Aired on 2020, Jun 04th  in Legends and much more! / Podcast / Surfers

Interview with Rob Machado

Aloha! Welcome to the first episode of The Temple of Surf - The Podcast.

We are very happy to start this new journey and we hope you will have a lot of fun with us! We couldn't be happier as today we have, as first guest of our show, the legendary surfer Rob Machado.

Rob Machado is not just one of the world’s greatest surfers, he’s also one of the sport’s most recognizable characters -- a living icon who continues to expand the definition of what professional surfing is all about. Known for his zen-like flow both on land and in the water, Machado was consistently seeded at the top of the rankings as a competitor on the ASP World Tour. With 12 career WCT victories, Machado was ranked among the top ten surfers for eleven straight years and was inducted into the Surfer’s Hall of Fame in 2000 and re-inducted in 2006 and SIMA Waterman of the Year in 2011.

His contribution to the sport doesn’t end with his accolades in a colored jersey. Since his departure from the ASP tour in 2001, Machado has been one of surfing’s most committed ambassadors, roaming the globe, surfing the world’s best waves and deepening his commitment to various environmental causes. Inspired by becoming a Dad, Machado founded the Rob Machado Foundation in 2004 to educate and empower young people to make sustainable choices.

Let's discover with him more about his career, surf, surfboards and much more, like his favorite song "Faded" by Ben Harper.... in this version!

Support Rob Machado Foundation:

Here is the transcript of the interview ( for audio reasons slightly different than the original)

Hi, Rob, welcome to the show! Where are you today? 

I am home and beautiful Cardiff by the sea, California …just cruising. 

How are you leaving this time of coronavirus in California? The beaches are open, I guess. 

Yeah. The beaches are open now, but unfortunately we have a really bad red tide and the ocean is really dirty looking. It's brown…. It smells really bad. 

You can still surf, but you know, the sinuses and the ears and the eyes….. It's like an allergic reaction. So it's, yeah, there's people surfing, but not a lot of people. 

Parking lots are closed, like all the beaches, so you have to walk to the beach and the waves have been fun, but nothing amazing. 

We've just been staying close to home, spending a lot of family time, big meals and cooking a lot, embracing this time to slow, slow life down.

And I have no travel. I have nowhere that I have to be. It's nice to just be home. 

Yeah, it is, for once it's different….. a lot of people will say that they are confined and they want to escape, but sometimes, it's just cool to spend time with the family. 

Right, yeah, I'm lucky I live in a beautiful place. I really enjoy being at my home. I can see the ocean from my house, it's a very comfortable place. 

Today we're going to talk about surfing surfboards, your future projects and,  of course, the Rob Machado Foundation, …… 

First question that we have for you, is what is the most important thing, in your opinion, in surfing?

The most important thing in surfing, I would say is style.

When I was a kid, you know, you have your favorite surfers that you look up to. And I think that the common theme for me was it was always about style. 

Those were the guys who had their way on how they rode the waves and, most importantly, their style out of the water too, 

I think the main attraction was always like how they interacted with waves and, you know, how their approach to waves and the lines they drew. That was always the first thing that caught my attention. 

Who was your reference as a surfer when you were a kid? 

I started surfing in 83 and I would say Tom Curren …. he was the California kid. 

He was the hero, you know…..I think he won a world title in 85, he was a style master guru. 

And then I started looking back to other guys,  I discovered Jerry Lopez and I started watching old films, … stuff like that. 

Have you ever met Tom Curren? 

Yeah. Yeah. I'm good friends with Tom. We've done some trips together and we played music together. We've got to spend so a good amount of time hanging out. 

I guess you told him that he was your reference when you were a kid…. what was his reaction? 

Yeah, he's very humble. I he's a very, you know….. he just kind of laughs and kind of just brushes it off and like “let's talk about something else” For him, it's just like a very natural thing.

He's just goes out and rides waves and he's very, just an extremely talented human being and he can ride all kinds of surfboards and it's just what he does…. I don't think he has to try very hard. 

Do you remember your first surfboard? 

Yes. I think I actually got it for my 10th birthday. 

It was a single fin, it was called S N I which is short for “surfing new image”. 

It was a pin tail, a stinger, and it had a rainbow airbrush down the whole board. Pretty sweet…. I wish I still had it. 

