New South Wales surf photographer Ray Collins took to the waves with his Channel Island board in one hand, and his Nikon camera in the other last weekend.

We caught up with him after his exhilarating experience to discover more about his adventures.

Your video and photography showcases a few secret surfing locations from NSW, what locations are featured in your video?

We shot along the ‘Coal Coast’ in the Northern Illawarra area of NSW. It’s the gateway from Sydney to The South Coast and is probably my favourite place in the world. 

Just south of The Royal National Park, it’s made up of places like Stanwell Park, Coalcliff, Austinmer and Thirroul; cute and quaint ex-mining towns that dot the coast with some of the best coffee shops around! There’s enough nooks and crannies to find your own private beach most days - it’s hard to believe it’s only an hour from Sydney. 

> Why were you inspired to visit these locations for your video piece and what inspired you to tell the ADD WAVES narrative in your MINI Vignette?

Its where the mountains meet the sea. I love the contrast of the cliffs that drop into the ocean and the winding roads that run along the base of them. When planning the MINI shoot I imagined it would have been perfect driving terrain for the Countryman, and I was spot on!

The Add Waves narrative was a no brainer as my life revolves around waves and the beach. Whether I’m at work swimming with my trusty Nikon camera making Ocean Art, or escaping to a hidden bay to surf for the day, the sea has always been my refuge and release. Remember, the human body is 60% salt water and I think that’s why it always feels like ‘home’. 

Your content showcases a mix of exterior and interior shots of the MINI Countryman. Which features of the MINI Countryman were your favourite?

To be honest I was totally blown away by the storage space inside. It was no problem to fit 2 camera bags, a rolling case and a wetsuit bucket in the boot. Coupled with the automatic tailgate leaving my hands free, there was no need for my usual morning fumbling juggle of equipment and coffee to start my journey. 

The technology and layout of the Countryman’s cabin made me feel like I safely connected to my phone, even though it was tucked away in my pocket. Being able to easily access my phone contacts and music playlists without taking my eyes off the road was great. 

How did the MINI / CI Surfboard handle the waves? 

It was great! It was a little shorter than what I would normally ride, but the shape and volume distribution was perfect. It went well in the fun waves that we had around here for the shoot, it paddled so well. A lot of my favourite professional surfers ride Channel Islands boards and I was stoked to have one under my feet.