Possessions

Sometimes a plastic cup just isn’t mantle-worthy.

Rob Machado has won so many contests, he has enough of those oversized checks to build shelters for 1,000 refugee camps in Afghanistan. Of course, the big checks hold sentimental and proud memories, but you can’t cash them. And all those old trophies? In twenty years of competitive surfing, Rob could fill the Goodyear Blimp hangar with gold plastic cups.

That brings us to Rob’s possession. Not necessarily his most prized possessions, but he still has them, even though they’re rotting in the back corner of his yard. “The trophies usually end up in the house for the first couple of days,” sighs Rob. “That’s about the time my wife says they’re ugly and throws them in the backyard. Then the gardener comes and he throws them even deeper into the corner of the backyard. Eventually they get covered up with vines and stuff, so I never see them again.”

It’s not an attitude thing that makes Rob throw his old trophies out. He still holds a few very dear to his heart. “Most of the trophies you get are just plastic spraypainted gold. Why would you want that on your mantle? I do have my Pipe Masters trophy up there, though. It’s a beautifully carved wave with Gerry Lopez in the barrel. Now that’s a trophy.

“Maybe I’m just ripping off my idol,” Rob laughs. “I went to Tom Curren’s house and was sitting in his backyard. He went inside and a little shiny flowerpot caught my eye. I looked closer at the dirty, rusty, gold-colored pot and saw a little plaque that was covered in dirt. It said 1990 ASP World champion. His World Championship cup is now a dirty flowerpot. That pretty much puts trophies into perspective.”-C.C.

Keala And The Board That Makes Her Quiver

The world’s best woman at Teahupo’o shows her gun.

Keala Kennelly is thought by many to be the best woman to charge the death pits at Tahiti’s Teahupo’o. She’s proven this time and time again by getting spit onto the shoulder of some barfing hell bombs at the notorious reef pass. The trophies and photos remind her of her achievements at the break, but only one possession reminds her of the feeling of riding it.

In the corner of her house sits a 6’5″ rounded pin Spyder surfboard shaped by Ian Wright. This is the board that gets her blood flowing and her skin crawling. Every year, around early May, she looks to this board and mixed emotions fill her body, and her thoughts take her into the barrel and sometimes onto the reef at her favorite spot. “Every year when I pack for Tahiti, I grab this board or one just like it and start to feel the adrenaline. Even when I look at it like a month before the event I start getting amped,” glows Keala. “You need a board like this that’s fast and drivey. A board that will get you to the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Keala no doubt breaks a few of these on the way to the light, but every year, there will be another one in the corner of her house, giving her chills, toying with her emotions, and make her heart beat faster every time she looks at it.-C.C.

The Speed Of Life May Be A Ten-Speed

Chris Malloy finds happiness is a warm bike seat.

Chris Malloy doesn’t have a car anymore-he only has a bike. It’s not that he can’t afford a car, he just doesn’t want one. Chris has found a small piece of himself on the pedals and spokes of a little vintage cruiser. It seems like such a simple thing-it’s just a bike, right? To some, this bike may just look like a beater or a collector’s item, but to Chris, it’s a subtle form of meditation that happens to get him from his house, to the coffee shop, to the beach, and back. Yeah, a lot of folks dish out thousands for the latest in titanium-and-graphite superbikes, but it’s still a bike. Functionality is key. Chris’ bike functions just fine r him. “I loved the bikes that everybody rode in China. I found the frame at a junk shop, a friend and I put it together, and now I just love it. I just ride my bike around, and it really changes the pace of life. It slows life down to where it should be, or at least where I want it to be.”

In Asian countries and across Europe, bikes are an important component of society.

“It seems like when all you have is a bike, you don’t just go places because you can,” ponders Chris. “I’ve been finding out that everything I need is right here.”-C.C.

Rawson’s Rhino Chaser

Here you go, son.

Everyone knows that it’s extremely important to be confident and comfortable with your equipment in big waves. And is there any better way to accomplish these crucial elements than to have your old man shape your board and model it after one of the biggest legends ever in the big-wave scene? The answer is no, especially if your old man is Pat Rawson and the board he makes for you is an exact replica of the board he shaped for twenty-foot-and-bigger guru Derrick Doerner. Enter Ryan Rawson, son of a master foam plower, budding young hellman, and proud owner of a 9’8″ rhino chaser.

“A long time ago my dad made a board for Derrick with the same dimensions, and he really liked it,” says Ryan. “So my dad made me one just like it when I was sixteen. This is the second one I’ve gotten, and because Derrick liked it so much, it gives me a lot of confidence and I’m really comfortable on it-it’s solid. I’ve only ridden it twice, once at Waimea and once at Phantoms, but I’ve caught some big waves on it.”

