MEET MILES JACKLER

Posted May 4, 2012

When asked what art is, visually it is the expression of a human creative skill… or in fact, it is the imitation of nature where a paint, or a pencil is the medium and the canvas is it’s platform. If surfing is an art form, then the board is the medium and the wave is the canvas. But, surfing is NOT art but it is a creative collaboration between man and nature that involves fluidity and strength that create stunning pictures.

The other day, we welcomed Miles Jackler to the DOZE Collective. He deserves to be part in this creative endeavor. We can’t wait to see his development and contribution in this prevailing culture. In the meantime, read his interview and — MEET MILES JACKLER.

Interview by Gab Sarmiento and Don Fester
Photos by Scott Wintle, David Kemnitz, Brandon DiPierri, Ryan Lovelace, Callie Bowdish, Garratt Wilkin and Zack Harrison IV

Hi Miles! Please introduce yourself.

Hi my name is Miles Jackler and I’m from California.

So, how’s the surf been over there? What’s the surf community like in near your break?

It’s over man! Well at least for the next six months or so. I’ll be driving South a lot (lately it’s been every weekend). Ocean Beach, where I live, is a huge stretch of sand exposed to just about everything. In the fall and winter it is really, really good. Off-shores and big powerful a-frames all day. The rest of the year is mostly unsurfable. This last season was one of the best in decades according to the salty old locals and I vouch for that. There is a lot of beach and a lot of waves out there. Even when it’s really crowded the peaks are shifty and the paddle out is heavy, so you can always get your own waves without having to compete. No bad vibes out so far.

The surf community here is very different from most surf towns. Definitely a lot more of the older and married-with-kids type of people. Since the weather is so much harsher, you don’t get a lot of the all day beach hang outs. People here seem more apt to squeeze in a session before work, in between conference calls or after a long day of writing code. It’s so expensive to live in this city, I think most a lot of surfers are more focused on their careers than on the next swell. I have a couple of close friends I surf with primarily, and there is a lot more solo surfing going on.

Tell us, how was it like growing up in Santa Barbara? How was the community there? Who influenced you to surf or how were you influenced to surfing?

Well I grew up in Novato, California. A small town about 45 minutes inland on the northern edge of the San Francisco Bay. No surf culture to speak of just skateboarding and team sports. I grew up body surfing in the frigid waters of Point Reyes, but didn’t start surfing until a trip to Hawaii when I was 16. One wave and I was hooked. I surfed every weekend for a year regardless of conditions. I didn’t even know what “conditions” were. It took a while for me to learn things on my own. All my friends were over it because of the cold water. It wasn’t until I moved to Santa Barbara and met other surfers that I really started to get the whole picture.

Santa Barbara was a perfect place to grow as a surfer. It took a few years for me to realize how many amazing surfers and shapers have called it home. I spent the first few years focused on the beach breaks in the area just getting better at surfing and riding waves start to finish. The points further south were spoken of with an air of reverence and mystery. It was only when I gained the confidence to surf those spots that I really began to meet my tribe. The waves in Santa Barbara, while not consistent, are of unrivaled quality. It’s the reason surfers there have the luxury of developing style and experimenting with all manner of wave craft. My biggest influences came from guys I surfed with and the man who shaped our boards, Ryan Lovelace. I met him by chance or fate after picking up one of his first stock boards at a local shop. He encouraged me to give feedback, and after having my mind blown by the speed and drive of his displacement hull I had a lot to say. I never looked back, only opting for my thruster on the biggest days or in bad conditions. The wave itself is always my biggest influence on how I surf, but I won’t deny studying the styles and skills of guys like, Dane, Dan Malloy, Machado, Trevor Gordon, Connor Lyon, Craig Anderson, George Greenough, Rasta, Michael Peterson, and anyone else doing things differently. It always seems like there is a wave to suit every board, and vice versa. I just try to ride the right board for the conditions and surf the way the wave dictates.

For me, surfing and skateboarding are two different things, that have a similar medium — a board. When you are skateboarding with a large group of people it is a lot of fun. I mean showing-off tricks and having a good alcohol session afterwards are priceless. With surfing, it is much different. It is just you, the ocean and the waves. Do you think this applies to you, or do you prefer to surf with a group also? Describe that feeling whenever you nail a wave.

