How are you? I hope you have had the good fortune of getting in the water and amongst the waves. 
It's been a while since the last newsletter, and many things have happened: Ace student Taro Watanabe upped his confidence by winning his first international pro junior, showcasing his stylish, rubber-man radness in Indonesia at the dream wave Nias. 17-year-old Mia Huppatz had her best result at the same Wave with a quarter-final finish in the qs against Asia/Australia's best. New student Freya Prumm won the Australian titles in little rights, her self-proclaimed weakness. But, the big one was that my young family and I traveled to the USA for a long overdue trip back to my roots. Have you ever been abroad with kids in tow? Haha, it's fun for sure, but easy is not a word I would use to describe it! There was so much going on that we extended our stay an extra 3 weeks too! 

Since it was the first time in 4 years, the first time since we launched Wave Ki, and the first time without my pops, you can imagine it was emotional. I had a lot to do, and we had many people to catch up with, but my main priority was paddling my late father's remains out to honor him properly. It had been exactly one year since he passed, and I am so grateful to my wife for supporting me and helping to make it a good ceremony. We put the urn made of salt on his beloved Carveboard and rolled it to the sand. Long-time pals that knew Jumpin Joe helped me get the heavy urn out through the lumpy shore break to gather in a circle near the reef. I said goodbye to dad and tried my best to throw the urn in the water with no splash making his final dive something he would enjoy and laugh at. It was a success and brought me joy, knowing that his ashes entered the ocean at one of my favorite surf spots that he and I frequented. The icing on the cake was having my two young sons there to show them where Grandpa had gone. From that, a beautiful thing happened whenever we went to that beach or drove by it; A big "Hi Grandpa Joe!" Or "There's Grandpa Joe's wave!" Would be heard by my eldest son.  Incase you missed it as you are not on FB or IG you can view the tribute to Joe that Jamie Tierney edited over the past 14 months by clicking on the link below. 

We split our time mostly between my hometown of Encinitas and Malibu. A proud papa moment happened when Zeppy stood on his first Wave at Beacons beach, the same beach I stood up on my first Wave in 1976. Amongst all the socializing, we managed to get the kids to Lego land, Comic-Con Museum, and a Padre game. We were sure to stop in Old Town San Diego for some of the best Mexican food in the world! Oh boy, do we miss that food living in Australia.

Around that time, an invitation to surf in "The Luau and Legends of Surfing" in La Jolla to benefit cancer came from good pal Pat O'Connell. The surf was fun at Scripps Pier, making it enjoyable to surf and say hi to some of surfing's greatest legends like Jock Sutherland, Jericho Poplar and Peter Townend. Another invite to surf in a "legends" heat came with Allan Sarlo, Solo Scott, and Hans Hagen at fun-sized first point Malibu for the North LA Boardriders event, and that didn't go unappreciated. A spirited and emotional talk with David Lee Scales for his Surf Splendor Podcast seemed to strike a nerve with the surf community. A trip down memory lane with Bird Huffman's Birds Word Podcast was fun and enlightening. And what felt like a necessary reconnecting with a brother from another Jamie Brisick for the Surfers Journal podcast kept me real busy.

I got a chance to help improve the technique of friend and adaptive surfer Christophe Zajac-Denek before he surfed in the ISA championships in Oceanside too. 

My long time student Taro Watanabe stayed close to us for most of the time, allowing time for me to work with him before he left to surf in a string of comps on the east coast. I finally met with young student Wheeler Hasburgh for the first time in person after working with him on zoom for the better part of the year. The ever stylish character that is Max Beach had a movie premier in San Clemente of his short film "Maxico," and it felt great for us all to be there hooting at the screen, including grand Sensei Adrian Crook. 

We spent time with Laird Hamilton at his place in Malibu, learning recovery tips, talking about longevity, foiling waves for 7 minutes, and laughing about life. The kids had a ball swimming in his giant pool and loved playing with him because, as he says, he is just a big kid.  See clip at the bottom of this newsletter. 

It was great to spend a little time teaching super talented and ultra-fluid Zoe McDougall before she left to compete in Portugal for the WSL Challenger Series. 

I know this sounds like a lot going on, and it was no doubt, but I feel fortunate to do what I do and learn so much from teaching. I find every surfer I work with fascinating because of their level and approach. It seemed like the entire 7 weeks I had a lesson every morning.

