The Ultimate Father’s Day Gift Guide

A comprehensive and luxurious look at the best of Father’s Day.

By Robb Report 02/09/2021

Father’s Day is once again around the corner, and you can’t buy him yet another wallet. Here at Robb Report we’ve gone to the trouble of compiling the ultimate gift guide for the dad who has it all.

Below, the our comprehensive and luxurious guide to Father’s Day.

Lark Distillery Rare Cask Brokenwood Graveyard Shiraz Cask

The third release in Lark’s Rare Cask series is this single malt, finished in a cask that once held NSW winery Brokenwood’s celebrated Graveyard Shiraz.  The combination of the carefully crafted single malt paired with the finishing casks from Brokenwood offers a strong, limited (505 bottles) tipple, sure to please the connoisseur of the family.

$1200 (700ml);

Yontif Sun Sunglasses, Moscot

Chunky frames are the order of the day and these stylish specs from renowned outfit Moscot arrive with a tortoise shell and crystal frame made of Italian acetate. Elsewhere, two diamond rivets on front and temples decorate the shades while a comfortable saddle nose bridge holds the pair to the face. Paired here with a chestnut fade lens, it’s a winning combination.


Jaeger-LeCoultre: Reverso

The Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso is a bona fide horological icon—a piece that has transited time in various iterations across more than 50 calibres and several hundred dials.

To celebrate the Reverso’s 90th anniversary this year, the 200-page, large-scale tome from publisher Assouline and historian/journalist Nicholas Foulkes explores the Reverso’s transition across changing social environments after being born, in 1931, of a want for a watch able to withstand the rigours of polo matches.

Boasting original photography and illustrations, the lavish title explores the spirit, lustre and general allure that frames the inventive nature of the piece, while also plotting the heady story of JLC.

Approx. $256;

Pig & Pilgrim BBQ

Time to step away from the gas and elevate the old man’s outdoor game with a great Australian success — one born during COVID.

With a background in the culinary sector, Charlie Gosselin saw an opportunity during 2020 (more people at home and with relative time) to launch the parrillas – artisanal, handmade Argentinian charcoal barbecues — he’d been tinkering with, building and using himself. Pig & Pilgrim was born, proved an immediate success and now offers four BBQs that ultimately deliver food licked by flame and flavoured by coals, replete with wind-up grill-plates and rotisseries. They also look damn fine.

Club Moolia Membership

Club Moolia’s members-only country club provides unparalleled access to a state-of-the-art diving circuit, world-class club lounge and Austalia’s only Crystal Lagoons. Destined for a 2022 opening in the dusty township of Bindoon, 80 kilometres north-west of Perth, the planned $140 million, 4.1km racetrack will boast 17 corners, high-quality asphalt and allegedly be as wide as 12-metres in parts.

Memberships starts at $30,000;

IWC Big Pilot Perpetual Calendar Mojave Desert

For its latest ‘Mojave Desert’ models, IWC sticks to the original, larger-than-life 46mm format. Undoubtedly one of the most eye-catching launches of the year so far, the watch is now available as a perpetual calendar and a simple three-hander. We say simple … even the time-only model houses a twin spring-barrel movement that provides a seven-day power reserve.


Hermes Poker Box 

Add a touch of elegance to the next poker game with Hermes’ Poker Box. Inside the box, made of sycamore marquetry, comes 300 poker chips, two sets of playing cards and a dealer chip in swift calfskin. Made in France, the box sees an inner lining of velvet and goatskin, elevating the allure.


Omega Seamaster Black Black

While Omega waits for its two major publicity exercises to get underway (James Bond movie, Olympic Games), they’ve delivered the Seamaster Diver 300M Black Black. That’s not a typo; so blacked-out is the latest version of Bond’s watch that one “Black” wouldn’t do. The watch’s dial is made from black ceramic, as is the minute track around its edge. The use of two different colour lumes on the Black Black’s indices and hands means it’s not impossible to tell the time.


Penfolds Record Player

Behold, the Penfolds Record Player.

