Surf ATL Community Spotlight: Westry Whitaker
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, Abigail Pierce, Clark Campbell, Katy Harrison, Sam Burrafato, Maggie Maziarz, Erik Barron, Erin Keith, Jenny Serwitz, Adam Hunter, Joyce and Mack, Jackson Kearns, Jessica Luna, Tyler Urrutia, Mike Pappas, Scott Stone, Emily McLarty, Emilio Castro, and Kurt Ehlers.
My name is Westry Whitaker and I grew up in Eastern NC. I moved to ATL in 2015. Before moving here, I lived in San Diego, CA, Washington, DC, and Wilmington, NC. My favorite places to surf are the OBX, the entire Wilmington/Wrightsville Beach area, Hawaii, and Southern California.
Do you ocean surf, wake surf, river surf, paddle surf? Any or all of the above?
I am an ocean surfer. I’ve been riding a shortboard for most of my life, but recently I started longboarding… there’s. so. much. to. learn. While I have surfed behind a boat plenty, I’ve never actually done wake surfing the way it is done now! I always held on to a tow line and hit the lip of a tiny little wake. I’m stoked to get out there with you all.
How did you get into surfing? In Atlanta or somewhere else?
I started surfing as a little kid in the Southern OBX. I’ve always been the hyper kid so surfing offered me a great way to stay outside and play on the beach all day long without bothering my mom and getting in too much trouble.
Where and how often do you surf?
I get to surf probably 10–15 times a year since I’ve been living in ATL. More often than not, I go back home to Wilmington where I surf at Wrightsville, Masonboro, or Surf City. I have friends in California and family on the North Shore of Oahu so it’s always great to visit all of them.
What is your favorite thing about surfing?
The best thing about surfing is the peace I feel when I’m sitting and waiting between sets. Those days when there’s a true swell and the wind is light or offshore, you catch yourself mindlessly floating and just waiting there in the sunshine. When your wave comes, you forget about all your troubles, all your pain, work, the day, whatever it is you think about, and for a brief moment you dance with the ocean.
What do you do to advance your surfing?
I focus mostly on longboarding these days, so to advance my learning, I watch videos of longboarders with really solid style. Learning how to fade in and walk to the nose was an accomplishment — now I just have to cross-step back and get that drop knee turn down. ;)
What are your hopes for the Atlanta surfing community in the future?
I’m still super new to the ATL surf community so I’m not really sure what my hopes could be! From what I’ve seen, you all seem super stoked to get out there (regardless of whether it’s the lake, a wave pool, or the ocean) so I’m proud to become part of this group! If anything, I’d love to get those of you that have never surfed in the ocean out there in the ocean… wake surfing is fun, but there’s nothing quite like being in the ocean and surfing a real wave.