CRAIG SCHUMACHER / Team Rider, 55, Encinitas, California
1. When did you start surfing, and what got you into surf?
I began board surfing in earnest in 1967; before that I mostly body surfed or rode a canvas surf mat. My father was a waterman and wouldn’t allow me to board surf until I was proficient in the water on my own. I can recall body surfing in Mazatlan in 1965 with my Dad at night in total darkness. His reason was in teaching me to “feel” the ocean and learn to ride by feel versus by sight. He also said that “board” surfers were P%#y’s!
2. Everyone seems to have a favorite surf spot; what is yours and why?
My favorite local surf spot will remain anonymous. However, I would have to say my favorite surf spot would be Telescopes in the Mentawai’s.
3. You have been surfing for many years, what keeps you surfing?
It’s the simplicity and singularity that surfing brings. Sure it’s crowded, it’s always been crowded, however we all have those moments we can recall when it’s just ourselves or a few friends, and that’s what makes surfing so unique. Few people really understand what it means to be a part of something larger that yourself, to participate in something so much more powerful than yourself, and to do so honorably and with grace. I can recall a comment by Ernie Tanaka, “Surfing is the sport of kings and should be practiced as such”. One such moment I can recall was an afternoon that Steve and I surfed Rights and Lefts by ourselves - it was one of the best experiences in my life.
4.Your favorite part about surfing?
Surfing renews my spirit. I can leave my sh*t on the beach. Surfing requires you to be present in the moment, regardless of the conditions. If you’re not, you can pay some heavy dues. Baba Ram Dass said, “SURFING - either you do it like it’s a BIG WEIGHT on you, or you do it as part of the dance.” Surfing is church for me; I can leave my cares at the high tide mark, and I have the choice of picking them up later, or not.
5. So everyone talks about the “soul” of surfing; what is the soul in surfing mean to you?
“Soul Surfing” can mean a multitude of things; from no leash, to black wetsuits, to the pure stoke of riding waves. “Soul Surfing” to me represents the rhythm of the ocean. It can be as simple as body surfing, and experiencing the raw energy of swell, to teaching beginners about a lost etiquette and respect in the lineup. Waves and the sea demand our respect and attention. Surfing soulfully is mastering the art of being present in the moment and exhibiting grace under pressure. In my opinion, the greatest surfers are those whose wave riding complements the sea, versus thrashing wildly about.
6. How did you meet Steve and start riding his boards?
I first met Steve in 1976 through a mutual friend. Steve was on the Mainland buying some silk screen equipment in Orange County. He was living on the North Shore at the time. That began a friendship that has outlasted our first two wives and multiple churches, and way too many stories to share…
7. Favorite Walden board and why?
That’s a great story! It was called the “Popsicle.” It was a yellow to orange fade, like the big stick popsicles I used to eat as a kid. The board was so good I recall telling Steve, “this thing is MAGIC,” and the Magic Model was born…
8. Does anyone else in your family surf?
Yes. Cori Schumacher is a 2x Womens Longboard Champion, and Chelsea Schumacher is a Soul Surfer extraordinaire.