I wasn’t so sure about Yadin heading into West Oz. Mainly, because my wife has a crush on him. A few years ago at the Hurley Lowers Pro, he was a wild card at the event. There were large portraits of every competitor in the Top 34 (plus wild cards), pasted on the fence heading into the comp tents on the beach, so my friend, who was also with his girlfriend, and I decided to test our girls.

“Let’s say we died. And you could pick any one of these guys — who would it be?” we asked, pointing to the array of suitable males. They looked at each other, then at the larger-than-life photos for a moment, scanning over Slater, Wilson, Andino, Florence…

Simultaneously, as if on cue, they pointed to the portrait of Yadin and mispronounced, very assuredly: “Yah-deen.”

So since then I’ve had a bit of a sore spot for the guy. He’s been on my shit list, really. Even to this day, whenever my wife sees me watching the webcast, she asks me with a shit-eating grin, “How’s Yah-deen doing?”

“He’s not on tour,” I snap back.

But he is on this trip. And right next to me, in fact. An actual West Australian born and bred loke. My wife is excited for me.

This trip’s been a much-needed homecoming for Yadin. I can imagine that Orange County, California, where he resides with his family now, could be stifling for a guy like him. Yadin’s the type of person that needs space for his personality to breathe. Wide-open space like Western Australia with skies that reach toward infinity and land that knows few towns.

Devilishly handsome, Yadin vibrates confidence. In his posture, in his smile — his gait pretty much says, “This ain’t my first rodeo.” But not in some apathetic, been-there-done-that-way — more in a mischievous manner. There’s a look in his eyes like he’s f--king with life, like, “Your move, bitch.”

Around town it’s constant reunion-mode, old friends, fans and fam hollering “Hey Yades!” in passing, beaming warmly to see their lost son home. Their smiles give me the picture of the type of guy he is, but Yadin fills me in on the blanks, pointing to different adolescent landmarks, which paints a picture of what he’d grown from.

“We got really drunk one time when I was younger and the police caught me swimming in that water feature over there naked,” he chuckles, pointing to a fountain in the middle of Margaret River. “The cop didn’t even arrest me, probably because he was embarrassed for me. Like, ‘Put that little thing away, mate!’”

Yadin also knows the shit out of every break we surf, further proving his local status. Out at tricky North Point he sits deep and on the ledge. He watches which sets break across the bay and bags the biggest, best ones. He, and only he out of all of us, knows which ones will shift over the the middle deep spot and beelines it outside and to the left to get in perfect position on one. At The Box, he hooks in deep and off a chip-shot…well, actually on his first one, he’s way too deep and gets slammed on the bottom, tearing back-flesh through his wettie. But even with this break in momentum, he gets right back on the horse and gets a few smokers.

I finally tell him about the story of our girls at the Hurley Pro a few years back and he laughs, shaking off the compliment. There’s something in his eyes smiling devilishly that suggests this wasn’t the first time he’s heard a story like that, though.

Copyright © 2016 The Enthusiast Network. All rights reserved.