Born on the mid
Former Australian Open Women’s champ and Tour Pro, Belinda Hardwick (nee Godfrey) tells of her formative surfing beginning, honed on the Mid
I started surfing at 9 years old when my uncle gave me an old Lipstick Thruster. At that point my parents weren’t surfing but both grew up surfing mals in the 60’s.
Learning to surf on the Mid Coast brings back fond memories first of all having my dad take up kneeboarding to spend time in the ocean with me.
There were such ideal locations to learn to surf on the Mid Coast and then to progress to reefs and more challenging breaks as I improved. The Mid Coast provided such a supportive network of surfing enthusiasts.
This ‘surfing family’ vibe even led to an easy high school transition as I had a group of older surfing boys looking out for me.
We had some great surf clubs through the time I lived in SA who would mentor us kids and help with developing our surfing in many ways.
The local clubs still today gain great results at inter-club contests on a national level.
I started travelling with the SA surf team interstate for national events when I was 12.
My best results as an amateur surfer were:
3rd World scholastic titles, Indonesia- 1990
2nd World Scholastic titles, Indonesia- 1992
1st National Scholastic, Margaret River, WA – 1990
1St National Open Womens, Geralton, WA – 1996
My best results as a professional surfer were:
13th World tour (before WQS & WCT were separate) – 1994
15th World Championship tour 2000
I won the WCT Rookie of the year in 2000 for the Hawaiian leg after finishing:
4th in Honalula Bay, Maui
5th in Sunset Beach
¼ finals in Haleiwa.
I love returning to the Mid Coast and to have it as a surfing reserve would mean a lot to me!
On Tuesday 6/12/2005, Jarrad Howse paddled out into solid Sunset Beach conditions against past World Champs Andy Irons and Sunny Garcia as well as Triple Crown leading Pancho Sullivan , all local Hawaiians ,in a quarter final to secure his spot in the Dream Tour for 2006.
Jarrad delivered and became the first South Australian born surfer to qualify on the WCT men’s tour.
Below, Jarrad shares some of his reflections on growing up on the Mid
When did you start surfing?
I think I was about 4 or 5 when I rode a wave for the first time at Seaford Beach, I was on a Coolite that my Dad would bring to the beach. Dad ended up snapping it on the shore break at Seaford one day, from memory I cried! My most vivid memory is from the first wave that I went across. I was riding Kriss Ellis old 4’11 shaped by his brother Shane, I’ve still got the board at home. Fortuitously someone happened to be on the beach taking photo’s and got a sequence of my first real wave, pretty amazing.
At first I guess it would have been Dad, helping me catch waves, encouraging me to go further out the back on my own and eventually over the reef. As I got older my younger brother Clayton and I could run across the road together and surf with Mum (Raelene) watching from the cliff top to make sure we were ok. The posse grew pretty quickly once I started at Seaford Primary; from my first week it was, Francis Harsing, Paul Benbow, Jason Keyser and Jae Vincent riding anything that rolled through the Gulf.
First spots you surfed on the mid and your favourites growing up?
Seaford was my local and then it was anything the ‘cliff tracks’ could get us to on our push bikes. Seaford was definitely where all the best older guys would surf, on good days it had amazing energy with some of the States best out there pushing each other. Seaford Reef was fun, Nerks, In-betweens and then the Hump as South Port was always a good mission. We’d all leave our bike’s in Andy Handcock’s front yard, paddle across the Onkaparinga Rivermouth then invade the line up like ants.
Clubs and competitive starts, particularly involving clubs?
There were so many clubs when I was really young (U/16). I think I originally started out in Clearwater because of Franky (Steve Francis), did a few rallies with South Coast Boardriders then decided Seaview Road Boardriders was where I’d get the fiercest competition. There was a real bond between the Roaders and they always looked for the heaviest waves on offer on the day. Pretty soon after I joined Roaders the parents of a few of us ‘groms’ got together and Micro Groms was born, a club for U/16’s. That became our life for the next few years and the benchmark for upcoming kids in SA. The next big step for me was Seaford Boardriders; Ben Donnithorne was the main instigator, and quickly it became the best club in the State.
People who influenced you on the Mid?
Different people for different reasons. Ben Donnithorne because of his power and stories of charging the West Coast and Yorkes. Nat Hozier because of his smooth and effortless style. Belinda Godfrey because of her professionalism and rise in women’s surfing. Leif Foster because of his raw and progressive approach. The biggest influence and push probably came from my closest mates though, we were always competing even if it was only a free surf to catch the biggest wave, be the first to do a new turn we saw on a surf movie or win the next round of the State Titles.
