>>> Willie Edit (11.3 mb) <<<
Willie’s already clocking 30-something but you wouldn’t know it, not with his diminutive stature, foul-mouthed vocabulary, underage hookups, and quick steez on the knees. From the nimble ride behind hits I’ve witnessed at ankle high Pismo to the arms-out swooping floats on northern territory beasts, Willie’s riding is actually aging quite nicely. Certainly its not the weekend party binges that are making things better – Modello tall cans, signature wolf snarls, weekend jaw instrumentation, and Humboldt roots forestry notwithstanding. Could it be living with Grandma that has refreshed his psyche? It couldn’t be the half-thumb, could it? Maybe some karma from a few of those rescued plover eggs? Or some hidden secret in that Branch Mill drinking water? Either way Willie has found it and his engine ain’t stopping anytime soon.
Willie you’re like 30 going on 17. Do you have a secret fountain of youth?
Being single keeps me pretending that I am still young. Trying to focus my energy into the moment and not dwelling on the future or past helps me to smile. Also I love the ocean for so many reasons, even just the act of riding a wave. So I ride waves quite a bit just to get out there. Having at least three solid sessions a week on average for twenty years keeps me out there whenever there is swell.
How has your background in gymnastics affected your surfing style? Do the two sports compare at all?
I began gymnastics the same year that I started to boogie so the two definitely influenced each other. In both sports awareness in the air, seeing where and how to land for example, is critical. And learning to time a bottom turn to hit a section is similar to timing your hurdle onto the spring board over the vault. Gymnastics definitely helped my progression in bodyboarding, even just from a physical standpoint. When I was 12 I could bench press twice my weight, which was still only 180 pounds. And of course the flexibility was super helpful. I quit gymnastics pretty much to surf more when I was sixteen and later I coached a few years during college. So I haven’t been doing it for a while and my lower back is sort of beat down from not stretching as much as I used to. Stretching seems to be a key to staying healthy and strong for me anyhow. My dk style is sort of affected by gymnastics you can see it by my arms always being outstretched for balance as I hit the lip and look for the landing.
OK you’ve lived in socal, cencal, and norcal. Let’s end the debate right now on which has the best waves, women, and weed.
Norcal for the weed, socal for the women, and cencal for the waves, biatch.
Do you think having a half thumb has helped or hurt your surfing career?
Only the tip got chopped off when I was 7, so not at all. Well maybe my left hand has slipped on more gnarly duck dives from it, now you have me thinking about it. I think my third leg has influenced my surfing more then my half thumb.
From Park Manager to Nature Guide you have been employed in some pretty eco-friendly positions. What can we do as bodyboarders to help the cause and educate others?
Setting a good example when we travel, camp, backpack, hike, and drive to these surf spots that we love is a great place to start. Learn the natural history for the area you ride waves in and appreciate those subtle changes we get to observe by paddling out at the same spots week after week, year after year. Kelp is way cooler out at the reefs and lineup now that I know a bit about it. Disrespecting the groms when they are fucking shit up is a role I have found myself in few times. I found where someone had started a bonfire right in a big lupin bush, just needless destruction of habitat and it was at my favorite beach that we hike into and camp at all the time. I knew it was some of the younger boogies from Pismo so I found out which ones it was and talked to them about it. Another time they left a bunch of bottles and cans out there so I packed them back and had the talk. We can all encourage each other to take care of these spots. Thanks goodness there are quite a few places where me and my buddies are the only ones on the trail out to the spot. So if we work together we can keep these mysto spots mysto and at places like Pismo we can keep the water at least clean enough to ride waves in!
Who are your influences both in and out of the water?
Roach of course is the biggest influence on every dk rider since Enough Said came out. And getting to live in Encinitas for six months when I was 18 was critical, the eight years before that I really was shitty at dropknee. But there I got to ride Reef and Parking Lots and Palis every time there were waves, and during that time it was a hot bed of really good dk talent led by Paul. That really influenced me and my riding style. Before Roach it was Simon Mason, Jeremy Haughey, Heath Erickson, guys who were right at the beginning of the bodyboard movement and dk style in Pismo. Delmore really inspired me early on to keep trying dropknee. Him and Roldan were the prodigy kids always taking it to the next level. Delmore is the man to ride with, he’ll be in overhead surf with no leash and sit for like a half hour outside to wait for the perfect peak, take off and do critical turns so effortlessly like he and his board are pretty connected. He will ride the same board for as long as he can, shit five years I think he’s got on this one that a dog bit a hole in the rail of. No leash just ruling good surf every wave and one of his rails has a big hole in it. That pushes me to surf better. Out of the water I would have to say my biggest influence is eight pound ten ounce baby jesus.
You lived in Ecuador for some time and are now in route to Central America. What’s the draw of these Latin countries for you?
Well as I was finishing up classes at Humboldt six years ago I started to know that I wanted to travel after I finished. South America just sounded good to me really, I was drawn there. I mean I had some Spanish in high school and college and I grew up on a vegetable farm so Spanish was easier for me. Plus I wanted to get kind of far from the US because I was forgetting the cool things about this place and always focusing on the ways that our culture was headed in a different direction than I wanted. I needed to get a more global and less US perspective. So I committed to this nature reserve to work on some education and outreach projects for six months and ended up spending a full year with a month down into Peru by bus. It was a solid trip. Next I am going to Central America to try and get to know that region. My Spanish is rusty so I am a bit nervous, but I bail in a week for forty five days and I just picked up a new boogie today, so I am super amped.
You’ve been around Pismo forever. What was it like growing up as a grom here during the Stoker generation?
It was epic really, we had a solid boogie crew and just had fun between sessions. And Pismo was great because we had that older generation I mentioned earlier to show us that we could just keep riding our boogies until we are like forty and shit. Hopefully I can keep up the charge even longer, ride dk out at a local reef when I am sixty! Funny shit.
Recently you went for the all-out anal cleansing fasting experience. How did that go over?
I’m not sure where you got the anal from but it did cleanse my colon and lower intestine which is near the anal region. I tried to go ten days but only made it to the fifth day. It was just The Master Cleanse, its not really that gnarly. But on the fifth night I drank some alcohol, after no food other then a maple syrup lemony water mix all the time. I was kind of curious how drunk I would get so I took two shots of vodka, and felt fine. But then I got tempted later after two girls came over and wanted to party. The next morning I was barely hanging on, and at 10am I drank some o.j. and ate some home fries. Those potatoes were seriously the best tasting thing I have ever had. I am going to make it the full ten days next time, more resolve and less temptation next time.
Any last words and/or shout outs?
Toobs is the shit, they have been making solid boogies for like thirty years now. Sandy, Roy and Frank are going to get it one of these days for stealing food from me and Murdock. I was once a grommet too you know and was dealt blows when I went out of line. Just a fair warning. To Grodzen for teaching Roldan the mini-shaka, it makes peoples lives better.