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.
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”.
Years Surfing: 10 years
Young gun Bernie was born on the island of Siargao in the Philippines and moved to Byron Bay aged three, where his dad, Mike, was a long-term local. He began surfing soon after. Despite having learnt his chops in Australia, however, the young man surfs with an effortless, graceful style that seems to have come from somewhere exotic.
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”.
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