Our newest addition to the Sideways team riders is Benny Williams - a Gold Coast local with three decades of surfing under his belt. We caught up with him to get to know him a little better.
Sideways: How and when did you start surfing?
Benny: I was probably around eight years old. My first wave was at the wreck in Byron - my dad was my teacher; a surfer that moved to Australia in the early 80’s from the icy waters of Wales.
Sideways: Why did you take up surfing?
Benny: Well, if your dad’s a surfer and you’re not… that means you’ve got to be on the beach with your mum and watch the embarrassing act of her waving him in!
Sideways: What are your favourite surf spots?
Benny: I can’t go past my home break of South Straddie, but do love Big Groyne, Sharkies and the Alley when conditions get larger.
Sideways: What are your favourite spots you’ve travelled to surf?
Benny: I love Indonesia, but if I had to pick my favourite surf destination, I would have to go with the north shore of Oahu, although I am pretty much on first name basis with the doctors at Kahuku medical centre - I just love pushing my comfort zone, which can happen on a daily basis over there. Solid sunset, although not quite a perfect wave, if you can survive out here at 15ft plus, you’re good to go just about anywhere.
Sideways: What’s a perfect wave to you?
Benny: I love a long lined up wave: 6-8ft. Something you can throw a few arcs on before lining up the inside tube section, like my local on a good south swell. Turns and tubes over sand - that’s the ticket!
Sideways: Who are your favourite surfers?
Benny: All time favourite surfer would have to be the late “Buttons” Kaluhiokalani, how can you not love that fella, just the coolest style and so radical for his time. He even eats sand - now that’s a next level beach lover! Locally, during day trips to Greenmount back in the 90’s I was always in awe of your man Jay Phillips, Neil Purchase Jnr, Wayne Dean and can’t go past the smooth style of Adrian Sclater.
Sideways: What are your favourite boards and shaper?
Benny: Anything with that classic feel - I love a board with the wide point forward and I’m not scared of a bit of volume. I’m loving my new 8’6 Free Flight edge board. It's fun to ride in small waves, but doesn’t hesitate to paddle it out at maxing sunset either. I’m loving anything Free Flight these days, not a board Phil’s making I couldn’t see in my quiver.
Sideways: What are a few of your sponsors?
Benny: Back in the day I used to get boards from Beckham Surfboards at Tugun. Also, Richard “Wig” Smith of Catalyst Surfboards Rainbow Bay was looking after me. Both are great shapers and top blokes too.
Sideways: What is favourite thing to do when you're not surfing?
Benny: Just love spending time with my family. Kids can drive you crazy but family life is golden. Don’t even mind a spot of gardening.
Sideways: What are your latest/best results?
Benny: I’m not a huge comp surfer, but I was a QLD longboard champ in 2017. I finished 3rd at the Aussies last year, and runner up in QLD titles in both longboard and logger this year (masters division). I do have a malfunction under my belt - many moons ago!
Sideways: Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years?
Benny: Just following swells around the globe. Cruisey, stress-free living with an organic farm by the sea. That’s the dream.
Sideways: Would you like to thank anyone?
Benny: Have to thank all my family members. My dad has always been a big part of my surfing. He kept the boards coming in those grom days, and I was really good at breaking them! My wife has been pretty cool with me spending a lot of time in the water, and big thanks to Sideways and Free Flight, giving me inspiration to stay fit and focused so I can keep doing my thing for many more years to come!