Filmmaker Jono Smit and pro surfer Elliot Paerata-Reid team up for a Catlins strike mission only to have the rug pulled out from under them as the weather bomb flushes up the Tasman at the last minute. In an opportunistic stroke of madness they give chase along the West Coast … and strike gold.
Elliot Paerata-Reid was coming across from Australia early for the South Island Championships so we thought why not tee up and shoot some clips,” recalls filmmaker Jono Smit. “The plan was to hit the Catlins, but the swell and the wind disappeared just prior to Elliot getting on his flight from the Gold Coast.”
“The only place getting swell was the West Coast, which I was dubious about, but we decided to go with it anyway – I mean it is only a seven-hour drive from Queenstown,” he laughs. “It was torrential rain in Greymouth and to top off my journey my car got hit by some pretty decent rocks which had fallen off the back of a truck.”
They made it to the West Coast in one piece only to discover the swell was still massive, raw and wild.
“The next morning we got up around 6am and headed to the beach,” recalls Jono. “Horrendous … it was so bad. I was about to head on home when Elliot piped up about the spot round the corner.”
With nothing to lose and their tail between their legs they hopped in the car and drove a further 20 minutes down the coast.
“To our surprise it wasn’t bad … it wasn’t good either, but Elliot was frothing,” remembers Jono. “We skulled back some lukewarm coffee and got to it. Elliot found a couple nice tunnels and laid down some delightful hacks – it was pretty to watch among the carnage of the swell.”
The pair saw stray logs floating precariously through the lineup and Jono accidentally set up his tripod on some “classic West Coast human faeces”.
“I’m not sure how I didn’t realise I was standing in poo for three hours, but it happened, let’s move on.”