Surfing World Magazine 300 issues.
Surfing World’s milestone 300th issue went on sale today, December 23, 2009.
How to choose the best of Surfing World from such an enormous pool? I thought I’d ask the dudes who know it best, the editors who wrote or commissioned the writers, photographers and designers who created the magazine for so many successful years.
Surfing World has had relatively few editors – just 8 for such a long – lived – title.
Reggae Ellis was editor for 10 years from 1998 to 2008.
I caught up with Reggae recently for a quick Q and A as he reflected on his time as captain of the SW ship.
- By Ben Horvath. (Coastalwatch editor.)
BH - Most surfers know you as the long time editor of Tracks, the radio surf reporter forever on Triple M, and more recently Mr Snow, tell us how you got involved with SW?
RE - My involvement in Surfing World came from an off the cuff comment I made to Doug Lees one arvo over a couple of beers in Manly. We knew Hugh and Bruce wanted to sell the mag, had heard they were talking to ACP and I flippantly suggested we buy it and didn't think much more about it, because at the time I was working for Morrison Media editing Deep and their ski mag, Powderhound. A few months later I had a call from Mark Eymes, Doug's partner in their Manly surf shops, saying he and Doug and Peter Eastaway were going to make an offer and did I want in, to own 25% with the three of them in an equal partnership. I liked the ihe idea of owning SW and being part of a small publishing business so I joined them. With my experience as an editor, Doug and Eymesy's connections with the surf industry as long term retailers and Easty's skills as a charted accountant, publisher and professional photographer we thought we had the perfect team.
How long were you editor of SW?
Just over 10 years - issue 242, which came out in January 1998 was my first and issue 288, March 2008 was my last.
Did you grow up on SW back when it was the only real glossy lifestyle mag and Tracks was the kind of counter culture tabloid?
Yeah, I remember getting a SW as a Christmas present when I was 11 or 12. I can't remember the cover, but i do remember a photo of a topless girl named Carla! Anyway, I then bought every issue - I'd take turns buying it with my best mate, Bernard Hunt. I'd buy one issue, he'd buy the next.
What issues of SW or trips stood out in your grommethood?
I remember the Hot Generation issue with Tom, Cheyne and Ant Corrigan on the cover, then that Running With the Southside Boys issue - it had that awesome shot that Bruce took of Ant Corrigan on the red G&S from behind the wave at Black Rock. All the photo annuals – I got them for Christmas every year and the Road Song mag with Ross Marshall on the cover in the sunnies is the standout.
When you took control of the reins at SW how did you position the mag? What were your initial goals?
We wanted to position the mag as a core Australian surf mag, aimed at 20-plus surfers who were over all the tabloid-style, grommet-obsessed, "what's hot, what's not" editorial in the other mags. We knew that 80% of keen surfers didn't buy surf mags, so we wanted to tap into that market, get those surfers psyched on what SW had been since it started - a quality magazine with great photos and well-written stories about interesting people and places.
What were your favourite issues whilst at the helm? I know a decade is a long time, but I'm guessing there were quite a few memorable highlights?
Of the early ones we did, a favourite is SW 246 with Hoyo on the cover and he is the feature interview and there's a prime example of Jon Frank's epic spreads - a black and white portfolio from Hawaii. Then issue 244, July/August '98 which has Powelly on the cover and a killer free-flow interview between Kelly and Wayne Lynch and a profile on a young Rasta. But I think the best issues we did were from 2002 onwards, after the 40th anniversary Issue in September that year, which is one of the best SW’s ever. That's when it all started to come together with Matt Graham's design, the bigger format, more expensive production and a cleaner flow. From a surfing point of view we did some good trips - the grom bash roadies were always fun with North Straddie and the NSW south coast the best for waves. Keeping a bunch of 16 year old grommets in line isn't easy, especially when Jon Frank is the only other "adult" on the trip.
Any bum trips when you totally got skunked?
The first Grom Bash trip we did in 1999. We went down to Manyana and had hardly any swell...we only had one good session and that was at Green Island, but only two to three feet.
How did surfing change during your tenor?
Surfing changed a lot and on different levels. On the performance level it changed when Parko, Mick, Andy Irons and that crew hit the scene - fast, powerful surfing with progressive airs etc - they sort of took it up a notch and were closely followed by the next guys like Shaun Cansdell, Jay Quinn, Julian Wilson, Mitch Colburn etc. Then surfing has also changed in that it is not as blinkered in regard to what are good boards and what's good surfing - surfers are prepared to try different boards and ride different boards in different conditions. Obviously guys like Kelly and Rasta have had a lot of influence there. On a another level, big wave and tow surfing has powered...resurrected the adventure of finding new waves in remote conditions...it’s just that these waves can hurt you!
I know you hand picked Vaughan to take over as editor a year or two back, but you are still actively involved in terms of ownership, contributing stories and you also work for the parent companies Coastalwatch, Mountainwatch, edit Chillfactor and own a Rip Curl franchise in the snow too huh?
Yeah, I am one of six partners now in Surfing World... my title is managing editor, which sounds important but basically means I don't have to do much nuts and bolts stuff...subbing, chasing photos, writing captions etc. We were doing four issues a year, but wanted to increase the frequency - we went to six, then nine. Next year the mag will be monthly, so we needed someone talented who can give 100% to the magazine and Blakey is the perfect person for the job. These days I just write the occasional story, do interviews and offer unwanted advice to Blakey and Matty G! Then I edit the ski mag, Chillfactor and its website, and do the snow reports on Mountainwatch. Outside of that, my main job is working for Bigpond Sport TV, presenting all the surf and snow content on its weekend sports show and doing their snow reports in winter. Then my wife and I have a Rip Curl store in Thredbo where I have lived every winter since 1989.
Outside of all your industry work commitments what are your other interests? What do you do to relax?
Besides surfing and skiing when I can...not a lot. I've got two little kids, a five year old girl and a three year old boy, so I hang out with them when I'm not working.
Finally, being a long time surfer and skier what changes have you noticed to the climate on the coast and in the snow, and are you worried about the future of both lifestyles you love?
Definitely worried and I reckon the scepticism we see toward climate change and humans' contribution to it is a bit of wishful thinking. Let's face it, it'd be great if it wasn't real. But after spending 20 winters in the snow I have definitely noticed changes...not surprising given the median temp for 150 years in Southeast Australia was just over 21 degrees and the average has been above that for the past 15 consecutive years. The last few years have seen periods of unseasonally warm weather in August - the 2009 August was the warmest ever - and the dust storms of the past two years, a result of the inland drought have hammered the snow cover. The dust eats away at the snow, causing it to melt a lot quicker. The winters are shorter and that is easy to document - just check out the snow depths for the past 55 years on the Snowy Hydro site - the snow has been at its deepest in Sept/October for only 40% of the past 20 years. It was deepest in Sept/Oct for 80% of the 1954-1988 period. The affect on the surf is not as easy to calculate, but rising sea levels is the most obvious, deeper water over some reefs will see them turn into mush burgers while it is a real issue for the island states in the Pacific and Indian Oceans...not that you'd know if from the farce that we've witnessed in Copenhagen. The only winners from that conference are those who have shares in oil and mining companies.
SW issue 300. On sale in a newsagent near you now.
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