Introducing: Luke Saranah -- West Oz's Unsung Hero and Fearless Tube Hunter

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Words by Nick Carroll

Luke Saranah is a tugboat decky and roof plumber from Western Australia. On the evidence of the accompanying mini feature, he’s also a superb and fearless barrel hunter who’d be at home in the sketchiest of lineups.

Luke competed a bit as a grommet before evolving into a committed traveler, spending his available time hunting the kind of heaving pits you’ll see in the film. “I met him on a trip a few years ago at Desert Point, saw him get one wave and thought who the hell is this," says lensman Tom Pearsall. "Since then I have been working with him closely and we've travelled from Norway to Skeleton Bay.

© 2021 - Tommy Pearsall

“He's a barrel of laughs to travel with. We get on really well and even under the stressors of travel to remote and challenging locations, we've never had a blow up. We have some unreal grassroots supporters but we pretty much pay our own way.… Another deciding factor was that we just seemed to naturally link up in the water. You can rest assured he is going to go on anything. We both put it on the line and we can guarantee that the other will be there when the moment happens.

“Most of our strike missions start with him coming straight from night shift and then arriving home that day he goes back to night shift. He's truly a freak.”

© 2021 - Tommy Pearsall

This clip was shot on a recent trip up to the NW. It kinda speaks for itself but we got Luke to do a bit of Q-and-A-ing too.

Tell us a bit about your start in the surfing life — growing up, siblings, home town, first surfs, buddies, all that.
LS: I grew up in a small country town called Guilderton (about 100k’s north of Perth), where I started bodyboarding at nine years old with my younger brother and mates. I was 14 when one of my dad’s mates convinced me to surf on my dad’s old Blaxell single fin. 

Ever since I started surfing at 14 I was hooked and it became my passion and just a good mental and physical escape to a healthy life. 

© 2021 - Tommy Pearsall

Can you trace this love of travelling and heavier waves/barrels back to anything in particular? How do you manage it all around what sounds like a pretty busy working life?
I always love a challenge and explore how far I can push my limits. Ever since I got my first tube I just wanted to chase the most perfect barreling waves around the world. The traveling side is obviously a big plus as it brings many great aspects, just exploring amazing places, learning about different cultures, eating good food, learning how to adapt to different environments and I have made good friends throughout. 

Working on tug boats and also working for myself as a roof plumber, I always had a quite flexible work schedule, which allowed me to chase swells around the world. 

Tell us something about the sessions in this clip, not locations so much as maybe boards you were riding, other people in the water, the vibe and energy, that stuff.

Myself, my brother and our partners went on a three week camping trip and we were lucky enough to score four big swells within that period. My friend Tom Pearsall who is a photographer joined us as on this trip. Him and I have been on an endless travel journey since 2015, chasing swells around the globe, and I have been fortunate enough to make a good friend and also provide content through him for the companies who are supporting the both of us, all to his credit.

Most of our strike missions start with him coming straight from night shift and then arriving home that day he goes back to night shift. He's truly a freak

I ride VON boards, which are made by a good mate of mine, named Ryan von Dresselt. I usually take about eight boards varying from 5’8” to 7’1”. Most of the clips previewed are between a 6’3” or a 6’6” on the bigger waves.

Although we had a couple of days where I went out on a 7’1”.  It was super busy due to the lifted Covid restrictions a month prior and every man and his dog were saddling up with boats, caravans, jet skis and everything you can think of. So it was pretty chaotic. Over the 18 years going there here and there I have never seen so many people around and on the road. But it is obviously very understandable considering the crazy times we are all living in at the moment.

© 2021 - Tommy Pearsall


Where have you gone, where do you wanna go? Do you have a target on any spots, places you haven’t gone to or scored?
There are plenty of places on my radar where I’d love to go to. I probably couldn’t fulfil them in a lifetime as there are so many perfect waves around the world. It’s just about finding the right weather patterns, swell, etc to hit the nooks and crannies on our planet. 

My favourite place in the world to surf is Namibia, and I always try to go there once a year during the right season. I also really love Tahiti and will sail there in time, just everything about there is all time, I have been there a couple of times and definitely wanna go back.

I would like to tow Teahupoo on a beast swell and would really like to chase a typhoon to Japan or the Phillipines, which is definitely a target of mine. 

Images and vid by Tommy Pearsall