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READER POLL 2017
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Close READER POLL 2017
We promise this won't (really) hurt.

Wanna win a new surfboard? We have a custom Chilli ‘Black Vulture’ to gift (plus all the trim you’d expect from a premium dealer). To be in the running, just answer a few questions for us. It won’t take long.

In Bloom, An Extravagant Gesture Of Colour.

Stab joins Volcom’s newest signing Mr Noa Deane on a surf shoot where drunken dreams smell like flowers.

In Bloom, An Extravagant Gesture Of Colour.

Stab joins Volcom’s newest signing Mr Noa Deane on a surf shoot where drunken dreams smell like flowers.

Above: It’s easy to succumb to comfort in a tailored environment. Thankfully, Noa always knows how to keep it bold.

Photo: Alex Brunting
Words: James Royce

Taking freesurfing’s brightest perennial and showering his dance in flowers; Clichéd and erratic? Guilty as charged.

Concept shoots are no breeze to execute. There’s sanity on the line, commercial repercussions, generous variables. When all elements come together, and the pro surf subject performs in the right lighting for an extensive production team to capture the moment in its entirety, it yields a magazine cover, hopefully, with a point of difference. But, if even a single one of these components is out of place, selecting photos can be a dark dance. Thankfully, Stab is quite thrilled about this one. It was less about good luck, and more about the fruitful nature of the two most crucial factors: The vision, and the surfer.

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Above: A lot of elements are involved, sure, but there’s nothing wrong with surrendering to the onrush, the vague uncertainties and serendipity of it all.

Photo: Alex Brunton
Words: James Royce

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The concept? To enhance the artisanal qualities of surfing, by engulfing a subject in thousands of multicoloured flower petals. This direction was delivered to us via The House The You Built, a competition we ran with our friends at Volcom, which opened the floor to anyone with an idea for a conceptual surf shoot. Our winner, Mick Kelleher, gifted us Flower Boy, the idea which you see brought to life upon these pages.

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Above: Since joining his new family at Volcom, it freed up Noa to ride whichever boards he pleases. And what pleases him most are LSD crafts, shaped by Luke Short – in fact, he wouldn’t stop gushing his new quiver flow during the shoot.

Photo: Alex Brunting
Words: James Royce

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The subject? Noa Deane. A highly spirited surfer who was born in 1994 in Coolangatta and currently resides in Ozzie Wright’s backyard shed in Byron Bay. Stab has been enamoured with Noa for quite some time, and he was recently thrust back into our surfing’s collective psyche by the signing of a Volcom contract, thus aligning the stars.

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Above: A blooming foreground contrasted with a whirling Noa background; You like visual stimulation?

Photo: Bill Morris
Words: James Royce

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Taking freesurfing’s brightest perennial and showering his dance in flowers; Clichéd and erratic? Guilty as charged. But we wanted big airs and bright colours with a surfer whose style isn’t seasonal. Which we believed would be best achieved by dousing Noa Deane in extravagant flowers whilst he spun his way over a remote beachbreak on the south coast of Australia. The results were undoubtedly colourful. Now, let’s tap the scene.

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Above: Recognise this? Yeah, you do. 

Photo: Alex Brunton
Words: James Royce

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“It sounds like two bored dads on a Sunday!” Noa jokes, perched on a rock as an armada of leaf blowers charge a flurry of petals around him. We were halfway through the first day of shooting, but nothing was quite clicking as neither wind nor swell were cooperating. However, refusing to go insane by doing the same thing repeatedly (jumping over a meagre shorebreak) and expecting different results (usable imagery), Noa wandered the empty beach during some downtime looking for inspiration. Which he found on a rock ledge at a cave entrance.

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Above: Can’t you just feel the speed, and the energy here? Noa doesn’t have low gears – he rides the wind like few others, and with the right combination of camera settings, can provide lensmen with much to work with.

