第8回 デヴォン・ハワード California Soul〜トラディショナル・スタイルの継承

No. 8 Devon Howard California Soul ~ Inheritance of Traditional Style

From the '90s to the present day, Devon Howard has been riding longboards and mid-lengths with more style than anyone else. His roots are in San Diego, where he is from the same hometown as Joel Tudor and Mitch Absher, and there is no doubt that he is one of the inheritors of the orthodox California style.

In recent years, he has also demonstrated his skills as a director of the WSL Longboard Tour. Then, in 2018, when he became the marketing director of Channel Islands Surfboards, he was involved in the development of the CI Mid, which became the best-selling mid-length model, which is still fresh in my memory. Last October, we spoke to Devon, who came to Japan for the second time last year with the CI log of a new concept longboard he developed with Wayne Rich.

For many Japanese surfers, I believe that Thomas Campbell's film ``The Seedling'' (1999) is how they got to know you. How did you first meet him?

I was first introduced to Joel Tudor when he and the late Michio Ishida were making a video with Donald Takayama ( DT ). Later, that project ran out of money, so I decided to include other surfers in it and it became The Seedling , and I was lucky that I was cast as well.


How has Thomas, who is also an artist, influenced you ?

As a photographer and filmmaker, Thomas has had a huge influence on my creativity. He said he could photograph anything. In other words, no matter what the situation, creativity can make even bad waves look interesting. I've always been very influenced by the surfers and shapers around me and what artists like Thomas are doing.


(The Seedling tour w/ Jimmy G and T. Guerrero)

There was a longboarding revival in the 90s, and the world's longboarding scene underwent a major change before and after ``The Seedling,'' in other words, after that movie.

I think Thomas was instrumental in realizing Joel's vision for longboard surfing at the time. Joel and Donald were everything, and without them the longboarding scene wouldn't be what it is today.

Also, the other surfers in the movie like Matt Howard and Brittany Leonard were great, and Tyler Hadzikian was also great individually, but Joel, along with Thomas, gave them their voices. By doing so, I think they were able to reach more people.

Joel is the king of modern longboard surfing. I guess no one can deny that. We grew up together and he has had a huge influence on me and I will always be grateful for that.


You rode boards shaped by Donald Takayama for a long time until he passed away.

I first met Donald ( DT ) when DT sponsored Joel, so Joel was 12 and I was 14 . At the time, I was still riding shortboards, but I broke my hip that summer and was away from the water for six months. When I got back to surfing, I borrowed Joel's longboard and started. I ended up getting it sold, but then I broke it at Windansea, so I decided to order a new board directly from DT . I ended up getting sponsored by him when I was around 19 or 20 , but even before that we had a long, deep relationship, so when he suddenly passed away, I couldn't believe it.

(with DT at old HPD shop. Oceanside, CA)

Why have you been following the longboarding scene and loving the culture since you were young? Many young people may not know that in addition to working as the editor of Longboard Magazine, you also traveled to contests around the world, taking photos and writing articles as a surf journalist.

When I was a kid, longboarding wasn't cool at all. That's why I loved longboarding so much (lol). Now it's really cool and I want to be better. I wasn't that good at surfing in my 20s and 30s , but I surfed the best in my 40s , and I'm almost in my 50s . I want to continue doing this forever. I now have a surfboard that's in great shape and surfing has become fun again.

Being a surf journalist, writing about surfing and taking photos, was definitely a great job for a young surfer. I have so much energy that I have no problem working hard, surfing, and just thinking about having fun. But as we get older, it's difficult to maintain the same lifestyle. I was getting tired physically and financially, so I changed jobs to marketing (lol).


This time you are coming to Japan to announce your special collection at RHC Sendagaya and to promote Channel Islands Surfboards (CI), but this is your second time coming to Japan, following last year. What is it like to work at CI in your home country?

CI is a small company, and I work in the marketing department, planning campaign strategies and implementing content such as exhibitions and tours. Including SNS . Last year I was promoting CI Mid with shaper Britt Merrick and shortboarders Tanner Gadaskas and Parker Coffin, but this year I'm the only rider to introduce CI Log to the Japanese audience. is coming to Japan.


About CI Mid and CI Log, which he himself supervises.

Until now, CI has provided the best boards to the world's top surfers. Today, that legacy continues from founder Al Merrick to Britt Merrick, who has expanded the brand to create the best boards for every surfer in every category. The CI Mid is one of the most successful designs on the market in recent years. You might think mid-length boards are for the average surfer, but we design them with the goal of helping people surf the best they can. Of course, top-level riders like Mikey February also ride it.

The CI mid, CI twin, and triplane hull are in great condition, so much so that I don't think I need any more mid-lengths (lol). But in California, especially in the area where I live, there are many days when the waves are small, so the reality is that even if I wanted to ride mid-length waves every day, I wouldn't be able to. I think Japan is similar to California.

