"Scott Chandler"
Big Wave Charger Scott Chandler

December 29, 2011, Judd

"Scott Chandler and family"
 It’s not the 60-foot plus waves that lifelong Carlsbad  resident and well-known big-wave charger Scott  Chandler has conquered at Todos Santos and Jaws  that’s really made him famous in the national media  spotlight.
It’s not the Billabong XXL big-wave awards or his  world record for largest fish caught off a surfboard—  a 170-pound Mako shark. Nor is it the appearances  in major motion pictures like Marmaduke, Point  Break, Riding Giants and numerous TV commercials.

Chandler might have been one of the first Stand Up  surfers in Carlsbad. Before SUP boards were being  shaped, he was surfing SUP-style, beginning eight  years ago on tandem boards. Now he charges  double-overhead barrels on a SUP.

But the mainstream media would yawn at that accomplishment and his numerous other legendary waterman feats. He has shaped boards for NFL players like Carlsbad High alums and Green Bay Packers Super Bowl winners Brett Swain and Brandon Chillar. He even claims to have received a call from Tom Cruise to shape him a SUP board.

Chandler might be North County’s version of Laird Hamilton, Hawaii’s better-known super-human big wave rider and all-around waterman. But Chandler’s rising media cache has only evolved over the last few years.

He has appeared on Martha Stewart, Montel, the Today Show, and other high-profile media outlets, thanks not to his big-wave riding, but to a Jack Russell terrier.

Zoey is Chandler’s six-year old Jack Russell. For the last five years running, Zoey has been the star of the Loews Coronado Bay Resort Surf Dog Competition, held in Imperial Beach. Ever since the mainstream media started covering dog surfing competitions, producers have been booking Chandler for numerous interviews.

Chandler has two other surfing dogs to whet the media’s appetite: Baby, a Chihuahua, and Coco, an English bulldog.

Chandler’s surfing animal menagerie doesn’t stop there. Seated at an outdoor patio in his backyard, in between two specialty-board shaping bays and tow-in jet skis, Chandler lets out a sharp whistle.

Emerging from under a tarp, Polly, a pot-bellied pig, trots over and sits just a few feet away.

“I took Polly out in the surf at Tamarack. The lifeguards weren’t too amused. I told them that there’s no sign that says, ‘no pigs allowed’. Now if you go to Tamarack, you’ll see a sign that says, ‘No Pets’,” says Chandler.

Seated on Chandler’s lap is Zoey, whose eyes confidently stare you right in the face, as if to say, ‘I’m only 10 pounds and I’ve surfed bigger waves than you have.’

Chandler doesn’t exactly remember when he caught his first wave. He guesses age four or five.

“I remember being down at Tamarack and being put on friends’ and relatives’ boards… When I was 9 years old, Tom Morey was developing the boogie board on Chestnut Street. I rode the first newspaper-shellacked bodyboards right here in Carlsbad,” he says.

At Carlsbad High, Chandler was on the first surf team to win the NSSA champs. He was was one of the first surf P.E. groms.

“At that time we were on our own. We recorded our hours. For every 60 hours we got 5 credits. It’s not like now where you have Coach Cooper checking you in. Occasionally the principal would check in and see if we were all down there,” says Chandler, who is sponsored by JetPilot, Power Balance, Toyota Carlsbad, Stay Covered and Hydro Turf.

After conquering his fear of big waves at local breaks like Black’s and La Jolla Cove and the Tijuana Sloughs, Chandler tested Hawaii’s huge surf with another Carlsbad standout and multiple winner of the Pipeline Masters, Joey Buran.

Up until about a year and a half ago, Chandler racked up thousands of frequent flier miles chasing big swells around the globe.

But now, there’s a new addition to the Chandler household. His wife Nikki gave birth to Rylinn Reef, who is one-year old, and according to Chandler has already ridden a wave, with dad’s help, of course.

“I was doing a charity Stand Up event near Puerto Vallarta and had Rylinn on the board with me at the same time the Japanese tsunami warning came through. It was no big deal, just some big tidal surges,” Chandler says, cradling Rylinn in his arms with Polly and the dogs close by.

Chandler wants to be more of a family man. He admits not being around as much as he should have when his 12-year old daughter, Tyler, was younger.

“Taking some time off also lets my injuries heal. Most of them are from big wave surfing.”

Chandler tore his pectoral muscle after wiping out on a 55-foot wave in Northern California.

“The muscle was hanging limp under my armpit, dangling under two lifejackets and a wetsuit. When the paramedics showed up, I asked how bad it was. They told me, ‘looks like you got a really bad boob job,” he says with a hearty laugh that fits his solid 6’2”, 210-pound frame.
Chandler lives right across the street from Kelly Elementary, scene last year of a school shooting that injured two kids. Along with two construction workers, Chandler tackled and restrained the gunman until police arrived.

It’s a good thing Chandler could never, as he says, “have a 9-5 job.” If it weren’t for him hearing the pop pop of the gun, perhaps more children would have been hurt—or worse.

Chalk it up as another legendary feat in the life of Scott Chandler.

Judd Handler is a freelance writer and wellness/lifestyle coach in Encinitas, California. He surfs uncrowded, fun reef breaks; plays instrumental alternate-tuning guitar; goes hiking in the backcountry; and is amazed on a daily basis by just being alive.