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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Thanksgiving at the Volcom house comes with all the trimmings.
It’s lunchtime back at the house, and everyone is still subsisting on Thanksgiving Day leftovers, compliments of Tai Vandyke. If Volcom raced cars, Vandyke would be the pit boss. He lives in the house year-round and makes sure everyone feels at home, even if that means roasting six turkeys across multiple ovens in two houses to make the holidays feel real in this Neverland of surfing.
Jack Morrissey is lying face down on the floor of the living room. Kaiborg is standing over him, working on Morrissey’s back with a homemade massager, a modified Black & Decker power tool.
Nicknamed “Kaiborg” for his super-human strength, he is a former world champion of jiu-jitsu, originally from Kaua‘i. He’s been with Volcom since the beginning, through the frat-house era and into the new and (perhaps) improved locker-room era, doing whatever needs to be done.
Two years ago, Kaiborg publicly owned up to his past issues with substance abuse. “It’s all about choices in life,” he has said. “You’re gonna make good ones, you’re gonna make bad ones. But it’s never too late, never too late to turn your life around.”
Kaiborg has a wife and kids now. Last night, he left for home before 8. Today, he’ll be napping on the living room couch by 2:30 in the afternoon.
As he said in a video a few years ago, “It’s almost like we have had the houses forever, in a way.” Kaiborg means Volcom. Volcom is we.
Surfer Balaram Stack surveys conditions.
I return to the house a few weeks later, for the final day of Pipe Masters. It’s the most important surf contest of the year, and the best views are from the decks of Pipehouse. From what I can tell, and from what others have said, the Volcom house is no longer the site of the longest and most epic party you’re not invited to. That said, my teenage friend wasn’t entirely wrong: It’s still an intimidating place.
There’s a girl sitting on the ground in front of me, a friend of a Volcom photographer. “Is it okay for me to use the bathroom inside the house?” she asks.
Her friend tells her it’s probably fine.
“Are you sure it’s okay? I can wait,” she decides.
People linger on the other side of the fence, trying to get a glimpse inside. From the beach, people are taking photos.
Surfing is transcending itself.
Once a hobby and a pastime, it’s now a bona fide sport and a business.
Volcom used to sell T-shirts. Now it issues stock.
The groms are much younger, but the house is growing older, and maybe more mature.
“It’s special here,” Shibata says. “It’s not for everyone to sit on our porch.”
The party may be over, but you’re still not invited.
A more low-key BBQ.