Interview: Riley Laing
Surfing New South Wales names Riley Laing 'Superstar of the Month'
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 18 October, 2012 : - - Last month 13-year-old Riley Laing became the youngest surfer to ever tackle Shipsterns Bluff in Tasmania. Flanked by renowned big wave surfer, Justen “Jughead” Allport, the North Entrance grommet was successfully whipped into a flurry of ghastly caverns. As a result, Riley’s waves were seen by millions of Australians when they were shown on primetime news. Only a week after returning from Tasmania’s freezing waters, Riley progressed to the final of the Rip Curl GromSearch in Cronulla.
Another week down the track, Riley was boarding a flight to Fiji to surf 12-foot Cloudbreak with pro surfer Glenn “Micro” Hall and Surfing NSW coach Blake Johnston.
Surfing NSW caught up with Riley shortly before he boarded the plane to Fiji to gain a bit of perspective on what it’s like to tackle Shippies as a micro-grom.
Let’s talk about Shipsterns, why did you decide to go down there?
I dunno. I always just wanted to give it a go and Jughead said there was going to be a good swell, so we jetted off.
How did you prepare yourself mentally for surfing the wave?
I’ve been towing for couple of years now with my Dad, Jughead and Dylan Longbottom [renowned big wave surfer and surfboard shaper] at our local bommies and I’ve done a lot of swimming with nippers and stuff, so I think that helped a lot.
Did surfing Crackneck [Central Coast reefbreak] prepare you for Shipsterns?
For sure, they’re both shallow righthand barrels so I think it definitely helped.
What tips did Jughead give you before heading down there?
He told me things like, 'when the step of the wave is coming up the face to go straight and if you hit it sideways you’re more than likely to get thrown over'. I did that and I made most of my waves.
Is it a pretty awesome feeling to be the youngest surfer to tackle it?
Yeah it is. I was pretty stoked to surf it.
Did you paddle it also?
Nah, I just towed it.
Would you recommend any other 13-year-olds hitting it or is it just too gnarly?
Yeah it’s pretty gnarly. It can get crazy. If you know how to hold your breath and be calm after you get totalled then it makes it a bit easier.
What were the locals like down there? Did you get any local tips?
They gave me heaps of tips. They’re such good dudes down there, they’d help anyone out. They told me that once I got over the step, you’ve got to go high up the face in the barrel. They told me that you’re safer in the barrel then what you would be if you straighten out. If you straighten out you can end up on the rocks and have a pretty bad wipeout.
Do the rocks seem a lot closer in real life?
They’re pretty close. I guess they’d only be thirty meters or so away.
There’s been a bit of a media circus since you surfed down there. Has it been an awesome feeling having people recognise you for surfing those waves?
Yeah it is. I had an interview with NBN news and I also had an interview with the Today show on Channel Nine. I was pretty nervous about them, but it was good as well.
Are you adapting pretty well to interviews?
I think I’m beginning to adapt.
Let’s talk events are you still really focussed on winning events?
Yeah definitely. I have heaps of comps throughout the rest of the year. They’re still my main priority.
Surfing NSW will be looking out for the next Superstar Of The Month at the forthcoming Wahu Grom Comp at Coffs Harbour. Click here for more information on the event.
Source: Surfing New South Wales
Author: Ethan Smith
Tags: Riley Laing, Shipstern's, Tow-Ins, Groms