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Retro Stoke Harvester

Surf Right Project: Cold As F***

December 2, 2013

We are excited to welcome Surf Right to the #StokeHarvester family. SRP (Surf Right project,) is based out of New England; home of the crushing cold.

Sometimes great ideas come to you while you’re in the shower… and sometimes they come in 25°F surf. Todd Meleney, Marcus Wilson and Michael Schaeffer created the brand in 2012, and have been pumping out cool as f*** designs ever since.

You can check out Surf Right gear in our shop, and read more about the #LeftCoast cold water team… in this Transworld Business Article.

Interviews, Surf, Surf Interviews

Ira Mowen: Surf Berlin

February 19, 2013

Ira and I met on Facebook early in 2012. Someone shared a link to the trailer for Surf Berlin on my timeline. I watched it once, and needed to connect. I shot Ira an introductory message and have been bugging him for updates ever since. During his recent trip home to the states, we were able to do an interview.

Meet Ira Mowen; foxhound of balloons & boat wakes.

Where did you grow up?
Santa Cruz, California

When did you start surfing?
I grew up a few blocks from the beach. It wasn’t until I was probably 8 years old, on a family vacation to Hawaii, that I first felt at home in the surf. I would spend hours upon hours just getting pounded in the shore break at Makaha, with my brother and dad. It was the most fun I had on those trips. Our family friend Betty Winstedt, lived right on the beach. Up until 1995 we’d go back every winter to visit. We later found out she was the ‘1959 Women’s Surfing World Champion.’ I think those trips solidified my love for being in the surf. Later on.. around ’93, I got into Nirvana, and skateboarding. The latter of the two is what lead me to try a surfboard in the summer of ’95.

02 surf berlin
(“All the good surfers have a big truck” a page from my Hawaii journal circa 1994)

Tell us a bit about your artistic endeavors…
Since I was old enough to hold a pencil, I’ve known that I wanted to be an artist. Lucky for me, my parents have always supported me as an artist. At the age of 6, they enrolled me in an art class that I continued all the way through high school. I studied illustration in college… but after graduating, somehow became more attracted to video art. As a kid I would borrow my dad’s camcorder when ever I could, to make stop-motion films and what not. I guess my interest in video never left. Almost all of my work is autobiographical. My YouTube channel; citizenstand, is a perfect example of that. It started as my response to video bloggers in the early days of YouTube. Lately it’s been all about intense moments where I’m chasing something that’s seemingly impossible to achieve. In 2006 I was traveling the globe chasing video cameras attached to helium balloons, that recorded random aerial video. No strings attached. Just the wind controlling where they went. The Balloon Project got a lot of critical acclaim, and kept me busy for the following 5 years. The project also lead me to my first job making video for Vice Magazine, in Berlin. After three years I realized that working full time, and for someone else… wasn’t for me. I had too many other interests. I quit, got a dog, built a tiny house on a lake with my girlfriend, and began waiting for the next good idea.

03 surf berlin
(Ira and his dog (she also likes to surf))

What can you tell us about Surf Berlin?
Surf Berlin is a documentary film I’m directing about my lone quest to be the first in history to surf the only wave in Germany. The spot is very unusual because the head-high barreling wave is actually the wake from a giant ship.

04 surf berlin

How did you discover the wave?
In 2010 I began paddling around the river Spree in Berlin, which connects to the lake in front of my tiny home. My hope was for a sandbar that could catch the wake from one of the cargo ships passing by every half hour or so. No such luck. In 2011, I heard some talk of a surf spot just outside the city. I was directed to said spot, and saw a couple knee high waves popping up every time a certain ship passed by. Although small, you have no idea how excited I was. Still, something inside me wished it was bigger. A few months later when the wind was offshore, I went back to investigate. The spot I checked the first time was about a mile away from the ship. My hunch was that If i got closer to the ship the wave would be bigger. Later that evening I witnessed one of the most incredible waves I’ve ever seen; a head high, barreling wave, and in Germany of all places!

