"My passion for the ocean began with my father's love of the ocean. Dad was a keen bodysurfer and so when we moved to Cronulla in the early 70's, each morning we would go to the beach together before school and work."
Dad also came from the tradition that if you needed something, then you built it yourself. So, in 1971 when the glass peeled off the deck of my first board, we stripped it back, reshaped, and reglassed it, and that was beginning of spending my high school years building surfboards under my parents house.
"During the early 70's, a series of huge cyclone swells pounded Cronulla's beach's, initiating me into to what became a lifelong addiction for riding larger waves. The 70's storms were serious, washing away the retaining walls, half of North Cronulla Park and pretty much all of the beach itself.
Always curious, I managed to find my way outside on some of the cleaner days and to this day, I still remember the awe and amazement that I felt when I pulled into my first double overhead barrel at the age of 14. It was pre legrope days and I spent the rest of my morning swimming against the currents to get back to the beach.
But I wasn't thinking about getting back to the beach... all I was thinking was that I had just experienced something that was beyond description..."
"The very first surf movie I saw was Alby Falzon's Morning Of the Earth when it played at Cronulla's Community Hall. It was a revelation that captured the spirit of freedom and surfing that swept through the 70's like a giant cosmic cleanup set... and i was feeling it!
Between that and Kevin Naughton and Craig Peterson's planetary wanderings that appeared in my 70's Surfer magazine subscription, my vision of surfing crystallized....
It was the the magical journey of seeking out perfect waves in remote locations..."
"In 1977 I had finished school and started shaping at Gordon and Smith in Cronulla. By June, at the age of 17, I packed a couple of single fins and took off for Bali. It was life changing for me.
This mysterious and exotic island with it's incredibly peaceful and gentle culture, blew me away. So did the three deep tube rides on my very first wave at Uluwatu. It was the beginning of a life long love affair with the magical island, it's waves and it's people.
Over the decades I spent extended periods in Bali, using it as a base for explorations into the more remote corners of Indonesia, and as a testing ground for my boards. Often I would learn more about my boards from one wave in Bali than i would from 6 months of surfing in Australia."
"If you ever pull up at some remote surfng break and see a lone figure amongst mountains of white water it's more than likely to be Jim Banks" Wayne Bartholomew
"Jim Banks rewrote the book on backhand surfing at Sunset Beach" 1979 Pro Class Trials Head Judge, Jack Shipley
"I really enjoyed my North Shore of Hawaii seasons through the late 70s and early 80's. It was an incredible arena for exploring the limits of surfing.
A combination of curiosity and a thirst for adventure often found me paddling out on days when no one else would.
I had a huge respect for Hawaiian surf and surfing, and so I was pretty stoked to be the first goofy footer to ever win a contest at Sunset Beach in the 1979 Hawaiian Pro Class Trails."
"Jim Banks is something of an enigma in big wave riding circles. He attacked the Pipeline like a true warrior, paddling out as though every session were his last, and considering his approach to the world's deadliest intersection, every session could easily have been his last.
On a good west day at Pipeline. the pecking order, starting with Lopez, would jockey within a very tight take-off zone, but sitting a good forty metres inside of this elite pack was Jim Banks always."
"Of course Pipeline was the real attraction for me and I spent a lot of time exploring the sometimes terrifying limits of the Pipe, paddling out on days when no one else would, sometimes taking waves no one else would, and getting some of the scariest and most mind blowing tube rides of my life.
I took a couple of serious injuries along the way and the Pipe did put me in hospital a couple of times."
"I was never really into the contests. It all just started as a fun thing to do with the other kids from school. Even when I was winning most of the local contests during the mid 70's, it didn't really mean that much to me.
In 1978 I stumbled onto the pro scene when I surprised myself and everybody else by taking out 4 times world champ MR in my first heat in the 1978 Coke contest. I ended up finishing 3rd overall in the event, riding a 6'5" single fin that I had shaped myself.
I spent the next four or five years hovering around the back end of the top 16 on the world pro tour. But I wasn't really that interested in competitive surfing and the often poor surf that the contests were held in.
Highlights were winning the 1981 Om Bali Pro, the Hawaiian Pro Class Trials in 1979, and ending Shaun Thomson's seven year stranglehold on the Gunston 500 at his home break in Durban the same year."
Jim Banks is a real explorer. He makes his own boards, heads off to Indo, stays in primitive housing, learning the language and customs of the locals and carves up anything that comes his way. He's his own man, easily recognised by the gleam in his eye" ...James Elder, ASL Annual 1990
"By the time I won the Om Bali Pro in 1981, I was probably at the height of my professional surfing career. But I'd had enough of contests, and so I wandered off, walking away from my top 16 tour ranking and the whole contest scene…
I had found that winning was actually kind of empty feeling and nothing like the satisfaction I got from finding great waves and scoring epic tube rides. I lost interest in trying to surf for a judging system and chose to return to my passion of seeking out long barrels in remote locations.
In those days the surf companies couldn't get their heads around it. So for the next 10 - 15 years, my meagre surfboard business and penning the occasional piece for surf mags funded my wanderings, while I developed my surfboard designs in some of the world's most remote and challenging waves,
Throughout the 80s, and while pro surfing was consuming the attention of the surfing world, I was spending long sessions by myself in remote locations, exploring the possibilities of where my boards and I could go on a wave.
It was an amazing time and I spent most of the decade surfing waves such as Uluwatu, Grajagan, Desert Point, Cloudbreak and Gnaraloo, often by myself, or with just a couple of fellow explorers."
These days, I call Bali home, where I keep an eye on the Mango Tree Cafe at Padang Padang in between sojourns to some of the remoter corners of Indonesia. I still love hunting down high quality waves with no one around, just like I've always done. And I'm still very passionate about continuing to develop my surfboard designs, building the occasional limited edition series of boards when I feel inspired.
For the last 20 years I've also been getting into building guitars, starting them in Australia and finishing them in Bali. Hopefully I'll have a complete workshop here so I can build them completely here in Bali soon.
"As life goes on, I am coming to understand more and more, that it is the simple things that are the most important, and in particular, just how special it is to be able to go for a surf. It's also becoming obvious, that at the end of the day, the only things I'm going to be taking with me when i leave are the feelings and memories in my heart..."