Words By James Hathaway
Photographs of Jarrah by Ed Sloane
Photographs of Wayne (various)
Design by Chris McConville

What’s required to go surfing? Is the internet essential to tell you where and when you should surf? How about the latest watch or that chic tail pad that’s plastered across every surf publication from here to Timbuktu?  The simple answer to all of these questions is no. Basically a surfboard and some ocean energy is all that’s required, oh and of course the all-important ingredient of time. Time to physically go surfing, but to also develop one’s overall knowledge of what it means to be a surfer. Two amazing individuals that have over time dedicated their lives to the ocean are Wayne Lynch and his son Jarrah. For these two highly skilled watermen, life is about respect and reaping what you sow.

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On a recent swell chasing mission heading west along the Great Ocean Road to a popular beach I noticed a familiar car parked on the side of the road. A quick glance in my rear view mirror and I was safely on the shoulder of the road. The unsuspecting tourists trailing me were left a little startled and my two buddies in the car were scratching their heads and wondering what exactly was in my water canteen. I had to explain to them that the car belonged to Jarrah Lynch and that they should really meet this dude. With every encounter with Jarrah you will learn something new and there is something about his chilled out, I don’t really give a damn, but I kind of do attitude that makes you feel at ease with the world. The three of us watched Jarrah surf his last wave at a spot rarely frequented by surfers and it made me realise how close this father and son combo really is. In front of our eyes we were witnessing a new era of Lynch. Both surfers cut from the same piece of cloth pursuing and enjoying their passion in two diverse eras, yet the both of them have at one point or another been locked in battle with society and the well-oiled machine that is surfing.

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Photo by Ed Sloane
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Photo by Ed Sloane
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Photo by Ed Sloane
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Photo by Ed Sloane

A lot has been publicised over the years on Wayne Lynch. What blows me away is the fact that he was on his own quest from such a young age. He had discovered this coast line and surfed every nook and cranny by the age of 14. Wayne will tell you that the surf scene has dramatically changed in his local waters. The time where etiquette and friendships were respected have all but gone. Since the early 2000s, the culture and attitudes in the water have altered and unfortunately for Jarrah’s sake he’s been raised in this competitive era. “I feel sorry for kids like Jarrah who are trying to find their place and just have fun. If every time you have to fight with someone in the water than it just makes surfing a pain in the arse.” Understandably this raises many concerns for a father that has instilled such values of respect, enjoyment and exploration into his son from a young age. Jarrah had the foresight early and “curtailed competitive surfing at a young age.” Luckily for Jarrah, his father has an astute sense of wellbeing and a fatherly duty of care for his son, something that the surf industry has often lacked. Wayne knows what can happen to young professional surfers when they jump on the professional surfing merry-go round. Some survive the journey and others stumble off the ride and vomit on their shoes. “Surfing is now a business at every level and people can’t seem to separate from that notion. With that mentality, part of the real problem is that there is no respect for anything outside of success at a professional level. Everything else is just swept aside and it’s just part of a big, hazy matrix that people don’t even think about.”

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Photo by Devon Howard
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Photos by Tim Davis
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Photo by Ed Sloane

Like any father and son relationship, they voice their differences and don’t mind a bicker— Jarrah often coming out the victor—however, both men are on the same wavelength regarding the surf industry. The fact that these larger companies are often being run by people who have not set foot on a surfboard really alarms this Victorian surfing family. In that regard the boys are happy to be aligned with their major sponsor because in their eyes “they just care.” The artistic side of our culture is diminishing as has people’s understanding of the key fundamentals of surfing. “No one learns to read the swells, the weather maps, the barometers, the nuances of tide, all of those factors that made up being a surfer, a complete surfer. It’s a lifetime of knowledge to acquire. Now you just rock up and do it. The people that have been doing it for years and years, well they’re just objects getting in the way.”

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Photo by Adam Kobayashi

When Wayne speaks you listen, no ifs and no buts. Wayne is like a dormant volcano, with all of this crazy knowledge slowly bubbling beneath the surface. It’s a joy to listen to the rumblings and the rants. Rightfully so he is upset at the state of surfing. However surfing to Wayne Lynch is still the one common thread in his life that links his endeavours and passions with other surfers throughout the generations. Despite the apparent pessimism, both men still have an insatiable thirst to continually improve their surfing and explore new horizons. Wayne speaks of exploring remote Australian coastlines for mysterious waves and sailing delights. You can sense a spark in Jarrah’s voice when he discusses his own shaping pursuits and high performance surfing. The relevance of high-performance surfing and surfboard design is a frequent topic of discussion in the Lynch household. Jarrah and Wayne have always looked to find new parts of the wave to surf. That theory alone helped drive the surfboard evolution beyond what was considered imaginable at the time. Jarrah is now firmly entrenched in shaping. His hands and mind will be captive for the rest of his life. You only have to look at his finless creations to realise that he’s functioning at a higher level than most. Whilst he enjoys experimenting in the bay with various crafts he is bemused by modern surfboard trends that seem counterproductive to what he is trying to achieve himself. “Everyone just wants a five-foot shovel nose piece of shit mini simmons twinny that only works in two-foot slop. I want to make boards for better waves because ultimately that’s what I like to surf.” You only have to look at his expansive quiver to realise the versatility and high performance elements that motivate his shaping direction. Just like his favourite jazz musicians Chet Baker and Miles Davis, it all seamlessly flows in the right direction for him.

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Photo by Devon Howard
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Photo by Devon Howard
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Photo by Ed Sloane

The best thing about the Lynches is that they are doing all of this to satisfy their own inquisitiveness. These two men may just have the answers to all of our surfing endeavours. The only question remaining is how do we find out? Well good luck getting the answers because this surfing family are already miles down the road less travelled and the rest of us are just playing catch up.

To see more of Ed Sloane’s photographic work head to here.  To check out some more of Chris McConville’s work head over here.