A POW-WOW WITH 70's LEGEND & INDO CHARTER SKIPPER TONY 'DORIS' ELTHERINGTON
From early days at Ulu's streaking through bazzas with single fin and bowl cut, to becoming one the most experienced surf charter captains on the planet.
Photo: Brad Masters
I met Tony ‘Doris’ Eltherington in 2007 in Majuro, Marshall Islands. He was driving the Indies Trader I around those isles in search of surf for The Search with Tom Curren and Steph Gilmore, and I had somehow slimed my way into a berth on that fair ship. It was windy as assholes. He was sun-wizened, physically powerful and had a distant, knowing stare. I played him Libertines on the Trader's stezza and he was surprised such a delicate sounding song bird could be on the smack and the crack. I tried to steal the lat long coordinates for some secret spots written down in book in the wheel house from The Quiksilver Crossing. Doris caught me, called me a 'Pommy journo cunt', picked me up and threw me below decks. (We made up later in the galley over a vegemite sandwich). Then I bumped into him a few years later in the Ments, looking that bit more sun-wizened and distant stare-y. Then, just last year, I heard it was he who rescued that Saffa guy who fell overboard and spent 24 hours adrift.
He sure is a swell fellow alright... or to put it another way, a sick cunt.
Just lately, we caught up with him for a little chat...
Doris, is there a moment that stood out when you thought ‘my life’s a bit different’...
One time, I was on a commuter train from The Goldy to Brisbane heading up to an epic wave; surrounded by businessmen stifling in their suits and the green and orange OHS workers all heading to their day jobs, empty stares and resentment written on their faces when they saw me clad in board shorts carrying my weathered Rip Curl board bag with a quiver of brand new boards and the scent of curing resin lifting off the boards and floating thru the train car. It was then I realized just how blessed I was to be a surfer for a living. Every day is a different experience and for me surf travel is adventure every time
One trip that changed your life...
There have been many amazing trips that have shaped my life. But, two come to mind.
In 1973, I attended the Australian Titles at Margaret River, WA that my guru, Richard Harvey won. There was a 25' swell that I had never witnessed before. Seeing it, I nearly shit myself. Over the course of the next few days it did settle down but since I was in the first heat with Mark Richards we were dealing with 12' left handers on the reef. I lost the heat but came to realize over the course of the two week event that I love left hand reef breaks rather than the right hand breaks of the Gold Coast.
With PT, Dick van Stralen, Thornton Fallander, Pete Harris and John Charlton. Photo: Dick Hoole
What was the other?
A few years ago, a group of us including Owen Wright and Matt Wilkinson went up to Papua New Guinea on the Indies Trader, Martin Daly's boat, to surf Crocodile Peak for a Rip Curl photo shoot. It is an area where few foreigners go or are even welcome. Crocodile Peak has epic left and right handers. During the shoot, the local kids came down to watch and soon enough, wanted to learn to surf. The Elders and the Tribal Chiefs told us that we must teach for all and not just one as they are a community. We then got to teach over 40 locals how to surf! We even had canoe paddle races! To our amazement, we were treated to a beautiful tribal dance never performed before for foreigners. Before we left we gave the village a Malibu board courtesy of Rip Curl's founder, Doug "Claw" Warbrick for use by anyone who wanted to surf as well as medical supplies to the infirmary and school supplies to the local school. Upon our departure on Sunday morning, we were serenaded with beautiful singing as we sailed to other tropical locales. It was a most happy and life affirming moment for us all.
Indo is hardly novel. Is it still an adventure?
Indo is still the epic surfing journey. You can't beat the combination of amazing waves, the people and their culture, delicious food and an incredible archipelago of islands from Papua to Banda Aceh each with their own uniqueness. Just remember to bring back palm leaves but leave your plastic bottles and bags at home. We want to keep Indonesia's waters clean and healthy.
What’s so good about boat trips? Are they worth the money?
Imagine being able to go to numerous amounts of breaks only accessible by boat. To enjoy the camaraderie of fellow surfers whole enjoying great food and experiencing waters many only dream of. Surf Charter trips can provide a unique and magical experience. As long as you go with a very reputable Captain who knows the waters like the back of his hand to maximize each swell but keeps you safe at the same time you will have a great time. There are many charter companies out there who offer trips, remember you get what you pay for. If the deal sounds too good to be true, it likely is. Make sure you go with a reputable company with excellent reviews and then you will have the surf trip of your life.
Wanna book a Doris Indo charter? Do it here