Life is Good

Last week I was stoked to get e-mail from Canadian surfer Noah Cohen asking me to tag along to San Clemente, CA. With a solid south swell smashing the entire West Coast, San Clemente seemed to be a good call. As the home to Trestles, T-Street and a handful of wedging beach breaks, this zone was sure to deliver.

We met at LAX on a Thursday afternoon and waited for Noah’s good buddy – and local San Clemente ripper – Jeff Lukasik to pick us up. He was stuck in traffic. Go figure. So Noah and I sat on a bench outside of LAX talking about golf, surfboards, contracts, secret Canadian point breaks and where to surf while in the land of bolt on breasts and ridiculous attire and haircuts.

And then, with a gigantic, welcoming smile on his face, Jeff picked us up.

We cruised down the 405 in Jeff’s Ford Explorer with a cracked taillight, two doors that fail to open, a missing passenger side rearview mirror, squeaky brakes and a film covering the car that was referred to as vomit. Smelling like old wetsuits and a few nights spent in the backseat with a girl that has an overprotective father, the ol’ beauty gets Jeff and his buddies from his humble San Clemente home to the waves and back. As all surfers know, that is all that matters when it comes to a vehicle: getting from A to B. On second thought, I suppose that backseat realty is pretty important too.

After arriving safely, we washed the filth of travel off of our bodies with a hot tub and a few Bud Lights, or, as Noah calls them, B.L. smooths. Jeff told us about his surf at Uppers that day and how it looked reminiscent to Jeffrey’s Bay. With that, we hit the sack with excitement for the surf to come.

Over the next 5 days the boys surfed and I shot. The swell was big and burly and not as clean as we had originally hoped for. We did manage to get a shot or two, but the wind would blow it out and the tides were off, so we spent a lot of time driving around and talking story. Which is always fun in it’s own right and allowed me to get to know Jeff and Noah fairly well in just a few days.

As far as Canadian surfing is concerned, you don’t get much cooler than Noah Cohen. He is so hot right now. Noah is living the life any 22-year-old free surfer from Tofino, BC dreams of: golf tournaments, all access at Vancouver Canucks hockey games, partying with ridiculously hot promo girls, getting paid to travel, chill and surf. With major sponsorship from O’Neill, Monster Energy, Oakley, Vans, On A Mission and Storm Surf Shop, this kindhearted Canadian lives up to the hype. Noah is a beast in the water. With stylish rail-to-rail surfing and an aerial attack on point with today’s highest paid pros, it’s clear that Noah takes his career seriously and is in it for the long run.

To make matters even better, Noah has built this career all on his own. With elders like the Bruhwiler brothers and Peter Devries paving the way, it didn’t take long for Noah to get noticed and garner the sponsorships that allow him to live the life. With a pre-dawn regimen and surf all day attitude, Noah’s work ethic is second to none and it shows. Check out his most recent Innersection part for proof. The kid rips.

Jeff Lukasik is an anomaly in the Southern California surf scene: polite, friendly, honest and humble. However, the 22-year-old San Clemente native absolutely kills it on a surfboard. A trait that would fill most kids heads with hot air. With the Lowers left as his training ground, Jeff has a new school style and the maneuvers to boot. Don’t believe me? Look at his accomplishments and tell me otherwise. Jeff nudged out Granger Larsen, Torrey Meister and Kyle Ramey to take the Rip Curl Grom Search title in 2005. He placed 11th in nationals and has won over a dozen regional and national contests. If that doesn’t tell you something, go watch Jeff surf in person. You will be glad you did.

What baffles me is that Jeff has yet to acquire a contract from a major sponsor. His board adorns the stickers of Etnies, Nixon and FCS, but these companies do not have him on any sort of salary allowing him to travel and compete in the WQS. He has a proven track record of winning contests and just happens to be one of the coolest, most down to earth young surfers in Orange County. And with a plethora of mind-bending maneuvers, what gives? I’ll tell you what. Dough.

Jeff comes from humble beginnings. He’s not a kid that drives around in a Range Rover that his Dad bought him with his head in the clouds, collecting allowance and paying for photographers to go on trips. Unfortunately, those types of kids are the ones that get the sponsorships. Why? Because their parents pay for most of the shit that the company would have to pay for if they signed somebody with a few hundred bucks in their bank account versus a few hundred thousand. No matter how you look at it, the surf industry is a multi-billion dollar corporate world where everything boils down to the bottom dollar.

Furthermore, being in Orange County makes it harder for Jeff to stand out. Although he is no doubt one of the highest caliber surfers in the area, the whole county – and all of Southern California in general – is chalk full of young talent scrapping for a sticker on the nose of their board. But like his Canadian cohort, Jeff has a strong work ethic and I’m hoping Etnies, or another solid company, steps up to the plate and gets this kid on the WQS. He deserves it and I'm confident he has a long and successful career to look forward to. In fact, I guarantee it. 

While hailing from opposite ends of North America’s West Coast, these two young surfers have a lot in common and a lot to look forward to. With bright careers on the horizon, make sure to keep an eye out for Jeff Lukasik and Noah Cohen blowing tail and lofting airs at a peak near you. 

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