Welcome to the North Shore Underground

This is where diamonds in the rough come to shine. Photo: Jimmicane

This is where diamonds in the rough come to shine. Photo: Jimmicane

North Shore Underground

On the North Shore, stars watch Weeds and Boardwalk Empire on beach rental flat-screens. But these men watch buoys. Stars pass out in sweaty sheets with a feminine conquest. These men pass out in exhaustion, with two alarm clocks by the bed. Stars work to score the cover. These men work to cover the rent. No profile film. No signature boardshort. No job security.

Stars are stars; these men are the North Shore underground -- and we think it's time they get their due. Our friends at Vans couldn't agree more.

This year, Vans and SURFING launched a grassroots initiative to seek out and reward unsung North Shore chargers in a way nobody's bothered to before. We identified six of the most underexposed, under-appreciated surfers in Hawaii -- our 2010 "underground team" -- and issued them a challenge: Show us you deserve better. Show us you can hang with the names we already know by heart. Show us you belong in the spotlight -- because we can put you there. And we will.

The Project:

We're shadowing our underground team throughout this winter season, in the water and out: The contests. The parties. The barrels. The beatings. Real lives and real jobs. The modern Country struggle.

Over the coming weeks, surfingmagazine.com will become the living, breathing journal of their winter in the underground. From the Triple Crown to the outer reefs, from big Pipe to little Rockies, we're on their shoulders and in their ears, taking notes and photos and watching for a standout to pull ahead.

Team North Shore Underground 2010:

  • Ola Eleogram
  • Sion Milosky
  • Mikey Bruneau
  • Markus Hickman
  • Hank Gaskell
  • Evan Valiere

The Payoff:

Vans and SURFING will tap one of these guys as our North Shore Underground Surfer of the Year, based on all-around performance both in and out of the jersey. We're looking for achievements as well as potential, because whoever we pick has to step up to the plate in 2011: A year of travel funds from Vans to chase the surf dream wherever it may take him. The World Tour? Film trips? Big-wave exploration?

It's November. The season's just beginning. But one of these underground surfers is about to dig his way out.