Bruce and Koby
Koby Abberton and Bruce Irons are the most talked about men in surfing. One, charged as an accessory to murder and Australia’s most visible big-wave surfer. The other, the missing link between the brilliant freesurfer and the competitive animal. Two friends on radically different paths, yet as similar as brothers. And both with supersonice mouths. […]
Koby Abberton and Bruce Irons are the most talked about men in surfing. One, charged as an accessory to murder and Australia’s most visible big-wave surfer. The other, the missing link between the brilliant freesurfer and the competitive animal. Two friends on radically different paths, yet as similar as brothers. And both with supersonice mouths. This is a new style of interview. No questions. No interference. The interviewer as observer. Two hours of pure conversation…
Koby’s out of jail. Bailed for $25,000. The charges read: accessory after the fact to murder, perverting the course of justice, hindering a police investigation and concealing a serious offence. He has been served with an assets-seizure notice from the State Crime Commission, freezing his bank accounts and preventing the sale of three properties and two cars. Already, he has a movie offer and Who magazine wants him on the cover.
Bruce, his girl Mia and trainer/friend Kai Qarcia aka Kaiborg have a layover in Sydney • on the way home from the first WCT event of the year on the Gold Coast. Bruce got a 33rd, his two-time world champion brother finished second.
I pick Koby up, first from Jimmy’s place on the beachfront there at Maroubra, and drive to the Stamford hotel at the airport. Bruce and his posse appear. The 24-year-old Irons wears a black t-shirt and jeans, is rake thin, and has blond hair parted in the middle and brushed downwards. Kai, a former world number one ju-jitsu fighter, inflates a Hawaiian Qrommets Association t-shirt and jeans; Mia is predictably hot in a tight pink top, white skirt and with a frangipani behind her left ear pushing back long, straight blonde hair.
We drive back to Koby’s small, cream-brick house down the south end of Maroubra, just up from the bottle shop there. Koby’s 78-year-old grandmother Mavis aka Ma, affected by a stroke, sits in her high-backed chair a hand’s length away from the TV screen watching A Current Affair and eating dinner out of a plastic takeaway container. Koby shows Kai and Bruce his new four-stroke WaveRunner and a giant relief lamp of Buddha mounted on the wall.
“You can have it, it’s for you,” Koby tells Bruce. He explains they usually cost a grand but his mate imports ’em so he got it for 400.
As if located by telepathy, he comes around. Each newcomer to the house is asked to walk the length of the room to check out how the Buddha’s face follows your line of sight. Celebrity photographer Stephen Baccon, on assignment for Stab, arrives and shoots Koby and Bruce for the cover. He too must walk the Buddha mile. Koby checks the test Polaroids and jokingly complains about the size of his head, says he thought he was more handsome and tells Bruce he’s all Catfish with his brush forward. Koby itches his arm and explains that he’s caught ringworm from the ju-jitsu mats.
We drive to Centrepoint tower in the heart of Sydney for dinner in the revolving restaurant via Oxford Street. Koby points out the popularity of the Paddington/Darlinghurst precinct among homosexual men and explains that Sydney is now the gay capital of the world, taking the honour away from San Francisco.
“Fuck,” grimaces Kai, when a petite Asian man in a pink t-shirt and carrying a Prada shopping bag looks at our car and drinks in the butch Hawaiian from the crosswalk.
At Centrepoint, the food tastes like gasoline, the vegetarian soup has chicken and the “bill tops $400 (with souvenir photos). Stab set up two recorders. No questions from me. I eat, get pissed on red wine, foot the bill and make sure the tapes keep rolling.
Koby’s criminal charges are mentioned, but not examined at any length. Nor are Bruce’s competitive fortunes; this is regular conversation between friends. Koby uses three times of brah (Bro, bru, brah) in the course of the dinner, Kai nearly pukes after eating a fettuccini polio and watching the world spin by the window. Tapes roll…
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