The SurfStitch Shop Team is the Contemporary Avengers of Australian Surfing - Stab Mag
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The SurfStitch Shop Team is the Contemporary Avengers of Australian Surfing

Crewsy, Jai G, Chippa and Benny Howard.

Words by Alistair Klinkenberg

SurfStitch might exist in cyberspace, but it’s a shop nonetheless.

So, they’ve started a shop team, the aim being to get back to old fashioned values, load up the van and go surfing. The interesting thing about the SurfStitch Shop Team 2021, is that it’s made up of four of the most talented surfers, and equally importantly, nicest blokes in surfing: Mitch Crews, Benny Howard, Jai Glindeman and Chippa Wilson.

The “motley crew loaded up.”

Any excuse to tap into Mitch Crews’s infectious enthusiasm is enough, so it was a no brainer to get him to walk us through this brave new surf team. “Yeah they’ve assembled a bit of a motley crew, which is sick,” says Crewsy, who was mid-way through assembling a new electric bicycle at his Gold Coast home. “Back in the day everyone used to have a shop sponsor like the skaters do, and SurfStitch was keen to give back to surf, get a team happening and approach it like back in the day. I thought it was a sick Idea and was just honoured they thought of me.”

Benny, Chip and Padowan Jai.

The first port of call for the newly assembled squad was a team building exercise down the coast. Crewsy’s a high energy, former ‘CT comp ripper, Chippa’s a freesurfing icon, Benny’s an underground core lord who earns his keep driving giant trucks and Jai’s the modest ‘it’ boy and only surfer under 18 that anyone really cares about, so I was curious to hear how they gelled. Crewsy says it was a beautiful melting pot that resulted in a good time being had by all.

Just a quiet, tatted-up dude from Cabarita who forever changed what’s possible on a surfboard.

“I’ve known Chippa for so long and we’re pretty good mates, but we’ve walked pretty opposite paths,” Crewsy says of the most famous member of the pack. “He’s the freesurfing goat and I’ve always looked up to him a lot. It’s pretty cool for me to get to surf with him and see how freakish he is. Being a comp guy and surfing with him gives me a whole new perspective on approaching waves.”

Ah, bless.

Jai and Crewsy have surfed together a fair bit (Mitch was riding shotgun during the filming of Jai’s Microdose Redux), and have developed the sort of beautiful, cross-generation bond that surfing facilitates so well. “I think we all know now how well he surfs, but he still blows my mind for his age,” Mitch says. “And he’s the coolest little dude, like my little brother. There’s no ego and he’s such a humble, respectful young grom who happens to be the best from in the world. I guess he’s going head to head with Eli Hanneman. He’s amazing too, but they’re from different planets. Jai’s so core and organic, but you feel buggered watching Eli surf. Watch Jai surf and you just want more. I feel fortunate to get the chance to watch him to grow into a crazy surfer, it’s a pleasure.”

Benny and his everyday whip, which is approx 1/10,000th the size of his work whip.

And then there’s Benny Howard. By far the most underground member of the collective, but one whose surfing is every bit as exciting and stylish as the rest of Shop Team. “It’s the first time I’ve spent any time with Benny and he’s pretty much the opposite of me,” Crewsy laughs. “He’s the biggest legend, just super cruisy and humble, he just potters along but then his surfing is so sick. He’s a blend of Jai and Chip in a way, and I’m just excited for people to see him surf a bit more and find out what an amazing surfer his is. He’s actually gnarly. It’s epic that Former and SurfStitch are backing him and he’s going to be in people’s faces a bit more.”

SS Shop Team captain and champion of the everyman, Mitchel Crews.

Which leaves Mr Crews. Elder statesman (well, he’s 30) of SS Shop Team, former ‘CT surfer and executer of a flawless pro surfing career thus far due to a combination of being an unbelievable surfer, and a jolly nice bloke. Which even after all these years, still goes a long way.

“I feel like I’m surfing as well as ever to be honest,” Mitch says. “My froth for surfing in general is getting bigger and I want to work on getting better. Which is what’s cool about surfing with the Shop Team. Coming from a comp background, when you’re freesurfing there’s this underlying tall poppy thing, but freesurfers are like skaters, if you nail something it’s a celebration and everyone’s pumping you up. I love watching people nail shit and just frothing in general. Seeing those boys operate like that makes me so stoked.”

Stay tuned for more from the SurfStitch shop team in the year to come.

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