Maldives Surf & Photo Mission

April 23, 2014


By Richard Kotch

So Amy and I are back at Hudhuranfushi in the Maldives for another season as surf guides and photographers. It’s a good life! We really enjoy helping guests get a few waves and we like to encourage them to totally immerse themselves in a week or two of riding waves! It’s cool to see guests who maybe only surf a couple times a month, come out here and surf every day …The transformation can be remarkable! We do enjoy shooting photos and documenting our lives out here. I don’t see it as an ego thing. I see it as fun photo-art sharing and if it inspires others to explore, surf, travel and follow their heart, then great.

#Exploremore is so much more than a ZEAL Insta hashtag, it is an attitude and a way of life! I remember a day on our honeymoon in NZ, we had started off on a short mid morning walk before lunch but we quickly found our stride and decided to branch off and have a look over the next peak and then the next. The one-hour stroll became an eight hour hike over some of the most beautiful landscape I’ve ever seen. Exploremore, in the mountains and the ocean, you won’t regret it!

As a photographer I sometimes find myself obsessing over certain shots. These split screen, over/under shots of Amy duck diving are a good example. The ‘duckdive’ is a practical way to get under a breaking wave but it is also a thing of great beauty and finesse. Like so many things, if your technique is good, it appears effortless, and  when something appears effortless it looks beautiful. 

The 22nd of April is Earth day (learn more about ZEAL’s Earth Day promotion here). I feel that that every day should be earth day. A big part of our attraction to Zeal as a brand is the extremely high environmental awareness principals that Zeal up-holds. As an eyewear brand Zeal is a world leader in this regard so let’s hope for imitation in more than just sunglass styles!

Amy and I live and work in and around the ocean so we see the two sides of life in paradise. We see the pristine beaches that are cleaned every morning ready for another day of sun baking tourists, but we also see the plastic littering the beaches of the local islands and the thick, acrid smoke from the nightly garbage disposal fires. Recycling as a concept is great, but in an age when virtually everything that is sold is packaged in plastic the problem is far greater than just plastic bottles and shopping bags. I would like to see the companies that are producing and profiting from the plastic that ends up in the ocean, take responsibility for their product and instigate a massive clean up operation before it’s too late. Along side the clean up there needs to be an intense education program so that there’s not one person who thinks it’s ok to use the ocean as a garbage dump. I have spoken to some of the old boat captains here in the Maldives, some say that they remember a time before plastic. Back then food was wrapped in banana leaves and water was stored in valuable glass or copper vases. Of course it was fine to throw the used banana leaf into the ocean when you finished a meal, problem is that old habits die hard and nowadays it’s common to see the boat crews in the local harbor sweeping plastic wrappers from the floor of their boat straight into the harbor….and don’t get me started on cigarette butts. Why do people think it’s ok to throw their butts into the sea? Seriously?  We work in the hospitality industry where the guest is usually right, but if I see someone from our boat throw a butt in the ocean I get the captain to turn around and tell the guest to go and find thier butt. I like to think that they will think twice before nonchalantly dumping in the ocean again!  image


Anyway, back to the surf! This is one of my favorite shots of Amy. She really is a world-class tube rider. Most people assume this was shot in Indo but this was actually taken here at Lohis on a day that had a number of pro guys out. Amy paddled out and pulled into this one and got the best shot of the day, it ended up being run in a couple different magazines and I still think it’s one of the best barrel shots of a girl that I’ve seen.

Most surf magazine editors frown upon shots that have too much spray in front of the rider but I really like this one, I think it shows the speed and power Amy puts into her turns and really adds to the drama of the shot! 

Guests often ask us how they can improve their surfing so one thing I often recommend is to spend more time swimming in the ocean. It’s good idea to be confident swimming in the waves without the security of a board. Even if the waves are too bad to surf we will go swim and you always feel so alive afterwards. 