Any favourite memories, swells, periods of time or changes sort of thing that sticks out.
I loved “Stormy’s” when you’d get the 40 knot S/W in winter and Seaford would be a chunky 5’ mess with clean bowls between the ice cream headaches. The most influential period for me was when I was around 14 or 15. There was a pack of 6 or 8 of us attached at the hip, chasing waves between The Trough and South Port, skateboarding Wind and Wave half pipe when it was flat, staying out of trouble and having the time of our young lives on the Mid.
A bit of a career summary , through your juniors and WQS wins and ultimately your CT experience
As long as I can remember all I wanted to do was become a ‘Pro Surfer’, which in hindsight was quite a loose broad dream. The WCT was my interpretation of becoming a ‘Pro’ and that’s what consumed my life for the first 3 decades of my life. My results through the State ranks were good,
I had some good battles with Franny, Lee Stacey and the Goudies as a Junior then Leif and Horlo as I got older.
My sights were always set on the big picture and chased my dream around Australia then eventually the World on the WQS Series. I qualified for the WCT in 2006, achieved my dream and spent the year with my head in the clouds competing with the likes of Taj Burrow, Mick Fanning, Andy Irons and Kelly Slater. When I look back now I wished someone had told me to reset, set some new goals and push myself harder against the best in the world.
I think I definitely fulfilled my potential and hopefully opened up the upcoming talent from Seaford that it is possible.
As a slightly separate topic, what sort of things would you like to see developed or focused on by the creation of the Mid Coast Surfing Reserve?
With awareness, I hope it injects life back into the Mid Coast surf community. Seaford and the surrounding breaks are an amazing stepping stone and area to surf at any level; beginner to professional.
It was the perfect foundation for me as well as Dion Atkinson to springboard onto the World stage.
Big picture for me would be conservation and sustainability of the ecosystem and a thriving surf culture like it was when I was a kid.
On December 2013, Dion Atkinson became the first locally residing surfer to qualify for the elite World Championship Tour from the mid coast of South Australia following in the footsteps of other South Ozzies , notably Jarrad Howse ,and earlier Belinda Godfrey and Kylie Webb, who had successfully pursued their dream interstate of qualifying for surfing’s greatest stage
On the way Dion had amassed victories as a club, state, national junior and professional surfer here in Australia and internationally.
His performances have gleaned praise and respect from his peers and the sports most noted commentators.
Dion has enthusiastically agreed to be an Ambassador for the Mid Coast Regional Surfing Reserve
“I started surfing when I was around 9 or 10 years old. My parents pushed me into a wave on their longboard and I was hooked ever since that first day!
Surfing really started through the love of the sport. Was great surfing before and after school and seeing all your mates in the water.
The first spots I remember surfing were Seaford and Three Poles! They were right across the road for me and Seaford in particular always had all of the older local rippers out so you just wanted to surround yourself with that as a kid!
As a kid living so close to the beach, when we would get some pumping waves, I loved going to bed being able to hear the surf rumbling through. I used to get so excited and loved running down there in the dark trying to be the first one out!
Lots of people influenced me growing up. In particular a lot of the surfers from the Mid Coast .
I always looked up to the older guys but mostly just admired people for separate reasons whether they were ripping in the surf or just great people to be around.
A lot of the guys in the Seaford Boardriders helped groom me into who I am today.
In particular I looked at what Jarrad Howse achieved from humble beginnings from the Mid Coast and was a huge influence over the years.
I also was very into my surf life saving club down at Moana as a kid and have a lot to thank the club for where I have got my career to today!
My general progression has been from my real early days as just surfing! Then getting into clubs and school friendly events, it really felt like a natural progression when I joined the Microgroms.
I knew I had a little extra competitive drive where I then took it to the State titles and then later at a National level.
By this stage I was pretty much obsessed with the sport and looked up to all of the pro’s and really started to push my own ability. I then progressed into the Australian Junior Series which was U20 and a great stepping stone into the World Qualifying Series and later I was lucky enough to crack it into the World Championship Tour.
My year on the CT was amazing, it was what I had been dreaming about for nearly 10 years and was such a great experience to surf with and against surfers I had admired for the majority of my life!
I guess the greatest thing for me in proclaiming the Mid Coast Surfing Reserve would be to see a greater awareness of the waves we have on offer. To a lot of people that have not spent much time in the water, the Mid just looks like any other coast but we are very lucky to have that small pocket of surf exposed coast so close to the city.
We really do need to protect it as it is very fragile. I would also like to see a greater awareness as to what it means to a lot of us. It really is a way of life down on the Mid if we are not surfing we might be fishing or hanging out down the beach.
Without it, it would not feel like home.”