Simply stated, he’s a charger, a stoked-out 17-year-old, a Pismo Beach native, and in our humble opinion a future champion.
While he just started surfing three years ago at the ripe old age of 14, Austin is already in the top five in points in the WSA in just his first year of competing. And he’s shaping his own boards.
If you couldn’t tell, we’re stoked on this kid and think he’s one to watch out for. So read on and find out…
Who is Austin Neumann?
A small town kid who grew up on [California’s] central coast who loves to be outdoors and is always looking for a new adventure, always having fun and surfing everyday.
Rumor has it you’ve only been surfing three years and you’re already top five in WSA points. I want some of what you’re juicing. How’d you get into surfing and what’s your secret?
I’ve been around surfing my whole life and both of my parents surf. I wasn’t interested in surfing until we moved to the beach. I have a passion for surfing, it’s all I think about and its all I want to do. My secret is to just surf and have fun everyday.
You recently took 3rd in the Volcom Gold Fish Series in Pismo on a board you built yourself. Tell me about the stick and how you got into shaping your own boards?
Well, my uncle just started shaping boards and asked me to join him in the process. I was able to shape half a board with him and a couple months later shape my own. It was super fun and I learned so much from it. I plan on shaping more boards because you can just let your mind run free and do whatever you want!
Best surf trip you’ve been on and your dream surf trip?
I haven’t been on many surf trips but one of my most memorable was down to Rincon. It was 5-8’ just perfect and me and two other friends were just frothing the whole time. My dream trip would be going to Bali Indonesia, I’ve always wanted to go there ever since I started surfing. Warm water and no wetsuit with perfect waves with hardly any guys out?
Heck yeah. What are your goals in competing?
My goals for competing are to just do as many contests as I possibly can and get as much experience as possible.
Most embarrassing moment in the water?
I was sitting in the line up on a super hot summer day and there was a long lull so I dove under and tried to swim to the bottom. When I came back up, I hit my head on the bottom of my board and everyone just started laughing at me. That was probably the most memorable embarrassing moment so far…
One of my proudest moments in surfing was at the WSA Golden West contest. I had never felt so relaxed in any contest and I ended up taking 3rd place.
Tell us about your job at Esteem Surf Shop?
My job at Esteem is amazing. I get to meet a bunch of reps from different company’s and learn more about the surf industry. I also get to be around surfing the whole time I work — I just love the Esteem Surf Shop vibe!!
What inspires you outside of surfing?
Staying healthy and active and just being an all around good person inspires me outside of surfing.
Why are you backing ZEAL?
I’m backing Zeal because I like the fact that they are environmentally friendly as well as being trendy for any generation and of course their product is insane.
What are your favorite shades?
The ZEAL ACEs are the best! They are super comfortable!
Three years from now I’ll be…
…surfing the ASP pro junior contests and traveling as much as possible surfing as many new places as I can. Looking for new adventures and still having fun enjoying surfing.
At ZEAL Optics, we’re dedicated to protecting your eyes with sunglasses and goggles that block the maximum amount of UV radiation because what you can see, can hurt you.
So get out there, and remember to wear our polarized eyewear for a long life of seeing the world differently. And clearly through our lenses!
At ZEAL Optics, we believe that a company is only as strong as its roots, and since his earliest days, Chris Burkard has been planting a deep foundation in the central-California coast and the lifestyle that this rugged, inspiring world embodies. Drawn to art and adventure at an early age, Chris bought his first camera at Goodwill and started focusing on documenting adventures that his home and passions prepared him for.
“Once I found photography and realized just how much passion I had for it, I never really turned back,” explains Burkard. “I devoted all my time into making it become a full time job.”
Chris Burkard carved out a niche in the hyper competitive photo game by photographing cold-water surfing and the amazing personalities and landscapes that come with this calling. Along the way, Chris has become a staff photographer at Surfer Magazine, won the Follow the Light grant, and won the 2010 Red Bull Illume Image Quest, setting him on a path that has allowed him to pursue the adventures that beckon him.
We recently sat down with Burkard to learn more about what goes on behind the lens…
How’d you get into photography?