This is Amy taking off at HTs in the Mentawais.  At the end of our Maldives season we like to go to the Ments and spend time on our friends boat the Moon Palikir. The Mentawai Islands are a remote chain 150 kms off the Sumatran west coast in Indonesia and boast some of the most perfect waves in the world. It has become a modern day Mecca for surfers and even though we have been guiding all season in the Maldives we still really look forward to getting out there each year! 

When we finished our stint on the Moon Palikir we got the opportunity to manage Macaronis resort in the Mentawais. This luxury resort really is quite a remarkable achievement. Surf travel doesn’t get much more comfortable, yet you still feel like you are an intrepid surf explorer living miles from civilization. 


While at Macaronis resort, once a week, Amy and the girls would go to the local village of Silabu and teach English at the school. Guests would often tag along and often called it the most rewarding experience of their stay! image How long until these guys are pulling into perfect barrels at their local!? image

We are firm believers in taking a moment to appreciate where we are and what we have everyday. Sure I told Amy to sit still for this photo, but long after I’d packed up my gear she was still sitting there in awe of another Maldivian sunset. As I say, it’s a good life, a beautiful life. Lets hope that more and more companies embrace globally responsible business practices and follow Zeal’s lead towards a healthy, sustainable future.  



Earth Day #EveryDamnDay!

April 22, 2014


In honor of Earth Day, ZEAL Optics will plant a tree in its 5480 Forest for every pair of sunglasses sold on or in the brand’s Boulder showroom during the week of April 22-26.

But Earth Day is not just about today, or this week for that matter. It’s about incorporating its guiding principles into your life and living a lifestyle that decreases your footprint and increases your influence on others to do the same. In honor of this day, we caught up with our ambassadors to learn how they’re living this mantra every day:


"My approach to Earth Day is simple. I live and breathe nature. The ocean is my life. I will do anything to keep my ocean clean. It’s my everything!" - leilahurst


"If you could just keep little of the meaning of Earth Day in mind every day of the year, it would lead to huge changes. Even just using reusable water bottles versus buying single-use plastic bottles, or switching lights off when you don’t need them… changing habits slightly in our every day life goes a long way!" - jussioksanen


"April 22nd is technically Earth Day but I wish people would treat every day like it’s Earth day. With over 6 billion people and counting on this planet we need to protect it’s natural habitats even more for future generations to enjoy. Once they are gone there is no getting them back. Be reminded to be kind to the Earth on Earth Day but love and protect this great planet everyday!" - Brian Grubb


"Earth Day is a way for all of us to recognize the importance of keeping our surroundings clean and beautiful. Taking ownership in how we treat the Earth is something I try to celebrate everyday because I want the future generations to see what a special place we have. Each day I pick up trash, am conscious of my electricity/water use, and try to keep my surroundings cleaner than when I found them. Even the smallest efforts can make a huge impact down the road." - Kimmy Fasani


"I’m lucky enough to enjoy a career that essentially makes every single day an Earth Day. I get to play in hills, hiking, climbing, and skiing in the mountains enjoying the natural beauty and splendor earth has to offer. 

"So it’s incredible for me to see others join together on one day to appreciate and consider the preservation of this wild world I personally hold so dear." - matthewsegal


"Earth Day is likely to become noted as one of the most important days of the year and the human species continues it’s journey through time. It is no longer a question whether climate change is happening and how devastating it’s long term affects will be on our planet and our race. We need Earth Day to recognize that we need to continue to shift our living and consumption habits to ever more sustainable practices. I am optimistic. I believe people care. 

"Here are some things that I feel most people can leverage to create a more sustainable future and better life for themselves overall. If you are doing at least 2 of these 4 things, you are awesome. 

- Plant a garden. (fresh veggies, a new hobby, a fun new reason to get outside)

- Install Solar Power to provide energy to your home. (you’ll actually save money) If Solar doesn’t make sense in your area, unplug unnecessary appliances and lights, correctly use blinds and curtains to heat and cool your home, and wash laundry in cold water (and you’ll save like $10 month doing those few things). 

