How does one make a living as a professional free surfer today? Alex Gray unpacks the tribulations and rewards of chasing swell around the world. Do pro surfers pay for photographers travel? Who finances the safety teams? Where can you sell photos nowadays? How do professionals recoup the investment of surf travel? Alex reveals all, as told through the lens of the historic swell that hit Cloudbreak on May 27, 2018. Alex also reflects on a renewed life perspective, conversations with Kelly Slater about shifting values, and honoring the life of his brother, Chris Gray, by helping others grieve through surf therapy. We hope you enjoy today’s show.
Thank you @tavaruaislandresort for making dreams come true. 5 weeks ago when I arrived, I called this island the Disneyland of surfing. Now I just say it’s the greatest place on earth. Vinaka! You’ve all seen the #cloudbreak action by now. My personal quick summary: sat on the boat in pouring rain and wind for 5 hours watching the best tow session ever. To those who brought tow boards you’re genius, and I’m so stoked for the waves you rode. This swell was very raw and tricky. The wind made for very tough paddle conditions. Around 1 pm the rain slowed down and conditions cleaned up a tad. An hour into my session, I locked into this wave. The white water on the face slowed my board down and I eventually had to just jump into the foam ball trough too deep. I was happy with that one wave and called it quits. A vision and experience of a lifetime. Thank you @jarrodwhite9 @jojoroper @billykemper organizing safety with @hargrave @abelerner @kaiborggarcia. Thank you @kaeodechape @jonroseman for making all of this happen! Thank you @nathanbloemersphoto @fijichili @toddglaser for the photos. Thank you @jwarrensurfline for all the forecast updates. Thank you @cisurfboards for this magic 9’0” that’s somehow still in one piece!!! Best 5 weeks of surf ever 🙂 #tavarua
Ryan Hargrave’s rescue video of Dane Gudauskas
Was a pleasure to experience. Thanks for making safety a priority @tavaruaislandresort @jarrodwhite9 @jojoroper . . . Dane got the first paddle wave of the morning. It was the first pickup and it carried a lot of emotion @danedamus. Humbled, exhausted, proud of the crew and heading back out for day ??#excusemylanguage #safetyfirst #buttrash it was a nice bottle of Anejo @kellyslater @tannergud
Alex’s behind-the-scenes take on Cloudbreak
Wanted to share with you what happens when you don’t make your wave at #cloudbreak. Here’s a barrel I was too deep on, and the succession of waves that took me down the reef after. If you’ve been here, you’ve been washed from the top to the bottom of this reef. Probably multiple times ? It’s all part of the fun. And this morning was damn fun ? oh and apparently I need to say that there wasn’t a photog and this was just me filming myself with a #gopro #gottapaytoplay thanks @tavaruaislandresort #tavarua
Alex’s recounting of his session with Kelly Slater at the fickle right off Tavi
The secret surf: So, I’ve kept mum about this session waiting for @surfer_magazine to display @toddglaser ‘s photos. You all saw the glorious big day at #cloudbreak. Well the next morning @kellyslater and I were watching “the right” spit it’s brains out. Yes, there’s a crazy right on @tavaruaislandresort. It’s a wave I’ve always dreamed of surfing since seeing a photo of Kelly there in the early 2000’s. While 50 guys went and paddled still bombing good Cloudbreak, Kelly and I rolled the dice heading to the right alone. We got out to the lineup and it went oil glass. The look on Kelly’s face after getting spit out of his first wave all time. I’m all how was that.. he simply said “very interesting” with a big ol’ ? eating grin. For the next two hours we traded barrels with no one out where everyone could see, but no one else showed up. I got to have a pretty cool talk with Kelly. He said he now looks forward to a session like this, turning away the perfect known wave with tons of guys out (Cloudbreak), to surf a more fickle less quality wave with only a friend. This was the best session of what became the best month of surf I’ve ever experienced. Surfing life goal met: surf your dream wave with just your hero, the champ @kellyslater ? Eventually the winds switched onshore. We went back to the island with funny little smiles and feeling like we just did some secret thing right under everyone’s nose. Thanks @toddglaser @nayjayhinck for bringing it home to share. Memory of lifetime. Boom. #tavarua #has #rights
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The last board Alex rode?
I have to share my new favorite board. It caught me by surprise. The #cirocketwide is the best shortboard @cisurfboards has made in some time. I ride mine as 5’5” x 18 3/4 x 2 1/4 with medium size AM @futuresfins. Now I know its being marketed as a small wave board. Mostly a groveler. But I found myself using it at #cloudbreak on most days. It honestly works really good in the barrel too. Okay, after about 10 foot faces it becomes too squirly off the wide tail. But, this board holds really nice speed off the bottom. What I love most is it’s acceleration through the lip and transition into your next setup. Flow meter 10/10. I’ve had a bit of difficulty with the latest models. I realize I like a lower nose rocker and overall more simple outline. I tend to be a surfer which moves his front foot forward when pumping down the line looking to gain speed. The rocket wide allows you to leave ur foot as far back on the tail at all times. No need to move your back foot forward when looking for speed. I love that aspect because my board stance is ready to push at all times. This modification of its former outline, the #cirocketnine, is genius. Thank you for making all of my sessions stupid fun @cisurfboards @mike_andrews3. My claim is this: best board #cisurfboards has in it’s lineup right now. I reccomend getting the #spinetek version. I like how light and springy the technology is. Overall I reccomend this board to anyone who’s been fighting their current board for extra speed and flow. Enjoy!!! ? @nickliotta link in bio of @danedamus @tannergud @nathaniel_curran ripping
Host, Edit, Produce: David Lee Scales @David_Lee_Scales
Intro/Outro Music: Bill Callahan, Seagull
Segue Music: BadBadNotGood, Cashmere