The commemorative console of, which only seven have been crafted, has been handcrafted by SYMBOL Audio – created by a single craftsman using time-honoured techniques totalling 100 hours work.  A rare ‘White Capsule’ release Grange magnum duo from the 2010 and 2017 vintage feature within the hidden wine console compartment

Elsewhere, a suite of luxury accessories including a hand-blown Grange decanter, eight Riedel shiraz glasses, a Chateau Laguiole grand cru black horn sommelier, Monopole ‘Ah So’ cork puller and seven specially curated vinyls among other additions arrive with the ’50s inspired console.


Tiffany Co. Billiard Balls

Add the Tiffany touch to any game room with this pool triangle and ball set – a heady, modern upgrade on the traditional game. Here, the pool triangle is crafted in oak and is fitted with a sterling silver plate for personalisation. The billiards are painted in Tiffany Blue while the ‘black ball’ sees the iconic colour in the centre.


St Hugo DR3 Shiraz Six Pack

The smiling, Australian poster boy of Formula 1, Daniel Ricciardo’s new fruitful venture with celebrated Barossa Valley winemakers St Hugo – the DR3 X St Hugo series – is now available in packs of 6. Hailing from a single-vineyard, Ebenezer, in the northern Barossa comes an opulent, dark fruit shiraz with chalky tannins. The wine has maturing complex aromas and flavours of black fruits, fresh plum, chocolate, cocoa, truffles, hints star anise with moderate intensity cedar vanilla toasty oak

$390 per pack;

Louis Vuitton Bicycle

If Dad hasn’t yet hit his ‘MAMIL’ phase, but still wants a stylish bicycle to cart around town, look no further than the high fashion maison of Louis Vuitton.  Each piece is crafted by hand and assembled in the Maison Tamboite workshop in central Paris. Details such as the Monogram Flower crank and LV initials on the pedals (alongside the famous monogram adorning the bike)  heighten the allure while a functional luggage rack sees an elastic belt added.


Spooked Kooks Dead Hippie 8’0″ Softboard

Spooked Kooks specialises in recycling hard plastics into practical (and rather stylish) softboards. In fact 100 per cent of all high-density polyethylene used in its boards is recycled post-consumer plastic waste. This includes the entire “slick” (underside of the boards), leash plug, fin boxes, fins and fin key. Here, the 8-foot longboard has features that help you find that sweet spot on the wave, with its voluminous dimensions allowing you to move freely. Ride on.  


Chopard LUC Quattro

If you appreciate sophisticated watchmaking, the elegant Quattro Spirit 25—Chopard’s first jumping-hour timepiece—features an 18-carat rose-gold case and a beautiful Grand Feu white enamel dial, with an hour aperture at six o’clock. Almost the entire watch, from the enamelling process to the production of its four-barrel movement, was completed within Chopard’s manufacturing facility in Fleurier, Switzerland.

Approx. $67,273;

Creed Viking Fragrance

The House of Creed has refreshed its Viking fragrance. The new ‘cologne’ is still an eau de parfum and carries the same on-skin performance that has made the brand so loved. The contemporary fragrance has top notes of bergamot, lemon, mandarin and pink pepper with geranium, lavender, nutmeg, rosemary and sage in the heart while sandalwood, frankincense, patchouli, cedarwood and vetiver round out the base. It’s a zingy, fresh, flowery number with an earthy base – perfect for Dad in the warmer months.  

50ml $339, 100ml $439;

Exclusive Hire, Orpheus Island

With much of the country locked down, one can only dream of a getaway. For when we can, think of Orpheus Island, a private retreat in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef, a helicopter transfer away from Townsville. Here, you can have the entire retreat – all 14 luxurious rooms – to yourself and 27 of your nearest and dearest for $25,000 a night. With unparalleled access to the reef and its wildlife, alongside a 32-metre yacht for overnight jaunts on standby, it’s a getaway dad won’t forget.

$25,000 per night;

Formula 1: The Impossible Collection

Luxury publisher Assouline’s latest book is a full-throttle, red-line ride into Formula One and the pivotal moments that have taken it from a 1950s gentlemen’s club to the billion-dollar global sport it is today.  Curated and (ahem) driven by respected F1 journalist Brad Spurgeon (The New York Times), Formula 1: The Impossible Collection is a heady and literally heavy XL tome ripe for display between viewings.

