Chris Barfoot AKA Taco is a proud Islander an amazing father and a great friend. Wreck Age Mag was fortunate to nail Chris down for some questions as we tagged along to one of his favorite spots. If you see Taco in the lineup, ask him about his new project…details below. Additional photos by Jennifer Dykstra www.openimage.ca
RD- Chris, you’re an Island boy born and raised, hey?
CB- Born and raised in Nanaimo BC
RD- So where did you take your first steps?
CB- I took my first steps in the Harewood neighborhood, in Nanaimo and really didn’t have to move too far from home.
RD- Let’s say you ran into your grade 10 English teacher today would he/she be shocked that you’re all growned up and responsible?
CB- Well I don’t think they’d be shocked that I grew up but I think they’d be shocked that maybe I turned out the way I did.
RD- So you’re presently living in Nanaimo now?
CB- Yeah, out in the country… Nanaimo got too big of a city for me.
RD– Seems the perfect launching pad to hit up all the goods on the Island.
CB- It is, its central to everything.
RD- Before you and I met, I was hearing all these stories about a dude named Barfoot. I figured a guy with stories like that surrounding him and with a name like Barfoot he would either take a bullet for you or put one in you, and if you remember, I was all sketched out and quiet when we met. Lot of legend type stories out there.
CB- (laughs) I remember when we met, I think I was just as quiet. It didn’t take too long for us to become two of the world’s most talkative guys out there.
RD- I think I offered to wash your truck as an excuse to hang out!
CB- It’s dirty now!
RD- (laughs) Do you remember the first time you paddled out?
CB- Yeah I do…first time I ever paddled out was at south Chestermans beach. I was a lifeguard when I was younger and there was a group of veteran guards that would do an annual surf trip during the summer and must have been hungover cuz they invited me to tag along. I was 17 and I can remember the first wave and that instant feeling of being hooked.
RD- Who were your surfing homies back then?
CB- It used to be the Davies brothers, Veg, Beebs and Mike… bunch of the old guys that were surfing long before me from town…oh and Garfield. And yes, his hair was red too but he was named long before the cat.
RD- So what set up did you have that day?
CB- Oh you know…typical to everyone’s first day. I brought with me a 6’4 standard short board that I had rented from the local shop here in town and uh…I struggled. That entire weekend I just could not stand up. It felt so small, but we had also brought with us some of those lifeguarding paddle boards. Back in the day we used to have lifeguards on all the beaches here in Nanaimo and so we brought the paddle boards with us and once I got on that and stood up it was over, I knew that every other sport was going to be pushed to the side.
RD- What’s your current quiver?
CB- Currently, I have a 6’4 and 6’0 Alohas that I picked up from the local shop here, Alternative Groove. I also have a 10’ longboard for those fun days with the family, you know those small days down on the south Island… walk the nose. Me and my wife tried to Tandem on it but it went as well as a couple trying to back up an RV for the first time.
RD- Did she pick you up?
CB- (laughter) Ya..she must of…I’m not very good at picking up women!
RD- (Laughs) NICE! Alright…as long as I’ve known you, you’ve always been about making and keeping connections. I guess shaping your own boards and doing repairs has led to forming some real close ties with the surfing community? Can you tell us how you got into it and where it’s taken you?
CB- Well…shaping boards is something that I’d always wanted to learn, something that I was always interested in. My first board I ever purchased was a Garry Linden and I looked at that board every day…I’m the kind of guy that if my Mom gave me a toy, I’d break it apart and try to figure out how it worked. And when I got that first surfboard I wanted to know everything about it. It’s hard for me to talk about something or describe a board or how it works if I didn’t know how it was made and why it was made a certain way. So ever since I started surfing I always wanted to make my own boards and I was lucky enough that when we built our house a while back I built a little shaping bay where I got to try making and shaping surfboards. It was a lot of fun but, I have to admit it was probably the hardest and dirtiest thing I’ve ever attempted…and I have mad respect for the guys that are doing it and making a living at it.
RD- You shapers are like Gandalf to me… full of secrets and mystery…this glass and that resin…can you describe your first shaped board?
CB- My first shaped board in my mind was perfect…but when I stood back to look at it, it just showed me how hard it is to make a surfboard. Shaping a surfboard is like whittling a carving. Its…you know…a lot of work. A lot of taking your time and stepping back and trying it again until you really understand what you’re looking at. It’s a very sensitive subject and one that teaches you a brand new vocabulary…one that you don’t really like to use around your kids. I have a really close friend that does it for a living…Stefan Aftanis, who helped me as much as he could but it got to the point I think where I still had too much to learn so it took me in the direction of doing lots of surfboard repairs. I feel that in one small repair you can learn so much. Way easier to learn on that scale than wreck a good blank.
RD- What name did you shape by?
CB– I went by Barfoot Surfboards and it was kinda neat to surf something that you made and then to see someone else ride them and get the feedback from them on what you’re doing…y’know..you learn a lot.
RD- Do you still have your first board kicking around?
