The Secret Life Of: Dave Winchester

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Dave Winchester – the household name we all know and love – has held a nearly two decade-long reign at the top of the boog game, on both prone and drop-knee. When’s he going to hang up the fins, you may ask? Hopefully never, and slap yourself for thinking such a thing. But out of worry, we asked him; and thankfully, retirement is far from being on the cards for Winny. The man still lives and breathes the ocean, as evident in his explosive new clip, 9-5 (streaming exclusively on our website) – a tongue-in-cheek reference to his newfound gig behind-the-scenes of the bodyboarding world as a product distributor for VS Bodyboards. Meaning, there’s a high chance the Dave Winchester is the guy who got that fresh VS Winny under your arm from point A to B.

Not many people know about this other, seemingly more corporate, side of Winny’s life. But it’s testament to his energy and stoke for bodyboarding, as he’s living and breathing bodyboarding both in an out of the water. Add to that, he’s co-piloting a family of four with another one on the way, and still managing to wake up at the crack of sparrow fart every morning for a surf before lunchbox duty. And you thought you were busy.

We recently caught up with Winny to chat about his multi-faceted role in the sport, along with the release of his new clip, fatherhood and what the future holds for one of the biggest names in bodyboarding.

MM: Dave, take us through your day. Where does it all begin?
Dave Winchester: A standard weekday involves waking up at 5:30am for an early surf, then home by 7:30 to start getting the kids ready for school. Lunch boxes are my job usually, and then out the door at 8:20 to drop the kids at school. After that I’m into the warehouse in Byron for the 9-5 grind. Work most of the day, sometimes I’ll snag a lunch session if I haven’t done an early. Then, finish up and home for dinner with the family, hang out and then start the bed time process which takes a whole lot of time with four kids.

And what about a weekend?
On the weekend I usually wake up and have crepes, pancakes or waffles. We always try to get to the beach – all the girls love surfing and booging, so we always try and find a spot so we can all surf. Our quiver is huge. We take 10’2” , 9’, 7’, 8’ foamie, 7’ foamie, standup boogie and 3 bodyboards. So we always have something that will work. We’ve also got a 12-seater commuter bus so we can fit it all. After a session, get some lunch out somewhere in Byron and then go to friends houses for dinner. Throughout winter I play soccer – I absolutely love it, and it keeps you fit. After the morning beach session the families all hang together and come and watch.

It’s been about 4 years since you stopped competing full time on the tour. Can you talk us through that decision?
It wasn’t really a black-or-white decision so much, although we had three kids and it was getting tougher to do. The tour started to slump, sponsors became less keen on it, and I felt like these were the main reasons. It’s hard to justify spending a lot of time away from the family to break even or lose money, and then not get exposure out of it for my sponsors.  Then the whole sponsorship with the VS Australia distributor ended up falling through, so that cemented it.

And how do you feel about it now?
Completely fine. I had a great run on tour; I loved competing and travelling with some lifelong mates. I did care that I came so close to winning a world title, only because I am a competitive person, but if you put the ego aside you realise it really doesn’t matter. And there are a lot bigger things in life. Now I don’t give a shit at all. I’m stoked I didn’t because I’m happy with where I’m at in life. I had so much fun doing it and that’s what I remember. It was fun seeing everyone at the contest in Kiama; the waves weren’t great but I was happy to know I can still win. I thought I may have a chance if the waves were good, but I never thought I’d come out on top in those conditions.

Do you get to surf much these days?
Actually heaps. Just on a lot of different equipment. But good waves on the boogie? Not that much. Unless the waves are good for them; if they are I’m out there. This week past I surfed four times – twice on a 5’7” quad, once on a stand-up boogie and once on the the new Wifly 2.0 V tail that I’m testing and a DK session. You just have to make time for it.

Your latest clip is dubbed 9-5 – we heard it was all wrapped up after just 2 days, back to back. True or false?
Yeah, the banks were good, the swell looked good, so I punched it down. I hadn’t filmed in ages and [filmmaker Caleb Graham] was around, so I surfed from around 6-10am each day and then rolled into work around lunchtime. Caleb texted me and said, “We’ve got enough to make a sick little clip, you keen?” Why not.

This has been a learning curve for both of us, but it’s good. It’s a new challenge and there was always going to be a time when that ended.

Do you feel like you have to make the most of good surfs more so than you might have before?
When I was still sponsored, yes, because you needed to get content; but now, I’m just frothing when I’m out there, not frothing to make sure I’m catching 50 waves a session, but just really enjoying it. No pressure, just surfing with mates and having fun. So yes, making the most of sessions but in a different way. Still not taking the kid free time for granted, though.

