Ryan Robertson Biography

(Posts by Ryan)

I was born in the sprawling metropolis of Gweru, Rhodesia on the 13 February 1978 – destined to forever answer to the adventure call of the Aquarian. The next 5 years of my life were spent in the instability of a country in the middle of a civil war. In 1982 Rhodesia became Zimbabwe, and family Robertson headed for South Africa and the beautiful coastal town of Gonubie, in my opinion the best move my folks have ever made!

I could not have wished for a better childhood than the one I received in Gonubie. From an early age I was involved in the beach life guarding scene on Gonubie Beach. Progressing from a “Nipper” (mini lifeguard) through “junior” (slightly less mini lifeguard) to finally arrive at ‘lifeguard’, a standing that consumed all my summer holidays. It was during those long hot days on the cool Indian Ocean than my love of wave sports began. We had all sorts of wave riding vehicles in the club house to amuse ourselves with – surf ski’s, rescue crafts, body boards, row boats, paddle ski, body surfing fins – we tried to ride them all! At around the time I was graduating from ‘nipper’ to ‘junior’ status, surfing came into my life and to this day I can remember every second of the first time I rode the open face of a wave! I was completely and hopelessly hooked, an infatuation that has lead Bryson and I to the far reaches of the globe in search of perfect surf. I strongly believe that surfing has played a huge role in who I am today, and I give it a large portion of the credit for why my younger brother is also my best friend.

In 1997, my mother decided I needed to get a reality check from my beach bum lifestyle and send me to work for my self-confessed workaholic of an uncle. I emerged after 10 months, and arrived back at our family home in Gonubie to see a bunch of strangers living in our house and swimming in my pool. My family had left for Canada. I decided that I had no other choice than to become a modern nomad, my parents CLEARLY had forced me into it! I worked as a bar tender in Jefferies Bay for 4 months and got my fill of unending reeling perfection; I spent 3 days in solitary confinement in Singapore Airport; I spent 3 months in Indonesia/Malaysia/Thailand; I saw snow for the first time; I traveled through England, Wales and Scotland; went back to Indonesia and South Africa; I went to Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana, and finally arrived to settle permanently in Canada two weeks before starting my first year at the University of Victoria. It was 1997.

The past 10 years in Canada have been jam packed with hectically remote surf and snow missions that have expanded and nurtured my spirit of adventure. Growing up in South Africa, I would never have imagined the amount of effort myself, Bryson and friends were to expend trying to get to remote surf in Canada! It has been an utter blast, filled with heart soaring highs, soul crushing lows, complete exhaustion, feelings of invincibility, countless un-scouted night hikes and midnight canoes trips, and the ever present constant – the huge smiles of my co-explorers.

During my second year at university, I met Hugh Patterson, the son of a very ‘nautical’ dad, and introduced him to surfing. The next summer, he introduced me to sailing with an idyllic cruise through the gulf islands – now this is the way to travel! Travelling through Indonesia I had one experience of traveling overland through pure hell to reach this fabled reef break. We finally hit the beach, tired, exhausted, mosquito bitten and ready to wash away 5 days of travel in our empty surf, when lo and behold, a 36ft sailboat slides around the point and anchors in the lineup. WHAT THE …!? The crew is a well fed, healthy and very comfortable Aussie threesome that had casually sailed up and were surfing the same waves we were! I know Bryson has had a similar experience as well. Hugh had a dream to sail around the world, I wanted to surf and explore by boat, and thus the seeds of this dream began. Once Bryson heard of this plan, he told us in no uncertain terms that there was NO WAY we were going to do this without him, and so on one rainy day on the way to a freezing west coast surf, the three of us made a pact to make this dream a reality.

Hugh and I have been sailing together extensively for the past four years – a small amount of casual cruising, and a great deal of Vancouver based racing. All three of us realised that if we were going to sail around the world, one or all of us should get some offshore experience! We set our sights on getting on a boat for the 2006 Victoria to Maui Race (Read about the race here). It was on this race that I experienced first hand the amount of garbage afloat in the Pacific Ocean, as we approached Maui it was never more than 10 minutes between pop bottles, fishing nets and floats, milk crates and other human trash. It is incredible how much garbage there is out there.

Bringing awareness to Garbage in the ocean is a cause that Hugh, Bryson and I feel very strongly about. We hope that this mission can promote and begin the germination of the seeds of change, and help inspire people to chase their dreams, to not be deterred by naysayers, and above all, to protect and conserve the environment for those to come after us.