Photo: Matt O'Brian
Words: James Royce

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“I always take it too far!” he yells back to a team of semi-concerned photogs while climbing up the slippery wall with board in hand. It took less than three minutes of thought (most of which was consumed waiting for a wave) before Noa committed to acid-dropping off the ledge towards his landing pad: A three-metre wide flume of water, bordered by rock that flushed into an exceptionally deep cave. Certainly not the most ideal surf setup. Regardless, Noa committed, landing cleanly before being whisked out of sight and into the waiting cave. Thankfully, he re-emerged before any concern of accidentally killing the world’s best freesurfer became real. 

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Above: A fitting profile for as colourful of a surfer as Noa.

Photo: Alex Brunton
Words: James Royce

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“There were so many bats in that cave,” Noa laughs after climbing back up to rejoin the team. “Forget the sketch landing, I almost got rabies from that rock jump!” His energy is incessant. “Feels like there’s some northerlies coming through, those Modern Collective winds! Wait, people still get that reference, right? Let’s get back out there.” He’s already halfway down the beach before anyone can voice opposition… Or tell him it’s been six years since Kai Neville’s debut, and that it’s probably time to find a more relevant connotation for cross-shores.

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Above: A flowery visual lesson on “getting ze shot.”

 

Photo: Bill Morris
Words: James Royce

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Initially, the brutal rock jump scene Noa stomped first go seemed rare to me. But, looks deceive; it was actually quite the opposite. The jump, while certainly dramatic, was just a glimpse of familiar territory for Noa. Like the always-in-season flowers we chose to complement him with — roses, avens, peonies, and lilies — he doesn’t need aligned elements to perform. He’s a perennial breath of fresh air in surf. His style, presence, and performance aren’t dictated by norms. And he will continue to glow as long as he’s given proper attention. Which he has at the moment, after landing in Volcom's garden. That is some potent fertiliser.

After shooting wrapped for the day I was able to pull Noa into conversation over some suds on the balcony of our rental, which overlooked the picturesque South Australian coastline. There are certainly worse places to discuss surfing.

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Above: Are you a goofyfooter? 

Photo: Matt O'Brien
Words: James Royce

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When asked if it was difficult to perform amid gusts of flora and a blaring orchestra of leaf blowers, Noa shrugs, as unworried as the breeze cooling our lodgings. “No, I couldn’t hear any of it. The first few minutes might have been a bit much to handle. But after a while, once the mojo started flowing, it was easy. The leaves, the blowers, the photogs, it all takes a backseat to focusing on all the little nuances of the wave itself. Making sure I’m hitting the right section. Not going at too much of an angle. Not going too slow off the back foot, or too fast by favouring the front-foot — which often leads to me getting detonated in the flats. It seems like a lot at first, but it’s nothing. And once I get that perfect one, the one I feel everything click, where I just chip off the lip perfect, it’s a piece of cake. An organic realm of surfing, easier than muscle memory.”

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Above: Noa is equally dazzling when shot alone. But throw in some botanical thematics, and the result oozes colour.

 

Photo: Alex Brunton
Words: James Royce

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I ask about the times when conditions refuse to cooperate. Like, prior to the rock jump. “I get a little weird and stubborn when that happens. But I’ll still force myself to land everything. Even the little shitty moves — like chop hop off a foam climb — that I know aren’t going anywhere. It’s an added boost of confidence. It’s all a psyche thing. If I think too much in the big scheme of what I have to do, only go for the cover shot, the spread, the big dog photo, then I’ll just blow every single wave and get way too frustrated with myself. It’s so much better for me to try it all, discard the scrappy stuff, and hold on to whatever big ones I make after a session. It’s better than worrying myself with making everything perfect. When I do that, even what feels like the worst surf can be turned around.

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Above: A 22-year-old surf punk? Sure. And, a bright one at that (look at those rails, the grip, the aesthetics of it all).

 

Photo: Alex Brunton
Words: James Royce

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“In the past, I would just try the huge shit and would lose it when I couldn’t knock it. I’ve learned from that, and now I realise that there’s no gain from going ballistic all the time. It puts me in a mindset that makes me realise: Fuck, I’ve done this. And there’s no reason I should stop being able to do it.”

