Weight: 145 lbs.
Hometown: Carlsbad, California
Sponsors: Hurley, Adio, Arnette, Bully’s, Nixon, RW surfboards
Sometimes, it seems like kids who’ve been doing contests forever are like Peter Pan—they never grow up. Ricky Whitlock’s one of those kids. Ricky’s been doing contests for what seems like an eternity, and he’s starting to make his mark in the NSSA as a teenager—a big teenager. He’s got an older brother who rips, a father who shapes, and his family owns a surf shop in Carlsbad—basically, he’s got it made.
In fact, the kid travels so much, he quit going to Carlsbad High and began taking home studies. If he’s not on the road, you can find Ricky at Carlsbad State Beach, working in the shop, or harassing all the local chicks. “He’s got the personality of a rock,” says his dad Rusty. “He’s definitely a man of little words—he lets his surfing do the talking.” It appears the king of the Carlsbad groms is finally growing up—without thinking about it.—Checkwood[IMAGE 2]
Weight: 155 lbs.
Hometown: Tofino, Vancouver Island, Canada
Sponsors: Quiksilver, Globe, Ocean & Earth, Legend, Gary McNeil Surfboards
At age eight, Raphael Bruhwiler—Raph for short—for the first time in his life witnessed someone paddle out and surf in front of his house. What’s so strange about that, you may ask? Not much, except that Raph was raised in the small town of Tofino on the west coast of Vancouver Island, Canada, where surfers were not a common sight twenty years ago. Raph’s dad, a lumberjack, made him a board out of plywood. Needless to say, it didn’t work too well. So one of the locals gave him an old beater, and by thirteen, Raph had won his first surf contest. Since that time, he has gone on to win just about every event held in the state of Washington, not to mention those held on Canada’s west coast. You may wonder how Raph got so good growing up in the land of six-millimeter full-body neoprene armor. He had a whole family, including two brothers and a sister, to surf with.
One problem for surfing Canucks is that it’s hard to make a living as a professional surfer in Canada. In the summer, Raph guides city slickers on whale-watching tours. With each year, more and more people start to visit V.I. One day a light went off in Raph’s head: “Let’s open a surf camp, teach people how to surf, and at the same time support the family’s surfing habit.” Bruhwiler Surf Camp (www.bruhwilersurf.com) opened this past year with all of Raph’s siblings acting as instructors.
Raph and his younger brother Sepp—an incredible surfer in his own right—are about as competitive as the Irons brothers. Along the way they have pushed each other to the top of Canadian surfing. Check out the videos Numb, 49 Degrees, 5mm, and Cold Stuff (all aptly titled) to see what I’m talking “aboot.”—Brandy Faber[IMAGE 3]
Weight: 148 lbs.
Hometown: Byron Bay, Australia
Sponsors: Quiksilver, Pipedream, Kustom
This humble, fun-lovin’ New South Welshman first burst to prominence in his homeland as an eighteen year old with a mind-blowing center-spread barrel shot in the Aussie surf mag ASL. Not some in-your-face, fish-eye porthole, either. No way, this thing was snagged with a long lens from the channel at The Box in Western Australia (as big as it holds) and epitomized the overused term “cavern.” And “Sully” wasn’t pictured rigid and with mouth agape, but slouched casually within—laughing.
Fast-track forward one year, and he’s ripping on the Australian junior circuit, making the final of every compp he enters. “Something definitely clicked for me,” he says thoughtfully. “Being more patient maybe?”
A nasty wipeout mid 2003 left him nursing compressed vertebrae in his back, yet he still finished the national season third. So now it’s off to the World’s at Narrabeen in January. But first—Hawai’i beckons. “Can’t wait. Had a big night with the boys in Byron last night to celebrate, and I lost my voice,” he explains.
Nuh-uh. It’s louder than ever. —J.J.