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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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Kai “Kaiborg” Garcia provides security for the Volcom house.


There are 25 people at the house, spread throughout the kitchen, living room, dining room and lānai. Conversations happen simultaneously across the space, meaning it’s loud. The whole interior is wood—floors, walls, ceilings—there’s nothing to absorb the sounds of Kai “Kaiborg” Garcia, Volcom’s security detail (for lack of a better title), who bellows more than he talks. He walks around greeting everyone with a TENS electronic massage unit hanging from his bicep muscle, which is roughly the size of a full roll of paper towels. It’s an energetic, chummy and bro-ish performance. Big guys making big sounds. It’s also 7:30 a.m.


I ask Shibata about Volcom’s storied past, the days when the houses became ground zero for North Shore hedonism, and the Volcom team was more notable for its attitude than its surfing.


“When I came along, that was fading out. It was different back then. Surfing was a lifestyle and Volcom didn’t really have any surfers who were on the top end. Our guys were cooler, they partied harder than your guys,” he says.


“We used to not allow kids younger than 17 to stay in the dungeon, until this year. There was a liability issue. They’re still young, someone would pass them a joint, someone would want to start drinking. Before, there was no such thing as the McGills coming to the house or parents coming to the house, because people were smoking and drinking a 40 on the porch.”

“Now, the mission is to win.”


The McGills that Shibata mentions are Dax, 16, her younger brother, Finn, and their dad. Dax has been mentored by Riddle since she was 8; it was Shibata who took her to Panama in 2012, where she won gold at the World Junior Surfing Championships.


Volcom doesn’t pay amateur surfers like McGill for surfing, but the athletes are compensated in other ways: a healthy travel stipend, gear and apparel, the coveted board sticker and, perhaps most importantly, as surfing transitions from a lifestyle to a sport, coaching.


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Honolulu Magazine May 2020
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