We Talked To A Freshly-Minted Dave Winchester On His Kiama Pro Win

Winners are grinners! Photo:  @joshuatabone

Winners are grinners! Photo: @joshuatabone

While the world was transfixed on synoptic charts hoping for an eleventh-hour swell to show up at Kiama and redeem the whole affair (it didn't), the real show was happening on land: long-lost competitive stalwarts like Mitch Rawlins, Jake Stone, Toby Player and more showing up to don rashie, yes – but also to take part in the biggest frisbee-throwing, beer-clinking bodyboarding affair the sport has seen in the last decade. 

One such rider to re-emerge to the delight of everyone was Dave Winchester. For the past couple of years, the man has been away from the competitive scene, busy juggling both a role behind-the-scenes at NMD and full-tilt dad mode. Despite this, Winchester cruised in, shook hands, blitzed his heats and ended up taking out the whole damn event. 

Is he back as a force to be reckoned with? Ben Player sat down with Winchester to get his take on what went down at Kiama, from the mouth of the man who won it. 

MM: You’ve been away from the comp scene for a couple of years yet came to Kiama and cleaned house. What’s your secret?

Dave Winchester: My secret? I pushed my daughters into a lot of small waves, and so I guess I was reading small waves really well.

Wait, for real?

Yeah, I think so. I’ve spent so much time in the water with them when it’s 1-to-2-foot. Any chance that I get now to get on the boog, I take it.

So when you’re pushing them in you’re sort of mind-surfing those waves?

Yeah, you're kind of like looking at them, imagining them. If I see a little heavy one, I don’t necessarily push them into it. I’d want to catch that myself. So I don’t know. Maybe it was that. Maybe I was just being amped to put on the rashie again.

Photo:  @joshuatabone

How much does luck come into play? I was watching the final and you caught your best wave without priority – it just built. Is that because you knew the wave was going to do that, or was that luck?

I think a lot of it was luck, especially when it’s small like that. You’re not going to win the comp unless you’re on the best waves. That wave that I got under everyone else’s priority – maybe the two guys inside who had first and second priority might not have been able to get it, but I definitely know Brahim [Iddouch] could’ve taken it. I looked at it, and I thought it would have potential but I didn’t think it was going to be the wave that would win the final. Him being in third priority – I would’ve gone it if I was in third, but maybe the guys in first and second, because it wasn’t the biggest wave of the set they didn’t really see it. But there’s definitely a bit of luck to it when it’s that small. 

Yeah that’s true. Because you only caught, what, four waves in that final?

Yeah, I just wanted to be on the best ones. So I figured that if I’ve got half an hour, if I only catch two waves in that heat that’s fine, as long as they’re the best ones.

And it worked.

Yeah. It doesn’t always work, but it worked.

Photo:  @joshuatabone

How did you celebrate your win?

We went and had a couple of beers and a burger and chips, with the boys.

What are you going to buy with your $10,000? Something frivolous? Responsible? A nice little timeshare in Byron? Go on a bender?

We’ll probably have a little bit of a celebratory drink tonight with wife and friends and kids. But because we just bought the family bus, I’ll probably spend a bit of it on a reverse camera. Safety dad.

Really? That's it?

Yeah. The bus is so big that you can’t see out the back window. It’s a 12-seater.

Do you think that you might have another kid to celebrate? Go for number five?

I don’t think so. Four is enough to handle. Just because we’ve got 12 seats it doesn’t mean we need to put a bum on every seat. That’s for their friends.

Besides that, what’s been happening in the world of Dave Winchester?

I started working with NMD, and so I've been working pretty hard on that. Which means less water time. But now that it’s moving hopefully we can get a few surf trips in. Having a wife and kids is obviously very time-consuming, so just surfing with those guys every weekend, they love it. I just really want to go and get good waves now.

Me too. I was thinking about it last night.

Yeah, so keen. Terry McKenna asked me on the interview, “Are you going to do some more comps?” I was like, “Nah, I don’t think so”.

Photo:  @joshuatabone

How do you reckon the other guys felt about you beating them?

Obviously they’re going to be devastated about anyone beating them. But uh, yeah, you know – I can be completely honest and say I don’t surf the best in 1-to-2 foot waves out of all those guys. But on that day I was able to get the best waves and beat them.

Was it a good feeling seeing all your old peers and mates from the world tour?

Yeah, it was so good because I hadn’t seen all the international guys for such a long time. Like Pierre, Amaury, all those guys that we used to compete against like week in, week out for years. It was good to see Hubb down there with his little girl. Also the new guys that I don’t know too well. I wouldn’t say I really know Tanner, Iain Campbell or Tristan that well. All the new guys that are pushing the sport on the tour, so it’s kind of cool to hang out with those guys and just see the next generation coming through.

Has the win reignited your fire for competition in any way? Will we be seeing you back on the world tour in the near future?

Uh… [long pause]. I don’t know. I don’t think so. I’d like to do a couple every now and again, like Chile. And I’ll do Australia next year again. I’d love to do the Shark Island comp. Even a Pipe comp. Just places with really good waves. Unless someone wants to fly my wife and four kids around the world for the entire tour then yeah, I’ll do it.

You’re a pretty marketable family. You never know.

Yeah, well let’s see if a travel company picks us up and sends us around on the world tour.

Photo:  @joshuatabone