- Ride a bike to work. (Lower your gas bill, boost your fitness, and have your endorphins pumping before you have to sit down for several hours)

- Stop buying bottled water. (The worst.. you pay for water at home. Get a water bottle and fill it up. Stop paying for companies to burn millions of gallons of gas to ship a plastic bottle of that stuff you then pay a ridiculous premium for when it’s already pumped directly to your kitchen. That’s just stupid.)” - robaseltine


”’The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.’  - John Muir.  We live in an amazing place, surrounded by everything you would ever need to live a happy life.  So let’s take care of this fulfilled place we call home.  Enjoy nature, it’s the world’s classroom.” - Austen Sweetin


"For many of us, the natural world is what brings us the joys of adventure, family history, nutrients, sport and spirit, so it’s only fitting that we celebrate a day to honor this beautiful watery planet, and do our best to make the rest of the 364 days a journey of gratitude towards the blessings that surround." - Chris Del Moro


“Mother Earth sustains and provides for us everyday, in every aspect of our lives! From our food, water, and air to the resources that make up our material world—it all comes from our precious planet. Earth Day is a great reminder to remember, respect, and celebrate our Source, and always look for ways to better serve Her in our daily lives.” - Liz Clark


The most consistent element in our lives will always be our environment.” - John Dickey


"The more I travel, the more I realize I have a responsibility to protect these wild places—not just for me but for future generations. Opportunities for us to celebrate together what this amazing planet has provided for us is more than just holiday—it’s a way of life. There is no greater education than what you can learn in the outdoors. Earth Day is about giving back to a planet that has given me so much!” - chrisburkard


"Whether you participate in Earth Day activities or not is irrelevant. What is important is living your daily life in correspondence with the ideals that Earth Day promotes. I have tried to incorporate practices into my daily life that help promote and protect our very fragile earth. Recycling and composting are easy ways to start going down a conscious path. Personally I have  chose to not use any paper towels in our kitchen-it is hard at first but once you get used to using only rags, it becomes easy and you can see there is really no need for paper towels. Also during the warm summer months I try as hard as possible to only use my bicycle, obviously this does not work all of the time, but I try as much as possible to keep my truck parked. Please do what you can to help protect and nurture our extremely fragile planet." - Whit Boucher 


"Earth Day is something special. It’s a day that I believe really transcends boundaries and gets the human race to try a little harder to be environmentally conscious, which sometimes leads to the realization that it’s much easier then they let on to believe. It’s a day we could certainly use more of. 

"I spend countless hours in the outdoors and my career revolves around time spent in the wilderness. These areas are directly a"ffected by climate change and need the attention of the human race to make sure they don’t wither away. 

Recycling, carpooling, and generally not being a crappy human being are just a few ways I incorporate the Earth day concepts into my everyday life. Also doing my absolute best to use products that have a minimum impact on the environment, between less harmful cleaning products (detergents, dish soaps) or even supporting sustainable companies that produce products that don’t impact the environment, i.e. ZEAL optics. It’s very simple to do your part, it’s just a matter of getting off your couch and pulling the trigger on a different lifestyle.” - Banks Gilberti


"To me the importance of Earth Day needs to be carried out everyday, not just once a year. The next generation of wakeboarders, skaters, snowboarders, and people passionate about any other sport all need one thing in common: a healthy environment to live in. Keeping the earth clean ensures that the next generation of athletes and people alike will have the same if not hopefully better opportunities than we have." - Mike Dowdy


Turn Your New Sunglasses Into Trees This Earth Day: ZEAL Optics Grows Its 5480 Forest With Every Purchase This Week

April 21, 2014

In honor of Earth Day, ZEAL Optics will plant a tree in its 5480 Forest for every pair of sunglasses sold on or in the brand’s Boulder showroom during the week of April 22-26.

