If more people were as unconcerned about how well they’re surfing versus how much fun they’re having as Ari Browne, every line up would be a playground. And while he rips the Rabbit’s Foot in Ryan Lovelace’s Almost Cut My Hair, he’s too humble to do anything but laugh and shrug it off. That’s what’s so refreshing about Ari—he never takes himself too seriously. And if you’re wondering why you haven’t heard of this Byron Bay surfer-artist-barista extraordinaire before, it’s not because you’ve been living under a rock, but rather because Ari left his phone in Bali and hasn’t cared to find another one since. Luckily, I caught him in his natural habitat—just before he jumped into the water for a morning surf.
words: Vanessa Ratjen
photos: Jack Coleman
“thE capri basically gets the chicks.” photo: Jack Coleman
Q:You’re the only out-of-country surfer in Almost Cut My Hair. How did Ryan find you?
A: Kind of through chance, just through a friend who told him, “I know this guy who’s interested in riding your board.” (The Rabbit’s Foot) And it started from there up at Noosa a few years ago.
Q: Had you ridden one of his boards before?
A: No, just seen photos of it and knew his work, and just saw that and was like, “I just have to get that thing. It’s incredible.” I was obsessed by how unusual it was. And then I ended up buying it and, yeah, and was so stoked.
Q: When did you first pick up a finless board?
A: Maybe in like, 2009? Something like that. But when I was little I used to always try to stand up on boogie boards. It’s just playful, hey? It’s just playful I think, whenever you get on the Rabbit’s Foot or anything like that. You’re just playing a different game. It just cuts out all the macho bullshit, I reckon, too. It’s not like who can do the best turn, it just cuts out all that shit away, and brings it just down to fun, I reckon.
Q: Give me a tip on going finless—how does it all go down?
A: I don’t know, it’s just like anything, you just put in the time and it comes to you. I’ve always been interested in offbeat things like that, the little obscurities in surfing, whether it’s an unusual wave or an unusual board or whatever. I guess I was just inclined to it—looking into that type of thing. It suits me maybe.
Q: Are you interested in making any of your own boards?
A: Yeah, I have done it in the past. And, most of them—they float and they paddle and they catch waves—but like, they’re not a refined finished thing. They just work, you know? I’ve done it and it’s interesting, but it’s not something I really care about. Just leave it to the pros, ay? I reckon. There’s just too many intricacies to master in just five boards—just leave it to the dudes, let them work it out for me.
Q: You like them weird, how many boards do you have?
A: Oh, I think Raf counted the other day. Between Raf and I, like, close to 60? Yeah, but lots of them are shedded because they’re all washed and pieces, and need some work. But.. way too many. The whole backyard is like chock-a-block full. It’s fun.
Q: And you still ride finned-boards? What are you riding today?
A: Yeah, I probably ride finned-boards more often than I ride finless, just because you need the right wave. Today I’ll probably ride like a 1969 Shane Vee Bottom. I think, yeah, that’s probably what I’ll ride.
“The Rookie” photo: Jack Coleman