Photos by Duncan Macfarlane
Hometown: Margaret River, Western Australia
Shaun Chun Chunny Chig Chiggy Chiggums Manners has arrived. Did you see him get off the bus? No? That’s because he didn’t catch the bus. The fucking freak fell out of the clouds straight onto the face of eight-foot North Point, just a stone’s throw from where he grew up. What the hell does that even mean? Allow me to clarify: in the recently released RAGE 3, Chun lands THE BIGGEST STRAIGHT AIR ever caught on film. Don’t believe? Go ahead and watch right now. I’ll wait right here for you to come back and apologise for doubting me.
So, who exactly is this Shaun Manners and why is he so damn good all of a sudden? Well, the short answer is he’s 22, he’s been that good for a couple of years already and although he has a killer smile, his two front teeth are slowly dying and will one day fall out, courtesy of a wipeout that snapped them in half last year. The long answer can be found here, in this interview that Vaughan Deadly did with him.
Ok, we better talk about the swells that just hit because the East Coast was firing, Vicco was pumping too and the West Coast got flogged by the mother fuckin’ 50-year storm! The very same one from Point Break. I know you were in Byron, but being a West Oz kid originally, did that turn you inside out to be missing those waves at home?
It’s a hard one man. If Instagram didn’t exist, I wouldn’t have even known about it and I wouldn’t really care. Actually, I don’t mind people getting good waves at all. That doesn’t bum me out. What does get to me a bit is when people are live streaming tow sessions on reefs around home. I was pretty trippin’ on that. Going live from The Box and stuff. I dunno, that’s pretty fucked. Ya can’t be doing that. But then, the waves did look sick and, of course, I was like… fuck I wish I was there.
But thankfully the waves were pumping on the East Coast too and you got your share. I won’t say where because I live right near where you surfed and I don’t want it blowin’ out either.
Whoa, fuck! I just saw someone nearly crash their car. Holy shit that was crazy!
What happened? They ok?
They nearly drove off the side of a cliff! Fuck… Anyway sorry, man.
Where are you off to?
I’m going to Bangaz pub. I was told they’re open today.
Oh, man, that first schooey is gonna taste so good!
I know, man. I’m gonna get a steak and a couple of Tooheys.
That’s just up the road from where you’re living?
Yeah, man, I’m living on a little farm at Talofa with Jake Vinny (Vincent). Whoa! I just drove past Ellis! Yeah, Ellis (Ericson) used to live in the same little house with Beau Foster and it’s basically been getting passed down forever.
That house is a throwback to iconic 70s North Coast living.
Yeah, it is a bit like that. It’s been cool but it’s coming to an end, which is sad. The landlord has to sell it. He doesn’t want to but he’s having a few issues, so it’s gonna be sad to see it go. We’ll enjoy the last couple of months of it. Take advantage of the time we have left, because it really is such a beautiful place to live.
When you first came over from the West Coast as a 17-year-old, was that the first house you made your home?
No, but I was always hanging there. My first place was a little house in Bangalow with Toby Cregan and Creed McTaggart. My bedroom was their laundry. Then a couple of years ago, I did six months or so living in my swag on the farm. Then I finally worked my way into a room.
So you lived in a swag for six months at a house that was a notorious party palace?
Yep. It was pretty bad. It wasn’t good for sleeping but it was fun.
It was a full cultural epicentre there during that time. I’d go up there, and as well as all the best free surfers in the country, there’d be artists and bands hanging out. It was legitimately fizzing with creatives who have since gone on to really do some incredible shit.
A lot of friends from Melbourne would stop in on tours and they’d have a crew with them. We had the Dumb Punts, the Pist Idiots, The Pinheads, fucken everyone. They’d just come through and we’d pretty much send it. It still happens. Crew just appear in the driveway keen to rip in and we just send them on their way! They’re like, ‘Hey, I know so-and-so and he said I could swing by here and pick some mushies,’ and the landlord is just like, ‘Get the fuck outta here mate!’
What was the attraction of the East Coast for you? Growing up in WA you’ve got no shortage of quality surf, how did you end up in the Rainbow Region?
Creedo invited me over for a couple of weeks when I was 17. He and Tobes put me in the laundry and that was kind of it. I stayed. I don’t think I had a choice. I dunno why I wanted to do it. I think I was ready to get out of Margaret River; I’d grown up there my whole life and it felt like if I wanted to give myself a shot at a surfing career that wasn’t the greatest place to do it. Even though the waves are better there, all my friends in the East were doing great stuff and I actually felt like the variety of the waves and the different ways you could surf them, it felt good for my surfing.
A childhood spent surfing around Margies is pretty mental, but there’s not a lot of easy-access places to learn. You’re kinda straight on reefs and into swell right from the get-go.
Yeah, it’s a lot like that. I’d go surfing with my Dad just down from Gas Bay. Down the beach, there’s a little one foot bit of sand and that was about it. I wasn’t really a natural charger. Once we started going out on the reefs I found that really scary. All the kids from there now are charging, but I definitely pulled back a bit and got called a pussy!
So, you didn’t feel natural in heavy waves or surfing over reefs?
Not at all. But in my favour, I had my Dad with me and that would keep me out there and give me the confidence to keep trying.
Your dad Matt was a pro surfer, right?
Yeah, he did the tour back when anyone could basically turn up and surf in the comps. Before the Qualifying Series, each event had trials, so he spent a few years doing that. He and Matt Branson were best mates, and that was a pretty sick era for pro surfing.
Far out. That is an era of absolute core madness! Full tilt 90s go hard or go home vibes. So you had your dad Matt in your corner, when did you feel like you were starting to get good at surfing?