“At ZEAL Optics, we’re constantly looking for ways to decrease our footprint and increase our commitment to being the most sustainable sunglass company in the world,” said ZEAL President John Sanchez. “Whether it’s using biodegradable materials in our frames, eliminating petroleum-based resins from our entire sunglass line, or expanding our rapidly growing 5480 Forest, we don’t think it’s cliché to say that Earth Day is everyday at ZEAL.”

The 5480 Forest project was launched in June of 2013 with a partnership with American Forests and ZEAL’s commitment to plant 5,480 trees each year as part of its Grounded Initiative.

“We are excited to grow this project,” continued Sanchez about the ZEAL 5480 Forest, whose name comes from the elevation of ZEAL’s offices. “We believe in doing our part so that the forests we put images of in our ads, catalogs and marketing materials are around for generations to come.  Someday I want to walk our customers, friends and my family through these forests.”

The idea came about after seeing the devastation that pine beetles have wrought across ZEAL’s home state of Colorado. Over the last decade-plus, the beetles, which were historically dormant in the winter months due to cold temperatures, have remained active year-round and are decimating the Rocky Mountains’ lodgepole pine forests, completely altering the range’s ecosystem and exposing the area to severe fire risk due to the massive expanses of standing dead trees. The beetles are estimated to have killed more than 70% of Colorado’s 1.5 million acres of lodgepole forests and are expected to finish their work, leaving an area the size of Rhode Island barren in their wake.

ZEAL harvests and repurposes the dead trees to mitigate fire risk by using beetle kill wood in its packaging, optics fixtures, and office space and decided to take things to the next level with Project 5480 and this year’s Earth Day campaign.

“All of our sunglasses are literally grown from plants, and we’re excited to continue to close that loop by planting saplings from those seeds of change,” adds Sanchez.

To do your part this Earth Day week, purchase any sunglasses on or at the brand’s showroom at 1230 Spruce St. in Boulder, Colorado and ZEAL will plant a tree in your name in Colorado’s 5480 Forest.



Ken Lucas recently returned from a trip to Ja-pow and was nice enough to send us these photos. No, we’re not jealous at all. Looks like just another day…at least that’s what we’re telling ourselves…
April 18, 2014
 Zeal Optics recently partnered up with athletes and creatives Chris Burkard, Pete Devries, and Josh Mulcoy, to host a fundraiser dedicated to ocean pollution awareness and in support of the 5 Gyres Institute. The 5-Gyres Institute is focused on reducing the consumption and production of plastic waste, and encouraging people to choose cost-effective alternatives to plastic, which they believe “will go a long way in protecting our seas— and ultimately ourselves.”
April 17, 2014

Future Shock: THE Spot In Frisco

April 16, 2014


Joe Suta kicking off Tuesday night Skate Night

It takes a lot to stand out in the crowded land that is today’s retail landscape, what some would call a wasteland of sameness – a land where hundreds of shops peddle the same brands, with the same message, competing solely on price in a time when discounts from retailers with little to no overhead are just a click away on ubiquitous smartphones.

But in the high country of Colorado’s Summit County a new business is not only standing out, but destroying by branding out.

imageA short detour off I-70’s Exit 203 brings you to the rolling garage door of Future Shock. Littered with wood-and-metal ramps, ledges, and boxes, the entrance yawns into a ramp lined showroom, featuring some of the most select boutique skate and snow brands available anywhere - including Templeton and Fillmore , and the shop’s mainstay – Nightmare Development snowboards.

Owned and operated by Nightmare Founder Joe Suta, Future Shock is more than just a boutique skate and snow emporium, snowboard showroom, skatepark, and epicenter of a crew and scene, as if that weren’t enough, so much more in fact. 

Continuing back through the insanely well merchandised and designed space, you find yourself in an office space that serves as mission control for this custom-focused collective. With video editing stations, stacks of DSLR cameras, and large format printers, this is the hub for the Nightmare team’s digital media masterminds as well as a station for customers to design, edit and print their own custom skate and snow graphics. image


Continuing further into the recesses of 616 Recreation Way you find yourself in yet another world – the home of Hubble Outerwear, the brainchild of  physics major and snowboard master Darren Schaeffer, who hand tailors custom outerwear on site.


