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The joy of a day trip - with Harley Ingleby

From pristine beach breaks to points and reefs, there's a wave for every surfer along the Australian coastline.
Written by: The Gowings Boys
The joy of a day trip - with Harley Ingleby

From pristine beach breaks to points and reefs, there's a wave for every surfer along the Australian coastline. The stunning stretches of beach and marine life enhance the experience for most surfers, creating unforgettable moments in the water.

For former World Longboard Champion Harley Ingleby, hitting the road and exploring the coast on a day trip is the stuff dreams are made of.

FCS recently sat with him to chat about the joys of heading up or down the coast and filmed a playful one-day trip to an isolated beach break not too far from his doorstep.


Talk to us about your little piece of paradise on the north coast of NSW?

I was born and raised on the northern side of the Coffs Coast at Emerald Beach. It’s an extremely wave-rich region on Australia’s east coast with so many options and headlands that are really close together and face a bunch of different directions. You always have the option to find a wave and get in the water, no matter what the wind, tide or swell is doing. We don’t have those long points or slabs like a lot of places, but if you want to get in the water most days, then this is one of the best places I know of.

 

Do you remember when you got your licence, and you could start venturing out on your own to find waves?

The moment I got my licence I began looking at waves either an hour south or an hour north of where I live. There are always so many options, I’d hate to think how many hours I’ve spent driving back and forth up and down the highway. I surf by myself more-often-than not as well, so I’ve been really lucky.

 

When you first got your licence, what were the main areas you were really stinging to get to?

I’ve always been lucky enough to get up-and-down the coast. Even before I got my licence I’d bunk in with crew a few years older who would let me jump in the car. Once I was able to drive though, it really opened the coast up a bit more to be able to chase events with mates and we could go to places like the Noosa Festival or down to Crescent Head, Sydney or even the Central Coast. I remember when I was first able to drive I went down to the Central Coast and scored really good waves. I was also really good friends with Dane Pioli and I was able to get down his way and get waves down in the Wollongong and Shellharbour area. Basically, the whole coast opened up for me.

You mentioned there were a few setups that you don’t have around your local region. Were there any waves you looked at constantly and thought, ‘I need to go there?’

A little bit. It was more just jumping in the car with mates and having a good time, whether that be heading up to the Gold Coast or down to Wollongong or wherever. We had a good crew and we were all on the same program as each other. I didn’t have anywhere specifically on my bucket list or anything, except maybe trying to get a few good Kirra and Burleigh swells. If we saw a swell pop up I’d chase that, but other than that, I didn’t chase certain places when they were good. These days I usually look at the charts and figure that I’m better off scoring waves that might not be as perfect as the Gold Coast, but there are a lot fewer people in the water.

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What did your day look when you chased those swells you just described?

Even before the roads got upgraded, I’d get to Gold Coast in around three hours. So, often I would leave at 4 am, sometimes do a solid day of surfing and then just drive back absolutely surf-wrecked.

When you’re doing road trips now, what are the necessary pieces of equipment you pack?

I’ve always packed a pretty wide quiver when I hit the road, so that hasn’t changed too much. The vehicle I had definitely has though. I used to use an old Camry wagon with no air-con that was sturdy as they come. I’d have a longboard or two on the roof and then a few shortboards in the back as well. These days, I pack a few mid-lengths in there, so the quiver has grown, but thankfully I have a bit of a better vehicle to cart everything around.

Do you go looking for waves to suit a particular board or do you pick the board based on the conditions?

I would just go to wherever the waves were best and decide on the board afterwards. I grew up in an era where I was looking up to longboarders like Dave Simons and Bonga Perkins and other guys who were surfing big hollow waves in places like Hawaii, so I wouldn’t not ride a longboard if the waves were big and perfect. When it was crowded it also helped me get my share.

It's been nearly 10 years since your last world title. Do you still get the same joy out of riding a longboard that you always did?

For sure. Probably more so over the last 12 months. After I stepped away from the tour I felt a bit burnt out and neglected it for a bit. But that also coincided with me riding a lot of mid-lengths too. I’ve been jumping back on the longboard quite a bit over the last 12 months though and have been really enjoying it.

Is there one road trip in particular that really jumps out and what sort of board did you opt for?

There have been so many days when I’ve scored incredible waves to myself or just with a mate. There is not one super standout day. There are too many fun punchy days to remember. The ones that I think are the most memorable are days around home that have been magical and I haven’t had to get on a plane or drive long distances.

Talk us through your favourite hardware when you’ve been hitting the road around home.

I’ve been riding quads mostly and I’ve been working on new little quad sets to go in my shortboards and mid-lengths. They’ve been my go-to fins when I haven’t been riding longboards.

 

Harley's Day Trip Tips

- If you can try and swing it, do them last minute on a favourable forecast.

- Good company is a must. Make sure you’re comfortable travelling together.

- I think the most important rule on any road trip is to not drive away from waves if they’re right there in front of you.