My Perfect Adventure
Many professional surfers devote their careers to nabbing big titles at major competitions, but Chris Malloy has other things on his mind. Instead of chasing medals, the Patagonia-sponsored surfer and filmmaker behind 180° South (2010) chases huge, previously unridden waves in some of the world’s most remote places, as well as incredible stories to document along the way.
Malloy, a 40-year-old California native who grew up on a ranch with his younger brothers Dan and Keith, also big-name surfers, has caught waves on all seven continents and achieved dozens of first descents through Polynesia, Indonesia, Antarctica, Europe, and South Africa. Along with his brothers, the artist-surfer co-op Woodshed Films, and his production company Farm League, Malloy has produced more than 20 films, including Thicker Than Water (2000) and A Brokedown Melody (2004), both award-winning collaborations with singer/songwriter Jack Johnson, a friend and fellow surfer; Shelter (2001); One Track Mind (2008); and Groundswell,” which premiered in late October.
Here, Malloy tells us about his former dream of rodeo stardom, how he entered the film industry, and why he always travels with a smile.
Describe your perfect day, from dawn 'til dusk. Where would you be, who would you meet, and what would you do?
Describing my perfect day pretty much guarantees it’ll never happen, right? I’m hexing it, but it would probably include being dropped off by a boat on the coast up in British Columbia, camping on the coast with just a couple of friends, fishing, hunting, and finding waves.
If you could travel somewhere you've never been, where would you go and why?
Siberia. From the homework I’ve done, I think it might have the best freshwater waves in the world. I’ve got a lot more research to do, but it’s got plenty of fetch to produce really good surf. (Fetch is the distance a wave travels; the longer it travels, the more it has a chance to build.) As the earth warms up, the ice melts and there are new wave possibilities popping up all over the place.
Where is the best place you've ever visited? What made it so special?
Antarctica was the best place I’ve ever visited. I went there to find surf, and the people made it special.
If you could have lunch with any adventurer, explorer, or athlete, who would it be and why?
Probably Ed Abbey, who thought for himself. He lived for the environment but he wasn’t a politically correct environmentalist type. He knew what he knew about the environment from being outside. If he was alive today, he’d probably say: “Hey, I know you’re learning about the environment from the jingle on the packaging of your $18 organic cashew milk carton, but when you’re done with that, let’s go get in the backcountry.”
What's something you can't travel without? And why do you need it?
At home, it’s an AR-7, a little collapsible .22 caliber rifle. I’ve been packing it around for a while now in my truck and I just feel naked without it. On the road, I travel with a knife. I go to my bags as soon as they come down the carousel at the airport, pull out my knife and put it in my pocket. I don’t carry it as a weapon, but a good knife has a million uses and it just seems strange not to have one on me.