I was born and raised in Arroyo Grande, CA right near Pismo Beach. Coming out of high school I was drawn to art but hadn’t found a way to express myself artistically. I bought a camera from Goodwill for $65 and didn’t have any luck with it. None of the pictures from my first roll turned out. Soon I bought another camera and became obsessed as I started developing rolls and having success with my images. I found that the camera was a creative outlet for me and I got hooked trying to learn as much as I could. I combined this with my passion for being in the water and started shooting surf images.
My inspirations in life really center around the landscapes and cultures that I am able to discover. I love being able to search for wild, remote destinations, and offbeat landscapes. My goal is to tell the story of the humble placement of the human in contrast to this nature.
What motivates and inspires you to do what you do?
At my core, and why I’m a surf photographer, is my love for the ocean. Growing up near the coast, the ocean has always held a place in my heart. Feeling the power of the ocean up close and personal is a unique feeling. That’s why I love bodysurfing and surfing. You are able to be a part of the ocean and experience its movement. Capturing images of the ocean is taking something I love to apart of and documenting it, hoping to express this wonder and excitement for others to enjoy. I’m motivated by my supporters whether it’s the companies I align myself with or the fans that reach out to me for inspiration. That’s one of my ultimate goals: to bring these remote destinations to life through my images and share them with people.
You’ve made a name for yourself by capturing some of the most remote waves on earth. What are your favorite places to travel? People to go with?
I’ve traveled repeatedly to Iceland and it’s the one spot that keeps drawing me back time and time again. I’ve been ten times and still anticipate going back for more. It’s the type of place where I’m almost overwhelmed with what to shoot because you are surrounded by endless beauty. It’s a place I’ve grown attached to because of its striking landscapes and cold water surf.
I enjoy traveling with people that are likeminded in their views on the world. I like to go to places with people that can handle adversity and respond well to situations out of their control in terms of cold weather, swell conditions, etc. Two guys that I’ve traveled with on multiple occasions and I look forward to exploring with every trip are Keith Malloy and Dane Gudauskas. These guys are always positive, even when hell is breaking loose. That’s a key quality to being a good traveler.
What accomplishments are you most proud of?
As far as my photography goes, I think winning the Follow the Light grant and the Red Bull Illume Image Quest were two huge moments in my career. The Follow the Light grant really kick-started my career giving me some recognition in the surf world. It paved the way for me to make a career out of my love for surf photography. The Red Bull Illume I won in 2010 made a similar impact but on a larger scale. It showcased my work alongside other amazing photographers on a more global scale and thus expanded my reach even further.
What are a few things that most people don’t know about you?
People always ask me where I’m from and are surprised to hear that Central California is my home and has been for my whole life. My entire family still lives here. I also don’t think many know that I’m an avid climber and practice yoga. I have years of experience climbing outdoors and it’s a long held hobby of mine. As far as yoga, I’m actually a certified yoga instructor and it’s a part of my daily workout.
What are you truly passionate about?
I’m always aiming to push myself to places unseen and bring back stories to share. I love visiting new, untouched places or culture that are foreign to me not just for surfing but backpacking and hiking too. I’m a father and husband so I’m passionate about my family and spending time with them.
Fatherhood is the best thing in the entire world; honesty, it’s such a game changer. It’s made me want to be home a lot more, and really only travel on the trips that are inspiring and motivate me to bring forth my best work. Long-term fatherhood has helped me want to create a lasting business, something that is going to be around for awhile. I am passionate about being invested in my loved ones and being a good father and husband.
What makes you unique?
I think my style is different and derives from my love for the cold. I’m continually drawn to these cold and harsh locations. I aim to experience these places like Iceland or Norway at their most extreme.
Shooting in those environments there is a completely different excitement and wonder that comes into play. Quite simply, not a lot of people dig the cold. They would prefer the comforts of a warm beach with a pretty sunset. I’m unique in that I find myself enjoying the snow, howling wind, and daunting surf. It’s at these moments when my senses and emotions are running highest.
Why are you down with Zeal?
Just as I like to align myself with like minded athletes on my surf trips I am drawn to the companies that share my views as well. I’m down with Zeal because they are pushing the limits of eco materials, designs, and functionality in sunglasses. Zeal carries that need for adventure that I embody in my work as well.
What are your favorite sunglasses and goggles and why?
My favorite sunnys are the Kennedy because they are flexible and light as air. I appreciate products that are stylish and functional, something that Zeal takes seriously. Zeal shades are strong, light, and feel good to wear for long hours in the sun. It also feels good wearing something that is eco-friendly and forward minded in their care with the materials they use.
