DROP INS with... Thomas VanMelum
Growing up bodyboarding with his old man, Thomas VanMelum began bodysurfing when the unruly chunk of foam on which he was sledding got ripped from his juvenile hands. Floundering in the foam, he’d feign rigor mortis to retrieve his vessel. Pretty soon, the board became obsolete, unlike his love of riding waves.
Gaining global recognition-slash-infamy in Keith Malloy’s ‘Come Hell or High Water’, Thomas is renowned as a Wedge charger with little to no sense of self-preservation, paddling out and charging even on the biggest days that Newport can throw at him, with or without his chicken-head mask!
In the first of our Drop Ins series, we take 10 questions with one of the leading proponents of the new wave of Wedge Legends.
What is your home break?
TVM: Newport Pier
When did you start & why do you bodysurf?
TVM: I started bodysurfing with my Pops at age 7 or 8. It was just an easy way to grab the XLR8 boogie board you had just lost, or your Mach77. Now I bodysurf to escape. Escape my wife, my kids, my life, and all the pressures of the world bearing down on my tiny shoulders. I bodysurf to escape the fear that one day I will be forgotten, and there will be no point to all my work, and so I can escape the fixation of points within, or construction of walls around, the liquid fray of my consciousness.
Best bodysurfing experience?
TVM: When I won the Pipeline Bodysurf Classic and the Point Panic comp in the same year.
Weapons of choice?
TVM: There is currently a lawsuit pending that forbids me to comment on this.
Secret tip to better bodysurfing?
TVM: If you’re trying to do a spin, put the wrong arm out and it will flick you around super smooth. It’s all in the hips and putting some honey on your dip.
Best/favourite wave in the world?
TVM: Waterville. It’s a fake wave in Alabama.
Who is the person who has inspired you the most?
TVM: Mark Kunningham [sic] or Nico or Immanuel Kant.
What are your bodysurfing aspirations?
TVM: Truthfully, I want to be the curmudgeon that just takes every wave and nobody gets mad at because he’s old and crazy. You can tell he’s crazy by his comb over that he thinks he’s passing off as a legit hairstyle. Only a crazy person thinks comb overs are fooling anyone.
Best amp-up track?
TVM: Daft Punk – Da Funk. It came off of Amp 2 the cd. Do we have to pick a track from the Amp albums?!
What is your best advice for protecting our playground?
TVM: Be environmentally friendly. All joking aside, at this point, we’ll be lucky to have any clean ocean water to enjoy by the time we’re old.