Todd Prodanovich

Todd Prodanovich

Associate Editor, SURFER Magazine

5.27.15

Features

Sand & Fury

Getting the barrel of your life in Mainland Mexico doesn’t come cheap

Picture the coastline of Pascuales, Mexico, with sprawling grass fields, swaying palms, and dark sand beaches perfectly angled to greet any ripple of south swell. At a glance, you’d think it’s the kind of utopia that every surfer dreams of. But the reality isn’t so inviting, and the waves there can make even the most

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5.17.15

Videos

The Spindle 540

Matt Meola innovates along the Maui coast

In Matt Meola’s latest web edit, the beautifully shot “Home,” we find the Maui boy on his home turf doing what he does best. It’s chock-full of the kind of full rotations into the flats that set Meola apart from pretty much every other surfer in the world, but in this edit he takes his

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5.2.15

Features

A Word From Toledo

Oakley Lowers Pro Champion Filipe Toledo on finding his form at Trestles

"I remember watching the 2011 Lowers contest while I was back home and I remember seeing something like six of the eight surfers in the quarters where Brazilian. After that people started talking about the Brazilian Storm and then Miguel and Gabriel both got wins there. I definitely wanted to add another Brazilian flag to the list."

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4.20.15

Features

Surfing’s Lost Art Form

A look at the colorful quiver of the equally vibrant Dane Gudauskas

Growing up, whenever I saw old photos of boards ridden by guys like David Nuuhiwa and Terry Fitzgerald, I was completely amazed by the artwork. You don’t see that style of art on surfboards very often anymore, but when you do, you instantly feel something. A little over a year ago I decided that I

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4.1.15

Features

Slater Quits The Tour

...Or makes a very elaborate April Fool's joke

"Big decisions in life don't come easy and it's taken a lot of quiet time and personal introspection to come to this conclusion...The #RipCurlPro was the first event I surfed on tour and it's fitting that this will be my last. There are too many people to thank and memories to go over but here's to hoping I can pull a rabbit out of the hat and win one last event this week."

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3.11.15

Features

Medina Unfiltered

Gabriel Medina threatens Glenn Hall and criticizes contest extension in post-heat interview

"First of all, that was a really bad call for the comp," Medina said to Pete Mel in a post-heat interview. "We waited like 10 days, we extended 2 days [to] get waves like this and I think K.P. [WSL Commissioner Kieren Perrow] didn't do a really good job, but I hope he can get better. And second was the interference. One day I will try to understand this new rule. The third is, next time Glenn say 'fuck you' to me, I'll teach him some..."

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1.30.15

Movie

After Cluster

What Kai Neville’s latest offering tells us about the state of the surf movie

From Jack Freestone making an unmakeable backside air to Noa Deane’s kamikaze punts, the surfing in Cluster is undeniably good. Of course these surfers reside comfortably in the top 1 percent of the top 1 percent. But it’s impossible to watch Cluster without wondering at some point, “Where was John John when all this was happening? Or Gabriel? Or Filipe? Or Jordy? Or Kolohe?”

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12.23.14

Features

Finding Shangri-La

Filmmaker Joe G. discusses his craft and the making of the year's best surf movie

It reminded me of skateboarding where you might show up to a spot and have to deal with obstacles, like rocks that you have to sweep up or something you have to avoid at the bottom of a staircase. In Iceland, Dion [Agius] was actually throwing little icebergs out of the way because they were floating into a good section of the wave.

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12.3.14

The Now

Varial Surf Technology

Edison Conner and Parker Borneman, founders of Varial Surfboards

About 10 years ago, lifelong Santa Barbara surfer Edison Conner was studying materials science and engineering at the University of Pennsylvania when he came across a type of lightweight, super-strong foam. It had historically been used in aerospace technology, but Conner saw something that so many rocket scientists had overlooked: the potential to create a space-age surfboard.

Conner dedicated himself to studying the applications of the foam, as well as other aerospace materials, in surfboard design. Upon graduation he was awarded a grant from UPenn, and after enlisting lifelong friend and finance expert Parker Borneman, Varial Surf Technology was born.

“When we got started, the first design that we worked on had an aluminum honeycomb core with high-modulus foam in the rails,” says Conner. “It was 70 times stronger and much lighter than a regular polyurethane core, and it had more-responsive flex characteristics. It was as high performance as it gets.”