It’s reversed for me. Skating is more of a solo thing, maybe because most of my friends quit skating. Still though, I love going to the park on my own and working on tricks, or skating through the city on my own. Surfing is something I can’t help but love to share. It’s just not as fun for me without the boys. I love watching my friends get a good wave, it’s almost as good as getting one myself. I love the all day beach hang out, stopping for a chat and some snacks on your way back up to the top of the point. Trading boards, laughing at the kooks. Being total kooks. Making sure not to take ourselves or anyone seriously. Solo sessions are nice when I have a lot to think about or the crowds are real bad. There is something humbling about catching a great wave and no one seeing it. It makes me more appreciative of those days where I can share the stoke.

What have you been riding lately? What can you say your style of surfing is? How did you end-up with that style?

I rode a standard thruster until I met Ryan Lovelace in 2008, he turned me on to hulls and alterni-craft. If I had my way, it would be hulls all day at a perfect head high point break. There is nothing comparable to the drive and propulsion you can get off one of those things. It’s so much more about letting the wave direct your movement than the other way around. I think riding them makes you a better surfer, it teaches you to be “quiet” on the board, not flailing or chop-hopping like on a short board. It helps find that perfect sweet-spot in the wave where time stands still. I’ll ride whatever though. It just depends on the surf. I love pushing the limits of a design and then meeting with Ryan and discussing how things worked. I think style is a constant evolution, reflective of one’s surroundings. I find the most pleasing styles are ones that highlight fluidity. I only hope to continue evolving and progressing to a point where I can ride any wave with any board and be comfortable, consistent and not look like a total boner.

An integral part of a surfer is the search for a solitary spot — a constant traveler. Can you tell us the places you’ve been surfing? Where do you think you can say was the best spot? And, where do you think you’d dream of surfing soon? Which board will you bring?

I am really lucky to have travelled a lot as a kid. It gave me the confidence and skills to get out there and travel for surf. I have been all over California. Primarily Central and Southern, but recently Northern California has been reveling some gems. Baja was one of my first sojourns outside the country for waves, and getting out into the desert down there is still one of my favorite things to do. I have also been to Hawaii, but yet to make my Pipeline debut… I made the quintessential Bali trip in 2009, and was able to explore some of the other islands there that are the real deal. Last year, I went to Australia and drove from Sydney to Noosa and everywhere in between searching for surf and adventure. Honestly though, some of the best waves I have ever surfed are right here in California and there is something to be said for the simplicity of a Cali road trip.

My travel ambitions are pretty, well, ambitious. Topping the list would have to be Africa. Lately, the west coast of Africa has been capturing my attention with it’s lack of humans and abundance of set-ups. I would really like to get back to Indonesia and do the whole boat trip deal. Mainland Mexico and it’s sand bottom point breaks, is a goal as well. There are just to many places to list, I want to see them all!

I think for any trip I would want a trusty thruster for the heavier waves. A quad with some extra volume and a touch of fish in the template for the smaller days and for when the waves got perfect, a displacement hull with a pulled in tail and a some rocker through the front. Surf fins are a must as well. Nothing over 7 ft, as it’s to hard to travel with. I like borrowing boards from the local shapers, they know what works best.

Have you ever surfed professionally? Or, you’ve just freesurfed your whole life?

I have never surfed professionally, I didn’t started surfing ’til I was probably 17, and I lived in Northern California an hour from the beach. There were no surfers at my school and I didn’t have a clue about sponsors or contests or anything. I had an old 1970′s board under my house and surfed every Saturday no matter what the conditions are, I just loved the water.

It wasn’t until I moved to Santa Barbara when I was 18, that I learned about swell forecasting, different boards and actual surf culture. If you want to get sponsored here, you have to start out as a little kid doing contests, I can’t think of any professional surfers that started surfing at 17. They have surf classes in the schools in Southern California, teams, and the whole nine yards.

For me, I always kind of rejected the competitive scene, it seems so counter-intuitive to why I surf. I never played sports. I hated all the rules and boundaries. I did karate. Then started skating and eventually surfing. No court or field. No rules. Just the environment and nature.

