Interview: Stevie Maher and Dave Hubbard

I sat down with DK legend Dave Hubbard and Gold Coast Local legend Stevie Maher during the D’Bah Pro for an enlightening chat about DK, why Hubboards came into existence, the future of Australian and Pro Bodyboarding and how you can go on the ultimate surf trip in the Mentawais with Stevie Maher’s All Bodyboard Charters. Enjoy!

(Dave Heavyside) Riptide: All right. Okay, so we’re here with Stevie Maher, Dropknee legend from the Goldie, and none other than Dave Hubbard From Hubboards.

Dave Hubbard: Hello. Hello.

RT: Dave’s in town for the DBah Pro and a bit of a tour around Australia as well with his brand, showing off the range. Welcome to the sunny Gold Coast.

DH: It’s great to be up here in the sun and the warm weather. It was a bit colder down south when we landed and got some sessions down there, so it’s great to be closer to being warm. There is a little wind right now, but, yeah, it’s beautiful, sunny, gorgeous up here.

RT: Yeah, so you said you had been down south. Where is your tour of Australia taking you so far?

DH: We did a demo and a promo with Bodyboard King. The demo was at Curl Curl and then went to Emerald and Cronulla, got a couple days at Nuggan, Jeff and myself, so we had some fun. Then we drove on up here, and saw the boys from Inverted and here we are competing at the Dbah Pro.

RT: Yeah, so how long are you here for?

DH: It’ll round out to just about two weeks.

RT: Yeah, yeah. Great, so there’s a couple destinations after this?

DH: Yeah, I’ll be heading home just to switch out my bags and some clothes, and then to Cali we’ll do a few more promos, and I’ll spend most of the month of July in Mexico.

RT: Yeah. That’s a pretty hectic schedule, as I’ll bet you’re used to though, by now?

DH: Yeah, yeah. Well, this year’s quite a bit more travel than some of the last ones, but yeah, that’s part of the gig and I’m super blessed to be able to travel for a living with body boarding. It’s what I dreamed of doing when I was a grommet so I’m never gonna shy away from it or say it’s a pain at all.

RT: Yeah, that’s pretty cool, and Hubboards has been around for about five years?

DH: Yeah, right around there. Yeah.

RT: Yeah, and that’s now going from strength to strength. You obviously started small, and now your boards are out here in Australia, and you are doing the tour and stuff down here. Tell us a bit about that journey.

DH: Yeah, that’s been great, you know? From starting the brand, to sorting out our range then sorting out distributors, you know? Getting our orders and the timing of when we get product in, moving the product, you know? Working with our retailers and then it’s been exceptionally exciting to bring on great riders as ambassadors and riders for our brand. That’s why we’re stoked to be up here to meet some of our riders like Stevie, who’s been showing off our brand for a good while and making us look good at his local and that’s a big part of our social media presence is trying to be well rounded with having our brand be present everywhere.

RT: Yeah, excellent. That’s probably a pretty good place here to introduce you as a Gold Coast Local, Stevie.

Stevie Maher: Yeah, mate, I’ve grown up around here. I actually lived probably about a hundred meters away from here for pretty much 25 years of me life, I lived up on the hill, Coolangatta life, and surfed this as my backyard for that long. Yeah, I’ve watched this place obviously grow in time and yeah it’s been heaven sent to be able to live up on the hill there and surf good waves with the crew. It’s just awesome to be on the team now with Hubboards and the Hub team and that, and for them to ask me to be on team, I was just absolutely over the moon, so I was just like, “No way.” You know? And to have these sort of guys as your mentors sort of thing, and yeah it was just awesome to be on team and these guys are nothing but deadset legends.

RT: Awesome, so tell us a little bit about how came about?

SM: I just connected with them and they approached me and we sort of went from there and yeah, I think it’s only gonna get bigger with them.

RT: Oh, good stuff. So what’s your sort of plan Stevie, I mean you’ve been bodyboarding a long time, people would have sort of seen your name around the place, whether it’s been in bags, or online for a bit, so where do you sort of see things going for yourself?

