Stab Magazine | Tahlija Redgard Might Be The World's Most Barreled Female
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Tahlija Redgard Might Be The World’s Most Barreled Female

Meet Tahlija Redgard, Mick Campbell’s life-saving better half, who charges harder than you, and is probably handier with a spear gun, too.

cinema // Jan 25, 2018
Words by Jake Howard
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Every once in a blue moon, surfing still surprises—the more eccentric, energetic, and engaged the better. Enter Tahlija Redgard.

When the above video clip of Tah recently came in over the transom, her tube acumen at heavy Kandui’s spoke for itself.

But we wanted to know a little bit more about who this fish-spearing, barrel-charging woman was. The very same woman who had dragged her man, Mick Campbell, from certain death.

So, we tracked her down, peppered her with a few questions, and what came back revealed a diamond in the rough. Not the polished product of a clever marketing campaign, Tah is the real deal: lives in her truck, chases swell, and dives deep.

If there were more surfers in the world like Tah—both male and female—you’d see a hell of a lot less Wavestorms, and we’d probably all be having a shitton more fun.

A couple hours into editing our interview, I realized there was no sense trying to contain Tah. She’s a free rambling spirit that tells her own story far better than I ever could. With some minor annotations and edits, ladies and gents, meet Tah:

 

TahP1 1

“Mick [Campbell] has been a massive part of what my surfing has become today. He’s taught me respect. He’s pushed my surfing beyond what I thought was in me and encouraged me to chase my dreams and visions.”

Photography

Justis St. John

On where the hell she came from…

My dad loved the ocean. He was a keen surfer and fishermen. He used to sell fish from home, mostly coral trout that he speared and crays, with some mackerel through the summer. I used to deliver it on my pushy after school. That’s what paid for school. That’s what paid for roast dinners. He taught me everything I know. My mum is Gungarri. That’s our ancestors. That’s a really special part of my life.”

On her radical romantic partnership with former tour surfer Mick Campbell…

Mick has been a massive part of what my surfing has become today. He’s taught me respect. He’s pushed my surfing beyond what I thought was in me and encouraged me to chase my dreams and visions. He’s the most loving person I know. He’s my best mate, my soul mate. I’m so grateful to still have him with us.

 

On the day Mick Campbell flirted with death and Tah sent death packing…

It was the day before my birthday, three days after we’d just got back from our Indo trip. A good swell looked like it was hitting the coast, so we jumped straight in the car and headed to our favorite slab, a right-hander off a break wall. The next morning, Mick, myself, and my mum paddled out early. It was messy, about six- to eight-foot wash-throughs on the wall, but a few crackers. We surfed for hours.

Mick paddled for this one wave. It was heavy. Six or eight waves went through and no sign of Mick. My stomach dropped. I couldn’t see him, but I knew something wasn’t right.

I paddled in as fast as I could. Then spotted his board—it wasn’t tombstoning—and I saw him floating face down. I paddled faster and faster. When I got to him he was unconscious, dead to my eyes. His blue eyes open, foam coming out of him, his mouth completely full of water. I thought I had lost my best friend. I thought he was dead.

I grabbed him by his wetsuit and wrapped my hand in it to keep my grip. He was so heavy. I was punching on his chest, screaming to him, “There’s nothing wrong with you! Just come back! Just come back!”

I punched his chest for five minutes. Still nothing. He was gone. Six-foot swells were washing us up the breakwall. I punched and punched. Then a bubble came up through the foam in his mouth. Water started to pour out but he was still unconscious. 

A young fella had just paddled out. I screamed for him to help. He paddled over and helped me get Mick on my board. Mick still wasn’t responding. His eyes were open and he was blue, but his body was coughing up water. I knew I had to try and resuscitate him out there. He was seconds from dying. I laid on Mick and the young fella pushed behind me.

After about five minutes of us paddling and pushing, Mick coughed and came conscious. He was drowning in all the water in his body. He couldn’t breathe or talk. We paddled for 20 minutes against that current. It didn’t feel like we were going to get in, but we kept pushing. The ocean gave in and let us through to the shore. We dragged Mick up the beach. I couldn’t feel my legs from kicking. I couldn’t walk. I grabbed him and laid him on his side and started rubbing the water out of him.

I looked into his eyes and said, “Don’t you fuckin’ close them, mate! Don’t you dare close those eyes!” 

I just held him and made sure he stayed awake. The ambulance arrived another 20 minutes later. They put him on a stretcher and we carried him off the beach. I stayed in my wetty in the ambulance. We got to the hospital and they put him straight into a coma for four days. It was the heaviest thing I’ve ever had to go through. Almost losing my best mate in my arms made me appreciate life more than ever before. It made me not care about any of the material things that crowd our lives.

 

TahP4 1

Photography

Justis St. John

TahP4 2

Photography

Justis St. John

TahP4 3

“We stayed on [Kandui] for one month, fishing, surfing, spearing, there was no reception whatsoever. We were disconnected. We had detached ourselves from the outside world, no phones, no TV, no social media, no swell forecasts. We were just watching the moons and the tides. That’s all we cared about.”

Photography

Justis St. John

On their trip to Kandui…

Kandui was unexpected. Mick and myself went on a trip to find big GT’s land base and hopefully score a swell somewhere in the north Ments. It was my first trip to Indo to or anywhere like that. I was so intrigued to see their culture and the way of life over there. We stayed on a land camp called Gingin; little huts and really simple living. We loved it; spending time with the locals learning their fishing tricks, how to make stuff out of pure nothing amazed me and made me want to live even more simple. We stayed on the island for one month fishing, surfing, spearing, there was no reception whatsoever. We were disconnected. We had detached ourselves from the outside world, no phones, no TV, no social media, no swell forecasts. We were just watching the moons and the tides. That’s all we cared about.

On what the future holds…

Our goal after the accident was to get Mick strong again, bust down the doors of fear and slowly get the confidence back in the water. Training, surfing and just living life to the fullest now is my goal. We just bought a kitted out Troopy, and are living on the east coast of Australia in it. To wake up every day and not have to worry about life’s complications and just be on the road 24/7—finding new spots to fish, finding new spots to surf, and just the pure joy of being on the road and soaking in everything around you—it’s good living.

 

 

 

TahP5 3

Tah tah!

Photography

JUSTIS ST. JOHN

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