Michael describes his Lost Boys Foil Club as embodying the spirit of Peter Pan – a group of middle aged guys who have “never grown up” and possess at their essence a liberated soul, vitality, and childlike enthusiasm for the ocean. Although exemplifying this spirit of innocent wonder, they are also hard core, focused, and professional when it comes to riding big waves, setting them apart from the weekend warrior.
The founding members of the Lost Boys include some singular and historically pioneering individuals in the Sydney surfing community. These passionate innovators were the first guys in the region to adopt surf foiling, bringing the group together in 2018. Notable members include Matt Grainger, founder, CEO and coaching director of the renowned Manly Surf School; Tom Carroll, surfing world champion and big wave legend; and James Casey, one of Australia’s most dominant athletes in stand-up-paddle, now leading in the development of foiling SUP downwind and waves, including his own brand of boards.
The Lost Boys are flying towards new horizons in the sport. They are experimenting with a departure from classic “back foot” feel surfing to the thrill of long foiling rides on different kinds of waves, with sizes and angles normally inaccessible to surfers. On Sydney’s outer reef, the group is experiencing and creating what is almost entirely a new sport - new spots, new style, and pushing the limits of discovery on waves. The Lost Boys are redefining commitment to their new discipline.
“As of now, big wave surf foiling isn’t very accessible to the average person,” Michael states. “It takes a lot of time, money, and commitment to get good. You have to be able to access foil equipment and jet skis, which are expensive, but most importantly, you have to have the right brain.” Foil brain and an obsession with surfing are absolutely a requirement. The Lost Boys enjoy teaching and sharing their love of big wave foiling, but riders are obliged to have the correct edge of insanity to reinforce discipline and long-term commitment to the group and the sport. Michael reinforces that “the core members have invested in me and developed my foiling ability, and we’d like to carry on the tradition with people who are also committed and have the time and energy to be part of our group.” Big wave foiling’s intensity and potential for injury requires a team who are absolutely dedicated to each other, to innovation, training, and getting better in the sport. Strong partnerships are a must, as well as Michael puts it, “money, time, and madness!”
For now, although plenty of curious folk watch the Lost Boys surfing their home break from the headlands, the club remains a small family. The reverence this group has for the open ocean, and the passion for adrenaline-fueled, precise execution of foiling skills down a big wave is still unconventional and elusive to most.
Defining the Waterfamily
Along with the Lost Boys Foil Club, Michael’s family, including his wife and young daughter, carry on the waterman tradition and culture. Already enamored with bodyboarding and the water, Michael’s daughter has “a lot of trust in the world and a strong spirit of discovery. She is already a natural waterwoman.” The family adventures together on surf trips to legendary destinations in Indonesia and Fiji, and make the ocean central to the heart of their family and their daily lives.
Whether it’s big wave surfing, bodyboarding, spear fishing, paddling, free diving, or open ocean swimming, Michael, his family, and their friends embrace the ocean as their defining and most vital partnership, one of all-encompassing love and respect.