An Insight Into The Stoke Behind @We_Bodysurfers
Early in 2017, a man by the name of Brady Setzer burst onto Instagram under the alias of @we_bodysurfers in an attempt to spread the bodysurfing stoke and connect bodysurfers worldwide. Within a short period of time @we_bodysurfers has grown exponentially and is the Instagram to keep updated with for building the bodysurfing stoke levels and checking out the best bodysurfing pictures and videos from around the world. Setzer has also used this platform to set up a #webodysurferscare campaign to spread the awareness about the high amounts of garbage that we consume and dispose of into our oceans. Being a big fan of what Setzer is doing in the bodysurfing world, we decided to ask him a few questions and get an insight into his world.
Q. So Brady, tell me about yourself, where did your story start and where are you now?
A. I'm a 46 year old transplant to Maui, Hawaii, from Northern California, USA. I spent most of my years snowboarding or skiing in Lake Tahoe, with some skateboarding mixed in there as well. I've been landlocked most of my life but always had an affinity for watching surfing, just never really had the chance to try it. I always saw the ocean and waves as the ultimate ride and chance to commune with nature at the same time.
Q. When did you first find the ocean?
A. I lived in Santa Cruz when I was young, when I was in 1st and 2nd grade (mid 70s). I was lucky enough to live right on the beach (12th Avenue), so that was my first ocean experience. My dad and his friends had bodysurfing fins with them at the beach, that would be my first memory of bodysurfing. I can't say that I did it (bodysurfing) or was fully aware of what it was, but like every other kid back then, I had an early Morey Boogie Board and got into ocean skimboarding in my pre-teens and high school years.
Q. Thats awesome, so when did you start bodysurfing and why?
A. I started a few months after I moved to Maui, Hawaii, so 2 years ago. Not sure that I had a specific mission to focus on bodysurfing, but I bought some fins and started learning how to ride small waves at Little Beach in Makena, Maui. All my new friends on the island encouraged me to stand up surf but for some reason I just clicked with bodysurfing. I liked the minimalist facet of it and I felt like the learning curve was pretty easy at first. From a beginner level, I could bodysurf small waves and still have fun. There are so many good bodysurfers in Hawaii so I always tried to watch and learn whenever I was at the beach.
There are two pivotal points in my becoming a “bodysurfer”.
The first was due to having a friend named Steven Fernandez that is/was a local big wave legend here on maui, and like most surfers, he is a solid bodysurfer. One evening I watched him surf a hurricane swell in Kihei and the way that he did it was so beautiful and mesmerizing. Pretty much from that point on, I was hooked and wanted to know how to do it “like that”.
The second was finding the Kahanalu Crew on Oahu. Seeing Keali’i Punley rip shorebreak on his posts, I just knew I wanted to do what he was doing in the surf. Shortly after that I stopped going to Little Beach to step up my game and focus on Big Beach, as it was a much heavier shorebreak. To this day Keali’i still blows my mind. I always tell him he was the main inspiration for me in shorebreak waves. I have a lot more to learn, but he is the initial source of inspiration for the way I ride waves currently. Of course since my world has expanded there are countless others that I draw inspiration from, but there is a definite moment where my world changed and it was from seeing Keali’i do his thing.
Q. Keali’i Punley really is a master of the shorebreak, hoping to catch up with him in the near future. What made you want to build @we_bodysurfers?
A. It’s a funny story. I had a friend last year that was looking for a brand name to make some t-shirts. We were driving back from a session and thinking of a meme we saw “Dad what's paddleboarding? I don’t know son, we bodysurfers.” I suggested “We Bodysurfers” as an option. He didn’t seem too stoked on it, so I let it go. Later that day I was chilling and decided to start the page. I'd had enough of posting about myself and I saw pages like “TheWhomp” and “Swelllines” were posting about many bodysurfers and I had even been featured by “TheWhomp”. It made me so stoked to be featured, so I thought, how cool would it be to have a page and post all the amazing talent that I was seeing daily on Instagram. I felt like it needed a showcase, I didn’t have time or skill to put out a blog, so i decided to use an Instagram page to connect bodysurfers with locals when they travelled and that’s it. I had no idea it would take off like it did. I don't have a master plan or anything, just going with the flow. It's just fun and the people it has brought me in contact with has been priceless. I have a lot of solid friendships as direct result of @we_bodysurfers.
Q. Thats awesome! There are so many epic bodysurfers around the world, tell me some of your favourites that inspire you?
A. Wow, this is a hard one to narrow down. Pretty much if you have been featured on @we_bodysurfers, I am inspired by you. Not having an extensive bodysurfing history, I am constantly looking for tips on how to improve all elements of my bodysurfing. I learn so much from the videos of Joe Ramos and Brian. It's a consistent learning curve. For a long time Instagram was my only source for learning. Luckily, I now have a group I bodysurf with on Maui, so I draw a lot of inspiration them. I am grateful to have found all these guys and stoked on the aloha they show me. The boys on Oahu also have been a great source of inspiration. I've shared waves with them and I learn something each time I go there. There is one my main homies Brandon Alexander from Big Island. Haha..told you this was hard. I love watching the Wedge Crew rip that wave, its mesmerizing and I have spent so much time watching whatever footage I can find. For Brazil, it was Júlio Cesar that made me stop in my tracks and think “damn I didn’t know that was possible.” In France, there's Joel Badina and his crew from Les Palmes & Le Couteau are amazing. I don’t ride big waves but Kalani Lattanzi, Hijo del Mar and others are out there pushing limits way beyond my comprehension. That brings me to Australia and that crew you roll with. Riki Gilbey from WAW Handplanes, Russel Pollard, Peter Sperling and Jake Rosenbrock AKA the Barrel Pig, consistently showing me how much there is to learn. Its just a pleasure to watch all if it going down globally. It pumps me up and inspires me every day I open Instagram. There is also always someone new that makes me go wow!!! And I love that. Again I cant name everyone but honestly the posts on my page are me saying you inspire me.