Lately it seems like you don’t need to compete to be sponsored by companies. Look at Rastavich, Clay Marzo, or the Malloys. Those guys just rip and push themselves with style. I think as long as a surfer is marketable, and has an image the company aligns with, that a partnership can be had.

I’m not here to sell clothes or be famous or make a million dollars. I’m here to surf my freaking brains out on every kind of wave I can find. To push my limits in bigger and heavier waves. I want to meet people like me and surf together, swap boards, share secret spots, push each other.

I would never turn down a free surf contract with some big company, obviously. It’s my ultimate dream to just travel chasing swell and new spots. That may not ever happen, but I will always surf and shoot photos and get frothy with the boys, whether anyone is looking or not.

Where do you see creativity in surfing? If you were to collaborate with an artist, who will it be and what kind of project are you looking forward to work on?

I see creativity in many different aspects, most obviously the design and construction of boards themselves. The possibilities are limitless and bound only by the imagination and ingenuity of the artist. I think that the way a wave is ridden is also an opportunity for creation. Each wave has a myriad of lines to choose from and every section offers an opportunity for spontaneous creativity! I’d like to work with a shaper and try out new design, or push the limits of an established design. Figure out things to change in subtle or dramatic ways, ride it, document it, and continue the process. Guys like Ryan Lovelace, Ryan Burch, Dan Thomson, and Jesse Watson are artists and surf craft is their medium. I really enjoy watching a board be created from start to finish, then seeing it in action and hearing the surfer or shaper talk about it.

What gets you hype to surf?

ANYTHING! Surf magazines and movies, the smell of saltwater. Not surfing for longer than a week. Looking at my boards as I walk out my garage every morning. Being at work. Mostly though, what gets me totally, unnecessarily excited and amped to surf are the accounts of “epic” surf scored by my friends.

Any advice, words or tips for your fellow wave riders… amateurs, free surfers, and pros?

When in doubt go. If you don’t go you’ll never know, or you’ll hear about it later from your friends and that’s the worst. I have no advice for free surfers, they are already living the dream. To the pros out there? Don’t let the hype ruin surfing for you. Have more fun, it shows every heat and the guys having the most fun always win, whatever their score.

Pre and Post surf…

…songs that you listen to?

Pre surf tuneage? Usually the purr of my 1.5 litre CRX engine as I have no stereo. Fast and hard are good. If it’s pumping and crowded a little At the Drive-In or Mastodon gets me in the mood to battle. If it’s small and clean some Modest Mouse, Caribou, or something folksy gets me right.

…food that you eat?

I try to eat well, but usually don’t. I am lucky to have the metabolism of a field mouse. As long as I get some protein afterwards I feel good. Massive amounts of candy are crucial to any surf session. Peanut butter and jelly, Nutella sandwiches, Mexican food, and the occasional seal carcass keeps me fueled up and ready to shred.

How are you perpetually pushing forward?

My appetite for oceanic communion is insatiable. I will always want more, better, emptier, glassier, more offshore, more remote. As long as I have that drive I will push myself and my friends into more challenging waves. I love to try new boards, to surf new spots. It is this appetite for the unknown that pushes me. In photography it is similar. I hate seeing the same angle twice, the same perspective over and over again. I’d rather shoot the unseen, the ignored or overlooked. I want to express how surfing feels as much as it looks. To convey the awe and beauty that I’m so lucky to experience firsthand with. I am amazed at how incredibly beautiful the world is when you look at it with the right eyes. I just want to share that with everyone because it makes me feel good, and I want everyone to feel good too. My goal is simply to travel, surf, shoot and share those experiences with whoever wants to take part.

What do you think about DOZE?

I think DOZE is an opportunity for international collaboration. A place that showcases humans being free to create art with their mind, body and soul. It is an opportunity for inspiration. I am so thankful that something like DOZE can exist. I look forward to watching it grow and seeing all involved perpetually push themselves and each other forward.

Interview by Gab Sarmiento and Don Fester
Photos by Scott Wintle, David Kemnitz, Brandon DiPierri, Ryan Lovelace, Callie Bowdish, Garratt Wilkin and Zack Harrison IV

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