Name: Tracy Garner
Age: 33
Nationality: Australian
Occupation: Sea Kayaking Instructor/Training Co-Ordinator for the Jervis Bay Kayak Company
Competition records: Australia currently has no formal competition circuit and I haven't competed internationally to date so as
yet no formal records but I live to surf and I love new challenges.
Paddling experience: Sea Kayaking professionally for 7 years, Surf Kayaking 3years

Sponsors: Jervis Bay Kayak Co., Mega Surf Kayaks Australia, Werner Paddles, Solution Paddling Gear, Sierra

Hi Tracy. First of all, congratulations for your great work with kayaksurf in Australia. It seems that it all started with sea kayaking in New Zealand... tell us how you then jumped to kayaksurf...
I have always been inspired by watching the power of the surf so as my sea kayaking skills got better it was somewhere I naturally wanted play more in my kayak. While surf paddling in a sea kayak is fun and great for developing strong technique it has only been in the last couple of years as we discovered the Mega Kayaks that this world and what is possible has really opened up to me. I started, as most do, using my white water kayak in the surf but when I felt the speed and control of a Mega Prowler for the first time I was addicted to this sport instantly. I love the feeling of freedom you get when you are flying down a wave!!

You work at JBK as a sea kayaking instructor and training coordinator. Explain us better what do you do in your functions...
My role at Jervis Bay Kayaks involves developing kayak educational programs and co-ordinating our staff of instructors and guides to conduct our on water paddling and training activities for private, school and corporate customers alike. During our busy months this also has me on the water around four days a week teaching and guiding myself. JBK has a very busy retail store also which we are very involved with managing and the manufacture and sales of Mega surf kayaks Australia through JBK provides for a varied and exciting environment to work in.

Everyone of us has this dream of one day surfing in your country. Is it really a dream to surf?
Yes Luis it really is! .. We are so fortunate in this Country to have so much pristine, accessible and surfable coastline that it is easy to take it for granted some times. Particularly where I live at Jervis Bay on the New South Wales (NSW) south coast we have at least a dozen top quality waves all within a 20min drive. In this area also the breaks are mostly uncrowded (except for school holidays!!) and the local board riders are pretty kayak surfer friendly. While a good handful of us now surf kayaks here we also have a regular group of friends we surf with who are short board, mal board, boogie board and knee board riders so there is a great vibe at our surf sessions with respect and admiration for what each other is doing on a wave.

Where do you usually surf?
My local surf break is Cave beach in the Jervis Bay national park only 5 min from home. This is mostly a beach break but with recent big swell events has developed a beautiful peak in the middle of the beach. Waves also work off the point here in the right swell direction. Crescent Head on the mid north coast of NSW is an awesome spot too. We travel there annuallyfor a surf odyssey holiday. I surfed there with Sean & Brigitte Egan from Ireland for a few days while they were on holidays last year. Byron Bay is also another favorite further north. Both these spots have brilliant point breaks which you can ride forever to the left! In October Spain will be the first time I have surfed internationally but then when you are spoilt for choice here it is hard to justify the expense of the travel overseas. I would like to go to Indonesia in the near future though.

Besides seakayaking, do you have any experience in creek, slalom, marathon, etc? Do you usually do white water kayaking?
I have done very little white water really. It is an awesome paddling discipline but given that I don't live anywhere near good rivers it isn't something I have really looked too. Many of our white water and freestyle paddlers are looking more and more to the surf to get their adrenalin fix since the rivers have been so low here because of the drought.
kayaksurf.net and other surfkayaking websites have each day, more visitors and the curiosity around kayaksurf is growing. How do you see the future of kayaksurf?
It is a very exciting time to be involved in surf kayaking. The sport and interest around it seems to be increasing so quickly and with the progresses in kayak design and with so many skilled paddlers out there pushing the boundaries, there is just so much potential. With faster, shorter more maneuverable kayaks we are showing now we can surf a wave with as much finesse, style and athleticism as any wave ski or short boarder. Internationally, the professionalism of the organizations and the passion of the kayakers behind them are doing a great job to promote surf kayaking as a real disciplinary skill. I am loving being a part of it and I am hoping to do something similar here in Australia to move the sport forward and grow Aussie talent.

Ross told me that S urf Kayaking In Australia is to be recognised by the Peak Australian Body and subsidiary State Bodies as a real discipline. Great news! What will be the consequences of this fact?
It is a great step forward to earn the respect and recognition of our governing paddle sports industries for surf kayaking as a skilled kayaking discipline. We have already established the first surf kayaking club in Australia called "Make for the break" (you can see photos of our club days at
http://www.surfkayaks.com.au/products/Caves_Beach_Surf_Session.htm ). We run local events in NSW on a monthly basis and we are hoping to have members joining and running their own activities Australia wide in the future. With support from our Paddle sport authority we have scheduled our first Australian comp in March of 2008 with several demo days and social comp days booked leading up to this at the end of the year. We are hoping to combine the talent and disciplines of Wave Skiers and have white water surfing categories to give an wholistic voice to everyone who paddles in the surf.

