Anyone who?s been around the Phuket surf scene for a while will have had the pleasure of meeting Laurie Thompson and his lovely wife Dao. On any decent swell you can spot the 61 year old Laurie, with his distinctive shock of grey hair, carving smooth turns and classic drop-knee cutbacks, usually at his favorite local break of Kalim. Dao, a native of Bangkok, is never far away and always ready to engage you in a lively conversation on just about any subject you can think of.
Laurie, a true pioneer of surfing in Southeast Asia, travelled extensively throughout the region during the 70?s and 80?s seeking surf and adventure. It was during one of these trips that he met Dao. It didn?t take long for love to develop. They soon got married and began splitting their time between trips to Thailand and running the family surf shop on Phillip Island, Victoria, Australia.
They also got busy having kids and have been deservedly blessed with two lovely daughters: Dellani, 22, and Patchula (better known as ?Patch?), who is now 25. Patch and Dellani Thompson have spent their lives growing up between Australia and Thailand, dedicating part of every year to each country since their childhood. Both girls learned to surf at an early age in Phuket during the late 80?s with dad as chief instructor.
“Mum had a house in Bangkok, but we spent more and more time here in Phuket.” says Dellani
“Dad had scoped the place [Phuket] out before we were born during one of his surfing runs down to Sumatra? adds Patchula. “In the early days,?we stayed in bungalows at Coconut?Village or the Holiday Resort. We used to eat right on the beach where the Merlin Hotel is now “.
The Thompsons made an effort to spend time surfing in Thailand each rainy season, returning to Australia during Philip Island?s peak period to run the iconic Islantis Surf Shop.
Patch reminisces, “It was a very relaxed lifestyle here in Phuket back then, certainly not as crazy as it is now. The coast road was not connected north to Kamala or south to Karon, so most surfing for us was limited to Patong along the southern and middle areas.?We occasionally made?trips back inland and down to Karon and Kata or Kata Noi, but Patong provided the ideal learning location for us two small girls. There was no one to crash into! As our ability improved, we moved up to surfing Kalim”
Dellani adds, “We regularly scoured the coast between Ranong and Trang in an old Suzuki 4×4 hunting for surf as mum and dad were interested in buying coastal property. ?Roads were very poor back then. Searching for waves and figuring out wave potential?along the way was difficult. We finally?decided that Phuket had basically everything we wanted after all, and the family bought our first home here in 1997″.
In 1999, Quiksilver, along with the help of “Ruby” from Cobra International in Bangkok, and Rick Reynolds from Aloha Sports, sponsored the first professionally organized surfing contest held in?Thailand at Kata Beach. Patchula entered the open division and made it all the way the semi-finals.
Competitive surfing was still new in Thailand back then, and the Thai boys were more than a little embarrassed at having been schooled on surfing by a pretty young girl. In fact, as the highest placed?woman in the history of competitive Thai surfing thus far, it?has been?pronounced that she is Thailand?s first?Women’s Surfing Champion.
Patch continued competitive surfing and went on to secure a string of Australian state competition results, a Junior Australian Amateur title, and a Billabong sponsorship. Along the way she completed Fitness Management, Gym, and Pilates Instructor courses. She also?became a “Billabong Girl”, representing the famous surfing company and assisting them with modeling, junior development, and “Girls Surfing Days”. She even appeared with Joel Parkinson in his surfing movie “Free as a Dog”.
Whilst Patch developed a?strong competitive?drive, Dellani continued to treat her surfing more as a recreational pastime. She?finished her?schooling in Australia, was employed by Roxy Surfwear for a while, and now?works regularly in media and PR at major Australian sporting events including the Australian Open of Tennis, Formula One GP, Moto GP, and Superbike competitions.
Dellani loves nothing more than paddling out with a friend or two. She surfs purely for fun, and if you hear a giggle and a hoot, you can bet that Dellani is close by.
Both girls have surfed throughout Australia, Thailand,?and around the world. In 2008 they bought a camper van and travelled together across the coasts of France, Spain, Portugal, and Morocco, surfing their way along the Atlantic seaboard. They?ve also hit Bali a few times, and Patch?s competitive surfing has taken her as far as the Maldives and the USA.
Currently, the Thompson sisters?are putting together their own swimwear business back in Australia. Be assured, however, that both have every intention of coming back home to Phuket to visit mum and dad and, of course, return to their surfing roots.
Not bad for a couple of Phuket beach girls eh!