It's not always an easy life on the Banks. Summer can be as brutal as winter's ugly cold. And traditionally, it's always been a lonely place.
But like most places where things don't come easy, the harvest can be great for those who've put in their time. There are now fellas on the Outer Banks who can make a few bucks from barrel-chasing these days, between the fishing and nail banging. Several names come to mind. But guys like Noah Snyder have paved the way.
A week on the Outer Banks wouldn't be complete without a conversation with a good ol' boy from Kill Devil Hills
This is the Noah Snyder
That was some swell you had in October. It's been a pretty good late summer and fall, eh?
Yeah its been pretty good, but we had a little spell of the blues right before the big nor'easter hit. I think everybody was a little caught off guard by the storm, but it turned out to be a great week of waves. The current was nuts for a couple days, but it made for some pretty memorable rides.
I remember at one point, you were doing tile work. You still get behind the wet saw at all?
Haven't in a while. Things have been a little on the slow side for tile due to the state of the economy, but it's a trade that like the surf can turn on at any time.
I had heard that construction really slowed down on the Banks for a while and for most, it was a main source of income, right up there with the tourism industry.
It's slow, and it's kind of hit or miss these days. Most of the stuff going on now is remodels, as apposed to new construction, so that's probably one of the biggest changes overall.
It's definitely a different place than it was when you were growing up. How have you seen the Outer Banks change from those sleepy villages and country living to what it is today?
The crazy thing is, I can remember when the Outer Banks Bypass was only two lanes now its 5. Everything has just blossomed, or as some people put it 'overdeveloped.' It's not the same as it used to be, but I would say some things are better. Then again, some are worse.
What are the pros and cons of that?
More opportunity, but more competition. Bigger roads, but more drivers, and some crazy drivers, to say the least. I think sometimes less is more, and sometimes more is less. It just depends on how you want to look at a situation. For me, I try to pull the positive out of things, and leave the negative things behind, but as we all know sometimes that is tough to do. If I am honest I do get road rage now and then.
Yeah, hard to imagine road rage down there. Can you fill us in on the current state of the beach access issue? (The Audubon Society recently filed a lawsuit with the National Park to limit beach access for not only 4-wheel drive vehicles, but also foot traffic, essentially cutting off areas of beach access
to surf spots and damaging the local economy. Read more about the effort to maintain access here
In a nutshell, at different times certain beaches are shut down, and then they'll open back up for a few. It's been pretty random. Certain surf spots have been a little hard to reach, at times. From a surfer's standpoint I've just tried to educate people on the situation. Honestly I don't agree with everything that has gone down, but you just have to try to make the best out of it.
How about those fishing gloves
? You still surf in those?
Oh yeah! Those 2-mm gloves work insane. Just don't get a hole in them and you'll be fine. All you do is get them just a little loose so your circulation doesn't get cut off, and your hands will stay pretty warm for a while. First time I tried them out I was like, "these things are not going to work."
Boy was I wrong I came in claiming them. They're insane.
A few years ago, you toured with the film "Noah's Arc
," to spread the word of Christianity and you were also in "Walking on Water
" last year. There certainly are some very influential surfers who are really enthusiastic about their faith.
Yeah, Jesse Hines, CJ and Damien Hobgood, Brant Doyle, Will Tant, Billy Diggs, Tom Curren, Matt Beacham, and so on. All these guys have a different path in life with different struggles, but the one thing we all have in common is the love of Jesus Christ. It's his love that has changed us all.
For me, it happened in a way that I never would have expected. I wasn't looking for it at that time in my life, but God had a way of getting through to me. This truly is one of the best things that ever happened to me.
As far as enthusiastic? Well, the best example I can give would be that it's like that perfect sandbar you find. You walk over the dune and the waves are going off. You're standing there going, "Oh my goodness look at that one! No look at that one, its insane!"
So you're scrambling to get your stuff on, and get in the water as fast as you can, but the last thing you would want to do is surf it all alone. So you try to turn your friends onto it to share the moment. You want them to get that same stoke you get from an unreal session.
I know you run a Surfing Boot Camp
in the summer. Does religion play a part in the camp?
Yeah, I try to relate this in a parallel way to the physical part of working out. You get out of it what you put into it ! The Surf Boot Camp is a four-week course that meets Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings, bright and early.
Each session is kicked off with a quick devotion and prayer for the group to chew on during the core-strengthening workout. Team building and encouragement are also a huge part of the program along with many types of exercises to keep you guessing. The Surf Boot Camp is designed to strengthen you physically, mentally, and spiritually, and it will put you in some of the best shape of your life.
It seems like the God Squad is especially heavy here on the Outer Banks.
Heavy waves need a heavy squad!(laughs)
Yeah, 'God Squad,' I've heard that term so much over the years. Honestly, I would have to say it's more 'God' than the 'squad.' People are always searching for something to fill that void that's in all of us. For me, I was always trying to fill it with surfing, friends, and travels. That void kept resurfacing in my life until I gave God a shot. I would say more than a "squad." It's a family.
There certainly is a lot of young talent in North Carolina right now with Rob Brown, the Heaverly brothers, and Brett Barley.
Yeah, I just surfed this last swell with all them, and I'm very proud of all these guys they all rip. It's been neat to see each one of these guy come into their own over the past few years. Brett Barley is just mental in his approach to heavier waves. The Heverly Brothers are very well rounded, and Rob Brown has that tube thing down.
When you were coming up in the 90s, you seemed to make a decision to stay on the Outer Banks instead of moving to California. Do you feel like you kind of paved the way for the kids who can stay on the Banks and get barreled instead of living in Orange County?
I hope so, but I can't take all the credit cause there are so many people that helped me along the way. The Banks is on the map thanks to all the photographers, magazines, media coverage and generations of surfers. This is such a special place, and it has been really good to me.
On the other hand, Orange County has its benefits for up-and-coming surfers, but at that time in my life I wasn't ready for the O.C. The X factor was my sponsor. Being under Bob Hurley
and Paul Gomez, they allowed me to do my thing. They supported me from the get go and it paid off. Probably one of the best trips of my life was with Bob Hurley to Indo. Something had come up with Paul Gomez, and he gave me his spot. The trip ended up getting great waves and tons of coverage. Thanks Paul.
Do you have anything big in these upcoming months? Yeah actually I've got a bunch of stuff going on and coming up. The WRV Battle of the Banks
waiting period is now to the end of November (the call was made to hold the event on Saturday, October 17th, but the roads washed out.)
Also I've got a couple trips coming up soon that could have some potential, but in the meantime I've been trying to take advantage of my time at home to concentrate on work for Hurley. Besides surfing I'm also doing events and retail marketing. So between family, surf, and work, I've been on the go a bit.
How is the family?
Family has been one of the best things that has happened to me . My wife, Corissa, is my better half by a long shot. She keeps my in check.
She's half Puerto Rican so she's a little spicy at times, but that's what I love about her. I've got 2 kids my boy Ezra is five years old, and my little girl, Jaida is just over two . Having children has put a lot of perspective on life for me. You learn a lot about love through a child. They have there challenging moments , but the good out ways the bad by a long shot . Ezra is just getting into surfing wich is really cool, and he might just be a goofy foot. Corissa also surfs. She's the best mom surfer in my book. Being from Minnesota, I wasn't sure if she was going to fall for the sport, but she did and she fell for me (laughs.)
Sounds like all is well here for you. Thank you, sir. Always good to be down on the Banks.