Once I had a grasp of nose riding and turning it was time to start competing in long boarding. Horizon surf team needed long boarders to compete as a complete team. My coach approached me about the idea to switch from competing on my short board to doing one contest on my long board, just to try it and see how it went. My first contest was at Stubbs in OB. It was again well over head but this time I won first place in every heat. I got 1st place in the contest at the end of the day. After that day my brother and I rarely short boarded, we spent most of our time preparing for upcoming long board contests. The next year we had won 1st place overall for the season in CISF as well as State Champions in Long boarding. (Micah also won Jr. State Champion that year)
By age 16, I got my first Sponsorship. It was with Chris Christenson from Christenson surf boards. He noticed my family surfing at Pipes on a Saturday morning and asked me if I competed. I told him I did. He told me he was making a team with the best kids in San Diego, and he wanted me to be on the team. He told me and my dad to come by the shop later and start up a board. I was so excited; this was the first time I could order a board completely to my liking. During my 2 year contract, Chris taught my brother and I about shapes, water flow, craftsmanship, and why quality costs more. We learned a lot.
When I was 17, Masi Saili, son-in-law to Larry Gordon asked me if I would ride for G&S. Pete Johnson and Mitch Abshire were currently on the team at this time. He told me I would get clothes, contest entry fees covered, advertising, and boards. I couldn’t contain myself from the excitement. I had such a great relationship with Chris so I was hesitant to tell him about my offer with G&S. I knew I had to talk to him about it, because he had done so much for me. Chris told me that he was bummed but knew he couldn’t hold me back from that kind of opportunity. So, with a hand shake and a good luck from Chris, I became a G&S team rider.
In 1997 I started riding skate boards for G&S. I was helping to design the new boards for their Fibreflex line. I then started working in the G&S factory assembling skateboards and packaging surf boards. While working at G&S Larry Gordon taught me about Shape and about the importance of being professional at all times. There Masi helped create a new type of surf board for G&S, simultaneously teaching how to communicate with a shaper.
In 1998, my first ad came out in LongBoard Magazine. It was my first full page ad. I was on a Fibreflex skateboard, dreaming of surfing. I made the decision to start traveling the world and go Professional with my surfing career. I got serious about my sponsorship s and my marketing. I was able to travel to Australia, FIJI, Costa Rica,
Hawaii, Mainland Mexico (Puerto Escondido), Nicaragua, and Baja California. All my trips were made possible by my sponsors.
For 6 years I traveled and competed, I eventually got burned out. I decided to go back to school and became a Ford Certified Mechanic and obtained my AA degree. Since I was in East County going to school at the time, I picked up Mountain Biking for exercise. I took to it immediately and was back flipping with it in my first year. Then I started getting sponsorships in Mountain Biking. The better I became, the more that became my new hobby/passion. I started
doing barrel rolls, 360’s, flips and spins. I started competing in 4cross where I won my first race. I then entered a dirt jump contest and ended up in 4th place. After that I did my first down Hill race and got 3rd place overall in the Open Pro division. Since then it has been a juggling act between the two sports, but I couldn’t ask for anything more.
This leads me to now. I am surfing and riding almost every day. I get to surf with my brother who pushes me by building my surfboards and allowing me to progress my surfing without giving up style. He is a true soul junkie with a style that is unmatched that I learn from everyday. I want to thank all my sponsors that have been with me through the long haul.
So that he didn’t have to take me surfing everyday. He thought it over and told me he would give me an answer in a week. When the week was up, he brought me downstairs into the basement which was his surf leash factory, and opened up a drawer. He told me to reach inside; I did, and pulled out a hand carved skateboard made out of hard wood and spray painted black. He had taken a pair of skates and cut them in half to make trucks. He assured me this is how he did it when he was younger. For a year, I rode that skateboard like it was a surf board. I bombed every hill around my neighborhood, dreaming it was a giant wave.
