By Nathan Rivalland
In this time of global social pandemonium caused by COVID-19, surfing competitions and in turn, much of life as we know it, have been cancelled and postponed. This slowing down has opened up time to take stock and look back on where it all started for one of Victoria’s favourite longboard surfing stars Ben Considine.
First getting on a surfboard aged five with his father Lee.
“I first started competing at around 10 or 11 years of age at my local longboard club which was SOUL Longboarders, near Barwon Heads. I loved it so much, working my way up through the ranks, competing in the traditional longboard surfing divisions and then the Open B grade division. I remember being super excited when I was eventually able to go into the Open A grade division where I would get to compete against the best surfers in the whole club,” he said.
Drawing inspirations from a young age from surfing icons Joel Tudor and two-time world champion shortboard surfer John John Florence, it wasn’t long before Considine claimed his first Victorian state title. It was a moment that kickstarted a real drive to compete and take his surfing talents to the next level in a competitive sense.
But Considine came up against surfing stereotypes right from the start, with longboard surfing looked down on in Victoria, where the shortboard and high-performance surfing dominates.
With an abundance of amazing shortboard talent all around him, longboard surfing was largely disregarded, a form of surfing talent that not many people would tend to take much notice of. Longboarding at one stage had been stereotyped as an ‘old man’s thing’, something that one might pick up when they are older, or rather an act that they may do when the waves are really small. But, Considine just took it in his stride, not letting the stereotype rock his confidence.
“I guess I’m just an old man at heart then,” he said.
“In Victoria, I’ve definitely had a few funny looks from people in the water, and I have felt out of place on a longboard at world class waves like Winkipop and Bells Beach in the company of all the professional shortboarders. However, it’s never bothered me much and I think it’s all part of the fun, fighting for waves against some of those elite shortboard surfers. The biggest thing for me from a young age was the lack of people to go longboarding with, no one else on the Surf Coast really wanted to be a part of it.
“It’s interesting because ironically as good as some waves are in Victoria for long boarding, we’ve never really developed much of a longboarding community like you might see up north in Australia at Noosa or Byron Bay.”
Working his way through the ranks of the longboard events around Victoria, taking home state titles in his respective age groups, it wasn’t long before Considine would be cracking it on the big time in the Australian Longboard Titles held in August of every year.
From this, the hardest thing that Considine found was trying to carry his talents through from being successful in his junior career, to doing well in the Open divisions once he had grown out of the minor age groups. However, with the help of his parents as a support link and those around him including his coaches, he was able to develop a new-found confidence in his surfing, where he could take it further. And he didn’t have to wait too long.
“We always knew Ben was such a special talent from a young age. His evolution through the junior ranks and his rise towards stardom against the Australian talent pool was something that was amazing to watch. His 2017 achievement was a showcase of his hard work and dedication,” Surfing Victoria CEO and ex professional surfer and coach Adam Robertson said.
Two years after graduating from the junior age groups, in 2017 at the ripe old age of 20, Considine achieved a life-long dream, taking home the National Logger Title at the Australian Longboard Titles at Cabarita Beach in NSW.
“The day of the Open Australian Logger Titles was incredible. All the guys were surfing amazing, and the waves at Cabarita were just top notch,” he said.
“It ended up being a bit of a fairy tale finish for me ironically. With only a few moments left in the final of the competition, I needed a wave to get the score to surf into first place. This beautiful wave came through, rolling so elegantly through the line-up and I was able to just set this wave up perfectly. I was able to get a range of traditional surfing manoeuvres in and mix it with a bit more futuristic surfing to get a 9.6 point score out a possible 10 points.
“As I got to the beach it was a feeling of pandemonium and pure elation! I got carried up the beach by some of my greatest idols and my old man Lee was just in tears crying. That moment is one that I’ll hold onto forever, no doubt about it. I definitely won’t be forgetting that breakthrough win.
“I had always just considered myself as a kid from a little town in Victoria, super isolated from the longboard surfing hubs in California and Noosa, so securing that win on the Australian stage, against some of my heroes was one of those moments that I will just cherish for the rest of my life, especially against some of the odds that presented initially.”
The accolades just kept coming for the cool, calm and collected Considine from then on, as he started to receive invitations to surfing contests internationally in Mexico, Spain and the USA, not to mention becoming a full time world longboard tour competitor, where he has cracked the top 10 twice in the past 5 years with a 4th in 2018 and a 6th in 2017.
Once COVID-19 is finally over, Considine will once again travel the world competing, however in the meantime he will be continuing his university studies in Exercise and Physiotherapy, as well as playing music and remaining an ‘old man at heart’ stylishly carving up life.