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A windsurfing legend, PWA wave world champion and wavesailor’s wavesailor, Scotty McKercher is a journeyman who earned his title the hard way through his pioneering style and board designs. The talented and affable Australian talks us through the secrets of his success and colourful ups and downs of his career.

WORDS – Scotty McKercher // PHOTOS – Jamie Scott and John Carter.


To be honest, being the best is less important these days, but I’m always trying to sail to the best of my abilities, it’s just there’s some limitations these days. Like second time round on the hip replacement on my right hip and my right knee is pretty stuffed.

Basically this makes all my sailing rotational, not projecting into airs. Which is a style of sailing I prefer anyways, so I’ve not changed too much. Very, very rarely do I jump, but 360’s don’t hurt, so they’re still on the play list. But you’re always seeking that flow moment, when you’re in sync with your board and the wave. I’m always seeking that best side of myself.


That would have to be the first time my hands touched a boom windsurfing to start this whole incredible journey.


I used to love John McEnroe, I guess for that competitive fire I could relate to as a kid, and that serve! Allan Border (cricketer) was a total legend; all kinds of Aussie rule footy players, you wouldn’t know their names, and then I guess Tom Carroll and Mark Occhilupo for their on rail prowess. Of course Robby Naish was the windsurfer we all adored, and now it’s Köster and Brawzi who inspire me to be better.


The best would have been to keep on going. There were so many times financially I’d thought of throwing in the towel, but I somehow persevered with either a contest result or a new sponsor or some bizarre twist of fate that kept the dream alive. I’m sure there were multiple moments where I could have stayed off the booze throughout my career, but I don’t really regret any of them and can’t really see how it could have been any different as I was how I was and everyone was having a lot of fun back in those days.


I think the biggest highs were the first podiums I made in the Canaries. They felt really good. Being the unknown underdog and taking it to the big names of the time when I had the distinct advantage of being the only one going frontside at Gran Canaria and Tenerife; with there even being a sailors meeting about my loss to Robby in the semi’s, saying that the judging had to be adjusted for the way I was sailing.

I guess the biggest low would have to have been Fiji. I was sooooooo ready for that one. Even dreamed before getting there what the place looked like and to have the judges call an interference against me when I was plainly in the right, (which was confirmed by the cameraman later that night becuase the judges didn’t see it), along with a whole lot of other things that went on in that heat, which had me absolutely seething and deflated.


I think what clicked the year I won the title was that I was just really in tune with my boards, which was the beginning of the ‘real world’ wave board era. That was when the Evo came about, which even look quite gunny in this day and age. But at the time they were shorter and wider and just made life easier.

I’m not going to go into the mental weirdness that goes on inside my head, but there were also a lot of surreal happenings that year, which kind of reinforced to me that nothing happens by chance and everything is in order. Even though everything felt out of control at the time on a personal level. Was a strange time to be honest. What do I think about it now? Gratitude I guess. For it all to have taken place.


Don’t particularly have any. Used to love writing down powerful quotes. But I think I was more idealistic back then. One that stands out is, “Choice is possible if we choose it.”


I guess keeping your pie chart of life balanced is about making sure you get your work done, but also making sure you get on the water and remembering it’s ok to have a few drinks with mates, but not going too hard. Making time for family, even when workloads are nuts and weather maps are drawing you somewhere else. Mind, body and spirit all need to be nurtured.


There’s nothing better than a sweetly timed rail gouge or up and under hit of the lip. It’s an addiction. I need a constant fix of vitamin sea.


Sometimes I dealt with stress / competition nerves well and sometimes badly. I remember in Cabo Verde being woken up in the car with my heat about to start. Was in the zone for that. But I also remember when they had a split round in the Canaries – first round in Gran Canaria and loser’s round in Tenerife. I did well in Gran Canaria, but had to wait ages to wait for the repêchage in Tenerife with guys like Robby Seeger coming up to me and going, “I’m coming for ya”. I was so nervous by the time my heat came up I chugged half a beer just to simmer down. It seemed to work! Generally though, when not attached to the outcome / relaxed and in the moment was when I did best – when I didn’t give a …. When you want it too bad, you choke.

But being in the heat of the moment or under pressure, I think I thrive. Not so much in windsurfing, but model yacht racing nowadays. That heightened awareness you get when all fired up, it’s pretty addictive I think. And when you get in the zone, and hit Satori mode in competition, that feels pretty epic. When you fly into a section not thinking and something magical transpires. That’s pretty cool.


I reckon the travel to all the locations and the people I met along the way are the most important things I’ve taken away from it all. Also that I just got to go windsurfing all the time, that was pretty epic in retrospect. And I guess the fact that it pushed me to go further than what I would do normally.


No idea. Ben Severne says I should be more concerned about things. So I guess a strength is my ability to go into something trusting that everything is going to be ok.