You should put like a competition out there if somebody still has that kind of stuff! I wish I knew what happened to all of my surfboards!

“Hi everyone. I just want to know, is it at some kid's house in France or, these are all over the world somewhere? “

I wish I could just  have a world map that would just show all these dots….click on the dot and go like, “Oh yeah, that one was from 96”… “Yeah…that's cool”.

You would prefer people are still using them or hanging them on the wall, like a memory?

I think surfboards should always be ridden….. but, you can also ride them and take care of them and treat them well. And they'll, they'll last a long time!

It's when they get left in the backyard and then in the sun and they just get destroyed.

Let's talk about your career. When do you think was the defining moment of your career? That moment you realized that you're going to these as a profession? 

I think that moment for me was when I actually signed my first contract.

I was 18 years old, I just graduated from high school and I signed a contract with Gotcha and be a pro surfer. 

You know, up until that point, I had done well in some pro contests, I actually had already won a pro contest, but I wasn't really getting paid by anyone…

When I got the contract,  I just thought, “Wow ! this is cool!”….Until that moment I served in all these amateur contests and then I started serving pro contest…..I was doing pretty good, until came that moment : “I'm going to turn pro.”

When somebody steps up and offers you a money to be a pro surfer, that's kind of it….right? 

It's that ….“Wow. Okay…. Now I'm taking that step into like a whole another realm.”

You can actually say that everything that happened before that was done out of just like pure love for surfing and now, all of a sudden, somebody is giving you something and expecting something in return.

It's all about managing those expectations and understanding expectations and everything just changes. 

It changes, you know, from the moment when somebody goes from being just a kid playing high school baseball, to signing a contract to play in the major leagues, everything changes at that moment. 

But I guess if you do it with the same love that you were doing before, then basically everything changes, but nothing really does. Right? 

Yeah. That's the goal… just to keep doing what you're doing, because that's the reason, that's the reason they're paying you.

They say “We've been watching you. And we really like you, we like what you're doing …so keep doing that. And we're just, now we're just going to pay you money. 

But as a kid, 18 year old kid, you are getting these checks every month and you're thinking like, “Oh, I feel like I need to do more.” So you have to find the balance, right? 

In your opinion, what was the greatest moment of your career or the one that you are they're most proud of? 

It’s really hard for me to, to choose one, but there's actually two, they both happened at Pipeline. 

One was the 1995 semi-final or just actually that whole contest pipe masters in 1995. And then I would say the other one would be the 2000 Pipeline masters. When I won the pipe masters, that was like a huge highlight for me in my life.

Win an event in was amazing!

You know, if you would ask me when I was a kid, when I was 11, 12 years old, I would have laughed at you and told you : “there's no way, I'm never going to win a contest” 

I was scared of big waves…..I thought pipeline was just big monster. 

And you know that (winning at Pipeline)  for me was a, a big accomplishment.

Were you ever afraid of failure?

I've been afraid of failure. Yeah, I would say so. 

You know, when I first started going to Hawaii, I felt very intimidated and I was scared. 

The ways felt like there, there were waves powerful and intimidating. 

I was, and I was surfing with guys like Shane and Ross and Todd Chesser and you know, all these guys grew up in Hawaii and they were used to the power and everything.

So I just felt like, “man, I don't know if I can do this. I really, I honestly don't know if I can actually be a pro surfer. Like this is, this is a huge task….for me, like, I'm just like this little kid from, from California…”

I got to learn how to surf these waves and why that was like a really important thing. 

I didn't have any confidence at all, but I guess that love and dedication enable you to overcome those fears.

Let's talk about 2004 and the creation of the Rob Machado foundation. Are you happy about the progresses you have made? what's next? 

Yes. I am really happy. 

We started the foundation long time ago, we've been working with love all over California and expanding and doing lots of great projects, environmental education for kids. 

Our latest focus has been mainly on water, removing single use plastics from school campuses so that kids have access to free drinking water on campus. 

A lot of the schools here, they either have old drinking systems where kids don't drink out of, or they have vending machines where kids have to by water out of a plastic water bottle. 

We're trying to just give kids access to good, clean, healthy drinking water….. they can bring their own canteens refill and have healthy, good water all day. 