(CI Mid Twin. Leo Carillo, CA. 2023)

After the announcement of CI Mid, customers asked us when we would be producing their log models, and at first we weren't sure if there was a place for us at CI . Because CI is a brand that specializes in performance. However, I once again thought that the highest level of performance in current longboards is the single fin log. Then I brought in an old mutual friend of mine, Wayne Rich from Santa Barbara, and we completed the CI log. There was a time when Donald passed away and I was kind of at a loss, but then I was on Wayne's board with Tyler and Thomas Bexson. He is an excellent craftsman and surfer. Since he is a shaper that the brand truly trusts, he will be able to offer himself to CI customers.

(CI Log. Ventura, CA. 2023)

This model is a single fin log, which means it has both performance without sacrificing traditional aspects.

Like I said, the best longboarders, whether WSL or Duct Tape, ride single-fin traditional logs. While high performance longboards (with side fins) are still very popular in Brazil, Hawaii and some parts of Japan, the global trend is towards single fin log performance. He and Wayne tested a total of 13 prototypes before finalizing the final design. It's not like someone looks at this board and says, oh, this is a copy of that person, or there's nothing special about it. From the outline to the rails, bottom and fins, it's something special and something you can be absolutely confident in. A log that combines speed, drive, and control as well as nose ride. In fact, Mikey February also has a CI log and has already mastered longboarding at a high level. Although it cannot be released to the public yet, if it reaches a level that the person is satisfied with, they may be able to see the footage in the near future. Also, we are currently testing a new log model, the CI Nose Rider, so we may be able to complete it and show it to you next year.

Prior to your work at CI, you were the Director of WSL Longboarding.

The story behind this is that Wing Nut first asked WSL to take their longboards from high performance to traditional, and they wanted you to help them. I thought that direction was good, but I said, ``No thanks'' (lol). I didn't think it was a good idea for me to do it. It's like telling a group of breakdancers, ``Start tomorrow, you'll do tango; you won't need breakdancing anymore.'' However, after several discussions with Wingnut, I changed my mind and thought that it would be fun to do traditional longboarding on tour.

How many years have you been involved in WSL as a result?

Three years, three seasons in total. The reform was a pretty big challenge, but the surfers, judges, and the organization that implements it all worked together as one and worked hard. I think the results speak for themselves. Previously, it would have been unthinkable for men like Justin Quintal, Harrison Roach, and the women's Honolua Bloomfield, who are completely different from previous world champions, to win the title. Also, Joel Tudor becoming world champion again is something he never imagined. I think the world wanted to see that kind of surfing and appreciated it, rather than trying to do shortboard moves on a longboard. I think surfing is a very personal thing and people should be able to express themselves however they want, but I think the WSL took a smart move. Since then, the good trend has continued.

In the talk story held during your visit to Japan, you talked about the theme of ``style.''

Style is the most important thing in surfing. This is because throughout history, people have always valued beauty. Style is still important and always will be. And this has been going on for thousands of years in the history of art. That's why it's always meaningful. Scott Hewlett wrote a pretty insightful piece on this in TSJ. In short, surfing is not a sport to me, it's an art, and the way I express it is my style.

(Grom Days. San Diego, CA)

About the surf scene and culture of my former home, San Diego, California. What did being born and raised in San Diego mean to your life?

San Diego has a long history of surfing and surf design, and I'm very proud of that. My big childhood goal was to become a respected surfer at Windansea (in La Jolla). Having surfed for many years as a member of the Windansea Surf Club, I believe I have achieved that goal.

I currently live with my family up north in Ventura, but San Diego will always be in my heart. That's what shaped me as a person. It's a special place with great waves and a deep surfing history.

What does surfing and beach life mean to you?

Surfing and beach life are so-called "privileges." I don't think many people around the world will ever experience or know the power and beauty that surfing and beaches have. We should be grateful that we are so blessed to be able to stay healthy and play in the ocean every day. I came to Japan last year and this year and was able to see how many people are passionate about surfing, and it was great to be able to experience it for myself. The most important thing in my life is my family, but surfing and living at the beach will always be a close second. We're expecting our third child, a girl, in January next year, so I can't wait to continue living a beach-based lifestyle as a family.

(The Howards at Ventura, CA. 2023 Photo courtesy of RHC)

Devon Howard ●Born in 1974, originally from San Diego, California, currently lives in Ventura. Stylishly rides single fin logs to mid-lengths, and is a representative of CA along with Joel Tudor. He has appeared in classic surf films such as ``The Seedling,'' ``Single Fin: Yellow,'' and ``One California Day.'' In recent years, he has also demonstrated his skills as a WSL longboard tour director, contributing to the revival of traditional style. In 2018, he became Marketing Manager of Channel Islands and was involved in the development of CI Mid CI Log.

Interview/Mio Kawazoe ● Born and residing in Kamakura City, Kanagawa Prefecture. Graduated from California State University, San Diego, surfing club. The son of a 1st generation Japanese surfer, he encountered foreign culture from an early age. For 10 years starting in the early 1990s, he lived between San Diego and Malibu, California, experiencing the longboard revival. After returning to Japan, he became the editor-in-chief of ON THE BOARD and worked on GLIDE and other magazine media. Until now, we have introduced real California log and alternative surf scenes to Japan through our own network.

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