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(Wednesday) 10.2.13

Surfer Profile – Brad Ettinger

It’s been a while since we talked to Brad. You probably recognize him from the Wedge photo where he is in a super clean barrel. This photo was all over the interweb a few months ago. Brad just got back from competing on the East Coast. So we grabbed a coffee and talked surfing. A potpourri of questions below. Enjoy.


Brad Ettinger

Brad Ettinger

Do you remember your first surf?

I first learned to surf when I was 2 years old…so it’s really tuff. I go back to a picture of me surfing. I was a regular foot, even though I surf goofy now. I was so young I can’t pinpoint the first wave, but both my parents surfed so I was probably in the water sooner than most kids.


Where was that photo taken?

Bolsa Chica or maybe San O. Probably Bolsa since San O has rocks.


You never know, back then our parents threw us out there. No helmets on bikes sort of thing.

Yeah, your right, everything today is all Nerf’ed up.


When did you know surfing could be a career for you?

I grew up in Westminster, CA. My parents moved to the high desert when I was going into second grade. I lived there until the end of my Freshman year in High School – 90 miles from the beach. I always loved surfing more than anything, but we only went on weekends and summertime. I snowboarded, moto, skateboarded all that but it was always about the essence of surfing. I loved surf videos. I would watch them all the time. All the Taylor Steele movies, Machado movies, Slater movies. I watched them so much I could recite the narrated ones word for word. I would just try and do everything I saw in the movies.

The thought of being a pro surfer never really occurred to me. My plan was to get my license and move to the beach but making it a profession never seemed real. Then my Sophomore year we moved back to HB and I took surf P.E.  Then jut surfed all the time and in my Senior year I got my first sponsorship. Fox picked me up, they only had one surfer at the time Kalani Robb and he convinced them to sponsor him for moto and surf. They did, because I was also modeling at the time so they got both a clothing model and a surfer. That was the moment I was like whoa…I might be able to get paid to be a surfer.


Nothing before that?

Nope, I sucked in NSSA. Everyone had an advantage of surfing everyday and I was in the high desert. I had trouble getting out of the first round. Never won an NSSA.


How’d you feel once you realized it was a reality?

Are you kidding? So stoked! I didn’t look up to celebrities. All my idols were pro surfers. To me those were the movie stars. Surfers were the coolest thing to me.


How’d your life change once it was a reality?

It was the first time I ever got to travel for surf. I got a taste of it on Huntington Surf Team – Coach Verdone took us to South Africa that year. Going to J-Bay and surfing Durbin was amazing. That was really attractive to me.

So when I came back and things started to take off I was amazed that I was getting paid to go on photoshoots and surf these exotic locations. It’s really great. I couldn’t believe I was getting paid to surf…and surf places like Mexico, The Maldives, Fiji, all the waves I had only ever seen in magazines.


Who’s your favorite surfer to watch?
Uh… so many fun guys to watch right now. I was on the jet ski at Lowers and watching what Julian was doing was pretty inspiring to say the least. So I’d say either Julian or John John.


Who’s making the better web clips?

John John. There’s no doubt.


How is free surfing different from comp surf? Talk to me about your mindset.

There are nerves when you are in a heat. This anxiety that you are competing. The pressure is on and sometimes it’ll tighten you up. The guys who are the best are the guys who can manage the nerves. When you are loose you can swing freely then you can perform at higher levels.

If you are mentally tough enough you can surf at a high level in both… But in a comp you are always at the mercy of the ocean. You are never guaranteed a wave or a set of good waves. I’ve been in heats where I want to pull a massive air so bad, but the waves don’t cooperate.


If you could only surf 1 place the rest of your life – where/why?

Cloudbreak. It’s so many waves in one. When chest high it is super ripable and so much fun. Then there are days where it’s so big you may not even want to paddle out. The variety makes that spot incredible.


How many boards are in your quiver right now? Got any favorites?

Maybe 5 boards here. Then some in Hawaii. I have a big range of boards. I get really bored surfing the same board over and over again so I mix it up. The real challenge for me is when I get a magic board I don’t want to ride it until a comp.

What’s a Magic Board? Does it fly?

Easy. It’s a board you know you can surf your best on it. So much surfing is mental that once you find a board you love you don’t want to surf it out.

Brad Ettinger

Brad Ettinger


Who’s shaping for you right now?

Maurice Gyenes – Move of Die Surfboards. From San Clemente. He was a shadow shaper for Timmy Patterson for 5-6 years. Then went to Lost and was a shadow shaper there. He has incredible shaping skills. His boards are perfect for me.


Do you have a favorite?

Rab 3.


What is that?

It is actually shaped by Bob Hurley and then modernized by Bob and Lee Stacey. It’s a board from the 70’s they reshaped and it is the best board for 2-3 foot mushy surf – which we get a lot of in Huntington.


You recently had a baby girl, congrats. How has that changed your surf?

Before you take surfing for granted. You can go whenever, you sort of abuse it a little you are so casual. With a wife and daughter I have learned to appreciate it even more. You have less time so you have to be focused. My mindset now is – this is my time slot to surf, ok go. It really makes you appreciate things. Less time actually makes you appreciate it more.


Chose: Winning your next comp or a web clip that gets a million views.

Million views for sure. There was so much I wanted to prove in competing. But I really want to showcase what I can do in good waves which is perfect for a clip.



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