CB- I just got rid of it. Funny you asked that. It went to someone who is learning and I’m stoked that its going to somebody that’s learning how to surf on something that I made.
RD- First board first waves…perfect.
RD- When I first found out about the Right Side Collective (R.S.C.) and then learned you were the mastermind behind it I remember thinking “It’s genius, of course its him!” What’s the back-story on the R.S.C.?
CB- Well you know, growing up here in Nanaimo and surfing on the West Coast on both north and south Island and being the talkative guy that I am, I get talking while out in the water and I was just floored by how many guys there are out there surfing now that are from the East Coast of the Island. I started thinking that potentially there’s a bigger surf scene here on the East Coast (the Right Side) then there is on the West Coast. I thought y’know , what’s the point of this? How come we’re all surfing. ..I know it’s a solo sport but… I’m sure there’s lots of Bros out there that would like to connect and share gas money and share stories and just share the passion and the stoke of surfing. Well when I found out I couldn’t do repairs any more one thing led to another and one night I was sittings at home and was really missing that connection that I was making with repairs, you know hearing those surf stories and feeding my stoke when I wasn’t in the water…So I started up the Right Side Collective and one thing led to another and it’s growing.
RD- Yeah..its everything from gear advice to catching rides….
CB- Yeah just everything surf and beyond. Just sharing good lifestyle stories. It’s about sharing jokes and sharing spots…not everyone likes that but…I’m not afraid to share.
RD- You’ve been involved with the Rip Curl Stew/Cold Water Classic for some time. There are some heavy dudes in that.
CB- The Rip Curl Stews been fun. Growing up surfing you’re always looking down the water, down the waves and you’re seeing these guys just ripping. Locals from Tofino, young and old. And when I say young, Peter Devries was just a little kid when I first started seeing him and he’s matured into one of the finest surfers out there. And of course there’s the Bruhwilers who have always shone and I’m not just talking Sepp and Raph but Catherine as well. I wanted to try and surf at that level…and besides that I’ve always really liked watching competitive surfing, ever since I was a kid. When you look at those surf magazines most of those guys were competitive surfers..free surfing wasn’t really around. I’m a competitive guy and it sorta allows me to feed both passions, y’know, the love of surfing but also the will to compete.
RD- I was there watching this year and it was really big, really well attended.
CB- Rip Curl has done a great job. They have categories that make it fun for everyone. You’ve got the pros, you got the groms, your girls and you have your old guys..like me.. they create a little environment so that everyone that’s there can have a great time.
RD- Speaking of the sponsors, it was crazy!!..the Right Side Collective was getting shout outs from the announcers at the comp..it was nuts. Real recognizes real! I see your stickers everywhere…you got yourself a gang going on there!
CB- (laughter) Yeah like I say the R.S.C. was just a little idea but people are starting to grasp it and they kinda own the fact that they know they’re part of that scene- that big scene -that’s on the Right Side of the Island. We got boys from Cumberland all the way down to Victoria we even got boys on the mainland. We got people back east even Europe. The internet is a powerful tool and when you talk about a passion its pretty easy for people to jump on board.
RD- Speaking of power and the Right Side, you actually surf Nile Creek in storm season?
CB– Yeah yeah..Nile creek and (censored) and (censored) and that new spot (censored) we found. Its crazy to think you got super secret spots on the Right Side but its good. The Right Side surprisingly can get really good and it’s a fickle spot but for us its close to home and its ours.
RD- You’re always down to paddle out.
CB- Any day in the surf is better than a day on the couch.
RD- Connection is a pretty central theme with you be it family, friends, surfing…I’m hearing you’ve got another mastermind project up your sleeve to help surfers stay “connected” Do we get the exclusive scoop or are you gonna make us wait?
CB– Well you might have to wait, its kind of a “sticky” subject. We’re working on sustainability…when I wasn’t able to do surfboard repairs and stuff it really got me to thinking about surfing and the products that surfing uses and its impact on the environment. When you have kids you really think about this stuff. I’m thinking of ways to still be connected to the industry by creating cool products but maybe ones that are better for the environment. So we got some ideas going and some product development going on so hang on tight cuz soon you won’t be slippin!
RD- So I guess I gotta “stick” to the Right Side for the drop.
CB- Yeah you do!
RD- Chris, I know you’re a busy dude with a globe to take over and we at Wreck Age want to thank you for your time. Before you go, you got any shout-outs?
CB- Yeah I do…I want to give a shout out to the local surf shop here in town, Alternative Groove and all the boys that work there and the owner (Marc). They’ve really helped my family along the way to keep surfing by trying out new gear and keeping me stoked. I want to thank those guys that took me for the first time and I want to thank anybody I’ve ever taken for the first time because seeing that enjoyment when somebody catches their first wave just makes you appreciate everything a little bit more. I want thank you guys at RSDK for keeping me excited and getting me stoked and of course everyone on the Right Side Collective. See you out there! www.facebook.com/RightSideCollective