Australian Sup Life Blog 4.0 – Michael Jenkins

Updated: Feb 8, 2020

Next up in the Australian Sup Life Pioneer blog series, we welcome the Victorian master and 10ft advocate Michael Jenkins.

1. Great to have you apart of the Australian Sup Life pioneer blog series. You set the ball rolling with the Longboard Sup Revolution, it is amazing to see the growth and support of the movement, what was the initial thoughts and passion behind the Longboard Sup Revolution?

Thanks Mike, must admit I feel a little humbled about what has happened over the years with the LSR. What started out as a rather naïve and enthusiastic thought of a FB page promoting Longboard Sup Surfing category 3 years ago, now has turned into a FB group of nearly 2000 longboard enthusiasts from over 100 countries. We have also achieved success with our lobbying for the inclusion of the Longboard Sup category in all events held in Australia and with Surfing Australia running an inaugural National title in the category at Phillip Island Victoria in October 2019. Now in March 2020, an International longboard sup surfing event in Bali with some of the best longboard surfers in the world competing to win some prize money and a shitty trophy made from old second hand number plates.... 

it's been a pretty hectic couple of years with the LSR, made possible and driven by the enthusiasm and passion of many like minded people, Paul Jones, Chris Clarke, Simon Honeybun, the crew at SPSC in Sydney to the Sus Inc crew on the Gold Coast and Mark Temple and the SA crew. Everyone has contributed and has been fully supportive along the way and now with the help from Scott Mckercher, with the Bali event,the International acceptance of the category is well underway... 

(Photography - Adam Snow)

2. The Longboard Sup Revolution Bali Cosmic Experience is on in Sanur, Bali March 20th– 22nd, Scott McKercher and yourself were the masterminds behind the event, can you tell us how it all came about?

The LSR Bali event was Scotty’s idea We had spoken quite a few times about the longboards over the months and we both competed in the inaugural surf oz national event. My first trip to Bali was in '84 or so, been there many times since, Scott is pretty much the same so with the love of surfing Bali, slipping into Bali time, doing an event over there was made possible with business contacts and friendships developed through Scott’s years of involvement in the Sup industry and his own Sup brand Smik.

The significance and the rise in interest of the longboard sup has enabled the event to attract sponsorship from the Worlds top Sup manufacturers. Just about every Sup brand whether it be International or right down to the local shapers, have all done their research and developed their own performance longboard sups. This has helped raise the standard of longboard surfing to what has now been seen, together withJonesy formulating the longboard judging criteria, we now have a particularly exciting mixture of style of longboard surfing that encompasses both traditional and performance surfing that will be well suited to the point break in Sanur where the Cosmic Experience event will be held... 

We are all incredibly excited and proud to be able to be involved in the Cosmic Experience Surf Event and seeing not only World’s best longboard surfers and the weekend warriors compete in the first ever International event of it its kind, but also for me personally, the culmination of many hours of putting post after post about the longboards sups on the LSR social media platform and trying to keep the positivity happening, I can now step back and enjoy what has been created....

3. It was great to see that the 10ft division was a part of the state titles in 2019 with the winner advancing to the national titles. Do you feel the 10ft division will have its own complete division in years to come opposed to last year in which only the winner from each state advanced to compete for a national title?

After what feels like years as a serial pest to Surfing Australia with the hassling for the longboard sup category inclusion at the Nationals to actually being involved in the event was a real buzz. Such is the inclusive nature of the longboard, the heats were made up of surfers across all ages from a young Jimmy Casey to an old mongrel like me, everyone was so excited to be part of sup history.

What now has to happen is for Surfing Australia to increase the longboard sup categories to include the age groups and increase the number of allocations for those categories so as to be on par with short sup Surfing. The age old excuse of "time and money" should no longer be relevant and used by those organisations to delay the inevitability of expanding Longboard Sup categories in the Elite events. They should also embrace an Over 60’s category similar to what they have already done with all other Surfing divisions too. 

The potential to have a "festival of the surf sup" is well and truly an option now and those Surfing Organisations should be more progressive and capitalise on those opportunities.

With the inevitable inclusion of new longboard sup categories at the titles events, this will ensure and develop further interest with those major events as they will continue to be more successful in the future.

(Photography - Adam Snow)

4. The National Titles are going to held at Phillip Island once again in 2020, tell us how you feel about the best in the country coming together in your home state to do battle?

