By Brian Terhorst
Gerlach is one of the leading members of a New School of 40-something surfers who are proving they are still viable and Important to the sport of Surfing. He is all about the love of the sport. He is happiest when he is giving back. Could be teaching an up and coming grom how to compete or it could be passing off a six pack of Primo to one of his shaper/glasser buddies. It’s all good. It’s all about the love
RIS: So tell me about the Bruddah Tour. How did you get tied in with the Primo Team?
BG: Shane Dorian is an old friend. Keoni Watson too. I’ve known these guys for…two decades? They called me & asked if I was down to help. I know these guys, they’re all good guys. The surfing world is pretty tight. You can find out pretty easy if someone is legit or not. The guys at Pabst are pretty cool. They trust us to do a job & we trust in the beer. I feel pretty lucky to have been in on the process of developing the new Primo. I tasted some of the early versions in the beginning. I think there were, like, six versions? We just kept working the recipe till we came up with this. It’s light, crisp, almost like a japanese beer. The food of Hawaii is definitely asian inspired. Seafood, Poki, raw fish. I like sushi & beer. Actually sushi is the only food I can handle with beer. I think all the sushi bars down in SD should carry Primo. Yeah, beer drinking is almost like a sport over in Hawaii. When you’re at a luau, you basically drink for hours. A crisp, clean, lighter beer comes in handy in that situation. So back to Primo. This is just the right thing to do. It’s a great brand. Bring back a great brand with a great taste. Support the right things, Buffalos Big Board Classic In Makaha, Sacred Craft Show in Ventura coming up. We get to pick the cool things to support, cool musicians….we get to go surfing…..drink beer & eat food…laugh
RIS: Tell Me about the Glass Tour
BG: I loaded up a bunch of beer and just set out to visit every surfboard glass shop from San Diego to San Francisco. I would just show up with a sixer and sit with these guys for awhile. We’d relive fond memories of past days in Hawaii when Primo was the beer you drank when you were short on cash. We all kinda remember that it wasn’t that good back then. Board building and beer drinking has always gone hand in hand. These guys seem to be the last on the list to get any perks or handouts or even thanks for that matter. I visited Diamond, T&T in I.B. Chanin, Ding King, Chemistry, Christiansen & Moonlight. Tried to hit em all. We spent two days in San Diego. After that we went up the coast to San Clemente, Costa Mesa, Huntington, South Bay. I dont know..we did so many of them. Santa Cruz, Half moon bay. You get a real sense of the industry talking to these guys. The economy really affects them. People stop buying new boards. So some free beer was really appreciated.
RIS: Having traveled so much you must come in contact with a variety of issues concerning the condition of our oceans. Care to sound off on any one topic in particular?
BG: For me I think the biggest issue is plastics. That’s what I see. Especially in the emerging or third world countries. They don’t know what to do with the plastic and it’s just everywhere. They don’t have their trash organized. The United States is a wealthier country. We should have our trash organized. It’s better now than it’s been in the past. I personally go to the water store & fill up these three gallon containers. Then I have these smaller two litre bottles that I fill up and take with me. The amount of plastic that I have stopped using is just amazing. I think getting a handle on the plastic is the big story. Companies like Patagonia that make shorts out of plastic bottles are ahead of the game.
RIS: What are you most passionate about these days?
BG: I would say….learning How to surf better. I’ve been studying Aikido. I think i have figured out how to do all the most critical maneuvers in surfing. Even the one’s that the guys are doing, ya know, aerial stuff? Even though I don’t do them I can figure out what they’re doing and I’m funneling that into an advanced book and video instructional series. It’ll be out, hopefully, by fall. That’s my goal. I’m also learning to play guitar better.
RIS: What is your greatest accomplishment?
BG: Inventing ‘The Game’ Format. I have my own organization called the National Surf League. We produce events using the format ‘The Game’. A format of one team against another, We’re in the middle of our fourth year. All my judges, commentators, organizers involved in the company are the best surfers around. Pro surfers, former professional surfers. We use the format and provide kids with platform to shine. Hopefully eventually leading to scholarships and helping these kids with careers, sponsors and exposure. Our goal is to help kids stay in school. We also want to provide an exposure platform for the college surfer. There is no exposure for the college surfer. None. Once you decide to go to college, you’re off the grid for those crucial four years. When you come back to the sport after college at age 22 or whatever it’s just too hard to pick up a sponsor at all no matter what. You don’t have a name or momentum. Unless you got a name by the time you leave high school you’re done. And that’s bullshit cause a lot of guys don’t even mature as a surfer till their junior or senior year… or even first year of college. So that’s next year…bringing in the collegiate competitions. It gonna benefit so many people…& I enjoy helping people, that’s where my heart is. That’s my greatest accomplishment
RIS: What’s one thing that you would change if you could change anything?
BG: One of the things that really hurts is that pro surfing is so dog eat dog, so me me me, so narcissistic, that as I matured & got older it really just kinda turned me off of surfing. But I was bummed about that because I love surfing. I see other sports like the NFL with all the past champions, players and such. You see ‘em on every sunday participating as commentators & coaches. Real advocates for the sport. It’s because they are so passionate about the sport they don’t want to give it up. And yet there are plenty of pro surfers that used to be on tour, but where are they? They’re not there. There not passionate about it. It’s a hard thing to follow. So I’ve tried to simplify it so everyone can come together. Anyway, kinda a long answer. Go to www.nationalsurfleague.com I have a blog there. You can see what we’re doing with it. It’s really a positive, competitive atmosphere.