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What's up? with Ryley Haskell

by Tropicsurf Blog October 21, 2019


Tropicsurf Guide, Ryley Haskell, wakes up excited every day. He tells us why. 

Tell us a bit about yourself. 

I was born in a small coastal town in northern California, about one hour south of the Oregon border, called Trinidad. It’s a beautiful area, big redwood trees, and lots of space for outdoor activities. Growing up there made learning to surf a bit challenging, as we have a very exposed coastline and the water is freezing - 5/4 wetsuit, hood, and booties -  year round. I was definitely more interested in playing soccer than surfing as a young kid. However, I was lucky enough to be born into a surfing family that really fueled and pushed my love for traveling and surfing.

When I was 13 we moved to Costa Rica and I spent a few years there, going to school, becoming fluent in Spanish. Then my father and a few friends opened up a surf camp/charter boat in Northern Sumatra and we continued to travel, before I returned to California to finish school and start university. Upon finishing school, I was lucky enough to be presented with an opportunity to work for Tropicsurf, and for the last four years, have been traveling to some of the most incredible places on earth to share my passion for surfing with clients. 

 Why do you surf? 

I surf for many reasons, but mostly because it allows me to feel healthy, fulfilled, and wake up every day excited. I enjoy surfing because it is a continual learning process; there’s always something new to learn or try, and I find that keeps me constantly excited and motivated. There’s nothing like the feeling of being completely surfed out, or waking at 5am for a dawn patrol session.

What attracted you to work as a surf guide and coach with Tropicsurf? 

I met a couple of Tropicsurf guides (Adi Wilson and Gavin Potter) while on an extended vacation in Nicaragua. I was impressed with their ability to break down surfing into such a comprehensible form, teachable at all levels, and I was obviously enthralled with the opportunity to work and travel at the same time. 

Favourite part of your job?

That would definitely be guiding on the Tropicsurf boat charters. I love being on the water for a week or ten days at a time, it’s a really amazing way to explore more remote areas and find uncrowded waves. I find the boat trips to be very rewarding as a coach, as throughout the trips we have so much time in the water and on the boat with guests that we really get to see them improving, comprehending, and implementing the skills and techniques we teach.

Hardest part of your job?

The hardest part of the job is being away from family and friends for long periods of time. I don’t necessarily miss the cold of Northern California all that much…. but definitely spending time with family. 

Funniest moment on the job? 

That's a tough one to pinpoint.. always lots of laughs. I’d have to say that whenever I get the chance to catch up, or work alongside other Tropicsurf guides, those tend to be the funniest moments on the job. It’s an awesome crew of people who work for Tropicsurf, and I’m extremely grateful to have the opportunity to laugh and work alongside them. 

Weirdest place you’ve ever been (on the job)?

During a Tropicsurf boat charter in the Mentawai Islands, we went for a local village tour. The deckhand of the boat told us he had found a path he thought led to a village deep upriver. Myself, Adi, the deckhand, captain, and all the guests loaded into the tenders and headed upriver about an hour. At some points we had to get out and push the boats as the river was so shallow.

It was quite an adventure and it felt like we were going to the most remote place on earth. About an hour into the trip we came upon two Indonesian women in dug-out canoes, who pointed out the jungle path that would lead us up to the village. We hiked about an hour inland through the jungle, and right as we arrived to the end of the trail we could hear music in the distance that sounded like it was coming from a nightclub. As we turned the corner we find this “village” is actually a decent-sized town with trucks, motorcycles, electricity, TVs and house music pumping out of the speakers. It was the last thing any of us expected to see.

Best surf break or wave of your life?  

In April 2017 I was working in Fiji and saw there was a big swell headed for Cloudbreak. I flew down for the weekend and surfed possibly some of the best waves I’ll ever surf. The first day of the swell was 6-10 foot faces, no wind, and light crowds. Lots of incredible waves that day, and a few memorable barrels. The second day was the peak of the swell, easily 12-15 foot faces on the sets, perfect offshore wind, and only 12 of us out. It was an incredible experience, slightly terrifying, and not easy, but the most rewarding feeling in the world is when you get a good wave.

What do you enjoy most about teaching and coaching?

Surfing is a really incredible sport, and it has provided me with so much in life. It’s an amazing thing to be able to share that passion with someone else. I think the thing I enjoy most about teaching and coaching is when a client gets that one wave where it all “clicks”, and us as coaches can tell they will be hooked forever.

What do you like about traveling?

I like so many different things about it, but mostly experiencing new cultures and ways of life. I enjoy learning new languages, or at least trying, and just seeing how other people live their day to day lives. Traveling can be a very humbling experience and I think it always reminds me to be extremely grateful for the opportunities I’ve been presented with. 

Share your philosophies about work.

My parents were both 21 when I was born, came from humble beginnings, and had to work very hard to support me and my siblings. I was taught throughout my childhood that if you want something, you are going to have to work hard for it, and do it with a smile. I believe my upbringing has shaped my philosophies about work and my work ethic. I started working when I was around 14 as a dishwasher, and in a surf shop, in order to save up for a car and gas money to go surfing. Not exactly the most glamorous jobs, but they taught me about work ethic and shaped my work philosophies.

What do you think are the emotional benefits of working in a career that you genuinely love?

The biggest benefit, I believe, is waking up excited. I think your mindset you start your day with each morning sets the tone for your day, and what's to come. Working in a career I love has allowed me to wake up looking forward to the day and the opportunities ahead, as well as put my best foot forward when a challenge arises. I also think that when you work in a career you enjoy, it allows you to invest 100 percent of your effort into your position, making sure you’re doing the best work possible, and feeling proud for doing so.

What’s on your bucket list?

Hands down, number one is to go surf skeleton bay in Namibia. 


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