Phillip Island produced the goods at last years Nationals. From the epic DW’er course  where Stimo and the WA crew gave it a 10/10, to a bop race held in prime conditions and the surf event held in big and trying conditions the Island had it all. It was even good for those interstate guests to sample our often extreme, wild and woolly weather conditions from freezing to hot in the matter of a day or two.

There are some amazing surf spots down that way, next year I believe we will even have the longboards Surfing held on a classic point break.....

5. I’m curious to learn more about the history of Sup in Victoria, can you give us a brief run through memory lane from your perspective?

As with all the Victoria sup crew there has to be and incredible passion, self motivation and a healthy degree of madness to achieve an all year round training regime especially in winter as often is close to freezing in the mornings. With that in mind the there are some hardy crew down here. Going back a few years we had a committed group that helped motivate each other to achieve a great level of fitness enough to compete at National level. The Victorian team albeit small in numbers produced a few memorable achievements with National titles going to Jean Ringrose and Emma Webb whilst the lads were second in quite a few events.

There were lots of events in Vic back then, Sup Vic under Paul Harrington produced an epic event series supported by Warwick Lee at RPS and Luke Myers at SHQ, Sup was new we were all enthusiastic to test our skills and fitness. Flat water races were king back then.

With much more social event type races now and the sup sport growing with Downwinders, sup surf, longboard and shortboard and now with the popularity of foiling there seems to have been more choice and less combined activities in sup and more pursuit of individual sup interests. It would be terrific if we could develop an event in Victoria that captures the Interest of the Australian Sup community in the same way as the WA crew have successfully done with their Downwind events, maybe in the future that Event could be a Longboard Sup event at one of Victoria’s classic point breaks?  

6. I have been lucky enough to score epic waves on the Victorian coastline from Boneyards on the West Coast, to Pt Addis, Bells, to Danger Point in Torquay but never scored on the peninsular, Tell us about some of your local setups and how good it is to be a Sup surfer in Victoria?

I guess most folks that have sup surfed long enough will tell of the early days of Surfing were often interrupted by some surfers telling you the "sup surfer" to fuck off etc fortunately due to mastering selected hearing that never really affected me too much, but nonetheless we had to stand our ground and our right to be in the water. Now sup Surfing is more accepted. There are so many classic surf beach and point breaks around the Victorian coasts we are truly lucky. Way back in the past we often searched to seek out new breaks, search was what we did and the rewards were uncrowded waves with a few mates in a remote magnificent environment. Having surfed for over 50 years, I remember seeing Bells with 10-15 or so people out and thinking fuck that and drove down to Cathedral and surfed with only a few out and they would be local mates too..hahaha there are still uncrowded breaks around...

(Photography - Sean Carew)

7. Do you get into the other aspects of Sup such as downwinders, foiling, flatwater?

The other love is Downwinders after Surfing, we have a small and committed core group of DW’er mates who have scored some epic conditions on Port Phillip Bay either on the run made famous by DJ ( Dave Peterson) the St Kilda to Sandy/ HMB run or the more adventurous and challenging Rickets to Frankston run which can be 20 k's of incredibleness with well overhead runners that you would have to take off on angle so as to not bury the nose on the 17'4" sic, the speed reached was insane and enabled you to catch runner after runner.

The exhilaration of doing Down winders can be extreme and doing extreme DW’ers is off the scale, sadly the fact that there seem to be less perfect conditions available ATM and getting older also moves the goal post on what's possible nowadays....

8. You are also an artist, and I remember your art being trophies for the Noosa festival of surfing in 2017 which just happened to be the last year that Sup’s were a part of the festival. What inspires your art and what made you want to make them into trophies?

I’ve been making stuff for decades and then that stuff became recognised as artwork about 15 years ago. Since then I've been involved in both joint and solo exhibitions in many Galleries along the East Coast of Australia Over the years I have sold some 200+ pieces, given many away to raise money for worthy causes and charities and also made many wacky and bizarre trophies for various sup events too. The artwork is made from recycled building materials, disused road and industrial signage, numberplates and found objects.

I have imported hundreds of Balinese numberplates over the years to make artwork from and have often been on business trips to Bali with a couple surfboards having to spend much doing research and development over there….

The latest batch of trophies I've made are from old Balinese, USA and Victorian number plates that are for the winners of next month’s LSR Bali cosmic experience event…. should be a lot of fun..... A big thank you goes to Adam Snow & Sean Carew for the images.

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