05 surf berlin
(still from Surf Berlin. One of the very first big wave Ira witnessed at the spot)

What inspired you to make the film?
After watching the wave roll in, I started talking with a guy who grew up near the spot. He told me that the ship that makes the wave was getting old, and would be replaced in the coming months. I didn’t think much of it at the time… just that it was unfortunate, and I wanted to try and surf it before it was gone. That was when deciding moment came. After returning home to my studio in Berlin, I went online to check and see if this wave had been surfed before. I couldn’t find a single picture or video.

My thought process went something like this:
A perfect wave exists in Germany + it’s never been surfed + it will soon be extinct = I have to make a film.

Have you had any interactions with the locals?
It’s been pretty lonely out there. I’ve never seen another surfer. Occasionally people walking along the shore will stop and watch. Once in a while they ask me what I’m doing. The most common question is “Isn’t it too cold?!” One old German guy told me that 5 years ago the ship made bigger waves. Apparently one day a giant wave knocked over some people on the shore, and the captain was told to take it easy from then on. That’s about as close as you’ll get to the typical “should have been here yesterday” story for this spot. As part of the project, and to pay homage to the place… I plan to research, and talk to locals, along with anyone else who knows the place. I want to find out if indeed this spot has some undocumented history to be told. The ship is old, so I’m guessing the wave has been rolling in since the Berlin Wall came down, maybe longer.

06 surf berlin

What are you chasing the wave with?
When I first saw the wave I didn’t have anything in Berlin that I could ride it with. I had my super warm wool-lined wetsuit for paddling in the lake, but I just never expected to be surfing here. After discovering the wave, I called up my dad in California and asked him to send over the surf mat that Paul Gross made for me. The mat was the perfect tool for studying the wave because it made accessing the spot a lot easier. I could fit all my surf gear and cameras on my back, and drive out there on my old moped when the weather was good. When I’m not riding the mat, I’m using a hand-plane I carved out of an old 80’s skateboard that my girlfriend found on the street. I also have a 7’2” Simmons twin fin surfboard… that I had made in Biarritz, France.

07 surf berlin

What’s the wave like?
It’s a lot bigger than I originally expected, and it’s very very hard to catch. Trying to catch this wave has probably been the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. I’d say the most difficult part was paddling out at a spot I’d never surfed, on a surfboard I’d never ridden… knowing I wasn’t in the pocket, and there wasn’t another wave coming. A day or two might pass before the next wave. Sometimes it would be a week. Because the summer traffic slows the ship down too much, waves only breaking in the winter months. There were days where I was paddling through what looked like a giant 7-Eleven Slushy. I tend to feed off of challenges. Trying to catch this wave quickly turned into an obsession. I paddled out over 150 times before I finally caught the wave.

08 surf berlin
(Ira about to take a pounding by one of the biggest waves the ship made during filming)

150 times?!
Yep. That probably explains why nobody else is out there trying to catch it. The thing is… once I accumulated around 50 failed attempts, I just couldn’t stop. When I’m passionate about something I’ll do it no matter what. It was quite a struggle… that’s for sure. Between freezing water, cold air, wind, and slipping into a wet wetsuit… I really wasn’t kind to my body. My biggest mistake was not dressing warm enough. It took me a few times of getting really sick to realize that I should really be dressed like I’m going snowboarding. Once I figured out how to stay warm It was all good. I’d wear my snow gear up to the edge of the water, take it off at the last minute, paddle out, try to catch the wave, then paddle back in, and quickly put my snow gear back on over the wetsuit. It was pretty insane what I went through to catch just one wave. I guess you could say the dream was strong. I also wasn’t too keen on making a surf movie about not catching a wave.. although that would have been pretty funny. I definitely have a very strong love-hate relationship with the place.

