FITTY FITTY – Mick Fanning, Joel Parkinson and Dean Morrison
By Sean Doherty | 27 November 2009
Page 1 of 13
“It’s been a while since we’ve all been on a boat together. Even though we’re on tour together a fair bit, we try and give each other some space. I’m just stoked to be back on the boat having a laugh and a good holiday with mates I grew up with. It’s all just for the love of surfing and the love of hanging out with your mates. Laughing at everything. That’s what you live for; surfing perfect waves with just you and your mates out.” Mick Fanning
SERENDIPITY – THE TRIP COMES TO LIFE
The idea was hatched at Andy King’s wedding over a plate of bad sushi. Mick Fanning, Dean Morrison and I were hovering around the gluey Japanese delicacies like vultures; Mick and I doing most of the talking, Deano doing most of the eating. The topic of conversation soon drifted back to the first Indo boat trip we’d all done together, which, although only seven years ago, seemed like another lifetime for all of us. Mick, Dean and Joel were still kicking around the junior series at the time, but weren’t destined to stay there for long. Cooly Kid mania would soon sweep the world. The three were sold to the surfing world as one collective, frothing monster, and you couldn’t tell where one of them stopped and the other one started.
Seven years later and the three live very different lives. “Even though we’re on tour a fair bit we try and give each other some room to move,” explains Mick. “When we come home we surf, but I’ve got Karissa, Joel has Mon and Evie, Deano has Alana and his dogs.” Remarkably, they haven’t done a full surf trip together since that first one.
I’m not even sure whose idea it was, but by osmosis it hit us almost simultaneously. We’d take the same boat from the first trip, the Mangalui. There’d be no real plan. Just surf. Talk story. Talk shit. Laugh. Maybe, just maybe, drink some tins. No shop talk. No world title talk. Take all the pro surfing out of this thing. Just mates on a boat. The idea wasn’t rocket science, nor revolutionary, but it had legs.
Mick signed up straight away. Deano spat some rice, had a sip of beer, and nodded his approval. A phone call later and Joel was in. It came together surprisingly easy, and that was before the sweetener was thrown in. To take away any pretense of this being a pro surfing milk run, the boys were each given carte blanche to bring a mate along. Whoever the hell they wanted. Parko, without hesitation, nominated his brother-in-law, Matt Skene. Big Rocks. Looking like Dermott Brereton and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s love child, Parko describes Skeney as, “A big, friendly poof poof bear. He attracts good people. Anyone he meets ends up glued to him.”
Mick took Straddie’s champion lawnmower, Dan Holt. If Holty mows lawns as well as he surfs, North Straddie would look like one big bowling green. As a grom Holty used to beat Mick, Dean, and Joel in the Queensland juniors, and lived with Mick down in Coolangatta for a while. The pair haven’t hung out for years, but when they do it’s always 1997 again.
Deano, for reasons unknown even to himself, took Paul Fisher. “That’s a bit harsh!” Fisher, the young pro surfing playboy would later bark in his defence. Deano did, in fact, know why he brang Fish along; “Ahh, he’s a bag of laughs.” Which is exactly what Fish would prove to be.
The hired help were all part of the boys’ circle. Matty Gye and Shagga were filming this thing. Shagga, the giant bloodnut, grew up with the boys and remains their favourite pisstake to this day. Matty cut the original Cooly Kids bio, Three Degrees. Shooting stills would be Swilly [the man responsible for three quarters of all incoming phone calls to the boys’ mobiles], along with the larrikin genius of Jon Frank, fresh from putting together Mick’s movie, Mick, Myself and Eugene. While these guys were on the boat to shoot the shit out of the trip, they were also there because they’re all integral parts of the boys’ stories.
At this stage things were going a little too well. Two weeks out from the trip the call came. “Dohy, it’s Dean.” It wasn’t even the dying toad-croak he was emitting that worried me. The call was from Tahiti. Deano never calls even when he’s home in Coolangatta, so to get a call from Tahiti could only mean one thing. “Mate, I’m crook. I’ve got fish poisoning. I don’t know if I can go.” Deano, it turns out, was riddled with ciguatera. “I got a neurotoxin from eating this trevally that’s attacking my nervous system and draining all my energy. It’d kill me if I had to sit on the boat and watch.” Three weeks later, walking through Sydney airport, and the chances of Deano being there are literally “fitty fitty”. I’m worried. After checking in I found the boys in the food court, scoffing a feed of Chinese. After a round of handshakes and man-hugs I work my way into the circle and there, head buried in a plate of mee goreng, is Deano. He looks up briefly to acknowledge my existence, before lowering his head, and, employing circular breathing, continues shovelling noodles into his face. Trevally Boy is regaining his strength. As our flight’s called we get up and Deano notices a half plate of unfinished teriyaki. “Hey, is anyone eating that?”
We have a day in port in Padang before we sail. Being shuttled from the airport I’m sitting next to Deano. He loves to play “word of the day”. I give him “serendipity” and explain it means an accidental discovery of good fortune. “If you were heading out to surf Macaronis and accidentally stumbled upon HTs on the way, that’d be serendipity.” Just as we’re talking about it we drive past Padang’s infamous Club Dipo. “So if I walked into Club Dipo and found 50 bucks on the floor it’d be ‘serendipo’, right?”
We hang out in the hotel for the day. There’s swell out in the islands, and the fact we’re stuck in port is making the crew a little cagey. We have a few beers to knock the edge off. Holty tells us how he’s been training for the trip. Parko points a beer at him; “Wrong sort of training for this trip, Holty.” Shagga disappears at lunch and reappears on dark, just as we’re about to sail off without him. He has a new haircut and a spring in his step. Turns out both are the result of visiting the one, all-purpose establishment. Only in Padang.
We reunite with the Mangalui’s skipper Matty Cruden down at the harbour. The timeless Mango looks pretty much as she did when we first sailed off in her seven years ago. We scramble aboard, say our g’days to Matty, Wal and the crew, and slink out of port into the darkness.