Show Us Your Quiver – Paul Cheatham
When Paul Cheatham was a high school kid in the East Bay, he used to wake up at 4 a.m. to get in his car, head to Ocean Beach for a surf starting at 5:30, and make it back to school for the first bell at 8. He even created a beach club, but found out that not too many other people were interested in getting up at 4 to go to the foggy, cold beach.
After a 10-year stint in Santa Cruz, which started for Paul as a college student and culminated with the creation of his own clothing line, No Enemy, he has finally moved within walking distance of Ocean Beach. He doesn’t have to be up at 4 a.m. to surf any more, and he is one of the guys who is out there almost every day of the year, regardless of the conditions. His diverse quiver is catered towards surfing every day, and at the same spot. He doesn’t own a car, so he just suits up, walks down the street, and that’s where he surf. “So many guys chase waves around, but I don’t even think about it. I just surf the beach every day. When you’re limited without a car, it changes your whole perspective.”
Paul started his clothing line No Enemy in his last year at school while studying sociology. “Brands are one of the most powerful influences on society, so I wanted to create a brand that had a meaning, and was more than just a word.” He deliberately leaves No Enemy’s message open to interpretation, but the heavy emphasis on fair trade, organic cotton and environmental stewardship makes it the type of clothing line that you can find at places like the Power to the Peaceful festival in Golden Gate Park. Paul designs the clothes to match his interest in cruising the coast and surfing, so it’s a lot of warm and comfortable wares, with a positive message of peace and connectivity.
Paul is thoughtful and soft-spoken, and tends to keep a low profile in the line-up. Although he admits that he’s seen his fair share of tension in the water, he always tries to bring the “No Enemy vibe” into the water with him. He’s a surfer who clearly hasn’t forgotten that first and foremost, surfing is something we do for fun.
We got the chance to meet up with Paul in his garage, and to look through the surfboards that were stacked behind boxes of No Enemy shirts and hoodies. He was kind enough to bring his boards down to Kelly’s Cove for photos with a friend on his own time. Here’s what he had to say about a few of his favorite boards, in his own words:
I got an alaia about a year ago, and the first wave I caught on it was out at the Lane. It is the fastest board you will ever ride. There are no fins, and nothing is holding it back from going. It always wants to go with the wave. I came up to the beach, and definitely felt like the board would work here. Because what does “work” really mean? It’s fast, and it holds a line. The sharp edge kind of acts as a fin, and I love it. It’s kind of like one of those boards that it can be your only board, if you want it to be. It can work in anything. It will slide across flat slow sections better than a 9-foot longboard, and it will go faster down the line than a single-fin, and if you pearl on it, it’ll just keep going. You can actually completely pearl the board, and be surfing the board under water, and then it’ll pop back up and you’ll keep going. It’s so thin, it slices through the water.
I like to say that a single-fin is like a knife through butter. A thruster is like a fork through butter. An alaia? That is the butter.
I got this from Jon Wegener, and surfed it from the end of June until around March, pretty much every day at the beach when I wasn’t taking out my 7’4″. If it was too small for that, I would take out this 5’11″ alaia. I bought it from Jon Wegener out of San Diego. It’s 5’11″ by 17″ by what, maybe half an inch or a quarter of an inch thick.
There’s no leash, and I love it. No leash at the beach is the best! It’s sand so you don’t have to worry about dinging your board. You might lose it for a while and have to chase it around, but it’s great. You gotta be careful with people on the inside, sure. In the same way that it won’t pearl, it follows you when you wipe out. It can stay with you. I have been hit by the board when I was eight feet under water, whereas a regular surfboard stays on the surface.
They duckdive really well, and it’s kind of like swimming. If you can swim out to the line-up, you can get your alaia out to the line-up. And if you can bodysurf into a wave, then you can ride your alaia on it. The thing about it is that they are so slidey and slippery that when you’re dropping in, even if it’s a one-foot, mushy wave, it requires a focus beyond anything I’ve ever experienced. It requires you to be so focused in on every little thing that you’re doing, which is that feeling that we love when we’re surfing in the first place.
7’4 Danny Hess
What can I say. Hess is the man. I got this about a year ago, last summer, and didn’t have any days for a while. … I was like, 7’4″ gun in the middle of the summer, but it’s insane. It catches waves really, really easy. I’ve had some amazing waves on point breaks with big pumps, drawn out turns. … I don’t know what to say about it. I love it.
I mostly have glassed-in or no fins on all my boards. Hess said he really enjoys the connection of the fins to the board, and these are custom-made fins that he got out of some reclaimed redwood.
I’ll take this on the biggest swells of the year at Swift Street, and I rode it every day when it was macking this year. I guess we didn’t have a lot of huge, macking swells, but it was a consistent winter.
This one guy saw me in the line-up and said that he saw the lip land right in the middle of the board, and he could not believe that the board wasn’t broken. He paddled over to me, and was like, “What just happened? How is your board not broken? What are you riding?”
5’9″ Tomo Twin Fin
This is really unique. It’s got these massive fins, which are way wider, and thicker, and maybe even a little bit taller than your average fin, and it’s got these really technical channels. It’s short and light. It’s kind of like a fish that’s more drivey and more stable. You just feel so confident with these huge fins. I was really curious about high-performance twin-fins, and Brandon Shipley recommended that I check out Daniel Thompson’s Tomo boards. I was imaging a twin-fin would be kinda squirrely, but this board is actually really stable and can do big turns. But it’s still short and narrow enough to get funky.
It’s my newest board, and I think you want some decent waves in order to let it shine. This might replace the alaia a little bit next fall.
This is the first surfboard I ever owned. It’s a 1981 single-fin Haut. He called it the high-pressure expansion tail design. I got it at Live Water Surf Shop for $150 when I was 11 years old. It needs some major repairs right now, and maybe I’ll get it all fixed up. I surfed it up until 2004, so I had a good 15-plus years on it, but maybe some day it’ll come back. This is the board I learned to surf on, at Ocean Beach and anywhere else I could surf before school.
Haut’s so cool. He has been surfing Santa Cruz since 1957. He’s a living legend. He’s still shaping, and is still stoked.
We are always on the hunt for interesting people who love interesting boards, so if you know of someone who might be a good fit for the next installment of “Show Us Your Quiver,” let us know by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org