Stab Magazine | Reef Doig Isn't Your Average Australian Sticker Boy
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Reef Doig Isn’t Your Average Australian Sticker Boy

Truly an O’Neill Original.

cinema // Oct 2, 2019
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

The tale of the young Australian Pro surfer is a familiar one.

Most are from the east coast, grew up comfortably with parents who surfed and took them to contests and never wanted for much. Despite looking the part, Reef Doig is an exception on multiple levels. He grew up as the only white kid running amok on the streets of legian and contests of halfway Kuta in Bali, and was raised with his siblings by a single dad, who used to sit deeper at the Cronulla ledges than anyone. 

While growing up in Bali polished Reef’s tube and rail to ‘till it shimmered and shined, but getting noticed on the islands is a more difficult task. At 16, Reef moved to Oz with hopes of pursuing a career on the QS then graduating onto the World Stage.

 

Screen Shot 2019 09 25 at 11.13.27 am

The white Balo and friends.

But in tune with the same song of so many excellent surfers, the struggle between keeping your sponsors happy, and scraping by with the delusion of grandeur became a confusing proposition. While on the QS, under the pressure of sponsors hounding him for results, Reef was eventually dropped at 17. And as the dream of being a professional surfer drifted out the window, so did his love for surfing. 

But never being one to not have a crack, Mr Doig screwed his head back on, got a job and when the job of surfing turned to recreation the love for the activity renewed. And when that love reactivated, he found himself sponsored by O’Neill with a second opportunity to follow surfing’s dragon, although he’s eager to let it flow and not get caught up in the rat race. 

We had a brief chat with Reef about where’s he’s at in life, you can read it below:

Stab: What kind of effect has surfing had on your mental health? 

Surfing has helped me with everything, every time I’d feel down or if something is bugging me. I’d turn to the ocean. Everything goes away as soon as I touch that saltwater… most of the time [Laughs].  

What was it like growing up with your father?

Dad was always around it’s just when you’re growing up in Bali, you’re always on the move going somewhere. You’ve got this freedom at such a young age you just jump on your scooter with your board and you’re off. He’d always treat my comps very serious leading up to them, he taught me everything I know about the ocean, he would sit with me before every heat and we’d strategise a plan together and most of the time it paid off, I loved it.

What kind of stigma do Aussies have in Bali? 

I definitely find that the typical Australian tourist in Bali acts extremely disrespectful and that has humbled me. I think it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and to respect the locals no matter where you travel to. I believe it’s so important to be well educated about the culture. But I don’t think it’s a big ask just to be a decent human being. If you’re a guest you should act like it.

Making the move from Indo to Oz must’ve been difficult, tell us a bit about that.

Man moving to Australia was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done–coming from a place that has no rules to a place where you don’t have that freedom anymore. School was another hard one, it took me a year and a half to really fit in with the kids there. I used to just kick it with a couple of the teachers that I got along with. The only thing that kept me sane was that I already knew a few good surfers who were living in Coolangatta and they would take me surfing, everything besides that was hard for me. 

How hard does being surrounded by perfect to near-perfect surf make it to leave? 

Growing up with perfect waves is a blessing for any surfer. If you want to pursue your dream as a pro surfer on the QS, you have to get out of Bali and learn how to surf shitty beach breaks no matter where it is. It’s hard for the local pros in Bali to travel halfway around the world to surf a shitty beach break when they have perfect reef break around the corner. 

What’s next for Doigy?

For now, my main focus is expanding my knowledge in the hospitality industry. A buddy of mine, Tai Graham, gave me the opportunity to work at two of his Beach clubs/restaurants in Bali managing the VIP area. My goal down the track is to open one up similar and I feel I can achieve that under his wing. I’m still surfing all the time and still going to be doing comps here and there around Indonesia but I’m importantly just trying to stay stoked and not get caught up in the bullshit. 

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