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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Hours later, all of Volcom’s top riders, including Maui’s Dusty Payne, are still at Sunset Elementary signing posters, the autograph queue zigzagging through the school cafeteria, out the door and around the exterior walls.
Pipehouse, on the other hand, is nearly empty. There are a few guys sitting at the dining room table, mostly in silence. They’ve been sitting there working all evening and will continue until two in the morning. They are Volcom’s in-house media team, and that’s how long it takes them to process a day’s worth of footage. Occasionally, someone emits a sound—a laugh, a hoot, an ouch—and they all gather excitedly around the same computer monitor to watch and dissect the clip, be it barrel or wipeout.
The house has four bedrooms and twice as many beds, including one in the living room. The place is beautiful, but it’s not really built for living, just sleeping. I was expecting the world’s most luxurious frat house, but every bedroom has a refrigerator, and among them I count exactly zero cans of beer.
Before Volcom purchased Pipehouse, the company bought the house next door, a single-story bungalow with a couple of bedrooms. There’s a pecking order to life at Volcom. Top riders stay in the Sunset Beach mansion, groms sleep in the bungalow basement, which is full of bunk beds and affectionately called the dungeon.
At 16 years old, Shun Murakami is the youngest surfer staying at the house. I visit the dungeon to see what he makes of life at the Volcom houses, but he’s already asleep. It’s 9:15 p.m.
When the team riders arrive back an hour later, almost everyone goes immediately to their bedrooms.
“Who’s washing the towels?”
“Did we get all the towels in?”
“What are you going to want for breakfast?”
Doors slam shut. It reminds me of lights out at summer camp. Or living with teenagers.
Jack Morrissey, the marketing director for Volcom Surf, makes a run to the store and comes back with the ingredients for guacamole and a 30-rack of beer, maybe to convince me to stop inspecting the recycling bins.
As I fall asleep on the couch, a couple of hours later, the television is still tuned to surfing in front of me, and the photographers are still tuned to surfing behind me.