Edit by Dan Scott
On Trial: Is Sheldon Simkus The Gold Coast's Next Big Thing?
A chat with the 21-year old to accompany his latest edit, Twenty.
There's arguably not a location more crowded than the points along Queensland's southern most tip. The home to Mick Fanning, the home to the CT's first stop, and the breeding ground of night club's like Rattlesnake (previously Neverland).
You know it. The Gold Coast.
Spend a few days there and you'll be overshadowed and downhearted by the abundance of talent amongst the thousands thick crowd. Which is why the local talent shines above the pack. Having the natural ability to pick off waves in the Snapper lineup is a feat in itself. It's no wonder plenty of Australia's competitive powers come from the region.
Meet Sheldon Simkus. Is he the Gold Coast's next big thing, or will he putter out like so many before him?
His latest online entrant, 'Twenty', showcases his abilities in more than the right hand point breaks around his Tweed Heads home.
After watching, we dialled up Sheldon between surfs over at Cloud 9.
Stab: Sheldon, looked pretty pumping for the contest, how'd you go?
Sheldon: Ahh I actually got knocked in my first heat [laughs], but yeah the waves are pumping. Kinda bummed but still good to be over here.
Fuck. Well at least the clip is sick!
Stoked you liked it. It's pretty much just surfing from January to April, all filmed when I was 20 years old. I just turned 21 and wanted to get it out there before I started to make too many changes to it and try to add more footage.
At the start of the year I got a big swell in Indo – not as big as the one in July but still pretty big – and then the rest is just from around home [on the Gold Coast].
What was it like growing up on the Gold Coast?
I was born in Tweed Heads and grew up there too. Having Snapper and D-Bah as the closest spots to home was good and I grew up surfing in the Snapper Rocks Boardriders.
It's probably one of the most crowded spots in the world [laughs], but it helps growing up around all the old boys amongst good waves.
Who did you usually surf with?
Competing as a grom, I was versing guys like Kai Hing, Harry Bryant, Luke Hynd, Jackson Coffey and a bunch of dudes in that age category.
I started off doing local contests, but didn't take it that seriously until I was about 15 or 16 where I gave it more of a crack.
So you're taking competition more seriously now?
I guess so. I finished school and knew I wanted to become a better surfer before I did the QS and I actually travelled with Seabass for six months of the year getting clips and improving my surfing.
This year I've taken competing much more seriously, and I'm happier with where my surfing is at. Where I'm sitting now will get me into the 6,000's for next year already, so hopefully it's just up from there and hopefully qualify [for the CT] in the future.
Are you working another job on the side?
Nah, just surfing at the moment which is really lucky. When I'm not chasing contests, that's when I reflect on the footage I have and try to put out a clip.
I've always wanted to put out good surfing clips. I get hyped watching other people's clips and I would love to get other people hyped on what I can produce. In general I just want to become a better surfer and then take that into events.
How's the rest of your year panning out?
Once I'm home [from the Phillipines] I'm off to West Oz for two weeks and then the next plan will be off to Hawaii for the end of season QS events.
I've been going [over to Hawaii] for four years now. I really enjoy it, despite it being such a hard place to get waves. Competing in big surf makes it worthwhile. 80 percent of QS events are in sub-par conditions and the urge to go and get tubed still overwhelms surfing shitty waves in comps.
Hawaii allows you to do both.
Speaking of proper waves, how did you get used to them? The Goldy isn't exactly a big wave region.
[Laughs] At home it never really gets above six foot and we barely have any reefs either. I started doing a few trips when I was younger, and now I go to Indo every year and for a fair chunk of time as well.
Chasing the thrill of getting big and good waves is what drove me really. Surfing over reef in solid surf is intimidating at first, but that's overshadowed by the thrill of actually getting a good wave.
For example seeing the waves Taj got at HT's [in his Cult of Freedom part below] is something that drove me to score HT's like that.
Scroll back up and hit the triangle to watch Sheldon pic apart everything from waist high Goldy runners to heaving Indonesian caverns. There isn't a size or shape Sheldon hasn't covered, well, other than going left.