which seemed like a good idea. I also got an Instagram account and went to the 2020 Whomp Camp. This introduction made a big impression on me and with genuine encouragement from Rob Meldrum, Rikki Gilbey, Sean Fegan, David Molloy and Jake Rosenbrock, I began to learn more about body positioning, lines to take, equipment and local surf conditions (Maroubra, Coogee, Bronte, Tamarama and Bondi).

Q: You’ve got some heavy reef breaks in your part of the world. Are there many other bodysurfers that are taking them on at size like yourself?

All I knew about bodysurfing reef breaks was from listening to Corey Sains regaling stories about Cape Solander around the fire at Whomp Camp and then from watching Jake Rosenbrock, Pete Sperling, Nick Brbot, Paul Khodor, Rikki Gilbey, and Corey at the Cape in YouTube edits.

It was when I moved to the Northern Beaches in 2021 that I got to see first-hand the likes of Joel Ridzuan charging Dee-Why Point, Jack Vitnell at Deadmans and Davis Koorey at Winki. I became interested and started talking to Vic Ivec and Sean Canningham, fishing for any tips I could get. As long-term residents of the Northern Beaches and seasoned chargers, these fellows were a great source of information. Two-hours’ drive north are the Newcastle Bodysurfers at Flat Rock, and then there is the crew from Avalon (Cobras), including Zac Duryea and Jack Vitnell who learned their craft at Little Avalon, a place rich in bodysurf history. At times, I head out with Jarrod Bridges (19yrs old) when Dee-Why gets large and it’s pretty cool watching him send it bigger and better each time. Jeremy Winer at 61 yrs isn’t shy and is always willing to have a crack.

Q: What was your reason for not surfing for a decade?

In 2009 I underwent open-heart surgery to remove a tumour (Atrial Myxoma). The procedure went well but it took a long time to fully recover. It was a challenging time. I had completely lost my way until 2017 when, with the help of a friend, I slowly began to improve my physical, mental and spiritual health. I eventually found my way back to the ocean and into bodysurfing.

Q: You mention the rich history of bodysurfing at Avalon; how long have people been bodysurfing there? (There are YouTube clips of people ripping on handplanes there in the 1980s)

Max Watt and Doug Crane started bodysurfing Avalon in the 1940s. John Little, Jeff Spence and Alex Cox in the 1950s and Tony Hubbard 1960s. Before the shortboard revolution, most surf club members bodysurfed. John Little recalls it being at times like an initiation process where youngsters,

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including himself, would be coaxed into larger waves by the older members, making for capable swimmers in tough conditions - an essential skill for any potential lifesaver to have in the days before the rescue board or boat were used for rescuing. In the 1970s plywood hand planes were becoming popular due largely to the NSW High Schools’ inclusion of handboard-making in the woodworking subject from 1973 - 1979. World Surf Life Saving Champion and bodysurf icon Don McCready has fond memories of being introduced to Little Avalon by Tony Hubbard in the 1980s. The first Hydro Finz prototype was tested at Little Avalon in July 1987 and the DMC Repellor Fins were tested there in June 2016.

Q: Is bodysurfing growing in general in Australia?

Yes. We had a great turn out for the 2022 Australian Bodysurf Classic with 135 competitors and about 200 spectators over the course of the day. Each year the Coolum Wedge Festival of bodysurfing is seeing an increase of participants in all divisions, family involvement and community support.

Our membership at the Northern Beaches Bodysurf Club has doubled in the past year. And according to Rikki Gilbey, bodysurfing in Australia has been on the rise since 2015 and participation is growing every year. 11
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Q: The sequence of you at Deadmans shows a lot of technical riding. Can you talk us through what it takes to take on a session like that?

