Rob Gilley

SURFER Contributor


The Culture

Surf-Bathing Revisited

A salute to Mark Twain, one of the original “surf writers”

Like millions of Americans, I was forced to read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn in school, and though I grasped the moral gist and imaginative elements of the stories, I was left with a decidedly ho-hum feeling about the author. To me, the books were so steeped in antiquated, provincial language that I could never get too involved in the plot. I understood Twain, I just didn’t like Twain.



Photo Blog

California Oasis

Snapshots from Southern California's recent flood of swell

Without a drop of water falling from the sky, a long drought broke on January 9th, 2014. That was the day a storm-blocking high-pressure system cracked in the Pacific, and for almost three weeks straight, Southern California surfers drank from an overflowing cup. The following are a few excerpts from those days of bountiful swell




Surfers are Sheep

A herd mentality may be bad for surfing, but it's damn good for business

As I sat there watching it, I noticed something else. Just a short distance up the beach, less than a 100 yards north of the Lowers left was a newly-formed little right, which was surprisingly steep, consistent, and fun-looking. To my complete astonishment, however, the fifteen or so surfers populating the Lowers lineup were completely oblivious. Despite this ultra-fun, untouched wave in plain view, they seemed determined to stand their ground and guard some of the crappiest Lowers I have ever seen.




A Man Named Twiggy

How South Africa's Grant "Twiggy" Baker became a Mavericks master

In order to do this, he used a slightly unusual board—one that was smaller and heavier than the standard Mavs elephant gun—a magical olive green 9’0”. Like a smaller board at big Teahupoo, this craft seemed to fit into the scooped apex of the peak better, and the weight of it seemed to resist the side-tweaking effect of the up-the-face wind.




Sea Minor

Highlights from a low-energy Fall in Southern California

The principal question prevailing over California lineups this fall has been, “Is this the worst California surf year ever?” It’s a valid question, but we should all remember that a year of mediocre waves isn’t a year of non-existent waves. As the following photos will attest, there have been a few fleeting groundswells, as well as the odd wind swell in San Diego this Fall. In fact, as of late, the Pacific Ocean finally seems to be waking up from its long slumber.



SURFER Approved

Bird’s Surf Shed

Eric "Bird" Huffman has created a new kind of surf shop in San Diego

He says he’s not a collector—an unexpected statement considering that Eric “Bird” Huffman’s massive quonset hut is filled, from floor to ceiling, with over 1,400 surfboards. Stingers and Spoons, Noseriders and Firewires, Hot Curls and TOMOs—you name it, Bird’s Surf Shed is packed to the rafters with it.



Photo Blog

Dynamic Duo

A glimpse at the competitive spirit of the brothers Hobgood

It has become abundantly clear over the years that the Hobgoods are some of the nicest, most down-to-earth humans ever to bless the World Tour—or surfing as a whole, for that matter. But do not, even for one split second, think that virtuousness and competitiveness are mutually exclusive.



Photo Blog

Out of the Woodwork

On the right day, with the right conditions, an unknown surfer can become a legend

When you hear about someone totally killing it, someone surfing the guts out of it on the day of the year, it’s usually some famous pro. But every once in a while a story surfaces about some random dude—an underground ripper who comes out of the woodwork and dominates the conditions. Over the years I would occasionally hear such tales, and they included names like Jimmy Lucas, Zen del Rio, Mikey Meyer, Greg Russ, Ryan Moore, Randall Paulson, and David Scard.




How to Find a Secret Spot

Rob Gilley discovers the importance of local wind patterns in surf exploration

After a subsequent trip around the island, Mike and I realized that this Seychelles surf was produced by wind swell—a large and cumulative trade wind event that had been so strong that it wrapped around the bottom of the island and pushed itself into a protected cove on the leeward side. Slowly, these experiences brought illumination. It took a while to extrapolate the exact meaning of local wind patterns on a world scale.




Brave New Surf

Rob Gilley on how dystopian literature can help your surf life

With little exception, it was clear that there was a direct relationship between population and quality of life. The more people in a given area, the more problems there seemed to be. By contrast, in a sparsely populated place like South Island, New Zealand, for example, people seemed to lead an almost utopian existence.


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