Somewhere within Harry's current South Coast hunting grounds.
Harry Bryant Is Signing A Five Year Head-To-Toe Deal With Vans
Interview: The bowl-topped larrikin on his very first sticker to his freshest five-year game changer.
Wonder why Australia’s competitive future is looking so bleak?
Go ahead and blame guys like Creed McTaggart, Chippa Wilson, Dion Agius and the ever-sprightly Harry Bryant for making jersey-free life look so damn aspirational.
Think about it: where’s the appeal in limping around the globe, draining a savings account, hunting QS points in (mostly) dismal conditions, only to have your dignity decimated by competitively adept athletes fighting for their livelihoods?
No disrespect to those with enough spine to prosper in this cruel world. It’s just 4x4s, stacked eskies, softboards, dusty fire trails and off-grid back beaches have far more sex appeal.
Generalising, Aussies value lifestyle over rankings. Just look at the number of Land Rovers, softboards and twin fins splashed across the marketing collateral coming from the surf retail giants – it’s a relatability thing. More and more, millennial hopefuls from down under are wiping their names off heat draws to take the freesurfing backroads.
Tucked in tight.
It ain’t all rainbows and twin keels however and waving a white flag to the contest scene can seriously threaten career longevity. It takes a certain combined level of talent and personality to pay the bills and surf without a schedule.
While he doesn’t run a Vlog, he doesn’t drop beats and he doesn’t own a beer or surf brand, Harry Bryant has both, in abundance.
He’s a straight up bloke and he surfs fucking amazing.
A lesson from Haz: Don't take your aerials too seriously.
From his work on Stab’s About Town series, to his party antics, high-impact short films and hours of hilarious travel stories, Stab’s always held a flame for the boy. He’s been a long-standing favourite of ours – and going by the hits on anything with his name on it – he’s a Stab crowd favourite too.
Today is the day the Sunshine Coast’s blonde-bowled entertainer begins peeling off his Rusty logos, ending their two year bromance. Both parties will look back on their time together with fond memories, considering all that he’s achieved (think Orb, Rust and Rust2, Stab High and Summer Sessions).
Coinciding with the freshly available real estate on Harry’s beaks, Mr Bryant is signing a five-year top-to-bottom deal with footwear mega giants, Vans. It’s a game changer for the 22 year-old, tin-sipping goofy-footer.
Jumping into line alongside his new teammates Dane Reynolds, Alex Knost, Nathan Fletcher, Joel Tudor and the like is guaranteed to elevate his status on the world stage by mere association alone. Then you have team trips, assorted projects and a back pocket full enough to keep him scouring his South Coast zone, chasing waves with his prone (and knee-bound) pals, hurling himself into mysto rocky outcrops and boxes of XXXX Gold.
There's a time and place for beers, bodyboards and picking on lifeguards, just like there's a time for aiming at the channel and doing your very best to get there unscathed.
On receiving the news, Stab got Harry on the line, just as he was setting up his business enterprise, “Prestige Worldwide PTY LTD”, for international tax purposes on his new contract.
What initially was intended to be a few short words around how he felt about his sticker switch-up became a classic tale around Harry’s history with surf brand representation.
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The look of a bloke who enjoys his day job.
Harry, On His Very First Logo.
I remember my first ever surf comp was the Occy Grom Comp when I was ten. I had no idea how to surf comps, dad took me down 'cos all my mates were doing it. I didn’t know about the ten-wave limit rule and I pulled into ten closeouts in five minutes and I had to come in. I just didn’t understand the situation at all.
They were like ‘Harry Bryant, you have to come in. You’ve had your ten waves,’ and I was like ‘what? I’ve only been out here for five minutes!’
That same event, Rip Curl picked me up. The same one I pulled into ten closeouts and got knocked—I guess they kinda liked it? I dunno [laughs].
A regular haunt for Mr Bryant. He's got the joint wired.
They hit my dad up and organised a surf day, to come and have a chat over at Fingal, across from D’bah.
Dad was like ‘we’re gonna go have a surf with one of my mates’, so we paddled over there, I didn’t know who it was, and he started asking me all these questions. At the end he said, ‘by the way, I’m the team manager for Rip Curl and we want to sponsor you.’
I was like ‘you wanna sponsor me? Does that mean I get to put Rip Curl stickers on my board?’ and the guy goes, ‘ah yeah mate, you get to wear Rip Curl stickers’. That’s honestly all I cared about [laughs].
Stickers make the world go round.
He took me into the Coolangatta store that arvo and told me I could get anything I wanted. I was a ten-year-old grom, told that I could get anything I wanted from a Rip Curl store and I was tripping so hard. I remember walking around and thinking ‘I don’t know what the hell to do here’.
I think I got a couple of pairs of shorts and shirts and like one hundred stickers [laughs].
So I rode from them for like nine years. Then I went through an awkward stage with competing. I was doing the Pro Junior series and stuff like that and actually made the World Junior Series, then after that they changed the age limit. I’d only done one year and I was thinking ‘I’m not ready to do the QS at all’. One it costs a shit-tonne of coin and two, it just wasn’t something that I was interested in doing at the time.
