Long­board Icon. San Diego, Cal­i­for­nia

Surfer - - Contents - As told to TODD PRODANOVICH

Joel Tu­dor, 41, San Diego, Cal­i­for­nia

“This is the best time to be a surfer. De­pend­ing

on what coun­try you’re in, you can re­ally ride

what­ever. That wasn’t the case back in the day.”

Study your el­ders. Lis­ten to ev­ery­thing they say be­cause you’re gonna be in the same place one day. Twenty years go by like that [snaps fin­gers]. I re­mem­ber see­ing Woody Brown at Mala when he was in his 90s. I was go­ing to surf and he was on the beach. I ran over and said, “Woody! Let’s go!” and he goes, “You go! I’ll just watch.” I didn’t get it then, but I get it now. He phys­i­cally couldn’t do it, but men­tally he was right there with me. He’d al­ready been there a mil­lion times, and he was just en­joy­ing it through other peo­ple at that point. Later I thought, “Al­right, so that’s what it’s go­ing to be like.”

Your body has a num­ber and your body has a time con­straint. No mat­ter how many yoga classes you do or how many cross­fit things you do, you’re go­ing to run into that shit. But I’m still young, dude. Forty ain’t shit. I was com­pet­ing against Nat [Young] when he was 47 and he was whoop­ing my ass.

Self-pro­mo­tion used to be such a no-no and now it’s kind of ev­ery­thing. With a lot of spon­sors it all comes down to how many peo­ple fol­low you. I don’t agree with it, but I do un­der­stand it. If you’re go­ing to be a pro surfer, which is ba­si­cally ask­ing some­body for free money, spon­sors want you to have an au­di­ence. But I’ve al­ways had a hard time wrap­ping my head around the idea of who would cut a pay­check for surf­ing be­cause it’s not a nor­mal sport. Pro foot­ball play­ers get paid, but they wouldn’t be play­ing foot­ball and train­ing ev­ery­day just for shits. As surfers, we’d be do­ing this shit no mat­ter what.

In con­tests, when you re­move any in­ter­ac­tion on the beach and your aim is to just have a we­b­cast, it be­comes re­ally im­per­sonal. The ex­pe­ri­ence of be­ing there and in­ter­act­ing with your he­roes al­ways blew my mind grow­ing up. If that all goes away and it’s just a pro­duc­tion team mak­ing a show for peo­ple on­line, then it’s not re­ally cool. Mak­ing surf con­tests more per­sonal and mak­ing it more about con­nect­ing with the pub­lic would be the best thing. But what do I know about con­tests?

As much as surf­ing is be­com­ing wa­tered down as a su­per sport with num­bered jer­seys or what­ever, the cool as­pect will never fade. The life­style of surf­ing still has a cool fac­tor that noth­ing else can touch. That’s not go­ing away.

You can only com­pete for so long un­til you think, “Okay, af­ter me, who’s go­ing to be up next? What op­tions are they go­ing to have?” Nat re­ally helped me and I have to do the same thing for the next gen­er­a­tion. That’s why I started do­ing the Duct Tape [In­vi­ta­tional], so there would be some­thing to ben­e­fit long­board­ers be­cause we didn’t have any­thing.

When you’re grow­ing up, you know when you’re screw­ing up and when you’re not. I re­al­ized at a young age that al­co­hol was the gnarli­est of the gnarly. It was the quick­est thing to de­stroy your tal­ent and push you to do other shit. I watched a lot of my men­tors have such gnarly bouts with the left­over party shit of the ‘70s and ‘80s, and I re­al­ized I needed to choose which way I was go­ing to go. Was I go­ing to do this thing that kept me in a bar late at night? Or was I go­ing to get up early and be psyched to surf the next day? Mar­i­juana is dif­fer­ent. The Na­tive Amer­i­cans passed the peace pipe around for a long time, so I fig­ured that was safer. I’m not say­ing it’s for every­body, be­cause I’ve seen guys be­come ston­ers and it was the worst thing they ever did. But I per­son­ally think it’s the lesser of all evils.

If you’re gonna be a long­boarder, you bet­ter be tough be­cause you’ve got to put up with a lot of shit. So that was sort of my thing with Nate [Strom, a Tu­dor pro­tégé], just mak­ing sure he’s tough and mak­ing sure that he’s gonna be able to han­dle all the crap that he’s gonna take in his life­time. Be­cause do­ing an old man sport when you’re a young kid, you’re go­ing to cop a lit­tle shit.

This is the best time to be a surfer. De­pend­ing on what coun­try you’re in, you can re­ally ride what­ever. That wasn’t re­ally the case back in the day. I re­mem­ber go­ing to surf Len­nox when I was a kid and my friend pad­dles straight to the peak on his long­board. He goes to catch a wave and this guy comes and punches the bot­tom of his board and says, “Get that fuck­ing thing out of here, mate!” It’s just changed so much, and now there are long­boards ev­ery­where.

Long­board­ing is only go­ing to get bet­ter. The whole thing with the Duct Tape was to take out all the ex­tras and sim­plify long­board­ing so peo­ple could un­der­stand and ap­pre­ci­ate it. I was just try­ing to fig­ure out, “How do we keep longevity? How do we sep­a­rate our­selves from the guys on high-per­for­mance, tri-fin long­boards?” The an­swer was re­ally sim­ple: Take off the leash, get rid of the side fins and work on your style. Now look at how many Duct Tape events are hap­pen­ing. The only peo­ple who haven’t caught on to that style of long­board­ing are the Wsl—which is hi­lar­i­ous be­cause they’re the gov­ern­ing body of surf­ing and they haven’t paid any at­ten­tion to this thing that’s hap­pen­ing all around the world. Not just with guys but with chicks, too. It’s ev­ery­where. How are they not notic­ing this shit?

As you get older, you learn to ap­pre­ci­ate all the shit you’ve been able to do and re­al­ize how lucky you are to live the surf life­style. Se­ri­ously, when I think about it all look­ing back, I’m like, “Holy shit, did I re­ally do all that? F--k, I made it. What a crazy ride.”

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