AMBASSADORS

CHRISTIAN “WISPY” BARKER

Years surfing: 25

Wispy got his nickname growing up at South West Rocks on the Mid North Coast of NSW when his brother couldn’t pronounce his name.

A carpenter by trade, and a gifted surfer on both long and short boards, Wispy has become a valued test pilot for McTavish designs and works closely with shaper Ben McTavish on the development and design of new models. His favourite McTavish? “It’d have to be the Bluebird. I’ve had my best waves on it.”

Wispy is a free-surfer who feels no need to compete, preferring to ride what suits, when it suits. Although he only took up longboarding when he moved to Byron in 2010, he has taken to the glide like a natural. A popular figure in the surf and around the McTavish factory, he is known for his impeccable manners in the line-up, where he is happy to share the waves with all, regardless of their ability.

MATT CHOJNACKI

Years surfing: 20+

Also known as “Chono” and “the wax head”, Matt grew up on Sydney’s northern beaches where he started his surfing journey catching the whitewater that came into Curl Curl rock pool on his bodyboard, before learning to ride proper waves on the beachies and reef breaks around Long Reef. 

His northern beaches upbringing also gave him an early appreciation of the area’s rich surfing history, and he soon became one of the most knowledgeable surfers of the retro era, with an incredible depth of surf and hot rod car trivia at his fingertips. Not surprising, since his father, Mark, worked in classic car restoration, a passion that is now the family business.

When he’s not under the bonnet, Matt can invariably be found riding one of his many collector logs or the latest McTavish design, channeling surfing’s roots with every deft cross-step or drop-knee. He says: “Bob McTavish is one of my greatest influences, from the boards he shapes to his approach to riding a wave. Every time I surf, I feel a bit of Bob out there with me.” Other influences include Joel Tudor, John Gill, Shane Herring and Ozzie Wright.

After years of making finals whenever he competes, 2016 was Matt’s breakout year, winning the Logger Pro at the Noosa Festival, the Byron Bay Logger, and the old mal division at the Snowy Classic in Manly.

COREY

Years surfing: 22

A former chef, Corey became addicted to riding Ben McTavish shapes and jumped at the opportunity to work in the retail store, where the opportunity often presented itself to slip out and test a new model.

Corey’s formative years were spent between Port Macquarie and Currumbin, so with that wave-rich coast as his playground, it makes sense that his favourite break is about at the halfway point – Angourie. Now living on a hobby farm acreage at Stoker’s Siding with high school sweetheart Tara and their four young kids, Corey likes nothing better than to gather the family up and “chug” down the highway to The Point, although he says he enjoys the natural surroundings as much as the wave.

Corey’s workmates describe him as down to earth, but with a wicked sense of humour. For his part, he says that the best thing about working for McTavish is that there is “continuous progression”.

ROISIN CAROLAN

Years Surfing:13

Roisin (it’s Irish and pronounced Ro-jean) is one of the smoothest and most versatile of the new generation of female longboarders. Although competing is not a high priority, she is a regular fixture on the podium whenever she dons the contest jersey, particularly in logger and old mal events, where her old school moves come to the fore.

Something of an all-round “retro chick”, Roisin can be found searching for waves along the Byron coast in her old Volkswagen, or at home in the family cottage at Binna Burra cooking or drawing. (Her baked treats are greatly appreciated whenever she drops by the McTavish factory.)

Although she spent her early years at Manly, the family moved to the Byron hinterland when she was 12, and she has taken the place to her heart, delighting in hosting visiting surfers from around the world and sharing her favourite breaks. She cites Bob McTavish, Kassia Meador, Erin “Worm” Ashley and Ray Gleave as her major influences and her McTavish Noserider as her favourite board.

Surfing buddy El McCready says Roisin is “the most thoughtful person I’ve ever met”. Add to that a “cracking sense of humour” and you have a surfer who’s not only fast becoming one of the best of her generation but is fun to be around.

LOCKIE MARLEY

Years Surfing: 14

Lockie, the in-house photographer at McTavish, is originally from Perth but now lives in the Byron hinterland and surfs the many quality breaks of the adjacent coast on a variety of surfcraft, although since making Byron his home, he has become a stand-out longboarder.

A photographer who also likes to paint, his photographer influences include William Eggleston, Saul Leiter and Ryan McGinley. His favourite McTavish? The Involvement.

A creative soul who is calm and softly spoken most of the time, Lockie can also break out a hilarious side that has workmates in stitches.

DAVE ENGLISH

Years Surfing: 39

Another former carpenter who ran his own building company on Sydney’s northern beaches, Dave made the move north six years and has worked in McTavish retail ever since. He now lives at Cabarita with wife Laurie-Ann and youngest child Rubin, and not surprisingly, nominates right out front as his favourite surf break.

Dave grew up around the surfboard epicentre of Brookvale and knows his way around the contours of a surfboard better than most, making him an invaluable part of the retail team. His favourite McTavish board? “The Rambler…at the moment”.

PAT SAUNDERS

Years surfing: 23

Sydney-based rider Pat Saunders grew up at Lorne on Victoria’s Great Ocean Road, where he was taught to surf at a very early age by dad Greg, and influenced by local hero and global legend Wayne Lynch. Pat now calls Manly home.

Greg Saunders, a notable Victorian waterman, and sailor got his infant son accustomed to the surf by occy-strapping him to the mast of his windsurfer and taking off. By four Pat was an accomplished bodyboarder. Pat cites as other influences Andy Robertson, a Torquay surfer who got him into longboarding as a teenager, and surf life savers Brent and Wes Enticott, who “taught me new ways of enjoying the ocean”.

Greg Saunders also taught his son an early appreciation of surfboards, with more than 30 collectibles around the house for him to try, which is perhaps why one of his favourites now is the historically significant McTavish Noosa 66, along with a 1973 Wayne Lynch six-two that, despite being snapped several times over, has “taught me about rail to rail surfing and down the line speed”.

JOSIE & BERNIE PRENDERGAST

Years Surfing: 10 years

Young guns Josie and Bernie were born on the island of Siargao in the Philippines and moved to Byron Bay aged four and three, where their dad, Mike, was a long-term local. They both began surfing soon after. Despite having learnt their chops in Australia, however, both surf with an effortless, graceful style that seems to have come from somewhere exotic. And they do get back to their birthplace each year.

Both are more interested in free surfing than competing and plan to travel extensively looking for waves. Josie’s elegant style on a longboard was noted by Billabong, who have picked her up as clothing sponsor. Bernie’s favourite break (so far) is small Cloudbreak. He lists his inspirations as Ray Gleave, Joel Tudor, Wispy Barker and “everyone who rips on a longboard”.

RAY GLEAVE

Years Surfing: 42 years

Now a veteran, the man they call the “godfather of soul” is still one of the most graceful longboarders in the world, with a drop knee cutback that most longboarders would die for.

Ray grew up on a dairy farm and didn’t start surfing until his family moved to Kingscliff when he was 14. That relatively late start was not a hindrance at all, especially after he embraced the longboard revival in the 1980s and fast became one of Australia’s leading competitors, winning the national longboard title in 1991, ’92 and ’93, and representing Australia at the world longboard titles in France in 1992 (second) and in Brazil in 1994 (fifth).

Despite those impressive contest statistics, at heart Ray has always been a soul surfer, and as an ambassador and team rider for McTavish for more than 20 years, he has been an inspiration to a whole generation of surfers