A highlight would have to be getting to compete against Robby. To compete against someone that you only bought a particular pair of Quiksilver board shorts because he was wearing them is pretty cool. 🙂


Brawzinho is doing some super sick gouges as well as all the tweaky air stuff. Also Levi, and Köster is just mind blowing with what he does, as well as having a mean hack. Ricardo has been laying down some nice carves too. Jaeger is also bloody rad to sail with as well. They’d be my favourite sailors at the moment.


For me winning meant money to keep on the road as I never had the big budget sponsors for a lot of years. So it went hand in hand.




I’d say a mixture of both. I would definitely sail specific locations with contests in mind. But I’ve always just sailed the way I like to. Gym and pool work usually only happened when coming back from injury. Other than that it was just going sailing and stretching. They’ve gotten a lot more serious I think these days. It was a different time when I was competing.


Don’t think I had one of those. Usually when something was going wrong I would negatively spiral out of control (anger management required). Perhaps there is one moment in Gran Canaria when I was standing at the notice board looking for when my heat was on, then looked up and saw my competitor out on the water with the heat already started. My gear was at the other end of the beach (at the Pozo rocks) and I sprinted up the beach and got out there and still won the heat. It wasn’t until later that my feet were so sore from the rock run. I guess you could slow mo that down into some comedic rocky run, or Chariots of Fire music maybe!


Cocos islands with Pete Volwater and Thomas Traversa was definitely very memorable. One bowl I was looking up at is forever etched into my memory bank. And I reckon the infamous 2007 Cabo Verde event would have to be right up there. Everyone was pushing so hard in that comp in surreally big waves. I popped my medial on one of the earlier waves in my last heat doing the splits on an air, I knew something was up, but the adrenaline was just flowing. Being out the back seeing guys launch from behind the wave on 12 foot + waves meant you just knew you had to go. I hit the beach at the end of the heat after doing the biggest airs of my life and couldn’t even walk and burst into tears. It was full on.

Cloudbreak with Köster and Polakow was also a cracker, with probably the sketchiest wipeout moment. I remember being concerned for Köster as he got swallowed by whitewater but came out, only to come over the shoulder and see the biggest wall of whitewater coming at me ever.


Refer back to the Fiji contest. All the port tack comps to that point had just been held in the Canaries and finally there was going to be a port tack comp in quality waves. I went up to Gnaraloo the weeks before to tune up and I was ready like Freddy. So to have that interference instance with Seeger on the water, hit the beach and everyone coming up to me saying don’t protest, there’s no way you and him won’t progress, then the results coming through and I didn’t get through, then protested and had the decision go against me, when I was in the right, had me fuming. Then I had to sit and watch as the waves picked up the next day to be massive and missed the whole thing, and watching the other port tackers, Scott Carvill and Josh Stone, make the finals.

Then in the loser’s round I was fired up and in the zone. It was windy and sunny and good waves and they stopped, saying we have to pack up now in time to make it back to the other island before dark.

I was devo.


That Fiji event with the gear I have now. My boards are going so sick at the moment.

There were so many funny bizarre trips that happened around the world. Usually due to the company of the fine folks that I was hanging out with; Finian Maynard, Pete Volwater, Sam Ireland, Josh Angulo, Rick Markham and a host of others that played a part in a myriad of hysterical moments.

I suppose the biggest disaster was the culmination of hanging with all of these characters in the Canaries for weeks where we partied really hard for the build-up and throughout the duration of the comps. At the time, the overall title was a big thing and after Tenerife I had just cracked the top 10 for the first time, after another podium in waves there. But things were about to go south.

We all flew from Tenerife to Tarifa and were straight back on the piss and the whole tour was out and about and we ended up at some nightclub in the old city which had a half pipe in it. One of Rick’s mates had a go and fractured his arm holding his beer in his good hand and all I can remember was being on the dance floor to Rage Against the Machine and getting a massive cork to the leg. Three others went to hospital that night.

I staggered home and over the period of two to three days it got progressively worse. I then went to a physio who ultrasounded  it, which accelerated the anaerobic bacteria that was in the haematoma in the muscle. The bacteria were caused by a shit pipe in Tenerife that got into my blood, aided by a riddled immune system. The pain got excruciating and I was taken, screaming in pain, by ambulance to a Malaga hospital with a hideous fever, gas gangrene in my knee, stomach infection, urinary tract infection, etc etc. My toes were going black with gangrene, I lost 25 kg, spent two weeks in hospital, then was flown business class back to Oz and went straight into hospital there for another two weeks, where they gave me every antibiotic they had because they didn’t know which one was helping because it was anaerobic. So I guess this could also be my ‘Rocky’ moment. This was in July. I basically looked like a concentration camp survivor. Every one of my family bust into tears when they saw me for the first time, but I was determined to make it back for the grand slam that was happening in Hawaii that October/ November. Which I did, after flying back to Tarifa from Oz first to pick up my gear on a lap around the planet to make the event. Crazy days!


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