VOTE FOR SKYLAR. The theme of this trip was “Surfers Living Well” - whether it was the Noll Compound
with its epic view of the Smith or Skylar Peak styling in his double-wide with a
sweeping view of west Malibu from Zuma Beach and up Kanan Dume Road. Skylar was putting on his Monday Go To City Council Meeting Suit – with sandals when we showed up in the afternoon. Skylar has a big quiver of boards from alaia to SUP, but we
persuaded him to stand with a yellow Malibu bodyboard – a popout from the 1960s: “Aw
man, you’re going to make me look like a bodyboarder?” Skylar said. Lucia is gifted with the Art of Flattery, and she made a surfer in a suit holding a yellow popout bellyboard look majestic. Photo: Lucia Griggi/Lensbaby.
DAILY WAVESTER. The drive from Crescent City south was fast and furious and that was a shame as we could easily have spent an entire winter fishing the Eel, the Gualala, the Garcia and about a dozen other rivers, and also surfing all those Places That Shall Not Be Named. Leaving Crescent City at night we were treated to a light parade of dozens of crab boats all strung out far to the south. We made it as far as Eureka and the next
day stopped in Fort Bragg for lunch with Cory’s aunt – who recently retired as head of the California Department of Fish and Game. She and her partner had lots of stories including the arrest of a former Mavericks boatman who was sentenced to three years in
jail for poaching abalone. In Bodega Bay, Dale “Daily Wavester” Webster hooked us up with a room at the Bodega Coast Resort. The next day, Lucia photographed Dale Webster in front of the
schoolhouse Hitchcock used in The Birds. The subtext here is it’s spooky to think of Dale surfing every day, without fail, in a sharky, cold, windy, stormy, unforgiving place like Bodega Bay. So Lucia used that spooky schoolhouse as a backdrop to shoot Dale on a beautiful, cold, blue, windy winter day. The board is the one Dale used to surf from leap
year to leap year, a total number of days written in wax on the deck. Photo: Lucia Griggi/Lensbaby.
WAVE KILLER. Allen Sarlo took a lot of heat in the 1970s for his aggressive slashing of waves – when soul styling and flow in black wetsuits on clear surfboards was the go. Dave Gilovich wrote a caption in Surfing Magazine along the lines of “Allen Sarlo is the first surfer to kill a wave.” That line turned into a nickname – which all accomplished Malibu surfers must have – and in 1977, Bill Urbany shaped this double-wing swallow with an airbrush by Dana Wolf. Stacy Peralta knows his history and he argues what the surfing Sarlo was doing in the 1970s was ahead of its time, and is now the kind of surfing the world does. Photo: Lucia Griggi/Lensbaby.
DA CRAB. Greg Noll is kind of like a combination of John Wayne and Jonathan Winters: a bit of
tough guy, a bit of comedian. Greg and Laura live surrounded by redwoods, rivers, peace and quiet in a compound overlooking the best steelhead hole on the best steelhead river
in California. The one day of rain on our trip hit us the day Lucia took portraits of Greg
around his house and in his Gepetto-class woodshop. The next day, the weather cleared and Greg and Laura took us out of Crescent City to pull some crab-pots – and to bomb into some big swells, in the fog. Fun fun fun. Greg was a commercial fisherman after he was a big-wave legend. He went after crab, shrimp, salmon and tuna as far south as Mexico and as far north as Alaska. Here, a Dungeness gets some payback. Photo: Lucia Griggi/Lensbaby.
THE KALALOCH LODGE. The Kalaloch Lodge put us up for a free night in a three-bedroom cabin with a view out over the Pacific Ocean and a cheese and cracker plate. They even gave us a free dinner –Cory had the steelhead and treated us to a local concoction they called a dark stout milkshake. It all tasted pretty good. That was awfully nice of the people at Kalaloch Lodge and we all promised that if we ever made any friends, we would encourage them to check in – for a week, or for dinner. There was good clean surf out in front the day we got there – and for miles and miles in either direction. If you really want to find the perfect wave on the perfect day and be alone with the surf and your thoughts, Washington has a spot for you. The next day, the Mavericks contest swell showed up in Washington and it was tow-city a mile out to sea. Photo: Lucia Griggi.
LENS LENSBABY. Portland has a surprisingly high ratio of strip clubs to population. Did you know that? That was one thing we learned about Portland from Keith Novosel, a surfing friend of Cory's who works for a company called Lensbaby. Keith and his gal Analisa took us in on a freezing Portland night and we all went to a combined steak house/strip club called The Acropolis – for the cultural experience you understand. The Mavericks contest was on the day we were there, so we headed east to an Oregonian Left Point That Shall Not Be Named, thinking it would be firing. It was. Leaving Portland for Bend, we stopped by the
Lensbaby HQ where Keith flowed Lucia a full quiver of lenses. It was love at first click
and most of the portraits Lucia took used these lenses. Photo: Lucia Griggi/Lensbaby.
SURFLESS IN SEATTLE. Lucia’s first portrait was Matt Warshaw, at home and feeling a bit landlocked in Seattle.