We're really just continuing what we're doing, focusing more on the water and just getting the good vibes out there and always looking for ways to raise money, fundraising, putting on cool events. And it's tough!

Like right now, normally we have a concert every year right now…..It's like, I don't know if we even can have a concert. When's the next time are we going to be able to go to a concert? I miss that so much. 

I love live music….. we're in a little bit of a strange time right now and we're, we're trying to find ways to work, work around it. Yeah. Figure it out

You know, that is like a possibility to do zoom concert, but it's not that like, I mean, he's entertaining, right,but it's, there is something missing. 

There is the human experience. That definitely it's a big part of it. 

We cannot change the human experience with zoom or with technology. 

There's nothing like being in a room and listening to live music and hearing the guitar and feeling the drums and the bass and, and seeing it all come together. 

It's magic, you know, it's truly magical…'s hard to recreate that and in the digital world, but Hey, everybody's been doing some really cool stuff. Like I've been seeing so amazing little sessions from some great, great musicians, like Ben Harper and Eddie Vedder, you know, my friends had switched foot and yeah, it's been cool. 

Really cool. And especially during this time, we know we can't go see him play. So at least we have that. 

Yeah. I agree with you. And it's important, you know, to keep going. 

How did all started you and shaping surfboards?

My dad actually built a shaping room in my backyard when I was like, I want to say 12 or 13 years old. 

I was really young and my first shaper, this guy by the name of Greg Sarge, he would shape back there and I would go and watch him shape and I was just like, it was so cool to me to watch somebody craft a surfboard out of a, you know, out of a blank. 

From there I moved on and I started working with Al Merrick. 

I would go and into the shaping room watch Al shape and watch this and that.

And then in 2000 I shaped my first board and it was terrible, but I loved it……it was cool. 

I just started shaping not a lot of boards….I'd make a couple boards a year. 

Then I started making more like four or five boards a year, a couple of years later….and then it just kept just slowly, slowly growing and growing and growing until I was just started making all of my own boards. 

I wasn't making boards for anyone else. I was just making all of my own….then people started asking me like, what are you riding? And who made that? I want one!

So it just naturally kind of happened and then my relationship with FireWire started and they really wanted to help me with my shaping and getting my designs out to the world.

That's been an amazing relationship working with them. And it's just fun! I love it!

I love to get in there and design and experiment, build something and write it and then say, Ooh, okay, what can I change? Like how can I make it better? 

I'm never like 100% satisfied…..I don't think I'm ever going to say like, “that's it, that's the perfect board”.  Sometimes I ride a board for a month or two months. And then I think….”Oh, what if I did that? What if I did this or did that? and my mind just keeps spiraling, spinning around and having fun and yeah. “

In search of the perfect board, you know….maybe it will never happen, but of course is a lot of fun I guess…..

Yes!  To try it is fun as well. 

We will finish our interview with a short QA session. Um, so please answer the first thing that comes up to your mind…..

The best surfboard you have ever ridden…

You got me right there… I would say my 11 foot Skip Frye. I love Skip he is the best  

Best shaper of all time:

I would say Al Merrick. He was trained by Dick Brewer. So I think there's a natural kind of yeah. Pass down. I mean, a legacy 

Favorite rock song? 

I would say there's a Ben Harper song called “Faded” and there is a live version where he plays it and then he goes into a “Whole lotta love” by Led Zeppelin

Your favorite surf spot?

I'm just going to stay right here at home and say seaside reef.

Best surfer of all time?

That's a good one. So many….

The one having the most fun, I guess. 

I would say the sessions I've had with Skip Frye, he's like always hooting and having such a good time, he loves his equipment. 

He loves to just play with his fins, get his boards he's so stoked. 

The last question is a bit unusual…., we want to know your best, the relationship advice….

Wow. I think you need to be very open. Very selfless, I think is a very good word.

I think you understand this when you have kids. 

It's not, it's not all about you anymore….you're not just running around surfing, eating burritos and doing this and doing that 

Be as selfless as possible : give and forgive. 

There is not enough time in this world for anger and resentment and hatred. 

It's just like, there's so much positivity out there that can be done and, if you put it out there, it's going to come back. So that's fine. 

Rob Machado, recorded in May 2020.

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