And, particularly in Australia, how do you see the future of kayaksurf?
I see it taking off!! We are a purpose built country for surfing. What we are trying to do in growing the sport here is about making surf kayaking fun and appealing to all ages of men and also women. I ran our first all ladies surf kayaking course a few weekends back and these girls matched their enthusiasm with their spirit of adventure and were surfing some great waves by the finish. Two of them walked away with Mega Prowlers they were so buzzed and the buzz is what its all about. The immediate aim for me is to use my experiences in October to build our own competitions here to give people a focus on the sport and to establish our own country ranking system and give surf kayaking talent a platform to grow from with the ultimate aim of having an Australian team to compete internationally in the future.

You'll be in Mundaka in October to participate for your first time in a World Championship. A dream become true?
I am so excited about it and training hard. It will be a very interesting challenge and a highlight in my paddling career for new experiences. It is difficult for me being so far away from International competition and not having any Tamsin Greens or Roberta Bosari's in the line up to lean from but I do surf with a good crew of surf kayakers here all madly passionate about surfing and while we don't compete against each other we certainly do encourage each other to push our limits. I will be giving it my best and am working hard on dynamic moves, wave selection and getting the most out of every ride.. I am looking forward to being a part of it and meeting so many awesome surfers.

Is it your first time in Europe to surf?
Yes it will be my first time and I'm hoping the airline baggage handlers are GENTLE to my equipment ... Any tips for traveling with a kayak would be greatly appreciated ... perhaps I should ask the boatertalk fraternity for advice?

What kind of training do you do for kayaksurf?
I surf and surf more ... At least I try and get out a few times a week. I have a gym strength and flexibility program several nights a week where I swim also and then where I live is brilliant for mountain biking and I have plenty of hiking trails to run on from my home with my dogs. When there is no surf I watch loads of dvds of wave skiers and surf kayaking on the net. You can learn alot by seeing the moves in your head.

Now, about the kayaks... what are your favourites to surf?
I still have a soft spot for my Mega Prowler. It is awesome when it is really BIG! ... I am training in a Mega Neutron now and it rips .. I am enjoying the snappy feel and freedom in the turns plus the extra speed down the line. I am making sections that I was coping on the head before.

In your opinion, what is the current state of surf kayak design? Are things innovating? What, if anything, is exciting to you about current designs?
I like the direction that it is taking. The shorter more aggressive boats that allow for more dynamic moves are really allowing paddlers to explore what is possible.
The combinations are endless for rails and hull design and I like the style and look of the new Bullet kayak as well.

Do you some surfkayaker in special you admire most for his skills and technique?
I admire everyone out there putting themselves in the places that make others hesitate. It drives me to want to push myself further.

What was the biggest scare that you've had in the sea?
Probably getting caught and lipped off a 6fter onto a sand bar (a low tide lesson learned there) ... cracked my kayak but thankfully not my head!!

Favourite paddling sites...
http://www.jervisbaykayls.com/, (there's no place like home) http://www.coastalwatch.com.au/ (for the best Aussie surf spots) & http://www.surfkayaks.com.au/

Did you knew this site -
http://www.kayaksurf.net/ - what do you think about it?
Yes.. this is also a favourtie to keep up to date with whats happening in kayaking surfing round the world .. love the video and pics.

What have you been hearing in your ipod lately?
A couple of Aussie favorites The John Butler Trio, Wolfmother, and Powderfinger.

Sometimes I receive mails saying that are not many girls on kayaksurf! Why do you think we have (still) so few?
I think some girls find it imposing or intimidating to have a go at.... It is about providing a fun environment for them to learn in and building confidence in themselves, their kayak and their skills and I think with this mindset we will see more women getting out their to laugh and cheer each other on.

Let us some suggestions to those who want to start kayak surfing....
I think doing a course is a great idea to give the right technique basics. After that it is about getting the right kayak for you and just practice. Start small and in a surf zone that is ungrowded and be persistent... keep with it .. you will fall over a lot & you'll have good days and days where you get worked but this sport is like board surfing or skiing in that it will take a bit of time to get the balance and understand how to turn... but be patient and it will all be soooo worth it!!

Thanks Tracy. See you in Mundaka!

Kind Regards

Published on 27.07.07
Text - Luis Pedro Abreu
Photos - Jervis Bay Kayak Company + MEGA Australia
Luis Pedro Abreu



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