(L to R Jacob Szekely, Skip McCullough & Brad)

There were new students too: Skip McCollugh is one of San Diego's best. Giorgio Gomez is a talented surfer from Florida flying the Colombian flag, and young Kai Kushner from the South Bay of LA has a ton of potential at 16. All three surfers had different things to learn to progress their surfing and responded well. 
I also worked with a few intermediate students that booked through our website. One of them was a gentleman from Greece visiting for a wedding. 

I finally got to catch up and spend quality time with Chris Christenson, my close friend, and primary shaper, for the last 20 years. I admire and respect Chris for many reasons: his integrity, salute to his teachers and predecessors, incredible talent, creativity, passion in his work with a diverse range of surfboards, and his contribution to the art and style of wave riding. 

I was so excited that he made me 4 new boards; The OP1 for small waves is 5'9 x 19 3/4, an updated Gerr Model 5'11 x 19 1/2, and 2 new Gerr Model Twins, 5'11 x 19 1/2 with 4 channels, and 5'10 x 19 1/2 no channels. All boards are 2 1/2 and feel really good! 

(L to R Brad Gerlach, John Glomb, Taro Watanabe, Tom Servais. Photo: Kenny Morris)

Towards the end of the trip, Taro, a long-time friend and former mentor, John Glomb, and I went to Lower Trestles to see the WSL Finals. It was great and interesting to experience live because we sat in the sand under a couple of umbrellas and watched every Wave. We sat in the crowd with people we did not know, so it was comfortable to speak candidly about each ride and score. Being there with Taro was extra special because he has a real chance to be up against these guys in the future. We saw each surfer's talent and their flaws too. By far, the best surfer to watch was Stephanie Gilmore. She knew exactly how much pressure to apply on each turn and rode the waves with an elegance that left her opponents in the dust. Filipe was the best male surfer and was exciting to watch because of his speed, and no holds bar attack. Nowhere near Steph in beauty, but still fun to watch. An interesting note was the board Filipe rode, he was the only surfer in the event to ride a quad. The board looked like it was constructed by Justin Ternes, the Dark Arts guy who glasses them EPS with carbon. Is this the future of professional boards? Perhaps for some waves that don't have much power like lowers? Slater rides a lot of EPS, and so does JJF. Maybe we can get these guys to talk with us about it one day. So many questions and things to pay attention to be ahead of the curve! 

(L to R Zeppelin, Chey, Damien Hobgood, Steve Sawyer, Rob Machado & Brad)

At the very end of our trip, we connected with pal Rob Machado who had just returned from the Maldives, and his family for a long overdue hang. We got to catch up on our lives to talk about family life, mutual friends, the weird world we live in now, music, health, surfing, technique, and shaping. That brings me to the conclusion of this newsletter that our next live stream features Rob, where he will give us a glimpse into his surfing experience, and I will translate it into Wave Ki for you guys. The morning of the live stream was fun. I got to his house early, and we warmed up, sharing what we both do to get the body ready to ride waves. Then I jumped in his old van and rode to our favorite little surf spot. The waves were small, so we traded boards, and both surfed switch stance, haha! Then we came back to his place to film this special segment. I am especially excited to share this time with Rob with you all. He and I have been friends for a long time, dating back to when he was a micro grom on the inside at Swami's throwing me shaka's to the unforgettable time we were in the Mentawai's in late 1999 for the filming of September Sessions.
We are both from the same area, both Fathers, both play music, and appreciate the art and style of past and present surfing. We were also ranked number one for a time and finished up number 2. Years ago, I told Rob a funny story about a good surfer I looked up to as a kid, Todd Martin, who randomly saw me late one night after a concert when I walked into a Denny's starving: "HEY GERLACH!, YEA ALRIGHT! NUMBER TWOOO THESE DAYS, TAKING THOSE P*SSY'S!"  So forever more, Rob and I call each other "number twoooo!" Haha, needless to say, we have a great rapport, and it's evident in this live stream. What was fun was translating Rob's incredible style onto the floor with Wave Ki for everyone, including myself, to learn from.  

(The Gerrs.  Photo: Robert Beck)

In closing, practice your wave ki and have a fun surf. 


1 comment

  • Right now I know how to do a top turn and really want to do a off the lip into a cutback into a air. I also really want to get in a sweet barrel ( AKA tube) because I just love the feeling of being in the tube and then popping out. I heard about you through the Tom Curren surf contest.

    Augie Kimbell age 10

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