The 228-pages also chronicle the various behind-the-scenes goings on, revealing the multiple manoeuvres made beyond the track.

Approx. $1288;

Hublot Big Bang Integral

There’s a lot to like about this new Hublot—the integrated bracelet, for starters. Then there’s the single-material architecture, and the fact that it’s twice as scratch-resistant as steel. Mostly, though, it’s about this particular colour; a polished-then-satin-finished, titanium-esque, gunmetal grey. The 42mm watch is also available in white and midnight-blue, but it’s this stealthy, steely number that’s the real head-turner.

 Approx. $31,665;

Leica M10-R

For more than a few family happy snaps, the M10.R boasts 40.89-megapixel full-frame sensors and an ISO range of up to 50,000. The old man will appreciate the old-school feel of the iconic Leica design, as well as mod-cons such as a 3-inch touchscreen and built-in wi-fi.


Orlebar Brown Swim Shorts

Go bold for Dad this year with this stylish Orlebar Brown swim short. Here, the iconic Bulldog design is met with a distinctive (read: loud) vintage botanical illustration atop a navy background. The Bulldog was Orlebar Brown’s first swim short, arriving in a medium-length style with adjustable side-fasteners for a classic and comfortable fit.


Roger Dubuis Excalibur Double Flying Tourbillon

Fresh from its cameo in one of the most-watched documentaries of all time—see the wrists of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen in last year’s The Last Dance—Roger Dubuis presents the latest interpretation of its Excalibur Double Flying Tourbillon. A quick-release system allows owners to switch between straps, although the Tourbillon club remains exclusive. Only 24 examples are being made—eight in white gold, eight in pink gold and eight in pink gold with diamond-set bezels and lugs.


Zegna Rust Suede Triple Stitch Sneakers

The Triple Stich is a refined sneaker that combines the hefty weight of Zegna’s heritage with a firm want for modern, wearable design. The slip-on fit is paired with a lightweight, flexible rubber outsole for maximized comfort, while the leather-lined rust suede uppers are easy to style with neutral tones for the season ahead.


Peloton Bike

For the uninitiated, Peloton is a stylish, stationary bike that has made a name for itself with its game-changing indoor, high-energy studio-style workouts. Endorsed by celebrities the likes of Beyonce, the bike promises to get the heart pumping from the comfort of the home. However, it’s not all banal cycling staring at a wall, with the classes including a range of disciplines from endurance to strength. The Peloton Bike+ also means a few elevated elements including a larger,  rotating 360 degree touchscreen making ‘off bike’ training (yoga, HITT, meditation, more) even easier. 

From $2295;

Robb Report Subscription

Award-winning luxury delivered to dad’s door for the next 12 months – is there anything better? We say no – this is the gift that literally keeps on giving with quarterly print and digital magazines, exclusive offers, access to VIP Robb Report concierge services and more informing local publishing’s ultimate subscription.



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Watch This Space: Justin Hast

Meet the game-changing horological influencers blazing a trail across social media—and doing things their own way.

By Josh Bozin 09/07/2024

In the thriving world of luxury watches, few people own a space that offers unfiltered digital amplification. And that’s precisely what makes the likes of Brynn Wallner, Teddy Baldassarre, Mike Nouveau and Justin Hast so compelling.

These thought-provoking digital crusaders are now paving the way for the story of watches to be told, and shown, in a new light. Speaking to thousands of followers on the daily—mainly via TikTok, Instagram and YouTube—these progressive commentators represent the new guard of watch pundits. They’re actively swaying the opinions, and the dollars, of the up-and-coming generations who represent the new target consumer of this booming sector.



Credit Oracle Time

There’s something comforting about Justin Hast’s watch commentary. It could be his broad English accent; a soothing melodic chime that hits all the right notes. But rather, it’s probably his insatiable thirst for all the little things in and around watches. It jumps right off the page with anything he’s ever written, and it’s infectious if you tune into his Instagram reels, where he speaks to over 50,000 followers almost daily.

Above all, he simplifies what, for the everyday enthusiast, can sometimes be a dry, jargon-heavy topic.

“I never really trained as a writer, photographer or producer of any kind,” says Hast. “It was very much, get stuck in and see what sticks. It’s not lost on me what a privilege it is to have access to these brands, these watches, and to the shows and events. I feel like a kid on Christmas morning every Monday.”