Matt spent many years living in San Francisco where getting pounded and barreled at
Ocean Beach was part of his daily regimen. He now lives in a nice Seattle neighborhood that looks and feels like San Francisco, but is more spread out and spacious. Westport is
the place he goes to get pounded and barreled, but it’s a mission to get there, and water time
has gone down considerably. Matt keeps busy putting his Encyclopedia of Surfing online
and raising his lovely boy Teddy with his wife Jody. Photo: Ben Marcus.
BENT IN BEND. There seems to be a trend in ocean-loving surfers moving well north of the Point
Conception line: Matt Warshaw in Seattle, Drew Kampion on Whidbey Island, Hobie Alter in the San Juan Islands, Dick Metz, Nat Young and others in Sun Valley, Greg Noll above Crescent City. And Gerry Lopez in Bend, Oregon. An odd place for a legendary Hawaiian surfer to wind up, but the reason can be explained in a word: powder. Gerry is an avid snowboarder, but he got a little too avid this winter, hit ice going Mach and broke his leg. He was bumming to be missing the season, but graciously let us invade his house and
take a portrait sitting in front of a Pipe Masters trophy board, painted by Phil Roberts. Photo: Lucia Griggi/Lensbaby.
DA BULL AND DA WIFE. They say behind every great man there is a good woman but the truth is, Laura Noll is the good woman who is usually ahead of Greg: Whether it’s up in the bow pulling crab pots; catching, cleaning and cooking fresh salmon or just generally foaming the runway for all the various projects and energies of Da Bull. It’s a lot of work being the wahine of Greg Noll, but Laura is the woman for the job. And of all people, no one knows or appreciates this more than Greg: "Without that woman I would be a guy in black and white striped trunks living in a shopping cart under a bridge." Photo: Lucia Griggi/Lensbaby.
A SURFER’S DREAM HOME. Fernando Aguerre was one of the founders of Reef Sandals – which he and his brother
Santiago founded in 1984. Twenty years of 12-14 hour work days later, they sold Reef
to Vanity Fair Corporation. Originally from Argentina, Fernando came to America with
big schemes and dreams, and now lives in a surfer’s dream home - a cozy beach shack on La Jolla’s “Street of Dreams.” Big Rock and Windansea are visible off to the right,
and there’s a whole lot of Pacific Ocean reflecting off the white walls of his home which is filled with surf art from around the world. Within Fernando’s house is a beautiful, tasteful tribute to Che Guevara, surf culture, soccer, family and other things that appeal to Fernando’s iconoclastic view of the world. He also has a dreamy collection of surfboards – from original and re-created olo and alaia to modern thrusters from the likes of Kelly
Slater, Rob Machado, Rochelle Ballard and Andy Irons. In 2008, Fernando had a bro-down with everyone’s favorite styling bodysurfer –
President Barack Obama. Fernando has a photo of Obama signing his “Obama Surfs” t-shirt, and he also has this one-of-a-kind board intended for the president’s first election campaign. Fernando explained: “The board was shaped by Rusty, a long-time Republican, who decided to support then-Senator Obama’s presidential bid. The fundraising committee could not take ‘in kind donations,’ so Rusty was stuck with a very
nice board, shaped by him, and painted by a famous NASCAR race car painter from San
Diego. Incredible art, with the flag stripes being peeling waves and the same artwork on the other side of the board. The board sat at Rusty’s for a few weeks until I found out about it. I offered to buy it, we agreed on the price, Rusty got the money then donated it
to the Obama campaign. And I got one of the rarest and most unusual boards in history, the one and only ‘Obama surfboard by Rusty.’” Photo: Lucia Griggi/Lensbaby.
MAVS MAN. Pinning down surfers can be like herding cats, and we were dialing the Mavericks Surf
Shop as we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge hoping to get a quick photo session with Jeff Clark. Jeff had to be in Santa Cruz that afternoon to meet with a bunch of the big-wave crew, but he postponed that for a few hours to give us a shot. The surf shop is thriving with all the attention from the surf contest a few days before, and the Mavericks movie. Cool for Jeff, who has been working long and hard through hell and high water. The board is a beautiful re-creation of a 1991-era Mavericks gun. The exquisite pin lining would make a Moorish craftsman want to run home and slap his grandma. When Jeff was asked if it was for show or for go, he said: “For go! They’re always for go!” But then he
backed off a little, like Mavs at high tide: “Well this one is for show, but it could go if needed.” Cool how Lucia got the lip of that Mavericks left throwing over and crowning Jeff’s head – something that has been happening with Jeff going back to the solitude of the 1970s. Photo: Lucia Griggi/Lensbaby.
