Ok viewing public we have some hot goss from the man himself Mr Daniel Gross, all the way from Israel.
Even though Daniel’s first language is Hebrew and mine is Aussie we enjoyed a very animated conversation and fruitful discussion about the world of waveski surfing in Israel and what drives a man who lives in a remote village in Kefar Bilu - about a 20 minute drive from his nearest surf break Ashdod aka Rainbow Beach - to do what he does.
To understand the life of an Israeli I would need at least another day or two or even a couple of weeks spent with Daniel to get an insight into his world. But let’s try at least to get a shortened perspective of an Israeli waveski surfer through his lens.
Despite being miles from his nearest surf break, Daniel grew up enjoying the warm ocean currents, year round arid climate and off shore sea breezes which enabled him to surf board ride and wind surf for the most part of the year. It was a lonely existence though as there weren’t many others, if any, who he could share the ocean with.
It was also a short lived experience as for him and many of his childhood friends, National Service took over. It was during this time he suffered an injury which put an end to surf board riding and wind surfing.
It was only by pure accident he found himself having a go on a waveski as part of his rehab. As the story goes, back in the day when the internet was evolving, he was able to view some raw footage of waveski surfing and so he began to imagine himself doing the same. Night after night he would watch and rewatch footage in slow motion and so began his waveski journey.
Talk about a gutsy approach! He taught himself to waveski, execute basic manoeuvres and eskimo roll, and started to get noticed out in the surf. The local crew treated him with absolute respect as the guy with the funny looking surf craft, strapped in and basically committing kamakaze out in big surf.
Daniel was no slouch and in typical fashion put in the hard yards and progressed to a level where he could hold his head high and start to compete. Not in Israel though as there were no competitions. He went further afield and ventured into something bigger: 2004 World Titles in Brasil and 2006 in South Africa. He surprised himself with a higher than expected finish at both championships.
Sadly for him his domestic and work responsibilities took over and his waveski career came to a grinding halt. It was not until just recently that he’s been able to travel internationally again and this is how we find Daniel today leading a team of 4 Israeli waveski surfers participating together in Pantin.
This is a dream come true for Daniel and he’s incredibly proud of the development of waveski in Israel with no less than 40 active competitors and well over a thousand recreational waveski surfers. His vision is to run a World Waveski Surfing Titles in his home break one day maybe sooner rather than later.
In the meantime, he’s focussed on enjoying the beauty and challenges of Pantin and doing the best he can along with his young team.
If you get a chance say g’day to Daniel. You may find yourself enlightened with a thoughtful chat about modern life in Israel and of course waveski surfing everywhere.