There’s a particular wave heavily featured in the clip. Is that your go-to wave up your way?
Yeah. The banks have been really good this year. It’s powerful enough to get me amped to ride the boogie. Usually Toinz [Phil Gallagher] and I hit it.

Where is your favourite place to surf up that way?
I don’t really mind. If the pass is 1 foot and I’ve got my 10’2”, it’s pumping. If Tallows is 4 foot and heavy shoreys, I’m loving the boogie. Any conditions get me amped now.

So how does it work with you and your distribution business with Ben Player?
We started the business about two or so years ago. We distribute NMD and VS Bodyboards. And now I have started Nife Fins and Foamie Softboards. We have a warehouse in Byron Bay and a little showroom, so if you’re in town come and see me. 4/60 Centennial Ct, Byron Bay, 10-4 Monday-Friday… unless the waves are good.

Who does what? Who works harder?
I concentrate on sales and warehouse, while BP takes care of design and finance; but to be honest, our roles cross over all the time. We have just hired our first employee which is exciting. But mate, I work the hardest [laughs]. Nah, we both put in the hours when needed.

Is it weird doing this kind of work rather than bodyboarding full time?
Not really. Throughout my career I worked a few jobs, but it was easier getting paid to ride the boogie. This has been a learning curve for both of us, but it’s good. It’s a new challenge and there was always going to be a time when that ended.

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Can you walk us through a typical sales run?
Sell, sell, sell! You basically drive from shop to shop, say the same thing over and over and do it about 4-8 times a day [laughs]. But it’s starting to get better as we have a good relationship with the storeowners so it’s just like we’re catching up now.

How long are you often on the road for?
About 4-6 weeks of the year.

Can you tell us a funny story from one of the trips?
This one time, the owner of a store was telling us a story and acting it out so hard that he leaned in and accidentally touched noses with BP. Man-to-man nose touch. I was holding the laughter in.

When you arrive at a store, on one of these sales runs, does the owner of the store trip out a little that’s actually you and not some greasy salesman?
Yeah, sometimes. I guess the biggest thing is we actually ride the boards that we are selling. We know exactly what works with them, and we aren't giving some bullshit salesmen spiel. 

Dad chat: what’s your policy on iPads and social media for your kids?
The kids don’t own any of them. The girls can have a phone when they need to call us for something. But during the week we have zero screen time. I don’t even know when they would have the time for it. But on weekends they may watch a movie or show on the computer, and they sit down and really enjoy it because it’s not an everyday thing. Social media is a thing they will be influenced by and see both parents using it. But we’ll cross that bridge to when we feel they’re old enough for it.

 Photo:  @joshuatabone

How’s life in Mullumbimby?
It’s great. Not much traffic, like-minded people – a really nice place to have a big family. My mum lives in Brunswick Heads, which is irreplaceable; the girls adore her and it’s so amazing watching the girls grow up with such an amazing grandma. We have a humble house with four kids and two chickens (we had three, but had to bury one last week. It’s also 10 minutes from the beach.

Besides surfing, do you do for a good time these days?
Soccer, bush walks, beach hangs, river swims, bridge jumps, standup paddling, camping, eating good food. Pretty much anything outdoors. I guess we live a very active lifestyle. I love trying to keep fit.

Word on the street is that your wife is pregnant with baby number five.
Yes. My wife is incredible. She’s at almost 22 weeks now. This will be the last – five feels right. The thing is, most people love being parents and but we really love it. It’s too much fun for us. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lot of work; a shit load of work – last weekend, I did seven loads of washing and sometimes I get up for an early clothes-folding session – but our kids are just so much fun. They teach me so much, push me to levels of exhaustion, levels of anger and a level I have never loved so much. Kids are hardcore.

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Do you still get on the sauce?
Yeah, I love beer. I rarely have more than three though, as I can’t stand being hungover anymore. Getting up hungover with kids sucks. In the week, I’ll have one or two beers a couple of nights, and then usually a couple more on the weekend. Love beer.

Are there any particular surf destinations you would like to get to in the near future?
I don’t really mind. I just want to surf good waves and shoot with good people. I’m amped to do a few clips as I feel I have some good sessions still left in me [laughs]. We are always trying to push the design of our high-end boards. The board I ride in the clip is a 42” quad concave stock board. The Quad Concave goes incredible, and has been a game changer, so I’m excited to always work with these new things.

What’s your plans for the future?
I’m going to start building the new range with the boys and then start to sell again. Bub is due at the end of March, so going to try and get as many waves in before then. But just take it as it comes.

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