Tow is, like, so gay: part 1
Tow is, like, so gay. And to prove it, Stab drove 6000 clicks just to stick Koby Abberton in an eight-foot hole on a foamie and dressed as a gay cowboy. This is the fruitiest story ever to appear in a men’s surfing magazine. Words by Sam Mclntosh Photos by John Respondek and Jason Reposar […]
Tow is, like, so gay. And to prove it, Stab drove 6000 clicks just to stick Koby Abberton in an eight-foot hole on a foamie and dressed as a gay cowboy. This is the fruitiest story ever to appear in a men’s surfing magazine.
Words by Sam Mclntosh Photos by John Respondek and Jason Reposar (part one), Stuart Gibson (part two).
Oh my, it certainly was a sight to behold. Koby Abberton, resplendent in the outfit of a gay caballero, pining for his lost accessories in the whitewater of one of the most frightening waves in the country. And frightening not just for the insular, weed-flogging locals or the 10-foot cleanup sets that would swipe the face of the ancient headland and closeout the bay either, but for the protected Great Whites who stalk these parts thanks to their status as a “threatened species”
Really, who would’ve thunk it? And what would the tabloid hacks, who’ve pumped the Abberton thuggery myth out of the stratosphere, make of their mark in his splendid suit?
But there he was. Koby Abberton, once charged as an accessory to murder and once held on a charge of inciting a riot, pulling on elbow-length satin gloves, adjusting a red cowboy hat, negotiating a red g-string onto his white wetsuit (with pink crotch gusset), strapping on white leather holsters and preparing a six-foot El Nino twin-fin foamie for a session at a spectacular desert reef.
Suddenly! Koby’s first wave as a gay caballero! He lets go of the rope deep, wrestles his craft into the bowl, stalls, and then… there it is… what we drove beyond the Nullarbor plain for. The ultimate photo! A covershot sweetly communicating the ease of getting tubed via tow.
Like, how easy? You can do if on a kid’s foamie. As far as I could gather from my perch on the tow ski, the shot was in the bag. Cowboy in the hole; photog John Respondek and driver Butch Blakey sitting in the channel as the wave coiled across the reef. Or, at least that’s where they shoulda been.
“Did you get it?” yelled Abberton.
“Uh, the wave closed out and we woulda gotten caught. We had to do the bolt. We did our best,” Respondek muttered.
“Well, your best is fucken shithouse,” hissed Abberton.
The next half-an-hour was spent trying to re-enact the moment. There were tubes but Kobes wasn’t in clean, the photog team were out of position or pieces of his hombre ensemble were missing. Locals in the water (who were paddling) soon tired of a tow team of gay cabs running through the line-up. When the locals starting barking that Whites are attracted to skis cause they link em to burleying fishing boats, Kobes demanded we wrap the shoot.
“I’m not gonna be responsible for one of these guys getting mauled,” he said. And with that, the homo convoy retreated to the beach. This trip had been put together to capture this one image. Five of us (well, okay, not me, as the fool bankrolling this adventure, I flew) drove 30 hours non-stop to get here. But with the watershot missed, all we had were a few land angles back on shore. Certainly nothing good enough for a cover, let alone the required world-class image that is part of the Stab credo for page one.
To add to the stink, the swell had peaked and was already on the downward side of the parabola and Koby had to bolt back to Sydney to attend an MBK party.
Butch and the Gay Caballeros sat gloomily in the sand dunes, double-ski trailer bogged to the axles and with the rented four-wheel-drive balancing on a log, wheels spinning helplessly. I fished into the esky. Less than a shot of Campari remained in the last bottle. Worse, all the ruby grapefruits were gone.
After all the wave pools and chopper shoots and golden boards and chopper jumps, had we failed at last? Butch reached over my bare shoulder and his gloved hand twisted the controls to the car’s stereo. An infectious beat filled the air. The macho baritone of Victor Willis (Village People frontman, cruelly excluded from later reformations of the band, but that’s another story) exploded out of the speakers. Butch joined in; so did Respondek; then Reposar; then Tutton, Cats, me and finally as the gay anthem reached its inspirational climax, even Koby added his lungs. Perhaps events had turned the corner. Sing with me
(Go West) Life is peaceful there
(Go West) In the open air
(Go West) Where the skies are blue (Go West) This is whaf we’re gonna do
(Go West, this is whaf we’re gonna do, Go West)
(Together) We will love the beach
(Together) We will learn and teach
(Together) Change our pace of life
(Together) We will work and strive
(I love you) I know you love me
(I want you) How could I disagree?
