It was on a Tuesday just after midday when Harley arrived at the Coffs Harbour airport. A crew of mates and of course his family and girlfriend were on hand to finally congratulate him in person for his world title victory that was secured with a second placing in the Maldives.
After 36 hours travel and airport time he came off the plane looking a little jaded, that was until came through the sliding doors to see his friends ready to greet him, his face lit up and the feeling he had a few days previous when he took out the title came flooding back. He had his Aussie and overseas longboard mates with him in the Maldives, but sharing the victory with close family and hometown mates takes the stoke to a new level. Its these people that see Harley day in day out surfing and chasing his dream, its these people that have seen him come from a surf stoked grommet to now a surf stoked world champ. So they have all been part of the Harley history that has seen him reach this achievement, and Harley definitely acknowledges this.
From the airport, it was a beeline mission to his favourite grassy knoll overlooking Emerald Beach, and so began the first of the two home coming parties. The grassy knoll was mostly the Emerald crew having some lazy afternoon beers through to the evening.
On Thursday night the tempo was turned up. Retired WCT surfer, Lee Winkler along with Coopers surf shop owner, Andrew Lindsay organised a big shindig at the famous Hoey Moey pub.
The Harley World Title party was set to go off, and it did!
Harley with his happy mates. Michael Bellamy, Brett Caller, Harley’s mum Linda, the champ, Jared Neal, Rory Hugginson and Trent at the front.
Even knowing it was mid week and the Coffs region was getting hammered by a record rainfall event, people were turning up in droves. There were 17 through to 70-year-old surfers all coming to join in on the victory that Harley has brought back to our little country town.
There were mainly locals, but some travelled to attend. Dane Wilson made the trip down from Noosa to represent Golden Breed, also from Noosa was Tully St John and Surftec/Robert August agent in Australia Peter Sainsbury came up from Wollongong. Billy Tolhurst even packed away the slippers and PJ’s to come out and party and once he was there he was right amongst it, cracking jokes with his dry wit and just quietly, very happy with his number one rider. The respect Harley has for Billy is immense, but Billy refuses to take any credit for Harley success, even knowing his board shaping and mentoring has got Harley a fair way towards the surfer he is today.
Jared Neal, Paul Scholten, Michael Bellamy, Rory Hugginson and Brett Caller were all there sharing the joy and wouldn’t have missed it for the world. These boys have given Harley an extremely competitive local environment to tune his surfing. They all have world-class abilities, which has pushed Harley’s longboarding over the last 10 years. You could tell they were so stoked that one of the Woopi boys have gone to number one.
L-R Jared Neal, shaper Billy Tolhurst, surftec’s Peter Sainsbury, Harley, Linda and Mark Ingleby
It wasn’t just the competitive longboarders joining in. There was a strong crew of hardcore short boarders, some WQS guys and of course the Emerald Beach locals. The EB crew are a tight knit, dedicated bunch of life surfers, they are proud of their area and all of them respect Harley. This night was a great occasion that brought so many like-minded people together. It was described by one of the Emerald seadogs as a “Snowflake”… just a rare and unique time that doesn’t happen all that often. There were people that rocked up at 7pm and said to me that they are just staying for one beer and to congratulate Harley, these guys ended up staying till midnight. It was one of those nights that went to quick.
Local shredders, Kim Satchell, Danny Cougle and Bryn Goode, all talking shit at once.
There were so many people I didn’t get around to talking to, I’m sure Harley would have struggled to have a chat with them all. He did however get a chance in the speeches to thank everyone collectively. He started by thanking his sponsors, Golden Breed, Robert August and of course Tolhurst. He then spoke in depth about how the local surfers inspire him and keep him stoked and progressing. I thought this was both mature and humble to acknowledge the regular Joe surfers as his local line-ups.
It was a heart felt speech and that became visibly evident when he turned his thanks to his mum and dad (Linda and Mark). When he attributed his parents as number one to his success a lump started to form in his throat, he went on to say how his parents have always encouraged him to chase his dreams and then a few tears welled in his eyes. I looked over to Mark and Linda who were both looking so proud, they too, were emotional, but were holding it together well, had I been in their shoes I would have been a mess, heck I even had a tiny tear myself. A moment like this as a parent would be as good as it gets.
Lee Winkler also got up and talked of the respect he has for Harley. Wink was on the WCT tour for a few years and like Harley, he did it without much funding, so he knows how hard it is to make a career out of professional surfing. He also rated him as one of the smoothest surfers going around, a fact many readers of this magazine would already know.
It was then Madison Williams turn. This 21-year-old hot rat is one of Coffs big hopes for the future on the short board tour. He made the crowd realise how special this world title is. He talked of his aspirations to become a world champ and how his father (who was an Australian champ) and Lee Winkler are his heroes. He then declared he has a new hero in Harley Ingleby, and then he made him skull a beer to the cheers of the crowd.
Madison and Harley gettin a little messy
After the speeches the party really got rocking to the beats of local shredder and awesome DJ Gareth Budge, Gareth who is one of Harley’s surfing buddies was more than handy on the decks and Madison took the crowd to the dance floor with some damn fine moves. He coaxed the world champ up, and I finally found something Harley was no good at… halleluiah! As sweet as his footwork is on a nine-footer, it in no way translates to any ability on the floorboards.
Gareth Budge was smokin on the decks
I saw Harley consume enough alcohol to kill a woolly mammoth that night, but he still remained his cool, calm, collected self, his mates made sure he was never without a full beer, dark coloured shot or some other deadly concoction for the entire evening. He just took it in his stride, while most of his mates were stumbling around making little sense.
The Hoey pub had to shut at midnight, so it was off to Kim Satchell’s front lawn to finish off the night.
The next day Harley and his girl, Carlie were off for a two-week holiday in Bali. Now if all that isn’t the perfect way celebrate a world title, we will have to work out what else to do before he wins it again next year. Yeeeeeeeww!
Your hometown is stoked for ya mate!