Schaeffer with Hubble’s Future Shock team jacket

Throw in a custom motorcycle shop and a bicycle building bay and you’ve got a modern day fun factory a stone throw from some of the best slopes and parks in Colorado, not to mention some amazing skateparks and blue highways for hitting the road and accessing the West on your new chopper.


This madness-fueled model’s method has lured in partners including snowboard legends Trent Bush and Paul McGinty and a team of up-and-coming riders that are owning the Summit County scene and beyond.

image The Nightmare team.

Join us for a quick tour of the shop and be sure and swing by and say what’s up next time you’re in Summit County!



















Photogasm: #PPChasingLight Contest Winners Announced

April 15, 2014

Last week we teamed up with our friends at Passion Passport for an amazing Instagram contest called #PPChasingLight. A nod to one of Instagram’s most popular hashtags, chasinglight, the contest saw more than 550 people submit their most inspirational images of mind and light-bending shots for a chance to win ZEAL Optics and #SeeLifeDifferently.

Here’s a quick look at the contest’s three winners and nine honorable mentions and the write ups that captured ZEAL’s and passionpassport's imaginations.


@LoveAmyLee - Chasing the sunset and found myself where the road ends and hardened lava fields begins. Just over the the hill you’ll find Pele’s, the volcano goddess, molten lava trail colliding with the Pacific Ocean. A beautiful dance of waves crashing and lava steaming creating new earth.

@TheRealSpencerCallahan -   I took this picture last fall while I was home recovering from a concussion. My passion in life is traveling, but I was in a surf accident earlier in the summer that put a lot of my travel plans on the proverbial back burner. While I was home, I was able to really explore my hometown, which I hadn’t seen much of in the previous ten years. Photography is one of the things that helped me recover from my head injury, and it also rekindled the love affair I had with Mobile Bay as a child. This iPhone picture taken with #vsco is an unedited shot that highlights the beauty of the bay and couldn’t possibly be more appropriate for a contest theme of “Chasing Light”, as I was clearly chasing the last few drops of sun as it set in the west over the water.@NotWithoutMyPassport- "We can only appreciate the miracle of a sunrise if we have waited in the darkness." ~Anonymous I was unexpectedly brought to BC under a dark cloud to confront and make peace with a loss that re-opened painful family wounds… but I left feeling soothed. Thank you, Tofino, for the healing light of these sunrises. During my week there, I woke up at the crack of dawn every morning to bathe in them, often on an isolated beach, where I found solitude. Sometimes nature is all we need.


@ciesla504 - Life’s An Adventure … Make It An Adventure To Remember! Seek out your own adventure. Keep going until you find it, your bliss, your light!

@princessleah19Metis will always hold a special place in my heart. One of my favourite parts about visiting in the summer is spending time with my family and watching the sun slowly set over the water #ppchasinglight

@redavis23 - Stopped on the slopes in Whistler, Canada by chance and was lucky enough to catch this view. Was worth taking my hand out of my glove into the freezing cold temperatures outside to capture this. Looks like paradise to me. The best way to end a brilliant day of skiing.

@pshurst#tbt to my trip to the San Juan Islands. Such a great place for an adventure. I’ve never seen such amazing sunsets. Made up for the fact I didn’t see any orcas.


@trisataroUsually when the sun is in your face you put on your shades, but when the it reflects off a view this amazing you can’t help but take them off {#Greecethrowback pt. 1}

@purplecowphoto - “10:00am Downtown Newark, NJ - It was one of those mornings where the sky is as crisp as some new dollar bills and the cold was penetrating your skin. Walked around this corner and the sun had just risen, flooding the street of this old city with warm golden rays.”



Chris Del Moro’s Bella Vita

April 14, 2014

imageWhen we began putting together the ZEAL Surf dream team, we looked at surfers that brought a few things to the table—an international background, a passion for exploration, a focus on sustainability and the health of the ocean, and a unique style both on and off the waves. At the top of our short list was one name: Chris Del Moro.