Born in the USA and grown on the fertile plains of the nation’s cotton fields, ZEAL Optics works with Italy’s renowned Mazzucchelli family to turn this miracle plant into a unique, plant-based, biodegradable acetate that is then hand-crafted into MEMPHIS.
MEMPHIS harkens back to a bygone time, while telegraphing an era yet to come—a time of style, insight, and deep stories. Made from ZEAL Optics’ exclusive cotton-based M49 biodegradable material, the roots of MEMPHIS run deep, while its legend blooms on the surface.
“Taking its hints from the retro classics, MEMPHIS stands as a piece that transitions from suit and tie to an afternoon on the boat and is wearable by all,” says ZEAL Director of Marketing Joe Prebich. “Subtle eye shape with a flat bridge on the brow of the glass allows for a closer, more comfortable fit. Lightweight sculpted temples help to increase comfort as well, for a long-term wearable sunglass.”
The ZEAL Crafted Collection blends the ageless tradition of old world craftsmanship with new world innovation. Each and every piece is handcrafted, tapping into centuries-old techniques and steadfast values defined by the heritage of working with your hands, physically connecting the masterpiece to the person behind it.
You wouldn’t expect one of the world’s best rock climbers to hail from a spot on the map that’s as flat as the proverbial board, but perhaps that’s one of the strongest traits of a true explorer—seeking terrain, locations, and even ideas that are as different from what you know as conceivably possible.
Matt Segal fits the bill. Growing up in Miami, Florida he discovered rock climbing, or at least plastic-handhold climbing, in gyms in the late ‘90s. He quickly took to the sport, making a name for himself traveling the US and Europe on the indoor climbing circuit, before realizing that rock gyms were but a training tool and a poor excuse for the real thing.
We caught up with Matt, whose exploits have led him to numerous National Geographic a spot on The North Face’s global athlete team, to learn more about what inspires him, what’s on the horizon, and the mileposts along the way…
Give us a little insight on what inspires you.
I’ve always been inspired by this quote: “The arrival of chaos should be regarded as extremely good news.” - Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche
Epic. What are you into other than climbing? What motivates you?
Honestly, I really love simply being in the outdoors. Most recently I’ve been getting into skiing—so much fun! I obviously didn’t get the opportunity to ski much as a kid growing up in Miami.
I’m also really motivated to inspire other people to get outside and follow their passion—whatever it is! I feel really fortunate to have found climbing and am always psyched to share my love for the outdoors with others.
Amen! What are your favorite places to travel? People to climb with? Why?
Recently I’ve been spending a lot of time in Canada with my good friend Will Stanhope attempting to establish a new, difficult free climb but I also love spending time in Nepal, the culture and people are amazing.
What are some of your accomplishments that you’re most proud of?
I’m the most psyched on some of the routes I’ve established in Colorado and China, especially: Air China - 5.13+R in Liming China, The Iron Monkey - 5.14 in Eldorado Canyon, CO and Smart Went Crazy - 5.13+ R/X also in Eldorado Canyon, CO.
What are a few things that most people don’t know about you?
I’m from Miami Florida, the flattest place in the US. I also graduated from Naropa University with a degree in Comparative Religious Studies.
What’s next on the horizon as far as trips, goals, etc?
I’ll be heading back into the Bugaboos in BC, Canada for the third season in a row with hopes of establishing a new free line on the East Face of Snow Patch Spire.
Craziest moment you’ve ever had on the rock?
I would say my craziest moment was more off the rock then on. When I was in Crimea, Ukraine we linked up with a team of rope jumpers and did a 70-meter rope jump. That’s not that big for those guys but I was pretty scared to free fall 70 meters before the rope began to catch me.
Damn! What are you truly passionate about?
Why are you down with Zeal?
I’m down with Zeal because I really like the product and how rooted the whole company is in sustainability. It’s rare that you find a company that truly believes being environmentally friendly is a way life not just something you have to do.
What are your favorite sunglasses and goggles and why?
My favorite Zeal sunglasses are the ACE. They are perfect for wearing around town and are biodegradable made from US grown cotton! I think that’s the coolest innovation in sunglasses I’ve ever heard of!