An Interview With Geovani Perez
Translation: Heido Sundstrom
Photos by: Ed Dorsett
1) When did you start surfing and how?
I started surfing when I was 14 on a boogie board in Veneros Beach, Bay of Banderas. Some friends from Guadalajara, kids of my dentist, Jose Pelayo, took me and I liked it so much that that day that I decided I wanted to do it for the rest of my life!
2) Where were you born and where do you surf?
I was born in Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco but I started surfing continuously in Sayulita, Nayarit. As fate would have it, I came to live in this great magical town, living with my adopted surfer family, Diego Cadena, Guillermo, Fernando, Pato, German Rodriguez, William Frias and, of course, the father of the family, “el Jefe” Guillermo and their Mother, “la Jefa” Martha (as they are lovingly called). In those days, at my home in Puerto Vallarta, we had a little bit of emotional instability due to personal issues and I decided to venture out and when I discovered surfing, which is now my lifestyle, I told myself I would keep at it for as long as I could.
3) What are some of your achievements?
As a short board surfer, I came to represent the state of Nayarit, Jalisco in state, regional and national competitions. After that, I migrated to California and there I started my career as a professional surfer, since the support in the U.S. is slightly greater. That was where I got my first contracts and started earning money by surfing. It was a great experience and afterwards I returned to Mexico but wasn’t as motivated. I was invited to participate in the National in Mazatlan, Sinaloa in 2011 in the Longboarding category and since I was the national runner-up, I got a pass to compete at the 2012 World Championship in Panama as one of the Mexican national selections, which included: Diego Cadena, Dylan Southworth, Adan Hernandez, and Patricio Gonzalez from Sayulita, Angelo Lozano from Puerto Escondido and Pamela Verboonen from Zihuatanejo, along with Gonzalo Perea from Veracruz, who acted as the team delegate. At this world championship, the Mexican selection placed amongst the ten best teams in the world. It was a historical step for Mexican surfing and for Sayulita, which brought five members to the competition, practically comprising the entire team.
As far as other achievements, I’ve had publications and photo sessions in national and international magazines, I’ve worked as an extra in movies and one of my greatest accomplishments in my life has been the opportunity to see spectacular places and travel the world through surfing; countries like Panama, Nicaragua, Hawaii, Brazil, Russia, Germany, France, California, New York, Colorado, Miami, Washington and much of Mexico.
4) Why did you distance yourself surfing?
I walked away because the economic support for athletes in Mexico isn’t very good and that’s when you have to decide, your future or your sport?
5) How long were you gone and what did you do during that time?
I think it was about two years and I spent the time studying, working and finding a way to move forward.
6) What does this sport mean to you?
It’s my whole lifestyle. Here, I’ve found a lot of peace and a lot of fun. Aside from the really cool feeling of catching a wave and going through a tube, the ocean and the waves are my therapists. Here, you can receive the lessons of your life and the biggest scares, but it can also give you the experience, the joy and natural satisfaction that even all the money in the world couldn’t give. This is natural, just ask a surfer; they too practice this lifestyle. Besides, surfing also gives you vitality and the ocean is full of minerals that we absorb anytime we spend a few hours in the water surfing. After surfing, your muscles may feel tired, but at the same time, your body is full of life and energy.
7) Tell us about the day you almost drowned...
I’ve had several of those kinds of experiences, but the strongest was in Olas Altas about ten years ago. I went with a group of friends and the waves already exceeded 5 meters in height and we only had a few small 5’9” boards. We were all totally inexperienced and a big swell hit us and I felt like I wouldn’t make it out. The waves had me under for a few good rolls that made it hard to tell how deep I was, but with the last breath I was able to make it to the surface. It was an ugly experience, but it’s a part of life. Honestly, I wouldn’t wish this kind of experience on anyone and the surfers that have experienced it themselves know what I’m talking about.
That’s why I went back to catch waves at that spot later, to get over the fear I had. I was on the beach, observing the waves and there were only five boogie boarders in the water and over 150 spectators on the beach. I watched them for five minutes and my stomach was churning as I remembered that moment. It was then that I told my photographer, “Okay, I’m going in the water”. I was in the water and I started to have a good connection with the surfers and tried to create a good environment, surrounded by good vibes. Then, I caught my first couple of waves. Afterwards, I caught a few more waves and managed to get over my fear and have a good surf session. At the end, I felt comfortable, satisfied and even got to see some good photos as a reward.
8) What motivated you to return and why paddle boarding?
I’ve always the type of person that went after challenges and goals in life. When I was introduced to paddleboarding, I liked it but then I tried it and I couldn’t do it! It grabbed my attention at that point and I thought to myself that a giant board that size wouldn’t be that hard to stand on, and less with a paddle. But yeah, it was hard and that was what motivated me to take on the new challenge, which is even harder because you have to be standing up the whole time. You have a paddle in one hand, and can’t “duck dive” (diving under the wave with your board to avoid the whitewater) like you can with a shortboard. You have to paddle the hardest and strongest as possible to be able to pass the wave, otherwise you suffer a few good wipeouts in the impact zone. But the cool thing is going back to surf the waves, and now with a new form and a new experience.
9) What’s your favorite spot to surf?
In Mexico we have some of the best waves in the world, if not the best. But I also really like Pismo Beach and the whole coast of California. But I will say that there’s nothing like Mexico.
10) What are your challenges and dreams now?
To do the whole World Paddleboard Tour in 2014. In 2013, I did pretty well and placed in the Top 32 out of 155 world-class competitors. I dream of traveling and promoting Mexico to attract more tourists to this country, and hope to find sponsors that will support me in taking my publicity to an international level. You never stop dreaming!
11) Anything else you’d like to share?
And to end my message, I would like to invite the people that have never practiced surfing to come out for the first time so that you can get to know this awesome lifestyle and its surfers. Never give up and always follow your dreams and goals, every sacrifice has its reward. Greetings to all, live the moment and enjoy the waves and good vibes. Life is good! And last but not least, thanks to you, Planeta Surf, for the interview.