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Chris Murphy: A man in a fish’s world

Preparing for lift-off on a northern peak. Photo by Brett Hoffman

Chris Murphy, 23, is a passionate surfer hailing from Encinitas, Calif., who has nothing but respect for the immense San Luis Obispo County coastline. 

Murphy grew up in La Jolla, Calif., where he first discovered his love for surfing around the age of 10 years old. He remembers being inspired by Cyrus Sutton, an American surfer and film director whose adventurous and innovative videos lit a fire under the young Chris Murphy to be creative and explore the surfing universe.

Later in his life, Murphy found himself living on the Central Coast and attending Cal Poly. 

“Coming from surfing down south to surfing up here in SLO was like night and day,” Murphy said. “It’s just a really raw coastline and everything is super spread out.” 

Murphy continued to explain the differences in surfing up north compared to back home. He talked about the humble feel of the northern surf culture, and the abundant sea life that lingers in its waters. 

“I almost wish there was more of a crowd sometimes because of how sharky it can be up here,” Murphy said with a smirk.

Murphy’s quiver. Photo by Chris Murphy

Murphy has a rather wide selection of boards that are ever changing. Currently, his favorite board to ride is his 5’0’’ fish crafted by Zen Surfboards. 

“I’ve had it for six years and it still goes amazing,” Murphy said.

Murphy talked about the surf trips he’s been on, including Australia, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Vancouver. The most memorable for him was his three week long winter trek from San Diego to Vancouver. There, in the ice cold region of Canada, Murphy and his friend hunted for surf breaks anywhere they could find them. 

The spontaneous nature of the Canada trip is what made it so special for the two travelers. Murphy detailed sleeping in a car, camping, staying with friends, and surfing any spot they could see breaking off the side of the highway.

Wave by the California/Oregon border. Photo by Chris Murphy

When Murphy isn’t in the water, he likes to spend time rock climbing. He explained how much energy climbing takes out of him, and how it is absolutely perfect due to his rather energetic nature. 

“I love getting inspiration from my friends for hobbies,” Murphy said. “Climbing is just a lot of fun and super exhausting, which is good because I have a lot of energy.”

Murphy is also drawn towards all sorts of music. For a while, he has been into MF Doom, a British-American musician. 

“He has so much good music and all sorts of these weird funky beats,” Murphy said.

Hanging on for dear life. Photo by Mark Gavit

Murphy talked about past surf competitions he participated in, including local high school competitions and even a couple of contests in college. Murphy really enjoyed the friendly competition with other surfers he knew, but never did it for anything other than that.

“I never have done it to win money or get my name out there,” Murphy said. “It was just fun to get a little competitive.”

Murphy explained how competition surfing is a completely different kind of surfing, and nothing he ever wants to get too invested in. He explained how surfing is a passion of his, and he never wants to make it serious or something to stress about.

Murphy plans on taking a big international surf trip this summer if it is possible with COVID-19 restrictions. He concluded by talking about how he is taking advantage of his time away from Southern California, and enjoying living it up in SLO.