Remember when Nike had a surf team? Well they had a filmer too. His name was Kevin Voegtlin and he’s a class act. Voegs traveled far and wide with the team, collecting A+ clips of A+ surfers -- oh, to be elite. He recently dug up footage from the archive and made an edit out of it. It’s fourteen minutes long, amazing, and too modern to be nostalgic. We chatted with Voegs about life with Nike’s piggy bank, times with Nike talent and his decision to resurrect.
SURFING MAGAZINE: This group consisted of the most talented young surfers in the world at that time. Did working with them have a different feet to it?
Kevin Voegtlin: It’s funny, it didn’t really feel any different. Apart from the “big brother” Nike up in Oregon, the core group that were on these trips was very small and very tight knit. It sound cheesy as hell, but the program really had a team feel to it -- we traveled with the same surfers all over the world and all hung out together. You definitely knew that you were working with the top young guys, but I don’t think it changed how things were done. At least not on my level.
Nike came out hot. Like, really hot. Were you able to savor the sweet taste of luxury when traveling with them?
Yeah, it was a pretty ridiculous introduction to that world for me. Those 4-5 years when Nike was really up and going, I did 7 boat trips on the Pelagic, 3 month-long stints in Gold Coast highrises, Mainland Mex surf camps, the whole deal, all paid for. It was pretty surreal. I was working for Jason Kenworthy -- who set me up with the job -- and he never passed on a chance to remind me how nice I had it to start.
It was an incredible experience, and something I owe a lot to. But doing things that way, the luxury, the full catering, takes away from the point of traveling a bit. You’re not seeing things, not really experiencing things. It was great for work, but I just spent two weeks camping in Angola and I would take that over most of the Nike trips I ever did. It’s just a different way of looking at things.
What’s the funniest thing that happened when filming with the Nike team?
There were some classic moments making Leave A Message. We spent two years on that project, traveling with girls between 15 and 20. It was hilarious, but mind-numbing at times. Try living on a 40-something foot boat for two weeks with Beyonce blaring non-stop -- there's no escaping that shit. Chris Moore (Carissa's Dad) came on one of the first boat trips with us and set up a bunch of challenges for the girls to do in-between surfs. One was sumo wrestling. Monyca Byrne-Wickey absolutely kicked the other girls asses. I’m talking hip tosses and body slams, it was amazing.
And then there were great nights just hanging out with the guys and putting some beers back. I can say with certainty that there were times that I thought I wasn’t going to make it when hauling my gear over the reef, torn from the night before.
Do you remember any specific moments of someone pulling something that made everyone else go what the fuck?
Jules on the last Nike boat trip (final section of the film). His technical surfing on that trip was absolutely incredible. He was throwing down combos at Maccas like I’ve never seen. Tube to cutty to air to tail blow -- I was sitting there filming, losing my mind.
The John John footage was pretty unreal too. That was from a side gig I did with the G-boys. We headed to WA after I was on the Goldy and rocked up to pumping North Point day one. Pat and Tanner got a few gems, but John went out there and put on an absolute clinic. Just sitting inside of everyone under the ledge, on a much shorter board, and toying with it. It looks heavy enough in the footage, but it doesn’t even do the wave justice. That whole section was two sessions of clips, so you can only imagine the full extent of what he was doing out there.
What inspired you to dig the footage back up and make this edit?
Michel’s one turn in the second song. I was going through footage, watched that thing, and realized that it needed to be seen. So raw and fast. Unconstrained power, but controlled -- one of the best turns I have ever seen. That got the wheels spinning and as I started digging more, I realized that I had so much A+ footage that just got cast aside. It kind of bummed me out. I dedicated a lot of time to filming these guys and it was going to waste. When the whole program shut down it was kinda like fuck, my whole catalog is worthless now. I made a few edits and showed friends and they were frothing on it, so I started piecing Resurrected together. There was so much more footage too -- it was killing me to cut it down. There are two full boat trips that more or less went unused, mostly because I was learning how to film while on these trips and the footage was pretty shit (sorry Nike).
The piece as a whole is a bit scattered, but I feel like that is how the Nike days were. Like, hey we have some of the best surfers and some real money to throw at ’em, let’s send them on trips and see what happens. I guess what happens is the guy you hired to film finally releases it years later.