The over-achieving Constables

Josh styling at the Winter Classic. Photos courtesy Fenna De King.

Getting on for two decades since he won the ASP longboard world title in Costa Rica, Noosa’s Josh Constable is in career best form, winning everything he’s competed in since coming back from four months out for injury earlier in the year.

Josh is 43, going on 44, and easily beating very good surfers half his age in open competition. Inspired by reigning WSL world longboard champ Kai Sellas, 43, and evergreen Kelly Slater, 52, the 2024 Queensland open and over 40s champion (won a few weeks back) goes into the nationals brimming with confidence, and even has his eye on a crack at the WSL world tour in 2025. But it’s not all about him – this is family business. We’ll get back to that, but first let’s take a quick stroll down memory lane.

It’s hard to reconcile the lean, mean surfing machine of today with the chubby-chopped kid with the platinum hair dye who emerged on the ASP qualifying series in the mid-’90s. Born in 1980, soon after parents Sue and Benny had arrived from New Zealand, Josh’s first direction in surfing was as a lip-smacking, punk-influenced shortboarder, just like his dad, but a family holiday at Crescent Head got him thinking about the graceful lines of longboarding, and he was soon tempering his vertical approach with some smooth cruising on the Noosa points.

But the fast-growing teenager who became a pro longboarder at 15 and qualified for the Australian team to the world titles in Hawaii in his rookie year was nothing like the silky smooth surfer we see today. As he rose to dominance in the junior and open ranks, Josh could hang heels with the best of them, but he still couldn’t resist a punchy closeout re-entry.

At the first Noosa Festival of Surfing in 1998, just 17 he met tandem surf star Anna Shisler, the liftee part of the world’s most famous tandem duo. A couple of years later they were an item, and Anna was there to encourage Josh through the multiple state and national titles that led him to Costa Rica and his 2006 world title.

Coincidentally, that was also the year that Anna gave birth to their first child, a boy they aptly named Jet. Now 18 and a very good surfer in dad’s mould, Jet has also been a licensed recreational pilot since he was 15, and now has more than 100 solo hours to his credit. Obsessed with flying, Jet is a member at two aero clubs and spends his downtime either actual flying or guiding the model planes and gliders he builds around the Teewah skies.

Having just started working as a simulator training officer in Brisbane, Jet is now well on the way to achieving his ambition of becoming an air traffic controller, but surfing is still a passion. Says Josh: “His shifts start at either 6am or 11am, and if it’s the late one, he’ll be out surfing with us at dawn, then drive to Brisbane to start work. He loves his surfing more now than ever.”

Which brings us to the now part of the story. Now 15, second son Jive is into his first full rookie year in the longboard events. After high placings in the Queensland juniors and the juniors at the Crescent Classic, a couple of weekends ago Jive took out his first win of the season at the Alex Winter Classic, taking out the junior division and the coveted Jack Boast Perpetual Trophy while dad claimed wins in the over 40s and the men’s open, bringing his tally this year to five titles from three events.

The Jack Boast stand-alone event used to be the top juniors comp on the coast, named in memory of a great supporter. When he was just 13, Josh won the event and the trophy. That was 30 years ago. He followed up in 1996, and again in 1997 before becoming a senior. The wheel turns.

The patellar tears (that’s the tendon that joins the knee to the shin) that sidelined him over the summer are still giving Josh a bit of grief, but as I told him this week: “Be thankful. You’ve never surfed better.” Which he puts down not only to the fact that he’s the strongest and the fittest he’s ever been, but to a renewed passion for competition, seen through the prism of Jive.

Later this month, father and son will both be competing at the Surf Coast Longboard Classic at Bells Beach while Josh commentates for the WSL world tour event. Says Josh: “It’ll be great experience for Jive to be exposed to the world’s best at the WSL. I’m thinking about a crack at that title next year, but also in the back of my mind is the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles, when longboarding may make its debut. And Jive and I could be there!”

Dreams are free, but those Constables, you never know.

FOOTNOTE: Too many sad farewells lately, but this column can’t let the news go unreported of the passing of founding Noosa Turtles swim club member Neville (“Sir Nev”) Mills after a long and courageous battle. Turtles head honcho Bob Wood notes: “Sir Nev held two important positions with the Noosa Turtles, he was our first safety officer and then became our director of apparel and styling, looking after our limited edition and very popular Turtle tee shirts. He fought the dreaded cancer for over five years but unfortunately the body gave up after so many operations, chemo etc. He was a modern day warrior, a great bloke with a big heart.”