I was still so young and learning about traveling and competing. When I expressed that to Rip Curl, they said they weren’t going to support me, they wanted me competing, so that relationship kind of ended then.
Talent, personality. Harry has both, in abundance.
On His Year With The Hueys And His Productive Stint With R.Dot
Living on the Goldy at the time, I was being managed by Beau Foster’s brother Nate and he hooked me up with the Mad Hueys for a year. They were like ‘we’ll pay you to do whatever the fuck you want’ and I was 18, thinking ‘this sounds alright!’. I had no other offers, I was ready to go to work with my old man.
That year with the Mad Hueys was insane. It was so loose. So much fun. I will always remember that one year, it’s so good to look back on.
When they were filming their documentary, we were over in Hawaii and they were interviewing all these locals. They interviewed Eddie Rothman, asking for his thoughts on all the team riders.
"He's got a bit of that likeable Australian larrakin, Greg Norman / Paul Hogan thing going on," says filmer pal, Dave Fox. "And a kind of raw no bullshit approach, to surfing and life in general. He’s not afraid to huck himself into a situation before asking important questions. Which is always entertaining. And probably only going to add to the repertoire of pub tales for when he actually is 50."
He was like ‘oh yeah, you know the Hazza’s they’re really funny dudes, lil Brenno. And some kid named Harry, he doesn’t fit in there too good, he’s a nice guy, but he doesn’t fit in there too well.’ [laughs].
They’re all my mates, but yeah, I wasn’t the best brand fit.
One time they took me out fishing. We pulled up at the boat ramp and it was still dark, like four or five in the morning and the captain of the boat tells us ‘no one gets on my boat without eating this fish’. It was this smoked tuna, it brings good luck or something.
It’s four am and eating smoked tuna is not on the list of things you feel like doing at that time of the morning. So I had this real fishy fish taste in my mouth and straight away all the Hueys were on the tins and the sun still wasn’t up yet.
I had two or three of these tins and a gut full of this tuna and we went offshore fishing and I’m pretty sure the Eddie ran that day, it was so big. I remember the first twenty minutes and I was so sea sick, thinking ‘I’m not cut out for this, drop me off," I was so off it.
Not sure if you know what it’s like to be sea sick, but you just want to lie down, curl into a ball and just wrap yourself up. I was about to lie down and just park it and all of a sudden we stopped and just start catching fish it was actually really fun. That year with the Hueys was so fucking fun.
"He's just a great dude that has a good time and doesn’t take himself too seriously. He has a lot of fun surfing and I think that's all most people really wanna do." - Dion Agius.
Coming to the end of that, Rusty hit me up on the Instagram DMs. They said, ‘we're wanna sponno you’, or something like that and yeah, that whole relationship kinda started. It was a two-year deal with Rusty and that was insane. Being able to go over to the Texas comp that you guys put on, they supported that which lead to other avenues and stuff like that.
But over the years I feel like I’ve struggled to find a setup where I feel like I’m part of the family. Where I align with the brand and feel at home.
On His Novel Introduction To Vans
In Texas, during the Stab High comp, I was sitting talking to Austin Gillette on the pool watching the comp and Scott [Sisamis], he’s like The Man at Vans, was sitting between myself and Austin. I didn’t know who he was, I thought he was just an onlooker or spectator or something [laughs] and we just got talking, pretty much having a yarn. He has some sick punk tats and we were just talking about music and just kind of chewing the fat.
That night things got super blurry, as you know, and we all got super loose. The next morning I was walking out through the foyer of the wave park and Scott came up to me and he says ‘Hey, Harry, we’d love to have a meeting with you when you come back to the States’.
I’m like ‘A meeting? What about? Music?’ [laughs]. Then he told me he works for Vans. I was with the Rusty Team Manager, who was actually there at the time, and I initially thought it was for footwear. To be honest I didn’t think that much of it, I was just thinking that I’d love to ride for Vans...
So I went back to LA and met with Nolan Hall, who’s the Team Manager and Scott, who is the General Manager, and they were telling me they wanted to sign me head-to-toe. Everything from then on was a lot more serious than I initially thought. It kind of took me by surprise. It’s funny how things work out like that.
The Vans guys took me into their office and were basically like ‘We’re very particular with who we put on the brand and pretty much once we align you, once we have you on board, we kind of have you on here for life. We just celebrated Nathan Fletcher’s twenty year anniversary with Vans. We invest in the long haul and we want you to be a part of this brand for a long time.’
The kind of antics Vans were digging. Stab High 2018. (Photo By Corey Wilson)
That’s when I thought ‘wow, this is really cool to hear’. I’ve changed sponsors a lot in my short career already, so yeah, straight away a five year deal with Vans is something I’m super stoked on. Just to hang out with everyone and work on some cool stuff. It’s gonna be sick, I’m super pumped.
Obviously I had to tell Rusty and that sort of thing, and I wanted to tell them that it wasn’t a personal thing, that it was a business decision for myself and I was just trying to find some security.
It’s a hard thing to talk about anything without sounding awkward or pissing people off but it was a personal decision, my own decision, to move my career forward. That’s how I look at it.
Watch Russell Coight's 'All Aussie Adventures' and you'll understand Harry.