Interview: Thai Little / Balibelly.tv
Last Sunday Tai ‘Buddha’ Graham won the Deus ‘Slidetober’ surf contest at Old Man’s Reef, Canggu, narrowly defeating Jason ‘Salsa’ Salisbury, Ellis Ericson, and Tyler Warren in thumping surf. Balibelly.tv caught up with Tai shortly after his hangover had subsided to get the lowdown on what by all accounts was a fun event.
So this contest was pretty unique. Tell us about the format.
They had about ten different Deus boards down there, from a 7’2 Lopez style single fin to a little 5’4 sawn-off square tail twin fin. Weird little things. Deus is kind of known for their alternative boards so they had a line up of everything you could think of.
There was 10 heats of 4-5 guys, so probably 45 guys all up. Before the heats the competitors would get a number from 1-5 and they’d spin the motorbike wheel and put the brakes on to see what board you got to ride. That kind of spiced it up a little.
In my first heat I got to ride a little 5’4 twinny, then I got a 6’5 twinny, which I ended up keeping until the final because after a few heats they let us just pick a board. I stuck with the 6’5 because it paddled the best and I’d just come from two days of surfing the Flowrider in Singapore so I was hammered.
How did the judging work?
It was about your style and how you rode the board. Definitely not 3 to the beach. Monty (the head judge) watched who was doing what on the different boards. Some guys were doing big swooping bottom turns on a single fin, and just that would get a good score. It was a retro kinda vibe.
So, It was held on Sunday, and the swell was huge that day. Wasn’t it maxing out?
No man, it was handling it! It was maxing, but handling. It was six foot solid, breaking way out the back and going whooop-BOOM!! on the inside, so getting back in and out was a mission.
Did D.Hump get through his heat?
Nah, the older guys were always going to find it tough. (laughing) To be honest it was a lot of hard work. We’re talking about the biggest day of the year, there’s no channel to get out, people were getting smashed in the shorey for 10 minutes before getting out the back… survival of the fittest!
While grown men hid in the bushes, 11-year-old Tedi threw on a singlet and charged
How’d your O’Neill grommies go?
They were a bit apprehensive because it was big. I entered in Tedi and Reef.
I paddled out with Tedi to look after him and this massive bomb appeared right as we got out. He swung for it and I was like "No Tedi, nooo!" but the kid went for it and air-dropped the thing, made it, then this huge six-foot-plus wall just demolished him, he got washed inside, sets on the head, pounded brah!
What did the judges give him for it?
Zero! The sad thing was the heat hadn’t started yet! But he got a couple more boomers, he was charging. Seriously, grown men pulled out of the contest, and this 11 year old local kid just CHARGED. The crowd gave him a standing ovation when he came in.
Above: Salsa takes the high line. Below: Tyler, styles for miles
So, what about the final, how did it all pan out?
The final was pretty sick. Tyler was ripping, I’d never seen that guy surf before, he’s got a really smooth style. Salsa mixed it up, he could ride the twinnies a lot easier on his frontside. Ellis was awesome too, he throws down a lot of steez on those boards. The whole vibe for the comp was sick, no hassling, just sharing waves, but in the final I could tell we all wanted to win.
The big 6’5 I rode got a lot of speed and drew nice lines, I got a long one and did four top turns, it just went forever. Then for my 2nd score I got a quick barrel and they freaked out on it. They didn’t tell us who won on the beach, they just said it was really close between me and Salsa, who also got a long one.
So after everyone polished the Storm beers off, you burnt over to the Deus Temple for the after party?
Yeah they had an art show by Stevie Gee, music, and the preso, then things started to get wild coz it was Deus’ first birthday. I ended up winning a custom board but instead I asked for one of the Stevie Gee art boards from the show. The Deus crew said they’d hook one up, so i’m stoked, can’t wait to get some kegs on it.
TB, taking the single fin to Single fin
Tai Buddha, winding back time
Side-step right up to the wheel o’ rides
Someone laid a huge deus on the sand
Hightailing it to beat the avalanche
TB’s sick prize – A Deus board adorned with art by Stevie Gee