Stories

THE FAMILY GUY | ROB MACHADO

Legendary soul surfer, musician and environmental activist Rob Machado talks family life, making the planet a better place for all our children and why less is more.

I first met Rob many moons ago. He might not remember Sheree from the nineties in her baby pink velour Juicy Couture tracksuit and platinum bleached hair (that was really hard to write) but I sure remember meeting him and he was as cool as – BEEEEP. Back then he was “Rob Machado” part of the famous new school American surf crew.  I can’t profess to know much about the stats of his career (he has been world ranked #2, has won over eight world tour events, was runner up to Kelly Slater in the Surfer Poll for over six years, has been inducted into the Surfing Hall of Fame, is the world’s third most recognizable surfer in the world, blah blah blah you get the picture) but he was back then and still is today, kinda the man. Not because of the fame, the talent or his cruisy signature vibe (the hair definitely needs a mention here) but because he’s one of the nicest and most down to earth guys you will find in the sport, in fact on the planet. With his softly spoken nature and humble soul Rob is not one for the spotlight, which is why I feel very grateful to both he and his wife Sophie for taking me in and sharing a little of what family life means to them. There might be a few extra grays in those famous locks (even better) but the “Rob Machado” of now is many things. One of the most influential surfers of our times, environmental activist, maker of music, dedicated husband and most importantly father to Jax, Rosie and Macy. Below Rob talk about his own childhood, his relationship with his parents, his wife Sophie and how having his own children motivated his mission to educate and empower young people to make better choices and be more aware of the world around them.

An average Rob Machado day…

“Definitely varies. I think my life still somewhat revolves around the ocean. You know if I wake up and it’s pumping, it’s sunny and offshore, I think that still takes priority in my life. I’m lucky to have my wife who is there to look after me and the family while I get to go and play in the ocean. On the average day when the waves are so/so I’m up early with Jax and Rose to make sure they get off to school and after that, the day kind of opens up. I might go for a little surf, just get a little me time in, shape a little bit and then it’s school pickup; yesterday afternoon Jax and I went down to the beach with our dog Hendricks and hit the ball around, played and watched the sunset. Other days it’s swimming class, some days it’s just hanging at home. There are a lot of variables.”

We’re a motley crew because…

“Ok well, there’s me, I’m just a pain in ass and try to do the best I can. Soph (my wife) kind of holds it all together; she’s the nuts and the bolts and keeps the ship heading in the right direction. Then you’ve got Rose who’s a 15 year old going on 22 (well at least she thinks she is), she’s a good kid, she’s in high school and you know, at that fun age just being a teenager and living life and doing what she does. We have Macy who doesn’t actually live with us right now, she lives in Reunion Island with her mum; who knows, maybe some day she’ll come live in California? And then we’ve got Jax. Jax is three years old, just started school and he’s in the why phase right now where everything is, why do you guys do that? Why? It’s pretty entertaining. It can drive you a little crazy sometimes but you know, it’s all fun. If you have patience for a three year old you can pretty much handle anything. Then there’s Hendricks the dog. He’s our black lab, he’s about five years old, he’s pretty mellow, he loves to chase a tennis ball around. That’s his life. So if I can throw a tennis ball around a few times, he’s happy.”

When the genes were dished out, the kids got my…

“Everyone says Rose and I look a lot alike; we definitely have the same hair. She seems to be pretty mellow, like me, I think I’m mellow; it’s hard to say. She’s very independent. She does her own thing and she’s really grown into her own and become a good teenager. Jax, I think he got a little bit of the hair, maybe not as much as Rose, he’s definitely got some locks, maybe not so curly. I think Jax is really just discovering his personality. He might have a little bit more of his mum in him. He talks a lot more and he’s just curious and excited about everything and it’s cool, it’s a good energy to have. There’s a good balance in the house.”