Levelheadedness, perhaps unbefitting a 22-year-old surf punk. Mind you, even his “shitty little moves” are of a calibre many fantasise about. And he refuses to surrender to the elements. He isn’t seasonal, a shimmering bud no matter the scenery.

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Above: Yes, there was a bit of motorised assistance to aid Noa’s repeated ventures into the stratosphere. But there’s nothing wrong with accepting an extra hand.

 

Photo: Alex Brunton
Words: James Royce

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His aesthetic choices are of a distinct taste. The bright colours, Sharpie squiggles, and front deck grips common throughout his quiver suit his surfing. Uniquely bombastic touches that are both abiding and exclusive to Noa’s overall effect. The pink rails on the board he used earlier were particularly in tune with the abundance of roses. 

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Above: Don’t worry, we’re not stupid enough in the age of public-display piousness (thanks, social media) to litter the ocean with anything unnatural. Only real petals, here.

Photo: Alex Brunton
Words: James Royce

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“Yeah, I’ve been dressing up and Sharpie-ing my boards forever now, I just love blasting the things,” he laughs. “My girlfriend and I did this one, just fucked the thing up for an hour or two.” He points at another board that could’ve been Dogtown-esque, but ended up more Jackson Pollock in monochrome. “Not sure what the design would technically be called, I just say it’s a porno mag mixed with nu-ideals approach, whatever that means,” he chuckles.

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Above: Going from penning the Stone onto notebooks and bathroom walls in the 90s to sticking it his board in 2017. That’s an upgrade.

Photo: Alex Brunton
Words: James Royce

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Of course, the most distinct attribute amongst the glorified doodles is the fresh Volcom logo, which Noa has opted to draw on himself in a flutter of enthusiasm for his new brand. Understandable, especially if you had the pleasure of growing up in the 90s, when it was in vogue to pen Stones onto notebooks or bathroom walls. It’s charming to see that Noa’s carried on that practice with aplomb, well past the middle school years, following his new signing. 

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Above: Where Noa goes, colour and intensity follow. A literal visual testimony to the fact here.

 

Photo: Alex Brunton
Words: James Royce

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“I got the idea from Ozzie,” he reveals. The artistic similarities between Noa and the Goons of Doom frontman, fellow Volcom teamer, and new housemate are certainly evident: Dripping paint, flashy hues and penchant for lines that aren’t clean. “He does the direction, and I paint. I’m actually scared of painting on a canvas, but I can paint on a board no problem. It’s funny, I’m cool with fibreglass, but not with a piece of paper. It’s heavy. I love it all, though. I definitely want to keep getting better at it.”

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Above: Is it possible to make a non-make look good? Evidently, yes.

 

Photo: Alex Brunton
Words: James Royce

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The next morning Noa and his fibreglass petal once again take off down the beach, running through the multicoloured blooms drifting parallel to the shore. Soaring above the lip, quite effortlessly, for hours. Even amongst the flowers, he’s bright in his own way, kinda impossible not to watch. As Christian Dior said, after women, flowers are the most lovely thing the world has been given. But Dior never met the volcano that is Noa Deane.

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Above: No, it isn’t as vertigo as the one we saw in Cluster, but have you every seen an acid drop dripping in more colour? Noz nailed this, obviously, and then rode the wave straight into a cave, disappearing from view. Did we just kill a world class freesurfer?

Photo: Alex Brunton
Words: James Royce

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Above: A production befitting surfing’s brightest perennial and Volcom’s newest bud.

Photo: Alex Brunton
Words: James Royce

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Above: Crisp ramps, clear skis, warm water and enchanting scenery… the picture almost took itself.

 

Photo: Alex Brunton
Words: James Royce

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Above: Don’t worry, we’re not stupid enough in the age of public-display piousness (thanks, social media) to litter the ocean with anything unnatural. Only real petals, here.

Photo: Alex Brunton
Words: James Royce

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Above: For me?

 

Photo: Alex Brunton
Words: James Royce

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