Hometown: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Profession: Photographer, Cinematographer, Creative Advisor to, Blue Ocean Sciences, and the Ocean Lovers Collective
First Surf Session @ Rincon?
1973 December 10 surf was 3-5 feet. I drove there in mt Dad’s 1964 Ford Falcon and surfed it alone on a 6’6″ round squaretail I had just built and was amazed at how fast you could go, there.
Tell us about the image that you took of Tom Curren that is featured as the RC 13 30th anniversary iconic shot.
Our Winters really can be the best Summers. A Santa Ana was just fading. Hot glassy, 4-6 foot, 290 degree WNW swell, and Tom was just burying himself and playing. I was monopoding a 600 F 4 and walking down the point and this was 1 of two great barrels that Tom snatched. I rarely just go hang out at the beach with a long lens and shoot surfing. It makes me edgy sitting on the beach. But when I saw Tom do some neat work in the barrel, well, it made being in the bleachers worthwhile. I have known Tom and Joe and the family, for a long, long time. Whenever I get to hang with any of the Currens, is a pretty good day.
Most memorable Rincon Session?
There are a lot. So so many. One of the best was a 10-12 foot day, almost too big. Sunny, bright blue water. I remember getting a wave up past Indicator and as I drove down into that big fat section below Rivermouth, the light breeze made the wave face shimmer liker a field of sapphires. Wave went around the corner towards La Conchita. Took 20 minutes to walk back. I was riding a 5’11 inch tri fin I had built earlier in the season.
Best Memory of the Rincon Classic?
This is a hard one. It was either my first win, which was actually an event Jeanine Curren did, which preceded the first one that Surf N Wear did, or one of three others. I think the one that makes me smile, was when I had just left Channel Islands to develop Spindrift and the CI guys buried my board in the sand. I found it after the final heat had gone out.
I ran across the rocks at Indicator (it was very small), sprinted out and sat on top of everyone and controlled the heat. Looking in with 5 minutes to go I saw Al who was standing on the rocks, throw up his hands and walk away. I knew I had won. In process I won the event series which gave me our local title of Surfer of the Year, which meant a lot to me, because of both my close friendships with my competitors and Al, but also because Jeff White had mentored, supported me and been my friend, with Roger Nance for so many years.
It could also be the year I came second to Steve Dwyer. That was pretty special. It was great having him beat me. I was not disappointed, I was elated. Surf was big. We were all going at it!
What is it about the Rincon Classic that makes it so special?
COMMUNITY! When we all began to surf the tour, the idea was to build a competitive format that would set the bar high and breed better everything. Boards, attitudes, brotherhood, friendships and liasons. Rincon is competitive. Everyone wants the prize. To stand out there requires a wide variety of skills and your friends. The only time you are alone there, truly alone is over 10 feet, so it is a social exercise. In terms of the wave, being different than what the fall line demands requires skills and creativity, because the wave wants a subtle steady line. Breaking that, and using the wave to create dream moves is quite a gift of the architecture of the Point.
Favorite subjects to photograph
Anything in the water, pretty much. As long as I am wet, I am happy. The more technically difficult, the better for me. Though I really enjoy creating and doing staged productions for Fashion, just give me a regular day in the water with the dolphins, one or two of my friends surfing, a wide angle, a thumping swell, and I am gonna wind up with a grin on my face.
You have been through the entire gamut of surfing. From professional surfer to shaper, surfshop owner, coach, photographer, writer and much more. Do you have any insight on why you feel our county produces world class surfers?
Generosity. Santa Barbara surfing is rooted in Aloha and that IS generosity. The first surfboard builder I ever met here was Rennie Yater. I was a little kid. He was great to me then, and throughout my career. So were ALL of my friends and mentors in Surfing, Swimming, Cycling, Racing, Manufacturing, Retail, Photography, Literature and Cinematography. I have been fortunate to have had some success, but really, it all came as a result of the flow of aloha, as well as the bar which the person before me set, within the Community that lives here.
We all, each one of us, set the stage for the next. We all stay connected by recognizing that Surfing is a part of who we are, but not what we are. Everyone moves on, best to endeavor to do that with some grace and gratitude and keep the chain, unbroken. Everyone matters.