My first surf board came after a year of learning on my dad’s 7’6’ Wind an’ Sea Egg. He made me surf a whole year almost everyday before deciding I needed to get my own board. One weekend we were working Koby’s Swap meet selling leashes, when I noticed Pablo Smith, Owner of Soul Grind. He was selling a 5’10” G&S Fish for $20. It was beat up, but I didn’t care…I wanted it! I ran over to my dad and told him what I had seen. He said he would take a look, when he saw it he knew it wasn’t worth $20 so he bartered a deal to trade leashes for it. He and I knew that this was the perfect board to learn respect for your equipment and fix it up when it gets dings, and how to make it last because this was my only board.
Between 1987 and 1990 I had acquired a few different boards, but none as memorable as my first real short board. It was a 6’1” Craig Hollingsworth- Gerry Lopez Lightening Bolt that my dad’s friend, Nick Grant, let me buy from him after doing side jobs all year. I was 10 years old when I got that board, and it was the changing point in my surfing. I learned that doing bottom turns, off the lips, and cutbacks were the greatest feeling I ever felt. During this time my cousins were establishing themselves as decent surfers. They were doing contests and getting the best boards that Rusty made at the time. This pushed me as I was a very competitive little cousin. My cousins were 12 and 15 years older then me, so I always felt the need to perform at their level.
It all started for me at the age of 4, when my dad took me to Torrey Pines State Beach to learn how to surf. My family has been deep rooted in the surf industry for well over 40 years. My Grandfather and my Uncle came up with the idea to attach themselves to a surf board with a suction cup and rubber hose, that attached to your wrist. They sold the idea to Con and it later became known as the Con Power Cord. My Dad later took the idea further and invented the Zing String which was one of the first leashes made of Urethane. Its was the first of its kind. He also made Pull Spears and Hawaiian Slings for skin diving. He was in the Surf Industry for 15 years. Since I can remember, he was working in our basement all hours of the night making surf leashes. During this time I spent a lot of time with my Uncle Gary and his two sons Mark and Paul Wood, who worked for my dad. I remember my cousins surfing almost everyday along with skateboarding and BMX. Since I was close to my cousins I wanted to do the same things they were doing.
Within a year of the La Jolla contest, my dad got a long board and started riding it more. I continued on through High School riding short boards in the CISF contests and placing in 90% of the ones I entered. One day my dad and I went surfing and it was too small for me to ride my short board. He suggested we look at shops for some different types of Egg’s because summer was coming and I was going to need a bigger board. The first shop we went to was Play it Again Sports, where we saw a beat up 7’2” Egg. It was narrow but had a wide nose. I traded my newer 6’2” Peter Benjamin for it straight up. We immediately went to PB Point to try it out. My first wave was a bit wierd, slow yet stable then the wave got steep and just by instinct I scooted to the nose and hung my foot over. It was ugly, but I was hooked. Every wave after that was wasted trying to nose ride. By my 15th birthday, I was ready for a full blown log. We spent 6 months prior, finding the cheapest long boards we could find. I settled on a Rocky Surf shop Ace Nose Rider I model, it was a 9’0” with a 20” nose. It had a 2 + 1 fin set up and a square tail. I rode it everyday, and studied Joel Tudor, Kevin Connelly, Mickey Dora, Robert August, Skip Fry, Micah Wood, Quintin Macklin and anyone I could learn true style from. Long boarding at the time was too progressive and looked too much like short boarding.
My dad taught me to surf, at my constant bugging to get in the water. Also, during that year my cousins had built a BMX track in their backyard. Where again, I pleaded with my dad to teach me how to ride a bike. A few months went by, and I had thought he forgot about it. Then late one night he took me outside of our East County Mobile Home Park and taught me how to ride a bike without using training-wheels. Then when he got sick of my nagging him to go surfing, I negotiated with him to buy me a skateboard.
