By Mike Latronic

Whether your local surf spot is a playful beach break in New Smyrna, Florida, a perfect point break in Northern California, or a frightening reef setup in Hawaii, chances are most regulars will look to a few top surfers and personalities for that region as “local heroes.” All surf spots on Earth feature a loosely tribal pecking order, and the local hero tends to get good waves and hold their own. Depending on which surf break you call home, the criteria for that coveted title may change, and the number of candidates can shrink or grow. Born and bred in Hawaii, in one of the most competitive and fierce surfing regions on the planet, 26-year-old Joey Johnston is the consummate local hero at Backdoor and Pipeline. In the past few years, Johnston has had several standout moments on some of the gnarliest waves and killer barrels Pipeline has to offer. Joey is the youngest son of longtime shaper and highly credible surfer Don Johnston.

Mike: Where did it all start?

Joey: I feel fortunate and grateful that my dad was a surfer, and he wanted to make sure me and my older brother had that same spark as him. I was raised here right at V-land, and I grew up with a solid pack of friends that were into the same things as me. We loved surfing, so my main crew was Kona Oliveira and Keale Lemos, and we pretty much would surf V-Land every day after school together. My mom wanted me to focus a lot more on school, and school always came first. Dad was kind of like the “Surf Nazi,” so he wanted to make sure that his boys were surfers. He shaped all my boards growing up and always wanted to see that spark in us that he had.

Mike: You talked about a spark and wanting to emulate that spark. What are we talking about there?

Joey: It’s just one of those feelings that you can’t really explain. You kind of just gotta feel it. And once you feel it, then you know—that’s the feeling you want to chase. Surfing is a stress reliever. It makes me feel good. You get a good wave, and you wanna keep chasing that feeling. Every wave’s a little different. The adrenaline that you get from it, the rush, or the natural high you get from surfing, especially if you get a really good barrel, those are the feelings that you chase because it makes you feel good. You feel good inside. That’s the spark.

Mike: Your lifelong pursuit of chasing waves puts you in the ocean more than most humans. Does that time in the water create any kind of special connection with the ocean or nature in general?

Joey: Being in the ocean is already a plus. Having that connection helps with being in the right place at the right time for that one good wave. It doesn’t really get much more connected than that. Really, for everything to work together and come together for you to get that good wave—whether it’s a two-foot wave on a small day or a ten-foot barrel out at Pipeline amongst hundreds of people in the water—it’s a major connection for everything to come together, being in the right place at the right time, and having everything work out for you.

Mike: So what kind of place does surfing hold in your life?

Joey: There’s no other sport in the world like it. It’s like a drug, I guess, in a way. Some people like to have their coffee, others whatever it is they like, but whatever feeling that makes you feel good, that’s what surfing is for me.

Mike: You have earned the title of Local Hero in recent years by consistently putting in strong performances at Pipeline and Backdoor. Talk about your relationship with those spots and some of the ups and downs.

Joey: When I was much younger, I told myself I’d probably never surf Pipeline on a big day just ’cause I was terrified of the waves and the crowd. It’s probably the scariest wave in the world, so I was just content surfing around home—V-Land, Rockies—and just having fun. Nowadays, thinking of Pipeline, you really cannot get a much better feeling than getting a good wave out there. The change for me was a few years back when Reef Macintosh called me up to invite me to surf for Team Quiksilver in my first Backdoor Shootout. The Shootout is an event at Pipeline where you gotta go big or go home. You gotta prove yourself. I had to prove that I was a good pick, and I got some fun waves and pulled into my first real big closeout. That adrenaline rush that you get from being on a wave like that, I think that’s what kind of made that spark even brighter, and then I just started chasing that feeling after that. That’s where it all started.

Mike: Tell me more about your experiences at Pipeline.

Joey: Well, it starts with the paddle out. You gotta make sure you shoot that gap in between Pipeline and Gums. If you don’t make it through that gap, the rip current will wash you all the way towards the lifeguard tower hundreds of yards down the beach. The next thing is finding a wave and making sure you’re in the right place at the right time. You don’t want to paddle for a four-foot wave on a day that has ten-foot bombs, or next thing you’re getting washed out on the inside or being in the way of someone else. There’s a lot to it. Everything is—what am I trying to say here? It’s just heavy.

Mike: You have a knack for getting some of the waves of the day at that infamous location. Is that dumb luck, or what goes into that?

Joey: Like I said, I used to never like surfing Pipeline. I was terrified of the waves, and I hated surfing crowds. Over time, things changed. I know what I’m looking for out there. I’m really patient out there. The Pipeline really tests my patience. I’m kind of like a spaz when I surf a lot of other places. I kind of want to catch as many waves as I can but also make them quality waves. But Pipeline is a whole other ballpark for sure. I’m patient out there; I’ll surf for up to two to three hours, maybe even four, and I’ll only get, if I’m lucky, five waves. The thing about Pipeline—it’s such a heavy wave and it’s so dangerous that I don’t want to be that person who’s aggressive and trying to get every single wave. I want to wait my turn, look for the wave that I’m going for, and if I’m in the right place at the right time, I’m gonna go.

Original Post from this site

By admin

SurfinDaddy has been hanging around the periphery of the web since 2001 – but the dawn of 2021 sees us ready to jump into the fray. No longer content to be an outsider (but loving that our readership will be those who love the outdoors) we’re poised to become your online resource for all things related to boardsports.