LITTLE TOWN, BIG NAME: Sunny Garcia has tried the waves at the Iluka breakwall after 25 years of travel to Australia.
LITTLE TOWN, BIG NAME: Sunny Garcia has tried the waves at the Iluka breakwall after 25 years of travel to Australia. MARSHA NEVILLE

Sunny drops in for surf at Iluka

ONE of Australia’s most famous right-handers is just around the corner but former world champion surfer Sunny Garcia found the Iluka breakwall ‘worked’ for him this week.

Sunny has passed the Iluka turn-off a hundred times since the mid-80s, and it’s not until now that he’s slowed down and made that turn to stay with his godparents Bill and Cherylene Bolman, who call Burleigh Heads home and refer to their house in Iluka as ‘the country home’.

“Bill gave me my first surfboard when I was seven years old,” Sunny said yesterday.

Bolman was the director of the Stubbies surf contest that ran at Burleigh Heads in the late 70s and 80s. He met Sunny’s parents on one of the couple’s countless visits to Hawaii.

The Bolmans are hosting Sunny, his wife Colleen McCullough and fellow World Qualifying Series (WQS) competitors Charlie Carroll and 17-year-old Britt Galland as they take their time surfing down the coast to Sydney and on to Western Australia.

Sunny said the locals had been ‘really nice’.

His reputation preceded him on one occasion this week and he’s quick to quash any rumour that he’d ‘taken over the line-up’ out at Iluka.

“I’ve just been out there smiling and having a great time,” he said.

The swell tried hard to reach ‘three or four feet’ for the renowned power surfer this week.

His face lit up with mention of local boy Dan Ross.

“Aerials are good to watch but it’s fresh to see kids like him going really well in traditional surfing,” he said.

His mate Charlie said people expected Sunny to get aggressive but it was an image confused with fierce competitiveness.

Ironically, Sunny’s sponsor, Affliction clothing, has its base in the martial arts arena and looks to him to bring it into the lucrative surfing world.

“I’m not into martial arts, but I do like to fight,” Sunny laughed.

In his third year back on the WQS, Sunny at 40 years of age, has returned relaxed and with a wealth of experience, and clarity in outlook.

He’s survived retirement, three months in jail and seven months under house arrest for tax evasion, relationship breakdown, fatherhood and injury.

He’s now keen to pass on to the next generation of world pros what nobody taught him.

“I want to set up camps to train kids to compete,” he said.

“They can learn to surf anywhere, but I want to teach them competition strategy and things like how to read a contract.

“I wouldn’t want kids to go through the same problems I did,” he said.

Although his time in ‘club fed’ was not all bad, Sunny doesn’t recommend taking a break in this way.

And is another crack at the World Title out of the question?

“Yes, I don’t have the desire for that and the work and commitment is just too much,” he said.

Born Vincent Sennen Garcia on January 14, 1970.

Debuted on the 1986 Gotcha Pro at Sandy Beach, Oahu, beating the 1984 champ Tom Carroll.

Holds the record for most WQS event wins (22).

 

Holds six Triple Crown of Surfing titles.

The second professional surfer ever to win over $1 million in prize money.



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