Underground: Dean Randazzo
[IMAGE 1]The Blue-Collar Hero Of Surfing
For years, people have underestimated a guy from New Jersey named Dean Randazzo. The equivolent of a blue-collar hero, his career has been a minefield of bad luck that turned around when he made the WCT (World Championship Tour) in ’96. It still didn’t matter, because the surfing media, the industry, and pretty much everyone has consistently blown him off¿yet he keeps coming back and winning contests. You see, Dean is a f¿king machine, an incredibly smooth, incredibly powerful surfer with a hell of a lot of Jersey in him. If you ever get a chance to see him surf, whether it’s in person or on a video, do it¿you’ll know what I’m talking about.¿A.C.
First off, why don’t you let the people know who you are and what you’re about.
Dean here, from New Jersey. I moved out here San Diego about eight to ten years ago. I still go back to the East Coast quite often to visit my family and friends. I don’t know¿I surf laughs.
How long have you been a pro surfer?
About ten years, probably less than ten years. No, about nine years.
Do you think the older you get, the better you surf?
Me, personally? Yeah, I feel like a fine bottle of wine getting better. I think my growing has taken a while because I started later than most people.
Like a late bloomer?
Yeah, especially from New Jersey because you don’t get to surf that much growing up. You have to wait for waves and all that.
You’ve told me you’ve had some bad luck with your surfing career, but it’s turned around lately. Why do you think that is?
I always believed that it would come around, that the potential was there if I put it all together. I’ve got some sponsors behind me who are all stoked on me, minus a clothing sponsor I don’t have yet. I think its the new millenium, the moon, or something¿the planets have moved.
Do you think you’re laying groundwork for kids from New Jersey?
Yeah, definitely. When you have someone who’s been successful, coming from where you come from, it gives you hope to believe you could do that, too. When you come from somewhere where no one else has done that before it’s a little harder. Places where you grew up seeing pro guys surf on tour and stuff, you learn everything from them. Hopefully, I’m inspiring some people back in Jersey to believe and achieve.
Do you think you put New Jersey on the surfing map in the surfing world?
You come from an Italian family right?
Yeah, I’m half-Italian, half-Irish. My mom’s Irish and my dad’s side is all Italian.
Do you think someday you’ll have a Cadillac with big chains and all that? Can we look forward to that?
Well, I’ve got a VW Bug with a disco ball. Does that count?
What’s your favorite break in Jersey?
Probably Manasquan Inlet. That’s one of the best waves. Mostly the spots I grew up at Margate in Ocean City, Maryland. I grew up surfing States Avenue, Seventh, and Eighth Street in Ocean City.
Do you study videos or anything to improve your surfing?
I don’t watch too many videos at all really. I probably watch the least amount of anybody who surfs¿I don’t know why. There’s one video I’m not gonna reveal that I’ve been watching before all my contests. I’ve been winning and it’s been foolproof.
Are you superstitious if you don’t watch it?
No, not if I don’t, but it’s just been weird because there’re four contests I’ve watched it before and I’ve won three of them and got second in the fourth one. The other contests that I didn’t watch it I didn’t make the finals.
Did you have surfers in Jersey who you looked up to when you were growing up?
Yeah, you always looked up to the older guys who were surfing good¿there’s a lot of talent back in Jersey. The thing that happens back there is people only reach a certain level¿you can’t really excel because of the conditions and sponsorship¿it’s just a hard place to come out of. You startt off young and you’re surfing good, and when you get older, you don’t really progress like most people would in Florida where they can surf all year ’round, or California where you can have surfing as a class in high school.
How do you explain a majority of the U.S. representatives on the CT being from the East Coast?
I don’t know. The thing is, we have the worst waves and there are a lot of guys qualifying from the East Coast. Everyone on the East Coast, it’s kinda like a drug, if you don’t have it waves you’re always thinking about it, you want it, and you’re doing everything that relates to surfing¿watching videos and doing surf turns on skate ramps, or whatever. Then when you do get waves, you have so much energy built up. I don’t know I guess it’s more drive or something.
Is it not uncommon to get slapped around in the water out there? Did you ever surf with the Mafia?
Yeah, I know some guys who are probably associated with the Mafia. They’re cool. Growing up there was a lot of rivalries between the cities next to you. I had my Margate Pier and they had their Ventnor Pier. If we ever showed up at their pier, we had to be prepared to fight, or if they showed up at our pier, it would be like a fight almost going down¿kinda like a rival thing.
So if you went to the other pier would you be considered a wise guy?
Kinda like an invader, like, “What’s the outsider doing here?”
Do you want to thank anybody who’s stuck by you, despite the hard times?
I thank everybody who stuck by me and believed in me. My family¿of course, my mom who’s supported me from day one.