Local longboarder and family man Asia Dryden will share the spotlight with a roster of professional surfers this weekend as the hyper talented crew descends on our cedar smelling coast for the 2016 Vans Joel Tudor Duct Tape Invitational.
Dryden was selected as the lone wildcard for the competition on account of his laid-back style, fun attitude, and 22 years of Vancouver Island wave riding reconnaissance. He will be surfing against fifteen other pre-determined contenders for a prize purse of $24,000USD.
The Duct Tape Invitational in Tofino marks the twelfth event in the international Duct Tape series. Past locales include Noosa, Australia, Huntington Beach, California, and Biarritz, France. Only one homegrown surfer is ever called up to compete at each unique destination.
“As a longboarder, my lifetime achievement award is getting invited to this contest,” Dryden told the Westerly over lattes at Tofitian Cafe.
“I have no delusions of winning,” he said. “I’m just happy to be part of it because the guys are such freaky talents.”
The Storm Surf Shop veteran team rider grew up in interior B.C., but spent half his life on Hawaii’s Big Island.
“My mom lived there. When I was going to high school, I bodyboarded in Hawaii. I moved back here and the waves sucked for bodyboarding so I started borrowing my girlfriends’ longboard,” he recalls.
For a surfer of his rank, Dryden is wonderfully humble and refreshingly dull when it comes to self-promotion on Instagram and Facebook.
“I’ll throw something up once and a while. But I don’t even have any photos of myself barely except for the ones my girlfriend’s taken of me,” said Dryden who consistently makes the longboard final at the Rip Curl Pro Tofino.
Owner of Long Beach Surf Shop (Ucluelet and Tofino) Bill Fend was one of the believers who thought Dryden would be a good pick for the Duct Tape Invitational. When a representative from Vans sent him an email asking to pick one local surfer, Fend didn’t hesitate to put Dryden’s name forward.
“The town got one wild card. It’s awesome that it just kind of came up organically that this was the guy. He made sense,” said Fend.
“He’s a perfect example of what a Tofino surfer is and should be. The ultra competitive community is a lot smaller and tighter, but the rest of us are just out there having fun. I think he really epitomizes that,” he said.
Fun is a central theme of the Duct Tape Invitational. Unlike shortboard competitions where a surfer tries to fit several maneuvers onto one wave, the Duct Tape longboarding event is all about demonstrating style, fluidity, and grace. Riders will be judged based on how smooth they cross step and how their turns flow together.
“It’s more of an exhibition event. It’s not for points. Joel Tudors’ thing is about bringing longboarding back to its cool, stylish part,” said Dryden.
“It’s a gathering of the style mafia or the cool kids,” said Fend. “They really bring a show that’s unique.”
Another original aspect of the Duct Tape is the “shared wave” component where $500 cash is up for grabs for the contestants that demonstrate the best shared wave in a heat.
“In any other competition if you share a wave with someone you get disqualified,” said Dryden. “It’s just about fun and style and sharing these ridiculously talented guys on their longboards with the world.”
On the day of competition, the Man himself will ride his familiar pickle green Hobie Tyler Warren single fin he had custom ordered from Storm over 7 years ago. Dryden said his one goal is not to fall down, and that while he appreciates duct tape, he is more of a red tuck tape kind of guy.
Anyone interested in learning the story behind the Joel Tudor Duct Tape Invitational is encouraged to watch The Ductumentary, available for free online.