Dunsborough surfer Colin ‘Floyd’ Irvine (born 1965) set off on a world cruise in a home-made boat with his family in 1976 when he was age 11. Three years later he returned to WA and started surfing in the South West.
Floyd is a talented freestyle surfer and is currently riding ultra-short twin fin surfboards. He surfs fast and can switch feet with ease (aka Justin Redman) on short & long boards in his unique style.
He is an extrovert and likes bright coloured surfboards and wetsuits and owns a ’73 Mercedes 2 door convertible.
Photos: 2015 Floyd with some of his boy’s toys. (Left) Floyd’s Mercedes convertible at Yalls. (Right) Floyd with colourful surfboard at Shallows. King Bros pics.
This is Floyd’s story of his life with the ocean.
I have always been around the ocean.
My first memories at age 2, are looking out from beneath the foredeck in our sailing dinghy & seeing mum & dad in the wind & spray.
Sailing – World Cruise 1976-80
I grew up in Safety Bay then moved with the family to Fremantle. I started surfing at age 10 with my oldest brother Simon. We used to catch the train to Victoria Street & surf Dutch Inn, Dean Street & Isolated. We surfed in school jumpers & lit fires on the beach to keep warm between surfs. The gear was pretty primitive, single fins with pieces of clothes line and a sock around the ankle for a legrope.
My parents were sailors and in ’76 they finished building a boat at home and our family (2 parents & 3 kids) set off on a world cruise. I was age 11 at the time.
Our boat was called ‘Girl Morgan’ and the family visited North Africa (Sudan & Egypt), lived in Greece for 2 years and travelled around Europe.
Girl Morgan was a 31 foot ketch and a tiny boat to do such big ocean crossings – the longest we were at sea was 32 days between NW Cape in WA and Chagos archipelago (Diego Garcia & Egmont Islands) in the Indian Ocean approx. 500kms south of the Maldives archipelago. Over a month without seeing land!
Photo: 1977-78 Girl Morgan sailing in the Red Sea. Floyd pic.
Because of the world travel, I left primary school in Year 6 and missed out on a lot of schooling.
My parents continued cruising around the world for 20 years. But I returned to WA from England in 1980. I lived with a grand aunty at Kelmscott & attended Kelmscott High School. It wasn’t too long before I started to skip days of school and hitch hike down south. I would sleep in a board bag on the verandah of Andy’s Store at Yallingup.
After one year in Australia, I returned to England and surfed a winter on the Jersey Channel Islands, it was freezing & an introduction to 6mm wetsuits, rubber booties, gloves & hood. I am still in touch with my friend Rory who I surfed with in Jersey. We used to ride a motorbike to the beach with a huge bag of wetsuits between us & boards under our arms. One day we surfed when there was snow on the beach. Even the locals thought we were mad!
As a 16 years old, I escaped the cold winter and headed across France to Portugal. I spent 6 weeks hitch hiking in Portugal & met a lot of nice locals. Before I went to Portugal, some English guys told me to take some spare wax, legropes etc. because the local Portuguese surfers had a hard time getting any gear then. So I took 10 blocks of spare wax with me. I was hitching and got picked by some local surfers, I reached in my back pack and gave them a block of wax each. They were stoked and instead of taking me to a regular well known surf spot, they took me to their local break, a classic right hand point break. I set my tent on the point & just surfed the filthy right hander. The locals bought me food & beer every day and looked after me!!!
In the late 80s I visited my parents on the east coast while they were cruising around Australia in ‘Girl Morgan’.
Photos: Late 1980s Girl Morgan sailing the East Coast of Australia. Floyd pics.
Top: (Left) High & dry in Queensland creek (Right) Floyd & mum paddling ashore Queensland.
Bottom: (Left) Floyd holding shovel nose shark with his mum. (Right) Floyd’s dad sailing in Sydney harbour.
South West (Vasse) – 1980s
After coming back from Portugal I rented a farm house at Vasse with a couple of mates. We grew vegies, had chooks & bought milk in a flagon from the dairy. We eked out a living doing odd jobs and farm work. Spuds in winter, hay in summer, the grapes in autumn and vegies in the between times. Farm work was hard, but it paid the rent.
The guy who ran the Vasse Store hated us, he wouldn’t sell us petrol unless we told him we were going to work, we’d have to leave the boards at home to go get fuel, then go back for the boards before heading to the beach. The guy at the Vasse Store was a ‘Righteous Man’ and was so over us, he had two daughters who would flirt with us and it drove him crazy! He used to send our dole cheques back marked ‘NOT AT THIS ADDRESS’. We had fun having sport with him & his daughters.
I have a load of good memories belting down Wildwood Road in an XC Ford with a Jamaican flag painted on the driver’s door, listening to Peter Tosh.
I met Andrew ‘Mo’ Mills during this time. Mo & I used to love surfing big waves, surfing injuries and maybe kids slowed me down …..Mo never slowed down, he just kept going bigger and started doing tow-ins with Rich Myers. We surfed and enjoyed life in the South West.
Photo: Late 80s L-R Andrew ‘Mo’ Mills, Andrew ‘Co’ Corbett, Brad Goode (peeking through car window) & Floyd at Yalls. Floyd pic.
