Adam Robertson has turned surfing from his passion into his profession.
The Portland-born surfer spent eight years riding waves across the globe on the Word Surf League (WSL) tour, but one of his biggest achievements was on the waves of the Surf Coast.
Adam not only won the preceding trials event to secure his wildcard entry into the 2009 Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, he also won all his heats and made it to the final – the first local male surfer to achieve the feat in about 40 years.
After leaving the WSL tour in 2011, he joined Surfing Victoria as a highperformance coach in 2012, and was appointed as the organisation’s chief executive officer in 2015, where he remains today.
My Coastal Home visited Adam and his family at their home in Jan Juc.
I grew up at Cape Bridgewater, about 20 kilometres west of Portland. I went to school in Portland and then pursued a surfing career.
My wife Hannah is a teacher, and we have two kids – Teddy is five and Violet is one. I have a younger sister, Nikki; she’s a primary school teacher.
On being a surfer then a CEO
It’s definitely difficult; I can see why lots of professional athletes struggle when they get into a working life. I’ve been really lucky to have a lot of support within Surfing Victoria. The workplace there is a great workplace to be in, and I think that’s part of the reason why the transition from surfing all day has been so easy.
On Surfing Victoria
We’ve got a few things that are on the horizon that will hopefully be really beneficial to the members of Surfing Victoria, but they’ll also put Surfing Victoria in a great space for after the 2020 Olympics, where surfing will be a sport. If surfing does boom after the Olympics, we want to be prepared for that.
Basically, at the moment, we go from the skate park to the surf to the BMX track. I love doing it with the kids. My hobbies revolve around surfing, but they also revolve around being outside and being active.
We spent a month in Noosa earlier in the year, which was unreal – Teddy and Violet were basically in their wetsuits all day long surfing and running and jumping in the water – and we’re going to Hawaii in a couple of weeks. As a family, as a kid, my holidays revolved at the beach, and I think ours will be the same.
About eight years ago, I started trying to collect boards that were the same as my Dad’s. If I can find ones that were actually his, that’s a huge bonus. I ride a lot of boards – these ones are probably the most interesting for a surf fan, there’s a lot of famous shapers who have made these boards; they’re not just the run-of-the-mill boards.
Runner-up trophy, 2009 Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach
It’s a little unbelievable, still… not that I thought it was unachievable, it’s just something that you watch for so many years, and to be in that position, when it comes to reality, is something a bit surreal. It’s still a little bit like that. It’s something I’m proud of, and something that brings back some really fond memories – achieving something you’ve worked towards for a really long time, and being able to share it with your family and friends.
It’s something that’s nice that we can all do together, sometimes at five in the morning – get the pens and pencils out and start drawing cars, or oceans, or sea creatures. More recently, we’ve been painting on rocks together, which is pretty good fun.
I’ve had a Polaroid since maybe 2003, and taken a lot of pictures over the journey. There’s a lot of memories there. It’s a really good way to meet friends, because a lot of time when you get out a Polaroid people go “oh, can you take a photo of us?” I hate taking lots of pictures on a digital camera, because I never get them printed; they just sit on a hard drive of a computer. Whereas with these ones, they’re on the fridge, they’re around the house, they’re something in your hand.
Art from around the world
When I travelled a lot, I tried to get things that would remind me of that particular place. There were a lot of places that you went that you’re really lucky to go, but also they’re places that not everyone gets to go to, so you try to take a part of that place home. We had this done from when we were married – it’s based on a Google Maps picture of Cape Bridgewater, which is where Hannah and I got married.
Megan Weston is the artist, she’s in Barwon Heads, so we were lucky enough for her to do this for us and it came out great; we love the colours.