When it comes to parenthood…

“We have a really interesting dynamic. Obviously there’s an age difference between Sophie and I. I’ve gone through raising Rose and Macy 15 years ago, where for Soph, Jax is her first child. We all know that your first child is very loved and protected and cared for; but the dynamic is cool because I’ve already lived through having that first child with Rose, and now I look at Jax a little bit different and I kind of balance out Soph. You know the whole theory of when a kid falls down you’re not to rush over and pick them right up, let them learn from their mistakes and get a few bumps and bruises and stuff like that… it’s a neat balance between all this and we kind of all take our turns helping Jax and grooming him to become a little dude. Rose and Soph are super tight, they’re really good buddies; and Soph’s stepped into that motherly role of dealing with a teenager – she just has a lot of very wise words to say to Rose to help guide her through this interesting part of life, the high school years…”

Since becoming a father for the third time…

“I’ve definitely changed. When I had Jax, Rose was 12 and I think a lot of things have changed, we’ve all changed, the world has changed! I mean technology is now a crazy part of our lives and a part of the kid’s lives, which is definitely challenging to deal with; finding that right balance, how much is enough and all that. But as far as me I think I’ve definitely grown in the sense that I used to wake up every single day and I had to go surfing, I had to be down at the beach, I felt like I was missing something. I’ve realized now in older age it’s more important to spend the quality time and make sure your kids are pointed in the right direction, whether it’s getting them out the door or getting homework done; then I can go out and appreciate my moments to surf and do my thing. I think I’ve realized how to prioritise my life at certain times. It’s a constant evolution of life. It’s just finding the right balance and how to prioritise and I think I’ve just got better and better with that over the years.”

Our family maxim is…

“Less is more. And it doesn’t necessarily apply to everything; it doesn’t work with homework. More is more when it comes to homework! Recently Rose was telling me, Dad, I know when you’re mad, all you have to do is you just look at me in a certain way, you don’t even say anything and I’m just like ‘damn it’. And I was like, yeah, less is more. You know what you did, I don’t even have to tell you. It always seems to come up, not to be overly consumed in anything; everything in moderation. Be a well-rounded person in life and in what you’re doing and school and try to be positive.”

When I was growing up I was…

“A scrawny little kid. My brother was always 100 pounds heavier than me. There were never any battles there; I just did my thing. He did his thing. But we got along, that was cool. If I definitely got into something I was pretty passionate about it; before I surfed I played baseball, I played basketball, I played soccer, I was on a travelling team; I was in the All Stars. Once I started surfing I just fell in love with it and that’s all I wanted to do. I basically quit every other sport I was doing at the time and just dedicated my life to surfing. I don’t know what it was, I just wanted to come home from school and go to the beach and go surfing with my friends. And then I wanted to surf contests and I wanted to get better, I wanted to win trophies, so I became pretty obsessed and pretty passionate about surfing at a really early age.”

When it came to my parents…

“They were both super supportive on any path I took. I remember being on a travelling soccer team and driving to Las Vegas to go to soccer tournaments; I mean I look at it now and go wow I was a 10 year old kid and they’re driving all over the place. And then when I started surfing. Contents were up and down the coast every single weekend and they didn’t trip at all when I said hey I don’t want to play soccer anymore, I don’t want to play any sports, I want to surf and I want to surf in these contests. My dad was like; cool, all right, lets do it, lets get the schedule, lets figure it out. He went to two surf contests and realized like; Ok, well I’m going to go buy a motorhome because I don’t want to sit on the beach all day long. And then he went and bought this old beat up motorhome that he would just drive to the surf contests, he’d park it and put a giant box of Honey Nut Cheerios and milk in the fridge and he had his little TV and he’d watch the sports. He was always there just to say hey, if you need my input, my eyes, my perspective, what’s going on in the ocean, just let me know and I’ll help you. He was like that my whole life. He was like I’ll let you do your thing but if you need my help, you can ask for it. He was always there. And I would always ask for his opinion, and he would give it to me. I think we had a really good relationship.”

When it comes to lessons learned from dad, I’ve borrowed…

“What I talked about earlier; less is more. My dad was very much from that school. Perfect example, going down to the beach; he wasn’t going to sit there and coach me unless I asked for it. He would sit there and if he had an opinion, he’d just keep it to himself and if I would go up to him and say, hey what do you think about that peak over there, you think there’s good waves, he’d say yeah, I’ve actually been watching it and he’d break it down for me in his way. I’ve definitely taken that from him and it’s hard to put into words but it’s kind of not sweating the small stuff.

