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The San Diego Union Tribune profiled a local surfer, Devon Howard of Leucadia, who also is the editor of Longboard Magazine. Visit the Union Tribune to see the article in its original condition.
It is also reprinted below.

Leucadia's Howard an accomplished rider By Terry Rodgers - UNION-TRIBUNE Staff writer - May 14, 2002 


Photo by Jim Russi

When surfers talk about living the dream, they're referring to the lifestyle of guys like Devon Howard of Leucadia. 

In each of the past two years, the San Diego native has qualified to compete for longboarding's world title. His buddies are some of the world's most gifted surfers. He travels the seven seas to surf the world's most awesome waves. He has been the star surfer in videos and helped behind the camera as a creative consultant. He's an accomplished photographer and published writer for periodicals. Oh, yeah, and his day job? Managing editor of Longboard Magazine. 

He's accomplished all this before age 30. 

Winning the Super Lotto might make Howard's life easier, but it wouldn't make it any more fun or interesting. 

Howard, 28, agrees he's one lucky hombre. 

"I didn't imagine I would be where I am now," he said. 

His modesty is not false. And mellow? This guy is the kava kava of surfers. So, just how does one become a world-class longboard surfer and Wunderkind surf mag editor? 

For Howard, it began with good genes. His parents were both surfers who met and fell in love on the sand dunes of Rhode Island. Before she became Mrs. Harry Howard, Devon's mother, Karen Adams, was an accomplished surfer and a Hobie team rider in the 1960s. 

Karen says she was secretly pleased when Devon and his younger brother, Bret, turned out to be lousy players at the ball-and-uniform sports, baseball and soccer. 

"I wanted to spend my weekends on the beach, not at a ball field," she said. 

Watching them from her beach chair, the former East Coast surf diva coached her sons in the art of longboard surfing. 

"We always talked about how you walk or cross-step on the board. Don't shuffle those feet," she recalled. Apparently, the boys listened.

Devon grew up in the same University City neighborhood as Joel Tudor, the willow-bodied phenom who revived the art of traditional longboarding and in 1999 was crowned world champion. 

Joel's father, Joe, an alpha male among the bulls at Cardiff Reef, used to truck his two sons to the beach along with the Howard boys.

"Because of Joe, Cardiff Reef became a part of my life," Devon said. "I still consider it one of my home breaks." 

Growing up, Devon Howard was shy and artistic. He was obsessed with drawing cartoons. In high school, his masterpiece was a graphic embossed on a T-shirt that required 26 separate silk-screened colors. It won first place at the Del Mar Fair. 

"He is very meticulous," his mother revealed. 


Photo by Jim Russi

Devon's inner extrovert began to emerge after he was hired at Mitch's Surf Shop in La Jolla. For five years, it was the perfect job while he was attending college. Mitch Hagio was a flexible boss and supportive. 

"If I needed help with anything – a few hundred bucks to enter a surf contest – Mitch was always there for me," Howard said. 

As his surfing skills progressed, so did his interest in academics. This phenomenon is about as common as surfboards that never get dinged. 

"Something clicked in me and I woke up," he recalled. "All of a sudden I had this craving to learn." 

Just before graduating with a bachelor's degree in communications from the University of San Diego, he was hired as an intern at Longboard Magazine. 

Then-editor Scott Hulet became Howard's writing mentor. When Hulet was hired as editor at Surfers Journal, Howard had made enough of an impression with publisher Guy Motil to win the management position. 

"He showed quite remarkable maturity for a guy his age," said Motil. "It wasn't a calculated plan. He just earned it." 

On a recent morning at La Jolla Shores, I watched Howard pick off quick-snapping shorebreak waves like a cat pouncing on mice. In bigger surf, he's known for his elegant, powerful style and mastery of noseriding and drop-knee turns. 

Stylewise he admits to borrowing from the legends: Nat Young, Miki Dora and Tom Ortner, a La Jolla underground hero. 

At 6-foot and a solid 175 pounds, Howard tries to stay lean by being a fish-eating vegetarian and exercising. If the surf is flat for extended periods, you might even see him running up and down the stairway at Stonesteps Beach in Encinitas. 

In an interview, he downplayed his prowess as one of the top competitive longboarders. He confessed to having little motivation to win a world title. 

"I'm just happy to be a part of it," he said. 

But Howard does have a few unfulfilled ambitions. 

"I want to ride big, scary, hollow waves," he said. "Big enough for a bus to fit inside the tube." 

Writing a screenplay is another. 

In the water, Howard is sociable and very aware of how other surfers are behaving. He notices who is being aggressive and who appears frustrated. He learned this from surfing at Windansea, where the arcane pecking order in the lineup and wave etiquette are strictly enforced. 

"The way I earned respect," he said, "is I didn't wear a leash and I waited my turn." 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Terry Rodgers can be reached at (619) 293-1713 or terry.rodgers@uniontrib.com

 

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