ROB MACHADO AT 41 : BY MATT GE­ORGE/PHO­TOS BY JA­SON CHILDS

Tracks - - Surfing Smarter -

It was called the art and soul of Rob Machado. The very rst pro le I ever wrote about him. A very per­sonal story, it ap­peared in Mag­a­zine back in 1995. It de­picted a boy­ish, introspective 22 year old sur ng prodigy with enough hair to stuff a sofa. An in­tel­li­gent young man. Bal­anced. Al­most too bal­anced for most. Great fam­ily, good head on his shoul­ders, ex­traor­di­nar­ily tal­ented surfer. A surfer that the world was fas­ci­nated with. A new Gerry Lopez. Even down to the brown skin, ex­otic looks and the cool hair that no one else could quite em­u­late. A real in­di­vid­ual. There was great­ness in the air around Rob Machado. Great­ness ahead. But not the great­ness that most would ex­pect. Like Gerry be­fore him, Rob’s path was never that of a dom­i­nant com­pet­i­tive cham­pion. Even with a world ti­tle on the line, he still found time to high ve his friend Kelly Slater dur­ing the heat that would change the di­rec­tion of his life. A mo­ment that has be­come sur ng lore, the truth of which will be re­vealed for rst time, in this in­ter­view. No, Rob’s role has never been that of a tro­phy hois­ter. It has al­ways been that of a gate­keeper. A cru­cible of surf­ing soul, style and seren­ity. A lucky man. A touch­stone of our sport’s per­va­sive phi­los­o­phy of free­dom. From Kelly Slater down to the lo­cal Grom, there is not one surfer on earth, not one, that does not stop and scru­ti­nize the surf pho­tos of him. He’s our very own Barysh­nikov. Back in 1995, I asked him if he thought sur ng was a sport or an art. He an­swered “It’s a sport­ing art”. An an­swer that would go on to de ne his ca­reer. Lest we for­get, Rob has been world ranked #2, has won over eight world tour events, was run­ner up to Kelly Slater in the Surfer Poll for over six years, was a mem­ber of the orig­i­nal Mo­men­tum crew, was named the SIMA waterman of the year, has been in­ducted into the Sur ng Hall of Fame and re­mains to this day the third most rec­og­niz­able surfer in the world be­hind Bethany Hamil­ton and Kelly Slater. I caught up with Rob re­cently at Uluwatu in Bali. He was chang­ing the di­a­per of his third child. A boy named Jax. Rob’s pride and joy. The prod­uct of his sec­ond mar­riage, his rst mar­riage to an ex­otic beauty from Re­u­nion Is­land hav­ing pro­duced two girls. His new wife, Sophia, a knock­out and for­mer Red Bull Bikini am­bas­sador, is now a pow­er­house su­per mom. Tall, lithe, look­ing more like a run­way model than a mother, she bun­dled Jax away for his af­ter­noon nap to give Rob and I some pri­vacy for a con­ver­sa­tion that cov­ered a lot of ground. So I sat with Rob, who is still in whip­cord shape, as ex­i­ble as a mar­i­onette, not an ounce of fat on his frame. All cat-like grace and ef ciency and ground-sit­ting crossed legs. Again re­mind­ing me of Gerry Lopez. The fol­low­ing words were heard in a small gazebo atop the lime­stone cliffs near the tem­ple of the last stone at Uluwatu. With the In­dian Ocean sparkling to the hori­zon and a small swell track­ing in through its di­a­mond eld. It held a prom­ise of per­fect low tide race­track later in the af­ter­noon. Rob’s friend, Mega Semahdi, Uluwatu’s hottest surfer, a cham­pion and soon to be Ba­li­nese Priest, was sit­ting with us on an ori­en­tal car­pet, lis­ten­ing qui­etly to what was be­ing said by a 41-year-old pro­fes­sional, Amer­i­can surfer who has lived his life well and who, by do­ing so, has be­come one of the most in uen­tial surfers in his­tory:

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