After spending a decade researching watches, enduring the drudgery of his office job, Hast’s big break came when he met Frank Geelen, owner and CEO of the influential Monochrome Watches website, at a Bell & Ross boutique opening in London.

“I can’t remember how much Frank drank that night when he agreed to allow me to write a story for him,” he quips. “That was the starting point that allowed me to pick up a camera and explore the watch world.”

From that chance encounter, Hast has gone on to contribute influential words to the likes of Hodinkee, Mr Porter, Revolution Watch and Forbes. He is the author of The Watch Annual, which was created for watch enthusiasts in 2020 as a means of cataloguing the best timepieces of the year.


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A post shared by Justin Hast (@justinhast)

Listening to Hast, it’s fair to say that he lives and breathes watches, and it’s been this way for a large chunk of his life. He recalls two formative moments: the first, age 10, when he received his first red G-Shock watch from a schoolfriend; the second came with the passing down of his grandfather’s Omega Constellation Day-Date —a watch designed by Gérald Genta.

That experience goes a long way to explaining Hast’s affinity with vintage dress watches. Unsurprisingly, then, his top four picks from the recent Watches & Wonders fair in Geneva are all vintage-inspired pieces designed for the modern watch consumer: the Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept Tourbillon, the IWC Portugieser Eternal Calendar, the Vacheron Constantin Patrimony 39 mm in rose gold, and the Laurent Ferrier Classic Moon.

Hast’s motto for life is “win the day”, one that he lives by as he continues on his journey to “inspire the next generation of watch enthusiasts”. And it’s clearly a mission already accomplished.

Read more about the watch industry’s horological influencers Bryan Wallner and Teddy Baldassarre.


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Watches & Wonders 2024 Showcase: TAG Heuer

This year at Watches & Wonders TAG Heuer continued on its path towards high-watchmaking status.

By Josh Bozin 09/07/2024

There was a moment last year when TAG Heuer surprised the watch world (and naysayers of the brand)—you couldn’t have missed it. At Only Watch, the biennial charity auction of luxury one-off timepieces, TAG Heuer dropped the proverbial mic with its release of a unique Monaco Split-Seconds chronograph; a piece completely left of field for the otherwise mid-entry level luxury watchmaker.

It was then inconceivable to arrive at the Palexpo in Geneva, day one of Watches & Wonders, to find the very same Monaco Split-Seconds Chronograph as TAG Heuer’s hero release of 2024. Don’t mistake TAG Heuer’s intentions; this is a big moment for the brand, particularly as it endeavours to reach cult high-watchmaker status.


TAG Heuer Monaco Split-Seconds Chronograph


This new $200,000 Monaco, which is aptly released in its 55th anniversary year, is an absolute workhorse of a timepiece. Retaining all the hallmarks of its legendary racing history, the new Monaco features an open-worked aesthetic that completely draws the eye to its intricate design details and mechanics. This is, folks, the first mechanical split-seconds (or ‘Rattrapante’) chronograph that the brand has made, essentially allowing the wearer to measure two separate events that start simultaneously but have different durations.

Of course, powering such a watch is no small feat; TAG Heuer has called upon the expertise of Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier—a specialist manufacturer of high-end mechanical movements—to help craft the new TH81-00 caliber.

Available in two colour ways, red or blue, the watch also features a grade-5 titanium case (allowing for its lightness), a sapphire dial, and a neat 41 mm package that makes this a truely “wearable” timepiece—if the price tag doesn’t deter you.

If this is an indication of things to come for TAG Heuer, we’re all in.

Read more about this year’s Watches & Wonders exhibits from Rolex and JLC.


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Property of The Week: Swing Into Seclusion in Otago

Looking for the perfect marriage of seclusion and sophistication? This home’s proximity to world-class skiing and wine region makes it an irresistible asset.

By Belinda Aucott-christie 12/07/2024

Located in the charming hamlet of Arrowtown this six-bedroom country home offers plenty of room to breathe. With its proximity to pristine ski fields and world-class wine regions, the two-acre estate will appeal to active city-slickers seeking a sustainable tree change.

