Featuring jazz-infused soundtracks and smooth surfing on classic equipment, Campbell’s seminal 1999 movie “The Seedling” and the follow-up “Sprout,” which starred Joel Tudor and others from the era’s emerging Southern California underground longboard scene, stand out as watershed events in surfing, as they reintroduced and augmented the style, performance, equipment and vibrant culture of surfing’s past and kickstarted a cultural shift that has reverberated around the globe.
I join Kevin Skvarna and Noah Cardoza, two Southern California longboarders based in San Juan Capistrano and Dana Point, respectively, on the house’s front steps. “It’s funny, every year we come down here, this house—I mean, whatever house our crew is in—ends up being the gathering place,” Cardoza says.
Blending noseriding prowess and timeless style with switch-stance wizardry, fins-first takeoffs, free-friction antics and lively rail work groomed on the slow, playful wave-fields of San Onofre State Beach, the San O kids have been quietly turning heads, earning invites to and standing out at the classic log contests popping up around the globe.
The house has been so dubbed, due in large part to the tight-knit group of surfers renting the place—a group that frequents the longboard-favoring breaks of San Onofre State Beach. “I think it has a lot to do with the vibe of San O,” Cordoza continues. “It’s the original gathering place; the birthplace of the beach hang.
It’s not a machine point,” says Rohr in an attempt to explain how the waves her crew surfs at home dictate their approaches. “You have to try all different kinds of stuff. It’s never boring. “I’d say we are each other’s biggest influences,” Wiley Archbold, of the famous San Clemente surf clan, told me about the San O crew.
Still, Skvarna reckons Mexi Log is one of the best. “The wave is that good,” he says of the crumbly, user-friendly, machine-like and absurdly-lengthy left-hand point that’s undoubtedly still breaking under cover of darkness as we speak. “There’s a reason why so many people come here each year, and a reason why so many people come back.
Though the ever-changing nature of the house’s sleeping arrangements make it hard to ascertain who is actually bunking up here, the group from San O includes the Cardoza brothers and Skvarna, Brock Thompson, Wiley Archbold, Hallie Rohr, Karina Rozunko, Kyle Perez, Max Caldwell, Summer Richley, Brock Thompson and River Covey.
And if Keany’s choice of music isn’t divergent enough from Campbell’s early 2000s opus, the surfing—much of which takes place at San Onofre—is wildly different, as well, with current standouts in the classic longboard scene like Kaimana Takayama, Keany himself and Tommy Witt spastically switching stances and spinning around as the tips of their fins hover above the wave’s face.
Save all your maneuvers for the WSL or the Surf Relik,” added Preciado, muddying the waters in an attempt to admonish the criteria of other longboard contests. “The pocket is all powerful,” Gamboa said, redirecting the conversation to the practical, yet sounding roundly existential. “Here’s the bottom line,” Gamboa continued. “Have as much fun as humanly possible. Be yourself.
While it’s true that the classic log scene has been expanding, grabbing ahold of more and more souls since “The Seedling” and “Sprout,” Keany’s take shows that its current adherents aren’t stuck in the past by any means.
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