With the blinds open, from Reef McIntosh’s bedroom in Quiksilver’s annual North Shore beachfront rental you can see the pack battling for position at Pipeline. It’s so close to the action, you can tell who’s who in the lineup as they scratch over big sets, bail their boards, and, every other wave or so, get spat out of the kind of barrel that would make most surfer’s life experience complete. It’s a beautiful and disturbing vision to wake up to every morning.
If the house were a ship, Reef would be her captain. The 33-year-old has occupied this prime real estate for the past seven winters, and his roles are many: professional surfer, official guardian of Quiksilver’s place in the lineup at Pipeline (along with Mark Healey), and den mother to the team members who arrive at his doorstep all winter long, speaking any of a dozen foreign languages, dragging board bags full of rounded pintails, and carrying with them the burden of expectation.
Reef’s room is spartan. He has a book of Victorian poetry, some unopened boxes of product from sponsors, and a half-dozen boards lightly waxed and tightly grouped in one corner. On his dresser, next to a small TV, sits his Eddie Invitee plaque—a miniaturized, polished metal surfboard bolted to a two-and-a-half-foot piece of finished wood. It weighs a little less than a bowling ball. He received it the day before at the opening ceremony for the Eddie, a highly prestigious honor in a place where highly prestigious honors are hard won. He jokes that at the ceremony, his childhood schoolmate and close friend Andy Irons told him that he has so many Eddie plaques, he’s using them as door handles in his new Hanalei beach house, to which Reef responded, “Oh yeah? Well I only have one, and it’s going on the wall.”