Just a putt away from the social life of the renowned Hills Golf Club, 214 McDonnell has private access to a world of laidback leisure.

Manicured gardens and luxurious minimal interiors makes 475 sqm of house feel even more expansive and cinematic. Adding to the dream is the property’s sunny north-facing position. Each of the main rooms has breathtaking views up to Mt Soho and Coronet Peak, then across to the stunning Crown Range. 

A grand entertaining terrace centres on a log burning fire with a layout that encourages indoor/outdoor dining.

Residents will never be lonely. They can expect to welcome children home for the ski season each winter, and to welcome friends to Otago’s excellent wine regions in summer.

The home’s interior has been kept minimal and maps perfectly to the awe-inspiring location. Modern integrated technology, heating and convenient fixtures deliver a fresh take on country style. Open-plan living invites easy contemplation of the mountain views, while interstitial spaces help to keep life uncomplicated.

The opulent master bedroom, with ensuite and walk-in wardrobe, enjoys a chilled L-shaped layout with commanding views of snow-capped mountains beyond the window frames. The master’s inviting nook not only caters to owners who are fans of 5-star hotels, but also situates the love nest in a sun trap perfect for reading.  

The three extra guest bedrooms and two bathrooms are meticulously presented; the fixtures and fittings recede from view with materials that meld flawlessly with the nature-first vibe.

The piece de résistance is the stand-alone guesthouse, featuring its own private entrance and terrace. Here the interior mimics the main home, with pleasant open-plan living, separate dining, kitchen and bathroom. And it boasts its own private, outdoor zone. 

The village itself is equally inviting. With a tree-lined main street featuring heritage row cottages and a good selection of restaurants, shops and cafés—you’ll never want for attraction beyond the front door. 

With the Alpine tourist hot spot of Queenstown just 20 minutes away by car, you can be at the airport in under half an hour: Either taking off on your next adventure, or collecting treasured guests to deliver back to your private estate.

Learn more from Sarena Glass at Sotheby’s New Zealand. Email:


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Why BMW’s First Electric Cars Are Future Classics

Many things still feel contemporary about the BMW i3 and i8.

By Raphael Orlove 11/07/2024

In 2008, BMW committed to a multi-billion euro plot. It would retool its Leipzig plant to assemble two of the most environmentally-conscious cars ever designed, with carbon fibre passenger cells holding electric, plug-in hybrid, and gas-powered range extender drivetrains. Not until 2013 did they begin production. You could say they were a decade ahead of their time, but we’re still not ready for cars as daring as the i3 and i8.

Years before cries that EVs are too heavy and that plug-in hybrids offer a better compromise for the average car buyer, BMW poured resources into making an EV without the typical downsides of a battery electric vehicle. The idea was to make an electric car that didn’t require a gigantic battery pack, one that wasn’t perilously heavy. To do so, BMW would make the i3 into the world’s first mass-produced car made out of carbon fibre. This was no small feat.

The earliest uses of carbon fibre in cars go back to British race cars from the 1960s, and the first complete chassis to be made out of carbon fiber dates to the early 1980s. It wasn’t until the ’90s that we saw a carbon fibre chassis in a production road car, and that was with the Bugatti EB110, which cost around 3.2 million and required outsourcing the carbon work to the rocket division of French aerospace company Aerospatiale. Even in 2008, BMW’s plans for what it ultimately called the i cars really were at the leading edge.

The first of these to make production was the i3, a hatchback city car that would look at home parked in front of the Guggenheim in Bilbao. Big windows gave great visibility, and while the car was too short for four full doors, BMW squeezed suicide doors behind the fronts. With both opened up, the i3 was outstandingly bright and airy. The light interior, seats finished in wool and the dash finished with eucalyptus, certainly helped. BMW also used a plant called kenaf in the interior trim; it’s a natural fibre similar to jute. Kenaf had been used as a backing material underneath a synthetic coating. With the i3, BMW put it up front, lighter and more sustainable.

Photo: NurPhoto

BMW even sourced its carbon fibre from Washington State, where the factory could rely 100% on local hydropower. The company was using technical solutions to make a more sustainable new car.

