Brad Gerlach

In 1991 a chartered flight carrying the world's top professional surfers turned into folklore as one of surfing's biggest parties and most debauched episodes. Here a few key players recount the story.

“This flight... it was the craziest funniest flight I've ever been on in my whole life,” said photographer Pete “Joli” Wilson. “It was a chartered flight from Reunion Island to Durban, but on arrival they discovered they had to take seats out of the cabin to fit all the boards in. At one stage they were going to fly all the surfers and not the surfboards, then they were going to just fly the boards, but no bodies on the plane?”

“It took hours while they were messing around with all the seats,” continues Richard “Dog” Marsh, who was also on board. “The problem was they had us in lockdown in the airport with just a bar and a duty free shop. We drank the bar dry, then moved onto the duty free. The Frenchies in Reunion didn’t know what was going on. There was a full on game of rugby league being played in the airport lounge. After a couple of hours it was already really loose.”

“When the flight finally took off, the flight crew made the mistake of serving drinks, so the alcohol kept flowing... and this time it was free!” continues Joli.  “After drinks, came the meal and no surprise there, it progressed to a massive food fight. Virtually all of it ended up being thrown around the plane”.

“It got radical,” continues Dog. “I remember Dooma Hardman walking down the aisle with the pilot’s cap on. Within 30 seconds of the food trays coming out, all the food was gone, just thrown everywhere. I knew it was out of control when the toilet paper, like whole rolls dipped in blue loo, started being thrown. They were just splatting against the plane’s walls and people. Bainy, Powelly, Herro and Hoy they had some real fire in their bellies. I think at one stage I had to stop them from chopping off Joli’s ponytail. Eventually the cabin staff just gave up and locked themselves away in the pilot cabin. That just meant we had total free run of the plane, all the food, the booze.”

“Eventually the grog ran out and some of the crew started passing out,” explained Joli. “That’s when the black texta pens came out. Possibly a third of the crew on board had stuff drawn on their faces.”

“I’m pretty sure I found the textas,” says Dog, “but then Gerr got them, and Gerr being Gerr, he took it to the next level. “It was raucous,” Gerr told Tracks. “Cocks and balls were all over everyone faces. I also think I’d had a pot cookie that Cheyne had given me and it never wore off. I think it's still affecting me now,” he laughed.

“Eventually we walk through customs in Durban at about five in the morning. The immigration guys just didn't know what planet the plane had come from - almost everyone was still half pissed and joking around,” recalls Joli. “Dooma Hardman was denied entry to his hotel because he wasn't aware of what was written on his face. Hoyo's face was covered with black texta drawings, Jeremy Byles, Kerrbox, Gary Green”.

“The customs officials were pretty pissed,” says Dog. “Obviously the plane had wired through and said they had a bunch of animals on board. Which, to be fair, was fairly spot on”.

Brad Gerlach

All Photos: Joli