In his favourite place – the waters of Fiji.
There aren’t many who truly live life as it was intended. Living simply, traveling lightly, loving intensely and surfing like a rock star.
Kit Deger was one of these outrageous few.
Kit wandered into Fiji 10 years ago, carrying nothing more than a hessian bag, a hammock and a surfboard.
With stories of growing up in Palm Beach NSW (a giant image of his feet are still stamped on the side of the Barefoot Boulevard), jumping off fishing boats to chase waves and years making hammocks in Byron to support his surfing addiction, Kit had the wide-eyed hipsters captivated from the start.
Kit, taking time out in one of his legendary hammocks.
Over time the whole country stopped to listen.
In 2012 he became the official mentor and coach to the Fiji Surf Team and the unofficial coach of all things on life and love.
On April 7th this year, Kit arrived back on land following a weekend of perfect swell at Cloudbreak and suffered a fatal heart attack.
Wandering out with the same simplicity he arrived with, Kit died at aged 48 in the arms of his long-time friend and business partner, Andrew Walkden-Brown.
“I am totally stoked that you had had a solid few days of great surfing. I am also extremely sorry that we could not get you home that night … something that I find hard to come to terms with,” Andrew writes on Kit’s flooded facebook wall.
Kit’s last wave was a cracker, and there’s no doubt he would’vebeen happy it was at Cloudbreak.
Fiji’s surf community is a small but strong group of ‘spoilt-for-choice’ boys riding second-hand boards with first class aggression. They have some of the world’s best barrels in their backyard, but sleep in so long they often miss the boat.
Leading up to the Volcom Pro last year Kit’s ‘love it or leave it’ rampage saw many of the boys take a new approach to their surfing. He ran classes, sent boys to bed, (took girls out of beds); healed reef cuts and whipped a lot of brats into shape.
Surfers throughout the islands are still reeling from the loss of the strange ‘kai va lagi’ (white man) who either pushed them onto their first wave or embedded the ‘Laugh or Cry, Surf or Die’ motto into their hearts.
One of the local boys, who Kit saw go from whitewash to the Melanesian Cup, said Kit was a tutor for everything from surf attitude to nutrition.
“He treated me like his own son constantly telling me to be safe on the bicycle, asking if I got some money, telling me what’s healthy to eat and what’s not. Just last week he organized for me to surf Frigates for a few days. Kit is a truly amazing surfer who charged 15foot Cloudbreak with no fear. Surf or Die!”
For a country with its fair share of surf politicians Kit was one of the few men everyone called a friend, in and out of the water. He brought everyone together, danced like a lunatic and drank the young guns under the table.
Heavily involved with the Fiji Surf Association (FSA), Kit encouraged everyone to pass on their knowledge, skills and boards to the kids.
Scoring half of Josh Kerrs board at this year’s Volcom Pro Fiji.
Ian ”Porto” Portingale, (Australian Team Coach ‘Surfing Australia1998 – 2003) said, “right from the start Kit had this infectious enthusiasm. He was so focused on helping the Fijian kids find the stoke in surfing. He volunteered to do just about anything if it meant getting more Fijians into surfing. His passing will leave an enormous hole in Fijian junior development that will be hard to fill.”
Although he has left a hole in a strengthening community, he went out the best way a surf god could; still dripping wet from charging perfect waves.
“His last four days were some of his best surfing days he told us yesterday afternoon. He got his very first deep switch foot barrel at Cloudbreak on a solid 6foot wave. The surf was ‘epic’ in his words”, Andrew said.
His love and commitment to the surfing life resonate through the Fiji waters. Every wave now caught at Cloudbreak is shared with a legend who will be remembered with his front tooth missing, hand in a shakka, yelling “Yeah baby!”
RIP Kitty Kat.