Parenting ain’t easy. Children—those smaller and far less durable versions of yourself—require all kinds of food, water and shelter, and if you turn your back on them for even a second they might just paddle out at Pipeline.
OK, sure, Tosh Tudor didn’t sneak off to surf Pipeline against his father’s wishes, but according to Joel Tudor, that doesn’t make the experience any less nerve-wracking. “It’s cool to see him try it, but as a father it’s gnarly, you know?” says Joel. “I mean, this is Pipeline we’re talking about.”
This week, 14-year-old Tosh has been putting in some time at the world’s most iconic tube with his dad, the world’s most iconic longboarder, gliding into a few crystal drainers right there with him. As you can tell from the resulting images, both found plenty of gems among the mostly local crowd and the style similarities between the father-son duo are downright uncanny.
A day after these images were taken by photographer Daniel Russo, we rang Tosh and Joel and they passed the phone back and forth, still watching sets roll in.
So it must be funny for you, because on the one hand you love surfing Pipe and know how special it is to experience it, and you probably want that for Tosh. But then again, he's your kid, and Pipe is not safe.
Joel: Yeah, it's one thing when it's your own body, it’s another thing when it’s your child. I'm not a negligent parent—he and his brother are my whole world—so I'm obviously really protective. But this is something that he's really wanted to do. He watches all the old surf movies with me and he's a huge Rory Russell fan and he loves all the Gerry [Lopez] stuff. When we watch old movies he's always been like, "Where's the part where they get barreled?" So it's something he's always been into and interested in. But he's had a couple scares. Last year, we went out on kind of a big day, and he got dragged down to the No Fun Zone and just blasted by a pretty big set. That one scared me because I lost my board paddling out with him. It was that big of a wave that it ripped my board out of my arms. I was like, "Oh God…" He was only… [turns to Tosh]…how old were you, 11 or 12?
Joel: Yeah, he was 12. And then we surfed it that same year and got a really perfect, fun, smaller day and he had a blast and got a bunch of fun waves. This year we were here earlier and got a couple, but it was kind of too big and funky the whole time. But we're back on the North Shore now and since we've been here this time it’s been perfect. I mean, yesterday was probably the best small day of the year.
So those shots of Tosh were from yesterday?
Joel: Yeah, that was the best day we've had all winter over here—without it jumping to 20 feet, you know what I mean? Because every swell has either gotten too big, or the wind's been on it, or it was too washy, or only three good waves came in all day. Pipeline is a fickle wave. It's like anywhere that's good, where there's only so many days that actually get the way you hope for. Yesterday was also rad because it was the local community and not all of pro surfing, so Tosh got to watch some pretty radical surfing going down by Jamie [O’Brien] and the Florences and [Takayuki] Wakita and all the guys who live here and surf it really well. That's inspiring for a grom. Plus it helps your learning curve, because there isn't anything in California that will ever look like it. Ever.
So Tosh, what’s it been like for you spending some time at Pipe? It looks like you’ve been having fun.
Tosh: Yeah, it's been so fun. It's been this size where it's not really cleaning you up and you don't have to paddle for your life on every set. I almost got caught inside on one, but it wasn't too bad, and even when I ate it pretty hard it wasn't that scary.
What board were you riding? Looks like a pretty classic Hawaiian planline.
Tosh: Yeah, Alex Knost shaped it. It's a 6’9″ copy of a Barry Kanaiaupuni board. It's super rad. It makes the drops really well and isn't too side-slippy, and it goes real, real fast. Al shaped it for me for Christmas in 2015, so a few years ago, and I've just been riding it out here a bunch. Pretty much this whole trip I've just been riding that board.
So Joel, where does this rank among proud dad moments, seeing Tosh get some decent waves out at Pipe?
Joel: Shit, it's really cool. I mean, he's always doing cool stuff, and this is obviously one of those things, so I'm really proud of him. For me, it's pretty special because this wave was the thing that gave me real legitimacy in surfing. So to see him out there now is rad…But then again it also sucks because you're just nervous as shit watching him [laughs.]