The Volte team encompasses a true variety of personalities and surfers. From former world champion Martin Potter, to big-wave maniac Mick Corbett, to up and coming talent Denver Young, we certainly don’t discriminate. Phil Read is another intriguing member of our roster. A former AFL footballer, “Chopper” spent eight years at the highest levels of professional sport, but always had an underlying passion for surfing. After hanging up the boots, he turned his attention to the ocean, attacking it with the same intensity he became known for on the field. Today, he’s one of the keenest surfers on the coast, at home in 1ft slop or 20ft slabs. We spoke to Phil about his career and current going ons.
Volte: Where did you grow up, and how early did you get into surfing?
Phil Read: I was born in Albany (Western Australia) and moved to Perth for high school. I got into surfing at that stage, when I got my first surfboard. Once a week the school would take a bus to the beach but we had to have a minimum number of kids on board, so we used to bribe the kids who didn’t surf with mars bars and stuff so they’d come along (laughs).
You were a professional AFL player for a long time, did you manage to surf much during that time or were the team staff keen to keep you out of the water?
The clubs didn’t really want me to surf, back then they probably didn’t have the same understanding on surfing that they have now. They regarded it as pretty dangerous and they tried to steer us away from it. As time went on and I got later into my career, sports science developed a bit and they gained an understanding on how good it could actually be for your body and they would actually encourage us to surf as part of a rehab program for our bodies.
So really I got to surf a fair bit. I even used to watch surfing videos before we’d play games, I’d put an old Jack McCoy movie on and dance around the house bouncing my footy. Most of the players would be watching footy highlights or other games but I was always pumped on surfing and surf movies.
Nowadays you’re probably one of the keenest surfers we know, is that what prompted you to become a surf-guide at the Kandui Resort?
Yeah with footy you’re totally committed during the winter, you never ever get to have a winter off because it’s mid-season. I felt like I’d missed out on so many good winters, I swear the best days for waves would always be Saturdays when you had games or training.
When I finished my AFL career I really wanted to make the most of my winters so I travelled to the Mentawais and ended up meeting the guys at the resort. They basically just said why don’t you come over and work for a while? I took that opportunity and went back every winter for ten years and that’s where I really started getting to ride and enjoy proper waves.
You’re now living back in Perth and you’ve got a good group of mates who you surf and travel with, have you got anything coming up this winter?
Yeah I’ve just been hanging out in Perth, chasing swells up and down the coast here. I’m always trying to be on the best swells in WA but this week I’m actually heading back to Indonesia because there’s a couple of big swells coming. I haven’t been there in a while so I’m really looking forward to getting a some big warm barrels!
Any goals going forward with your surfing or places you want to visit?
There’s heaps of waves I want to tick off, like everyone I guess. Cloudbreak is top of my list, Teahupoo and Jaws as well. I’d love to go check Jaws out, I’m not sure I’d be up to surfing it or doing anything crazy but I definitely want to go and experience it. I’ve been to Hawaii five times so that’s the next step, getting over to Maui and putting myself in the position to actually catch a wave or two out there.