interview with Alex Martins

About 5 years ago i began venturing out to OB on some of the bigger days. On this one day I had my tail between my legs and mostly just watched in awe as these huge bombs marched toward shore and exploded on the outer sandbars. Out of the corner of my eye i saw this dude stylishly air-drop into a thick, macking double-overhead beast of a wave. I continued watching as he carved hard off the bottom and then raced back up the face and just destroyed the unsuspecting lip. He did it effortlessly, on a wave that i would have held on for dear life. Who was that deeply-tanned, Curren-esque ripper? A few years later i was struggling to catch waves on a good day at a notoriously crowded spot. The same mellow guy dominated the proceedings; smooth, powerful, flowy, confident. Multiple barrels, gigantic, arcing top-turns, gnarly-super-deep air-drops, the whole 9. I started seeing him around all the time. Shredding on shitty, onshore spring mornings at OB. Owning it in lackluster San Mateo County slop. Then finally catching one of the biggest paddle-in waves of the year at Mavs, and breaking a few ribs in the process. His name is Alex Martins. He's without a doubt one of the best surfers in town. He's also an incredibly humble, soft-spoken, unassuming guy. Super nice. Super shreddy.

The following is an interview with Alex that appeared in the premier edition of BASEmag.

B.A.S.E: How did you get started surfing?
AM: I grew up at the beach in the north of Brazil. All my friends surfed. 12 years old.. that's all I did, my whole life.

B.A.S.E: Were kids turning and carving where you grew up, was there shredding going on?
AM: Yeah, pretty much… We mostly did it just for fun, we never thought about doing it for anything else.

photo by Paul Ferraris

B.A.S.E: What are some of the better waves in Brazil like?
AM: We have some good reef breaks where I come from [Alex's dog walks over]. We have this really nice point break. That's where Carlos Burle comes from. It's not as consistent as here. But in the wintertime (southern-hemi winter) it gets really good. Indonesia style. Big and hollow.

B.A.S.E: Barrels?
AM: barrels, yeah.

B.A.S.E: Why did you come to the States? Why SF?
AM: the reason I come here is because the situation in Brazil wasn't that good. I wasn't making much money. I was doing contests and stuff. I had a sponsor. It wasn't enough. The situation wasn't that good. I wasn't making much money. I decided to come here. I had a few friends here… that's why I came to San Francisco. But I didn't know there was such good surf here. I came here because I had friends here. So I start living here. There are waves here and not too many people. I got here in '93; it was awesome. Some great days, some beautiful days.

photo by Frank Quirarte

photo by Frank Quirarte

B.A.S.E: Did you mostly surf OB?
AM: Yeah, surfed the beach pretty much. In the wintertime I'd surf the two points. But then with the crowds… Sometimes, though, you see so many people surfing a small pointbreak so you're kinda "whatever." Save it for the next day. I love the beach, you know, there's space for everybody.

B.A.S.E: Is that your spot?
AM: Yeah, [laughing] I think it's for everyone. I'm not really into being in a crowd, you know. I just want waves. B.A.S.E: I hear that.

B.A.S.E: What are your favorite conditions at the beach? What are you psyched on? Huge TOH or more like, offshore, with barrels?
AM: I like the offshore with barrels, overhead, you know, perfect conditions, waves for everyone. Sometimes I like it a little bigger, just, you know, to have more space for everyone. Sometimes when it's head high and epic there are so many people, you know. I'd have have it a little bigger so there is more space.

photo by Paul Ferraris

B.A.S.E: Your style seems to be more about big, arcing turns rather than airs and flicky moves. Is that true?
AM: Yeah, I'm not really into airs and stuff, I like to do the line, do turns, bottom turn. Sometimes I'll miss the whole wave because I want to do such a good bottom turn. My favorite surfer has always been Tom Curren. He always mentioned that if you have a good bottom turn, the maneuvers are going to come. Easily. It's all about the bottom turn. If you miss the speed on the bottom turn, the next turn isn't going to be good. If you do a good bottom turn, and everything goes right, the turn is gonna be right. These days I see kids that can barely turn but they're already doing air.

B.A.S.E: That doesn't appeal to you?
AM: It's not good style, you know. I like to see guys, full doing the line. Doing nice turns.

B.A.S.E: Do you feel like you see a lot of good surfing around here or not really?
AM: Compared to other places, not really. In Brazil we have such good surfers. Christian knows. Santa Cruz you see good surfing. Here you see a few, you know.

photo by Paul Ferraris

B.A.S.E: Why don't you think you see people that are just rippin' around here?
AM: I don't know, man. I guess they don't have so many good surfers to just inspire everyone. I guess? You don't see many kids. You see kids surfing down in southern California. They might move here later on. Guys start surfing here age 18, 19, 20, which is already old. The good kids start surfing at 7 years old these days. That's what I think plays a part. I feel like I started late at 12 years old. I see guys right now starting at 30 years old. You can't be a great surfer. It's like you ride a bike, or whatever.

B.A.S.E: So you're pretty into yoga these days?
AM: My girlfriend is a yoga instructor. I've been doing yoga for almost three years now.

B.A.S.E: Has that helped your feel in the water?
AM: It's helped myself in general. I feel good to myself. Yeah, it definitely improves your feel in the water. With yoga you have to stretch. You have to balance. You get strength, you know. I feel like it gives everything you need for surfing.

photo by Stinkeye (Steve Wasylko)

photo by Stinkeye (Steve Wasylko)

photo by Stinkeye (Steve Wasylko)

B.A.S.E: That's cool.

B.A.S.E: You've been surfing Mavs lately?
AM: I don't feel myself that I surf the wave yet. Not super comfortable.

B.A.S.E: If there was nobody out there, would you be taking off deeper? Is it because of the crowd or because of the wave itself that you don't feel super comfortable?
AM: Nawww... if there's nobody out then it's kinda scary. I would say that I try to come deeper. I feel that it's easier to take off deeper than on the shoulder.

B.A.S.E: Do you take off behind the bowl?
AM: In the bowl. But I take my time over there (at Mavericks). I have full respect for the wave. I take my time. If I get one or two or three waves, real waves, then I'm stoked. That'll make my day. It's an incredible wave, you know. In the beginning you think that it's not possible… but then you start doing it. It's an incredible wave.

B.A.S.E: Is it the long, tapering wall that you like or is it the drop…?
AM: I like the drop. And it's such a long wave, you know. Yeah, you're going forever. It seems like you're going a mile.

B.A.S.E: do you have a Mavs-specific board that you like?
AM: I have three boards already. One I bought from Eric Karikawa, a really good board.

B.A.S.E: Do you have a shaper or do you just get boards from different people?
AM: I have Shawn Rhoads from norcal. But actually his boards aren't as good. I got a really good deal with him but I don't know if I'm gonna keep going. If I don't feel myself improving.

B.A.S.E: Where do you want to see yourself in five years, if you stay healthy and keep progressing? What kinda shit do you want to be doing?
AM: As long as I can surf. As long as I can paddle out to Ocean Beach. I'll be happy, you know. Some days the beach looks ugly, it looks angry. I hope that I can keep paddling and make it out.

B.A.S.E: If you were given 10million dollars right now, what would you do this week?
AM: If I had 10 million dollars?

B.A.S.E: Yeah, if somebody was just, like, BLAM? 10 mill.
AM: I would probably rent a boat, take all my good friends and go to Indonesia, now's the time [August]. And just surf for as long as I can.

B.A.S.E: Y ou could probably surf for the rest of your life on that.
AM: Yup.

photo by Paul Ferraris

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