Youth – Cohen Thomas

Life in Van Diemen’s Land.
Above: Yeah shit can get pretty hectic in the deep south. Photo: Mathew Tildesley (from the print pages of Riptide #199)

Interview by Matthew Jaeger

MJ: Firstly tell us a bit about what its like to be a bodyboarder in Tasmania?
CT: Being a bodyboarder or surfer in Tasmania is pretty sick. Everyone knows everyone and gets along pretty well. One of the great things about living in Tasmania is that there’s always the opportunity to score waves without a crowd.

What do you get up to when you’re not chasing waves?
When the waves aren’t around there’s always someone who’s keen to hang out. My good mate Daniel has a pretty epic four-wheel-drive [so] we generally go to this pretty insane track deep south, or in the dead of winter it’s always fun going up the mountain to see the snow. When I’m not surfing, going out or bumming round with mates I do some casual work at Coles Sandy Bay [supermarket]. It’s a pretty easy job, but there are some pretty psycho customers that come in. Especially Geoffrey Swan.

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Coco. Photo: Simon Treweek

You recently won the first ever STBC (Southern Tasmanian Bodyboarding Club) contest held in Tasmania, the event scored quality waves and featured some impressive surfing. How’s the contest scene looking in Tasmania in 2014?
The first STBC comp was held down at Remarkable Caves about a month ago and it was pumping pretty much all day. I was so stoked to make it through my first heat let alone win the comp. It was my first year in the Open Mens. It was amazing to have such good waves for the comp – usually the comps are held in pretty ordinary conditions. There’s the Tasmanian State Titles coming up, which I’m looking forward to. The comp scene in Tasmania is epic when everyone gets involved, however sometimes it can lack involvement.

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Invert to air reverse. Photo: Simon Treweek

Shipsterns Bluff is by far the most well-known wave and well-documented wave on the island. Do you feel Stern receives too much attention and perhaps people get sick of seeing the almost constant coverage? Or do you feel people will always be interested in seeing Stern in the bodyboarding media as such a unique and heavy wave?
Stern does get a lot of coverage by the media, and as much as some people say it might have been overdone, I think everyone loves to see people surfing the wave. Shipsterns is an amazing place to go to, it’s a really exciting feeling walking in and not knowing how big it’s going to be.

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Photo: Josh Roberts

With Tasmania being home to a number of other heavy slabs (including the photo featured in your Youth section) people may get the feeling Tasmania has an endless supply of consistent heavy waves? Is this reality or is there much more to Tassie than heavy slabs?
Tasmania does have a lot of slabs, and that’s generally what the media like to see, however Tassie has a lot of other types of waves. Down the general area of South Arm there’s a number of wedge/rebound waves, one of the better one being “Wedge”. There’s also a number of serious reef breaks down the peninsula that on their day can arguably produce some of the state’s best air bowls.

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Photo: Simon Treweek

Who do you hang round with when heading to the beach? And are there any up-and-comers in Tasmania that we should be looking out for in the near future?
I most consistently head to the beach with my brother Samuel, we surf a lot together. If I’m not surfing with Sam I’m generally floating around with Dannie B, Yeager, Cal, Samuel Ross, Nappies (Dean Watkins) or an otter (Harley Ward). Dean Watkins has a lot of natural talent. He has picked it up so quickly and I can honestly say I’m not looking forward to surfing a heat with him.

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