Gorging at Macaronis: Dion’s origins on his paternal side go back to island of Malta, where Paul the Prisoner famously saved his Roman soldier captors from shipwreck and serpent bite in a bay now named after him. Here, Dion deftly keeps the vessel from foundering, and avoids snakes of a different kind at a bay named after the worst pasta shape.
The Man From The Year 2000
Interview by Jed Smith
Photography by DJ Struntz
Dion Agius was the first truly modern surfer. Now, at 28 years old, he confronts the brave new world he helped create.
Dion has just exited the shower and is dressed in nothing more than a bath towel when he hears me knocking at the door. The layout of the house is strange in that the bathroom opens right onto the front door which is made out of transparent glass. Dion peers out into the darkness and jolts with shock as my bearded long-haired face comes into focus. “Jesus! I was thinking what the hell is that?” he says, as opens the door. Dion is in the town of Forster on the NSW mid-north coast for a Monster Energy Drink trip. Also here is Californian Nate Tyler, Australian Chippa Wilson and young South African Brendon Gibbens. It’s an obscure blob of coastal suburbia home to a half-dozen picturesque beach breaks and favoured by international pro surfers because of its wedge ramps and translucent blue water. Dion apologises for not being able to offer me a bed inside the house. It’s full but he suggests I drag a mattress from my car and sleep in the garage. I decline. I’m fine in my van. He offers me a beer, which I accept, and we shoot the breeze a bit while resting on a car bonnet in the drive. We talk about Kelly Slater’s decision to quit Quiksilver after 23 years of service. Dion already has a good theory for why. He thinks Kelly is going to sign with Vissla – an obscure brand that’s just landed with a splash in surfing buying up ad space in every major publication the world over. “They’re going absolutely ham at the moment,” he says. “He probably just went to them and was like, alright, I want fifty percent, let’s do this.”
No one understands the mechanics of the surf industry, and the manoeuvrings of those within it, better than him. He’s made a career out of it. Visit his house in Byron Bay and you’ll find a bunch of marketing literature buried among his many books, the products of which can be seen in the handsome livelihood he’s fashioned from the unlikely combination of skills: surfing, creative enterprise and media savvy.
It’s such a fucked up time to be young person, isn’t it? Nothing is new or sincere, every trend is an ironic aping of a scene long past, and a once nuanced and diverse youth culture is now merely a meek global homogeny of selfies. Even once-beautiful surf heroes grew mullah beards and moved to New York to renounce the littoral zone and pretend to be artists. Still, every now and again they escape from themselves, France.