This beloved board of Ryan’s is the North Shore’s version of your dad giving you your first baseball mitt-kind of like, “Go get ’em, kid!” Just substitute catching the game-ending fly ball with catching the twenty-foot bomb of the day at Waimea.-J.C.

The Fisherman And His Rod

Skip Frye likes to go fast.

This is what you hear when you try to call San Diego shaper Skip Frye: “Thank you for calling Skip Frye Surfboards. Please note that at this time we are not taking any new shaping appointments. Thank you for calling.” The message sounds serious, and the voice of the woman who recorded the message for Skip gets a bit louder and harder when it gets to the word “not.” If you read a bit deeper, this message tells you three things about Skip Frye.

First, what he makes is in demand. How many struggling businesses do you know that turn away potential jobs on their answering machines? Skip’s 1970s-style fish and longboards are some of the most sought-after pieces of surfing equipment in the world. With the booming popularity of retro surfboards on the rise, the inventor of the fish is swamped with business.

Second, he’s not interested in selling out. Skip could easily hire a bunch of ghost shapers and spend his day signing blanks instead of making them himself and really cash in on the “Hey, I just got a fish!” trend.

Third, in the six or seven times I’ve tried to call Skip, he has yet to answer the phone. Anyone has yet to answer the phone, for that matter-I can only postulate it’s because he’s surfing.

I assume this is the case because I’ve seen Skip surf. He was down at a seriously localized stretch of beach in San Diego, catching waves and riding for 200 yards at a clip. I remember watching him connect from one break to another, effortlessly speeding through flat sections, utilizing ever available iota of speed the wave offered him. He was riding a bigger fish, maybe a six-nine, maybe bigger. Everyone in the lineup was talking about him as he passed us in a blur, like a seagull flying low along the crest of a wave.

When you do finally get Skip on the phone-and I did-he speaks about his work from a place most surfers would have a hard time completely comprehending. He talks about drive, hydrodynamic design principals, the rake of a certain set of fins, and his memories of Steve Lidst. His knowledge of surfing and surfboards eclipses most. It certainly eclipses mine.

I tried to find out more about the board he’s posing with, but he either couldn’t or didn’t want to remember the board’s specifics. Instead he talked about the concept of the fish, which is-let’s be honest here-his.

At the end of the conversation, he said something profound that even seemed to take him by surprise. Just as I was about to hang up, he said, “Oh yeah, there’s one more thing.”

“What’s that?” I asked.

“I’m a Christian.” He continued, “I have been for a long time, and I’ve noticed that my faith and the fish ebb and flow together.”

He went on to describe how the popularity of the fish design and the strength of faith in God seemed to rise and fall together.

“God works in weird ways like that,” he added after a brief pause. “It’s a sign of the fish.”-J.P.

The Right Tool For The Job

Brad Gerlach’s eleven-one Skip Frye catches everything.

When you get a glimpse of former World Number Two Brad Gerlach catching ripples out at his local break in Encinitas, California on his eleven-one Skip Frye gun, while surfers around him flounder on the wrong equipment, you realize Brad understands board selection and that this board has a purpose.

“The thing I like the most is when it’s crowded and I want to be out in the water, I paddle past everyone, sit with my back to the beach, and suddenly I’m all alone. Maybe some pelicans or whatever,” laughs Gerr. “Then when I want to catch a wave, it (the eleven-one) catches anything. It’s like a break from surfing, but not.”

While it might catch anything, keep in mind that riding such a huge surfboard requires a totally different mind-set. It’s not going to turn on a dime, and it doesn’t cater well to surfers used to the quick reflexes and ADD-like qualities of the modern shortboard.

“You have to look far ahead to figure out what you’re gonna do,” Brad says about riding the eleven-one. “I ride it all the way to the sand every wave, and I can catch 200-yard rides no matter how the surf is. It would be like a musician saying, ‘Normally I play the trumpet, but the tuba is a fun challenge.'”

Brad’s point is a good one. When you’ve spent some time mastering such a huge board, eight-foot Hawai’i guns suddenly don’t feel so sluggish and oversized. “Once you’ve ridden it,” Gerr chuckles, “everything else is easy.”-J.P.

Belly Up

Rasta and the Dale Solomonson pNeumatic surf mat.

David Rastovich lives in a world of freedom and love. His greatest joy in life is to be happy, so it’s no surprise to find his favorite possession is one that constantly makes him laugh. “It’s my surf mat, my David Solomonson pNeumatic surf mat,” he says, and yes, he’s giggling as he says it.

Rasta first came across the strange ribbed, blow-up surf craft while on a small adventure to Cape Byron with legendary waterman George Greenough. “George pulled out this surf mat, and he was just flying across the waves with incredible speed. I asked if I could have a go, and it was just insane. You were so close to the water and going so fast. After that I was hooked and never go anywhere without one.”