(So that’s why) I make no protest
(When you say) You will do the rest
(Go West) Life is peaceful there
(Go West) In the open air
(Go West) Baby you and me
(Go West) This is our destiny (Aah)
Now let’s back up a little, back to the previous afternoon’s session and let me tell you quite the story. Without the gay cab gear, Koby and I had raced from the other cunts to surf and tow the sharky left before it got dark. On real boards. But this isn’t Sydney where you can pull into the carpark and paddle out. This is desert country. Deep, soft sand. Bogged four-wheel-drives and boats and skis rusted onto trailers.
As the horizon gobbled the sun with all the gusto of a fat kid at a buffet, Koby turned desperado. The waves were eight-to-10 feet and cross-shore and he wanted some before dark. He was stuffing fingers into the tyre valves to let down the pressure to get us out of the deep sand, he’d dragged a knife through the pulley and was going to do anything to get into the water. Personally, I couldn’t have crafted more frightening surfing conditions. I kept repeating that this was a sign that we shouldn’t be out there. Koby wouldn’t listen.
“Stop being a fucken faggot and lift this off the trailer.”
Four hundred kilos of ski wasn’t budging so Ko-bes got behind the wheel of the truck and dumped the ski into the drink. We got caught on the bank and then the reef trying to get to deep water but finally got into channel and into view of the break. Koby was screeching, shaking and demanding we drive faster. The left was ledging and stepping and as solid as we’d predicted. There wasn’t a car or person in sight and after four waves he’d sliced and diced he demanded it was my turn.
“Hey, I’m like, really scared,” I begged.
“Just get off the ski. Y’think I’m not scared?” he screamed, as he tread the deep and dark water. “We’re all scared but it’s what you do when you’re scared. Just think about something else.”
With that pep talk, I was into the brine. Three ordinary waves surfed with trembling legs and palpitating chest pump and I was done. Four more waves for Kobes (two barrels and a couple of snaps) and it was dark.
Back on the beach, the trailer which we’d hired for $500 (with a $1000 deposit) was fucked. The winch was missing and one of the rollers that sit under the back oi the trailer had fallen off. We spent the next 90 minutes in the darkness in sharky knee-deep water trying to lift this ski onto the trailer. As the tide rose, the truck fell deeper into the sand and, there wasn’t a car, a person, a boat or a house in sight. Mobile phone? You’re kidding me, right? You think Telstra’s going to bang up one of their towers out here?
We were proper fucked. I felt like crying. I could see the tide sinking our hire car and us sleeping on this cold beach. The rest of our crew were 130 clicks away. I told Koby that I was prepared to give in. That we should surrender the car to the ocean, drive the ski up onto the beach and find some old beer cartons for beds. Between his frustration at my lack of muscle when lifting, he made some inspirational speeches: “Bra, oh bra! You’re scared?
Don’t even question me, bra. This is nuthin! Wait till you’ve got 100 Lebs on the phone chanting KOBY! KOBY! KOBY! and then the sound of gunfire rains down the phone! Then tell me you’re scared. This is nuthin! Now keep fucken lifting, you faggot!”
Wow! I love his pep talks! I suddenly felt like superman!
By 10, we had the ski on the trailer. But with no servos open past seven, we spent the next two hours driving 130 kms back to our crib doing 80 on our self-flattened tyres.
Back at the base, our crew were full of ink. For talent, and entertainment, we had James Catto and Jarrah Tutton imported. Jarrah had joined Sponnas, Stab-mascot Butch Blakey and American photog Jason Reposar for their 30-hour haul across the desert. They drove the marathon straight (without stopping, that is) coupled with cases of beer, No Doze, marijuana and Priscilla Queen of the Desert-inspired photo shoots. For the much of the trip, they were delirious. They’d often break out a version of Australian Idol evictee Bobby Flynn’s Superfreak which was the soundtrack of their sleep-deprived journey.
Earlier in the day, they whipped into a fun beach-break doing tow-punts in their outrageous ensembles designed exclusively by Butch and his One Teaspoon-owning wife, Jamie. Koby didn’t take part in the shoot because he said he wasn’t into raping into the air guys for doing tow punts. “I can’t even do airs! I’m not gonna write off these guys. I’ll happily tow in on a foamie in a 12-foot slab though.”
Conversational gunfire crackled in the car between Cats and Koby. Cats said he’d given up cigarettes yet persisted with smoking the Indonesian Gudang Gurangs because they were low in nicotine and big on tar. Cats is cool with the tar, he just doesn’t want to get addicted to the nicotine again. He explained to newly-recruited smoker Koby that the nicotine patches really work and that he recommended that Koby use those to quit his habit. “I’m a strong person,” replied Koby. “I feel like I can give up at any moment but that moment’s just not now.”
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