Although I was excited to write this, I had my fears too. I am only a few years older than this group of young men, but I’ve become that 20-something that has stories that relate to the “back in my days” themes... depressing, I know.
Dylan, Augie, Joe, Michael, Chapin, and Jake make up this crew of waterman. Now when I think of five young men headed into adulthood a few choice words came scribbling into my mind... words like lazy, hormonal, and smelly.
I’ll admit that these fears came from being a bit of a train wreck in my early youth. I had essentially accepted that people under the age of 22 don’t care about anything other than themselves--certainly they couldn’t be creative, thoughtful, hard-working, and passionate human beings? Surprise, surprise--this cynical writer was wrong.
Me to them, Them to me. They were excited and scarily organized--hell, they were more organized than I was, and this is my job. They suggested a 7:00 AM meeting time. What kind of teens wake up before 11 on a weekend?The kind that lives for the stoke.
We met at Tower 7 in Huntington Beach, California, one of their go-to spots and not far from most of their homes and lives. What I found upon meeting them was more astonishment/bewilderment. They were incredibly prepared yet still had that playful banter only someone at their age can.
Dylan and Joe bringing up the front with more than a few cameras, fins, and a giant blow-up turtle. Michael, Augie, and Chapin only a 100 feet away with surfboards, handboards,wetsuits... laughing and kicking up sand. Not only did they have the gear, but they also had their support staff.
A few parentscoming along for the ride, driving them and then going so far as to stepping out into the chilly water. They were proud, you could see they way they would fill the time between interviews and surf with stories of their kids and how they were inspired by them rather than the other way around.
At first there was a nervousness of introductions and knowing this might make its way into print. I hoped that they didn’t see the intimidation I felt knowing that they had it more figured out than I ever did at their age. We had your basic questions about what they did for fun, how old they were, etc.
They spoke about the ocean like it was their mother and they were its children and protectors. They knew its secrets that so many of us could never find. Yet, instead of keeping it for themselves they wanted to share them with those that loved the mother ocean too. They talked about the other places they went and the people that inspired them, from surfers like Mark Cunningham to artists likeClark Little and Robby Crawford.
They talked about how they found this love of the deep blue- not only were they inspired by their fellow waterman, but they actually spoke to them. Some through trial and error, while others through water programs like Junior Guards and sponsorships from Slyde Handboards and Da Fin.
I walked across the long stretch of beach choosing to slip away quietly, not wanting to disturb them from the waves that spoke to them. These kids who I assumed were like the ones in my nightmares of youth were in fact some of the most thoughtful individuals I have ever met.
I was proud to know that they were strong, kind water-rebels bringing a new generation of waterman and bodysurfers into the spotlight. They did it so gracefully and so differently than the surfers I grew up with. Doing it not only by respecting the older generation and their quest to keep the waves quiet, but also welcoming the new wave of youth entering the sport. There only requirements to join? A respect and love for mama ocean and some stoke to share.