GROM SPOTLIGHT | Korey Svardal

Bridging the generation gap

By Neal Kearney

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Growing up on Pleasure Point in the early ’90s, I was a member of a dense pack of surf rats who, when we weren’t on land terrorizing the public or stuffing our faces with candy, would surf all day. Through my twenties, it felt as if there was a huge generation gap in the hood, due in large part to land snatching for vacation rentals and gentrification in the neighborhood. Where were all the kids building forts in the lagoon and skateboarding where they shouldn’t be?

Fortunately, a healthy new crop of grommets began sprouting up a few years ago. Among them was Korey Svardal, now 16. Svardal and his youthful crew became a welcomed addition to a lineup of disillusioned and grumpy grown men. Amped, ambitious, and respectful, Svardal’s attitude is infectious. As he grew, his power and sound technical approach began to set him apart from his peers. Last year, the goofyfooter used these skills to win both the 2015/2016 Explorer and Open Juniors (15-17) division titles of the NSSA Northwest Conference.

VonZipper and Xcel Wetsuits rep Dane Nabal saw potential in Svardal and began to sponsor him. “Korey stood out at a young age in all the best of ways,” Nabal says. “He was never scared to paddle out to the peak on the bigger days, take a set wave and execute big turns. We called him little Occy because his style and approach was so similar [to surfer Mark Occhilupo’s].”

As of late, Svardal has admittedly been surfing less. He moved from the Point to Aptos and has been spending more time on his bike than his board. Being a talented young surfer with a calendar full of contests, training, and practice drills can be overwhelming. Trying new things and flirting with different peer groups is normal in high school. But surfing is in his blood, so we expect we’ll continue seeing him out in the lineup.


Age: 16

Sponsors: Reef, Xcel Wetsuits, VonZipper, Berdels, Dakine

Surf spot: Pleasure Point

Favorite wave: Little Wind ‘n’ Sea

Worst beating in the surf: That would have to be one I took at Sewers left. It was one of the first swells of winter and I had only surfed the lefts once or twice. A double up came through and I started scratching for it, but just as I stood up the thing jacked up and threw me straight over the falls. I was doing flips then hit the reef. It was definitely was an experience.

Worst grom beating: I’ve never really gotten super bad beatings from older surfers, just dunkings and flushings—nothin’ like the stories I’ve heard about what it was like to be a grom years ago.

My perfect wave: It would be a perfect roping left barrel on the outside and then it turns into a perfect high performance wave to shred on and finish with an air section.

Is it hard being a goofyfooter in Santa Cruz? I like being a goofy footer in the land of rights. I love surfing on my backhand, so I’m fine with going right. However, I also try to catch every left I can, if I can find one.

Barrels or airs? Barrels. The feeling of looking at the end of the barrel and then flying out is like no other.

Who do you look up to in Santa Cruz? I look up to a lot of people in the area—really anyone who shreds or has a positive attitude. But the two big ones are Nat [Young], because he has an insane backhand, and Shawn Dollar, because he rips, charges, and has a super positive attitude.

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