Stab Magazine | Watch Award Winning Documentary "The Westsiders" In Its Entirety
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Watch Award Winning Documentary “The Westsiders” In Its Entirety

Josh Pomer’s film from when Santa Cruz was fast and loose. 

news // Mar 30, 2019
Words by stab
Reading Time: 2 minutes

When I was a grom I grew up in Pacifica, a small beach town north of Half Moon Bay.

Maybe the most notable thing about Pacifica is that it’s oddly where Michael Ho learned to surf. My dad’s family was all in Santa Cruz and we spent a lot of time there as a kid. One day, when I thought I’d graduated from my boogie board at It’s Beach to a surfboard at the Lane, we sprinted past the vocal sea lions and jumped off the cliff for the first time. 

Hitting the lineup I was immediately humbled as Nate Acker ollied my little 12-year-old body. Clad in a neon O’Neill suit, flying on a Pearson Arrow, watching him sail overhead was my first experience with Santa Cruz’s Westside crew. I was too young and dumb to realize it at the time, but I was clearly out of my element.

I’ve lost track of what happened to Nate and Zack Acker, but Josh Pomer’s magnum opus, “The Westsiders,” captures this NorCal epoch in perfect detail. Flea, Barney, Skinny, Ruffo, Collier… those guys ran the show. And they ran fast and loose.

The Santa Cruz scene at the time wasn’t bound by any surf industry norms. They were punting airs at the Lane one day, the next they were shuffling up Highway 1 to charge Mavericks. 

The crew was tight. They surfed hard and partied even harder. And while the bar was set ridiculously high in the water, the late-night antics eventually took a toll. Since the time “The Westsiders” came out in 2010 Barney (2015) and Collier (2018) have passed away. In 2012, Ruffo was sentenced to 730 days in jail for selling meth. Flea ended up in rehab.

Thankfully, for most of the guys that survived there’s a happy ending. Flea’s clean and sober, runs “Fleahab” to help kids kick the habit, and he’s a dedicated, loving family man. Ruffo’s also clean, fit and surfing better than ever. Skinny has officially retired from Mavs, but is a full powder hound and spends much of his winters in Lake Tahoe. They’re all thriving. It’s a wonderful thing.

Pomer recently dropped “The Westsiders” onto YouTube, so if you haven’t seen it, sit down and get yourself educated about a moment in surf history that was both groundbreaking and heartbreaking.

It’s one of the more compelling surf documentaries out there and has just been released for free on Youtube. 

Hit play above. 

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