ZEAL Optics prides itself on being a family, and we recently had the chance to get the tribe together on ZEAL’s home turf for this year’s catalog shoot and see just how tightly knit this group truly is.
Nearly thirty ZEAL athletes and creatives descended on Boulder for three days of photo and video shoots, product training, exploration in the local hills and quality time to reconnect, share stories and craft ideas for trips and new adventures.
The week was capped by a road trip to a ranch outside Steamboat Springs for several more days of product and lifestyle shoots in ZEAL’s true habitat.
After an amazing week, the ZEAL creative team is hard at work, sifting through terabytes of photos and video, putting together next year’s catalog.
Stay tuned for a refined print and digital experience that will bring ZEAL Optics to life in an entirely new light!
Chris just locked in the 3rd place overall standing on the US SUP Tour thanks to his approach to the sport that includes a fast and aggressive style that boasts overhead punts. We caught up with Chris to learn more about how he’s evolving the sport, one air at a time.
Tell us a little bit about your background - where’d you grow up and who inspires your surfing?
I grew up in the frigid waters of Massachusetts and Maine; I am inspired by Kai Lenny, Zane Schweitzer, Noah Yap, Caio Vaz and Sean Pointer. I just placed third on the US SUP tour last week in California; I am stoked to go back to California for the 16-slot invite only JR pro in Huntington Beach, CA.
Hell yeah! What are you into other than SUP? What motivates you?
I love to dirt bike, wakesurf, skim and toss around a ball playing lacrosse.
What appeals to you about surfing and specifically SUP?
What appeals to me about surfing is how innovative the airs are getting, full rotation air reverses, back flips, and rodeo flip! What appeals to me about SUP is how you can throw sick airs and huge laybacks!
Well, at least you can! SUP gets a bad name amongst some surfers, but your style is very surf inspired. Tell us about your style and message to any haters?
To the haters: I will gladly have a word with you if you want to talk about me surfing with a paddle. If you can’t appreciate my airs, cutbacks and roundhouses on my standup then you need to reassess your life.
Love it! Huge congrats on claiming third this year. Tell us about that accomplishment and what the series is like.
The series is really growing and developing. The US SUP Tour is a very professional event and run by great people! I was stoked to make the finals and compete against the world’s best. It was a really fun final with the winds replicating average Florida conditions at 35 MPH.
What are a few things that most people don’t know about you?
I am dyslexic, I have a dog, I listen to country and drive a truck!
Giddy up! What’s next for you as far as goals, projects, etc?
Compete full time on the US SUP Tour as well as the Standup Paddle World Tour!
We’ll be rooting for you! Craziest moment you’ve ever had during a race?
Having my PFD deploy during my 12 mile race around Key West.
Sounds fun. Advice for other aspiring surfers:
Surf with a paddle, if somebody has a problem with you doing that, make them think twice about what they said.
What are you truly passionate about in life – where do you find the motivation to push yourself at this level?
I am truly passionate about all of my sponsors, traveling, family, and the people that support me. I can’t do anything without them.
Why are you down with Zeal?
ZEAL keeps me protected as I travel the world and throughout life, they are the most stoked to hear back from my contests and trips and ZEAL supports only the best!
Thanks! What are your favorite sunglasses and why?
Definitely the RIVIERA! They are the most comfortable most durable sunglasses out there and I love rocking mine across the globe!
On September 11, ZEAL Optics, Active Boulder, Skirt Sports, Access Fund and others joined WRV to remember the 13th-anniversary of 9/11 and the one-year anniversary of the Boulder Floods with a trail restoration project in the iconic climbing Mecca that is Eldorado Canyon.
The area sustained massive damage, including the decimation of its picnic areas, but thanks to a committed community, it’s making a rapid comeback.
Despite a less than cooperative Mother Nature, the day was amazing. The hard work and good vibes from the nearly 60 people that showed up on a wet, frigid day kept the engagement high. We were all soaked and freezing but didn’t hear a single person complain as we all pitched in to bring this vibrant community, and its unrivaled open spaces, back to a state we can all be proud to call our home and playground.