So, for me it was months of getting used to a lot of water movement, swimming hard, sensing momentum and tweaking entries at both DeeWhy and Winki. But seriously, surfing Deadmans started out as a vague idea at best after seeing the epic vision of Jack Vitnell (at Deadmans) taken by Davis Koorey (Oct 2021). It seemed a more real possibility after a brutal session at Winki (April 2022), which was well out of my comfort zone, but gave me more confidence. The opportunity came a little later when an overnight SW greeted a long interval swell from the Tasman (July 2022). Making the swim from Shelly Beach, I took my time soaking it all in, and was sitting wide of the break and watching some incredible rides. Then I heard the voice of photographer Byron Mcloughlin in my ear saying, “Have a go and charge one,” breaking the tension and allowing me to focus.

As for technique:

1. With the wave approaching, look for a potential ramp while backpaddling.

2. Turn and put in three good strokes and kick hard.

3. Aim for the ramp, remain prone and counterbalance (left arm) while vertical.

4. Land, turn and straighten, prepare for the foam ball and enjoy the view.

5. Landing the drop and making the turn is a combination of luck and instinct.

I find the prone entry helps to negate the variables (most times), especially in waves of consequence. I have seen how well it works for Joel Ridzuan and Jake Rosenbrock and I use it often.

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Shortfire questions:

Q: It’s amazing that you’re able to operate at such a high level of activity following the surgery. Do you think that all the swimming involved has helped to boost your recovery?

Yes, swimming definitely has helped and I think the healing nature of the ocean can enhance recovery in all aspects of life.

Q: Do you use hand planes at all? If so, which ones and why?

I mostly surf hands-free now but I used to ride hand planes all the time: WAW Badfish for reliability in all conditions; Hush Wiki for steep drops; Whompa for speed; Skipper Outlaw holds the line well, especially in bumpy surf.

Q: What fins do you use?

YUCCA Standard Flex

Q: Do you have any further ambitions in big waves or are you taking each day as it comes?

It seems to happen organically; I like to maintain a healthy respect for the ocean and gradually push my limits. Surfing overseas is definitely on the cards and I’m excited at the prospect.

Q: The IBSA has announced a new world tour recently, are you planning on giving it a dig?

Wouldn’t miss the opportunity. The Coolum Wedge 2023 has allocated an extra day to run an IBSA qualifier. This is great news and presents a pathway for anyone - especially our young chargers to make their way onto the world stage.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

The world of bodysurfing has such a healthy sense of community for which I’m very thankful to be a part of, and I feel honoured to be given this opportunity to share my journey with you all.

Thank you Rich. We’re looking forward to hearing more stories and seeing more epic photos from you. Good luck at Pipe if you do get there this year!

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To finish we asked Rikki Gilbey of WAW handplanes to give us an insight into the Northen Beaches scene and Rich Evans:

I first met Rich when he reached out to me through my website back in June of 2020.

“A mate said to give these handplane things a go and recommended yours. Which one should I get?” Rich asked.

I put him on to our BadFish handplane - our go-to model for most bodysurfers. A few days later I received a text from Rich explaining how, “It blew his mind” - haha. I get messages like this a fair bit from lots of stoked bodysurfers; it’s a great part of the job, but it was only when I started to see some of the shots Rich was getting whilst charging on some of the bigger swell days that I realised this guy was the real deal and shared my enthusiasm for expanding the possibilities of bodysurfing here in Australia. We immediately became friends after meeting at one of our annual bodysurfing meetups.

Rich has been a great ambassador for WAW - not through any contracted sponsorship, but of his own accord - something that I appreciate greatly.

One of the many things I admire about Rich is his hunger for more. He continually wants to push himself and is on a steep learning curve; he is winning competitions and gaining great recognition and respect for his commitment to the sport of bodysurifng.

Rich now lives on the Northern Beaches of Sydney - a place that was integral to the R&D of our handplanes, with many a session fine-tuning the design on some heavy shorebreak slabs at South Narrabean Beach.

I’m excited to see where Rich will take his bodysurfing and I look forward to the day when we get to share some deep tubes at Cape Solander together - a session that’s been talked about and has been in the pipeline for some time now.

Thank you Rich for being an incredible ambassador to the sport of bodysurfing. @wawhandplanes

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