Aaron Cormican Is A Man Reborn!
But not Born-Again! Talking boards, Florida’s next gen, Hurricane Season highs and lows (and How You Can Help) w/ Mr. Gorkin Flip himself!
Dispatches have poured in from all over the Sunshine State, in the aftermath of one of the most hellacious storms in recorded history, Hurricane Irma.
The state’s southern fringes are in shambles. Much of the state without power, four days on. Carbon monoxide deaths, from unventilated generators. Six left to roast in a Hollywood nursing home. Massive sinkholes opening up and swallowing bites of pristine par-3’s. And while much of the Gulf Coast, Central and North Florida might be waiting on power still, the Caribbean is a disaster zone. Death tolls near 50 and rising daily.
But as the storm slid northeast, chasing refugees from the Panhandle up into the Blue Ridge, blue skies prevailed, and from Mayport Poles to Melbourne the Florida Atlantic was gifted two days of groomed, long-period groundswell from Jose churning in Irma’s wake.
Wanting to hear from someone on the ground, we took the opportunity to catch up with Aaron “Gorkin” Cormican, …Lost Generation icon and aerial pioneer!
Stab: Gorkin! Sounds like you guys dodged a bullet with Irma. And that the last few days have been all time!
Aaron: Yeeeaaaahhhhh! It’s been really fun, offshores all day, just a total surprise. It was super dry behind the storm, a few feet overhead on the sets. I surfed out back of my house. I checked it in the morning, and it was pretty big—for out back standards—and I was like, “Oh, sheeeeiiit.” I took advantage of it.
You kind of have to go to New Smyrna to understand how crazy fun that place is. Just parking your truck on the beach in front of a peak, all the characters just doing tough-laps driving up and down the beach, lowriders and monster trucks and all the coeds from the University of Florida…
Man, just pull the truck up, put up the umbrella…
Makes me so homesick just thinking about it. So how’s Florida, you guys have power? I’ve heard nightmare stories. Everyone good?
Yeah, it wasn’t too major here. The power was out for a couple of days. As far as my house, and our area up here, we got very, very lucky. I know there were some tornadoes down south. Little Sterling and his family, they got it pretty bad. But I think they’re OK. I know the Keys are still in bad shape.
Have you heard from anyone down in the Caribbean? It’s heartbreaking, seeing reports come in…
Yeah, we’re all trying to figure out how we can help. It’s like a war zone down there. Ben Bourgeois and a bunch of us are on a big group message, and he sent out something. And I was like, Oh, shit. We have people down there. Ben’s doing the Waves For Water thing down there, and so we’re all trying to make contacts and try and do an event here, or raise some money.
I don’t know if it’s true, but we got messages from people down there that think they’re really downplaying the death tolls. That it could be in the thousands. But I don’t know. Full war zone, just looting, rape.
God, you can just imagine. Some of those places just have zero infrastructure to deal with this… and it happens like every three years!
Yeah, I mean it’s already kind of rugged. We have a friend who came to a surf camp with us, up in Wrightsville Beach, and he’s down in St. Barths, or one of those tiny little islands. I haven’t heard from him yet, but I know they’re fairly well off, so I want to think they’re OK and just dealing with it. It’s gotta be just really gnarly down there.
But yeah, we’re just getting rolling after the power came back on. I know Evan [Geiselman] is coming home today, and we might put together a little event, a surf contest or video thing, try and raise some money to help down there. There are people collecting stuff in Miami and bringing it down on boats to Puerto Rico. We have a pretty big group of guys for New Smyrna being such a small town, we just have to put our heads together and make it happen.
You guys know how to throw a party. I’m sure you guys can come up with something.
[Laughs] Yeah, I mean, I keep it pretty PG-13 these days. It’s funny, building boards now, I have these kids whose parents are super Christian—and don’t get me wrong, I don’t judge anyone or whatever, everyone’s beliefs are fine—and their parents, they know my, um, reputation. Or, you know, my history. But their parents know where I came from, and they’re stoked that they’re working with me now. They know I’m there for the right reasons. I’m not misguiding anyone [laughs]. I’m just doing what I can for the kids, the way Mike Reola and Mayhem gave me a chance when I was their age.
I’m just glad you aren’t the pro-who-used-to-party-but-now-evangelizes-to everyone-at-the-beach. The boards look great! How long have you been making boards now? [Gorkin’s boards feature the most epic ’90’s thrash Anarchy symbol]
I’ve been doing it full-time now, more or less, for like four or five years. Trying to make it happen.
I love seeing guys like you and Shea [Lopez] making boards, working with these groms. The kids must just be so psyched. Like Kechele or Klugel did for your guy’s generation. How’d you end up picking up a planer?
I needed a board, so I grabbed a scrap blank at Robo’s, after he’d taken off for the night, and just whittled it down with a block plane. It’s funny, I started making boards because I just needed surfboards. I’d quit …Lost, and I was doing a surf camp in Costa Rica, but it sort of fell apart.
Mike Reola’s been giving me good advice as I’ve been doing this, and one thing he said was just not to rush it with something like this. I’m going all customs so far, which is really cool. I really want to get my boards really dialed working the way I have been, get all my ducks in a row.
And then the kids sort of came out of nowhere, just wanting boards, because they’d seen that I was making them. I met Chase Modelski, then Ava McGowan, this kid Max Zachary who is gnarly, and then Sterling Mackish. I work with a lot of kids right now, which has been really fun.
Man, I met Sterling in Pavones last year. That kid is absolutely classic.
Dude. He’s epic. And he rips.
Rips. It was like three-foot Pavones, but one of those super hot low-tide mornings where it’s just creamy, and I walked up the point watching him pick off these tiny double-ups in front of the river mouth, like these head-high-on-him drainers. Just laughing all the way to the bank. But he would paddle up the point just chatting me up, telling the funniest stories. His board looked crazy, and I asked him about it, he was like, “Gorkin makes my boards!” just so proud.
Yeah, it’s been so cool working with these kids. I met Sterling through Ava McGowan, who I used to sponsor, who is just incredible. She told me about him, and he followed me on Instagram. I looked at his profile and, I think he had this little crazy blow-tail clip, and I was like, Whoa, this kid’s sick. He came up and we surfed and I could just see his potential. He’s so smart, and just that crazy white hair.
It’s been so cool, going to California during the summer with them, or up at the US Championships. I end up seeing all these guys I knew from back in the day, and it’s so classic, just hanging with the kids all day, surfing with them.
Sounds like good living. I’m sure you can impart some hard-earned wisdom from your moment in the sun.
Man, I tell all the kids: this is your one time, enjoy it, and be hungry, but don’t let it ruin you.
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