Throughout the years, The Santa Barbara Independent’s Surf Issue — our paper’s annual ode to the waves that break along our shore (albeit only sometimes) and the men and women who ride them — has enjoyed the good fortune of having some fairly spectacular wave wranglers grace its pages. As it turns out, despite our generally surf-starved situation around these parts, many of the folks who make up the fabric of the 805’s well-steeped surf culture are also big-time players in surfing’s global tribe. What follows is a quick catch-up with four such individuals who have been making some major waves of their own since their Independent debuts.
When she first turned up on our pages back in November of 2006, Clark, a UCSB graduate and former bartender extraordinaire at the Endless Summer, was already one year into a mostly solo sailing and surfing global adventure. Since then, Captain Liz and her trusty vessel, Swell, are still pillaging the high seas, having just arrived this week, after a 500-mile crossing, in French Polynesia’s Marquesas Islands. For guaranteed bouts of jealousy and downright beautiful and often inspirational writing, follow her ongoing travels at swellvoyage.com.
Wayne-O, as he is affectionately known, popped up in The Independent back in the fall of 2007. A shaper and surfer of the finest pedigree, Rich ran headlong into one of the nastiest occupational hazards a lifelong waterman can encounter just a month later, when a surfing accident left him temporarily paralyzed and in need of a spinal-fusion surgery. It has been a long road to recovery for the stoke-addled and just-married Rich, but to anyone who has seen him in the lineup as of late, there is no doubt the man is back. Even better, not once, but twice, in the last two years, Wayne and his trusty Skil 100 planer have taken top honors at the prestigious Sacred Craft Tribute to the Masters Shape-Off competition, a semiannual contest between some of the best shapers in the world where contestants have a set time period to produce an inspired “replica” of a famous shape from the history of surfing.
Just 17 when we first profiled him in 2007, Maassen was a mostly self-taught and aspiring surf photographer, dreaming about someday traveling the world with his camera and waterhousing in hand. Four years later, those dreams have become a reality. With a rapid rise through the rugged ranks of surf photography, Maassen won the 2010 Follow the Light Foundation Award (an über-competitive annual international search to find the best “undiscovered” surf photographer on the planet) and earlier this year was hired on as a staff photographer at Surfer Magazine.
Part of a cover story in October of 2009 spotlighting the impressive teenage surfing talent coming out of Montecito, Peterson, now 17 years old, is well on her way to being one of the most progressive female surfers on the planet, if she isn’t there already. In 2011 alone, the regular-foot surfed her way to the finals of the U.S. Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach, won every single event in the North American Junior Pro contest series, and qualified to compete in 2012’s ASP Women’s World Tour. When the tour begins in Australia early next year, Peterson, who also served as the grand marshal of Santa Barbara’s Annual Downtown Holiday Parade earlier this month, will be the youngest competitor in the lineup.