When it comes to his homeland of Australia, Starboard SUP rider and former long-distance world champion Michael Booth has certainly been around. Having grown up in New South Wales, lived on Australia’s world-renowned Gold Coast and recently set up shop in Perth, in Western Australia, you’d be forgiven for thinking that many of the Land Down Under’s most well-known spots hold no more secrets for the SUP rider. But, to paraphrase the man himself, Australia (and more specifically, Western Australia) is a land of well-hidden treasures that are just waiting to be discovered. Thankfully, for TotalSUP, he was more than willing to let us discover a few with him.
Michael Booth, you’re a seasoned SUP rider and waterman, as well as being former long-distance world champion. What have you been up to lately and what are you looking forward to?
Lately, I’ve been travelling and doing a lot of racing with events in Hong Kong, Europe, America and Japan over the past couple of months. What I’m really looking forward to is staying put in Australia for a few months once Heavy Water 2017 (which takes place in San Francisco, California, this Friday 20 October) is over.
I want to stay home and learn more about how to foil and sail for a while. It would be great to acquire some new skills in those areas and spend some time perfecting them.
Did you grow up in Perth? Is this where you first took to the water?
No, I actually grew up in Caves Beach (below), which is 30 minutes south of Newcastle, New South Wales, and a 2-hour drive north of Sydney, on Australia’s east coast.
Since then, I lived on the Gold Coast for 7 years, and I have recently move to Western Australia and set up camp in Perth, which is a great city.
Many people associate the Australian coastline with surfing. But what of stand up paddle? What is the SUP scene like nationally at the moment?
The SUP scene in Australia is strong as ever at the moment, and I’d say it’s going from strength to strength. Every time you look out on the ocean or on the many lakes and canals we have you can catch a glimpse of people practising stand up paddle, either solo or in groups.
The race scene is gaining momentum as well, with a lot of great new events and great talent cropping up all the time! The Noosa Festival of Surfing takes place every year, and the King of the Cut and The Doctor are additional major events on the local paddling circuit that are well worth checking out. It’s quite an exciting time for SUP in Australia at the minute.
So many spots in Australia are synonymous with watersports activities. What makes Perth so special in your opinion?
Perth is really great for paddling as you have the Indian Ocean and the Swan River to paddle on. The latter is the perfect place to train, I think.
The south/south-westerly trade winds blow from November to February, which is ideal for downwind paddling. And there is great surf down towards the south, with spots like Margaret River and Yallingup only a short drive away.
Perth has a relaxed culture and small city vibe, and that really suits me down to the ground.
Is there a spot in Perth that you hold in particularly high esteem? What is it about it that you like?
I’ve recently begun to check out the outer reefs just off the coast, which has been fun to foil on. My favourite place to go to in Western Australia would be Margaret River, although, for some reason, it has a habit of taking my paddles away from me!
Are there any riders in Perth at the minute that you think might have serious potential?
In Perth, I’m still not too sure of about the profiles of local paddlers, so I couldn’t really comment. But there are so many great paddlers from Australia right now. It would be hard for me to name just one.
Finally, beyond the world of SUP, why should someone visit Perth in your opinion?
It’s a beautiful part of the world and I genuinely think it’s just so underrated. So many people would just never know to go there, but they’d be missing out!
If you love adventure, both on and off the water, there are endless places to explore! So, fly over, hire a 4WD and you’ll have a ball. I guarantee it!
Photo credits: Michael Booth / Shutterstock