The Byron Bay Surf Festival has just wrapped up for another year, but froth levels in and out of the water remain at an all time high. Our girl Daini Stephenson continues her Gurfer interview series, this time speaking with local lady sliders Roisin Carolan and Clare Sullivan - both of whom are an awesome additional to the local surfing community and an absolute dream to watch.
Hey Roisin, tell me some information about your current situation.
Well, at the moment I'm currently hanging out in California. Lots of beer, surfing and minimal responsibilities, which is kinda great. In a couple of weeks I'm heading over to Europe for a little bit. I'm really excited to hang out with the family over there, and super keen to try and surf somewhere along the Irish coast.
Where do you live and what do you think of it?
I live in Binna Burra in the Byron Bay hinterland, about 15 minutes from town. It's pretty cool, I get to escape the hustle of town and come home to my little family jungle house. The term home amongst the gumtrees literally couldn't be a more appropriate phrase.
Who are your sponsors?
Mctavish, O'Neill and Menniebrand. I'm so privileged to have such legends helping me out with my surfing journey. I've been riding Mctavish boards since I was a grom and couldn't ask for a better surfing family to be a part of.
When did you get your first surfboard and who gave it to you?
Santa, when I was 9 I guess. It was a blue foamy with the word "grommy" stamped across it. It was pretty lit.
What did you have for breakfast today?
I had a breakfast burrito and a Mimosa. The Californian duo that really does save the day.
What's your the best memory of The Byron Bay Surf Festival?
Seeing Pascale surf was so epic. I saw her a little bit after watching her at the festival and she was so humble and nice. It made me appreciate the power of surfing and the ocean, and how much of an important role it plays in our lives.
Have you won anything recently? A scratchie? Local bingo? A surf comp?
I won a comp at Malibu earlier in my trip here. It was so epic, getting to surf that perfect wave with only a few others is hard to compare.
Who is your favourite person to see in the surf?
Anyone who makes me laugh. There's a few favourites in that mix. I think it's really cool when you haven't seen someone in ages and catch them in the surf too.
What/who has influenced your surfing the most?
My friends for sure. We all play such a heavy influence of the way each other surf and portray ourselves in the surf. I'm so lucky to have built lots of amazing friendships all over the world. My friends are constantly inspiring me and I'm so grateful for that.
Do you work?
I used to work at Beloporto. It was pretty funny, a really good crew work there and I got see everyone from the surf on cheap Tuesday's which is fun haha. But I'm not sure what I'm going to do when I get back home. I'm going to be starting uni next year so probably try find something casual. Anyone hiring?!
What is next for your surf career?
I'm really excited for more travel adventures. I want to do something real different next year, like surf somewhere super random. But we'll see what happens.
Nature or Nurture, please explain?
I never know what I think of this question to be honest. Obviously we are born with some traits, but I feel like I'm more influenced by people and experiences.
How many boards do you have?
I have a few that I ride all the time. Currently I just have my noserider here with me in the US. But at home I have a mid-length called the Rincon which is perfect for something with a little size. A trimmer, which is great for those small days, but also so much fun on the bigger ones it's just harder to manage with those crowds. And my old mal, a 1966 Mcdonogh; this board is where it's at.
Where is your favourite spot to surf?
Wategos or Lennox point. I've had some of the most all time waves at both these spots. Kinda craving a surf at one of them right now.
Describe your perfect day..
Waking up, eating a rad breakfast - like it has to be super delicious, so no cereal or anything flaky and gross, probably mushrooms. Mmmm. And then roll up to Lennox point in my van, just me and a couple of homies to perfect waves. Surf until we're exhausted, then come home and mum's like "I just made a coffee cake." And I'm like "YASSSS QUEEENNN!" We eat the cake, which is perfectly cooked by the way. Then go back for round 2 at Wategos, surf until sunset with heaps of turtles and dolphins cruising around us. Drink some margaritas, maybe some red wine or beer if you're feeling frisky. Then just chill and talk about how good our day was.
Have you ever had a surf accident at the Pass in Byron?
Oh yeahhhh. I think I'd be stupidly lucky not to. A few dinged boards, one time some kook's leg rope wrapped around my neck. And then just a few weeks ago I got dropped in on so bad and a board to the head. But that's kinda to be expected every now and then. It's safe to say I think most of us have lost a couple of brain cells at The Pass.
If you could invite any 5 people in the world to dinner, who would they be and why?