Its styling was daring, as was how BMW put the i3 together. BMW effectively split the car in two. All of the car’s essential systems – battery, motor, suspension, crash structures, and the optional range extender – were carried on an aluminum skateboard called the “Drive module.” The “Life module” that housed the interior and framed the body panels was what was made out of carbon. The top and bottom halves were glued together, or “chemically bonded” if you want that to sound less scary.

BMW did successfully make the car pretty light for what it was, coming in between 1200 and 1300 kilograms depending on the trim. A Nissan Leaf weighed hundreds of kilograms more, a Chevrolet Volt nearly 400 kilos more.

Sticking to low-weight principles meant that the i3 was never going to have a huge battery, and the biggest available pack was still only 42.2 kWh. The EPA rated it at 246 kilometres of range. The “REX” range extender boosted that figure to 320 kilometres, with a two-cylinder engine from BMW’s motorcycle division shoehorned under the trunk. For all of BMW’s investment in the i3, these weren’t earth-shattering numbers.

Photo: picture alliance

All of its innovation was costly, and BMW’s city car ended up relatively expensive. It started at €34,950 in Germany, $61.300 AUD. That went up to $67,000 for the Range Extender model. The most expensive versions of the i3 topped out at nearly $89,000.

(Rather curiously, all range-extended BMW i3s have 10.9 litre petrol tanks. In the U.S., however, to legally qualify as a range-extended electric vehicle, the i3 could not have more range available from its internal combustion setup than its pure battery. At that point, the government would have classified the i3 as a plug-in hybrid, not unlike the Chevy Volt. As such, all range-extended i3s initially sold in America were restricted by software alone to use just 8.6 letters of that 10.9 litre tank. Only in 2017 when BMW introduced a longer-range battery could BMW digitally unlock the full 10 litres.)

Its high price meant the i3 asked a lot of compromises of a luxury car buyer just to have the most environmentally-friendly vehicle possible. A regular 3 Series cost about the same and was much easier to live with, unless you were regularly parking on dense urban streets. Most Americans don’t.

If anything, the rather practical i3 was too good at its job. All the money that BMW had invested in its technical innovations cost it its chance to make a dent in the car market.

That would have been fine if BMW continued to roll its high development costs into future models, perpetually bringing down its own prices, but BMW wasn’t interested in keeping its i thing going. Chief executive Norbert Reithofer stepped down early in 2015 and BMW canceled the car in 2022 with no second generation. The company has gone back to completely conventional ICE, hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and EV options. All of its EVs share their platforms with gas-burning equivalents, saving costs in development and on the showroom floor. They sell better than the i3 ever did.

BMW i3 Photo : picture alliance The i3 Brought Carbon Fiber to Mass Production

The only follow-up BMW did to the i3 was the dramatic i8, with butterfly doors opening up into a low slung cabin, flying buttresses directing air around its mid-mounted three-cylinder turbo engine. A dedicated PHEV, the i3’s engine did actually drive the rear wheels, and an electric motor drove the fronts. What shattered the illusion was that the front motor only made 97.6 kilowatts and the rear engine only 131. It might have looked like a supercar, but it didn’t drive like one. Like the i3, its carbon construction set it apart from its contemporaries, but also made it much more expensive than they ever were. In the U.S., the i8 started at a hair under $136,000 (AUD 200,000), which was a big ask for a car with three cylinders.

Following the same troubles as the i3, the i8 looked like one thing but was priced like another. It went on sale in 2014, not far behind the i3, and soldiered on through 2020, dying without a successor. An open-topped Roadster came in 2018 but didn’t change the car’s fate. Americans bought a grand total of 6,776 i8s through its entire production run. We buy that many Porsche 911s in a single year. Sometimes twice as many.

Photo: picture alliance

Taken at face value, the i8 is still a remarkable machine. A Porsche might be better on track, but the i8 is a dream realized in production form. It looks like nothing else on the road, even now.

And there is something that still feels contemporary about the i3. Its focus on low weight and low-impact manufacturing remains honorable. The electric car vision does us little good if it only reproduces the same more-is-more excess of internal combustion that clogs our roads with oversized vehicles.

As we now watch Tesla Cybertrucks lumber down the road at over 3,129 kilograms, GMC Hummer EVs pounding the pavement at over 4350 kilograms, BMW’s post-Recession vision is as relevant as ever.