09 surf berlin
(Ira watching one of many waves that just wasn’t big enough)

What do hope people will walk away with, from Surf Berlin?
It’s been quite an adventure. I hope I can share my quest through the film, and the upcoming book. My dream would be to give people something they will want to watch over and over again. This won’t be your average surf movie, or documentary. I envision it being more like a film about a lone man who’s trying over and over again to climb a mountain nobody knew existed. Nobody knows he’s doing it… and all the while he’s running out of time, because the mountain will soon fall into the sea. Something like that. I see the film being very dreamy, like an hour long music video, with bits of narrative taken from my trip journal to build up the story.

What’s on the menu for 2013?
Finish the movie. I’m currently working with an awesome team of very talented artists who support me with everything. I’ve got help with an original soundtrack, poster, book design, an animated a dream sequence and much much more. From what I’ve seen so far, I can tell you without a doubt that it’s going to be a magical film. I plan to finish it later in the year, and have it available on my website surfberlin.com. While the old ship is still afloat, I plan to go out as much as possible to try to catch it one last time. A farewell surf on my mat, would be a nice way to end the story.

Connect:
Surf Berlin: Official Website
Surf Berlin: Facebook

Music, Retro Stoke Harvester

Right Coast: Patrick Keenan

January 2, 2013

Well, I think an introduction may be in order. My name is Patrick, the newly appointed Stoke Harvester East Coast correspondent – yeah, Stoke Harvester is that popular now. For those of you familiar with the late, great Cheka Looka Surf Shop I was the nerdy kid restocking the surf wax, conspicuously checking out your girlfriend or writing down the receipt for your ding repair (if you haven’t gotten your board back, Jeff is still working on it). After what I can only describe as a “righteous time” working with Jeff and Shawn and babysitting Seth and Dug, I moved to Austin, then to Los Angeles, and now currently freezing in New York City. My travels have allowed me to cruise some gnarly waves, chill with some great tunes, down some torpedo juice and meet some great folk, all the while relaying my voyages back to my friends at Stoke Harvester.

So, one morning I received a text from Shawn asking if I would post on the SH blog to which I replied with an overly caffeinated but restrained, “That would be great.” So, here we go, you and your new pal Patrick. Let’s set the mood with some mid-winter longing for summer music.

Here let me light you up…

Mac DeMarco
“Annie”

“Ode To Viceroy”

If you are like me, and I assume you are, then you enjoy some positive mellow vibrations in your music. Well, Mac DeMarco has entered stage right and boy does he have a surprise for you. DeMarco’s album “2”, released in October, displays a more mature DeMarco from his previous and groovy, though overly Ariel Pink influenced, album: “Rock and Roll Night Club”. The album “2” contains a more funky and jazzy feel that seems to be missing in the tight pants community – come on, 7th chords aren’t that difficult, kids. Tracks like “Freaking Out the Neighborhood” and “Annie” illustrate DeMarco’s danceable yet mellow songwriting style full of clean guitars with extreme treble, funky but lax basslines and DeMarco’s easy lyrics. Rounding out the album DeMarco includes songs like “My Kind Of Woman” (a personal favorite) and “Ode to Viceroy” that are relaxed and that straddle the fence between a post surf session feel and a straight needle in the vain. The juxtaposition between these two mellow/fun and mellow…/mellow songs makes for a unique album. “2” closes with a lazy acoustic ditty titled “Still Together” that I am sure will get you laid.

– Patrick

Sans Surf

Sans Surf: Guglielmo Wood Works

December 13, 2012

When I first met Stevie G, he was a cook at Chez Gaudy. He was a scrawny sonofabitch, with dreads and a deep seated hatred for beluga whales. Around 2008, Stevie and I shared the greatest high-five ever experienced by two almost grown men. You most likely heard it. We broke the sound barrier. Stevie and I have shared more than a few interesting experiences. There was the time he narrowly escaped death at La Push, a confrontation with a disgruntled SUPer, and a tequila filled night at the Ballard Elks. The list goes on. I’m not going to make any Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid comparisons… Neither of us own a gun. We do however, own wooden knuckles.

