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Fuel Your Fire

New Local Surf Products for the Coming Season

The surf industry is a beast. From the boards you ride to the
clothes you wear to the movies you watch, surf culture is—for
better or worse—a wet, sandy, stoke-filled monster that survives,
at least in part, by feeding off material things. Without a doubt,
Southern California is the global epicenter of this feast and,
though S.B. is a far cry from the madness of Orange County, we
contribute more than our fair share to the long list of seasonal
surf-oriented offerings. What follows is a review of some of Santa
Barbara’s newest surf swag goods, and with winter swells grumbling
to life at this very moment in the North Pacific, there is really
no better time to fuel your fires of stoke. And like all things, if
you’re going to buy, you might as well buy local.

Surfing Is Scary

SharkParkdvd-cover.jpgSeveral miles off the coast of Santa
Barbara, beyond the Channel Islands and well before you hit
Hawai‘i, there is a slab of reef that, when conditions permit,
creates an absolute avalanche of a wave. For decades, the place
affectionately known as Shark Park has been exploding a
few times each winter in utter obscurity. Its bone-crunching power
and potential to dish out world-class big wave surf receives nary a
notice from the surfing community save for the dolphins, seals, and
sharks that frequent the region and the fishers who occasionally
work nearby.

However, last winter, after a decade of secret reconnaissance
missions and extensive planning, locally based surf filmmaker and
photographer Greg Huglin introduced the fickle beast living in our
backyard to the rest of the world. Appropriately named Shark
Park
, Huglin’s documentary film offers a stunning yet
nerve-racking look at arguably California’s most dangerous wave and
the tow-in surfing assaults that took place out there last year.
From S.B. local Chris Brown’s deflowering of the wave in late
December through the picture-perfect death pits of Garrett McNamara
and assorted others later in the season, Shark Park is the
inspiring and terrifying tale of the wave’s first official year on
the rare company map of the world’s big wave surfing spots. With
the film, Huglin, whose work can also be seen in such classic surf
films as Five Summer Stories, Fantasea, and
In Search of the Sun, delivers nearly 45 minutes of
near-death wipeouts, tubes big enough to put a car in, and the
extra-large wave exploits of Brown, McNamara, Carlos Burle, Rusty
Long, Mark Healey, Chris and Dan Malloy, and Eric Akiskalian. And
if that isn’t enough, the DVD also features a mind-blowing sequence
of a free-diver tangling with a great white shark in the waters off
South Africa. You can find the terror at the Beach House on State
Street or at towsurfingadventures.com.

Wearing Waves

LaurenSurfingUnderwater.jpgLiving a short walk from one of S.B.’s
most fickle and fabulous waves, lens man Branden Aroyan has made a
name for himself in recent years with his surf photography; his
images are featured in surf magazines the world over as well as
hanging on restaurant walls and adorning book covers. Looking to
make his artwork more accessible to the people who he said
“probably appreciate it most,” Aroyan introduced his own signature
line of clothing this past August featuring some of his more famous
photographs.

From Goleta barrels to Tahitian tubes and island sunsets, Aroyan
has taken his unique blend of surfing and landscape photography and
put it on California-made, organic cotton T-shirts for men and
women. Coming in all shapes, sizes, and colors, the shirts can be
found in local surf emporiums like the Beach House on State Street,
A-Frame Surf Shop and Rincon Designs in Carpinteria, and Goleta’s
Surf Country, as well as the Brophy Bros. gift shop at the S.B.
Harbor. With a price tag of about $25 and a Patagonia-inspired
one-percent-for-the-planet pledge, these shirts are one part
comfort, one part earth-conscious, and completely surf-minded.
After all, if you aren’t going to be wearing your wetsuit and
pulling in, you might as well throw a perfect barrel on your back.
For more info, visit lowtiderising.com.