CRACKED RIBS AND A STIFF BREEZE. Central California is lovely, but even lovelier in the middle of winter when the hills look
like they were spray-painted by the Creator, and the sky is blue as can be. Chris Malloy had cracked his ribs surfing a Place That Shall Not Be Named the day before. But hell, he’s a little bit country, and cracked ribs ain’t nothing to a cowboy. Chris lives in the 19th Century but works in the 21st Century. He lives way out in the sticks on another ranch with his wife Carla and lovely chlldren Pearl and Luke. He'll do cowboy work one
day and then be off shooting documentaries or commercials the next - wearing his King
Rope hat for all of the above. This day, he was working on his dad’s perfect little ranch off Jalama Road when Lucia
came a callin’. There was a lot of polyurethane history stuck up in the rafters of one of the barns, but Chris chose to stand with this re-creation of a 16-foot kookbox. The cracked ribs made it hard to hump the thing around, and that fresh breeze which had
followed us down from Point Arena made it tricky to keep the thing upright. But Chris gamely, wincingly posed for a portrait which was actually taken not by Lucia and her fancy Lens Babies, but by a writer dork with his new HTC 4G LTE cell phone. There is a “big wood” theme here with the tree on one side and the staked flatbed on the other.
The telephone lines and the hill line all come together nice. All in all, a pretty good photo for a cell phone. Photo: Ben Marcus/HTC 4G LTE
MEMORIES. Bruce Brown lives up a canyon somewhere between Hollister Road and the Hollister Ranch – a canyon that faces south into the arcing sun, and the blue Pacific and the oil rigs
standing tall in the northwest winds – with the Channel Islands beyond that. Quiet and relaxing, Bruce’s house is a museum, when people come to see him, full of memorabilia and artifacts from On Any Sunday, The Endless Summer(s) and a long life of making
movies about his hobbies. On the wall there is a photo of Bruce with Steve McQueen in the 60s and in their prime. It’s quiet up there but Bruce has a lot of family and friends
flowing through – and a lot of memories all around him. Photo: Lucia Griggi/Lensbaby.
GRIFF’S PLACE. Griff Snyder was one of the original surfboard collectors. Going back to a time before the Internet, Griff realized the equivalent of Babe Ruth’s baseball bat and Ty Cobb’s cleats
were lying around in garages and in rafters all around southern California. Griff put an
ad in the LA Times Classified ads along the lines of “OLD WOOD SURFBOARDS =
CASH $$$$$$$$$.” That got him a lot of phone calls. He logged all of them and tracked down some of them, and that got him some classic surfboards which he paid hundreds of dollars for and are now worth many thousands. Griff lives in a quaint, seaside 10,000+ square foot beach cottage that has a lot of features – including a rumpus room with a window looking into his swimming pool. That’s an all aluminum Jetboard, which were produced during the surfin’ sensation of the mid-1960s and sold for a whopping $1700 – about half the price of a VW Bug at the time, and the equivalent of about $10,200 in modern dollars. The Jetboard had a 6.25 HP Tecumseh engine which powered a jet pump made by Jacuzzi. The board had a kill switch and other high techery of the day. Griff is standing with one of the prized boards in his collection and he provided the provenance: “Nohea is Hawaiian for ‘comely’ or ‘good-looking.’ This board was made by Big Dave Rochlen back in 1948 and ridden at Malibu, around California and Waikiki. It’s the earliest gun-style board I can think of. There are Hot Curls that had a gun shape, but this is balsa and it has a fin. Big Dave’s daughter was born in 1950 and he named her Nohea, also.” Photo: Lucia Griggi/Lensbaby.
FISHERMAN’S MENTAWAI. The Olympic Peninsula is to steelhead fishermen what the Mentawais are to surfers – a
lot of good water around every corner. We fished the upper Bogachiel, the lower Hoh and the Queets for three days in perfect weather. But we were early for steelhead – which
aren’t easy on flies in the best of conditions. Translation: skunked. Still, the place is as wild as Alaska and beautiful. This is Cory’s photo of me taking a photo of Lucia not taking a photo of sunset on the Bogachiel. Photo: Cory Bluemling.
BIRD IS THE WORD. If you love surfboards and you haven’t been to Bird’s Surf Shed in San Diego – well, stop denying yourself. Located within the pleasing, functional shape of a 100’ x 40’ by 30’ tall Quonset hut, Bird’s Surf Shed is a surf shop plus: "It's a retail store that also showcases a large amount of my personal collection with many of these boards being available to ride," is how Bird describes the Surf Shed. You get dizzy craning your neck and spinning around to check out all the history because there is a lot up and all around, from the first decade of the 20th century to the second decade of the 21st. The Surf Shed is proving to be the in place to hold surf movies and other surf-related events. Check it out at 1091 W Morena Boulevard, a couple miles inland from the beach, just off the 5. This is Bird standing with his favorite of all 400 boards, a late-70s, 7'6" x 19 3/4" x 2 5/8" balsa single fin. Bill Caster started the board, hesitantly, with balsa that Bird hand-picked from a supply brought up from Ecuador. Caster didn't like mowing balsa and the board wasn't finished until the early 80s: "Bill Caster passed away in 1987 from cancer and suggested that his brother-in-law Hank Warner be the person to put the finishing touches on the shaped blank," Bird said. This is the pride of Bird's quiver. Photo: Lucia Griggi/Lensbaby.