Santa Barbara’s Chadd Konig, 24, is a rising voice in the environmental movement that so greatly involves California surfers. Peathead recently sat down with the stylish, big-wave-seeking regularfooter.
Peathead: What was last October’s California TransparentSea Voyage all about for you, and what will this year’s be like?
Chadd Konig: TransparentSea was a trip down the coast, from Gaviota to San Diego, a month-long sailing and paddling adventure with the intention of highlighting coastal environmental issues, with particular attention given to cetaceans, dolphins, and the waters they inhabit. The journey was full of artists, musicians, surfers, healers, chiefs, chefs, and it entailed 17 hours at sea through the night, recording a song a day, murals painted in each town, a full vegan campaign, two hours with two 80-foot blue whales.
In each community we passed through, we held an event to benefit a local issue or organization. The trip was made possible by the first TransparentSea campaign, which was Byron Bay to Bondi, Australia, in 2009. It successfully highlighted the plight of humpback whales and the threat faced by Japanese whaling fleets.
Being a local Santa Barbaran, how did you get involved and why?
In the summer of 2009, Nole Cossart and I paddled from Santa Barbara to Mexico to raise awareness about development along the Gaviota Coast. This year I connected with the Surfers for Cetaceans family a couple months before their journey, and welcomed them to stay on the property I live at in Gaviota. I joined the family and paddled a few days down the coast. It was magical, and the crew encouraged me to join and paddle the full journey. I was familiar and comfortable with the Southern California coast due to the previous paddle adventures, and I helped to guide when needed. It was my greatest journey to date!
Being a surfer, how do you fit into the whole environmental thing?
As surfers and humans, we are totally dependent on the ocean and Earth. As people who go in the ocean on a regular basis, and derive heaps of joy from it, we are all forever indebted to the waters and those beings who call it home. I feel and know I must use this body and life to enjoy and better our naturally watery world.
What are the biggest problems facing California surfers today?
As far as specific issues, water quality and plastic are huge. Visit surfrider.org to read about their “plastic-free” initiatives and info on the water quality of your local beach. You can visit the Santa Barbara Surfrider Chapter website to sign the current Petition to Preserve the Gaviota Coast, the last 20 miles of undeveloped coastline in Southern California.
However, I believe the absence of a collective voice could be the biggest issue we face. There are 3.3 million surfers in the United States, with the majority of those along the West Coast. We as surfers spend between $2-5 million a year in the communities where we live and ride waves. Beyond that, the surf industry is a billion-dollar business and we have a say in the resources used and products produced. We have a powerful voice! It is necessary to establish a collective voice on certain issues. We must evaluate each decision we make because we are in unison deciding and determining the outcome of our “surf world.” A good resource for this issue and all others is Lauren Hill’s website: blog.merseabeaucoup.com.
Who and what influences you?
Nature, first and foremost! Any and all people who are passionate and committed to bringing goodness and benefiting our earth and it inhabitants. Landon and the entire Smith family, Nole Cossart, David Rastovich, the Dalai Lama, Greg Long, and my father. Thanks, also, to Billabong, Sambazon, and Clif.
What does the rest of 2012 hold for Chadd Konig?
I’m going to a permaculture certification course and then doing Maui's Dolphin Day/Recycled Raft Race in Raglan, New Zealand. Following that, I will be on a friend’s farm in Australia for a bit. From June 11 to July 6 are the International Whaling Commission meetings in Panama. By August, I hope to be back around Santa Barbara, getting ready for a paddle adventure along the Central Coast. October holds the potential for another TransparentSea journey.
Also check out: s4cglobal.org and transparentseavoyage.com.