Swede takes liking to our warm waves
By ED SOUTHORN
ANDRE Gustafsson was the No.5-ranked pro-snow skier in moguls in Sweden.
That was until he discovered surfing, after a beach holiday in Brazil.
From then on, like millions of surfers around the world, he was hooked on riding waves, rather than bouncing over snow bumps.
After subsequent travelling in Europe and South America, trying his best to surf as well as he could, and spending four months at Sydney's famous beach Manly, where he surfed just about every day, Mr Gustafsson found himself back home in Scandinavia.
"I'd been travelling for about five years was looking to study in a place where I could surf," he said yesterday. "When I found out Southern Cross University had a surfing course, I just couldn't believe it."
Mr Gustafsson enrolled eight months ago in the SCU Tweed Heads campus Diploma of Sport Management (Surfing Studies). "In Sweden we only get wind swell, so the waves are not as%5owerful as here.
"And you need a six millimetre wetsuit with gloves and boots in winter.
"Sometimes you have to grease your face with fat to protect it from the cold.
"Even in a wetsuit, your body is numb after two hours in the water and you can have real problems managing the board.
"Some of our best surfing spots are near my home of Angelholm, on the west coast.
"I had a surf agreement in my last job, that I didn't work if there was surf, and some of my friends had similar working conditions."
Mr Gustafsson has certainly enjoyed surfing without a wetsuit in much-warmer waters.
"I find the surfing in Australia so free, just to be able to wear board shorts and nothing else."
Even though he loves it here, he is still getting used to big crowds in the water.
He plans to eventually return home to Scandinavia.
"The surf scene in Sweden is small and I plan to get into the market with a surf-snow-skateboarding shop that stocks environmentally-friendly surf clothes and boards.
"With today's good-quality wetsuits, some even with internal heating, the technology makes it possible to surf anywhere."