Seventeen year-old Catherine Clark has a wisdom and maturity beyond her years. Growing up in Ventura, surfing with friends who’ve pushed her to become a better athlete, better musician, and with her feet planted firmly on the ground, look for this natural beauty to do big things—on and off her board.
Interview by Audrey Sykes, photos by Jardine Hammond
How many boards have your broken, and what's the best story that came out of breaking one?
Funny question, actually. I have broken two boards—the first was when I was about twelve or thirteen. I was out at this place in Ventura and it was about seven foot or so. This bomb came in and I ditched my board. When I came up, it was broken in half. I sat on the beach and this kid came up to me—I was, basically, on the verge of tears and I told him not to tell anyone. Next day I came to school, and I was the comedy show for about another year and a half. Next board I broke was in Bali last year. There was a pretty good set and it was about to break on my head. I was planning on duck diving until I saw the Aussie chick in front of me ditch. Unfortunately ditching is as contagious as yawns, and when I came up, I had two boards instead of one!
Have you ever surfed naked? If so what was it like?
Two words: nipple rash.
What are the perfect meals for a good day of surfing?
Perfect breakfast: yogurt and granola with fruit. Lunch: mozzarella, basil, tomato sandwich, dinner: an entire pig, and then some sushi.
You’ve got a great voice and guitar style, how did you get into it and who have been some of your influences along the way?
Oh, why thank you! Well, I love all my friends, and a lot of them are great musicians. It's a great influence and it’s really fun! Most of my songs are influenced by the song “Animal" by Miike Snow, even though I’ve expressed way different emotions within the separate songs.
Have you made any plans to pursue you musical talent, either with goals or skill progression?
Well, this semester in school I’m taking voice and guitar lessons. My guitar teacher is quite eccentric. I just want to keep playing music and get better at guitar and hopefully people will enjoy it!
My main song is Animal by Miike Snow. I also really like the song I Remember by Kaskade and Deadmau5. I have recently been getting into dubstep. It's really fun to dance to! I also like Kid Cudi ...
Is there a certain time in the history of surfing you’d go back to?
Well, I'd probably go back to before it existed, and I would bring my surfboards, and I would ride dinosaurs and such. Probably slay a wooly mammoth and make it my home. Even though the two did not coexist, it's cool.
You've surfed in many places, what do you notice about women’s surfing that’s most similar, and what do you notice most different in the world?
Well one thing I have noticed about women’s surfing is that it has absolutely BLOWN UP and it’s really cool to watch. The girls around where I live all have really good style which is probably because of the point-breaks. I've noticed girls from Hawaii surf with a lot of power because the waves over there are really powerful.
What is your biggest fear about surfing and how do you overcome it?
My biggest fear is going over the falls onto dry reef and also getting held under for a long time in big waves. I haven't experienced either of these which is nice, but once I do, then I think that will help me overcome it.
What’s your favorite break in the world?
My favorite break in the world is this place in Mexico and it’s four right hand point-breaks and when it’s big, it all connects. I’ve never been there when it connected but its already my favorite wave so it must be amazing!
What surfers have you looked up to in the past who have developed your style?
My dad always emphasized style, so I always watched him growing up. I used to surf with Conner and Parker Coffin a lot and they influenced me to go for riskier maneuvers. It's really important to have someone who’s better than you in the water because then you can see what you can do—and the potential of what you can do. Also, Tom Curren is my all time hero. I will strive to surf like him for the rest of my life.