During the R&D phase, every surfer who tested out an aluminum-core board gave very positive feedback, and Conner and Borneman believed the new materials were a quantum leap for surfboards. But the cost of producing and distributing a wide range of shapes proved too great for the fledgling company; only a small number of aluminum-core boards were ever made, and even fewer sold. To keep Varial afloat, Borneman took a job at an investment bank and Conner was hired to design rocket parts for the aerospace company SpaceX.

“Our goal has always been to revolutionize the surfboard market through new materials,” says Borneman. “But it was clear that aluminum honeycomb wasn’t the best starting point, so we looked into other options.”

They shifted their focus away from the honeycomb and toward the high-modulus foam that they had been using in the rails. By making their cores entirely out of the foam, they could produce blanks that were still seven times more rigid, 20 percent lighter, and twice as strong as a standard PU board. And with the added strength, stringers were unnecessary, allowing blanks to have more consistent flex characteristics.

“What’s cool about the high-modulus foam compared to the aluminum honeycomb is that it’s something that shapers can process like any other blank,” says Conner. “But the boards that they make out of it have performance and durability that far exceeds polyurethane and polystyrene.”

Conner left SpaceX in 2013, and both he and Borneman have been fully committed to Varial ever since. They’ve spent the last year working closely with Surf Prescriptions’ Jeff “Doc” Lausch and his team riders in order to fine tune their foam formula, and they are now making high-modulus blanks for ...Lost Surfboards, Rusty, and SUPERbrand, among others. Although Conner and Borneman believe that Varial foam is definitely a step in the right direction, they think the most high-performance craft are still to come.

“We haven’t given up on the aluminum honeycomb,” says Borneman. “It’s not going to happen overnight, but I think these materials will change the way people look at surfboards.”

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11.18.14

The Now

Tin Ojeda

The Argentine-born New York-bred film-wielding madcap

Argentine-born New York surfer Tin Ojeda has a knack for making provocative pictures. His first short surf film, Kook Paradise, was a mockumentary poking fun at the Montauk surf scene through cheeky Bruce Brown–style voiceovers. In 2013 Ojeda made Daughter, featuring black-and-white surf footage laced with surreal images of a man reading a flaming newspaper, mannequin heads being hurled against a wall, and unmanned surfboards flying through the sky. Ojeda’s latest film is called Expencive Porno Movie, and although he claims there won’t be as much nudity as the title might suggest, it’s sure to be stimulating nonetheless.

SRFR: What’s your background working with film?

TO: I started making little videos with my friends when I was a kid growing up in Argentina, just shooting stuff on VHS tapes. When I came to the States I worked on music videos and some skateboarding videos. It was almost always digital, and I really wanted to make something with real film, but it was so expensive. When I made Daughter, I just said, “Fuck it” and spent all my money on Super 8 film. It was cool, but in the end I wasn’t really happy with the Super 8 quality. It looked sort of homemade, so I wanted my next project to be different.

How many innocent surfboards were destroyed in the making of Daughter?

[Laughs.] We went through a few. My buddy had a bunch of old boards that were past their prime, so we decided to paint different messages on them and throw them into the air. I liked the way the shots came out, but the boards got trashed.

So your new movie is going to have a very different vibe?

It’s going to be way different. Before I made Daughter, I was really into Jim Jarmusch films, like Dead Man, which was a really dark black-and-white film. So I wanted to make a black-and-white film that kind of fused art and surfing. But when I was done I immediately wished I had shot it in color. Surfing is such a beautiful thing to watch, and the colors of the ocean and the sky are very powerful. I got a lot of old 16mm film off of eBay for my new movie and it looks much better. There’s so much more detail, but it still has that warm, grainy feel. I always loved the look of the old George Greenough and Paul Witzig movies, and those were all in 16mm.

Where did you shoot the new movie?

There’s one scene in New York, but the film is mostly California. I went from Santa Barbara to San Diego and scored a lot of iconic waves and a few lesser known spots with some really amazing surfers. Right when I was about to head back to New York, the swell picked up and we started getting perfect Santa Ana winds, so I changed my ticket and scored the best footage of the movie over just a few days. It was 6 foot and offshore all day—just totally perfect.

The title is a little unexpected.

[Laughs.] I had made this T-shirt that said “Expencive Porno Movie” on it, and later I realized that would be a great name for my surf movie. After all, shooting in 16mm made it really expensive to make, and it is surf porn, or wave porn, or whatever people call it. I understand that it’s a bit misleading, though, because there’s no one having sex in it.

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