Catching Up with Shea Lopez

11 03 2010
After spending more than a decade on tour, Florida's Shea Lopez is enjoying post-tour life. Photo:

After spending more than a decade on tour, Shea Lopez is enjoying post-tour life at home in Florida. Photos: Anthony Ghiglia

What are you up to these days?
Getting back to who I was before I got sucked into the Dream Tour; that is living in Florida, spending time with my family and surfing whenever and wherever the waves are good.

I noticed that you have become a pundit for Fantasy Surfer. Does that make you the ultimate surf geek? 
I was always the ultimate surf geek. Growing up on the west coast of Florida, I was an outsider looking in from the very beginning. Surfer and Surfing Magazine opened my dreams to a world of waves out there. My father allowed me to follow those dreams. Now with the experience I’ve gained over the years, I’ll be attempting to bring an insider’s perspective to everyone playing Fantasy Surfer. I guess you could say I’ve come full circle.

You realize team Nugable is going to crush you this year don’t you? 
After my indecision and second guessing of myself at the first event there’s a ton of people crushing me. I had Taj, Jordy, and Dane on my FS team, watched the first round and dropped Taj and Dane for Kelly and Mick.

You were on tour for more than a decade. What do you miss the most? 
Winning a hard heat. The preparation that goes into that 30-minute heat can sometimes be months.  I looked at every heat win on the WCT as a victory. On the opposite side of the spectrum would be the G-Land events. During my first few years on tour my time spent at the camp was by far the most memorable. It was there that I had the chance to surf the most perfect waves I’ve ever seen with most of my surfing heroes. Guys like Occy, Luke Egan, Tom Carroll, Wayne Lynch, Martin Potter, Gary Elkerton, Rob Bain, Rusty Keaulana and Derek Ho to name a few. G-Land was also one of the few WCT events my father travelled to.

What do you miss the least?
I got into contests so I could surf more and travel more. That plan worked marvelously until I made the WCT. Unfortunately you spend most of your time on the Dream Tour dreaming of your next uncrowded freesurf away from the circus.

There have been a several pairs of successful surfing brothers on tour. Is it an advantage to have a sibling on tour with you?
I would’ve made the WCT without my brother, but would’ve never pushed myself as hard once I was there if it wasn’t for him. He raised the bar for me every day.

Four man heat at Teahupoo. You and Cory against the Hobgood brothers. Who wins? 
Not that my memory is the best, but I remember beating Damien at macking Teahupoo and C.J. at macking Cloudbreak. And I don’t remember Cory losing to either of them as well. Gonna have to go with the Lopez brothers on this one.

I was watching the Magic and Larry Bird documentary on HBO the other day. It reminded me of Occy and Curren for some reason. They say Magic/Bird rivalry saved the NBA. There doesn’t seem to be any true rivalries in surfing these days. Everyone seems so friendly now. Is this hurting the ASP?
The ASP needs to spice things up and it isn’t just a rewording of the judging criteria or a couple kids that can throw the tail. Good contest surfing is great to watch…so is figure skating. Neither get a fraction the attention of NASCAR or NBA. Every race someone’s pushing someone into the wall in NASCAR and every night somebody is getting a technical in the NBA. The ASP needs to find the change. That will allow them to make the leap to providing entertainment to the masses. Bobby Martinez put the ASP’s issues so eloquently in an interview for ESPN recently and I agree with him 100 percent.

What do you think of all the changes the ASP has enacted this year? 
What changes?  They fired the head judge and put another in his place. They should have kept the same head judge but educated him to the subtleties of progressive surfing. If they really want a change, they need to hire someone of the caliber of the guys on tour to be the head judge. 

What surprised you the most about the first event at Snapper? 
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Also Jadson Andre. He is the most improved surfer I’ve seen.

It seems surfing has hit another gear in recent years. Progression has been slow if you compare it with the likes of skateboarding, but in the past five or so years guys are really surfing at another level I think. Does it amaze you how good the kids are these days? 
It doesn’t surprise me how good the kids are these days. Their surfboards are better, wetsuits are better and the freshest Dane Reynolds move is on the Internet the next day. They better be good. Now if more of them could do a proper carve to setup an air or tail flick I’d be impressed. Everything they are doing has been done at least a decade ago. Jordy and Dane aren’t kids anymore and their surfing is what the kids should be trying to emulate now.  Jason “Ratboy” Collins’ cover shot at Steamer Lane during an expression session a hundred years ago is still as good as anything out there today, and there’s plenty of other examples. 

You are of Cuban decent right?
Yes I am.

You took a trip to Cuba several years ago. What was it like and did you get any heat for that?
My trip to Cuba was sad. The people, the country, everything appeared frozen in time. Beginning with the cars from the ’50s still on the roads and going all the way to the military with machine guns on the beaches. We had guns drawn on us trying to surf a fun right point. We had people scared to rent us accommodation when they found out we were Americans. I would’ve loved to have grown up in a different reality. One where I could visit my grandparents on their homeland in Cuba and not a trailer park in Largo, Florida. Cuba was/is a beautiful country with amazing people that unfortunately had its government miss the boat. Fortunately for me my family, (we) caught a boat to the U.S.A. and have been here ever since.


Fantasy Surfer: Smiles Everyone…Smiles

5 11 2009
Fantasy Island Surfer

Joel "Mr. Roarke" Parkinson with sidekick Adriano "Tattoo" de Souza

Was there anyone cooler than Mr. Roarke? Of course Hemingway in his prime. In front of a typewriter…sipping wine. Writing about bullfighting. Maybe. Maybe Dali. Or Sinatra. Or Coltrane.

Mr. Roarke’s savory-smooth voice rolled its R’s like a powdered doughnut slowly spinning down a perfect ass. The back of the knee acting as a speed bump. Mr. Roarke made dreams come true on Fantasy Island. Anything your heart desires. Fleurdelis as the French say. Ricardo Montalban was a drug. Like ecstasy on your wedding day. He wore a white Tuxedo. The only straight men able to pull off the white tuxedo were Mr. Roarke and Sean Connery. If you’re wondering, Tattoo was gayer than a ship in a bottle.

…and then there’s Fantasy Surfer.

I’m not sure why I play Fantasy Surfer. I’ve never owned a set of 12-sided die. I’m not much of a video gamer. I got laid in high school. I have perfect vision in these blue water eyes. And if my vision did require glasses, I would opt for shades. The world is more bearable through polarized lenses. My favorite trilogy was Godfather not Star Wars, and I just became the last person on Earth to join Facebook.

The world can now blow up into a thousand atomic fireballs. We can now sit on lawn chairs and watch it all.

What is the reason for this update? Right now I sit at 182nd place (out of more than 17,000) in Fantasy Surfer. I am told that is pretty good. But I’m not sure. The guy who told me this wears glasses and rides a Firewire. I ride polyurethane. He quotes the Lord of the Rings. I quote Apocalypse Now. And Big Wednesday.—Nug