ROGER TITCOMBE HAS BEEN SURFING HERE FOR 45 YEARS AND OPERATING REAL SURF FOR 16. IT'S FAIR TO SAY HE KNOWS THE BAY.
If you've ever surfed or paddled the Bay there's a high chance your gear came from Real Surf in Kingsford Smith street. Owner, Roger, is a stalwart of the Lyall Bay surf scene having lived in the bay for 45 years and run the Real Surf shop for 16 of those. Before Real Surf, there was Goodtime Boards in Coutts Street, Kilbirnie and as a shaper Roger has put three generations of surfers on the water. Roger took five to talk to us about the Bay, the beach and what it's like running one of NZ's only beach front surf shops.
Roger raised his family in Lyall Bay and son Matt still lives locally and surfs regularly. "the Family grew up here and are part of the community, Maranui Surf Club and Houghton Bay School". It's safe to say he knows the beach and breaks inside and out.
Real Surf in Lyall Bay almost didn't come about, Roger was originally heading for semi retirement in the Wairarapa, saw a for rent sign on his way to the corner for a surf and in "a moment of insanity" went in and signed a lease. The shop has gone from strength to strength and a couple of recent expansions have been made to fit in the vast range of boards, wetsuits and surf gear.
Roger has seen a few changes in the area particularly Kilbirnie development and Airport Retail Complex. "The Bay is great for living, everything you need is here, you don't have to head into Wellington. The cafes have made a difference with his local the Centennial, iconic Maranui and the Spruce Goose able to "cheer up your day". The building that Real Surf is in on the corner of Lyall Parade and Kingsford Smith Street has grown from about 10 tenants to 20.
Roger has noticed a change in the quality of the surf in Lyall Bay "Back in the day before the rock infill along the airport seawall reduced the wave energy, and the sand that used to be put back on the beach after a southerly was taken to the landfill (because its considered contaminated), the surf was epic, we still have good days but the quality has decreased. With the proposed extension to Wellington Airport there are some concerns that the Bay could be effected further, the Airport have proposed a wave focuser in an attempt to mitigate this.
There's always something to watch in the Bay besides people enjoying aquatic pursuits. The sight of planes landing sideways and waves trying to break through the seawall during storms. Visits by schools of Dolphins and pods of their larger cousins Orcas
At the moment surfing is booming and as the biggest core surf shop in New Zealand and with shop manager Jeremy and factory manager Doug, Real Surf is pumping. In addition to selling boards and wetsuits Roger is still shaping a few custom boards, repairing the ones that come off worse after a hard ride and the team run regular lessons for those keen to get into the waves. Check out Real Surf Cnr Lyall Parade and KingsfordSmith Street or online at www.realsurf.co.nz