Schools out. Forever. And Toby Mossop couldn’t be happier. While all his old school mates are hitting the glitter strips of Surfers Paradise in Australia for the post-school tradition they call ‘schoolies’ – Toby is hitting the North Shore of Oahu for the winter.
The week before he got here it was glassy, sunny and 8ft. Since he set foot on the rock, it’s been windy, squally and 4ft – and I say it’s a bummer about the week he has arrived. In true grom form, he quips back, almost berating me - “Are you kidding? It’s been so fun out the front!” He is staying at Log Cabins with John Shimooka and Keanu Asing and a couple of sessions in, he has already broken a board. And its not surprising, the kid’s got game in the air and in the tube, no doubt a by-product of his upbringing at Burleigh Point in Queensland.
We go for a swim at Kei’ki beach late on Thanksgiving. Both of us are stuffed and need to shake off the turkey coma. The grom wants to get pounded in the shore break and he approaches that with the same naivety and exuberance of youth that takes fear (and sometimes common sense) out of the equation. I’m holding back while the kid is throwing himself down slabs of water detonating on a sand bank dropping into the ocean at a 45-degree angle. He comes up laughing after a solid beating “I wish we had these shoreys at home!” His wooly hair is slopped over his face and covered in course sand like confetti. ‘No more hair worries now?’ I ask him? “Never again” he smirks. Years of teacher abuse are washed away in this session, and the bright-eyed kid from Burleigh is feeling alive! “I could live here” he screams after another pounding. He’s only been here a few days and he’s already settled into island life. The North Shore and indeed the world is now his oyster, for him it seems like life starts here. It’s been pumping back in his hometown after lengthy flat spell… it started the day he left for Hawaii. “I don’t even care” was his response and again he surprises me with his answer.
I ask him what his plan is, you know for this season in Hawaii. He has been here before, but never for this long. “I just want to surf everyday and learn as much as I can.” Last year he hooked up with Lazerwolf for some shots and that’s the plan again this winter. “But it’s hard because I don’t have a phone outside of wireless” First world problems. His biggest board he has is a 6’6. Last year the lifeguards called him and a mate in at Sunset before they could paddle out. He wasn’t sure why. “Maybe our boards looked too small” he muses. This year he has back up here on the island, if he needs it. It may be small today, but an XL swell is on the cards for a week’s time. He may need to go knock on some doors.
The only thing that really scares him though, are the crowds. “There’s so much going on in the lineup and it’s so easy to get caught up in the middle of it.” He’ll use Log Cabins as his go-to spot. “It’s a little less crowded and there are some big sections.”
The wiry, wooly-haired kid is a stand out on any session at Burleigh Point – but the North Shore is another proposition. It’s a great leveler and a great exposer – for good and bad. But that’s not even entering this grom’s mind. His mates are partying on the Gold Coast, and all he wants to do is surf. Stomp airs and get barreled. Oh, the exuberance of youth – it’s a beautiful thing.