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Rick Weeks, the 70 y.o. grom behind the SUNOVA Creek!

Rick Weeks is a self-confessed surf bum who signed a pro contract with SUNOVA at 70 years old. A real silver surfer also known around the world as @supthecreek with a board named after him in the SUNOVA line-up. If you do not know who this real-life surf dude is then grab a coffee and start reading, the man is a legend you need to know about.

Hi Rick! It is not often I get to talk to someone who has a board named after them, but let’s start with you, where does supthecreek come from?

Hi Chris, thanks for taking an interest in an old surfer!

My first and deepest love is and always has been surfing, but like many, I started paddling flat water when there were no waves and was completely blown away by the potential to explore the faraway reaches of many fascinating estuaries scattered about Cape Cod.

It was at a time when most paddlers were obsessed with speed, focusing on stroke cadence, and longer and narrower boards as they trained for the local races. Everyone seemed to be out in the “middle”, going as fast as they could. I had zero interest in going fast, out in the middle. I was obsessed with exploring the edges. Drawn by extremes, I paddled in blizzards, through ice flows, flooded forests and extreme cold.

So the name “supthecreek” was a statement of my priorities. I loved the peace and solitude of paddling the small waters, surrounded by all the beauty that nature provides.

I love the entire race community and go to lots of races, but my paddling is laid back and explorative.

Hence “supthecreek”, now everyone calls me “Creek”

And how did this ‘old surfer’ end up as a Stand Up Paddle legend? What is the story of Rick Weeks?

My first day of surfing was in the summer of 1964, when my brother and I hitchhiked several hours, rented longboards and hit the water. That day my life focus became clear: I would never have a day job that interfered with surfing and I have stayed true to that commitment ever since.

My life was one long surf adventure with Cape Cod summers and winter travel to a different surf sport every year. It started gently with a winter in Florida, then California, France, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand and finally Hawaii’s North Shore.

SUP surf trips have been the entire US East Coast, Portugal, Thailand and Mexico with a winter home in Florida.

That sounds like the script for another Endless Summer movie, why the transition to SUP?

Returning home from a winter in Australia, I stopped in SoCal for a few days and was rewarded by a driver who hit me from behind at a red light and totalled both of our cars. My lower back has never been the same.

I struggled to get out of bed and spent several years on the couch, where I improved my already strong appetite for unhealthy food. I ballooned up to 305 lbs and when I was finally able to surf again, popping up on my surfboard was super hard.

I had several surfer friends who also surfed very well on SUPs, but I just couldn’t understand why they would do that. One day, both rotator cuffs collapsed at the same moment and the “Pop-up” got nearly impossible when the waves were small, so I reluctantly got a SUP for the little days, just the little days.

Ha… I fell 100 times that first day on my 36” wide board but I got one wave and my eyes were opened to the possibilities of SUP surfing.

A feeling most of us know! Then what?

My life changed at that moment and I never had any desire to surf on a regular surfboard again!
After a few days of adjusting to catching a wave while standing, I was able to surf every day… I was back into my surf life in a way that had been impossible since my back and shoulder injuries had all but sidelined me.

When I was researching that first SUP surfboard, I was frustrated by how little useful information there was about SUP boards on the manufacturer’s websites, so I joined the major SUP forums looking for information.

What I discovered was a wonderful community that was truly passionate about SUP and just as uninformed as me.

Whenever I got a new board that suited me, I shared the information on SUP forums for the other big guys out there, desperately seeking useful information. I would take pictures of the board from all angles, showing everything that might help someone learn about the board.

And how about your connection to SUNOVA, how did you get your board in their lineup?

My board reviews attracted a lot of interest on SUP forums around the world. I bought many boards and reviewed the ones I liked. One day a package arrived at my house…. a forum member had sent me several action cameras like GoPro because he wanted me to make SUP surf videos for the reviews. A new door opened as I experimented with filming and different camera mounts then the whole editing thing!

My reviews had a new dimension to them and I gained a strong following of SUP surfers, looking for entertainment and new boards.

I saw a video of a guy in Portugal riding the SUNOVA Speeed and it blew me away… it surfed the way I wanted a board to surf. There were no Speeeds available in the US, so I contacted Martin from Sunova and asked how I could get one.

He replied, a bit tongue and cheek:  “sell 5 more and I’ll bundle them up and ship them right out”
I texted him the next day and said “send em”
Martin: Wait, what???? You sold 5 boards overnight???
Yup
Martin: How?
People trust my judgement and everyone is looking for the next hot board.

I got my SUNOVA Speeed and fell in love

My videos sparked an interest in this board and sales took off in America. Martin asked me to go on an East Coast Demo Tour with him to show the SUNOVA lineup to the new American market. I posted our itinerary on SUP forums and every stop drew crowds of eager SUPers, wanting to ride these amazing boards. A beautiful friendship had begun.

And then, The Creek?

After a few years and many boards, I advanced to lower volume, performance boards.
Freezing New England winters kept me on bigger boards for too long, so I drew up a board, using the best parts of my favourite Sunova’s and asked Martin if it was possible to get a custom board made.

