Dudes…Mortals with steeze.
Pigdogging pits on the nose of his self-made single fin, backdooring double-section-drainers at Lakey Peak on his self-made twin-fin, and all done with a gentle fluency uniquely his, made Derrick Disney a standout on the island of Sumbawa recently. No small feat given he was there at the same time as Creed Mctaggart, Ozzie Wright and Dion Agius. He is an American surfer on the rise but it's the way he's doing it that's caught our eye. He's doing it his way, combining the smoothness of style and flow enabled by retro-board-design principles but with enough modern tinkerings to allow him the power and critical lines that is surfing in the post-Herring/Slater era. Just catch Vissla's latest film, Palmera Express, to see it for yourself.
A product of Cardiff in San Diego's North County, Derrick, who is of Korean/American descent, grew up surfing alongside the Drifter himself, Rob Machado and counts among his close friends new school experimentalist and fellow Cardiff surfer, Ryan Burch.
"(Rob) is one of the people I look up to the most. You see him at home riding alais or weird little boogie board shapes and things like that, which you don't usually see people doing, and it looks like he's having so much fun and not just always trying to rip," he says.
Derrick was originally a promising young hotdogger who competed on the American Junior Series and rode for Reef (as Machado does). But he soon burned out on the contest trip. These days he's studying modern art, film and photography at a community college back in San Diego (he was travelling with a daunting looking Yashica camera when we bumped into him). He also shapes his own boards out of a friend's garage.
"I'm just into surfing and having fun with it," he says. "Seeing Rob and Burch riding all those different boards prompted me to try and start doing it. And hanging with Burch prompted me to make my own boards and just have fun." Before coming to Indo he'd only made a couple of boards but the buzz was immediate. "You get a different feeling when you hop on your own shape. The first time was a crazy feeling. I didn't even really care if it went well, I was having a blast," he says. But the boards did go well. Of the six sleds he's brought to Indo, three are experimental self-made single fins and twin fins. He's barely ridden anything else the whole time and says more and more he's seeing people step away from the high performance path. "I think people are tired of trying to rip everyday, especially where I'm from. I see people messing around with all sorts of boards; retro boards, longboards and in general I see a lot more people are getting barrelled on single fins," he says. The two and a half months he's spent in the islands, meanwhile, has taught him more than he ever learned in a classroom.
"I think travelling at this age is the most important thing you can do," says Derrick.
"It's my first time here, so it's been pretty cool to check out the culture and the way of life, besides the amazing waves. And to see all the people who travel from far off places to surf really good waves is pretty nice too."