IN GOOD COMPANY
"DON'T FIGHT THE FUN, BRO." This was the maxim of Stephen "Sly Dog" Chew and Eric "Frog" Nelson, the subjects of my favorite article I've read in a surf mag (penned by Chris Mauro for Surfer in 2000). Sly and Frog were not professional surfers, just best friends from Laguna Beach who spent their lives working just enough to hit the road again. They drove boats in Tavarua. Chased girls across continents. Bought one-way tickets and climbed pyramids. At 16 years old the article had such an impact on me that I vowed to follow the same path when I finished school. Save, save, save — leave. Dance around the globe, submitting fully to the fun and returning with an anemic bank account, sun-bleached hair and enough stories to fill a book.
I don't know if our managing editor, Beau Flemister, read the same article, but he certainly replicated the lifestyle. Much better than I ever did. Valet parking, writing and substitute teaching to fund his next flight, he traveled to Pakistan and the Solomon Islands and about 50 other countries while also taking up residence in Brazil, India and Chile. Beau was a full transient until about six months ago, when I cast my line across the Pacific to Hawaii, hooked him, and dragged his ass over to California. He didn't fight it, probably because I promised that from now on the magazine would be funding his travels. First stop: Samoa with a group of surfers that our staff photographer, Tom Carey, claimed was the best crew he's ever tripped with. Mitch Coleborn. Mason Ho. Alex Smith. Ford Archbold. Ozzie Wright. Were the waves firing? Nah. But they were in good company. Drawing on boards and spinning airs and "soaking up the culture." Laughing. Beau returned with a yellow notepad filled with scribbles that he transformed into the character sketches you'll find on page 76. He also penned the profile of Mason Ho, the world's happiest surfer, on page 90.
Surfing breeds characters. Maybe it's something in the water. And while some say that things have gotten too stuffy in surfing lately — too much sport, not enough lifestyle — we think this issue will make even the grumpiest naysayer ring his buddy (the loud one, the one who paddles out without looking) to go for a shred. Because in this magazine we've gathered some of the biggest characters in our world. Great surfers. Great people. People who you'd want to be stuck on a tropical island with (like, I don't know, say, Samoa). People who say "yes" to everything. People whose personalities bleed into their surfing. They ride waves with flair. They ride waves in funny clothes. They embrace the lifestyle they're fortunate to live, that we're fortunate to live, and fight no one and nothing along the way. They certainly don't fight the fun. —Taylor Paul
Inside this Issue
076 IN THE JUNGLE WHERE OUR BRAINS WERE SHOWING
Mitch Coleborn, Ozzie Wright, Mason Ho, Alex Smith and Ford Archbold go to Samoa. There are airs, turns and a whole lotta weird. By Beau Flemister, photos by Tom Carey.
090 LIVING FRENZY
He cross-steps floaters, he surfs heats naked, he favors nothing. Whether he's just a big kid, enlightened being or both, Mason Ho does life unlike any other. By Beau Flemister.
100 BYRON BAY: A PORTRAIT OF NOW
The most charming character in all of Australia just might be a place. That place is Byron Bay. Filled wtih hippies and hipsters, rock stars and Kelly Slater, there's just something magnetic about this town. Unconvinced? Byron's residents vouch for their shire. Interviews by Nathan Myers, photos by Duncan Macfarlane
Waves are women, everybody knows that. They're too gorgeous and moody not to be. And like a woman, each wave is different and must be approached accordingly. Go ahead, buy her a drink. Can you guess her poison? By Beau Flemister.
114 LIGHTBOX: CHARACTERISTICS OF A PHOTOGRAPH
How are all of these pretty photographs made each month? A look inside a photo's genetic makeup.