Enjoying the ocean takes many forms. Jay Rossetti (@the_cachalot) practices all of them
Two things can be said about bodysurfers. We love the ocean and we love riding waves. I had the opportunity of meeting and having a chat with paramedic Jay Rossetti who embodies this sentiment. His blend of photography and surfing in all forms bring a carefully curated Instagram page which provides that daily dose of stoke which everyone needs in their life. Small waves, big waves, bodysurfing, longboarding, there is a certain joy that Jay shares with the world.
Q. Tell me about yourself, who are you? Where are you from?
A. My name is Jay Rossetti, I am a 34 year old husband and father, born and bred in Newcastle.
Q. From looking at your Instagram one can decipher that you know how to enjoy the ocean. So how do you like to surf?
A. I like to enjoy whatever vehicle is suited to the conditions really. I think you are limiting your enjoyment by riding one craft, at one size, all the time. I'll ride just about most things. The staple of my diet has been a 5'10" traditional twinny I have ridden for the past 10 years, a 6'9" pin tail single fin, a 9'4" log, a lid, hand planes, paipos and bullets. A mate got a couple of inflatable mats a while back and I was blown away by them. If I cruise to the beach now I generally have a rough idea of what it's going to be like and will have a variety of equipment to cover it.
Q. Do you have a favourite?
A. It's hard to pick a favourite. I tend to enjoy just about anything I can ride or slide on if it's out in its ideal conditions. You're not going to really have a ball trying to bodysurf a fat, 1ft point break are you? but take a longboard out and you will have the time of your life. Same goes with trying to ride a longboard on a 5 foot ledgey reef. Right now I'm buzzing on the Paipo style Booger Bullets that my good mate Owen (@owen_surfcraft) is creating. It's the perfect combo and feel. The constant tweaking is bringing even more impressive rides and anyone who rides one can't get the smile off their face.
Q. How is the surfing/bodysurfing scene in Newcastle? Tell me about the Flat Rock Invitational Bodysurfing contest?
A. The bodysurf scene in Newcastle is killer. Whilst the bulk of people associate Flatrock, and the crew that call it home, as the bodysurfers of Newcastle, there are plenty of other local crews scattered around the place. Most are well adapt across many craft. There is a mixture of old and young, men and women. The best way I can describe the scene is raw and honest. The Newy scene is all about the KISS ethos, keep it simple stupid. The Flatrock Invitational keeps with this tradition. Nothing but a pair of fins and your body. Throw in a sausage sanger, a can of coke and a bunch of like minded people having abit of fun whilst quietly, and not to mention competitively, trying to get their name down as a winner of the event. It's a no frills, no fanfare, battle for the title. It's an honour to compete and not a right. We have local legend Greg to thank for the event and the humility it provides. Other than the Pipe comp I can't think of any others that are held over reef.
Q. What gear do you use to bodysurf?
A. It depends on my mood. Some days I'll take out a hand plane while other days I'll enjoy having as little equipment on me as possible. I've always got a set of swim fins on my feet and some form of wetty. Whilst I take my hat off to you for rocking the budgy smugglers, the thought of sliding over the reef in a pair terrifies me, not to mention walking back up a packed beach in them. Summer or winter both have their dangers.
Q. How long have you been taking photos for?
A. I first started shooting back in high school. Obviously everything was film based then so I learnt those ropes. I drifted away from it around the time the film movement was fading and the digital movement was really ramping up. I re discovered shooting again about 10 or so years ago and got myself a digital SLR. From there I fell in love all over again and just wanted to document my life and lifestyle for when I'm old and demented. It was never my intention to share any of my images with people, but my wifes persistence and belief that other people would enjoy looking at them was the reason I put them out there. I'm so stoked and humbled that people enjoy my shots as much as I enjoy taking them. The full circle now continues and I am back shooting some 35mm film. I've had to dig out some old as like most of school, I've forgotten the majority of it.
Q. I've heard photographers say it's hard to take good bodysurfing photos. What does it take to get a great bodysurfing shot?
A. Yeah it's not easy to get a nice clean shot. Shooting from the land it can all look a little lack lustre most of the time. Shooting from the water brings its own problems. There is a lot of spray and water getting thrown around most of the time. Everything seems to happen fairly quickly with bodysurfing so being in position, and having it all come together requires some patience, skill and a little bit of luck.
Q. What fins do you use?
A. Cutting my teeth on a lid as a grommet I always wore asymmetrical fins. They just work well with a bodyboard. As I got older they seemed to start fatiguing my knees and ankles with the roll they would impart into my legs when using them. I switched to a symmetrical fin and have never looked back. The extra power and comfort was noticeable on the first swim out. They get used for everything now.
Q. What camera set up do you use?
A. If I'm shooting digital I use a Canon 5D Mkiii. My film set up is a Canon EOS 5. Both get wrapped up in Dave Kelly water housings when they hit the water. I use anything from a 20mm lens up to a 400mm.
Q. I see you play with different styles of photos, elaborate on 3 of your favourite but different photos.
A. (Photo 1) This is a shot from the first roll of film I ran through the EOS 5 water set up. I knew I was going to have some motion blur shooting ISO 100 film early in the morning. The good thing about shooting your mates is you generally know their movements around the take off, so getting into position is slightly easier. The blur gives the frame a little sense of chaos and speed as Owen slipped past me, and I eventually went over Owen via the falls. I just love this angle and am still working on it.
(Photo 2) A morning shoot with my mate Pete in a local Shorey. There wasn't a lot on offer so I started looking for some different angles. It's so easy to get caught up chasing the typical barrel shot and forget the other perspectives you see when swimming around a line up.
(Photo 3) Abit of an over/under shot of Owen taking off at the local. It's not always the action that happens on a wave that makes a shot for me. I swam inside to try and get a different perspective, to capture the wave, the rider and just that feeling of being apart of the line up. One of my favourite photos to date.
Q. What would be your advice to someone wanting to get involved in surf photography?
A. Get out there and do it. You will find you start to see so much more. All those little intricacies that you miss if you were surfing, or actively looking for waves. So many people are shooting these days and there is some amazing work around. Look online for inspiration, but then put your own view on it. Capture what you want to capture, how you want to capture it. A great shot isn't determined by the amount of likes, or Internet hype it generates. If you are chasing instant gratification you are missing the point. A good shot just feels right. Even if it never sees the light of day.