George got Rasta in contact with a man who custom-built surf mats in his own backyard in America. The man’s name was David Solomonson, and the two hit it off right from the get-go. “David and I chatted for hours, and he ended up making me two custom surf mats. The first was flat and the second had about an inch of rocker, and I just love em,” said Rasta. “I’ve got a three-mat quiver now, the two he made me and a standard blow-up Redback, which you can buy from just about any service station or camping store all along the coast.”

Recently Rasta took his treasured surf mat down to Sydney to compete in a future-orieals, the rake of a certain set of fins, and his memories of Steve Lidst. His knowledge of surfing and surfboards eclipses most. It certainly eclipses mine.

I tried to find out more about the board he’s posing with, but he either couldn’t or didn’t want to remember the board’s specifics. Instead he talked about the concept of the fish, which is-let’s be honest here-his.

At the end of the conversation, he said something profound that even seemed to take him by surprise. Just as I was about to hang up, he said, “Oh yeah, there’s one more thing.”

“What’s that?” I asked.

“I’m a Christian.” He continued, “I have been for a long time, and I’ve noticed that my faith and the fish ebb and flow together.”

He went on to describe how the popularity of the fish design and the strength of faith in God seemed to rise and fall together.

“God works in weird ways like that,” he added after a brief pause. “It’s a sign of the fish.”-J.P.

The Right Tool For The Job

Brad Gerlach’s eleven-one Skip Frye catches everything.

When you get a glimpse of former World Number Two Brad Gerlach catching ripples out at his local break in Encinitas, California on his eleven-one Skip Frye gun, while surfers around him flounder on the wrong equipment, you realize Brad understands board selection and that this board has a purpose.

“The thing I like the most is when it’s crowded and I want to be out in the water, I paddle past everyone, sit with my back to the beach, and suddenly I’m all alone. Maybe some pelicans or whatever,” laughs Gerr. “Then when I want to catch a wave, it (the eleven-one) catches anything. It’s like a break from surfing, but not.”

While it might catch anything, keep in mind that riding such a huge surfboard requires a totally different mind-set. It’s not going to turn on a dime, and it doesn’t cater well to surfers used to the quick reflexes and ADD-like qualities of the modern shortboard.

“You have to look far ahead to figure out what you’re gonna do,” Brad says about riding the eleven-one. “I ride it all the way to the sand every wave, and I can catch 200-yard rides no matter how the surf is. It would be like a musician saying, ‘Normally I play the trumpet, but the tuba is a fun challenge.'”

Brad’s point is a good one. When you’ve spent some time mastering such a huge board, eight-foot Hawai’i guns suddenly don’t feel so sluggish and oversized. “Once you’ve ridden it,” Gerr chuckles, “everything else is easy.”-J.P.

Belly Up

Rasta and the Dale Solomonson pNeumatic surf mat.

David Rastovich lives in a world of freedom and love. His greatest joy in life is to be happy, so it’s no surprise to find his favorite possession is one that constantly makes him laugh. “It’s my surf mat, my David Solomonson pNeumatic surf mat,” he says, and yes, he’s giggling as he says it.

Rasta first came across the strange ribbed, blow-up surf craft while on a small adventure to Cape Byron with legendary waterman George Greenough. “George pulled out this surf mat, and he was just flying across the waves with incredible speed. I asked if I could have a go, and it was just insane. You were so close to the water and going so fast. After that I was hooked and never go anywhere without one.”

George got Rasta in contact with a man who custom-built surf mats in his own backyard in America. The man’s name was David Solomonson, and the two hit it off right from the get-go. “David and I chatted for hours, and he ended up making me two custom surf mats. The first was flat and the second had about an inch of rocker, and I just love em,” said Rasta. “I’ve got a three-mat quiver now, the two he made me and a standard blow-up Redback, which you can buy from just about any service station or camping store all along the coast.”

Recently Rasta took his treasured surf mat down to Sydney to compete in a future-oriented specialty event in which 10,000 dollars goes to the surfer who can pull the most futuristic turn. Despite a couple of awesome late drops and a roundhouse cutty that seemed to take three minutes to complete, he was never really in the running. “I’d just come home from a big trip, and I wasn’t really interested in traveling with boards to the contest,” he explains. “So I just rolled up my surf mat like a towel, put it in my backpack, and jumped on the plane. Obviously I wasn’t going to win the contest, but I had a good time.”

Indeed, the surf mat may seem a little outdated in terms of high performance, but Rasta believes they do have some advantages: “It’s all about the speed, the path of absolute least resistance. You find the perfect fall line of the wave. Being so close to the water in that zone feels amazing. The more air you let out of them the faster they go, but the harder they are to paddle, so you need to find the right medium. I’ve ridden them in surf up to six foot, and they just get faster and faster.”

