“Right now trying to surf those waves that don’t look rideable is what excites me.”
The last edit dropped by Mike Riley featuring Kerby Brown at The Right was a genuine game changer. Brown’s backside attack, and especially the last wave of the clip, was genuinely awe-inspiring. We chatted to Kerby about surfing the wave with his back to the wall, how he balances his family life, surfing and his work on the boats, and what comes next.
Tracks: What’s happening right now Kerbs, where are you?
Kerby: We’re in Ocean Beach, near Denmark. I moved the family here the summer of last year. I was chasing waves down this way a lot more and the missus was looking for work, and we decided to settle here.
You seemed to go off the radar a little prior to the last few Right sessions. Where have you been?
For the last six years, since I had my son, I’ve worked offshore on the boats in the oil and gas industry. That’s been bit quiet lately, so this year I have been working on a mate’s charter boat in the Albrolos Islands. That’s been great, as it’s allowed me to fit a lot more surfing in up at Gnaraloo and home around Kalbarri. So I’ve been driving up the down the State basically.
But you’ve always kept some backing for your surfing?
Yes, I kept my sponsors and Volcom have been giving me money for trips, so I haven’t stopped what I’ve been doing and chasing swells whenever I can. I’ve just had to work, and provide for the family and get tubes as well. So it’s hard work trying to get the balance right.
Has moving down there helped you with The Right?
Well, we always tried to get down there when it was on, but mainly it just means I don’t have to drive 12 hours overnight, then surf and drive back. And that’s handy for those types of waves.
How hard is to get your head around?
I’ve been slowly trying to work it out. It’s taken many years of trial and error. It’s such a tricky wave on your backhand. I’ve had some hideous injuries out there. I’ve blown a couple of eardrums and the last time I surfed it I did my knee and my eardrum. So I was out for five months and last session that was my first surf back.
Have you thought about not surfing it?
Nah, never. I was aways keen to get back, though it’s a bit sketchy at first. It’s such a hard wave to read. You never know just how to deep to go, and then throw in the unpredictability of the wave, its a bit like playing Russian roulette. Towing with the local guy like Shannsy has helped so much, because he reads it so well.
Watching that super deep one, I haven’t been so nervous watching a wave in a long time. It seems if you were just 10 centremetres further back, you’d would have been brown bread.
With the ones where you are that deep, it actually feels like a closeout. It looks easier in the footage, but when you come into it, there is so much wall in front of you it looks impossible. But they seem to be the best ones. It’s taken me a long time to get one like that.
And how much more challenging is it on your backhand?
Well, you can’t do any of the little fades or speed checks that the naturalfooters can, because they can see so much more of the wave. You almost have to tow it differently on your backhand. You want to come on in straight across, rather than tweaking in so that you come from way behind the peak. We lengthened the rope that day, and that definitely helped, which allowed us to get deeper. The thing is it doesn’t break that often, so it feels like you are forever trying to figure that place out.
What’s are on cards next for Kerby Brown?
Right now trying to surf those waves that don’t look rideable is what excites me. The Right is becoming a bit of a circus and so we’ve been venturing further afield. Nothing with the scope of The Right, and they usually end up on dry rock, but they are out there. There’s a lot of tricky waves out there yet to be surfed. See below for an example.