Senior Editor

The Inertia

It was a good weekend in San Clemente. Not just because weekends — or any day of the week, really — in San Clemente are generally good, but because The Inertia’s 6th Annual EVOLVE presented by White Claw landed at the Surfing Heritage and Cultural Center, also known as SHACC.

In case you’re not aware, EVOLVE celebrates unique individuals who’re making a positive impact in surf and outdoor culture, and this year, the lineup was stacked. Despite an uncharacteristically misty evening, the venue was packed with some 300 people, and the good vibes could be felt from the street. Any good party requires a bit of help, and this year we had some amazing partners, including White Claw, Kona Big Wave Brewery, Perfect Hydration Alkaline Water, KOE Kombucha, Rivian, Nomadix, SRF Surf Fitness, and Yew!

When the doors to SHACC opened, the waiting crowd perused one of the best collections of surf history in existence. Beautiful surfboards adorn the walls there, creating a timeline of surfing’s history. Duke Kahanamoku’s personal boards greet you first, then you walk through the years until you’re staring at high-performance boards ridden by today’s world champions. The original editing equipment used on The Endless Summer sits quietly in the corner, backed by Velzy’s actual shaping shed, which is full of the original tools he used and even the shoes he wore when glassing a board. They are, of course, covered in colorful resin. “When he knew he was passing,” I was told by one of the curators, “he just told us we could take what we wanted in the interests of preserving it.”  Walking through the place is like walking through surfing’s history, each chapter rich and full with stories.

The night began with Save the Waves founder Will Henry, whose presentation told organization’s story. It all started on the Portuguese island of Madeira in the 1970s. Henry walked the audience through the many stages of Save the Waves progression to what it is today: a non-profit dedicated to preserving surf ecosystems around the world.

Next, Surf Ready Fitness owner Paul Norris and pro surfer Nolan Rapoza came on stage to talk about the benefits of surf-specific training and what it’s done for Rapoza, whose performance in recent years is testament to just how important training is. Norris wants to “help people surf forever,” and if that’s not something every surfer wants to do, I don’t know what is. The conversation emphasized how important keeping surf fit is, especially when you’re not able to surf for an extended period of time.

Finally, we premiered GEN UP: Sierra, a short film we’ve spent a few years producing. It follows Sierra Kerr’s journey to becoming one of the world’s most promising young surfers while shedding light on her family and future. As the credits rolled, Josh and Sierra walked on stage to talk about the film. Sierra, who recently turned 16 and just passed Behind the Wheel to officially claim her driver’s license just two weeks ago, spoke candidly about what it was like growing up following her father on the Championship Tour and how that shaped her surfing and her life in general. Josh’s love for his daughter was on full display as she spoke. “It puts a lump in my throat to see [this film] and to watch her surf and be up here,” he said, his face glowing with admiration.

When the lights came on again, the crowd moved outside. On stage, the first riffs erupted from the speakers, and California-based band The Alive hammered the crowd with their unique sound. If you haven’t yet, give them a listen. Shades of ’90s grunge are evident in their music, and they put on one hell of a show.

Following The Alive, The Aquadolls took the stage. A light mist fell from the darkening sky, and The Aquadolls floored the crowd. They describe their sound as “mermaid rock and roll,” and that pretty much nails it. They’re gaining serious traction, playing with artists like Nash, Pennywise, and Jimmy Eat World, and have featured on major lineups like Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits, Warped Tour with appearances at Eddie Vedder’s Ohana Festival, where both bands will be playing again in a couple weeks.

As the bands played, Ryan Harris of Eco by Ry glassed a pair of epic-looking surfboards as the crowd looked on. Not only were they wall-hanger beautiful, Ryan makes flat-out great surfboards with materials that don’t poison the world we live in. Any purchases made from Harris benefited the Save the Waves Coalition and Maui Fire Victims.

We’re still buzzing and can’t wait for next year. Thanks to everyone who came out… you all made it a night we won’t forget.

The Inertia’s EVOLVE presented by White Claw was made possible through the support of our partners: Kona Big Wave, KOE Kombucha, PH Hydration, Surf Ready Fitness, Rivian, High Tide Coffee, Nomadix, ISLE, YEW! Surf Wax, and Catch Surf.


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