Red Bull No Contest Trots To San Francisco’s ‘Thick Skin + Big Heart’ Surf Community  - Stab Mag

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From Civil Rights, to culinary trends, film and entertainment and of course, technological innovation, the City by the Bay has long served as a bug light for many of the world’s most influential brains. While the lofty allure of success intrigues many to visit, it is the blue-collar community of caretakers, many of whom defy the stereotype of the tech-obsessed denizen, who’ve created the conditions in which that kind of thinking can thrive and survive. Photo by Morgan Silvin

Red Bull No Contest Trots To San Francisco’s ‘Thick Skin + Big Heart’ Surf Community 

49 dizzying square miles encompassing America’s most eclectic, underground surf scene and peak technological innovation.

Words by Ethan Davis
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Welcome back to No Contest — Stab and Red Bull’s look into the food, culture and local customs of surfing’s richest international surf communities, and some of the best waves on the planet.

In episode one, No Contest Host Ashton Goggans is joined by Red Bull athletes Jamie O’Brien, Ian Walsh, Izzi Gomez and surf writer Lewis Samuels talking with local legends and exploring San Francisco’s eclectic surf scene — stretching from its epicenter in Ocean Beach to 30 miles south at Half Moon Bay — the unassuming big wave Mecca just outside the city’s limits. 

In coming episodes (dropping weekly), we will be heading to Morocco, South Africa and Tahiti. 

With a population north of 870,000, San Francisco might seem like an odd choice for Stab and Red Bull’s surf travel series No Contest, which for more than three years has typically focused on smaller surf communities around the globe.

Yet strangely, much of SF’s history of surf culture remains underground. As Matty Lopez, a third generation local, surfer and owner of two of the Sunset District’s favorite dive bars explained, “The surf industry, sponsorship and competitive surfing are totally immersed in Southern California. That’s not even part of the deal here.”

“There’s this thing now where people rank themselves based on how long they’ve been here. I judge them based on their intention, like “do you want to stay?”, “Are you going to have your kids here?” because there’s people here that have lived here for generations that made the community here that you like. That you moved into. So do you want to preserve that or do you want to change that?” – Matty Lopez

2023 Big Wave Award winner Bianca Valenti describes how it takes a “big heart and thick skin” to surf Ocean Beach on solid days, and how the next crop of female big wave surfers such as Zoe Chait and Izzi Gomez are banding together to push each other at California’s most terrifying big wave spot, Mavericks. 

Thick skin, big heart. The winner of the 2023 Mavericks Awards Ride of the Year and Performer of the Year, Ms Bianca Valenti.

From there we meet with Mark Valenta, Creative Director at Adobe, and Marcus Sanders, Editor at Surfline discussing the symbiosis of tech and surf, and the peculiar cluster of the world’s biggest tech companies headquartered around the Bay Area.  

A study by the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale found that the average IQ score for adults living in San Francisco was 107. This is higher than the average IQ score of 100, which is generally considered to be the average IQ score for the general population. That might help explain this graphic.

Peek inside Mollusk, stroll through Sunset, grab a bite at Cantina and stay for Ocean Beach cathedrals afforded to “The Most Hated Man In Surfing”.

Check out all episodes of No Contest here.

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