Surfing Your Coffee Table

Native Santa Barbaran and former professional surfer Alexis
Cottavoz has been making people want to go surfing for decades. The
man behind more than two dozen surf flicks — including the ’90s
underground classic Good ’n’ Plenty — Cottavoz is known
for his home-movie style approach to documenting high-performance
surfing. Armed with a VHS camcorder and connections from his days
as a professional, Cottavoz — then running with the surname
Usher  —  barnstormed the international board sport scene
throughout the 1990s, capturing everything from bikini-clad
beauties and far-flung foreign dream waves to California’s
exploding snowboarding culture and assorted party mayhem.

Along the way he also began taking photos and the result is the
recently released book Shutterspeed. Jammed with 150 pages
of high gloss surfing, skating, and snowboard action, the book
feels like an insider’s scrapbook from the booming early years of
the “extreme sports” era. Half-naked girls, massive Mavericks,
Bruce Irons absolutely buried at Pipeline, Omar Hassan’s pool
launching in Orange County, and Teahupoo in Tahiti grinding without
a drop of water out of place are just a few of the book’s
highlights.

While there are some photos included that probably wouldn’t make
the final cut in other surf photo books, Shutterspeed
ultimately proves appealing and successful for much the same reason
that Cottavoz’s movies do: It gives a real, albeit occasionally out
of focus, look at surfing that simultaneously makes you smile about
the not-too-distant past and wonder what the waves might be doing
at your local break tomorrow. And as an added bonus for the S.B.
reader, there are more than a few images that are sure to look
especially familiar. Shutterspeed can be found at Borders
on State Street (where Cottavoz is also having a book-signing on
December 9 at 1 p.m.) or visit stormproof.com for more
information.

Wax This

kazi.jpgSimply put, you can’t really surf
without surf wax; you absolutely need that sweet-smelling sticky
substance if you hope to have any chance of staying on your board.
That being said, the surf wax industry has a colored history of
marketing gimmicks. From Carpinteria’s famous Mr. Zog’s Sex Wax to
the breast-endowed Mrs. Palmer’s brew from Australia, creative
marketing and sticky blends are an absolute must for success in an
industry that produced more than 10 million bars of wax last year
alone. Continuing in that vein is the newest member of the wax
race, Tiki Waxx.

The creation of current S.B. resident Ramon Fernandez, Tiki Waxx
was born after Fernandez traveled to Maui a while back and couldn’t
find any Polynesian-style tiki-shaped candles to bring home as
souvenirs. After returning to California, Fernandez began messing
around with molds to create his own tiki candles à la the famous
Bobby Brady bad luck charm. “It wasn’t too long until I put it
together and thought about making surf wax,” said Fernandez. And,
after Fernandez hooked up with a chemist in Los Angeles, the first
big batch of Tiki Wax hit the water this summer to rave reviews.
The handcrafted bars come in a variety of colors and tiki faces to
match any water temperature condition — cool vibes, cold coconuts,
warm aloha, and tropical jungle. The tiki gods of stick are
available locally at the Beach House and A-Frame Surf Shop. For
more info, visit tikiwaxx.com.

Catch the Wave

The S.B. Maritime Museum’s Surfing Exhibit The Santa
Barbara Maritime Museum is developing a permanent surfing exhibit,
which will break on our shores in 2007. The exhibit will feature
the people and places of Santa Barbara’s surf culture, as well as
those who have affected the sport in terms of new technologies or
products, such as the George Greenough-led “shortboard revolution.”
Special attention will be paid to impacts on surf culture that have
a major Santa Barbara connection. The exhibit overall will be
designed to engage everyone from the experienced surfing legend to
the novice barney. Films, and possibly oral histories, will be a
major feature of the exhibit, as the Santa Barbara area has become
home to a significant number of filmmakers working in the surf
genre.

The museum is currently researching and collecting for the
exhibit. We are collecting historic and other important photos and
film to supplement the exhibit. We are looking for awesome sticks
or historically important boards and other surfing-related
artifacts for the exhibit, too. For more information or to donate
any objects for the exhibit, call the museum at 962-8404.
Additionally, the museum continues to raise funds for the exhibit
and welcomes your donations. Surf’s up!

—Aaron Micallef, curator and collections
manager at the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum.

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