Take the stylized approach of Craig Anderson and dash in a bit of Mitch Coleborn tenacity and Ozzie Wright’s zest for getting down the line and you’ll begin to see the concoction that makes up Eli Steele. All the tricks, a nice style and a blooming power game. That and he’s well-versed on Scientology, religion, politics and instead of naming a supermodel as his favorite woman, he chose the inspiring Malala Yousafzai. “She really puts the Western World’s way of life in perspective. Most girls her age couldn’t care less about anything other than how many followers they have or how many likes their latest picture has.” What a little legend.
Needless to say, this kid has our undivided attention.
Above you’ll find a sample of his surfing and below are some fresh images from Matt O’Brien and the full interview.
WHAT YOUTH: DESCRIBE YOUR HOMETOWN ON THE SUNSHINE COAST.
ELI STEELE: It’s kinda confused. There are a bunch of different scenes and everyone has their own little clique. No one likes to venture out of their comfort zone. I’m exactly the same though. I do enjoy coming home though — it has some of the most picturesque landscapes. The Glasshouse Mountains are only a half hour drive, Noosa is an hour North, Byron Bay is three hours South. It’s quite central really, on the East coast of Australia. Plus, it makes doing road trips down the coast all the more fun.
WHO ARE YOUR THREE FAVORITE SURFERS? That’s a hard question, three surfers in the world…I like watching surfers who have a fluid and smooth style, and they surf to the wave, not try to force things to happen. I guess you could say Rob Machado and Craig Anderson. But then at the same time I also find watching guys like Chippa Wilson, guys who are super technical, really exciting and I like the direction they are heading with their surfing. I think it will help grow the sport and appeal to a wider audience. Watching guys do a cutback to foam climb really isn’t that exciting to most people, let alone someone who doesn’t live near the beach and hasn’t surfed before.
WHAT SURF PARTS GET YOU PSYCHED TO SURF? I like Andy’s section in Trilogy. His raw power and aggression goes into every wave. Kalani Robb used to have a few bangers getting around too. He was one of those guys who had that smooth style and combined it with flare and variation, I found it easy to enjoy watching his surfing.
PHOTO: Matt O’Brien
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE SURF FILMS? Growing up, Doped Youth was always a favorite. I also watched 156 Tricks about 1000 times too, that also got me keen to go screw around and not just do three to the beach, but just have fun. Most people outside of Australia have probably never heard of those movies, but damn they’re good. I also used to have Performers 3, that was probably my most watched surf video. These were all on VCR too, years before the DVD revolution.
WHAT WAS THE LAST BOOK YOU READ? Going Clear, Scientology, Hollywood & The Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright. I’ve been quite interested in Scientology for a while now. You know, what its about, what they believe in and what they stand for. But I’ve found it quite difficult to track down anything rock solid, they are very discreet and keep all dealings internal. Most of the stuff I’ve found is of people who were in the church and left, which according to those people is a hard enough task to do. Mainly their stories of what they encountered, trying to expose them I guess. I find the topic of religion itself enthralling, its very political and controversial. Everyone seems to have a different idea about it.
PHOTO: Matt O’Brien
FAVORITE JOURNEY? The trip to the U.S. I did in September last year while filming for Seven Signs. It was so cool to do that trip the way we did it, we drove up to San Francisco from L.A. We went the back roads, all up through the mountains, stopped in at Mammoth, Big Bear and Yosemite. Being there at that time of year (autumn) right when all the leaves were starting to change colors and fall off the trees was an experience within itself. The colors were insane! It was a personal highlight for me, that, and getting to go to New York. NY was epic, I can’t even explain how rad that place it.
FAVORITE WOMAN IN THE WORLD? I’m going to say Malala Yousafzai. I find it so crazy how someone like that wants to go to school and get an education and is so passionate and daring. Even after being shot in the head by members of the Taliban, you can’t deny the fact of how determined she is to make a change in the world, and not just for herself. I haven’t read the book yet, but I have researched about her and I think everyone should read it and learn more. It really puts into perspective the western world and way of life. Most girls her age couldn’t care less about anything other then how many followers they have or how many likes their latest picture has.
PHOTO: Matt O’Brien
WHAT DO YOU LIKE PUTTING ON YOUR BOARDS? I just get someone else to do it. I fucking suck at anything even remotely affiliated with art. I like to either let someone else draw, or just a basic resin color. I had Wade Goodall draw on 2 of my boards a few months back and when I got them back I was blown away, the detail in everything was mental. The man is talented!
WHAT BOARDS ARE YOU RIDING? At the moment, I’ve been riding boards from Alex Crews (ACS). I’ve really been digging the Coffee Stain and the Monster Models. I’m not that clued up on surfboard design in regards to rockers/bottom curves/fin positioning, but I know that I prefer my boards shorter and wider than most people. I like that they seem to be more well rounded in all conditions that I encounter. I’m not the type of guy who has a different board for each day of the week and each increment of swell size. If its over 5 foot, I’ll start looking for something bigger just for the paddling advantage. I also like riding different boards, old twin fins and single fins and longboards. My dad used to be pretty into collecting old boards so we have quite a few laying around.
DO YOU STRESS ON COMPETING? I used to a lot. Especially when I was younger and I thought that they literally meant everything to having a career in surfing. It wasn’t until I started doing well in them that I realized one day that no one outside of my group of friends would care that I came 1st or 2nd or whatever in some random under 16 contest. It was probably also around the time that I started to realize what was happening in the real world, and that you can’t write your results down on a resume to apply for a job doing anything.
PHOTO: Matt O’Brien