The Ambastronauts

Rob Gilley

Previously in denial about his photographic past, Rob Gilley now rummages through his trove of mediocrity.

Note: The following text concerns waveriders who I would send to outer space to represent the best of surfing culture. Feel free to use the comment board below to nominate your own surfers.

I'm not sure how much attention you pay to current events, but astronomers have recently discovered a planet that they have named Kepler 22-b. This planet is of high interest because it sits at a similar distance to a star as Earth does to the Sun, takes about an Earth year to complete its orbit, and has an approximate atmospheric temperature of 72 degrees Fahrenheit. It's also very probable that Kepler 22-b supports a surface environment that contains water.

I'm still a little baffled by how a few nerdy dudes looking through telescopes can determine so much about a planet that sits 600 light years away, but I'm going to have to take their word for it.

Especially when it comes to the water thing.

With the rapid approach of 2012, it is somehow comforting to know that there's at least one other planet out there that sits in a "habitable zone" and might--just might--support life. But unlike the little Teva-wearing scientist dudes who dream about discovering another race of possible humanoids on Kepler 22-b, I'm more concerned with whether there's an ocean, or oceans, there. In fact, I'd prefer it if there weren't any humanoids (or shark-like creatures, for that matter), because if surfers were somehow able to get there one day, we wouldn't have any locals to deal with.

We would of course need to be prepared just in case, so we would need to send some envoys--some surfing astronauts--to make sure that the initial meeting with possible locals went well. That way, we could gain their trust, and get to our real agenda faster: to case the joint for surf.

In the course of traveling around our own planet in a similar search, I have come across certain members of the surfing community who, by virtue of their personalities alone, would be perfect for such a mission. They all are such good dudes and emit such a positive vibe that it is categorically impossible not to like them.

Even a little green man with a chip on his shoulder couldn't stay pissed at these guys.

Below you will find my list of ambassadors who I know well enough to confidently send into outer space to represent us. As you will notice, there are no females on this list, but this is only because I don't know the female surfers well enough to decide. It is safe to assume, however, that Rell Sunn would have been a first ballot nomination.

I also suspect that there are a few people out there who would vote to include Alana Blanchard.

Here are my ambastronaut nominations:

Benny B. Photo: Gilley

Ben Bourgeois (East Coast Rep)
I can already see it: Asleep in suspended animation, on his way to Kepler 22-b, Benny B clutches a temperature-controlled 34-degree sixer of quality bottled beer, has his favorite 5’10” by his side, and wears that patented Cheshire Cat smile. Even a catatonic Benny B would be impossible not to like.

Dan Malloy. Photo: Gilley

Dan Malloy (West Coast Rep)
I can't think of a more appropriate West Coast representative: an incredibly well rounded, open-minded, hard-charging surfer with a gentle soul and a great sense of humor. He would also be important to send to prove that good surfers can actually be taller than 5’8”.

Fred Patacchia. Photo: Gilley

Fred Patacchia (Hawaiian Rep)
As a living example of a human being leading a cultural turn toward positivity, Freddy P would be important to send as an evolved surfer who recognizes that, at its core, surfing is about having fun. Plus, Fred would probably bring a lot of Bud Light with him.

Chris del Moro. Photo: Gilley

Chris del Moro (Longboard/Surf Artist Rep)
In planet full of egotistical, holier-than-thou, condescending, young pro longboard punks, Chris Del Moro would be a compassionate, bright-eyed, post-modern, genuinely selfless man to send. Plus, if the alien beings ride spacey boards, Chris would be able to adjust quickly.

Greg and Rusty Long. Photo: Gilley

Greg Long (Big Wave Rep)
This category is rife with potentially great ambassadors: Mark Healey, Grant Washburn, Peter Mel--but I'm going to have to go with Greg because he won the Eddie and he also wears those little professor glasses that would immediately endear him to the scientific community.

Mark Cunningham. Photo: Gilley

Mark Cunningham (Bodysurfer/Lifeguard Rep)
In addition to demonstrating the art of surfing in its purest form, Mark would be able to field the darkest sense of alien humor with a straight face, and toss a zinger back without flinching.

Mickey Munoz. Photo: Van Swae

Mickey Munoz (Old Timer Rep)
As an example of eternal stoke and the keeper of our sport's greatest stories, Mickey would be our mission's chief, and, more importantly, could demonstrate to the aliens the bonding power of a righteous campfire fart battle.

Kevin Naughton/Craig Peterson (Photojournalist/Culture Reps)
Not only could this iconic pair record the mission's events with panache, as salt-of-the-earth, happy-go-lucky surfers themselves, they would immediately endear themselves to the alien race and get them to cough up their secret spots.

Raimana Van Bastolear. Photo: Gilley

Raimana Van Bastolear (Polynesia Rep)
Born for such a mission, Raimana would throw himself into any situation that the aliens threw at him, and then race back to the space ship to cook an aloha-to-the-bone feast for them.