MONTH OF THE WOLF: So we'll get started, are you from San Diego originally?
J. Oly Norris: I was born in San Diego at Sharps Hospital.
MOTW: When did you and your family relocate to Encinitas?
Oly: We moved here when I was in 7th Grade, so probably '89. '88 or '89, something like that.
MOTW: How did you start getting into surfing?
Oly: Got into surfing early on, we were at the beach as much as possible. All the time. We lived 45 minutes from the ocean when I was kid. There used to be a dirt road that went through the back of Solana Beach, we would take that route all the time. I used to have a little motorcycle, my sister had a horse. Cruising trails, shooting BB Guns and stuff like that. I was six years old and we were at Seaside and some guys were burning a board in a bonfire and I went up to 'em and asked if I could have the board. The guys were super mean, basically told me to piss off. You know, burning a board on the beach the guys were probably drinkin, it was Seaside back in the day. I remember one of the dudes grabbed the board out of the fire and started washing it off in the water, came over and was like, "Here ya go grom." Was an old little Sauritch, my Dad pushed me into a wave and that was it. I remember that crystal clear. I still have the board. Total keeper. Pushed my daughter into a couple waves, going to get my son on it soon.
MOTW: Can we talk Suckouts?
Oly: (Laughs) Yeah, sure.
MOTW: What year did you start surfing out there?
Oly: Yeah! It's funny with those memories, been surfing over 30 years now and there are some crystal clear ones that stick out. But yeah, I probably sat over there as a kid on higher tide days not knowing what it was. Probably 7th or 8th grade...
MOTW: So like early 90's, something like that...
Oly: Yeah, yeah like '90. I remember sitting out there and seeing the water do such strange things. A wave would break outside and this tiny little pack would be out, nobody would paddle out to catch this wave and seeing one guy turn around to go. And it was like, why is that guy catching whitewash? I started scooting over there more and more. All older guys back then, I was kinda drawn to that. It was a really cool time within those years. I've always really liked all the Reefs, everything between Swamis and Pillbox. Really love that whole zone.
MOTW: Definitely a good stretch...
Oly: So by '90 and '91 that was my go-to spot. I wanted to try and get a wave back then. It was hard.
MOTW: I'm sure, so from 1990 until now what are the biggest differences to you?
Oly: Um, there is alot.
MOTW: Within surfing...
Oly: I always try to hesitate, I mean the go-to response would be the waves were better, it was less crowded, there were less groms. And I mean, obviously there were no dudes with stand-up canoes so that's like the big obvious. I'm glad I got to experience those years, because it's never going back to the way it was.
MOTW: That's a good point...
Oly: The tale end of those years. I feel like George's and all the waves were better. My mind as a grom was like, I hadn't had the experience of traveling and going to other places and surfing REAL waves that were gnarly. I was in this bubble. Seaside Reef and Suckouts were the gnarliest waves. I remember thinking they would suck out dry and you would die out there. (Laughs).
MOTW: I know right, I remember thinking that as a kid, that those two waves were the craziest ever.
Oly: And you realize it's just a really fun closeout. (Laughs).
Oly: I would say there are similarities nowadays, a lot of individuals that come and go that are passionate about the spot and help maintain some kind of cool order you know? It's cool because it's nothing threatening or jock-fighter style, it's more like heckling. It's like you weren't born here, whatever.
MOTW: I think you get over that at some point.
Oly: Exactly! It's a privileged thing, that whole area of Cardiff.
MOTW: Speaking of individuals, who stands out to you the most out there?
Oly: Todd Thornton, Colin Smith. Those two to me as a kid, and still today, I fan out being in the water when those guys are around. Colin Smith, one of the gnarliest human beings, and coolest. Same with Todd Thornton, just legendary.
MOTW: A lot of memories...
Oly: A lot of memories. Bodyboarders as well, some cool guys. The Myers Brothers were just so gnarly out there. And Longboarders like Dale, he would do these Second Reef fades switch and get the craziest switch-stance tubes out there. I remember seeing that as a kid and thinking how is that happening? The Tudor family, Josh and Joel, their dad Joe. A whole cast of characters and just great, great surfing.
MOTW: What's the heaviest day you've seen in your time out there?
Oly: Yeah, it was Thanksgiving. Probably '98, it was a day that was just total washthroughs. South Peak was pumping but super crowded, the tide got a little bit higher so I paddled over to Suckouts. It was kinda holding on a few and that cat Jay Moriarity paddled out. It was cool because it was as heavy as it gets here which is nothing up North. It was right after he got that cover shot, you know the one where he's getting pitched at Maverick's?
MOTW: Of course.
Oly: He was about the same age as me so I recognized him right away. Said what's up to him and it was so cool because he was so stoked! He told me he was down visiting his Mom in San Clemente for Thanksgiving and he surfed the wave before in a Longboard Contest. He had always heard about it I guess. It was a real short session because it was alot of duckdiving. It was amazing to see a guy that had never surfed the wave before when it was on know exactly where to sit, and how to surf the wave. I'm sure it was nothing to him. It was big for me and gnarly for me and to be out there with him, and to see his talent was really cool.
Oly: Aw man, my kids. To learn from them, to see how they handle situations like someone being mean to them, or being mean to somebody and learning from that. It's just great to see that process. It changed my perception.
Oly: I was just listening to one of my favorites Boiler Maker, it gives me shivers listening to it. It's an old 7" from an old band from Encinitas. I love a ton of local bands I grew up with, I'm a sucker for Zeppelin, Sabbath, old punk and hip-hop. New stuff, I've been digging on The Black Keys man, they're giving me hope. I really don't understand the whole techno music thing. But if that's your thing, I'm cool with it.
MOTW: If you could give advice to kids coming out of here, what would you tell them?
Oly: Yeah, we live in a pretty amazing place and that were incredibly lucky. To not look down on others because they weren't privileged enough to grow up here. We all have our own back stories and face tough times, this and that, our loses and our gains, as does everybody. It's really cool to get out and see other spots, really get out there and be the only English Speaking American around and learning from those people. And whatever bad scenario your in, just hang in there and it will get better.