SM: I do all bodyboard charters as well. I spent a lot of time in Indonesia, spent 14 years of my life in pretty much Indonesia, it’s been a big part of my life, and I created the All Bodyboard Charters and I think that was a good thing. They weren’t doing it up there in the Ments. No one did that. There was times there where I’d go on trips with bodyboarders and we’d be with stand-ups and they’d get hassled, and so I just thought, “You know what? I’m gonna invent the All Bodyboard Charters and bring that out,” and it’s going well.

RT: Great! So tell us, what are some the waves that people can expect to surf?

SM: Yeah, you have places like Greenbush, Maccas etc.. There’s so many different waves up there, different variety of waves, lefts, rights, thousands of ‘em!

RT: And you’re on a boat so you can sort of pick and choose which ones you get to, and chase it a little bit?

SM: Yeah, that’s it and we interact with all the boats up there. For example, if there’s a boat wanting a certain break, you know, we’ll travel somewhere else. It’s all about that… Everyone else is out there doing the same thing, right? You know, people pay the money to go out there and surf and want to surf the best waves and you don’t want to go out there and surf with a crowd, so that’s why we work with the other boats and we interact and work as a team out there.

RT: Sounds great! Well, Just changing it up a bit, obviously you’re a bit of a DK specialist?

SM: Yeah.

RT: That’s one of the things I want to touch on while I’ve got Dave sitting next to me here is the Hubboards DK boards. Designed by yourself Dave? From the ground up?

DH: Yeah, you know, that’s something we’re thrilled to have a part of our line, a board that’s so, I would say, well-designed for Drop-Knee, but it’s a versatile shape. I’m a versatile rider and I can use that shape in almost any conditions, so it’s probably held its place in the market more solidly than any other DK board because of its versatility. To have riders like Stevie using it, and all sorts of different kinds of riders using it for both Drop-Knee and Prone, mostly, of course, we’re gonna see Dropknee images on my board, but to see some rad prone images also. That’s a part of the branding and what we show on social media with showing off what our models can. That’s why we need guys like Stevie and our ambassadors to really put it out there.

RT: Yeah, so Stevie, from picking up the boards and getting on them for the first time, have you noticed a change to your riding?

SM: Yeah! When I first got on one, I was like, “Oh my god, these things are good,” and you know twelve out of ten there for Dave, putting that all together. That was awesome. I’ve given a lot of guys a run on them and 99% of the time everyone comes back and go, “Oh, I want to get one of them things.”

RT: Yeah, so hopefully you might have a few on the charter as well, that guys can try out and give a crack as well?

SM: Yeah, we’ve got a few of them. Actually, one of the guys that’s in the final today, Justin, he’s in the DK final with Dave, he will be on of the the first trips and he’s riding Hubs and I’ll actually probably take a couple more boards on and give everyone a run on them.

RT: Awesome. Cool, Dave, while I’ve got you, you’ve traveled the world and seen a lot of things in bodyboarding so coming down and seeing the Australian comps, and the Pro tour here, put on by the guys from the ABA, what’s your thoughts on where we’re at from an Australian point of view and also how it compares globally to some of the other comps?

DH: Yeah, it’s good. You know, I think Australia’s been a place that has helped the model of what you really want. I think just in terms of introducing people to the ocean, life-savers, and then professional water sports. I think in all of those areas, Australia’s been a model for the whole world as how to approach that. You know, you show up to a popular beach, it’s got a life-saving club, and that life-saving club is not only a place where people are introduced to the water with getting the juniors out there and getting them swimming well, but you know, it also helps to foster a local body-boarding club, a local surf club as well.

You have a local meets, and then you go grass roots and you just keep coming up, we’re right at the top end of it, here at the national tour, which has also been model. I think it’s, for as long as I can remember, it’s been the strongest national tour that I’ve, you know, kind of seen or been exposed to, and just the quality of riders, but also just the organization also stands out. I think that on all those levels, talking about the talent here in Australia, the organization, just how each tier works and works with the other, going right down to introducing people to the ocean and water safety, it’s a model for the whole world.

