Home Boy

| posted on April 10, 2012

Justin Poston, driving for home. Photo: Gilley

Rob Gilley

Previously in denial about his photographic past, Rob Gilley now rummages through his trove of mediocrity.

The only thing more surprising than finding myself surfing Mission Beach recently was that the waves were actually good. I mean really good: slightly overhead, super-rippable lefts and rights with some peaks even barreling on the take-off.

It was barely believable.

My disbelief alludes to the fact that Mission Beach suffers from a common San Diego beach break curse: it picks up a lot of swell, but not a lot of shape.

On fairly rare occasions, however—usually at extreme high tides or super peaky wind-swells or a combination thereof—Mission Beach can produce super-fun conditions similar to the day to which I refer.

Once recovered from the initial wave-quality shock on the day in question, I found myself consumed by something else. About looking for an old friend.

About looking for Justin Poston.

Some of you might remember Justin from early Taylor Steele videos. An amazingly talented young San Diego surfer with shoulder length hair and a snappy, radical style. But you also might remember him for another on-screen characteristic: his sense of humor.

Even within a large contingent of late century class clowns—guys like Gerlach, Dorian, King, Boucher, and Weatherley—Poston stands out. His under-stated comedic ways and especially his pranksterism has endeared him to all who know him.

Some examples of his humor:

—One of his favorite pastimes is to cut out nude pictures from magazines and then fill his friend’s pockets with them when they’re not looking, so the next time they go to pay for something, the photos fall out of their pocket on to the counter.

—Justin is also versed in the subtle art of toxic hot boxing. On one occasion he saved, time-released, and then trapped some of the most noxious, eye-stinging, colonic gas of his young life in a friend’s truck. He then cranked the interior heater, and subsequently convinced an unsuspecting mechanic to go inside for a vehicle inspection. From a safe distance, Justin then simply watched as the mechanic then made a panicked, desperate attempt to exit said vehicle.

—On a surf trip to Scotland, Justin and his trusty sidekick, Joe Curren, once offered me some gum to freshen my breath before talking to one of the locals—a seemingly gracious offer that I gladly accepted. What I didn’t know was that Justin and Joe had bought trick gum at a local magic store. Gum, that when chewed, would explode with a staining blue dye. So as this local Scottish dude stared at my frothing blue mouth, Justin and Joe watched from the car, laughing their guts out.

Perhaps even more than his humor, Justin is known for something else. For his love of Mission Beach. For his love of where he lives. For his love of home.

While most of us were completely consumed by the lure of exotic surf travel, Justin always seemed to find more comfort than anyone in staying at home. He seemed perfectly content to surf Mission Beach, and if he had a hankering for more quality he could always go down to the jetty or the Cliffs or the reefs.

But mostly he just liked to surf out front.

Long before any of us understood the simple satisfaction of a just-get-wet, down-the-street surf, or the Zen of not having to go anywhere, Justin knew how good he actually had it.

A while back Justin kind of fell off the radar, and disappeared from the surf scene. As it turned out, Justin had sustained a fairly serious neck injury, and had to quit surfing for a while. But he didn’t really tell anybody, because that’s the type of surfer he is—private, humble, and always trying to divert the attention away from himself.

A little while ago I heard that Justin was back in the water, and that’s why I was scanning the lineup. With the waves that good, I knew Justin had to be out there somewhere.

He wouldn’t miss a day like this at home.

Photo: Gilley

Photo: Gilley

Photo: Gilley

Photo: Gilley

Photo: Gilley

Photo: Gilley

Photo: Gilley

Photo: Gilley

  • Honey Badger

    Loved his surfing in the old Taylor Steele vids. Did you find him??

  • ErictheRedNeckSurfer

    That is my boy. Loc until the end. It is all about old SD roots and living in Paradise.

  • ray

    Always remembered this guy from the momentum taylor steele movies.
    Sorry he had that injury, big props to him.

    “People look up, people decide on me , People look up and tell me what I should be….People deciiiiide……..” momentum 2 video…soundtrack part… tearing up waves..

  • roger

    To an east coast surfer who had just moved to mission beach in 1999 not having to drive anywhere and simply walking across the street to surf was like heaven. Hell I didn’t even own a car until 2001. I used to bike and surf from PB point to the Jetty and didn’t even know that OB and the Cliffs existed. Awesome times and I know that trying to outrace mission beach closeouts made me a better surfer.

  • Whamo

    Nice column, worth the read.

  • ed

    favorite surfer of all time, thanks for taking the time to write and reflect on one of the many legendary characters that make up san diego, well done.

  • sponge

    Remembered that Justin entered the old Gotcha Backdoor Expression Session back around 1991 maybe. I might still have VHS video of that event stashed away somewhere. Great surfer.


    One important fact that Rob failed to mention is that there is one particular break in M.B. (probably the best spot) you want to stay clear of, if you are not a local. If you do choose to surf there, it would be best if you had four spare tires in your vehicle and some “hot water” to clean the wax off your windows, they are “brutal” down there, for a good reason!!!

  • keith covey

    First time I ever saw someone do a 360 it was Justin back in 1992!

  • Mish

    I remember watching Justin at South Mission and Blacks back in the late 80s and early 90s. I know I have a few photos of him surfing from back then. The guy still rips!

  • PFhawaii

    Great read from a name of the past. Glad he’s still in the water. Back in my Pt Loma College days he befriended Todd Chesser, Dorian and a few of the Hawaii PSAA contingent. Innovative & on point, he was a pure surfer. Mahalo for the memories.

  • Chris

    Great surfer. His Dad Craig is a cool, classic guy as well.

  • matt

    just wondering if anyone knows what kind of neck injury mr poston had. i broke my neck 5 months ago and find it inspirational to know people’s stories bc neck injuries are really gnarly.

  • W

    Probably 6 years ago, I got that pack of classic taylor steele videos. Momentum gen was a little before my age. But Justin Poston’s clips were some of my favorites. Style, humor, killer backside hacks and barrel riding. I wondered why i never saw him in current stuff. Glad he’s back in the water.

  • garry

    hey rob cant thank you enough for decades of sd and mex photos and great stories that wrap around them.

  • Mike Hudson

    Awesome read. I came up in PB and south PB surfing mission and the jetty from 1991-2005 . Guys like jason portlock, justin poston, jason and benji weatherly, dave and doug hopper….etc were killing it. They were nice guys and some ended up being good friends. What a great time in my life…the best.

  • Tom Church

    Justin was such a nice, humble, courteous kid back in the `80s who let his surfing do the talking. When I was living in Mission Beach he would always come wake me up and we would go surfing. Suffice to say I named my first born son Justin. Mahalo for being a friend and for the good memories… Keep shredding, brah.

  • http://google c.k. p.b.p.t.

    Kids awesome , two outstanding parents , great surfer like his dad Craig a world class surfer flying under the radar. Keep charging JP