That’s right. Wooden knuckles. Stevie G handcrafts wooden knuckles. Choose your weapon…walnut, jatoba, reclaimed fence post? Guglielmo has a passion for wood. hehe. Outside the war-room… Stephen builds cribbage boards, key holders, time-machines, and lamps. The time-machine is impressive, but the lamps are really where Stevie’s talents shine.

Stephen’s newest project involves driftwood, and Edison bulbs. Somehow… Stevie has found a way to take salvaged Puget Sound driftwood, and transform it into Danish modernism. If marine debris isn’t your cup of tea, he’s got some pretty nice pieces built from cherry burl, mahogany, oak…

All of Stephen’s work is built by hand, in his Wallingford workshop. Each piece is one of a kind. There’s a noticeable attention to detail, that you certainly won’t find in any furniture bought from IKEA.

We are working on making some of Stephen’s work available through Stoke Harvester. In the mean time, you can check out his goods on Etsy. If you see something you like, BUY IT! It’s Stephen’s turn to pay for drinks.


Connect:

Guglielmo Wood Works

Kindergarten Cop – Trailer

Film

Yvon Chouinard x The Surfer’s Journal

December 9, 2012

Patagonia’s founder; Yvon Chouinard, documents his love for The Surfer’s Journal. In 1992, Steve and Debbee Pezman left their reputable positions at Surfer Magazine, to start their own publishing business. Over twenty years later… TSJ provides six annual sessions of stoke, to over 20,000 subscribers. My favorite quote in regards to The Surfer’s Journal, comes from SP…

As custodians of The Journal, and as fellow long-time surfers ourselves, we take that responsibility seriously…but not too! For despite all the philosophic and poetic waxing about man and wave, the connection to nature, and the quasi-religious experience of the ride, when it comes right down to it surfing resides in the toy department of human affairs, and we think it’s perfect there. — Steve Pezman.

Retro Stoke Harvester

From the Archives: Cheka-Looka Surf Shop – Eastlake

October 23, 2012


Maybe a volkswagen bus with a surfboard on top caught your eye, or you noticed it on a sunny day. Well, there’s a bit of the beach on Eastlake in Seattle. Cheka-Looka is a traditional style surf shop. From the shaping room to the flip-flops, this little surf shop has it all. You can find handcrafted surfboards on display that are shaped right next door, and they will also custom shape any paddle or skim board that you can think up. Among their other products are sandals, shorts videos, a ding repair shop, fin replacement, and wetsuits to keep you warm in the Washington waters.

The shop originally started on July 1st 1998 as a sort of hobby shop that had a good vibe where friends could hang out and talk of the washington surf and at the same time get good deals on equipment. Now the owners Jeff Abandonato and Jason Richardson along with Brian Anderson in the shaping bay, run a surf outlet with name brands such as Rip Curl, O’neil, Mormaii, and Channel Island Surf along with used boards and a full range of rental equipment.

Interviews, Surf, Surf Interviews

Surf | Craft: Ryan Lovelace

September 7, 2012


Ryan lovelace is a 206 born surfer & shaper…currently mastering his craft in Santa Barbara, Ca. He was the man behind Point Concept Surf Boards…and is presently shaping under his own name, with Ryan Lovelace Surfcraft. Get to know him more, in our interview below. 

When did you start surfing?
I started surfing when I was young, thought I don’t know the year; my family would go visit my grandparents in hawaii every summer; my only though there was the ocean and how I could get my dad to paddle me and my brother back out for some more waves.  We went every year for a while until my grandparents moved to Arizona (what a contrast………!).  At that point I started surfing in Oregon and Washington whenever I could, though living a few hours away from the ocean and being a full-time ski-bum made that a pretty rare endeavor, though my board stayed in the middle of my room year round and I could never pull my face out of whatever surf-rags I had.

