Now… This: Asher Pacey On New Pools, Returning To The Air, And The Olympics
The next installment in our weekly interview series.
The past few weeks Northern NSW has been ablaze. Not in the surfing sense – although the waves have actually been kinda shit – thousands of hectares of forestry has been on fire; fires which are responsible for the destruction of multiple houses and thousands of native wildlife.
When I first spoke to Asher – this interview was broken up over two calls – his house was one of many in the firing line of these multiple fires. Today, as I compile this article, Asher has safely landed in California (although parts of California are also currently being ravaged by wildfires) and his home has escaped the fires unscathed.
Once we’d moved past the horrors of real life, we transitioned into the glossy world of surf – where everything seems irrelevant in comparison to the never-ending negative news cycle.
Before we start though, I should acknowledge the commenter who pointed out that ‘Now… This’ is the name of an Instagram news page. Based on this, you might be thinking we just stole the name from this page with 1.9 million followers and went from there. I would however like to clarify I actually ripped this interview series title from a chapter in the book Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman.
Anyway, read below for the ‘Now… This’ piece for this week. And maybe even throw out a handful of surfer or question suggestions in the comments down the bottom.
It’s a pity water displacement like this can’t extinguish the flames in Northern NSW
Stab: Asher, how’ve you been? You been surfing or have you just been searching for crystals?
Asher Pacey: [laughs] no surfing or crystal hunting. There’s actually been a big fire burning over the back of my place, it’s been a little bit scary.
This one near my house though just kicked off with the lightning strike. Thankfully it hasn’t been too hot and windy [ed’s note: which helps fires spread significantly faster]; the firefighters have been trying to box it in and at the moment it’s under control. There was a fair bit of reduction burning over the winter too which reduces the fuel on the ground, so it should be right.
Fuck, I’m glad it’ll be okay. That’s fucking heavy. Let’s talk about something lighter…
Okay, easy one to start, favourite male surfer right now?
[laughs] you say that like it’s easy to pinpoint…
At the moment I really appreciate watching Bryce [Young] surf. He’s graceful, radical, and his surfing is quite unpredictable. He’s always really nice to watch and psychs me to surf.
He’s a standout in Jack Coleman’s new movie for sure.
What about the women?
Ahhh, I mean, it’s pretty hard to go past Steph.
It’s a little cliche, but I guess she is the best.
If I’m honest, she’s my favourite person to watch, so it has to be Steph.
Alright, I’ll let you off the hook. Favourite person under 18?
I seen a clip of this kid who rides for Billabong, he’s really small and only just looks like he’s growing into his body. I can’t think of his name right now…
Yeah! I think it might be him. Lock him in.
And I can’t forget about Oscar [Langburne]. That little legend is such a rad individual. His surfing stands out amongst all those kinds under 18, especially those under 16.
Let’s just hammer the rest of these favourites out of the way then. Who is your favourite surf film maker?
It would have to be… oh god, this is a tough one too.
I really appreciate what Jack Coleman does for sure. He’s dedicated to the cause. He’s not being directed by anyone but himself. I guess you could call them passion projects, but he’s driving his own ship as far as his film projects go.
In a similar vein, best clip from this year?
I had the privilege of watching Chippa’s new clip over in France the other week. It was honestly sick. He’s an absolute freak.
It was pretty captivating, but I guess we’ve all come to expect that from Chip’s surfing over the years.
What about this past week? See Noa’s clip, or Russ Bierke’s clip for that matter?
I don’t avidly follow the interweb of surfing but when I was at the airport yesterday I watched Noa’s clip… it is mental.
Noa has this rawness in his surfing, and I think that’s why so many people appreciate it. He isn’t predictable, he’ll just go for anything, but he also has incredible board control.
It’s easy to compare someone’s surfing to another’s, but at the end of the day surfing is an individual expression and Noa is one of those who definitely has a unique approach.
And Russ’ one?
I haven’t watched all of it but the highlights I’ve seen were obviously… fuck, he’s truly in a realm of his own. It’s cool to see a young surfer purely doing it for the love of surfing, nothing else. Russ clearly has a love for big waves and its cool to see it captured and displayed on film.
