Classic style is what I can say about JJ Wessels. Just look at all the surfboards he has, new boards, old boards he has a quiver of boards that will make any surfer drool. And that’s what’s important in surfing. Riding everything because there truly isn’t a perfect board for all wave conditions.
His noseriding skills on a longboard are super technical and his clothing style was drawn from inspiration from old Bruce Brown films. Finding inspiration from the past and drawing new lines with it now JJ is a huge inspiration, always doing his own thing and working with people who don’t usually follow the normal 9-5 routines. Thanks again JJ for the interview and can’t wait to see what you have in store for us in the future.
Who are you and where are you currently right now?
I am JJ Wessels and I’m currently living and spending most my time around the beaches of Southern California. My wife and I grew up in a town near the beach named San Juan Capistrano where currently live.
When did you start surfing?
I started surfing late in my life around the age of 15.
I watched Tin Ojeda’s latest film ‘Expencive Porno Movie’ and your part had all those surfboards tied up to the top of your car. Are all those your boards? And if they are what made you interested in having so many types of surfboards?
Yes all those boards are mine im a huge fan of riding everything and more often then not I will have more then one board in my car.
You are a brand ambassador for Matix Clothing. How did you relationship with them start?
Matix Clothing, my families from the South Bay area (Los Angeles) where Matix Clothing is headquartered. My dad grew up surfing in the area and we would frequent the shops in the South Bay because of that. Matix had always been on my radar because of the ties to the South Bay and its roots in skateboarding. A good friend of mine, Chase Stopnik got hired to be apart of their marketing team and that’s where it all started for me!
You also have a fin with Captain Fin Co. Can you tell us more about your fin model and also your relationship with them?
Captain Fin (Mitch Abshere). My interest in Captain Fin started basically when Mitch decided to start Captain Fin, Mitch has always been a guy I have a ton of respect for and consider a good friend. My involvement with captain has been super fun from the get go. Mitch likes to have fun with his company, which always leads to awesome and new adventures.
From surfing style to the way you dress there is a vintage/classic style to it. What made you interested in that style and the days of past?
Well growing up I spent most of my time thrift shopping. I got super into old Levis and flannels and that style also showed with my surfing interest. I used to watch Bruce Brown movies over and over and got really into “The Seedling” (Thomas Campbell) when it came out…. That changed everything for me and made me the surfer I am today.
Can you tell me more about the surfing history and the impact it had on the surf culture of Southern California, especially in your area of San Juan, Dana Point.
Wow, this area shares the likes of a deep grip of surfing history. Guys like Terry Martin, Bruce Brown, Hobie Alter, Phil Edwards, Dale Velzy, Hal Jepson, Dewey Weber and many more… Each one of these guys has had spin offs and setlines for tons of people in my area. They’ve inspired me and helped shape me into the man of surfing I am today. Its really tuff to go into all the history of this area there are books on this kind of stuff we even have a museum focused on this here in San Clemente. To me I get inspired by the stories. I can relate to stories of how these guys did stuff and made things, which was always interesting to me.
There are a lot of people that are just starting to surf here in Taiwan. What advice do you have for them in choosing a right board to start off with?
Getting started in surfing is tuff no matter who you are. Choosing the right board can be even more difficult. I think a lot of this depends on the type of wave your surfing? How often you want to surf and what you’re trying to get out of surfing? The best advice I can give is do what keeps your interested, what’s fun… I started on a 7’2 rick stinger single fin shortboard because that’s what my dad used . The thing was really fun but for some reason I wanted to surf waves that didn’t promote the use of a 7’2 as my knowledge of surfing grew I began to understand why I liked riding everything and living here in California we have days where bringing out the 7’2 I started on still makes sense and is super fun. I guess what I’m trying to say is ride what makes you smile don’t try to think to much about it and have fun.
What is it about the surfing lifestyle that attracts you to it? And how has it changed your life?
Well surfing is something for me that has always been free and inspired me to content with what’s been given to me every day.
People who just started surfing go through paddling, reading waves, getting up, but some people still feel that they aren’t improving. What words of wisdom do you have for these people?
Spend more time in the water and enjoy the level you are at. Don’t compare yourselves to others. Just try and have fun!
At what point in your surfing life did you start trying different boards? Some people here in Taiwan asked about advice on when they can start to chose different boards.
I started trying different boards when I got them. That’s the fun thing about surfing, you can get by by using what you’ve got but there’s always something better out there for you to try. All boards are a give and take, you gain one thing and lose another whether it’s a longboard you lose speed but gain trim and travel with a short you lose trim and travel but gain speed to me a surfboard is a tool and depending on what your working on you should ride that.
There are unspoken rules in surfing when you are in the water. Can you give some rules of advice for people who are just starting to surf and what surf etiquette rules they can follow.
Rules, I’m not much for being told what to do and I’m not much for telling people what they should do but surfing’s way more fun when everyone has respect for each other… have fun.
You’ve worked with many different shapers from the likes of Becker Surfboards, Tyler Hatzikian, Mason Dyer and more. How have these relationships with these shapers help improve your surfing?
My relationship to the craftsmen has been very impactful to my approach to surfing. Having a good board (tool) makes the job way easier. Most of the board builders I’ve worked with have helped me a ton in understanding the right tool for the place I’m surfing. I wouldn’t be the surfer I am without them!
There isn’t too much surf information here in Taiwan for locals to read. Since I
surfed around San Onofre when I was back home I feel there is a huge importance of that surf spot in surf history. Can you tell us more about that spot and any tips if any Taiwanese go there to surf?
Sano’s history is rich mostly because it hasn’t changed much over the years and it’s a family setting. Almost any day of the week you can show up there and see the same people parked hanging out and surfing.
Tell us a typical day in your life.
I wake up next to the most beautiful girl in the world, my wife. Thank the Lord for that! Go check the surf and usually surf until noon. Eat some lunch, pick up photos from the photo lab and then head home. Once at home I might screen-print something and hang out with the family. In the even I go check the surf again and either go for another surf or go skate. And on the weekends I work at Outback Steakhouse.
You seem to be a man of all trades. You also take surf photographs. How did that happen?
Photography: I’m really not sure how that started. I think it came from my passion of surfing. I’ve always really enjoyed watching friends surf. It makes me want to surf more so I started taking photos of them, building friendships based off spending time with them and stepping into their lives.
What is your current surfboard quiver and which board have you been riding recently?
CHRISTENSON Surfboards. I’ve got 2 Sea Buckets, A Flat Tracker, a Twin-Pin,
Ocean Racer and a Bonniville.
What can we expect to see more of you in the future?
Photos, videos and beach brand surfing.
Any last words of advice/wisdom for all the surfers here in Taiwan?