Timmy Reyes Might’ve Won El Niño

timmy reyes-dave nelson2011Timmy Reyes. Photo: Dave Nelson

Timmy Reyes might’ve won El Niño. The title was worth repeating. He did 10,000 miles on the road and more than double that in the sky all for the sake of swell. We called him up to get filled in on where and why.

SURFING: Hey Timmy, we heard you've been on the road a bit this past season.
Timmy Reyes: Yeah, I've seriously been going pretty much nonstop since October of last year. I finally just surfed my first south swell down in Baja this past weekend, but before that, every swell I've been chasing has been one of those Northern Hemi west ones. Besides the ones in the Atlantic…

Since October? Jeez. OK, so tell me, roughly, what your winter El Niño itinerary looked like.
Basically, El Niño brought me around the world four or five times since October. I guess I started off in Hawaii, then after Hawaii went to Iceland. I caught the biggest swell in 25 years to hit Iceland, then came home and surfed the biggest Southside Seal I've ever seen. I caught some crazy ones there, and by myself.

Then I went up to the Pacific Northwest and surfed some of the best waves I've ever seen up there. Then went back to Hawaii again to surf Peahi where I saw — but didn't really surf — the biggest waves I've ever witnessed. That was my first session back on a 9-foot-plus board.

Then I went back to Iceland [laughs]. Then I came home and went back up to PNW. Oh, I actually did a September trip to Canada before all this too. Then I did a trip to New England and scored. Then I came back to California and surfed Sandspit…and scored. I didn't even go to Baja this year once for any winter swells.

timmy reyes nick liotta2010Photo: Nick Liotta

Holy shit, man. You get around! How do know when to pull the trigger on a place like…Iceland?
I really follow weather and geek out on Google Earth or weather reports, so I noticed some things that were happening in the Northern Atlantic, and of course the Pacific early on. I could see that it was gonna be a great winter. So I literally put in hours and hours learning how to read weather reports and basically my mission this winter was to surf all those unusual waves that don't normally break. More than scoring the really big, huge stuff, I was searching for that perfect wave.

You're obsessed.
[laughs] There were just so many good waves all the time happening this year that it was impossible to focus on everyday life. I'm behind on everything. I can't even tell you how tired I am at the moment from all those days on the road.

Do you travel so much that when you come home to HB, you're not even a local anymore?
Honestly, more than Huntington Beach, I consider the entire West Coast my home — from Baja up to Canada. I pretty much know every nook and cranny from Cabo to BC. I've made so many friends on this coast over the years and put in so much time traveling all over it that so many of the zones feel like home. But the hours that I've logged since October have been a personal record. Even just the hours alone driving have been remarkable. I've also never felt so surfed out.

By the numbers:
10,000 miles in a car
24,000 miles in an airplane
2 ferry rides
10 boat rides
$5,000 in gas
4 countries
3 continents
14 weeks on the road
2 beers every night after a surf-day (you do the math for the season)
Only 1 swell missed
1 angry girlfriend that says, "I hate El Niño."