Distributor of Ideas

The Inertia

Wilem Banks was willing to give life in Southern California a quick try for its proximity to “the industry.” At the time, the Northern California native felt like it was the best place for opportunities as a young professional surfer. And his logic was spot on, coming to a place where many of the surf world’s brands set up shop.

Still, it wasn’t for him. In fact, anybody who grew up surrounded by redwoods just outside Santa Cruz, surfing its chilly waters in hooded wetsuits, might run into a bit of culture shock in a town like Los Angeles. For Banks, the experience gave him a deeper appreciation for where he came from — the life back home where he could hunt down weird waves with just a couple of friends rather than scrap with hordes of people in jam-packed lineups.

“I just needed a change. I needed a new perspective from where I grew up,” he says. “I moved back because, for the type of person I am, I really realized that Santa Cruz is where I belonged — where I could thrive and surf and do whatever I wanted.”


So nowadays, with some perspective and life experience under his belt, Banks has gotten back to those roots. And he appears to be appreciating every bit of it.

Filmmaker Kyle Buthman calls him an “underground charger and small wave ripper,” but the words he uses before that to describe Banks as a man, not just a surfer, are humble, talented, and hard-working.

“He has a full-time job and surfs after work and on the weekends,'” Buthman says. “Here, he talks a bit about his love for his hometown, balancing work with the surf, and staying calm in radical situations.”


ROOTS is Buthman’s spotlight on the Northern California surfer, sharing his path back home, how it led to him working alongside his father, eventually sparking a passion for carpentry, and all the waves in between.


Only the best. We promise.


Join our community of contributors.