So, it’s a pleasure for me to finally be able to compete in a national event here in Australia. It’s definitely been something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, and I think it’s something that the spectators … Or sorry, the other competitors, you can see that there’s some Chileans, there’s Japanese, my brother, myself, you know it’s not just Aussies here at this national tour. It almost has never been like that, you know? The Australian national tour has always drawn international riders which is a testament to itself as how successful it is, you know? You look at other national tours, it’s very concentrated with those people who are regionally located in that area, and, you know, the Aussie tour, that’s what, I think, is one of the trademarks that you can kind of tell that it’s successful, is it’s a step above that and it’s drawing international riders.

RT: Was starting a board company with your brother, Jeff, one of the things that you realized that you might have to do to continue to have involvement in the sport at a professional level?

DH: Yeah, yeah. It came up, you know, not because of circumstances that Jeff and I desired, but we found ourselves both in that circumstance, and as brothers, as like-minded individuals also, it just kind of logically came to that conclusion and just started from there. Like, how do we get out of the situation we’re in, where we are not having the relationship we want with our current sponsors, because we would want to work had to improve the industry, and just have all the wheels turning and working. Not just for us to garner a wage, but for it to be working as part of the industry and our role in it.

We said, Okay, well, this paradigm isn’t working. How can we move out of this current situation and move into a situation where not only are we gonna be able to continue to bodyboard professionally, but then engage the industry in a way that is progressive, that continues to support bodyboarding. I just mentioned grass roots all the way up to the professionals and with each level in between, and how we can become something that’s a working, functioning part of the industry that helps it instead of being a part of, like a broken piece of machinery that’s not really kind of working for the greater good.

RT: Yeah, yeah. It’s pretty interesting. I guess guys like Mitch Rawlins, Ben Player and Dave Winchester got sent on similar pathways. I do think that gives them, and maybe you can touch on this, a really good insight into perhaps how to foster the next generation of talent coming because they went through all of it themselves so it gives them a unique perspective.

DH: Exactly. You know there’s so many things that are personal to what we’ve gone through. We have the perspective, we’ve been there, so we’re not gonna, not only repeat mistakes that we’ve seen, we’re gonna try to confront that, make things better, and it’s so important for Jeff and I, and I think a lot of the other riders in similar situations in proprietary situations with a company, is to work for the great good of the sport. You know? Nobody’s bodyboarding to become rich, so our intention with having a bodyboard brand, our own company, is not to magically become millionaires, because we are very realistic that, that’s not a possibility with this industry or this company, so our intention is to work towards the greater good of the sport which we love, we’re passionate about. So it’s just finding a way to continue to live out our passion.

RT: Definitely. Well, Thanks for your time Dave, I know you have to shoot to a heat. Stevie, you might be able to touch on this as well. You’ve had 25 years of Bodyboarding experience, do you think the expectations around what Bodyboarding can provide as a lifestyle, can provide as a sport, as professional sport, were maybe misaligned, or there were some unrealistic expectations going back ten or fifteen years and that’s starting to change now? Do you see that?

SM: Yeah. I started off just competing at local club levels and then going into, you know, your regionals and your state titles and all that sort of stuff, but it is hard to say that one, Dave.

RT: Did you find that there was probably guys you were surfing with at the time, going back, that were looking at it as, you know, this is gonna fill my bank account and I’m gonna become a pro bodyboarder and it’s gonna be all of the bells and whistles, and fame and fortune? Did you see that growing up?

SM: Yeah, I did. I saw a lot of guys pushing for that, and as time went, and you had to have a good sponsorship behind you, and if you didn’t have a good sponsorship behind you it was tough. You watched guys working hard all their life to go into a contest, and just get nowhere an leave disillusioned, and you know I felt for them guys. I was quite fortunate enough, I did have good sponsors that sent me around, but going back onto that point, for sure. There was guys trying to look for that dream and it was very hard, very hard to get there.

RT: So, I think now, you know, what Dave was just touching on it there, that they’re not in it to make those million bucks, but they’re in it to provide a sustainable consistent lifestyle, and I guess that’s something that you probably, with your charters and your experience in that now, also want to do. You’ve got more realistic expectations.