Well, I surfed with my Dad a lot. I found an old diary from Year 2 the other day and almost every entry says, ‘Gonna go surfing with Dad on the weekend.’ I remember the teacher telling me, ‘You need to write something different.’ And I remember thinking, ‘But that’s what I’m doing.’ (Laughs) I always wanted to be like my Dad. He was a hero to me. But I also had Creed who was a bit older than me, so he was someone I looked up to as well.
So did you do the usual junior thing? Scholastics, Regionals, Taj’s Small Fries, Pro Juniors, etc.?
Yeah, I loved Taj’s Small Fries event. I did the state rounds and the pro juniors. The thing was, I had a bit of money saved up and I wanted to go on a surf trip, but I did the pro juniors and lost in the first rounds and spent all my money and pretty much had nothing to show for it. I had a shit time. I thought the people were rude. I didn’t like what was going on and for a while after that, I really didn’t surf much because it just wasn’t any fun.
Were you talking with Creed about how the comp scene was making you feel? Because those guys didn’t really have anyone they could process that with. I think Creed was saying he had a team manager telling him that comps were the only way. It must have been comforting to have someone who’d been down that path and found their own way to help you see that there was another road you could take also?
For sure, but it wasn’t just advice. Creed and Toby and all those guys roped me in and gave me opportunities to actually pursue that path as well. They got me on trips, gave me a place to stay, kept me active and involved, so it went beyond just telling me there was another way. It was awesome because there had been that one brief moment when I was like, ‘Well if I’m not gonna do comps, what the hell am I going to do?’
What did you old man say when you said you were gonna flag the comp thing?
He was pretty chill with it. At first, he was like, ‘I don’t know if I think that’s a good idea.’ And I said, ‘Well, I’m not gonna win any comps.’ And he said, ‘Fair enough.’ I mean, for a while after that he was probably wondering what I was doing with my life because I was just piss-farting around, but then about maybe a year or two later we went surfing together at Gnaraloo and whatever I did on that impressed him and he was pretty frothing. But he was always frothing.
Ha! Yes, because in the west if you put it all on the line on a big heavy day, that means everything. It’s better than winning a comp.
Yeah and that’s what’s funny because I used to get jealous and angry about people beating me in a contest, but then when you get a bit older and your priorities change, getting good waves and surfing them well can give you a feeling that’s pretty fucken sick in its own way. I dunno, stuff like that helps you to feel like you made the right choices.
I’ve told you this before, but when we first met I actually underestimated you. I knew you ripped, but for a while I was worried about you being caught up in this incredible hurricane of talent and youth and wild fucking partying that was going on in your crew at the time. That world at times can seem like one endless piss up and I guess I was worried about how you were gonna navigate that. What occurs to me now is that fuck, you were just a kid! And kids need a bit of that sometimes. Get away from home. Break away from the structures that formed you. Push some limits. Take things too far. Pull it back. It’s all a part of figuring out who you are and what’s gonna make you happy. It takes time to do that.
For sure. That’s exactly what those years were like for me. I thought I was doing something but I actually wasn’t. I was just looking around. It was such a different world. I was having heaps of fun, but yeah, they were formative times for sure.
In my experience, two things keep a kid’s head above water in those formative times. The first is always to go surfing. Never let the partying or the excuses get between you and the water. And the second is to have a curious mind about the world outside of surfing. When I think of Noa, Creed, Toby, and the RAGE crew, I see people who love the fuck out of surfing but also out of life. They’re interested in a bigger picture. And it seems like these past two years, your natural flow with life is in a very similar place. You seem to be in a place where you know who you are, what kind of surfing you want to be doing, and what makes you happy.
Thanks, mate. I definitely attribute a lot of that to the good group of friends I get to go surfing with. It’s so crazy, because this is exactly what I’ve always wanted to do with my life, and there have been times when I did question what I was doing and whether I was capable of getting to where I wanted to be. But I’ve had these influences in my life and they’re all so different, but hanging out with them and going surfing with them has taught me a lot and its pretty fucken sick.
What is the magic of the RAGE posse?
I think it’s that everyone’s really driven to make really good shit. We want to do stuff. I mean, yeah, we like to have fun and whatever, but when people are working they want to make sure they’re putting a lot of effort in. Beau is crazy in the shaping bay now. He’s so committed to making good boards. Same with Ellis. Everyone has their passions and everyone is pretty critical of themselves too whether it’s with shaping, surfing, or making music or films.
But surely there’s a competitive element to it as well. With your clip in RAGE 3, that to me felt like ‘Ok, I’m not gonna sit back and be the grom on this team anymore.’
I think everyone just wants to do the best that they can do personally. For me, I just wanted to prove to myself that I was better than one wave. The clip I’d made before RAGE 3 was a lot of fun to make, and I had an incredible year, but I felt like that one wave at Gnaraloo pulled it through. For RAGE 3, wanted to pull together enough surfing that would create an entire movie start to finish. I tried really hard and ended up tweaking my body out, but my goal was to try and get really skitz there for a second.
Mission accomplished man, but I have to say, that North Point straighty is the biggest air ever made. I dunno if I’ve ever seen anything better? So you nailed that. My question is, where do you go from here? Do you keep wrecking the body and soul just trying to go bigger, or has reaching that level of surfing changed your perspective and rearranged your priorities? Because that clip is the deadest game changer.
Well, the body is all good, so that’s good. But yeah, surfing like that takes a toll for sure. I think after all that I’d just love to get better at linking stuff altogether. I mean, I want to keep going for big turns like that, but it is daunting. Surfing has so much to offer and I enjoy thinking about it differently. I’ve been riding some different boards during COVID trying to iron out my style, but that’s not to say I won’t be trying to improve on what I did last time. You always want to surf better.