I can remember all of us going surfing one day unaware that this day was going to be different then any other day I had surfed before. My Dad, Uncle, my cousins and I went to North Bird, it was about 6’-8’ with even bigger faces. This meant that it was almost triple overhead for me, I was so scared. My dad and my uncle said it
was too big and that they were not going out, and I shouldn’t go out either because my cousins wouldn’t see me. Knowing in my own mind that I was just as good as them, I went for it. My dad told me to be safe and be smart. I suited up, and headed down to the rocks.
I waited for a lull in the waves and paddled as hard as I could into the lineup. I finally made it outside where my cousin Mark looked at me with wide open eyes and said “why are you out here? Its macking!” I responded with, “I know, but its too big for me to turn around and go in.” he laughed then said “Oh Sh*% Outside!.” I looked out and saw the biggest mountain of water I had ever seen. It broke right in front of me, and all I could do was ditch my board and dive. Somehow I made it to the bottom where I then pushed off and got air without panicking. All of a sudden, being out there wasn’t so bad. I knew I had taken the biggest wave of the day on my head and was
fine. The fear was almost completely gone. After that moment I caught a few big waves but knew I wasn’t going to let Big Waves beat me. I always think of that day, when the surf gets big and I get scared.
By age 12, I knew I was ready to compete. I had bought a 6’2”
Thruster from a guy at school who said he had a board on his wall that he had got from a pro. He didn’t surf nor did he care who the pro was. When I saw the name it said Tim Bessel for PK. I told the guy, I didn’t know what that meant or who that was, because I really didn’t. So, I traded him a Nintendo game and $15 bucks for it. When I got home I did some research and found out it was Peter Kings old board. He had won an ASP contest on that same board! I knew it was a sign that this was going to be my magic board and that it would take me to the top.
I entered a contest in 1992, it was the first CSUS contest ever held at La Jolla Shores. I was in the 14 and under division, and found out a lot of the kids were 15 and 16 entering in the 14 and under class. A little discouraged, my dad told me not to worry about it and that it was going to be a good experience no matter what happened. To my advantage the surf was almost double overhead and no one but me and a 16 year old made it Outside in the first heat. I caught 2 big set waves, and 1 soup ball to make my 3 wave minimum to advance. I got second place in my heat, and advanced to the next round. I had to surf again, luckily it had cleaned up a bit, but it was still big. Again, ¾ of the people in my heat didn’t even make it to the lineup. I caught 2 waves and another soup ball and again placed second. Two more heats went by with the same results. I had made it through 4 heats and had a spot in the finals. I had to wait 3 hours before my final heat. In the mean time the long board division was having their semi-final heats. I was about to nap when my dad woke me up. “Isaac, Isaac…look at what these guys are doing on their boards”, it was Mike and Terry Gillard, Joel Tudor, Mike Meyers and Josh Baxter. As we watched we saw hang 5’s, 10’s, helicopters, 360’s and even airs. My dad and I couldn’t believe it, they were doing more then what we were doing on our short boards, and doing it with way more style. I then had my heat where I battled with 6 other kids, all of them were older then me. I got 4th place in my very first contest. From that day on my dad, mom and I knew I would be doing a lot more contests.
Wood Custom Surfboards, which is my brothers company.
Ernie Higgins of Waterline Glassing; he has been my glassing sponsor since 2001. He has been a huge help in glassing my boards and keeping me in the water.
Eric Byrd-Hoffman and Rob Ard with SouthCoast surfshop for helping me with whatever I need.
Beyond Bikes has been my sponsor since the beginning of Mountain Bike Career. They have helped me along the way to keep me rolling.
Transition Bike Company for making my frames and having faith in my riding ability. I am now married and have an awesome wife. She captures all my adventures on camera; she is both my videographer and photographer. Without her, I would not be where I am today. I hope to continue to live the dream, and to involve myself in the mountain bike and surfing communities however and whenever I can. Thank you for taking a little step into my life.