A few reasons why you should revisit the 80s classic.
Surf into Summer was the film fluoro-clad, mid 80s groms jammed in their VHS players and watched til the tape came spooling out. After Quiksliver more or less invented the team movie genre with ‘The Performers 1 and 2’, Billabong realised they had to answer back. Billabong Surf Into Summer, released in 1987, was laden with hand-jive, head flicks and power carves, and everyone who watched, tripped out on the whole self-expressive vibe. It also featured a rapturous, upbeat and occasionally melodic soundtrack that soon made T.S.O.L almost every surfer’s favourite new band. To give the whole thing a sense of gravitas Billabong assigned young surf journalist, Matt Warshaw, (now the chronicler of The Encyclopaedia of Surfing) to supply the omnipotent voice-over. Each section is introduced with one of Warshaw’s punchy power statements, which gives the seminal footage much more dramatic impact than the plain old point and shoot approach. Back then attentive grommets could quote Matt’s vocal cameos word for word.
Surf Into Summer featured the Gold Coast wunderkind Jason Buttonshaw bending his spindly frame into thick Kirra pits in an era many consider the glory days for the famed right-hander. Warshaw delights in telling us that in 1986 Kirra did its thing for 51 days straight. The comment and corresponding footage was likely responsible for dramatically increasing the Coolangatta population in the late 80s.
The film also showcases the compelling footage of the 1986 Billabong Pro, which went mobile to Waimea in 25 five foot-plus conditions. Warshaw explains how Robbie Bain and Alberto Salazar got washed in by four closeouts while Mark Richards and Ross-Clarke Jones made it out the back and slayed giants. An ageing MR’s ensuing win at Sunset the following day is undeniably one of pro surfing’s finest moments.
Surf into Summer immortalised the Occy v Curren rivalry. You’ve probably seen the famous heat at Bells, but with the classic Alter Boys track, ‘You Are Loved’ playing and Warshaw raising the stakes with his intro, it’s just that little bit more special. From the movie: “It’s been called surfing’s heaviest man-on-man heat. At that moment everyone watching from the cliffs at Bells began to realise that what they were watching was truly historic. It was the world’s best goofy foot against the world’s best regular foot. Both riding boards they trusted in good, overhead surf.” The Bells heat also forms part of one of the best Occy sections of all time.
Music rights issues make it almost impossible for Billabong to re-release some of their old movies, but that doesn’t mean a die-hard fan can’t upload it to the internet – thanks Dave Gonsalves. If you are looking for a sweet hit of nostalgia or an insight into the essence of 80s surfing then it’s definitely worth flicking back through a few moments from Billabong Surf into Summer. Oh, and if you’re wondering who gets that wave with about seven barrels on a left at the one minute thirty mark, it’s Tracks writer Monty Webber at G-land.