Sure, you can get the things moving, but at the end of the day it’s the fun factor that counts most. “There’s nothing serious about surf mats,” says Rasta. “You look like such a fool, but you just feel unreal riding ’em. Even people who see you paddle out on one start smiling. Surf mats lighten the mood of any surf you’re out in. Also my girlfriend Hannah loves them. We get out there and share waves and do crisscrosses and have the best time, so that makes them even more enjoyable.” A man, a woman, the waves, and a surf mat-now surely that’s a world we’d all like to possess.-Blako

Tudor Looks Back To 1935

Tom Blake inspires Joel’s new reality.

Joel Tudor has a lot of possessions near him that are priceless-vintage longboards from the world’s most sought-after shapers like Skip Frye and Ben Aipa, works of art from modern masters such as Thomas Campbell and Barry McGee, and a book that is more dear to his heart than anything else. “I saw an old friend at a museum and we got to talking,” Joel remembers. “I traded him a board he really wanted, and now I have this book that’s a treasure to me.”

The original book, titled Hawaiian Surfboards, is rare and valuable (estimated value is 5,000 dollars) and was reproduced in 1983 as Hawaiian Surfriders 1935. This book is touted as the first book ever published about surfing, and the best part about Joel’s copy-it’s signed by the author himself, the legendary Tom Blake. Joel handles the book with the utmost care and cradles it like a newborn. Hawaiian Surfriders 1935 is illustrated with black and white photographs taken mainly by Blake himself and is highlighted with an intro by Duke Kahanamoku.

It’s no wonder Joel treasures this book so much-Tom Blake is widely respected as the father of surfing, second only to Duke. And to have the signature of the man himself is to a lover of surfing what an autographed Mickey Mantle baseball card is to a baseball fan.

Usually people read a book, then loan it out so others can enjoy. But judging by the way Joel holds this baby, no one will be borrowing it anytime soon.-C.C.

oriented specialty event in which 10,000 dollars goes to the surfer who can pull the most futuristic turn. Despite a couple of awesome late drops and a roundhouse cutty that seemed to take three minutes to complete, he was never really in the running. “I’d just come home from a big trip, and I wasn’t really interested in traveling with boards to the contest,” he explains. “So I just rolled up my surf mat like a towel, put it in my backpack, and jumped on the plane. Obviously I wasn’t going to win the contest, but I had a good time.”

Indeed, the surf mat may seem a little outdated in terms of high performance, but Rasta believes they do have some advantages: “It’s all about the speed, the path of absolute least resistance. You find the perfect fall line of the wave. Being so close to the water in that zone feels amazing. The more air you let out of them the faster they go, but the harder they are to paddle, so you need to find the right medium. I’ve ridden them in surf up to six foot, and they just get faster and faster.”

Sure, you can get the things moving, but at the end of the day it’s the fun factor that counts most. “There’s nothing serious about surf mats,” says Rasta. “You look like such a fool, but you just feel unreal riding ’em. Even people who see you paddle out on one start smiling. Surf mats lighten the mood of any surf you’re out in. Also my girlfriend Hannah loves them. We get out there and share waves and do crisscrosses and have the best time, so that makes them even more enjoyable.” A man, a woman, the waves, and a surf mat-now surely that’s a world we’d all like to possess.-Blako

Tudor Looks Back To 1935

Tom Blake inspires Joel’s new reality.

Joel Tudor has a lot of possessions near him that are priceless-vintage longboards from the world’s most sought-after shapers like Skip Frye and Ben Aipa, works of art from modern masters such as Thomas Campbell and Barry McGee, and a book that is more dear to his heart than anything else. “I saw an old friend at a museum and we got to talking,” Joel remembers. “I traded him a board he really wanted, and now I have this book that’s a treasure to me.”

The original book, titled Hawaiian Surfboards, is rare and valuable (estimated value is 5,000 dollars) and was reproduced in 1983 as Hawaiian Surfriders 1935. This book is touted as the first book ever published about surfing, and the best part about Joel’s copy-it’s signed by the author himself, the legendary Tom Blake. Joel handles the book with the utmost care and cradles it like a newborn. Hawaiian Surfriders 1935 is illustrated with black and white photographs taken mainly by Blake himself and is highlighted with an intro by Duke Kahanamoku.

It’s no wonder Joel treasures this book so much-Tom Blake is widely respected as the father of surfing, second only to Duke. And to have the signature of the man himself is to a lover of surfing what an autographed Mickey Mantle baseball card is to a baseball fan.

Usually people read a book, then loan it out so others can enjoy. But judging by the way Joel holds this baby, no one will be borrowing it anytime soon.-C.C.