Joel Vaughan Is A Comp Machine With A Freesurfer's Heart - Stab Mag

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“My favorite airs are definitely an alley oop or a stalefish. I grew up watching John John do them all the time. If I can get one of those I’m frothing. With alley oops, it feels like you can go as fast as you want and hit the section and get launched into the flats. You’re half blind for the first part then you come and around and it’s like ‘Oh my god, I’m going to make it!’”

Joel Vaughan Is A Comp Machine With A Freesurfer’s Heart

Watch him spin all over the Goldie.

cinema // Jan 26, 2024
Words by August Howell
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Joel Vaughan is likely the only surfer who ate a fried Spanish bull dick and stomped a perfect alley oop in competition in 2023. 

If you can find proof of someone else checking those off, I’ll eat criadillas.

Admittedly, I had a hard time getting a hold of the 20-year-old from Shelly Beach — but he had a good excuse. After a quarterfinal finish at the World Junior Championships, Joel flew straight from Oceanside to the Gold Coast for the Usher Cup at Snapper. The event brings in 21 Australian clubs and 10 national clubs and has an individual title up for grabs. 

In a four-man final, Joel finished second behind Sheldon Simkus, but he’s not too down because he leapfrogged Joel Parkinson in the waning minutes by bashing an 8.7. In hindsight, Joel reckons he could have punted on the end section to go for a 10 and the win, but he wasn’t aware of the scores he needed to make the leap. 

“Either way, I’m pretty stoked to have beaten Parko in a comp at Snapper,” Joel said. “I’ve done the two Challenger Series comps at Snapper but haven’t done well. So it was cool to get a couple of scores and a result.”

The above clip is a nod to Joel’s above-the-lip prowess, which he’d developed by spending a significant portion of the year posting up at the Goldie and dialing in boards with Darren Handley.

Though he throws a mean air rev, it’s Joel’s range of globe-trotting antics in 2023 that got our attention. In March he won the Newcastle QS contest (he needed to make the semis to qualify for the CS). In the spring he endured 10 days of debauchery in France, Spain, and Portugal and made it to the Stab Highway Europe finale (with extra credit for the stint of a snail-only diet and surfing the worst heat of all time). 

Joel finished 29th on the CS in 2023, quite not the result a comp-hungry, Gold Coast devotee is looking for. But he brushed it off by outputting Dakota Walters, Dion Agius, Ozzy Wright, Reef Heazlewood, Morgan Cibilic, and his little bro Hughie at the inaugural URBNSURF Air Jam in Melbourne. 

“I reckon I spent more time on the road than I did at home,” Joel said of his year. “But it’s pretty cool. That’s why I’m doing it.” In 2024, Joel expects to be mostly gone from his Central Coast home yet again. He’s planning to branch out by putting more content on YouTube (hence the video above). In addition to more QS events and requalifying for the CS, he’s got aspirations of filming multiple video parts in 2024, with visions of long, tapered points and hollow cones, and of course, an edit to one-up his 2X Stab Junior of the Year brother. 

“Hughie hasn’t done any comps, so he’s had a bit more time to travel,” Joel says with a cheeky banter I can sense from thousands of miles away. “If I can put out a better edit than him, that’d be pretty cool.”

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