North Shore Underground: The Winner Speaks

Sion Milosky, $25k better off from a winter he'll remember. Photo: Ryan Foley

North Shore Underground

Sion Milosky has officially climbed out from underground.

Glance at the nearest newsstand and you'll see Sion staring back from as many as three surf mag covers at once — this from a 35-year-old who feeds himself by shaping metal with his bare hands. But since the moment Andy's Swell hit way back in November, Sion's been outperforming the surf scene and shaming big-name peers who have deeper pockets, but not deeper pits.

Come decision time, there wasn't a shadow of doubt that Sion had knocked out this year's Vans x SURFING North Shore Underground project. F—kin' KO'd it in the first round. Now he's brushing dirt off his shoulders and looking to take new names. The beast's off the chain. This victory gives him $25,000 in travel funds from Vans and a whole new lease on life.

After letting the good news settle in, we called Sion to ask what comes next. When he answered, the smile in his voice was unmistakable. How you doing? "Ah man, great," he said. "We paddled Jaws today."

Of course he did.

SURFING: Congrats on the North Shore Underground win, man.

Sion Milosky: Thank you brah, I'm so stoked. You know it was such a toss up. Like Hank [Gaskell] and Evan [Valiere] and those guys surf so well…and I was just really surprised with how it happened. I was fortunate that I got so much exposure, I was just so lucky man, I couldn't believe it. So stoked for all the stuff I got.

The kind of stuff covers are made of. Three covers, actually — so far. Photo: Nate Lawrence

Yeah, just from those few days you got all that exposure and a cover.

I got three covers! (Laughs) Basically it came down to one day of surfing at Pipe and that one wave at Rockpiles. Gosh, I got so much stuff done with that.

What covers did you get?

I got January of Freesurf. And then I got March of Tracks. And then I got Transworld Surf, too.

Were they all Pipe waves?

Yeah, all Pipe waves. And all different waves too.

And the rest of the winter? Besides those few days?

The rest of the winter was good. I mean, it got slow during the Triple Crown, but then this last month there's been a lot Pipeline and it's been good.

Where'd you surf during the non-Eddie swell?

Well, I was the fifth alternate, so I was hanging out down there and they postponed it and postponed it and finally called it off. And Volcom had Larry Haines and another guy who was going to film the Eddie on Skis in the channel, so me and [Dave] Wassel paddled out and hopped on the Ski and went down to [an Outer Reef], and everyone was surfing out there and I got a couple. And then me and Nathan Fletcher surfed another macking day out at [another Outer Reef]. It was just crazy, almost too big.


You know I was hoping to get some more Mav's, but it just didn't really happen. I was so stoked on that first trip that I really wanted to get back over there and have another go at it.

We'll be watching Si to see where this momentum takes him. Everyone will be watching Si — but he's watching the horizon. Photo: Ryan Foley

Well the year's not over. So what are your plans with the $25K from Vans?

Well sheesh I really just want to know what [I can spend the money on]. I'd love to be able to buy some boards, that would be super killer. I'd hate for them to say I had to use it by a certain time frame 'cause I wouldn't want to waste it on not-good waves, you know? But I have a lot of stuff planned and Volcom is pretty stoked on the whole deal and they're willing to help me out a bit more so I can get away.

That's rad. Where do you plan to travel?

Well, I'm definitely going to Tahiti. I want to be down there and I want to do the trials again. And I kinda want to go to Australia and surf some of those slabs. I've never really been down there. And I've always wanted to go to Chile and Mexico. I just don't want to blow it all. I'd love to be on all of the key swells, be in the best places with the best waves. I don't want to go on planned trips and not get waves. I work so hard for my money that I just don't like wasting it. But I'm going to make the most of it 'cause I'm super stoked and super psyched on the opportunity.

Will your approach to chasing swells change with the money you won?

Well Tahiti is a must for me. I can keep up with my barrel riding and you know it's kinda the Pipeline thing. And you know, doing the trials last year I bombed out so fast I just feel I didn't have the opportunity to really get a good one. And my whole thing is I need good boards. I go to places and see guys rolling up with like six boards or whatever and I have like three. Guys are really pushing the issue and, you know, I broke two boards before the event even happened last year and I was like, "Wow, I can't even go on this one because I can't break my last board."

For pros outside the industry's flashy cash bubble, snapping boards isn't just a bummer — it's a livelihood issue. With waves like this, Sion's more vulnerable than most. Photo: Jeff Flindt

It's a trip, huh?

Yeah it's a total mind trip. Like today out at Jaws, I caught a wave and the next wave Healey's board is on the rocks and then Ian Walsh's board is on the rocks, and I was just like, "This is my only magic big board. I don't want it to go on the rocks." So I was kind of playing it on the side. Stuff like that, it really makes a difference in how you approach things.

Yeah, and even if you can only use it for travel, you could still take the money that you would have spent on travel this year and spend it on boards.


So how's the welding business going?

Yeah, well I've been kind of slow. But it's good when it's slow, you know, during the contest time. But now that things are kind of dying down, I have another bid kinda on the line, so that's good. I'm lucky that I'm able to balance it with surfing, you know?

And you'll keep up with that this next year, right?

Oh yeah, I'm doing that for the rest of my life.

Congratulations to Sion and to all six of the North Shore Underground competitors. You’re all crazy as hell. And thanks to Vans for making this grassroots effort at throwing exposure to some of Hawaii’s most deserving chargers possible. Until next year.