Meet this era’s best backhand Superbank surfer.
It wouldn’t be fair to say the Gold Coast doesn’t produce quality goofy-footers. It does. But with such an incredible lineage of natural-footers having emerged from Queensland’s southern coastline over the years, those with their backs to the wall often get overshadowed. Still, every generation seems to produce at least one truly great backhand point-specialist, and in this era of child prodigies and highly-paid freesurfers, the man forging himself that reputation is a hardworking twenty-eight-year-old named Nick Vasicek.
An ex-junior series competitor and Billabong team rider, Nick has long since traded in the pro surfer dream for a small arts and homewares business he runs with his brother, but his standout performances on the points around Coolangatta over the last decade have nonetheless earned him comparisons to some of the region’s most revered backsiders.
‘He’d have to be one of the best backhand tube-riders I’ve seen since the early days of Chappy Jennings, Occy, China O’Conner, Neal Purchase Jnr and Chris Jack,’ says Snapper Rocks legend, Jay Phillips. ‘His approach on his backhand is vicious and he’s not one to hold back when it comes to a good session behind the rock.’
Local lensman Lachie McKinnon, who’s spent the last ten years filming the best surfers in the world, is quick to back-up Jay’s claims.
‘I think he’s one of the most underrated surfers there is on a global scale,’ he contends. ‘To be a standout in any cyclone on the Gold Coast is pretty solid, but to do it time and time again on your backhand is messed up. Everyone on the Goldy knows how good he is.’
Growing up at a time when Mick, Joel and Deano were in the midst of their meteoric rise to fame, it must’ve felt like a curse to be a goofy-footer in Coolangatta, but Nick says that as much as he fantasised about riding the points as a natural-footer, being a goofy actually worked in his favour.
‘There were so many young grom natural-footers growing up and only a few of us goofies,’ he remembers. ‘Watching guys like Occy, Luke Egan and Damon Harvey inspired me a lot. Those guys were always pushing it. Also having the Hobgood brothers coming to town—when the waves turned on they were the guys to watch, especially backside in the tube.’
Asked about the difficulties of surfing the points on your backhand, Nick says the approach comes with its own challenges, but ultimately, its own rewards.
‘Some days out Kirra it’s super fast,’ he says. ‘But that also makes it more exciting, trying to learn different techniques to get the speed to make the wave. And when you do, I almost guarantee it feels better than on your forehand.’
And how does it feel having your name talked about alongside some of the best backhand tube-riders the Goldy has produced?
‘When I was young people use to tell me I was like a young Neal Purchase Jnr,’ says Nick, paying his respects to a man who’s quite possibly spent more time inside Kirra’s spitting tunnels than anyone else. ‘I was really unaware of how much of a compliment that was, then I saw him surf one day out Kirra and I was blown away. Still to this day I learn so much from watching him in the barrel.’
Thanks to the performances Nick has put together on the points year after year, swell after swell, it’s safe to say the compliment is justified and the respect now runs both ways.
‘Nick Vasicek,’ says Neal, when asked about the kid’s tube-riding skills. ‘Yeah, he’s great!’