Chas Smith - Writer

Describe your first surfboard

Oh it was love! I was maybe 10 and living in Coos Bay, Oregon but my cousins, the coolest people ever in my young mind, lived in Carlsbad. We would see them every summer and when I was ten cousin Dan, who later became a bank robber, gave me a chubby 6ft rainbow twin fin shaped, maybe, in Hawaii. I surfed every summer, after that in California but most of my learning and surfing happened on the Oregon coast God bless it.

What is going well/badly in surfing today and how can we best navigate it to have the greatest positive impact on our sport? 

I think the progression is unbelievable, not only what people are doing but what the shapers are making, wetsuit tech, awesome fins, etc. Surfing has never been so fun but, on the media/WSL/brand side the fun often gets buried beneath a pile of hypocritical, fear-based, paranoia. Oh the thin skin! We are strangling what we love by refusing to laugh. Here’s looking at you, Paul Speaker! And Volcom!

What is your opinion of artificial waves and the place wave parks may hold in the future of surfing?

I think wonderful! A part of the progression that I find so joyous. For me, surfing is about the beach and, the sand, the rocks, the salt water, the sun, the smells, the entire experience more than simply about riding a wave. But I applaud those brave scientists playing God. Here’s looking at you Kelly Slater!

How did you work your way into your current position?

By sheer accident! I grew up surfing weird, cold Oregon, isolated but in love with every piece of surfing. I would devour any magazine I could get my hands on etc. I went to college in Orange County and got to surf Huntington Beach and felt like I was living a dream. Huntington Beach! My studies lead to travels in exotic, semi-dangerous countries like Yemen and Somalia and Lebanon etc. I found a way to marry surf with the radical Islamic fundamentalism (I was studying) that was burning hot and wrote, by happenstance, a piece for Vice which was read by Stab’s Derek Rielly. He reached out we have been in love ever since (15 years and counting!). I wrote for Stab then Surfing then two years ago Derek and I started BeachGrit. It’s anti-depressive!

Where has your career taken you?

Everywhere! To crazy countries and normal ones. To the belly of the surf beast and back out his mouth. To living rooms and kitchens and empty deserts. To a stage with David Petraus and a table with Jerry Jones. Most importantly to a gorgeous wife and cute family.

What would you tell someone who wants to make a career in the surf industry today?

Do it! People will say it is bleak, that it is crumbling, that there is no money left or way to build a career. Bullshit! Just do it, if you want, but don’t be grouchy or entitled. Just do and keep doing.

Who is the most interesting/dangerous/exotic person you've met through your career in surfing?

Edward Rothman! 

Where did you grow up and who did you look up to when you were a child?

I grew up on the Oregon coast and looked up to my uncle Dave (father of bank robber Dan). He traveled to the most exotic places in the world, taking medicine and “medicine” to various freedom fighters in the age of red aggression. I thought he was a real Indiana Jones.

Who / what inspires you today?

My wife. She is the most driven, passionate, creative person I have ever met and I ain’t just saying that. She inspires.

What are you most proud of, as the editor of Beach Grit?

Co-owning it! And the non-stop, non-serious prattle. We have fun, everyday and I think/hope that comes across. I so so so so hope we provide some smiles.

Of all the places you have traveled to, what place in particular stands out and why?

Yemen. No where on earth is like Yemen. Its geography, people, culture, architecture, food. All of it. It is getting destroyed, completely without reason, now and this is a shame. It truly sparkles. And the waves can be very fun! And nobody surfs!

What are your top 3 favorite waves/surf destinations in the world?

Mexico…too many fun waves to count. Yemen… it really is fun. And….. Hawaii. Can you beat it?

What meaning does surfing hold for you and how has it changed your life?

I love surfing. I love it deeply. I have tried to run from it, at times, to go discover more important things. But maybe nothing is more important. And ain’t that just a laugh. 

What’s next for you?

BeachGrit! Second book, a follow-up to Welcome to Paradise, Now Go to Hell almost ready to be revealed and I’m directing a doco on Lisa Andersen.

Who has made the greatest impact on surfing and why?

Great question. Great and difficult. Ummmmmm mmmm mmm m the Hobgoods. They have the most fun. And as far as surfing is concerned fun is all that matters.

Where can we find you online?

Twitter: @chasdoesntsurf
Instagram: @reportsfromhell


Posted by: Dan Stokes Roman, on December 15, 2016
Categories: Interviews