What about pools? Have you surfed one?
I did actually just surf the wavegarden one in Basque when I was in Europe. I didn’t expect it to be so much fun, but with a handful of friends, it amplified the whole situation.
And they’ve just opened up the new one in Bristol, the Melbourne one, and the New Jersey one.
I actually haven’t seen much of the Melbourne one yet.
Well, they’ve only released photos, the rest is under wraps still.
The Bristol one looks sick though if it’s anything like that. I thought it might’ve been a little bit longer, but still from what I’ve seen it looks super fun.
I’m actually going to Waco tomorrow too, haven’t surfed that pool before so I’m keen on that.
So you’re suggesting an Asher Pacey air clip is coming out? You’re not allowed to do high lines out there.
[laughs] I’m actually really excited about it and the prospect of doing an air.
How long has it been?
I haven’t left the face of a wave in quite a long time [laughs].
I kind of really want to though, I have an urge to do it and I think that’s the perfect platform to learn, it would be rude not to. We have a 1-2 hour window with the setting on that air section, so I’ll see what I can do. Waco is sort of the perfect platform for anyone to do an air. You have that same section coming at you over and over again.
What do you think of wavepool competitions?
Nah, no good, there’s just not enough variability, I could barely watch 10 minutes of the last wavepool comp because I just feel like I’ve seen everything before. There is absolutely no excitement about it. I understand the concept of an even playing field, but without those random variables – like the changes in the wave – it kind of sucks to watch.
And the Olympics? Surfing’s debut is getting scarily close.
I don’t have a huge opinion yet really, it’s hard to for anyone when we haven’t seen it. It’s all hypothetical.
I am interested to see how it transpires on that platform. At the end of the day though, surfing is such an expression of freedom and I don’t know how that can be confined to an Olympic context.
Actually where is it? I’ve got no idea.
It’s in Chiba, Japan, it’s in the ocean.
Ahh so it’s definitely not in a pool?
That’s their latest, despite speculation.
Well at least that brings in some variability that a pool doesn’t have, surfing needs that.
But because we haven’t seen it yet, I’m going to withhold any real judgement on it [laughs].
Here’s the usual weekly question… social media?
It’s a double edged sword for me. I’d much prefer not to have it myself, but at the same time it’s part of my job. I think I get away with doing the bare minimum, maybe less than what I should be doing, but it’s an internal battle for me.
I don’t want to let people in to my world too much, I just want to live a private quiet life, which is still doable with social media. I guess I’d like to say I wish I didn’t have it, but I should also be grateful for the opportunities its given me [ed’s note: with the death of magazines, promoting yourself on social media is a way of life for the ‘modern freesurfer’].
Do you think you waste time scrolling on it? Be honest [laughs]
Sometimes when I’m bored, like when you’re in transit travelling, you get locked in the zone for a while, but I never get locked going back too far into one person’s page. I feel like I get more consumed by the scroll.
I like a lot of the wildlife pages on there, as well as some of the gem pages, rock hunting and surfing of course.
I was going to ask about your favourite hobby outside surfing, but I guess it’s just rock hunting right?
[laughs] yeah it is for sure. I do really enjoy fishing as well, especially for catching fresh food.
Favourite book… if you have one?
I do, I was just flicking through it actually… The Slater Field Guide to Australian Birds. My girlfriend gave it to me.
It’s useful, I see a tonne of birds around home – I just saw a hawk before – and it helps you to identify what you’ve just seen. I guess I don’t really go bird watching, but it’s in the glovebox of my car, so if I see something, I grab it and have a look.
Alright, favourite artist, or album, or genre, whatever [laughs]?
I’ve actually been diving into a world of reggae lately, but I can’t really pin down one artist.
Actually I do have a favourite album, let me get back to you, I’ll text it over [laughs].
[That album was Songbook by Gordon Lightfoot]
And of course, your favourite beer!
I’m a big fan of IPA’s, anything that has a lot of hoppy flavour.
There’s a hazy IPA that Balter makes, it’s a limited range or something, but that’s sick. Backing that at the moment.
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