interview with Robme

Robme is a classic guy. Many of you have seen him mentioned on e's surf report and have probably seen the picture of him holding his son Shem on the upper left corner of the site. I met Robme while working on and originally thought him to be this hard-core, stylistically intimidating, entreched/gristled surfer guy.. But as i got to know him I found out more and more that he's really just a sweetcake/buttercup, mild-mannered southern gentleman. Robme lives out near the beach on Cabrillo and enjoys the burlier kinds of surf conditions.. For instance, Lerm, Robme and i might be surfing some mellow peak at Lawton or something, and Robme will spot some mean-looking, disorganized/pitching/ugly/closing-out peak down the beach a bit and paddle over to it.. next thing you know Lerm and i cringe as we watch Robme paddling into a totally unmakeable, brown, foamy beast of a closeout.. but the dude just takes off anyway!! He's always doing that kind of shit. I've seen Robme catch some sick rides at places like 4-mile and Fort Point.. He's also ALWAYS down with paddling out.. no matter what the ocean is doing.. anyhoo.. good on ya Robme!!

E: How did you get started surfing?
Robme: I didn't start 'til I was almost 30 yrs old -- that was 10, count them, years ago. I moved to San Francisco and took my dog Ruby for walks at Ocean Beach, where I saw surfers and waves, of course. In college one of my roommates had been a surfer from Florida, so I was already primed on the mags, but when I saw the pack just sitting off the rock at Kelly's, I thought "lame, those guys are just sitting there", at least in comparison to the photos my roommate had shown me. Little did I know how difficult it would turn out to be. One day my friend Meg, now my wife, and I were talking, and I mentioned I'd like to surf. She said she would too. We actually went to Santa Cruz and got lessons! We each got about 10 rides on these big floatie barges, and we were hooked. I bought a used board from End of the Line on Taraval, now defunct, a single fin 7'2" Eaton that Donovan Frankreiter (sp?) would probably like. We called it the "Coffee Cup" after its earthtone finish. Very ugly. I couldn't turn the thing, but I did get a lot of practice just taking off. Eventually I bought another used board, a 6'4" Channel Island. Suddenly I could turn, duck dive, get outside at "big" Ocean Beach, etc. My world changed. I surfed that board every surfable day for like 4 years or something.

E: What's the surf scene like in South Carolina?
Robme: Well, it's pretty mellow since the average day there you would consider flat here. Still, I am always amazed at the level of surfing I see in summer surfing junked up wind chop. Airs, gouges, that sort of thing. They do get good surf every couple of weeks, particulary if a storm blows off the land up near Cape Hatteras and sends short period punch down to Sullivan's Island, which is where I usually surf when I am there. And hurricanes cruising up the gulf stream of course can transform just about all the beaches into warm water barrel-producing paradises.

E: Describe the best session you've ever had.
Robme: Wow, that is a hard one. Often the best session I ever had was my most recent. But one kinda small day this summer I got two legit barrels and two airs, at a time when I still had my cherry on both accounts. I don't remember much about the day. I just remember that everything I did was right. I was on my 6'0" fish, still my favorite board after 4 years.

E: How has being a family man affected your surfing?
Robme: You can imagine. You have to choose, and the choices aren't aren't easy. I tend to err on the side of the family, and I don't regret it. I sill surf 2x a week, so you gotta figure 100 surf days years isn't bad. One day when the boys are old enough, I may be back in the water everyday. That may be a vain hope though since OB is not the best place to learn or teach. Where it has really hurt is surf trips. You just can't justify trips where you spend 8 hours in the water everyday for 5 days. At least I haven't figured it out yet...

E: You mentioned to me once that you aspire to be more of a light-footed lip dancer than a hard-core lip-destroying-gauger.. describe
Robme: Well, it might be an artificial distinction for me, since I am neither and closing in on neither. I do like airs and floaters. I like the *idea* of taking each wave as it comes, good or bad, and throwing up whatever move the wave requires. I think the vids of lip bash after lip bash are less interesting to watch, not to minimize the skill level of lip bashing surfers. I also like big, big drops. I don't know how you qualify that. But I love taking of on waves that nearly concave and still pulling off the bottom turn.

E: What do you think of the surf scene in SF?
Robme: In general I love being a surfer in SF. I love Ocean Beach. It's great to surf somewhere where more often than not you are actually hoping someone else will come out and share your peak and help you chase off the shark vibe, than not. And I like the city and all manner of city stuff. I love the few points we have, but I don't particularly like the "scene" if that means the packs that rule those points. In general I am trying to not consider myself as a "surfer." Maybe that's just part of turning 40.

E: If you had 2 weeks and $4000 to use toward surf, where would you go and what would you do?
Robme: Portugal maybe. Galicia maybe. France maybe. Meg and I ran into some spots on our honeymoon that I have wanted to go back to. Plus I like Europe. I like cafe's, I like the nightlife that doesn't start until 11pm. I'm into that scene.

E: What's it like to be a respected Cabrillo St. local?
Robme: Well, it's great in many regards, though respescted is kind of a relative concept. But this month for example has been spectacular, we have had 14 days of sunshine or something. The summers are kinda tough, with the fog, the wind, the litter. Even if the weather is bad though, the out of doors are still great. You can always go for a run up through Sutro Heights and Land's End. Really it blows my mind that I live within baby-stroller distance of some of the most spectacular scenery in the world.

E: Has anyone inspired your surfing or been a serious motivation to you?
Robme: Sure lot's of folks. I won't name any names because I can't name them all. But you know how it goes. It's hard for me to disentangle being a good surfer from being a good person. So if a good surfer is a real jerk, they aren't that inspiring. On the other hand if a person of any level is a cool person, is interested in the larger picture, then they usually end up being inspirational. To me at least.

E: What's your ideal wave (imaginary or real)?
Robme: Hollow with a soft bottom? I don't really know. I need to go to Indo or some place fabled to really give an informed answer.

E: Why do you like surfing?
Robme: Whoever said I liked it? Naw, but seriously, see the above. It must be up there somewhere. I will be so explicit as to say that yesterday after I got out of the water I felt excellent all day, excellent in a very hard to describe body and soul kind of way.

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