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El Niño Hunters: Josh Kerr And Damien Hobgood

Methods and madness.

Heard of El Niño?

I don’t think anyone’s talked about it yet. Anyway, it’s this weather pattern thing. I’m a bit fuzzy on the details, but I guess it makes big waves for the west coast? Johnny Rhinochaser and Dropknee Darryl had been talking it up in the lineup recently, but I’ve never actually seen one of them catch a wave before, so who knows.

I decided to call my buds, Damo and Josh, to see if they had any insider info (they’re pro surfers!!). Damo told me, “It’s just like a normal winter… but a little better.” Josh added, “Yeah, it’s pretty sick.” At this point I was convinced. El Niño was the greatest thing that had ever happened to California. Forget about the OJ chase and gay marriage laws, this was the Golden State’s defining moment. It was time to grab my favorite piece of foam and embrace El Niño in all its glory.

Then I broke my back. On the first swell. Turns out, El Niño isn’t as harmless as its name implies. So instead of riding big waves, I watched them, mostly on a screen. Virtual detachment from the tantalizing presence of waves eased the pain, if slightly. One day in particular, there were big waves in Mexico. My friends Josh and Damo went down to Mexico to catch the big waves, and Josh accidentally won a contest. “It was really fun,” Josh stated. Josh and Damo like to surf big waves.

I called my cronies, D & J, once more, to talk about the big waves they like to ride. They told me that they like to ride lots of big waves, all types of big waves. “From Oregon to Mexico,” Josh declared, “Damo and I will be riding the big waves of El Niño throughout the entire west coast.” That makes sense, I thought. But how will they do it? The coast is so long, so rugged, like an ancient saw rusted by the tides of time.

“So Josh got this RV,” Damo clarified, “And now we’re taking our roadtrips to the next level!” I press the phone closer, excitedly anticipating the juicy 411. He resumes, “This year we’re not cramped in a truck, we’re living large out on the road. A few weeks ago we took the maiden RV voyage and now we’re hooked.” How fun! Just two of the guys, out on the open road, chasing big waves. They probably tell amusing stories as they await their impending slumber, bunked like Boy Scouts. They probably have a lot of badges, too.

But what if the waves get too big? Do waves get too big? I had to ask. “Josh is always down for everything, crazy slabs, big waves, a little air section. It’s great being around him, he brings good energy.” Hector Santamaria calls good energy “Chi”, but that’s neither here nor there. Damien continues, “Sometimes Josh even asks me, ‘Ah man, do we have to go?’ And I’m like ‘Yeah lets just do it!’ Sure enough, we go out there and he’s stealing the show, always getting bigger waves than me. Like damn he didn’t even wanna paddle out now he can’t stop!” Sounds like Josh really likes the big waves, even if sometimes he’s a little scared of them.

But what about Damo? There is no dynamic duo without Damo. “He’s definitely got that little screw loose and he loves to go for it, but he’s calculated now. Ya know, maturity has kicked in a little more these days, but we’re still frothing groms at heart.” Groms at heart. Lions in the loins. (They like big waves).

So why do they do it? I know, I know, they like big waves. But San Diego has big waves too. You show me Blacks on a proper Northwest, and I’ll show you the rear of my head as I trudge back up that serpentine slope. So, Damo? “Most people are drawn to surfing because of the adventure… just going and doing different things in different places. Most of the time when you’re on the tour, it’s the same spots every year, for like 14 years, so I really enjoy going new places and challenging my surfing, just to see how I’ll fare.” I guess the grass is always greener. Almost 20 combined years on the dream tour, and all Josh and Damo wanna do is trek along the Pacific rim, local-pro style. Maybe they will invite JoJo Roper.

One month into El Niño, and the San Diego padres have already taken the west coast by storm. With countless swells to come and an RV in hand, Josh and Damo will continue to hunt the meatiest chunks the Pacific has to offer. Stay tuned, as SURFING will be doing in-depth and highly intrusive (Josh totally sleep-farts) updates on Josh and Damo’s West Coast x El Niño ExtRVaganza!

Confession: I have never met Josh or Damo, nor am I friends with them. I did, however, speak with them on the phone for roughly ten minutes. I have no proof that Josh sleep-farts, but I do have my suspicions. And lastly, I didn’t really break my back, I just tell everyone that so I don’t have to surf big waves. —Michael Ciaramella