Remembering Allan Byrne
Legendary board shaper, Allan Byrne died dramatically in a motorbike accident in Bali in 2013. Good friend and World Surfaris ambassador, David Scard famously scattered his beloved friend and mentors ashes at G-Land shortly after.
AB, known for his Byrning Spears and their famous six-channel bottom designs were made for perfect tubing waves just like the ones Scardy spent 10 years surfing during his guiding days at Joyo’s Surf Camp.
This is the story of Scardy’s favorite AB board and how it came to end up in the World Surfaris board room where it sits perched on the wall alongside Gary ‘Kong’ Elkerton’s 89 Pipe Masters winning board.
I recently placed one of my favourite boards in the World Surfaris Showroom. It is a 7’10 Byrning Spears gun shaped by Alan Byrne. Like most boards they have a story, which is what I love about all boards, they all have some kind of a story.
After doing numerous trips to Hawaii in my early 20’s and spending plenty of time in the barrel while guiding in G-Land, I thought it would be a good idea to surf in the HIC Pipe Pro which they hold in February every year, although I think it is now called the Volcom Pro. Allan Byrne, AB as we all knew him was one of the best Pipeline surfers in the late 70’s and 80’s. He actually came second in the Pipe Masters in 1981 so he knew very well what boards were needed. He loved the fact his boards were often ridden in serious waves.
The 7’10’ was designed for second reef and maxing first reef Pipe. The board had a lot of entry rocker, AB’s classic knifey rails and small fins. As it goes, I didn’t really get a chance to surf big Pipe on this particular board. I surfed Sunset and Backyards however Pipe didn’t really fire the time I was there. The following season though it came with me to Bali and G-land and that is where is stayed.
Having surfed the board several times in G-Land I was really comfortable on it and felt I could put the board where I wanted too with no hesitation. In 2007 I was doing a 6 month stay in Bali with My wife Leigh and baby Tommy. Not long after our arrival in May a massive red blob appeared on the WAM chart. I had been studying the Navy WAM charts for years trying to figure out what made G-land and its maze of sections work, so when I saw this thing I knew it was going to be big and really West. As the days got closer it was also becoming apparent that the winds were looking exceptionally light! Looking at the tides it was all pointing to Outside Corner.
It wasn’t really that long ago, 2007, however if the same Swell had of appeared now the forecast would be splashed across all the surfing websites and social media feeds and “boom” instant crowd. There would have been lucky to be a handful of people that actually flew over for the swell so when it arrived there really wasn’t too many people. There was a massive 2.5 meter high tide in the morning and I went down to check Ulu’s was already Massive 15ft plus and breaking from the Bomby right around the corner out of sight. Shaun Woolnough from Ulladulla paddled out and got a bomb on his own which was a really ballsy effort considering the cave would have been washed out completely.
I went down to Padang and it was maxed out, but as I walked down the cave a Warung got smashed and washed off the point, the lifeguards where screaming at everyone as a set rolled into the cave and up the stairs. It was really sketchy and I stayed and helped for a little while retrieving some valuable things and taking to higher ground. We grabbed the zodiac and wedged it up the stairs as another set lined up to take away anything on the beach.
That afternoon was lining up perfectly for Outside Corner with super low tides that come with the full moon. I still remember driving over the hill of the Bukit and seeing the lines of swell, single solid lines. I don’s think I have ever frothed this hard to get out into the line up as fast! The winds had died to a light trade and the swell was holding solid 12-15ft, dream come true!!
To say I had the session of a lifetime was an understatement, to that point and for many years after these were the most perfect big waves i had ever surfed. It was seriously like getting a water tennis court and tilting it from 45 to 90 degrees on its side! Needless to say AB’s 7’10 worked incredibly, just like it had been built for that session.
After this day the 7’10 was semi retired, it was replaced with new boards and put aside. I enjoyed occasionally pulling it out and reminiscing about the Ulu’s surf. Fast forward to 2013, Allan Byrne had a tragic motor bike accident in Bali, and passed away in the days after. AB had been such a part of my life in recent years it really hit me hard. The Byrne family had lost a Husband, Father, Brother and so much more. It was a really tough time for them and financially was incredibly hard as AB was not covered with travel insurance so getting him home was an expensive exercise. Needless to say the community and friends stood behind the family, SAND (Surfers Against Natures Destruction) kicked into gear and arranged “The Festival of AB”.
As part of the festival there were some special boards that were donated for Auction. Along the very last shaped AB were boards from Tom Carroll, Sasha Stocker and I was honoured to be able to donate a board and chose the 7’10. To our delight the auction was a massive success raising over $60,000.00. An incredible person by the name of Geoff O’Connell from the South Coast of NSW paid $10,000.00 for my 7’10 ! I couldn’t believe it, and I was just so happy that I could do something like this for the family. The board was then displayed in Geoff’s office at his Ford dealership in Nowra. In the years following Geoff and I kept in touch and talked about surf trips and goings on. A couple of years later talking to Geoff he simply said “It doesn’t feel right that I have this board I want to send it back to you”. Of course I insisted he keep the board however within days it arrived on my doorstep with enough packaging to survive a nuclear blast! What a fantastic human, thank you Geoff, and thank you AB, we miss you.