Raised among the towering redwoods and crisp, clean coastal air, Central California’s Nate Tyler was always a different breed of surfer from his citified cohorts to the south. Earthy, artistic and wildly talented, he’s one of the few these days to stray from the comp jersey and forge his career through freesurfing and starring in parts for brilliant movies like “Strange Rumblings in Shangri La” and “Psychic Migrations.” It only made sense that he was drawn to the brand and we were drawn to him. Now a part of our humble team, we caught up with Nate to pick his brain and, also, to know what it’s like to dwell in a yurt…
So Nate, you live in Central California, right? For you, which specific boards work well in those kinds of waves?
I just recently started working with Haydenshapes so I have yet to work my way through his whole catalogue of models, but right now, I’ve been really drawn to his “Untitled” model. It’s a brand new model that seems to really fit my style of surfing and the waves of California. Specifically, the board goes super fast and paddles really well. It also has a lot of stability under your front foot while you’re gaining speed and transitioning from rail to rail but then when you step on the tail it really reacts how you want it to. Really good board for average California waves.
Nice. And what's that like, growing up in Central Cal, pretty empty lineups? Can you compare it to anywhere else you've been in the world?
Growing up in central California is kinda tough. It can really be plagued by all the [weather] elements so it’s really hard to get motivated when you are a kid, super cold and windy. But like most places though, the coast has really fun days and certain seasons that make it the best place ever. Overall I would just say it’s home to me so I become partial [laughs]. It compares to New Zealand but the wave quality is honestly nowhere near that! Similar climates, though.
Also, don't you live in a yurt? Tell me about that.
Yeah we’ve lived in a yurt for years now! So for almost six years we’ve lived in a glorified tent. We’ve since restored a small house that is on the family property, on the same chunk of land where the yurt is on. It was a house that my mom and dad originally built that had been worn down. We got the chance to restore that place which has been great, but we still stay in the yurt all the time though. It is the coolest space ever.
I bet! So, what’s the first HS model you rode that got you psyched on Hayden’s boards? What was the scenario and where?
I was on a trip to Australia and I was getting pretty bad waves and for some reason I was breaking all of my surfboards. I think I had brought five boards and broke them all. Luckily, After that trip I went home and started talking with Hayden and we kept in contact a little over the course of a year and a half and now I'm so excited to be working exclusively with him!
What are you into outside of surfing?
I really enjoy working on art projects and am also constantly restoring our home. I recently built a really nice shop that I can work with metal and wood in. The space is a pretty creative space that is out in the woods and hidden under large oak trees. It is a really large shop that has all of my welders and metal working tools on one side then the other is dedicated to woodworking. So with those two mediums I can almost tackle any project, which is really empowering.
Wow, that’s amazing! And you’re not a comp guy but seem to make a living in a pretty interesting and fun way, what with traveling for Joe G films and Volcom movies. What’s some advice to kids trying to make it work or follow in your footsteps as a pro surfer?
Oh man, I still don't feel like I amount to much in the big surf world but I'm so happy that I’ve gotten the opportunities that I have. I just really enjoy working on movie projects and trying to better myself in that field. The best advice I could ever give is to just jump on any and every opportunity you get that you believe in. If someone gives you a chance in the world that you want to be in: Put your head down and try your hardest.
Rad. What else initially drew you to the HS brand and what do you dig about the team?
I’ve been drawn to HS because of his shaping skills and his small team. There is not another shaper in the world that is anywhere near his level that has that small of a team that all get to work together like family. I have had a great relationship with Hayden and Craig and Creed and all of the team so it just really made sense. I also really appreciate just getting to work with Hayden on the level that I do. I think that we will have a great relationship because I am a crazy perfectionist and I feel like he is too, so we can nit-pick every little thing on boards. I just feel fortunate to work closely with him and give and receive feedback on equipment and performance.
As far as volume, rocker, or any other specific dimension, what’s the first thing you notice about a board and why?
Well there is obviously how a board feels under your arm when you first pick it up but I have also learned that usually doesn't make too much sense in the end [laughs]. I am in a stage where I am really trying to understand boards and concaves. I feel like I need to learn so much still but working with Hayden makes that easier for sure. Rocker and concave seem to be the most important things for me.
Lastly, there is a lot of buzz around technology in the surfboard game at the moment. What kind of waves do you find FutureFlex models go well in and what waves for PE?
Like I said I am sort of still figuring all of that out as I am relatively new to the boards on a worldwide wave scale, but the FutureFlex boards have literally changed the way I approach small shitty waves. They are so lively that it makes it a whole new thing. The PE boards also seem to have more spark under my feet than normal PU boards. So the PE boards have felt great on a trip I just went on in the Maldives. They held rail and performed like PU always have, but just felt a lot stronger and seemed to have a really good flex pattern (very subtle) compared to PU models.