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Surfing the world with Mick Hay

You know those travel scratch maps we all have? I look at mine and sigh at the large unscratched patches never seem to fill as it’s vasty empty, with travel plans seemingly etched in sand. Mick Hay’s map is absolutely scratched out… he’s travelling the world, and is surfing some epic spots en route!

Lucky boyo! He’s truly a man living his best life, riding his best waves, and when you’ll meet him, you’ll realise just how cool this Aussie really is. He just wants a board, in the sea, asap, A simple formula for success.

Mick started surfing in his own backyard, raised in Eastern Australia and his love for the sea stretches way beyond the surf. He works in the yachting industry and that’s taken him places.

He combines his sailing life with his surfing life, dropping anchor right next to the swell for added awe. I mean, how cool is that, right? No need to paddle out when you can sail out, kooks!

He carries an arsenal of boards around, prepped for any conditions “I just want to surf, whatever it is.” He’s got no favourites, no preferences… if there’s a wave, he’ll take it, whether equipped with a cutting-edge board or a deck of wood.

Surfer surfing a wave
Mick Hay leaning in – photo by Sarah Borg

Every spot in Malta has got its day really

Mick scans the forecast like a hawk. He’s a yachtie and a surfer, so that’s his rhythm and in a place like Malta, where wind generates our waves, you’ve got to be armed and ready. 

Despite his global surf sessions, he’s still got a lot of love and energy for this place, with a gnarly spot set as his fave. “I love Ghallis, man, but it’s all good, everywhere really.” “Ghallis is world-class, man.” These laid-back responses are typical of Mick, and he also admitted his love for the surfing community here. “As long as it’s frothy, I love it man, if there’s a dude whooping with every wave, it makes it so much more fun.” 

He’s literally all about the vibes at sea, wherever he may be… whether cruising to Juno Pier on his Harley, or surfing off Nicaragua.

Check that out by the way, Mick’s Harley. Mick’s got a wicked Harley Davidson 803 for Florida which he’s mounted a rack to, how about that for a badass ride? No helmets on those beach rides either but don’t try that at home, kooks!

Harley Davidson motorcycle with surfboard
Super stylin’

Don’t take it seriously 

I asked Mick to dish out some advice for any future local kooks out there:

“You have to treat it like it’s fun. You have to have fun, don’t take it too serious. People are gonna drop in on you, you just gotta enjoy it”

“I remember surfing a lot when there was no one out here, 13 years ago with Ross, and it’s evolved big time. I’ll leave and come back and then it’s like there’s a surf school, and it just popped off, aye! With a community, a magazine… I love it, it’s all good!”

He’s done most of the local spots here, almost lost a board at St Lucian, almost snapped one at Ghallis, but hey, it’s all good! Just drop in and enjoy it.

Mick loves surfing with anyone, “As long as there are a few “yahooos” in the line up, I’m happy. If there’s a good vibe I’m happy hey like. With Malta it’s usually paddle out, have a chat with whose out there. There’s always a good dynamic and feeling.”

“When it gets bigger, it separates the surfers. The less confident ones don’t go out, you share the waves and everyone knows where they stand.”

Mick’s Best surf era

“I had my best surf era in Western Australia. A bunch of mates and I lived in a place called Graceland, for about a year. On the WSL there’s Margaret River. In that area there’s lots of waves, lots of power… surfing every day. You’re always in a wet suit but it’s still fun.”

Emerald Dreams

“The dream would be to live somewhere where I can surf daily, back home, on Emerald Beach. I’d live just on a headland with two beaches on either side, one’s protected from one side or the other, either is always working. Walk to the beach from my house, barefoot, with no towel, just grab a board and go. That’s the life!” 

These dreams are like glowing ambers in his mind due to the fact that he grew up and learned how to surf in Woolgoolga, and that has to be the coolest-sounding place ever. It just rolls off the tongue!

From Woolgoolga to the world

In Woolgoolga you’d join a local Nippers Surf Club which literally introduces you to the sea. You’d play heaps of beach games, and eventually bodyboard and surf. Seems amazing for kids, no wonder they shape them so well down under. 

Since then he’s amassed a fine quiver, ready for anything. “How many boards? I dunno maybe, including all of them? Short boards, six on my boat, in Emerald a couple, here a couple, some paddle boards. They are all spread about.”

Wicked wave at Rivera – photo by Valerio

Nasty ass breath and big teeth!

No, that’s not our summary of Mick, he’s decent looking actually! Now, this part might make you jealous, or hopefully inspire you as he reels off a long list of spots. My simple question: how many countries have you surfed?

“I dunno, um maybe 10 to 15 countries!”

  • “Indonesia
  • Caribbean: Barbados, St Lucia, St Vincent, Granada
  • The States
  • Australia 
  • Fiji
  • Nicaragua

Galapagos Islands with iguanas and seals.Their nasty ass breath and big teeth, you don’t wanna be bitten by them! As soon as you get to the shore they’re after you!”

  • “Malta ostja!” 

We didn’t even get to the end of the list, but you get the picture. It’s nuts. 

Catching Mick for this interview was as hard as catching a good summer wave in Malta, but I’m glad we hooked up for a seaside barbecue. Who knows when he’ll pop back here next, and who knows where his next surf session will be. One thing is for sure, there’d better be a few loud “yeeews” in the line-up. 

Catch ya soon Mick!

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