Every surfer has a story and this is the latest installment of our Surf ATL Community Spotlight series where we will feature surfers and those part of the surf culture in the Atlanta area. Check out our previous spotlights on Thomas Roginsky, Spencer Broome, Anthony Kennedy, Nick Bramwell, the Merlo Family, Mike Dobbs, Kristian Erik Bjerke, Jamie Eichler, Doug Paul, Brandon Spivia, Robert Hanson, Liam Spoon, Eric Ilustrisimo, Susan Bond, Jason Smith, Garrett Gilfillan, Silvia Saey, Scott Mennicke, Tammie Dalrymple, Wes Espinosa, Peter Gudbrandsen, Kelby Graham, Kayvon Nazarian, and Abigail Pierce.
My name is Clark Campbell, I’m 57 and I’ve enjoyed water sports all my life. I love being on the lakes and rivers wherever I’ve lived. Taking the family to the lake was an activity everyone enjoyed no water what the ages of our kids.
Do you ocean surf, wake surf, river surf, paddle surf? Any or all of the above? How did you get into surfing? In Atlanta or somewhere else?
We started wake surfing in 2010. A co-worker (Jay Eastland) got introduced to it on Lake Burton. He brought his board and bags to Allatoona. We filled the bags and tried to make a wave using a Yamaha AR215. We even filled the lockers with water trying to weigh it down. I had another friend that worked at Yamaha here in Kennesaw. He talked to engineering but they had no interest in trying to figure something out with us. We could not make a useable wake with the jet propulsion so needed something else.
Jay had made a usable wave with an old Centurion Falcon ski boat on Burton. The boat was so low though, they almost sunk it with a sudden stop and the wave came over the back. The back never came up and only quick thinking the boat was full-throttled until bilge and scabbard got the water out.
We once got a ticket for pulling a skier after dark in October 2011. Our argument was we weren’t really pulling him, but that fell on deaf ears. The kind officer doing his job informed me this would be a $100 fine. “$100? Won’t be the last then.”
Where and how often do you surf?
In 2011 we were making a really good wave. Ross Lang owned the boat, my son Keller Campbell, co-worker Jay Eastland, and I surfed weekly. We would meet on Tuesday afternoon at Allatoona. Little traffic on the lake during the week except for a bass club that met the same nights. We really surprised them a couple of times as they all left the marina racing to their favorite spot and one of our rolling waves would appear out of nowhere and send them air-born. Cuss words really travel across a lake. We often had boaters try and help as we used the tsunami pumps to fill the bags. Everyone thought we were surely sinking.
What is your favorite thing about surfing?
Wake surfing is a great old man sport. It keeps us active without blowing out knees and backs. Originally we were all doing research and trying to figure out fluid dynamics to make a wave. Now we use 24’ Malibu or MB boats with computers and gates. Switching from side to side is a simple switch or lever.
What are your hopes for the Atlanta surfing community in the future?
Now that wake surfing is a common sport, I’m afraid we are going to have to police our own practices. The size of our waves is doing damage to docked boats and shorelines. I’m afraid some lakes might soon ban the sport. If we don’t control the sport, someone will control it for us.