This Is Home, Part 3: Dylan Graves
DYLAN GRAVES, 29
AS TOLD BY:
Aaron Geiger, 35. Former Eastern Surf Magazine coverboy. Manager at the Surf Zone in Puerto Rico. Standout freesurfer.
Brian Toth, 29. Current WQS standout. Dominant force in Puerto Rican surfing. Charges any wave anywhere in the world.
Carlos Cabrero, 37. Helped put professional surfing on the map in Puerto Rico. Won the HIC Pro at Pipeline over Andy Irons in 2000. Legend on the island.
ON HOW PUERTO RICO SHAPED DYLAN…
Aaron Geiger: Dylan grew up surfing at Jobos, a wave where you can really draw out your lines, and it’s totally shaped his style. I remember when he was a really little kid — I don’t even think he was five feet tall — he would do perfect little carves on knee high waves. And, we’ve also got heavy waves if you want to charge. And about 10 years ago, Dylan, Josie [Graves], Brian Toth and Ale Moreda started really charging a few spots that nobody had ever properly surfed. They were the ones that were really putting those waves on the map, for better or for worse. You go out there and you’re like, “Holy shit, how did they even surf this?” It’s a gnarly spot. But Dylan’s not afraid of anything. A lot of surfers here don’t even look at the waves Dylan surfs.
Brian Toth: Puerto Rico was everything for Dylan. For both of us. Remember when Dylan dropped a 10 at the Volcom Pipe Pro a couple winters back? People don’t even really know but he’s a gnarly backside barrel rider because of the waves he surfs here. Rights and lefts. They helped him charge Shipsterns, outer reefs in Hawaii…Dylan will go on anything. Mentally, Puerto Rico prepared him for the waves you have to be good on to be successful. It helped out a lot mentally — the island gave us our courage. And now, we’re always looking for a bigger and heavier wave somewhere else. That’s what’s awesome about Dylan. He’s always down for the adventure and exploration.
ON DYLAN IMPACTING THE YOUTH OF PUERTO RICO…
Carlos Cabrero: All the groms on the island look up to Dylan and they all remember when he got the chance to compete in the WCT at Middles against Slater. That’s a dream of any kid. Throughout his career he’s been a great influence for the youth. Dylan’s surfing is still maturing, and every time I see him he’s surfing better and better. If you’re going to look up to someone in Puerto Rico these days, you look up to Dylan, Brian Toth and Alejandro Moreda. They are the generation that is really putting the island on the map and showing the young kids now what is really possible.
Aaron Geiger: If there’s one thing Dylan is showing the kids, it’s his whole attitude. His demeanor. Everyone loves the guy. He’s really cool with every single person he meets and he’s always hyped on everything. He’s the guy you want to have around because he’ll hype you up. That’s the most important thing. More than just surfing, he’s showing kids how they should be as a person. I’ve known him forever and he’s never changed. He would be the same if he never won a contest or got a magazine cover. And that’s so good because kids tend to get big heads and caught up in success, and Dylan never let that happen.
Brian Toth: There’s a good little generation underneath us. Real young. A few chargers. But some of them, they see the success of Dylan and myself and Ale and some of the other guys and, I don’t know…I guess I feel that maybe they think it’ll come easy, which it won’t. We all worked so hard and hopefully that’s what they take away from our generation. Dylan, myself, Ale — we weren’t handed anything.
ON PUERTO RICO IN THE MEDIA: COOL OR NOT COOL?
Aaron Geiger: Nobody can say anything about the waves you see Dylan on in the magazines, because he was surfing them when nobody else, outside of his crew, was surfing them. Even other guys from around here didn’t start surfing them until they started. They didn’t just put those waves on the map for the rest of the world; they put them on the map for people from here.
Brian Toth: I’ve never had any run-ins with negativity, and most of the time people are high fiving us. But we crack down on those spots. They tend to have a little bit of a flurry of excitement with the media in the beginning of every winter, but then they disappear and go underground again. And most of the time it’s only the boys out there anyway.
ON THE VIBE IN PUERTO RICO SURROUNDING DYLAN’S SUCCESS…
Carlos Cabrero: We are 100 percent behind Dylan. For us he’s a Puerto Rican. Dylan wasn’t born here, but he grew up in Puerto Rico so he’s part of our history. We’re proud of him. We’re rooting for him. Whether he wants to go do the qualifying tour, or if he wants to keep doing what he’s doing — being a rockstar, pro freesurfer and role model for Puerto Rican surfing, we’re 100 percent behind him. We’re very proud of Dylan.
To the contrary if anyone resents success, that is not in his hands. The jealousy, it’s their problem. It’s that simple. If you’re a good surfer, a good athlete, a good person…you’re going to make it. There are thousands of surfers that are hungry and want to make it to the top but Dylan works extra hard and I think most people here are happy to see him putting Puerto Rico on the global stage. In Puerto Rico, we have a long history of surfing. But support? We don’t have support at all. Puerto Rico has over three million people and the surfing industry really forgets about us. Before we used to make more money than we are making now. Today its only three guys who are making money from the surfing industry.
Being the oldest guy — and maybe the guy who really put Puerto Rico on the map — for me, today, that doesn’t change me. I won an event at Pipeline against Andy [Irons] in the finals, but today I’m the same person as if that never happened. I just love to see Dylan doing the best for us. Whoever doesn’t like it, deal with it. Dylan is helping our sport and helping our island and setting a blueprint for others to do the same.
Click here to see This Is Home, Part 1: Dusty Payne
Click here to see This Is Home, Part 2: Dane Reynolds
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