JUNE ISSUE From Atomic Atolls to Abundant Wastelands

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Think all the good waves in the world have been discovered? Think again

Reggae Ellis

“The first time I had an opportunity to go to the Mentawais was back in 1992. It was a trip with Tom Carroll, Ross Clarke-Jones, and some mutual friends on the Indies Trader , before it was a charter boat and when only a handful of people knew about the waves up there. The crew on that original trip were the only surfers in the Mentawais at the time, experiencing a sense of isolation and adventure that few will ever share again. For reasons I can no longer remember, I didn’t make it onto that trip, and I didn’t make it to the Mentawais until 1997. By that stage the surf-charter business was growing quickly; the days of scoring waves alone with only your fellow boat passengers were long gone, and most sessions were usually spent with one, maybe two, boats anchored off the best breaks. Of course, things have changed dramatically over the past decade; the once-secret islands have evolved or devolved—into the most photographed and filmed surf studio in the world. The result? Land camps, dozens of boats, and 40 surfers out at some of the breaks. For the Mentawais, the days of being Mysto Indo have vanished.”

While the world gets flatter for surfboard manufacturers in the post–Clark Foam era, a sleeping giant has finally been awakened

Chris Mauro

“‘The materials I’m being shown are nothing new, but their applications are far more diverse and technical than what’s been done before. There’s a whole new glossary of terms being coined to demonstrate their benefits. "Here, try to twist this blank from rail to rail," says Biolas, handing me a shaped foil. Its outer rails are made of hard blue sheet foam, the same kind Salomon was using with their S-cores. The sheet foam is separated from the EPS core in the middle by stringers that run a few inches off the rails. I grab the board about a foot up from the tail and gently start twisting. Biolas loses his patience with my delicacy and quickly takes over with some hard pulling and tugging of his own."You see how hard this is to twist? That’s because these parabolics restrict the contortional flex," he says. "These things snap back into place like a snowboard, and that’s what gives them that twang. You feel it with every turn. It’s insane."Parabolic rails and contortional flex were hardly in the shaper’s vocabulary just over a year ago. Neither were longitudinal flex or compression flex for that matter, but designers are getting better acquainted with them now thanks to new companies like Firewire and Aviso, who have infused the board-building community with a healthy dose of creative energy in the post–Clark Foam era. In a rapidly changing business climate for surfboard manufacturers each slice of the market pie is getting more expensive and competitive to hold. That’s because there’s more attention being given to surfboards today than at any other time in history.”

Abundant Wastelands
Scouring two continents—and 14,000 miles—to uncover immeasurable possibilities in three barren corners of the Atlantic

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The term "prepackaged surf trip" has become a cliché, handily served up to describe any excursion that’s not considered "acceptably hardcore." And, to be fair, its use does make a point: Too many modern surfers are spoon-fed the world on immaculately planned and generic outings, all of which pack about as much culture, and adventure, as a trip to McDonald’s. But it’s also clear—in this age of endless options—that, despite decades of surf exploration, the world is still a wild place. And the deeper you go, the farther you stray from the well-worn track—and the more you immerse yourself in alien cultures, the more gratifying the experience.”

A Very Good Year
Tyler Hallin and Luke Davis were just your average groms. Then they were whisked away on a dream trip

Brad Melekian

"As 16- and 14-year-old surfer kids from Orange County, Tyler Hallin and Luke Davis look the part. Here’s Tyler, with his sandy blonde afro (sandy blonde in that you get the sense it might have sand in it, so surf-stoked is the young man), and there’s Luke, small—bordering on tiny—tan, with shaggy, sun-streaked locks and a coolness about him that belies the fact that he’s new to the ranks of the teenaged. They both have the right clothes—logo tees and flip-flops—and they both pick up errantly strewn surf magazines and flip through them, not bothering to read a single word.

But the boys—or young men, as the case may be—are not flip. Far from it. It’s just that they both carry a certain worldliness about them, whereby they’re not overly impressed with too much, and they don’t seem to be too surprised by anything. That worldliness, it turns out, is not at all an affectation, but rather the byproduct of a surprising turn their lives took last year when a total stranger approached them and their parents and suggested that he’d like to take them on an around-the-world surf adventure. The stranger—former pro surfer and current filmmaker Bryan Jennings ( The Outsiders , Changes )—predictably got no hesitation from Luke and Tyler, and, perhaps surprisingly, very little resistance from their parents. Neither of the boys had traveled, with the exception of a couple North Shore trips apiece, and Jennings wanted to make a movie about two groms trotting the globe for the first time.