Q. Do you have a wave you'd love to bodysurf?
A. Of course one day, I want to surf the wedge. It’s a shore break, left, iconic and epic. Posto 5 in Brazil looks killer from what I have seen. Supertubos and Puerto Escondido also look awesome, at the right size. I am not there yet, but someday I’d like to think that I will be up to those challenges.
Q. What bodysurfing gear do you use?
A. I use bodysurfing fins and I used to use a handplane a lot more, I like smaller planes as it's easier to swim with them.
Q. I see you've created a #webodysurferscare initiative to tackle the war on waste in the ocean. Tell me about it?
A. I came up with the idea while on the way to a bodysurf. I have always been frustrated by litter on the beaches. I have participated in some surfrider foAndation cleanups, but i thought its just a simple as if everyone grabbed a handful each time they visited the beach it would go a long way to helping the issue. I spoke to a few bodysurfing brands asking if they'd support the initiative by donating a few prizes. They were solidly behind it, so I rolled it out in September. The premise is simple.
1. Grab a handful or more of litter from the beach.
2. Posts it to your page with the #webodysurferscare and the unique hashtag for that months campaign.
3. Random winners are selected for the prizes at the end of the month.
The goal is to use social media for something positive, generate awareness and inspiration to help clean our oceans. The oceans deserve at least the same attention we give our meals and selfie pics. The prizes are mainly for fun, but the real prize is the clean beaches. We as bodysurfers take so much enjoyment from the beaches we frequent that it seemed like a no brainer to start something like this. The goal is to make it a daily habit and not just on one or two days a year, but each time you visit a beach leave with at least a handful. For me its become automatic, I grab some before I jump in as an offering to the ocean and when I get out as a thank you for coming out safe. I think it’s a great mission to add on to the page along with connecting travelling bodysurfers.
Q. What are the main rubbish culprits?
A. Where I live on Maui its mostly standard rubbish created by beach goers that come to have their "paradise moment". Yet they leave their bottles, bottle caps, cigarettes, plastic shovels, fishing gear, hair ties and cups etc. I use a fishing scoop net to grab what I see as I walk the beach. On the other side of the island, there is a lot more of the ocean plastic we all hear about, ranging from micro bits to larger pieces that come in with the tides/currents. One beach in Hana had so much one day that you could have spent a week picking it up and not made a dent. It was very sad.
There a lot of people that have given up and just walk by and shake their heads. However, on that day there were a few ladies walking around, doing what they could and grabbing the larger pieces. It was inspiring to see and just shows that all we can do is our part on given day, and we never know who we may inspire. Those ladies inspired me and now I inspire others as well as have a monthly campaign to promote it around the globe..so shout out to them for sparking this within me.
Q. What effect do they have on the environment?
A. Not even considering the deadly effect it has on the whole oceans ecosystem. I think it has the effect of making what was and is a paradise look like a dump. If its allowed to continue without intervention the Hawaiian beaches, so well known as some of the best in the world, will become filthy beaches that nobody wants to visit.
Q. How can we fix it?
A. I really don’t know that I have an answer for this other than stop looking past it and pick it up. Changing our habits to use less plastic and other environmentally harmful products will go a long way too. It’s a huge issue, so big that it can feel like holding up an umbrella in the face of tsunami, but with just a little effort you could be saving a turtle from dying on a plastic bag that it thought was a jelly fish. I hope it grows and grows. It would be cool to see more meet ups and bodysurfing comps coupled with beach clean ups. Friends, bodysurfing and clean beaches around the globe, I can’t think if anything I would enjoy more.
Q. How do you see bodysurfing progressing in the future?
A. Being relatively new to the sport its hard to say as its all really new to me and I am learning every day. From my perspective running the page, the biggest progression has been in the way its documented. The cameras and photographers are amazing, so the shots are getting cleaner, and more and more people are learning how to capture the action. Id say that’s the biggest progression. Now we all get to see it and learn or be inspired by it. The beauty in bodysurfing to me isn’t the tricks or the extreme, but in the style and fluidity of a ride. It's going to be interesting to see whats to come, that’s for sure.. I am just happy to have found it as it makes my life infinitely more enjoyable. I am happy to know the people I know that feel the same way and I look forward to meeting more as the time passes. I figure I have another 30-40 years to explore the sport. I am really just at the beginning and I am thankful for how Instagram has opened my eyes to the thing that until 2 years ago I had no idea would be the dominant passion in my life. Bodysurfing.