He’s an icon in the sport of surfing, and there are few people who embody the ethos of “The Rise. The Shine.” quite like Rob Machado, our friend and Vuori collaborator. “I’m forever grateful for the pure love of riding waves,” says Rob. It may surprise you to learn that initially, he was scared to surf big waves. But he leaned into that fear until he was able to rise to the highest levels of the sport when he won The Billabong Pipeline Masters and was inducted into the Surfer’s Hall of Fame in 2000.
“I forced myself into places that I didn’t want to go and eventually I overcame my fears,” says Rob, which is a great reflection of “The Rise. The Shine.” It’s a reminder that everyone has their own personal mountain to climb, and when we rise to the challenges, we truly reveal our shine. Today, through his Rob Machado Foundation, Rob continues to inspire others by providing environmental education at the local level. “The trickle-down from that is the kids come home from school and call out their parents for drinking out of plastic bottles,” says Rob with a smile.
Surfing, building a legacy, and maintaining the spark of inspiration—Rob tells all in the clip below.
At Vuori, we talk about “The Rise. The Shine.” as a way to share how the challenges we face can often help us reach our most exciting or formative experiences. Have you had a moment like that?
“I turned professional when I was 18 years old and part of my job was to go to Hawaii and surf very large waves—and it scared the crap out of me. To deal with it, I just lived there for months and months. I had to learn how to surf bigger waves. I forced myself into places that I didn’t want to go, and eventually I overcame my fears and I went on to win Pipeline Masters in 2000 which was the highlight of my surfing career.”
How did you get started with your environmental advocacy work through the Rob Machado Foundation?
Surfing, for me, is [a way to really connect] to the energy of Mother Nature. That really opened my eyes to the environment and how much we need to take care of it. In 2004 I started the Rob Machado foundation. [At that time, it was] just to provide environmental education to kids. We started putting in refill stations at schools… just working on that whole mindset. And then, the trickle-down from that is the kids come home from school and call out their parents for drinking out of plastic bottles.”
What was it like for you to help our design team come up with the Infinity Boardshort?
“Vuori is such a positive force in the apparel industry and I know that by coming together, we can make a truly powerful impact in our respective communities… [With the Infinity Boardshort,] I was very fortunate to be able to be included in the whole design process… They’re stretchy—but not too stretchy. Just the right stretch.”
How has surfing inspired you?
“Surfing has taught me so many lessons, it’s just endless, but patience is way up on the list… There’s a destination out there that you’ve got to fight to get to—you’re duck-diving, holding your breath, getting bounced around. Then you finally get out there and you have this moment to recover. And then it’s just about waiting… It's crazy when you take the surfing mindset and try to compare it to any other sport. The act of riding a wave involves patience, too… You have to be ever-present to be able to react on what’s constantly changing.”
Beyond surfing, what practices help you quiet your mind?
I’m so grateful that I have surfing because that’s the reset for me, but there are times when I can’t surf so mornings when I can do a quick yoga [practice], breathing, or even an ice bath—anything that I can fit in that keeps me centered, brings my focus back to just me. Be selfish for a minute and care for myself.
What’s next for Rob Machado Foundation? You started with a recycling program at your daughter’s school and now you’ve provided recycling and gardening programs to state beaches, schools and other communities.
The focus now is more on water. We’re trying to eliminate single-use plastics from school campuses. A lot of high schools still have vending machines selling water which is just wild to me, so putting that access on the campus for kids—bring your reusable bottles [to the filling stations]… it’s cool to see how it’s evolved now where every kid has got their own personalized water bottle.
Your career has taken you around the world, and into some unexpected places—from topping the world’s best surfers list to your current work as an environmental activist and educator. What’s the connective tissue with everything you do?
“It all came from surfing—the pure love of riding waves. I’m forever grateful for that—still. It kind of baffles me but it’s great. I love it.”