PERFECT PLAYGROUND: Champion surfer Chris Zaffis right at home at renowned surf spot Angourie Point. Photo: Bill North
PERFECT PLAYGROUND: Champion surfer Chris Zaffis right at home at renowned surf spot Angourie Point. Photo: Bill North

Life’s swell for Angourie surfer

HE'S GROWN up with one of the North Coast's best surf breaks in his backyard. So it's no wonder CHRIS ZAFFIS is pumping out big scores in major surfing competitions. Last month the Angourie local won the NSW Under-19 Schools Surfing Title and days later placed 7th in the NSW Under-18 Surfing Titles, both held at Port Macquarie. For the latter, he was selected in the NSW team to contest the Australian Championships at Yalingup, near Margaret River, Western Australia in December. In March he was part of the Angourie Boardriders who came third at the Kirra Teams Challenge, which included Woody Jack's perfect 10 ride. This week Zaffis is snowboarding at Perisher Blue with his Year-11 classmates from Maclean High School. DEX sport editor BILL NORTH took the chance to catch up with Zaffis before he left.

BN: How had you gone in these events previously?

CZ: I had never competed in the schools, actually. But I'd made it four years in a row in the individual states. I had a fourth last year in the 18s and second the year before that in the under-16s.

BN: Now you're off to WA, how will the surf conditions likely compare to the North Coast?

CZ: Western Australia waves are big, powerful and pretty raw usually, so it should suit me.

BN: What's the best thing about growing up here surfing Angourie Point?

CZ: It's dreamy. Most days every wave is good. As long as there's swell around it usually pumps, there's not too many people around, I just love it. There's heaps of options around Angourie, that face all directions, so there's always somewhere good around.

BN: When did you start surfing and who got you into it?

CZ: I've been in the water since I can't remember. I got my first surfboard at four. Dad really got me into surfing and taught me how to surf at a young age and I've just loved it ever since.

BN: Do you have mates around here who push you along?

CZ: Yeah, I've got heaps of friends older and younger that I like to surf with. I've grown up surfing with my next door neighbour Cody Jones my whole life. Jeames Young also competes and I've always been good mates with him since before pre-school.

BN: Do you compete with each other out here? Or do you just enjoy your own waves?

CZ: When we free surf together we also push each other to see who can surf better. It's always fun to surf with someone at your level and have fun with it.

BN: Do some of the older surfers around here inspire you?

CZ: There's a lot of good local surfers around here. Professionals like Laurie Towner and Dan Ross definitely inspire me to follow my surfing career.

BN: When you're out the back do they offer a few pointers?

CZ: Everyone knows how to surf well, so everyone's got something to help you out with around here.

BN: Is there anything in particular that you're working on at the moment? Any tricks?

CZ: Just generally progressing everywhere, especially progressive manoeuvres like airs, like the pros are doing nowadays.

BN: You're snowboarding with your school this week. People often compare snowboarding and surfing. If you lived closer to the snow would you be a full-time snowboarder instead?

CZ: I have still always preferred surfing. But yeah, snowboarding is definitely really fun. As far as big airs and different grabs and spins, surfing's getting so technical and progressing so much that the two are definitely starting to crossover for sure.

BN: What surfboards do you ride?

CZ: Woody Jack made my first board and I've ridden for him ever since. He makes heaps good boards and he's really cool to me.

BN: Is it hard to get out of the water to go to school when there's an epic swell?

CZ: Yeah, definitely. I have days off school when it's really, really good, but I've still got to keep up with school work. Most mornings I get up for an early surf or to do some fitness, and surfing after school as well.

BN: Where's your dream surf break?

CZ: Everywhere. I went to Hawaii last year, it's probably the next best place to here. I'd pretty much like to surf everywhere, Indonesia and over in California would be really cool as well. I cannot complain at all, Angourie pretty much is the best spot in the world in my eyes, I love it around here.

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