Story by Max Zagorski for Coastalwatch
When you’re speeding down the face of a 30-foot monster of a wave it’s always a near death experience, so keeping a smile on your face is usually out of the question – unless you’re Justen Allport. Notorious for his crazy desire to surf some of the biggest waves in the world, ‘Jughead’ as he’s known, isn’t one to shy away from a challenge.
As one of Australia’s most legendary big wave surfers, his success has been showcased at the Oakley’s Big Wave Awards in 2015, where he received the award for people’s choice. But charging as hard as Justen does doesn’t come without risks. In the 2016 epic Red Bull Cape Fear event, after dominating his heat in record sized waves and with his wife Katie and three groms on the cliff at Cape Solander, he suffered a serious injury resulting in a trip to hospital. Regardless, hours after being released, he was back at the beach watching the rest of the competition.
With an overwhelmingly positive attitude, Justen’s stoke for life is contagious. Currently based on NSW’s Central Coast, Justen lives a humble life outside of surfing. A firefighter and family man, he loves spending time with his kids, who are avid surfers themselves.
Jughead’s family has recently travelled to Sydney’s Northern Beaches for the 2017 Hurley BL’s Blast Off, one of the biggest grom comps in the world. Originally created by 1988 World Surfing Champion Barton Lynch, the competition is currently in its 12th year. Kids under the age of 14 come from up and down the coast to participate. Unlike other competitions, each surfer gets at least two opportunities to surf, as well as a complete breakdown and coaching after each heat. It aims to introduce kids to competitive surfing in a fun and friendly environment. It’s a really unique event, “Usually I’m not too keen on the comps for them, but when they get a good wave and see the look on their face it reminds me of when I was a kid and how happy it made me feel” says Justen.
To the Allport family, surfing is much more than just a sport. Their senses fizz at the idea of surfing as a family and do so twice a day, egging each other on to paddle into the best waves. Even their pet dog gets in on the action, “she always grabs our leg ropes and chases us into the water”, says Jughead’s daughter Millie (13). All of Jughead’s children have grown up surfing, their first memories of still vivid in their frothing little minds. “We would paddle and I would lay on dad’s back and then he’d get up. We would try to do a turn but it didn’t work”, laughed his son Archie (11).
Despite their age, the Allport kids have already done a few surf trips with mum and dad to Bali and the Mentawais. “We went night surfing at Keramas altogether”, says Jughead’s eldest daughter Charlie. “We went out about 8 o’clock and we could barely see, but we had it to ourselves so it was heaps fun”. Some might say surfing a reef break at night so young may be a tad scary. After all, seeing a few groms catching six foot waves can be unnerving, but to the Allports it’s just another way of having fun and getting the most out of life. Jughead proudly shares “there are guys paddling out being like is this kid for real? How is he on the biggest wave of the day!” Obviously fearlessness runs in the family, just watch out for the day that Charlie, Millie and Archie join their Dad in a big day at the Cape, it might not be that far off.