It was incredibly rewarding to be a part of the regeneration of such an iconic space as part of our brands founding principles of sustainability and social responsibility, and we can’t wait to go back there next spring and see the results of our efforts. This day really made us realize the level of dedication and altruism in our community. And just how much more work there is to be done in the aftermath of last year’s floods…
Thanks to everyone who turned out and we challenge each and everyone of you to ask yourself: what are you doing to change the world? How are you making your backyard a better place to play? How your inspiring others to the same?
Team Skirt Sports!
We finally got a break in the weather here in Chile. It’s been a great week! I spent three nights camping near Volcán Antuco. Nothing but ski, eat, sleep, repeat. Here are a few photos with captions from the trip.
The drive up the Laja Valley in Chile can be such a treat when the weather is nice. The Antuco volcano looms overhead.
Establishing a camp on the plateau below the peak allows for easier access and much better sunsets.
And sunrises. The Laguna Laja is below. So much good skiing to be done!
Skiing at steep couloir on the lower part of Sierra Velluda. Descending into an ascending storm.
The storm cleared and the night was calm. It was easy to look forward to the next day.
Being higher on the mountain means eliminating the approach. This is 3900 vertical feet of skiing. I put in tracks like this on three aspects of the Antuco that day. - Donny Roth
Sean Ensch is without a doubt one of the most inspiring photographers, and people we’ve come to know on our journey to Explore More. His journeys around the globe and the images he captures are so compelling, that they demand that you get off your ass and take life by the horns. We caught up with Sean to here more about his journey, process and mission.
I’m a landscape and adventure enthusiast photographer from the sunny beaches of San Clemente, California. However I’m currently residing in the fjordlands of western Norway after a wild and unexpected journey that led me to the north.
It began with an unending urge to get out of California for a while. The grind and the crowds of everyday life growing up in southern California wore me down and I needed to get out. So I quit my job of eight years, sold most of my belongings, packed up and headed out to do some searching with my girlfriend.
I’m an avid freediver, spearfisher, and general beach bum, so our first adventure took us to the eastern Caribbean for some warm, clear water and tropical paradise. Stopping off in Puerto Rico to explore old San Juan for a few days, we then landed on the strange, undeveloped island of Dominica. A less-traveled island in the eastern Caribbean, it’s rugged exterior of mountains, lush rain forests, endless rivers and waterfalls, and open nature drew me to the place.
We spent two months living on the island and exploring it’s nature before heading to the other side of the Caribbean—Roatan of the Bay Islands in Honduras. A pure tropical paradise of white sand beaches, cays, and one of the largest barrier reefs in the world. We spent the days diving, talking with locals, exploring the island, visiting the neighboring islands, and visited one of the local Eco parks. After Roatan, it was back to the States to do a great road trip. For two months we made our way from Southern California, up the coast to Oregon, to northern Washington, heading back south and across to Utah and Arizona to visit all the national parks along the way.
The next stop was Norway, where my girlfriend is originally from, for a big change in scenery and culture in the small towns that line the fjords and mountains. The massive and seemingly endless nature keeps my drive for photography and adventure fresh. Since living in Norway, I’ve also explored Iceland’s magic, Amsterdam, Turkey, and Ibiza, and I hope to continue my travels and adventures, sharing the magic with my images. One of my passions is sharing experiences to others with photos — I strive to tell a story of a location, person, or event through those images so that the world can see and hopefully feel it.
I’m very fortunate to have these continued opportunities of exploration in life and believe that getting out and leaving home for awhile in a completely different place is one of the best things you can do for yourself. It teaches you what is important to you and makes you view other people and cultures in a different way. It can be very exciting, very difficult, and humbling.
At the end of the day, I’m very passionate about storytelling through images, conservation of our oceans and nature, and exploring.