We’re incredibly stoked to announce that Chris is bringing his powerful surf style, passion for travel and dedication to saving the world’s oceans to the ZEAL family. We caught up with Del Moro to learn more about what makes him take and why he’s down with ZEAL Optics.

Background - where’d you grow up, inspirations in life, in the water, career highlights, etc. 

I was raised between Florence Italy and Los Angeles, California. From a young age, my family had me in the Med and Pacific. I have always been heavily attracted to playing in nature i.e surfing, hiking, skating, snowboarding and traveling. I’ve been blessed to have great family who supported my surfing habit, that helped my habit turn into a job that allows me to do what I love—travel, work for the environment and explore my deep love of surfing and the planet we live on. imageWhat are you into other than surfing? What motivates you?

I’m an artist who draws inspiration from my travels. It’s the way I document my journeys and express myself best. I also love to practice yoga, which is essential to keeping my mind and body in alignment for surfing and life. I have always been attracted to the great outdoors and do my best to keep my routine fresh and exciting. I enjoy gardening, skating, hiking, snowboarding, mountain biking, reggae music, writing and spending quality time with family and friends.


How’d you get into surfing and what is it about the sport that continues to get you excited?

My cousins taught me the basics, then they quit and found ice hockey. My passion was like wildfire—the connection to the sea has shaped my world, my friends, and general direction since I was born. I’m inspired by progressing my surfing with more power and flow, while simultaneously studying our rich surfing history. I’m eternally looking for barrels and small crowds and beautiful locations to test new equipment and myself. imageWhat are your favorite places to surf? People to travel with? Why?

I love surfing Northern California and it’s large/wild scale. I also love the east coast of Australia and its magic sands. The three people that I enjoy surfing most with are my little sister because of her fresh eyes, my best friend Oli because of our lifelong sea connections, and with Dave Rastovich because of the unique lines he draws. imageWhat are some of your accomplishments that you’re most proud of?

Helping to run the Surfers For Cetaceans group and standing up towards the injustices our sea kin face around the globe. I hope through the noise and energy we put into spreading awareness we have educated and helped grow a unified voice taking a stand against captive dolphin/whale trade as well as mass slaughters that continue around the globe.

On the surfing front I am proud to have been featured in wonderful film projects such as “The Present”, “Sliding Liberia”, “The Heart and The Sea”, and most recently a film I helped create alongside Jason Baffa entitled “Bella Vita”.

image What are a few things that most people don’t know about you?

I love basketball and am a huge fan of the Los Angeles Clippers. My first language was Italian. I’m a life long vegetarian born into a family of meat eaters.


What’s next for you as far as trips, goals, etc?

Heading to Australia for a few months, then Indo for deep island explorations and hoping for some national parks state side in the summer.

Craziest moment you’ve ever had in the water?

Having a 20-foot plus shark circling and bumping my sail kayak in the middle of the sea. The power and intensity of that moment was unforgettable, scary, and beautiful.

Why are you down with Zeal?

I’m down with Zeal, because I believe that the brand philosophy is of greater good for the planet and the family that support the brand. I love the fact that the team is thinking outside of the box, making not only stylish shades but doing it with the an earth conscious approach and they are made in Italy!

What are your favorite sunglasses and why?

The ACE, not only are they biodegradable but they are a classic frame made in Italy :)

Josh Mulcoy may be best known for his surfing, but dude slays it on any board you put under his feet. From snowboarding to wake surfing to his other gig as a pro kiteboarder, we’re humbled by his sideways finesse, balance, and style.
April 13, 2014
Spring skiing and riding is here, and it’s one of the best times of year for riding with friends, filming, and enjoying two of our favorite things - sun and snow!  Outside Explorer's tierzascaccia is logging footy in her #HDCameraGoggles - get yours today!
April 12, 2014