I remember when I fell off tour I was so rattled and he came up to me and was like, hey man, it’ll be fine, right now you think this is the worst thing in your like but it actually might be really good. And I looked at him like, are you crazy, I mean, I thought the tour was my life and he was right. He was absolutely right. Once you take yourself out of that rut and you look outside, look around and see what’s out there, there was definitely a lot more to life than being on tour, for me. I’ve learned a lot from him; from both my mum and dad. They were very compassionate, very competitive people, hard workers and I think that all sort of rubs off on you, whether you realise it or not.”

My Australian story began…

“When mum and dad hit the road in their early 20’s. They both travelled around the world quite extensively in their early 20s, then they met in Australia and went back to California around the time that Vietnam was going on. They’d left the Northern Beaches of Sydney, gone back to California and they were kind of like wait a second we just left the coolest place ever to come back here and everyone’s freaked out about Vietnam, so they turned around and moved to Australia and they lived there for about 15 years. I was born in Manly Hospital. My brother was born up near Narrabeen.  I lived there until I was about four years old and my parents just decided to go check out California again.  At that time my dad’s parents had moved down to where we live now, North County San Diego – you can imagine what it was like in the late 70s – and they thought wow, this is pretty cool too. I was four my brother was six or seven and they said well, let’s raise our kids here. And I’m still here.”

Life off the beach includes…

“The Rob Machado Foundation (RMF). Its primary mission is to educate and empower young people to make sustainable choices. I stole that from my website. I started the foundation in 2004 with a very simple goal; and it really was our mission statement above. At that time I wasn’t exactly sure how I was going to accomplish it, but I knew that once I started moving in that direction so many solutions started to present themselves.”

The RMF was originally inspired by…

“My kids. My daughter Rose was born in 2001 and Macy was born in 2004. At that time Rose was starting to go to school. When I started visiting schools with Rose I noticed a need for some very simple solutions; simple things like recycling didn’t exist.”

My dream for the foundation is to…

“Inspire children to inspire their children who will inspire their friends, who inspire their parents and grandparents and so on; to be more aware of the choices they make. I can already see a shift in the way kids think. It’s actually really cool to see the effects happening.”

To help out with the Rob Machado Foundation…

“Go on the website robmachadofoundation.org. Check it out and reach out if you have any good ideas about doing something cool in your community. People can help in their own way when it comes to saving our planet; be conscious of your choices, be respectful to the earth.”

The issues we face as a global community will impact surfing…

“Surfing is amazing and will continue to be amazing. I can see a shift in the surfing world as well. People are more conscious nowadays with their purchasing power and where they want to put it; and that will always have a direct effect on the companies. I have always tried to push the companies that I work with to be more environmentally aware of all the choices they make when it comes to making product.”

When we’re not RMF-ing we’re…

“My beautiful wife and I have started a new project. It’s called SALT COLLECTION and it’s been amazing. Soph has poured her heart and soul into it and it’s going to have some amazing stuff from all over the globe. Stop by next time you’re in town.”

When it comes to reading, watching and listening to…

“The one book that I just sent to my dad that I look at all the time is called The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. It’s how to organise your life. It’s pretty cool. It’s the Japanese art of decluttering and organising. It’s not rocket science, it’s pretty straightforward but these books just give you reminders and little words of wisdom on how to declutter your life and live it a bit more simply I guess. I’ve been listening to the new Bon Iver record, which is pretty awesome; I’m just a huge fan. And as far as TV and movies, I’m seriously way out of the loop! I’ll sit with Soph and she’ll watch Game of Thrones, New Girl – but I mostly fall asleep…”

PHOTOGRAPHED BY SCOTT SOENS ON LOCATION CARDIFF, CALIFORNIA

Big thank you and shout to all collaborators on this story. Scotty Soens, Taylor Steele and Felicity Bonello not to mention the Machado family for their generosity and hang time.

Find out more about The Rob Machado Foundation

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SALT COLLECTION is our little Machado beach bungalow located in the heart of Encinitas. “Our home town”
Where we will share with you all our favorite collections from both local and around the globe. At Salt Collection you can find Men’s & Women’s Clothing, Home Decor, Jewelry and enjoy our little Coffee / Tea house. We hope you enjoy what we have created. 
930 South Coast Highway 101
Encinitas CA 92024

x Sophie