Cyrus Sutton, the driving force behind surfing's D.I.Y. movement and the creative brains behind the web log Korduroy.tv, is visiting New York City this weekend for Vimeo Festival and Awards and maybe to shoot some footage about urban gardening.
On Sunday night, he'll be at Lost Weekend NYC, a coffee shop in the Lower East Side, screening "Riding Waves," his first feature-length documentary and screening a handful of Korduroy's best short flicks. The event is being put on by SMASH (Surf/ Movies/ Art/ Shaping/ History), an organization dedicated to promoting independent surf movies, cultural events, musical performances, surf websites, art, and board shaping. Cyrus, who lives in Encinitas, California, will be filming a tarp-surfing video.
Sutton, 28, is a throwback to the days long before surfing became a billion-dollar industry, when wave sliders were still pioneers and castoffs who lived close to the land. A few years ago, Sutton was sleeping in his van, living one surf session to the next, scraping together a living by doing freelance film and editing jobs and installing organic gardens in peoples’ backyards. It’s a lifestyle that every surfer has contemplated, but very few of us possess the bravery or initiative to commit to. He was no loafer, though. He was working.
Sutton is incredibly motivated and ambitious. Over the past seven years he has cobbled together an impressive body of work, including a 2005 special for Fuel TV called “The Tsunami Relief Story” that won an Emmy, and "Tom’s Creation Plantation" (2009), about virtuosic surfboard shaper Tom Wegner. In the winter of 2010, Sutton released "Stoked and Broke," an introspective film about an eight-day, 30-mile surfari from Leucadia to Mission Beach, California.
For the project, Sutton made his own boards, crafted his own bamboo rickshaws to transport gear, fashioned his own hobo stoves, and panhandled for money. The film is a wonderful reminder that you don’t need to ride state-of-the-art equipment or spend a mint on travel to live a truly meaningful surfing existence. Most recently, Sutton released "Under the Sun," a beautifully produced documentary contrasting surf culture on the Gold Coast of Australia with Byron Bay.
However, Sutton’s crowning achievement is Korduroy, the website that he created in 2009 to promote D.I.Y. surf culture. There are short films (Jimmy Gamboa shredding at Malibu, or a three-minute-long series of perspective shots Sutton filmed during a dawn patrol session, called “Cyrus’s Sunrise Lefts”) and interviews with surf luminaries, such as Gerry Lopez and Reno Abelliera. There’s a collection of how-to videos on a vast array of surf-specific subjects, from making your own environmentally sound sunblock or board wax to building your own surfboard camera mount. And from making a driftwood candleholder to repairing your wetsuit with dental floss.
Thanks to Korduroy, I now know how to fix a ding with pine needles; use my wife’s old panty hose to remove stale wax; de-funkify my wetsuit without buying wetsuit soap; reuse an old deck traction pad (they cost about $35 new); fix a busted fin using a common screw and some super glue; and make a bodysurfing handplane out of an old skateboard.
"Cyrus is at the forefront of the D.I.Y. movement, and this event is just a nice way for many to meet him and have a great conversation about some of his latest projects and his beliefs in D.I.Y. and what direction he thinks surfing will be heading," says Tyler Breuer, the founder of SMASH, about the weekend's screening in New York City. "Hopefully this meet-and-greet will inspire many of us to commit to a more D.I.Y. lifestyle."