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From skate to surf and back with Zach Holland

Surfer surfing wave in Riviera
Zach Holland takes us on a tale from his early days on decks and trux to smoother surfing sessions.

February 3rd, 2021. Time: 11:00. It was a Sunday, a day off for Zach, who was desperate to fill up his free day. He’s a barber, who works long hours, over 55 hours per week, including Saturdays, so a day off is a blessing. His Saturday night was not too bad either, considering he had a date. 

His mode is normally skate, but he’s dipping into the surf scene and getting a perspective on his journey from skate to surf is fun.

Zach and I bounced continuously from topic to topic and it was tough to keep up at times. He just had so much to say, about everything, which is incredible, so I hope I manage to capture the energy in this write-up.

His earlier obsessions…

Before testing the sea, he’d been on trucks and wheels for 18 years. His style is goofy, in both worlds, but his skate style is a little unique. “I bend low and pretend I’m carving bangs. Even with a skate background, the ocean element makes surfing so difficult in the beginning” 

Yes, the sea can never be underestimated, “and you have to take a beating before you get comfortable.”

The seed was planted when he bought a skateboard with signature Arto Saari trucks and with it came a postcard of a man wearing a chested wetsuit, ripping in Finland. That man, back in 2007, was Mick Fanning. 

Stylistically, it’s not hard to see how surf has influenced Zach’s style. He’s got the awesome jeep, a bunch of whack body art with the hat to match and a couple of badass surfboards to boot.

He’s also worked as a tailor who “Looks up to people iconically, style-wise.” Dylan Rieder influenced his early style with his “skate orientated style, white tank top, tucked into chinos, with rings, tattoos…”

Leo Romero is also one of Zach’s faves, “he’s the coolest dude on tour, a skate rat, a gut guy.”

Surfer at dawn
Zach checking the scene (or his insta) at Riviera

These words Zach was throwing around made sense. You can see how he adopts these styles from skate into surf. “I don’t like lessons, I have to take a beating to see how much I want to do a sport and I made it to the lineup alone, with a little encouragement.”

Local surfers have spurred him on too. “Hadrien told me ‘today you’ll head to the line up’ and it’s just the push I needed.”

“George is the nicest guy in the water,” he continued as he bounced from one topic to another. “There’s a lot of surfers now, who sometimes don’t respect the rules, but George is just the nicest… a real family guy.”

“Joseph is the surfer I look up to most. He’s taken me free diving too. He’s a proper surfer. Camping, vanlife, hammocks, harmonica, fires, sunrises and all that. He taught me how to paddle properly with longer strokes and how to time my sets.”

“I love the longboard lifestyle, it’s not competitive, it’s just a vibe, but I also love shortboarding too.”

He admits he’d love to surf more, but job commitments are making it tough “Until I open my own shop.” 

“I skate more often, three times a week, as its always there, always available. I skate the park and some streets too, with music on non-stop.”

Of course, Zach’s taken his fair share of tumbles, both on land and in the sea, and concedes that surfing is “all about doing the right things at the right times” which at times hasn’t been the case. I’ll leave him to share those stories when you meet him, just ask him about St Lucian and a leash getting wrapped around a reef and he’ll take it from there…

His first session was special, his second gave him a first sunset from the water and now more confidence flows in the man.

He likens surfing to “cocaine without the nose bleed.” and just loves the pumped up feeling catching a wave gives you. “No matter how tired I am, catching one wave just energises me again.”

“When it’s a good day, I’ll get a good protein-based breakfast in me and head straight out, in the water at 9 am… but I’ve also been at the crack of dawn before work.” 

He then pointed to his feet which are scarred and scabbed. “Jellyfish bro, this one wrapped around me.” 

And that was, I believe, the last change in topic, but I couldn’t say goodbye before getting a closer look at his jeep. Fuck me, I fell in love with a machine. See ya next time Linda!

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Zach Holland takes us on a tale from his early days on decks and trux to smoother surfing sessions.