You grew up in Seattle…Any memorable sessions in the Pacific Northwest, you wouldn’t mind sharing?
The first time I experienced REAL offshore wind…stinging sand blowing all the way into the lineup.  It was small but in a beautiful little cove in oregon, set in a national park.  The water was so clear that whole week, like a crystal.  I love cold water for that clarity it has when the conditions come together just right.

When did you start shaping?
I started shaping in 2005, on my 19th birthday.  I had been saving for a new board until a friend told me he had built his own and it had only (HAHAHA) taken him 6 months or so to do it in his garage.  I figured that wasn’t too bad so I got into researching the subject as much as I could, though getting my hands on the materials was the real education.  I got finished with my first board (even hand-foiled the fins out of plywood with a surform…try it sometime…) in just under a week.  It was all I could see…I was possessed.

Out of the Lovelace quiver, what would you say your favorite board is?
I have a number of loves within the quiver of what I build, i find different obsessions with all different types of craft though if I had to single one out…Her name is v.Bowls.  The design has flipped my thought process on it’s head and truly opened my eyes to the unlimited potential that shaping offers as a total mind-f*ck.  Once you thought you knew something it can instantly be flipped on its face and you’ve got a whole new beast…that beast is v.Bowls for me.  Coming into the design has reshaped my entire quiver.

Favorite surfer and/or shaper?
I have a hard time finding favorites of any type in almost anything…I dare you to ask me what my favorite pizza is. I’m pretty well removed from the mainstream of surfing, I don’t pay much attention and theres so much out there that I just could care less about…I stay pretty well holed up in my own little world, so my influences and favorite surfers are all local guys and people I’ve meet through my travels.  Travers Adler comes to mind very quickly.  Trevor Gordon, Dan Malloy, Ari Browne in Byron Bay Australia…he rides a finless board better than anyone else I’ve seen.  He’s got a pretty sweet Zebra costume also, I really like that about him.

In the shaping world, it’s still hard for me to single anyone out; I find my influences there mostly in the way that people carry themselves as humans within the profession and in that its becoming difficult these days to find people that I have deep and true respect for.  Rich Pavel comes to mind as a very unique and special influence of mine, as does Ryan Burch and Cyrus Sutton.  Gregg Tally is a hero for hand shapers and anyone who walks the walk.

When I was cruising through the shop on your website, Vol. 1 caught my eye. Can you tell us about it?
I suppose since day one I’ve always wanted to incorporate art and other people in my work; not really aiming for it I started attracting a lot of amazing people and artists into and around my shop.  Most of it came in the form of photography and as time compounded over the past number of years I’ve collected enough photos and material to crash my computer and fill a few hard drives; things people shoot around my shop, in the water, anywhere.  I put it all together for fun one day and made a book out of a pile of my favorite photos as well as the sketches that I do for my board designs…basically a hand-bound surfboard porno.  I started Vol.1 when I ended Point Concept, my old label.  My work and path within the surf world moves and changes with my whims so I thought it was a good time to start making a definitive collection every year of whats gone on; the best sessions, the most striking images, my influences.  As I collect stuff through the seasons I’ll keep compiling it and making new books to keep track of my progress.

What’s on the menu for 2012?
Hopefully some nice tubes and lots of bottom turns…

I’m heading to australia for my second time this year in a month or so, then going to Bali to shape at Deus Ex Machina.  I’m bringing a pile of friends along with me so it ought to be an unreal adventure…then I’m back home for the surf season and around Santa Barbara we try to stay put when there are waves, so my plan is to keep up with my whims through the season and come up with some new stuff; particularly refining the Rabbits Foot and a few big wave boards for my friends to travel with and carry into some precarious situations.  I can only image what v.Bowls will continue to teach me through the coming season.  Once the swells die down though I’m headed back to Australia to shape, then to Europe again for my yearly ‘tour’ over there; its usually a few weeks of really heavy duty shaping, I come back pretty ripped…my girlfriend likes it.

