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, and Tammie Dalrymple.
I’m Wes Espinosa — a 29-year-old Mexican/American that works in conservation and loves novelty waves that break in front of rocks.
Do you ocean surf, wake surf, river surf, paddle surf? Any or all of the above?
Up until I met the Surf ATL folx, I was strictly an ocean surfer, but I wake-surfed for the first time a month ago! You will most likely catch me surfing my 5'8'’ fish on anything ankle-high — double overhead.
How did you get into surfing? In Atlanta or somewhere else?
I’m originally from LA but grew up in ATL. I moved back to southern California right after high school and really started getting into it then. A coworker of mine named Sergio shaped me my first board (only shaper I know of in East LA), so I felt obligated to go to the beach frequently. That got me HOOKED. When I went to school at UC Berkeley, I joined and eventually became President of the Berkeley Surf Club. A group of friends I made there, who grew up surfing competitively, really pushed me (probably prematurely) to start surfing bigger waves at places like Ocean Beach and Steamer Lane. I credit those guys for pushing me for two years to ditch class, surf better, and show up to exams with the nose drips. I also lived in Ecuador and Chile for several years where the countless empty lineups, peeling left points, and adventure kept me stoked on surfing.
Where and how often do you surf?
I surf when and where there’s swell. I’ve only lived in Atlanta as a surfer for a year and a half, but I try to bust a mission down to north Florida, Folly, or the Outer Banks when there’s any swell of remote significance. I’ve traveled around for work for the last several years so I’ve never really had a home break. If I had to name a couple that I’ve frequented often, they’d be — El Porto in LA (fat closeout, just convenient), Ayampe in Ecuador, or Ocean Beach in SF. My favorite wave I’ve surfed is Pacasmayo in Peru.
What do you do to advance your surfing/what is your favorite thing about surfing?
I try to surf with friends that are better than me because I know they’ll get me into conditions where I have no choice but to charge & surf well — — otherwise I’ll get worked. While I love the adventures of surf travel, weird waves, & empty lineups just as much as everybody else, my favorite part of surfing is spending time with good friends in the lineup. Some of my best sessions have been days with ok conditions, but epic vibes in the water with friends. I also love surfing as a part of my routine (tough to do in ATL). I love getting in a dawn patrol sesh before my workday, always watching the forecasts, and letting the ocean guide my schedule & rhythm.
What are your hopes for the Atlanta surfing community in the future?
ATL is the world’s travel hub — home to the biggest airport in the world. Surfers don’t stay here, but they most certainly pass through here on their way to great waves around the world. I imagine an Atlanta surf community where like-minded folks can help advocate for a wave pool in town that keeps traveling surfers in this incredible city for a bit. Atlanta has a lot to learn from surfing, but I think surfing (and surfers) have even more to learn from Atlanta — — especially as it relates to diversity, culture, & commerce. In the short-term, I just want other people in the Atlanta community that are stoked on surfing as much as I am and willing to leave town at 2am on a Wednesday to dawn patrol a 3 ft hurricane swell before it disappears after 2 hours. :D