Most New Zealand surfers would know the name Luke Cederman. The lofty goofy footer has been a surf media darling since he was a grommet. Regarded for years as being NZ's most underrated surfer, but it's an onerous title. You're rated by your peers as not achieving the results your ability should yield.
Luke has always felt the pressure in contests. He hates losing. I've watched him surf contest heats since he was 11. I've seen him self destruct many, many times in a heat. Score a nine, then wait the whole heat out for a wave that will yield another nine. Whereas a cheeky four pointer would get him through. Luke never wanted to just progress to the next round. He wanted to stamp his mark on every heat. All, or nothing.
I've often been behind the lens at a contest, muttering; 'for fuck's sake Luke catch that bump and do two wiggles. Wanting him to more ruthless and less honourable; a win is a win, be the mongrel.
It is not him and it was not anyone's place to fit his octagonal peg into a round hole.
Luke has always had other stuff going on. Years ago he started an alternative contest press release under the moniker Shadow Doodleman. The moniker is a clever play on Shaydar Elderman, the savant surfer from Kaikoura who gave SNZ their computer system. The press releases were filled with in-house jokes, acute observations and subtle payouts. They gained a cult following fast.
Luke got cover shots and video parts in international surf movies. But, if you're not going to, or able to, blindly follow the WQS path... where does that leave you? Luke sat in a no-man's land, it was hard to quantify what he was. Couldn't win a heat, but one of NZ's most exciting surfers to watch- ever.
And then, three years ago, he made NZ's most well known surfing selfie. Ahead of the pack, at the time innovative and actually, truly viral. On Vimeo it has almost 60,000 views. It was also picked up by Surfline and Surfer's Path where it got 41,000 additional views. In a strange way it ended up being Luke's surf star swan song. He was NZ's most known surfer, but where next.
Luke's head would be a strange and wondrous place at the best of times. But could you imagine succeeding in creating that much media attention. The thing your sponsors want. And then what? How do you back that up? Do you even want to be that guy? Could Luke have been the goofy footer tripping to Lakey Peak, Teahupoo and Skeleton Bay to shoot more viral selfies? Definately.
Luke swerved instead and ended up in surf-less Grey Lynn. He stopped surfing, he resented surfing- he was burnt out on surfing. It happens, it happens more than you think. You just don't hear about the surfers that fade surfing out. The Temple Of Surf's high priests are hardly going to highlight the faith strayed. It is hard copy to write.
Luke's time away from surfing has been productive. The energy spent on the selfish activity now spent on other creative ventures. Acting, yes, the once shy but cheeky grom from Manu Bay can act. Directing and story telling; the man knows his way around a story-board. Comedy... for god's sake someone give this guy an open mike! Mad Butcher adverts, 48 hour film festival entries and Action Sport show co-hosting. This is not a lad prone to idle hands.
Over summer Luke started a new side project, The Raglan Surf Report. A series of web clips that have a cult following already. Luke's dry observations and overview of surf and alternative culture hitting a perfect and popular tone.
I'm a fan of my friend Luke. We've shared many great times travelling, surfing, solving the world's problems and making images. Luke would be the first guy to say leave the camera - grab your board bro. But what now, what's the big lug gonna do next; best bet we ask him huh!
So Luke, you’ve read that gushing intro, I’m betting bits were at least itchy if not prickly to read, do you think it’s an accurate account of the state of play?
I’ll tell you what, it’s pretty spot on I reckon.
Could you elaborate on your thoughts around your own contest surfing?
Yeah, I’m no good at them. I’m not really interested in them. Lack the attention span. It was always the thing to do growing up, so I followed suit because that was really the only path to take if you were a surfer with some talent. I could never get my head around them, how you had 20minutes to surf better than 3 other guys. What does that even mean? I want to surf better than everyone all the time, not just in those 20 minutes. Even when I occasionally did well, I’d still think ‘oh cool, but who really gives a shit?’ not to be negative, but really, who gave a shit? I’m competitive, but not in that structured arena. I just don’t get it.
I know there were people who had expectations of me, to be this successful surfer or whatever it was, to go and compete on the qualifying tour, do this do that, but nup, that’s not me. A Tiger can’t just go and change it’s spots ya know? Or Panther, you know what I mean, the big cat with the spots. Oh yeah, and I lacked any self-confidence which was actually a pretty big hurdle that I never really overcame.
Are you still burnt out on the selfish act of surfing or would you jump at the chance for a week at 6 foot Lakeys?
I’d definitely jump at the chance to surf 6 foot Lakeys, are you kidding me?! Haha. I’m not burnt out on surfing, I just don’t think it’s the be-all and end-all, there’s a lot more to life than have everything in your life dictated by what the ocean’s cooking up. Some people are in to that, that’s their way of life and that’s totally cool. I just went through a phase, had some shit times which made me think about things in a different light. These shit times made me realise how much I’d missed out on, in terms of a life outside of the surf bubble, by having this one track mind of surf, surf, surf. Once I found some perspective, I started to enjoy surfing more, and enjoying life more.
Are you surprised people like the Raglan Surf Report so much?
Yeah, I am. I started it with no real intentions, I guess I wanted my mates to get a little chuckle out of it. It’s difficult putting yourself out there though, really difficult. Being self-conscious had previously held me back from getting in to that sorta thing, being in front of a camera, but I got to a point where I was like ‘ah fuck it, I like doing this, I need to do this, I’m doing this’. So I did it.
Do you get people that simply don’t get it, and do you respond to those?
There are people that don’t get it, not too many, but there are some. I almost prefer it if someone doesn’t get it. If someone thinks it’s a real surf report then I’ve nailed it. If I can make someone question the validity of one of my surf reports, then I feel like I’ve done a good job. I occasionally like to challenge people, as you may know haha.
The Mountain Dew show just got axed, what reasons were cited?
Money I guess. I don’t know too much. The world revolves around money so I’m guessing that was the case.
What are you and the other Luke going to do about that?
Probably make our own awesome show with pyrotechnics, stunts, thought provoking subject matter, influential interview subjects, lasers and dangerous animals, failing that, maybe run Tuesday night pub quiz’s. We’re doing a show on Burger Fuel Radio at the moment which is a bit of fun, talk a whole bunch of shit. It’s great!
From The Galleries
Here's Emerald Fin, it was made a while ago and has been commissioned only a few times. It was part of a surfboard exhibition in 2010. Here's a nice example of it big... bloody average looking easel holding those canvases though ehh.