Living the dreams of the past
To make matters worse, an octopus had taken hold of his leash and right leg
by Mike Purpus
One day, when Josh Gilberts was just 13, he decided to paddle out with the locals at ElPorto during an 8-foot swell It took him a half hour just to get past the shore break. Then he waited inside for another 15 minutes for a lull. But when he finally made his move to the outside, a 10-foot wave caught him, driving him to the bottom. His board was tomb-stoning straight up and down on the surface as he pulled himself up his leash, hand-over-hand. He reached the surface just in time to meet an even bigger wave.
“I was churning around like I was caught in the wash cycle of a washing machine, with no air left in my lungs,” he said.
To make matters worse, an octopus had taken hold of his leash and right leg. He still has the scars to prove it.
“I went with my instincts and started nibbling the leash like a mad tiger and beating the Octopus with my south paw,” he said.
After finally making it safely to shore, he vowed never to wear a leash again.
Gilberts took second place in his first contest, when he was 15. It was a Malibu Surfing Association contest held atCountyLine. Last year, he was a consistent longboard finalist for El Segundo High in the South Bay High School Surf League contests. Today, he is living the dream as Tyler Hatzikian’s shop rat and right hand man, while also attending ElCo.
He started working at the Tyler Shop at 14 and now has a more than full time schedule, (with surfs in the morning, of course) manning the front ofTyler’s shop.
Besides surfing, Gilberts loves wrenching and cruising the local strip on his Triumph Tiger Cub. “I bought a 41 ford as a 15-year-old and realized I was a bit over my head,” Gilbert’s said. “Now, I’ve been saving my beans and bread for a ’61 Chevy C10.”
Tyler and Hippy Tree Clothing are looking forward to having Josh represent them in this year’s South Bay Boardriders Surf Series. His goal is to dethrone Mike Siordia as “King of the SouthBay.”
The 18-year-old, six-footer with the Clark Kent glasses is Mr. Congeniality out of the water, but always full force in the water.
“When it’s small it’s the Jetty. When it’s big it’s all about Hammerland,” he said.
Gilberts started surfing when he was 12 with the Junior Lifeguards.
“I was in the program with all my friends so we all started together and we are still surfing together,” he said.
His first board was an 8-foot Body Glove Soft Top. He now rides a 10-foot Tyler Hatzikian Double Step Deck Model and has a 9-foot-2 Tyler baby gun standing by for when Hammerland get big and hollow.
He rarely leaves his front yard when surfing, but loves Malibu and considers it the best wave in the world.
“Malibuis the perfect longboard wave with its open faces that keep your board slotted at just the right speed for standing on the nose.”
Gilberts likes to nose ride but also loves a long tube ride at Hammerland. He has his most fun surfing with Tyler, Eddie Solt, Mike Siordia, Mike Keller, Adam Davenport, and Charlie Finnie.
“They are a great group of guys and really push me to surf better while having fun at the same time.”
As he talked, he mimicked ‘60s surf legend’s Sparky Hudson’s picture perfect nose riding style and then Robert August’s classic drop knee bottom turns. His favorite surfer is Tyler Hatzikian who does everything perfect, he said.
“Josh is living the teenager’s dreaming, working in a Mecca of surf shops, absorbing all the pieces of the past to create his own surf style,” said fellow Tyler teamrider Mike Siordia.
“He’s all ready a stand-out, surfing beyond his years, but he’s still is young enough to be powered by yoo-hoo, drumsticks, and Reeses,” Siordia laughed. DZ
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