As part of our series by guest contributor Tim Leeson (former Riptide editor), we ask some of the biggest names in the bodyboarding industry what are the five most important waves of their career.

This can include individual waves, certain breaks or even waves that they have seen in their career – either in a video section or real life. We left it to the riders to decide how they wanted to approach the question.

Here we have none other than Gold Coast wedge frother and disco lover Nick Gornall giving us his top five.

1. South Stradbroke Island

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This is where it all started for me. It’s a wave that delivers everything you could possible want in a break. From heavy, slabbing pits to wrapping, scary bowls – both lefts and rights.

I was absolutely obsessed with the break; to the point that one year, when I was about 17 or 18-years-old, I didn’t miss a morning or arvo session there.

South Straddie is where I got my timing and technique from too. I could go on for hours about the place.

2. A South Coast wedge

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You have seen this little gem of a wave in most of my edits in the past 4-5 years.

When we were younger, my mates and I would road trip down from the Goldie to the wave. Ever since then, my love has grown for what has to be one of the world’s best reef break wedges. To the point that you’ll now find me living down there for up to five months of the year.

3. Arica, Chile (El Gringo)


This is a one-wave-wonder. I received a Wild Card into the 2012 Arica Challenge. As I’d only every surfed the place once before, when it was pretty average, I was really keen to give it another crack!
As most of you know, I’ve never been a strong comp surfer. It’s just not my style of surfing. But the bowl that appears on some of the waves out at Arica…I just couldn’t say, “No”.
It was my first wave, in the my first heat, and I had scored a wrapping six foot bowl on the left, which no one else wanted. Not knowing the wave very well, and disregarding how dry the inside of the left gets, I took off with one thing in mind – to go flying!
I did a pretty large invert and ended up getting scored high nine’s. Coverage of the wave has been splashed around online in the years since.
I got knocked out in my following heat and just went back to doing what I do best – free surfing.

4. Pebbles, Samoa

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Samoa Bowls. Photo by Rod Owen

This is where I scored my first cover! That particular session was one where all the elements where against us, but somehow we still nailed it. I was in Samoa, solo, with photog Rod Owen before (Dave) Winny and Jones (Russell) arrived.

We were surfing this shitty, fat, little left with some standups, as we were all on the same boat. Rod & I were just waiting to go check Pebbles. Finally the surfers had enough of dodging barrels and nose-diving, and we got moving over to the next reef pass.
We sailed up to 4-6 ft heavy wedge barrels and I couldn’t believe what we were seeing. With the skipper saying that we only had 45 minutes to get amongst it, I didn’t waste a second.

I jumped overboard solo, and raced out into the lineup with the pressure of Rod yelling, “Don’t fuck up!”. It was the best 45 minute session of my life.

All, but one of the other surfers stayed in the boat. I was flying out of wave after wave. The cover was a shot of an invert, but we had about four shots to choose from, plus backflips and reverses. Laughs. It was crazy!

I got back onboard the boat to “cover” high-fives from Rod and shell-shocked surfers saying, “Bodyboarding is epic”. Job done.

5. Killers, South Australian desert

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The lead-up to this session was nothing short of psychotic.

A quick run-down: I’d just gotten back from driving over to the desert with Dallas (Singer) on only a five-day trip. We had finally arrived back in Sydney and I had to drive three hours straight to the South Coast as I wanted to surf a wedge.

As I get out of the water Tonizy (Phil Gallagher) rings me to let me know that he’s booked flights for Jase Finlay, James Kates, Luke Shadbolt and I to leave that very afternoon to fly back out west as the forecast was looking epic.
We drive back up to Sydney, jump on a plane, and then drive 13 hours – arriving to 40 knot offshore winds, barrels to ramps and only a sunbaking humpback to hassle us for waves.

We surfed for 6-7 hours straight. Came in exhausted and severely wind-burnt, but in high spirits because we knew that we’d had been having an air show duel-off. You can check it in Passing Through.

Bonus Passing Through Full Movie:

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