SM: Yeah, definitely. I’m 40 now, so you know, and I’m still competing, and I’m still knocking out guys that are half my age, but yeah I’ve just still got the fire in the belly, and you know that’s never gonna go away for me. That’s who I am as a person. A big part of my life was living in Indonesia and working on boats and stuff like that, and I was fortunate enough to have friends that own boats there, and they’d introduce me to the place, The Ments, and it’s just one of them places you fall in love with. So I want to pursue that, and it’s such a good thing. You know, at the end of the day what I get a kick out of is seeing the guys have their first session out there, and come in. The smiles on their dials, and can’t wait to crack a first up Binnie. That’s what makes my day.

RT: Yeah, yeah. That’s cool. I mean, I’ve was lucky to be out there with the Experiment 7 trip and for me the best part was definitely just being in the water and away from everything. You’re almost disconnected from technology and disconnected from the world out there. After a few days of that you lose yourself and you don’t want to go anywhere else, you know? Just wandering around those world class waves, is a pretty magical experience.

SM: Yeah, yeah, sure is. It’s such an amazing thing, and like I said before, it’s something that I love doing out there. It’s just, the waves out there are just phenomenal, you know. Like, there’s so many different breaks, and over time as I was out there you’d stumble across a couple little ones that you never seen, or have never been named before, and we’ve kept them in the little storage box there, you know?

RT: Yeah, so you’ve got a few little secrets spots out there?

SM: Yeah, which is a good thing and you always keep them away from everyone. Yeah, in going back onto that, it’s just a magical place and it … Like you said before, it’s just so many different waves out there, it’s just crazy.

RT: When you think about going to Indo or to the Ments as a beginner or someone that isn’t really experienced in Bodyboarding it can be a little bit intimidating. But from experience, there are waves over there that aren’t gonna rip you to shreds. Do you find that you can cater to all different experience levels with your trips?

SM: Yeah, mate, yeah. You can … I get guys inquiring about that, and I say to them, you got your heavy waves, you got your intermediate and beginner waves. We give everyone a run down at the start of the trip and we say to them, “Look, you know, if you’re not confident, don’t go out there”. Because we’ve had a number of incidents where we’ve had to send to guys home, like hitting their head on the reef and their head has opened up like a watermelon, you know? They’re a far cry from hospital, so most have to get choppered out, and you don’t want that happening. So we make sure we give them a run down and we do cater for all experience levels. There’s so many different waves, as you know, from being there. There are waves for everyone from beginners and intermediates, to pros.

RT: Yeah, that’s good to know. Sometimes you do get a bit hesitant, even the first time I went over, I was like, “Aw, I don’t know if I’m up for it.” But it’s great when you do get over there and you have some experienced operators like yourself really looking after you and giving you a run-down of what to do in certain situations. Just like those little things where if you get yourself into a situation, you don’t panic, because you know what to do. That really helps build the confidence and maybe you will book that first trip over there, even if you are a beginner.

SM: Yeah, for sure. Also, we’re looking at giving away a free trip next year for the World Champion for the DK.

RT: Oh, there you go!

SM: Yeah, that was a bit of the exclusive there. Haha. Yeah, so we’re gonna give away a free trip on one of my trips in 2019, so for the winner of the World Tour of DK, so it’s a good comp for some of the guys out there, you know?

RT: Yeah, perfect. So if people want to get in touch with you, how would they do that best?

SM: Stevie Maher’s All Bodyboard Charters. At the moment I’ve just got it on Facey and Instagram. I’m hoping to do a website before the end of the year, which will cater for land camps, and different variety of boats as well. So, at the moment I’m only just on Facebook and my Page.

RT: Cool, oh we’ll chuck some links at the end of the interview down there where you can find the info. Stevie, thanks for that! Is there anything else you’d like to say, shout-outs or anything before we wrap it up?

SM: A big shout out to Dave and Jeff for hooking me up and just being absolutely twelve out of ten. They are great to deal with, and just being able to be on their team is awesome. My fin company, DMC, he’s just absolute legend, Intricate Shockwave, Lidlife Bodyboarding, Sunbreaker Optical and Dune Wetsuits. So they’ve just been nothing but amazing support in doing my trips as well, so, yeah.

RT: Cheers!

You can find out more about the All bodyboard Surf Charters here: https://www.facebook.com/steviemahersmentawaisurfcharters/

 

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