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OC Crew Series: Interview With Joe Nickerson of Huntington Beach

5 min read

OC Crew Series: Interview With Joe Nickerson of Huntington Beach


Welcome to part 3 of the Oc_Crew series, an all access pass to 15 year old bodysurfing grom Joe Nickerson from Huntington Beach California.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and where you grew up:

I was born in Tennessee and then I lived on Oahu when I was a baby. And then I've lived here in Huntington the rest of the time. I love the ocean and that's basically where I spend all my free time. Days like these are perfect. Weekends, you know, it's kind of a get away from school and just a break from the busy life.

You're not originally from California, so do you feel like California's kind of in your blood at this point?

Yeah. I was born in Tennessee and I lived there for a month or two, so California's my home.

You obviously have a passion and love for the ocean. Tell me a little bit more about that and what has surfing and bodysurfing brought to you. How did you get into the sport?

A couple years ago I went out with Dylan and we were just kind of messing around and he taught me how to bodysurf. Since then I've fallen in love with it. Now I've gotten a lot better. I've spent years practicing and just having fun out in the ocean. I like it because it's something different, I guess. Surfing it's...everyone does it. It's you're riding on the waves.But for body surfing, I just like that you're riding in the waves and you can just kind of feel the power and energy of it. It makes me feel alive, that thrill.

How did you meet this crew and what makes your crew special?

My mom has known Dylan's mom since high school. So since birth I guess I've kind of known Dylan and Michael. We didn't start hanging out until a while ago when he taught me how to bodysurf. We all do junior guard, so I met Chapin and then Augie, is Dylan's neighbor. So I don't know we just all happened to go body surfing a few times together, and then we just started doing big wave stuff. It's just been us and then we decided to make a crew. It's called the OC Crew now.

What are your local watering holes, surf spots, food places, hangs?

Poke Island for Poke, and North Shore Poke Cove, and then Dylan's house. Then depending on the waves, most of the time Wedge. Then we have a few spots in Laguna like Crescent Bay, El Moro, South Creek, all them. Then a few other spots in Newport.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Either a photographer or go into the military.

How did you get into photography?

 I think it was the same day...actually no. One of the times I went out with Dylan’s GoPro and I had mine, and he was like, "Hey, dude, let's just to get a few wave shot." So we went out in this two or three foot little shore break at Crescent Bay, and we just started taking pictures and he kind of showed me how to do it. Then I got my first barrel shot and then I was addicted.I've been doing that ever since.

Are you mostly shooting beach and surf photography or are you doing range of stuff?

I mostly do wave and ocean stuff but I do do nature stuff up in the mountains too.

Is that something you've been able to do with school, too, or is that kind of like a side thing for you while you're learning by yourself?

I've been able to use it for graphic design class. Then next year I have a photography class. I don't know, for some reason the photography has kind of helped me make friends in school. I guess because I live here and I go out to a school in Orange. No one really goes to the beach, I guess. There's not any photographers out there. It helped me because everyone kind of knew who I was- the photographer. I  wasn't just left out of things. .

How has surfing, obviously, photography has come out of surfing too, but what other things and ways has surfing impacted you?

Bodysurfing it's given me some great friendships and we'll all definitely be friends for a lifetime. It definitely strengthens my safety and just knowledge of the ocean. Now I'm completely comfortable in whatever size waves. The only bad part about being a body surfer is that you're on the bottom of the totem pole. All the surfers kind of cut you off. The boogie boarders run over you. They yell at you and tell you to get out of the water. I don't know, you just get hated on out there but you just have to look past that, and you have to be respectful to the guys out there.

Where do you see the sport going? How do you want to change it? What do you hope that comes from that? I mean, you are a younger generation, so you're kind of leading the pack.

I see bodysurfing going up towards the popularity of surfing just because of all the new companies out there like Slyde who have done the handboards. Because the hand boards are definitely on the really cool young  end. It's something that not a lot of the older generation has or they don't usually use them. I think it's going to be growing, because there's more and more bodysurfers just because I think it's the advertising and just like the riders out there.

Who inspires you in and out of the water?

In the water, definitely Mark Cunningham. He's a really cool dude. Who has been bodysurfing forever. I've looked up to him for body surfing techniques and just style and everything since I started. Out of the water, I don't know.  Photographers like Clark Little, Robby Crawford. Chris Burkhard have inspired me.  

What's the best advice you've ever gotten?

The best advice would probably have to be pain is weakness leaving the body. And then probably the best one from Augie and Dylan would probably be “take it, take it.” And then the one from Michael, "don't suck". Actually there is one that I’m forgetting- it’s a quote,  “life is a lot like surfing. When you get caught in the impact zone, you need to keep paddling because you never know what's over the next wave." That has inspired me a lot through the years.


Joe nickerson slyde handboards rider and ambassador

Joe nickerson slyde handboards rider and ambassador

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