If you’re in the SF Bay area tonight (9.6.2012), stop by the RVCA gallery on Haight. Ryan recently collaborated with artist Blake Marquis, and will have some boards on display.

Connect:
RLovelace.com
Ryan’s Blog
Ryan’s Facebook Page

Photos:
1. Blake Marquis
2. Morgan Maassen
3&4. Ryan Lovelace
5&6. Alex Swanson

Interviews, Surf, Surf Interviews

John Wesley: Surf & Design

July 11, 2012


John Wesley is a 21 year old craftsman, shaping boards out of Dana Point, CA. Founded in 2010, ‘John Wesley Surf & Design’ continues the tradition of hand-shaping fine surfboards, whilst many in the industry have switched to CnC machines.

When did you start shaping?
I started shaping after glassing my friend Dodge’s shapes he was making out of his garage. That was around my last year of high school. I had a unique school schedule that left me with a lot of time to work, surf, and start building surfboards.

What was it like working with Terry Martin?
Terry was amazing, and probably the most encouraging person in the surf industry. When I really started to get some traction, he wanted nothing but the best for me. He instilled the idea that making surfboards can be fun, if you have the right mentality. He taught me to be thankful for having the ability to shape surfboards. That attitude has stayed with me. As a result…I truly enjoy every day I go to work, and I give people the best possible board I can. All of that stems from Terry.

What’s your favorite shape, in the John Wesley quiver?
Hmm…that’s a tough question. I really like both shaping and surfing the Spacepin. On those nice shoulder high off shore days I pretend I’m surfing Tavarau or something. Lately for the small summer combo beach-break stuff, the TFP has been my go to board. It all really depends on what mood I’m in at that point in the day. I always have at least 2 logs around…I’m really trying to keep my surfing balanced.

What would you say makes your boards stand out from the crowd?
Right now I’d say it’s how personal I make each board. I’m at a point in shaping where I have my set models, and a base line for them…but love when customers come to me, and throw out ideas that I really have to think about. I mill them over, then bam… it hits me. I go straight to the shaping room and blend all their ideas together, to make a functional board that’s exactly what they want. I would sum it up by the overall attention to detail I take, in every step of the process. I’m not just making boards that look different; the function and theories behind each board make them what they are.

You mentioned that your girlfriend lives up in the Seattle area…have you surfed in the Pacific Northwest?
No, I’ve never surfed up in the Pacific NW. I have spent time in Vancouver & Victoria. Everything about that area is absolutely beautiful. I’ve heard a bunch of about point breaks hidden away in coves, which I’d love to surf one day. Maybe see and orca go by….I don’t know.

You use a lot of great  shots taken by, or featuring the Swansons. What’s your connection with them?
Yeah…Greg and Alex Swanson are really great kids. They’ve helped me out a lot, in more ways than one. We met up after I left the company I was shaping for. I told them that I wanted to do this for real…and on my own. They were really supportive with everything. I wouldn’t be where I am at without their involvement. It makes everything I do a team effort, and not just me.

How was your recent trip to Portugal?
Portugal was amazing… truly a trip of a lifetime. The waves and the countryside is something out of a book. I personally love Europe, and to be able to go and shape there because of Rui at Magic Quiver Surf shop…was unbelievable. It pretty much made my whole year. I’d like to go back at least twice a year.

What’s on the menu for John Wesley in 2012?
Basically, just keep pushing forward.  To deliver the best possible work we can…with only hand-shaping . There will never be a CnC’ed JW.  With Alex & Greg’s surfing and photography work… and my good friend Brandon doing a lot of design, we have a few projects for summer. Basically the team goal is to keep bettering ourselves in everything we do. We also have a few colabs coming up…

You can check out John’s boards on the JWSD site. Wesley also has a pretty active blog with some great shots of the OC & Newport Beach crew…jazzing the glass.

Photos:
1. Alex Swanson
2. Christoph Haiderer
3. Greg Swanson