Perth – 1988-91
From 1988-91 I attended Murdoch University in Perth as a mature age student (age 23). I studied Politics and Philosophy and graduated in ’91 with a Degree in Politics and Philosophy.
I worked as a cook at The Left Bank Restaurant in East Fremantle to cover expenses.
While at University I met & married a girl named Carol, who was also a student at Murdoch. The wedding ceremony was held in North Fremantle. We toured OZ on a motor bike & lived rough as guts! She was a glamorous girl & I had her dressed in rags on the back of our motorbike….we had fun!
Photo: 1990 Floyd on his wedding day to Carol with father Ross and brother’s Simon & Jim in North Fremantle. Floyd pic
I also toured China with Carol for 3 months. China was a really different place then, almost no cars on the road. Really different to the scenes you see about now. Our relationship didn’t last too long!
Photo: 1990 Floyd holidaying in China while my wife Carol studied the Chinese language. Floyd pic.
I went to Perth, got my degree, got married, got divorced & came back to the SW…I often wonder why I spent those 4 years in Perth!
South West (Dunsborough) – Mid 90s – present
In the mid 90s I moved into a house in Dunsborough. I continued surfing and started working with Brad Goode. I worked as an assistant Anthropologist for 15 years with Brad in the SW. We prepared aboriginal heritage reports on Noongar people for Government Departments & Mining Companies. We worked from home on computers, mainly at night time and surfed during the day. It was great not working in an office environment.
I continued to surf in the SW with Andrew ‘Mo’ Mills and others.
Those were good days when Mo and I were just surfing anything so long as it was big. So many good memories. Loads of road trips. We had so many surfs where there was nobody around. The world was ours and we loved the water. Once we got caught inside on the peak at Yalls and had to duck dive a set on our 8′ boards. We duck dived in the pit of the last wave and when I looked across at Mo it was like we were 30 feet underwater…..and scuba diving with a rhino chaser! Still one of the craziest things I ever experienced. And f*** were we glad there wasn’t another big set behind.
Photos: 1989-90 Floyd and Mo in the SW. Floyd pics.
Top: (Left) Floyd with his 8ft Jim Banks Surfboard at Yalls (Right) Floyd on Caves Road.
Bottom: (Left) Andrew ‘Mo’ Mills at Bears. (Right) Mo working on his boat.
I have always been interested in fishing as I lived on a boat. My eldest brother is a very good fisherman.
As a result of surfing accidents at The Womb and Smiths Reef I missed 2 years of surfing while recuperating from shoulder reconstructions. During this period I took up fly fishing and learnt to cast left & right handed.
I own & run the Dunsborough Fishing School.
Photos: 2015-16 Dunsborough Fishing School. Floyd caught the gardie & salmon on a fly fishing rig. Floyd pics
I’m an extravert and love colour in my surfboard designs and wetties. I have a quiver of short boards (twin & tri fins) & mals.
I once made a surf cap out of a diving hood to protect my ears. I added rubber fins to the top and I looked like Godzilla when I surfed.
Photos: Floyd’s colourful surf equipment. Pics by Twiggy Sharland & King Bros.
Top: (Left) Early 2000s Floyd surfing a Mark Ogram designed twinnie at Shallows. (Right) 2015 Floyd’s colourful wettie & twinnie at Shallows.
Bottom: (Left) 2015 Floyd’s surfboard quiver. Floyd pics. (Right) 2015 Floyd twinnie attack on fun waves at Shallows.
I’m not a contest surfer, but in the 2000 I came third in the National Malibu Titles O/35 division held at Yalls. I surf like a blow fly – high energy!
Photos: Floyd surfing with flair in the SW. King Bros pics.
(Top) 2014 Yallingup main break. (Bottom) 2015 Shallows – natural and switch foot stance.
I have always had an interest in the environment. I think most sailors have an appreciation of trees, and I joined a campaign to Save Native Forests way back when I was around 16 or so.
I never became much of a ‘protestor’ so much as I wanted to be practically involved. When we first moved into the farmhouse at Vasse, the farmer said to us “I don’t really care what you do to the house, just don’t plant bloody trees everywhere.” So I went to the “Men of the Trees’ and got a tray or so of native trees and planted them all around the farmhouse. They are still there and are pretty big trees now, so the farmer came around I guess.
At one stage I found and read all the river care manuals and literature I could find. I was already a trout fisherman by then and rivers are water, so just another connection to water, the ocean and environment.
My ex-partner Sue Elscot is an Environmental Scientist and we started an environmental consultancy and implemented the tree planting, re-shaping degraded streams and enhancing dams, wetlands & streams. Part of this I do as a volunteer for a local environmental group Dunsborough Coast and Land Care or D.C.A.L.C.
These days I look after my 2 school boys, run a Fishing School & work as a Carer. Currently I’m sailing with my kids at the Dunsborough Yacht Club and still sail a 14ft skiff. I also surf & fish.
In my spare time I am writing a book titled ‘Dinosaurs of Surfing’. I’m interviewing older surfers and trying to get their stories in print.
The remainder of the time I live under a rock!