By OCinSite | July 10, 2012 2:54 PM
Photo by Travis McCormick
By Somer Flaherty
Growing up in Newport Beach, Pat Towersey would ride his red Schwinn cruiser to the beach almost every day from fifth grade until he got his license. “The best advice I received was to surf every day,” he says. “There was a big crew of established older surfers in Newport that were all really friendly and adopted me into their pack, along with my brother and a few of my friends.”
If you weren’t familiar with his deep ties to the sport, it would be easy to take “Punker Pat,” a moniker that’s stuck through the years, for just another local surfer. But the kid who rode his first wave at age 9 in San Onofre has a well-developed presence in the sport; he’s been sponsored or an ambassador for just about every big-name homegrown brand, and his career has taken him to waves in Indonesia, Sardinia, Tavarua, Spain, Australia and Costa Rica.
As a young surfer growing up in Newport Heights, Pat, who has been named “one of the best-known and well-liked surfers on the Southern California coast” by Billabong, rode professionally throughout his teen years. At age 12, he was sponsored by Volcom and began competing in surfing competitions and appearing in advertisements for the brand. In 2005, Billabong signed the surfer to a multi-year contract as a sponsored rider, and after a partnership with RVCA, Pat found his current spot as an ambassador for surfing powerhouse, Hurley.
Although Pat says he surfs everywhere in Newport, the best wave he ever caught was at The Wedge, about five years ago. “It was a massive set wave and I was barely able to get in,” he says. “I pulled into a pocket ride that straightened out to thousands of people clapping on the beach.”
Daily sessions can take enough of his free time, but Pat doesn’t just surf; he’s a total waterman who freedives and standup paddleboards—he’s an ambassador for Paddle2Live, a nonprofit that raises money and awareness for cancer.
“When you’re in the water, the most important thing is to be comfortable,” Pat says. “If you get into something and you love it, you can do it every day.”
Ready to get wet? Pat’s tips for beginning surfers:
1. Buy a wet suit. You can get by on what’s called a 3/2 mm full suit (the numbers correspond to the thickness of the suit), and it will work year-round.
2. The length of the board you buy will depend on your preference but also your height and weight. However, it’s usually best to start out on a long board. Foam boards are also good for beginners.
3. Spend time in the water before you even start surfing. Swim in the ocean and get comfortable being in the waves.
4. Take lessons. There are a lot of great surf camps and surfers who offer private instruction.
5. The best tip for trying to get sponsored is—don’t try to get sponsored; it’s kind of like trying to get a girlfriend. Just do what you love and work hard at honing your craft. People will notice.
You don’t have to be a sponsored rider to get the gear; just check out these local outfitters to get head-to-toe ready for your first (or next) wave.
Magic Marker High Performance Shortboard shaped by Gerry O’Keeffe, available at Russell Surfboards (2301 West Balboa Blvd.; 949-673-5871; surfboardsbyrussell.com).
Lumberjack Longboard by Almond Surfboards, available at Almond Surfboards (367 Old Newport Blvd.; 949-515-2102; lifeisjustswell.com)
Rashguard, available at Roxy, South Coast Plaza (714-540-4555; roxy.com).
Stars N Stripes Boardshorts,
available at Jacks Surfboards (2727 Newport Blvd., #101; 949-673-2300; jackssurfboards.com).
Clarins SPF 40 Sun Protection, available at Bloomingdales, Fashion Island (401 Newport Center Dr.; 949-729-6600).