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What It’s Really Like Inside the North Shore’s Exclusive Volcom Surf House

Longhaired young surfers? Striking, sun-bronzed girls? Maybe a yard littered with red Solo cups? Think again. As surfing evolves into a multibillion-dollar industry, the legendary North Shore surf houses are changing to fit the times.


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It’s fair to say that I’ve turned up to Volcom’s Pipehouse with some assumptions about what I’ll find. Namely, longhaired young surfers with no fear of death; striking, sun-bronzed girls who follow surfers along the world tour; and a yard littered with red Solo cups and other post-party debris. When I tell a friend’s teenage daughter that I’m spending the night, she’s a little impressed. “I’d be afraid to go there,” she tells me.


Riddle and team manager Jason Shibata lead me inside where the television is tuned to the Oceanic Surf Channel and a few guys sit on the couch watching a replay of the day’s heats, including Volcom’s most promising team rider, Zeke Lau.


It’s a few days after Thanksgiving and the traffic on Kamehameha Highway is ridiculous, thanks to the Vans World Cup of Surfing. It’s the second of three contests held on O‘ahu each winter as the Men’s World Championship Tour closes out, and the prize for first place is $40,000. A week from now, the money will belong to Lau, who, at 19, has just finished up his senior year at Kamehameha Schools. Around the house, he hardly speaks, but he will call the win “the greatest day of my life.” It’s some graduation present.


Right now, though, Lau’s just a kid, and his coach is telling him to get off the couch and get ready for Surf Night, an annual fundraiser at Sunset Beach Elementary School, Volcom’s neighbor across the road. Same as Riddle’s been doing since Lau was 9 years old.


“We’re always the first ones there,” Riddle tells me. He means Volcom. Volcom is we.


Surfer Dusty Payne catches a wave.


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Honolulu Magazine May 2020
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