Have wave, will travel

Surf Champs Buy Lomita Travel Agency

By Brian Covert
Headlight Feature Writer

Two world-renowned surfing champions have found a way to put their various global excursions and journeys to good use. The result: their recent acquisition of the Kojac Travel Agency in Lomita.

Peter Townend and Ian Cairns, both native Australians now living in Orange County, are two of the original pioneers of pro-surfing since its “birth” in the early to mid-1970s. They have since then traveled around the world some seven times during their various competitions. That, they believe, is their stronghold in operating and owning a travel agency.

“We’ve had quite a lot of experience in traveling,” Peter said. “The problems you may run into and also the good times you may have. That’s something that we can really offer people.”

“We know the cheapest way to travel and we’ve learned through the experience, having to pay the bloody tickets ourselves,” added Ian. “We endeavor to find the cheapest routing and we will find the cheapest fare within the rules.”

Kojac Travel offers a variety of pre-arranged deals as well as specially made package tours and excursions. One little-known but important fact about travel agencies is that their services are free, courtesy of the airlines. It costs no more to have an agency arrange a trip than it does for customers to do it on their own.

When not busily running the agency, Ian and Pete spend much of their time producing and promoting surfing contests (a few are planned for southern California this summer), writing for various publications, coaching the
National Scholastic Surfing Association (NSSA), and much more.

Both Ian and Pete had their taste of movie stardom by being used as stunt doubles in the surfing movie, “Big Wednesday”; Ian doubled for Gary Busey (star of “The Buddy Holly Story”) and Pete doubled for William Katt (star of “The Greatest American Hero”). If the opportunity comes up to do another movie, the guys from Australia say they won’t pass it up, but until then, they plan to stay involved in the surfing field that they so wholeheartedly dove into over a decade ago.

“Well, we cannot complain. We’ve had a lot of terrific experiences through surfing — there’s no doubt about that,” Ian emphasized. “It’s given us a lot of opportunities and the chance to earn a living at something you love doing. It’s something that most people don’t ever have.”

“I’ve found that the best education I ever had outside of school was actually traveling: getting out there in the world and having to make do,” said Pete. “You’d be surprised at some of the situations you get placed in when you’re in some foreign country and you can’t speak the language. You’re stuck in the airport and you’ve got to all of a sudden use your wits to get your baggage on the plane or get the ticket to wherever you’re going. It is really a good education and it can help you in business because it helps you to talk to people and communicate better and also makes you a better all-around person.”

As for the future, Ian and Pete plan to get more involved in the community and in the city of Lomita. It looks as if “surf’s up” for Kojac Travel and for two creatively ambitious fellows, whose personal horizons have brought them to Lomita to make a go at an occupation of relating and sharing experiences with other people about this vast, unbounded empire: the world in which we live.