My brother and i get a interviewed by Surfer Mag in what they called humanoids.
HUMANoids the Bruhwilers
If you transplanted their scene to the tropics, Raph and Sepp Bruhwiler would be the envy of every wannabe pro in America. The brothers grew up in a beachfront trailer on a lush, wave-rich island that had few resident surfers and even fewer who came to visit. They started young and got good fast, they spent much of their teens motoring up and down the coast in boats and beater trucks, surfing tree-lined points with no one else around. They were the first surfers in their area (in fact, in their country) to gain attention from the international surf media, and thus the first to make a living doing the thing they love most.
But the envy fades a bit when people find out that the Bruhwilers hail from the harbour town of Tofino, on Vancouver Island, in Canada, where the price of empty surf is icy rain, bear encounters, and long winter nights watching videos of other guys ripping.
Raph is now 30, Sepp, 26. Here are some slices of their story, in their own words and in the words of some people who know them:
Raph Bruhwiler: "Bears? There's always bears. One time we drove to this point break and checked it out from above. It was firing. We had to walk down this narrow trail along a creek that had salmon in it. Maybe 50 feet in front of us there was this huge black bear right in the path. We started chucking rocks at it, and it charged us. Full speed. Stopped about five feet in front of us and then turned and just walked into the forest. We were shitting ourselves."
Keith Malloy: "I went up there to visit them last December, middle of winter. I wanted the full Canada experience. It was freezing for sure. A couple of days where it just pissed frozen rain all day long. The heaviest part was flying into Tofino. We were in this tiny six-seater. We went through a snowstorm, and ice started forming on the wing. The pilots were just sweating. It was heavy. I fly often, but that one scared the shit out of me. I had a ticket to fly back to Vancouver, but I was over it. I took the ferry."
Peter Mel: "I've been there three times. There's a hugh surf scene up there these days, but Raph and Sepp are the best surfers by far, and they know where to go to get the best waves. When you go with them, you're basically surfing by yourself"
Malloy: "Those guys are world class surfers, for sure. Its pretty amazing. And both of them just charge."
Raph: " When we started, the only other surfers up here were really old guys, with thick, flat boards and wooden fins. When the first Momentum video came out [in 1992], I couldn't believe that people actually did that crap: aerials, 360 tailsildes. I just started trying it and trying it, and then finally landed something, and was like, 'Oh its possible.' If it weren't for those Taylor Steele videos, I'd still be doing little cutties."
Sepp Bruhwiler: "We grew up right on the beach, eh? Raph learned first. I kind of followed in his footsteps. I started on one of those cheap Styrofoam things when I was about six or seven"
Raph: " Back then, kids' wetsuits didn't come any thicker than like 2-mil. We'd surf for a half hour, run back to the bathroom and jump into the tub-- all four of us [they have a sister and another brother] in there with our crappy little wetsuits. We'd run out, surf, run back in, thaw out for 10 or 15 minutes, run out, surf, run back in…"
Malloy: " The program up there is that they each have three of four wetsuits in rotation, so that they never have to put on a wet one"
Mel: "Raph has this beautiful little fireplace right in his garage that he's always stoking, so his wetsuits are always crispy. He always suits up at the house. Always. He never does that whole change-by-the-car-frigid-can't-feel-the-zipper thing."
Raph: "I never, ever, ever wear a wet wetsuit. Not here. It's just too hard."
Mel: "it's funny because Raph and Sepp are totally different humans. It's like they're from a different stock. Raph is methodical and cautious. His surfing reflects that: he charges, but he's calculated. He doesn't make mistakes that often. Sepp, on the other hand, learns by doing and making mistakes. He doesn't think about the repercussions. He makes lots of mistakes. Too many mistakes."
Sepp: "I'm getting over a pretty bad injury. I just got back in the water last week. Broke my arm at the local skatepark, like seven weeks ago."
Mel: " Sepp is one of the few people I know who are really good at all three board sports. He's a good skater, and a gnarly snowboarder. He could easily win on of those surf-skate-snow events."
Raph: "There are five surf schools here these days, and they're all booked. From June to September, our school probably teaches 60 to 100 people a week. We even have lesson around Christmas time. It's crazy."
Malloy: "You know what blew me away? I went out for a surf at this beach break in Tofino. remember, this is in December. Freezing water, brutal wind. You jump in the water and it feels like rocks hitting your face. A day for bearded, gnarly men. There were like 10 guys out and it wasn't until I got out there that I realized four of them were cute little high school girls, just out there playing around. And a couple of them could really surf. It was like Blue Crush comes to Canada."
Raph: "There's always going to be waves to explore because the coast is so rugged and untouchable, and the only way to get to a lot of the best spots is by boat or plane. We've got SeaDoos now, which makes it easier to get around during big swells. We found a lot of new good waves this winter, but it definitely takes time and money and effort to get to them. Risk, too. If something happens out there, you're going to be in survivor mode for a couple weeks."
Sepp: " We'll go as far as an hour and a half from the harbour here in Tofino on our Sea-Doos, probably 30 miles. You need a lot of gas if you go that far, so we strap on a couple of jerry cans of gas. It's a definite hell trip. My kidneys have been really sore. In fact, I kicked the shit out of myself so much just bouncing around on the ski that I ended up pissing blood."