Interviewee: Joe aka The Surfing Expert
Social Handle: @TheSurfingExpert
Location: New York City
Years On Social: 3 years
BTR: Let’s start in the beginning. What led you to start reviewing products as “@TheSurfingExpert”?
TSE: I started when I saw that there was platforms and Instagram accounts dedicated to surfboard reviews, but no one was really focusing on surf gear. In some places, a surfboard is basically all you need. In places like New York City where I live, it’s a different story. Here, not only will wearing the right wetsuit and equipment keep you safe, but it can also make the difference between a fun 2-hour session in the middle of winter in 40-degree water and the worst experience of your life. As I started connecting with more and more brands, I realized that the surf industry was way bigger than I expected. Most people only know the main players, but there are so many smaller and local companies that play a role too. @TheSurfingExpert has been my voice to help spread the word about the best and most innovative products I have found that some of us have never even heard of.
BTR: You grew up in France and moved to the USA. How did growing up in France shape your views on surfing in America?
TSE: Despite having great waves and surfing being very present along the coast in France, the surfing culture there is far behind the U.S. My view was shaped by what I would see and read in surf magazines. What I saw was almost exclusively the SoCal surf scene, and that’s what I looked up to. When I moved to NYC, I realized that the East Coast also had a strong surf culture of its own that’s nothing like California. I’m stoked to be able to share that through my posts and stories.
BTR:What brands and surf shops from France should people know about and why?
TSE: One brand worth mentioning is All In – The Sweet Transition. They make surf accessories such as changing towels and they just launched an innovative product made in France called the Salty Belt. It’s basically a waterproof pouch system to store your keys or phone safely while surfing. Pretty neat idea that I think is a need for surfers!
Another brand to check out is Wetty Surf. Few people have heard of them, they’re small, but they make the most comfortable surf booties I’ve worn to date. I’ve tested out a pair of 5mm and it felt like I was wearing socks!
Maracuja Surf Shop in Royan is the local shop where I purchased all my boards, wetsuits and clothes from growing up. It’s not the biggest store in size, but they carry all the good stuff. It has been opened since 1993 and is located right in front of a surf spot called Pontaillac. I used to go there almost everyday to get the surf report (back when Surfline wasn’t a thing) and just hang out. The owner Yannick Quivront is very knowledgeable, a good surfer, and his son Charly is a Volcom team rider battling on the QS for a qualification on the big tour!
BTR:What’s your affiliation with the website The Surfers View? How does The Surfers View differentiate from The Surfing Expert?
I’m just a contributor to the site. I’ve posted surfing gear guides and a bunch of product reviews. What’s great about it is that the content I create there doesn’t disappear the next day like it does on social media. It’s an excellent platform for me to target to an audience of core surfers. I’ve been doing it on a volunteer basis, meaning none of my posts are sponsored, which keeps them authentic.
The Surfers View is a site that has webcams all over the coast and at some of the best spots in South America too. The huge plus is that you don’t need a membership of any kind to view the cams or read my articles!
BTR: What are your top 5 favorite products you have tested?
There are so many good ones…
Kona Surf Company built me a custom surfboard earlier this year and the board feels like magic! During the making, I got to learn more about the family business they run in New Jersey and what goes behind the scenes as a surf shop and board builder in this day and age. You can order great boards online, but I’m grateful to be able to ride a board shaped and glassed locally, and that was made specifically for me working hand in hand with the shaper. It was such a great experience and through my posts I hope other East Coast surfers realize this is an option for them too next time they’re ordering a board.
Another great product I got to review recently was SurfEars 3.0. I can’t go in the water without wearing them now! They keep my ears protected, especially when the water gets cold and I recommend them to every surfer.
I have to mention the brand OddRock Surf that builds some of the most durable and good looking surfboard bags I’ve ever seen, all made here in the U.S. I met Dean, the owner, and even got to surf with him a couple of times. He rips! He’s working harder than ever to push his brand and the board bag I got to review was definitely a favorite.
I also reviewed the Slyde Handboards grom board and it reminded me of how much fun you can have bodysurfing in 2ft close outs. I’ve never had a bad time when I bring it to the beach. It’s good to not take surfing too seriously sometimes!
Last, I always try to push sustainable products as much as I can. I’ve tried the Bureo fins made out of recycled fishnets in collaboration with Futures as well as their “Untangled” Costa sunglasses. Every product Bureo makes is killer!