I felt more than a bit sheepish since I had so many great SUNOVAs already but Martin said “Run it by Bert… if he likes it, we will build it!” Bert loved my design, added his magic to the rails and rocker and built my board. They were so stoked with the finished board that they made it a new model and named it the “Creek”

It instantly became a top seller and is featured at top SUP retreats like Mauka SUP Lodge in Portugal and Moon Tour SUP and Surf Luxury Yacht in the Maldives.

 

I’ve spent some time catching up with your videos and it’s great to see you in action on some pretty sweet waves, you have a chilled-out vibe to your surfing and a super-relaxed style. Are those YouTube highlights or is your local spot always like that?

After a lifetime chasing waves with the dream of living in some exotic tropical hideaway, I realised that it was on Cape Cod that I felt most at home. The wind is offshore most days in the summer and our sandbars are better than most.

And, can you tell us where you like to surf or is that a locals-only secret?

Ha ha! I can tell you the area I surf but I don’t even tell my friends which break.

I don’t have to worry about attracting too many surfers to the Cape because there are hundreds of Great Whites in shallow waters along the 20 miles of surfable beaches. Our surf zone is now one of the world’s major Great White ‘hubs’.

There are lots of places with great Whites, but what makes Cape Cod so unique is that the sharks are not offshore, they hunt right at the edge of the crowded beaches. And there are a LOT of them.

Why do I mention that? Because for me, it has created an opportunity to surf empty waves, alone or with a few SUP friends. We are in the water before sunrise, because most surfers won’t enter the water before the sun gets higher in the sky. When they show up, I go home and have breakfast.

You probably have more time on the water than most people reading this, what are the highlights so far – if they are printable!

The highlight has always been putting surfing first…. I always understood that money wasn’t the focus, it was merely a tool you needed to survive. Life has always been my focus, so I built a world for myself that allowed me to control my time… not a clock.

Surfing all the best breaks in the world during the 70s, when it was crowded, but not insane.
Swami’s, Lafitenia, Ragland, Noosa, Sunset, Pipeline and the rest.

I sat in my treehouse at Sunset and watched Eddie win the Duke!

Discovering that SUP surfing was totally awesome.

We have to agree, SUP is totally awesome!

SUP changed everything in my life. I went from a 305lb / 140kg wreck at 55, struggling to get up on a surfboard, to a  healthy 74-year-old grom. At 70, I signed a Pro Rider contract and I get paid a monthly check just to surf 😊

A 74-year-old grom, love it! And what is the secret to staying in the water for so long?

Passion, pure and simple, I love surfing as much today as I did when I was 16 and I expect to surf better tomorrow than I did last year. Never backing off keeps you engaged and focused.

We hear that you have a new collaboration with SUNOVA coming up, what can you tell us about that?

A majority of SUP surfers came from surfing when age or injury required a change. Hence most are dealing with issues: Failed shoulders, injured knees, neck issues or just age-related realities of weaker legs that lack the compression and snap of a young body.

When I realised my knees didn’t allow full compression and extension through a turn, I had to come up with fins that helped me overcome that challenge. I studied my videos and found little fixes that helped me to overcome my age-related weaknesses and surf better.

For the new board, the time seemed right to create something that was designed from the ground up to help ageing SUPsters maximise their performance. Not a bigger, wider board to make it easier… but a board that rips by working with our weaknesses.

I worked extensively with Bert Burger to identify the parts of the boards that worked best for me and the parts that didn’t work so well. Bert is a savant at interpreting conversation into very defined design features. I was very specific about what I wanted and he knew exactly what to tweak to make it happen.

I don’t want to get into specifics about exactly what points I addressed but I will say, it is designed to rip, be effortless and comfortable at the same time…. it was designed for the conditions that most SUPster surf daily. The bigger sizes will have plenty of width for those who need it and the smaller sizes are similar to the performance boards.

The magic is in the details! I am more than stoked…. I have 2 sizes being built right now!!

Rick, thank you. I am already looking forward to finding out about your next collaboration with SUNOVA.

Rick Weeks is a SUP Surfing legend leading the way for most of us who just love being on the water. Rick’s social media channels are fantastic places to spend time and lose yourself in some laid-back SUP surfing action, here are the links for his Instagram and YouTube channels. His board, The Creek is part of the extensive range of SUP Surfboards from Aussie brand SUNOVA and his next collaboration will soon feature here on TotalSUP.

SUNOVA are one of the leading surf and SUP brands in the world with a massive range of boards and equipment, you can find out more about them on their Facebook, Instagram and Twitter profiles and of course read about them here on TotalSUP.

Images from Rick Weeks, Rick Bates and Eddie Deveraux.

About the Author

Chris Jones

Chris is the driving force behind SUP My Race, a distance challenge group for Stand Up Paddlers on Facebook. He is a super-keen paddler who has been on the water for nearly 10 years now and shows no sign of stopping. When he isn’t logging data on his laptop he can be found on the lakes and coastal waters in south west Sweden.

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