April ’06: Diaries From The Volcom House

Editor's Note: Over the past five years, no surfing household's gotten more attention than the Volcom House. Raging parties. Zero-tolerance regulation. And front-row-and-center seating for the heaviest surf spot in the world. Once the launching pad for the New School's North Shore assault, xx Ke Iki Road now serves as shelter and gathering ground for the world's most dedicated Pipeline surfers. Headed by North Shore godfather Kai "Borg" Garcia, it's part Animal House, part boot camp and part hall of horrors for the cheeky rookie who doesn't fall in line. This winter, as the magnifying glass continues to intensify on the150-yard stretch between Off the Wall and Pipe, we collected two views from the inside. One: from California up-and-comer and third-year "Dungeon" denizen, Alex Gray. Second from one of the vets: Volcom house OG and Kauai-boy Milo Murguia. Although they're clearly in different rungs on the hiearchy, their message is the same: there's no place like the Volcom House.

Alex Gray
11/23I arrived this afternoon to a new-and-improved Volcom house. This place is a palace now! The upstairs is completely carpeted, a new leather couch faces a huge TV screen, and wireless Internet flows through the halls. The dungeon downstairs is actually kind of nice. What was once a blacked-out room with one bed now reveals bunk beds, a refrigerator, toilet and sink and even a window (trust me: a big deal). Oh, and I forgot to mention that the boys also put hard work into a sick, 30' x 30' board room. The waves were 4 to 6 feet today with weird winds, but still a pretty fun first evening session. I guess somebody nailed the back of his head at Pipe this morning and was knocked unconscious. It always seems like it's the odd days when people get hurt. Bummer, I hope he's all right.

11/24 Thanksgiving DayThe waves cleaned up early this afternoon. Even though big, plump turkey is on the back of my mind, the best part of Thanksgiving on the North Shore isn't the food. For all us JOJs and FOBs who left our families at home, the only thing we can take solace in here is that the lineups are going off with only a handful of guys out. Surfed 'til sunset at clean, empty Pipe and Backdoor. Stuffed. The house doesn't really have a "formal" dining table. Dinner is more or less set up for a no-holds barred free-for-all. It was so classic. The house is filled with a whole range of surfers, 13 to 35 year-olds, Australians, Hawaiians and Americans. One of the Aussies never had Thanksgiving dinner before. Afterward, he decided he would have one of "these" every day at home from now on.

11/25/05The six-star at Sunset started today. I guess when an Aussie kid lost his heat at the XCel, Borg [Kai Garcia] made him run soft sand all the way home from Sunset. Hope I don't get the same marching order. This evening, I went over to a girl's house where they were having a bonfire on the beach. By the time I had shown up fashionably late, the fire department was there, shoveling sand onto the small blaze. They were so pissed. But that didn't mean the lady friend and I didn't re-kindle our own flames down the beach that night. Owwww!

11/27Surfed Rockpiles for the first time today. Cory Lopez, Nate Fletcher, Russ Smith and Pete Mel were out first in the early afternoon. Nate got a crazy bomb out past the boil, a long bottom turn into a creature of a tube, came out and pulled in again to what looked like a closeout on the sandbar. He got spit out of that, too. One of the craziest waves I've ever seen. I asked him, "How sick was that double tube?" He just shrugged and said: "Um, pretty sketchy out there." I paddled out a little later not really knowing the swell was on the rise. I got out through Pipe 'cause it was too big to paddle out from Logs. I surfed for about an hour and a half. The drop is really steep out there because it comes out of deep water and just jacks on a shelf of boulders and boils. Plus, out of nowhere, 15-foot cleanup sets will break out way beyond you and just land on your head. Maybe that's why no one was out. I was trying to figure out the lineup when a set came in and I started scratching for one. The wave jacked, didn't seem makeable, but then suddenly backed off and gave me a courtesy push. I stood up, and it then jacked again twice as hard. On my next one, I took a steep, late drop, couldn't see much coming off the bottom turn, looked up only to see a 12-foot closeout about to land on my head. I jumped, and got rolled almost to Off the Wall. As I write this, water is still draining from my nose. Easily one of the best sessions I've ever had on the North Shore.

11/28Brock Little came by the house this afternoon. He looked at one of the Aussies: "You're still here? I saw you in the exact same place on the couch yesterday. Do something!" It's been about a week since Thanksgiving. The turkey skeleton and salad are still in the fridge. Except for canned corn and Spam, the house is empty of food. Milo, Tai, Tom Dosland and a few Aussies took the Volcom team van to Costco this afternoon. A couple hours later, they came back with, like, 40 bags of groceries. It was the most food I've ever seen for $320. Probably not the healthiest food (my favorite being the frozen gizzards and chicken livers), but enough to last for a week or so. You see, the house also feeds the 30 some odd people who stop by every day. So, food disappears real quick. If you have any and don't want it to disappear the next day, you have to hide it in one of the rooms' little refrigerators or have a hiding spot. Everyone has one. This year mine is in the corner of the dungeon (don't tell anyone).