Interview with Stand Up Paddle Surfer Adam Zervas

Adam Zervas

We met up with Adam Zervas at Surf Shop 2008, Adam is also one of the big names in Stand Up Paddle surfing in the Newquay area. He did really well in 2007 at the September Sessions but has been suffering this year with an injury.

SUPGlobal: Hi Adam, how is the injury are you on the mend now?

Adam: That’s right Yes.

SUPGlobal: And you’re going to be keen to get back into competing in the events?

Adam: Yes.

SUPGlobal: What’s the scene been like form your point of view in Cornwall, How’s it been going?

Adam: Well it’s been catching on fairly big in that you see more and more people out on the water all the time really. I constantly get told by a friend of mine when he looked at a surf beach one day that he counted about 10/15 guys out so you know that each time you go out you see different people that you haven’t seen before on the boards, which is really good. So Yeah, there doesn’t seem to be any problems. There was a forecast of problems from people who have never done it before saying it would be the end of surfing and all that, I’ve not encountered any abusing, not sharing water etiquette and stuff like that. So it’s been really fun, I’ve seen a mixture of people from short boarders to professional body boarders and people from every background wanting to have a go at it, people who have never surfed in their lives being really excited by it, it’s something new and different. It’s been really good, enjoyable to be part of.

SUPGlobal: So despite the doom and gloom around this show with retail having a bad time, we’ve had a pretty windy, bad summer but, the one thing I have had coming through from the guys I’ve been talking to is that the interest in SUP has been pretty steady and been getting bigger. Have you found that as well despite the economic credit crunch and all the feeling that’s creating?

Adam: You need to focus on something positive, you can’t dwell on doom and gloom, you’ve got to look forward and yep the reason everybody is here is because they love the ocean and surfing or whatever form you do it in is what’s brought them all together. At the end of the day you have to focus on what got you here and what you enjoy. The personal side of it is always going to be a challenge whether it be the financial climate or the weather climate there are things we can’t control and you have to make the most of what you’ve got just get out there and enjoy it while you have it.

SUPGlobal: You’re sponsored by C4 Waterman and I believe you spent some time in Hawaii with Brian Keaulana, Todd Bradley and the C4 team, how was that?

Adam: It was amazing, inspiring, humbling, just truly inspirational. Dave Parmenter, Brian Keaulana, Todd Bradley seen them in action and obviously Todd’s whole family is very, incredibly welcoming and just really took me in and I was like one of their family. It’s all the surfing aspect of it, the business aspect but also what they were putting in behind the scenes which was phenomenal really. Brian and Todd are spending a lot of time just raising awareness of surfing and it’s really inspirational seeing that it’s not just business, that they were truly interested in where surfing has come from, the people who are around and the people who were not as fortunate to have the opportunities that we all had. When I was there Brian did a Stand Up Paddle lesson with some homeless, problem kids from Los Angeles. We went out and took them in the surf and they were just totally hooked. They couldn’t believe it, to have a Stand Up Paddle lesson with one of the greatest watermen in history. Just such a phenomenal guy and to spend time with him was amazing, I’m went out with Brian at Point Makaha and saw the biggest waves I’ve ever seen in my life, just seeing how relaxed, calm and confident he was in his back yard. Just showing me a different side, just amazing.

SUPGlobal: Do you think the Hawaiian “waterman” culture can be translated onto the UK scene ?

Adam: Yes definitely, I think that’s what stand up paddle surfing means. It meets the waterman in me. Not to say I’m an amazing waterman but I think everybody has this aspect in them and it wasn’t until I did something like stand up paddle boarding that was at the time quite different, and challenged me mentally and physically. It just opens you mind more to see other opportunities in the water and it is an incredibly humbling sport in certain conditions and my personal opinion is that everyone should have a go at it from whatever surfing background or whatever water interest you have. Have a go because however good you think you are a little bit of humbling will bring you back down to earth and that can be a good thing. It’s something that has definitely brought that aspect out in me and other people.  It’s something that opens your eyes and brings visions of new things. I think it’s something that we need in the UK as well. A lot of people have opinions of what stand up paddle surfing is, what bodyboarding is, what waveskiing is and the funny thing is that they’ve never actually tried any of these disciplines but seem to be experts on them. Just enjoy it, have a go. Don’t dismiss anything till you’ve tried it, even something like body boarding, a lot of people seem to be anti that but if anyone has tried to actually ride a bodyboard and do the tricks you see professional bodyboarders doing, they are incredibly hard and yet people seem to dismiss bodyboarders. Just give it a go.

SUPGlobal: Yes, what we’ve found on the south coast is that people will say that Stand Up Paddling is for people who can’t surf, you don’t have to learn to pop up as you are standing up straight away. And we’ve had these guys, good surfers, we’ve had these guys out on a board and their perception changes in a heartbeat. All of a sudden they are wobbling on these big boards, but once they’ve caught a couple of waves they are hooked.

Adam: To say it’s not for people who can surf is…

SUPGlobal: It’s wrong for a start.

Adam: It’s quite naive, they’ve obviously not looked too much into the sport, the roots of the sport comes from the Beach Boys of Waikiki and through watermen like Laird, Brian and Dave Kalama. These are people who have surfed all their lives and been in and around surfing. It’s a bit unfair to judge things like that. But yes, if you want to go paddle in a lake you don’t have to surf, there are certain aspects where you don’t have to have a surfing ability which is good because it opens the experience to people of different backgrounds but if you want to do it in the surf you need surfing ability and experience. Don’t beat it till you try it just give it a go as it’s something that can bring people of all avenues together as you said earlier. Yesterday we all went out for a surf together, probably not the ideal conditions to go out in but we all enjoyed it and we were out there which was good really. It’s about being in the water and having fun with your friends and new experiences.

SUPGlobal: So what’s next for you coming up this year and next year… being involved with BSUPA (British Stand Up Paddle Association)?

Adam: For me, defiantly next year my plans are to do the BSUPA series. This year my plan originally at the beginning of the year was to do the BSUPA. I had a bit of a muscle tear and it’s taken me quite a while to get through that. I’m not 100% recovered but I’m surfing and I’m still enjoying the surfing. Unfortunately things didn’t go my way this year but you live and learn and yeah I’m looking forward to next year. I’m really looking forward to doing all the aspects of it where originally I was mainly focused on the surf event, but having to sit back and watch the other people doing it I’m really quite excited about the distance thing. I’d really like to get a distance board and I can see that as being a whole new experience and it’s really exciting, going down wind by the coast, riding the swell is really exciting and I’m quite keen to do that sort of thing next year.

SUPGlobal: Well best of luck and thanks a lot.

Adam: Thanks

Adam is sponsored by C4 Waterman, Reef, Dakine and Snugg Wetsuits


All Photographs Geoff Tydeman,
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