Ohhh. First off Amy Winehouse and Florence Welch. My two favourite musicians ever. Ahh I just love them. I think then, Julia Child, YAS. I'd get her to help me in the kitchen, also she seems like a funny human, so she could for sure deliver some humour. Noel Fielding is for sure invited, no doubt in my mind. And last I'd probably go for Dylan Moran, for some sassy humour. I feel like everyone would get on really good, the red wine would be flowing and a lot of laughing I'm sure.
What do you think of the Girls surfing community in Byron?
It's so rad. There are so many girl surfers in Byron I think it really shows that we're no longer a minority within the surfing community.
If you had lunch with Frida Kahlo what would you talk about?
It's kinda a tricky one. I was just in Mexico and it was really interesting how Frida is literally on everything, bags, towels, the 500 peso note. I think it'd be cool to see what she thinks of that and if she ever thought her life and art would have such a influence on modern day culture. Maybe ask her what her favourite food and musician is, I like to know that about people. I think food and music is very important, alike painting and drawing, food and music are really important ways for us to express ourselves.
See ya Roro, it’s been a blast – cheerio..
Hey there lady slider, tell me your short story.
I can't remember life without feeling strongly attached to the ocean. I grew up on the beach breaks of Newcastle, in a very ocean orientated family and it wasn't long before my fascination with the water found its way to surfing. I am so grateful for the Town and Country board my parents got me as a grom - it sparked a big love. My journey north to Byron has seen my love for surfing evolve into a whole new realm of awesomeness.
When did you move to Byron?
Three dreamy summers ago.
What are your thoughts on girls surfing in Byron?
I think it's great. It’s so fun to be able to share in something that makes life so full with your best friends. There are so many chicks shredding in Byron as well which is so amazing to see. Despite the increased volume of people in the water, I think anything that ignites passion is a positive thing. For me, my attachment to surfing has diversified into an extreme care for the ocean and the fragile state it is in. So I guess the more people who experience and feel such a connection might also be inclined to live with the same awareness and do all they can to protect the ocean.
What do you do other than surf?
I love a sporty sunrise session and spending my down time with the amazing friends I have in my life. Organic and wholesome food keeps me busy outside of the water, both in a work sense and also through exploring cooking at home. Living with the knowledge of the earth’s fragility and our own personal power to create change definitely shapes my day to day. I try to read, research and immerse myself in anything that challenges me and hopefully try and inspire others to do the same.
What made you want to start doing that?
I got book smart at Uni in the Environmental Science field but was never too interested in taking the conventional 9-5 work route once my studies were done. I explored my options and ended up working and living on an organic farm on the North Shore of Hawaii. My exposure to off the grid living, the intensity of organic farming and my experience of the threats to our food system as well as our own health and environmental health, channelled my thoughts into a whole new dimension of thinking and way of living.
If you ever left Byron where would you want to go and why?
Life in Byron is pretty peachy, I have no pull to leave right now but more travel is definitely on the cards. Remote, uncrowded point breaks are where I want to get to, away from the perils of tourism and over exploitation. Parts of Mexico, more of Indonesia, Sri Lanka and some cold water crazi-ness in NZ are kinda where my day dreams head to.
Who is your favourite person to see in the surf?
Well, you of course Daini!! Seeing you flying down the line full of smiles makes me feel all sparkly inside. The post surf chats we get to have full of giddy magical memories take me to a happy place.
Describe your perfect day.
Wake to the sounds of the morning, get moving as the sun is rising, remove the sweaty effort with a dip in the ocean, meet my pals for a cuppa then load up my van with boards and snacks and park up for hours on end. Surf dreamy peeling waves all day in crystal clear water, rest up and re-fuel for the magical sunset hour. Migrate home with blazed eyes and a delirious state of mind.
Do you think surfing is creative? How so?
For sure! The lines you take, the waves you choose the failed nose rides you attempt are all an expression of your feeling as you flow with the energy of the wave. Sometimes it feels nice to do nothing at all and just trim along in pure bliss…it’s all up to you.
What is the next step you're going to take to get you where you want to be?
I am just going to continue doing what I do, life is pretty good. Keep surrounding myself with wonderful people who inspire and challenge me to grow and learn. Travel some more and keep surfing heaps! When I think about where I really want to be, it’s not too far from my current reality and that’s a really nice place to be at.
Describe the feeling after riding the loveliest and longest wave ever?
Phoar! It’s crazy! Ear to ear cheesey smiles. Hell yeahs somersaulting through your mind and tingling out your toes. Even more stoke when one of your best friends see you do something cool on a wave haha.
What’s your all time solo mission to the surf song?
Living Darfur by Mattafix or Fast Car by Tracey Chapman, cause I never get sick of Trace.