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On the Crest

Surfing superstardom came early for Jack Robinson. Now Australia’s humble hero is chasing Olympic glory – keeping his head down.

By Horacio Silva 09/07/2024

There is a video on the internet of Jack Robinson at 15. In it, the pint-sized, towheaded Robinson, who was already considered the best young surfer on the planet, sports a cheeky gap-toothed smile and blunt bob to rival Lindy Chamberlain’s. Asked what he likes most about the sport, the shy grommet struggles for words, eventually offering, “Barrels, big hacks and airs.” 

Even at this age, Robinson prefers to let his surfing do the talking. But, as his interviewer surmises, don’t mistake reticence for unpreparedness: “When this young gun hits the surf, even the seasoned pros shake their heads in dismay.”

Aaron Hughes for WSL

Sixteen years later, Margaret River-born Robinson still beggars belief with his ability to seemingly walk on water. The bowl cut is gone (replaced by a new do that Robinson got for a recent photo shoot and that he jokingly refers to as “the full GQ”), but the difficulty in getting his point across remains, though not from a lack of effort. “Sorry, I’m trying to get my words together,” says Robinson, now 31 and based on the Gold Coast. “I didn’t sleep much last night and I’m hurting.”

He quickly explains that he was not out on the town with hard-partying surfer mates—far from it. These days, Robinson and his Brazilian wife, Julia, have a five-month-old baby boy, Zen, whose behaviour did not live up to the serenity of his name.

Beatriz Ryder

“I just woke up from a nap, actually,” Robinson adds. “At this stage, I get sleep wherever and whenever I can.”

He would do well to get some shut-eye. Robinson heads to Teahupo’o in Tahiti next month, where this year’s Olympic Games surfing competition is being held. Though he is currently ranked number three in the world, he has mastered some of the most challenging big-wave conditions, including a win with a late barrel at the Tahiti Pro in Teahupo’o last August, and is tipped as one of Australia’s best chances for gold.

With good reason, says Tom Carroll, the two-time world champion and Quiksilver ambassador. “That wave is up his alley,” says Carroll, who is now a meditation teacher on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. “He knows that break in all its various moods and forms. If the conditions are not favourable on the day, when some of his biggest rivals fall apart, he can still feel it out. He assesses the conditions in a nanosecond.”

It’s that fearless ability to be in the moment, to paddle out in anything and feel at home, that Carroll first noticed when Robinson was 11. “He has an innate sense for the water and the way it moves,” Carroll continues. “It revealed itself from the get-go and to see it expressed is quite extraordinary.”

Beatriz Ryder

These days Robinson is more focussed on the ordinary. “I’m trying to keep it simple,” he offers, “to stick to the same routines, and make sure that I am in a good headspace going into the Olympics.” Beyond countless hours in the water and gym, this means time spent on meditation, yoga and breath work. “It’s a super mental sport now,” he adds. “You have to be a smart competitor. It’s not just about surfing.”

Aside from the boards, gym equipment and yoga mats, the Robinson household is all prams, toys and nappies. “It doesn’t leave room for much of anything else,” he laments. “I love fishing and cars, and really want to get into flying planes but that will have to wait.” His role as a father has given him a different perspective on his sport and his own upbringing. Robinson, like many sporting phenoms, was coached by a domineering parent (his father Trev) and concedes it wasn’t always a swell ride.

“It was challenging growing up for sure,” he says. “But to reach this level you need people in your corner. Even if he was looked at as a little crazy by some people, he gave 100 percent and then some. I have a newfound respect for that.”

Aaron Hughes for WSL

He has the same regard for his competitors. When asked about the chances of his biggest rivals, Americans Griffin Colapinto and John John Florence, he is diplomatic to a fault. “I haven’t really thought about the other guys too much,” he demurs. “I’ve just been inspired by them. Even the last event with John John”—when Florence defeated Robinson in his native Western Australia—“I was just really inspired by his performance. It makes me want to do better.”

Perhaps if the whole modelling caper doesn’t pan out, after he retires from the sport he may want to consider a career in politics. “Nah,” he admits. “Leave that to others. Maybe that’s a path for Zen.”

The Olympic Games surfing competition begins July 27. 


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