Surf ATL Community Spotlight: Robert Hanson

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 here, Spencer Broome here, Anthony Kennedy here, Nick Bramwell here, the Merlo Family here, Mike Dobbs here, Kristian Erik Bjerke here, Jamie Eichler here, Doug Paul here, and Brandon Spivia.

If you love riding waves or know someone who does, message us via one of our social media channels or reach out via the contact page on our website. It doesn’t matter your skill level or if you are a wake surfer, ocean surfer, paddleboarder, or river surfer. We want to put the spotlight on you!

Introduce yourself!

I’m Robert Hanson, born and raised in Alameda, CA, at an early age I embraced surfing, board riding, and all water activities. My love for the ocean and surfing developed while living in the US Virgin Islands. During my college years, I surfed my brains out and went to school in Hawaii for my BFA. I have an MFA in Industrial Design and enjoy working on consumer goods, technology innovations, and brand development. I moved to Georgia in 2020, and am currently involved in many industrial design projects, developing a wave park with SurfATL, and part-time souse chef at Revival in Decatur.

Do you ocean surf, wake surf, river surf, paddle surf? Any or all of the above?

My earliest wave riding experiences were in the heavy short breaks on Santa Cruz, and then surfing lessons with legendary local chargers Richard Shmidtt and Zach Wormhoudt. During travels in the Caribbean, Costa Rica, and the East Coast I sharpened my wave riding and embraced a range of shapes: Twin Fins, Mini Simmons, Logs, and Short Boards. Back in California, my home breaks are Fort Point, OB, Pacifica, and Half Moon Bay. I’ll hop in a river, behind a boat, or even thrash on a skim. I miss the coast but still storm chase the gulf and Folly Beach, SC.

How did you get into surfing? In Atlanta or somewhere else?

I got into surfing through early exposure to fun beach times, boogie boarding, snorkeling, and then being exposed to my dad’s old surfer magazines from the ’50s. We watched Endless Summer a lot, and soon I was constantly wanting to go improve my skills in the waves. Through high school, we surfed alongside water polo and swim team, and enjoyed exploring every nook and cranny with waves from Marin to Monterey.

Where and how often do you surf?

I surf Folly Beach, SC and Panama City, FL. Looking forward to exploring river waves here, and wake opportunities.

What do you do to advance your surfing/what is your favorite thing about surfing?

To advance my surfing I make an effort to eat a healthy range of foods and keep my weight optimal by intermittent fasting and bouts of keto diet. I stretch and do kettlebells and some martial arts movement exercises.

What are your hopes for the Atlanta surfing community in the future?

I hope the ATL surf community really begins to thrive with some of the opportunities that are popping up. I believe technology can bring surfing experiences to just about anybody, and that landlocked folks can surf too. I’m stoked to have partnered with Spencer and SurfATL to help bring this artificial wave riding experience to Atlanta, and to be a positive part of the growing surf community.

Any surfers in the Atlanta or Georgia community catch your eye or should be spotlighted?

Spencer, Mike Dodd, and the folks involved in the Surfrider Foundation are really interesting and have great surf stories. The guys who charge the river wave in Columbus are pretty epic, and the tanker wake surfers in Savannah are really pushing the limits of novelty. Anyone having fun in the water and getting stoked is catching my eye, and I’m super thankful to be involved.