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Lessons in the Land Down Under by Leah Dawson

Leah Dawson ducks into the green room in Australia wearing the Zuma Surf Suit in Black Stripe. Photo by Nathan Oldfield.


Catwalk: Leah Dawson in The Zuma Surf Suit from The Seea on Vimeo.

"Less is more" in the Australian outback. Seeababe Leah Dawson surfs her face off and shares the lessons she learned during her recent trip to Oz. 

by Leah Dawson

Australia is a land of wonder. I’ve traveled there three times now, and each experience has brought profound happenings that undoubtedly influence the path of my life. This third time embodied themes like, ‘learn from the past’, ‘in the flow’, and ‘less is more’…

I flew straight into an unique surf invitational hosted by a coffee shop called Glass, where I joined a collection of surfers who all marveled and chose from 35 1960’s Hayden Longboards, each in mint condition, all different, all heavy.

I listened to participants speak about the subtleties, the uniqueness of the resin colors at that time, the age of board by the fin design, the way the board responds in the pocket. Their excitement invigorated me; such a respect, and too, knowledge about our past, and application into their present surfing.

Leah Dawson holds the board that was surfed in Morning of the Earth. Photo via @leahloves

Leah Dawson heads into the ocean, wearing the Seea Zuma in Black Stripe. Photo by Chrystal Fitzgerald.

At Noosa, I was in the sea for nearly every bit of daylight when the cyclone showed up. At times there would be 60 people on the break and 30 of them were the best men and women on logs in the world. The Noosa Festival is the largest surf event in the world, with over 600 competitors this year. I picked the most crowded week to be in Noosa, but many of my heroes were there, and I got to share the sea with them. Tom Wegener, Thomas Campbell, Devon Howard, Derek Hynd, all zooming past me with grins on their faces.

Leah Dawson in the Zuma in Black Stripe. Photo by Shelly Dark.
Some of my favorite moments of the trip were the intrinsic gathering of Seeababes in the lineup at TeaTree. It was my first time being around all the girls at once, and the joy and innate beauty we brought to the lineup was undeniable to every one.

We spent hours sitting on our boards waiting for sets, laughing, Makala laughing the loudest and raising everyone’s fun meter. We traded off waves, all inspired by each other’s unique style and movements, singing, whistling, laughing, dancing as we all did circles and circles in the bay.

It was the first time I’d met and seen Lola surf, and I sat mesmerized in the lineup by her posture and creativity while riding. Karina and Mele both shared epic performances in perfect waves in front of a huge crowd on finals day, showing the longboard community that women are uniquely gorgeous perched on the nose in the pocket. Hallie impressed everyone with her seamless transitions between goofy and regular nose rides, with a technicality and style we may only elsewhere see in CJ Nelson. Each of these ladies carries an elegance with her surfing; surfing for her soul and camaraderie with the ocean and her friends above all else.

Leah Dawson in trim. Photo by Albert Falzon.
Mele Saili in Australia. Photo by Nathan Oldfield. 
Mele Saili wears the Swami's in Blue Fossil. Photo by Nathan Oldfield.
Makala Smith, standing confidently, wearing the San-O in Coral under a shirt. Photo by Nathan Oldfield.

I decided I wanted to surf as simple as possible on the trip, to move slowly, delicately allowing the board to find the fastest parts of the wave. It was reiterated to me countless times how powerful simplicity and minimal effort speaks volumes by the surfers I look up to. Just standing there has never felt so good.

After 60 hours in one week in the water, and not keeping up with my normal alkaline diet, a small cut from the rocks began into an infection. I was forced to rest, and did so in the company of legendary Australian Surf Filmmakers, who shared with me hours of wisdom and insight. As I reluctantly started a course of antibiotics to stop my knee from the growing infection, I too learned the medicine can be a lifesaver and that I am grateful for Western, Eastern, and all medicines. It is up to us to know what we are allergic to, and what benefits us.

As I rested my knee-with-a-fever, my new wise filmmaker friends reiterated their adoration for simplicity in surfing, working life in the flow, less is more. There were hours of discussing intuition and learning how to turn up its volume.

A quote I heard and will never forget sums it all for me, “The closer we get to pure source, the less choices we have to make."

Just as like riding a wave, the closer we get to oneness with the ocean while we surf, the less deciding we do on the wave, and the more in the flow we become. Becoming in harmony with the ocean teaches us this simplicity that is so very healing and applicable to every walk of life.

Leah Dawson wears the Swami's in Tiles. Photo by Nathan Oldfield. 

Rhea Cortado April 14, 2015 3 tags (show)

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