SA’s big wave surfers are held in high regard around the world. And while Twiggy and Chris Bertish are undoubtedly the Generals in the Saffa charge internationally, perhaps Frank Solomon can be regarded as the official PR officer – making friends wherever he goes searching for crazy waves.
Frank, conducting a PR meeting with Mavericks locals, Grant Washburn and Dwight York.
Having recently returned from his annual Northern Hemisphere mission, we asked another nice guy, Dan Redman, to catch up with Frank and grill him about his time abroad. They chatted about his journey; his new movie; the recently announced big wave event at Dungeons; his expanding CV; and his bad history with girlfriends.
Interview by: Dan Redman
Hello, Frank. You just got back from another long stint abroad. Another successful mission?
Well hello, Daniel son. I am indeed back and very happy to be home after five months on the road. Yeah, I feel it was a success – I surfed Jaws for the first time; got amazing waves in Mexico and California; plus a bunch of sessions out at Mavericks.
A moment of anticipation at the Mexican Pipeline.
You started off in Mexico. You went twice in 2013. You must really enjoy the place?
Mexico is incredible! I managed to convince your brother to come with me this time after giving up trying with you. We had an amazing time. A couple crazy swells at Puerto Escondido, one or two Coronas and even a trip inland to check some of the mountain towns. Neither of us wanted to leave.
You keep going back and spending time at Mavericks too. Has the time you spent there been paying off? Have you been finding your place in the lineup? The Saffa guys have had one or two sour comments thrown their way in the past for over dominating the lineup.
My goal from the beginning has been to get into the Mavericks event. Just to be invited to that event is an achievement in itself, (because) there are so many gnarly guys in the contest. I definitely feel that my time there has been paying off. I have a really good crew of friends there and we are all on the same program. San Francisco kind of feels like my second home now. Every year I have moved up the alternate list, so hopefully in the next couple years I’ll be in. (laughs) Yeah, they gave us a bit of grief the one year but I’m friends with all those guys now.
Dropping into a big, cold peak at Mavericks.
After California you threw in a little Jaws and North Shore for good measure. Hawaii seems to have had one of their best seasons in years?
The year really turned around at the end of December. It went from one of the worst Nor Cal winters ever to a really good one. And Hawaii didn’t stop from well before the Pipe Masters. I was on the North Shore for one day then flew to Maui for a week, back to the North Shore for another day, then back to California. Basically I spent only two days on the North Shore.
Jaws is another wave Frank can tick off his ‘been there and done that’ list.
Yourself and Josh did the whole journey to Mex and Cali together. In-between being work buddies, you guys got a couple caverns in Mex and a few decent swells at Mavs, but then he bailed you. Did you guys have a fall out? Cabin fever get the better of you two?
(laughs) It’s amazing that me and your brother haven’t killed each other yet. I honestly don’t think I could travel like that with anyone else besides Josh. It’s almost like dating someone for three months because we spend pretty much 24hrs together. Amazingly we didn’t have a fall out, I don’t think we even had an argument this time. Well, maybe a couple, because Josh has a germ phobia and I didn’t sterilize my hands before making him coffee (laughs). Seriously though, we have had some pretty amazing times in the USA. I’ll have to write a book one day with all the stories.
Josh and Frank, soaking up the Mexican vibes.
Ja, I know all about that germ phobia of his. You don’t spend more than four maybe five months in one place at a time and you haven’t had a steady girlfriend in longer than I can remember. Is that by choice? A frequent traveller tactic to avoid possible future dramas?
Look what having a stable girlfriend has done to you, Daniel (laughs). Jokes, no it’s not by choice, I just haven’t found anyone I really like yet I guess.
But you have had a lot of girlfriends in your time. All of them you thought were the one. All of them thought you weren’t the one. Have you maybe given up looking for one? Too many bad memories?
Unlike you, Dan, I’ve had more than one girlfriend. I’m like that guy that you date then after we break up the next guy you’re with you marry – what’s that movie called again? I definitely haven’t given up looking, in fact maybe I should try harder.
Making friends in Hawaii.
Maybe you should. More tears never killed anyone. You must be stoked your local big wave spot Dungeons is on the Big Wave World Tour this season? Unfortunately only six locals get selected into the main event. How are you fancying your chances of avoiding the alternate list and seeing your name straight into the main event? There is also going to be a few disappointed names left off that list. Whose would you like to see in there?
It’s very exciting for big wave surfing and surfing in South Africa that the event is back on. Being born and raised in Hout Bay, I guess Llandudno and Dungeons are my local spots (laughs). Yeah, I am really hoping to be invited into the main event. I have worked really hard the last couple years to surf as many of the events around the world as I can, and to have one at home is a huge bonus. There are so many good guys here that choosing just six is going to be very difficult. I think guys like Mike Schlebach, James Taylor and Andrew Marr all deserve a go. Then there are guys like Simon Louw, Jacque Theron and Mickey Duffus who have been surfing there longer than anyone. It’s going to be interesting to say the least as to who gets in and who doesn’t. I think it is going to go down to a vote, so we will have to see.
You have got a feature film coming out later this year called “Let’s be Frank”. How’s the progress coming along? What is the storyline looking like? Parties, girls, girls breaking your heart, and a bit of surfing?
You will have to wait and see.
Alright then. You have been doing the winter here, winter abroad routine for the past six years now. You have never really done it on a full sponsorship budget, so you’ve had to do a lot of odd jobs to make things happen and cover your day-to-day living expenses. What does your CV currently look like?
Almost seven years now. Wow, I can’t believe it has gone so fast. Red Bull have supported me from the beginning with airfare. Reef have also supported me from the start, and the last two years Hurley have been looking after me, which has made my life a lot easier. Last year was the first year I didn’t have to do odd jobs, so I guess my first as a pro surfer. But yes, for the first five years I’ve had every job under the sun. Josh and I aren’t scared to work and I think that’s helped us get to this position. It’s been an amazing past two years for me and I appreciate every moment that I can call surfing my job.
Frank and Josh – Christmas tree lumberjacks.
How many more years do you think you’ve got left in the Franktank to live the lifestyle that turns others green with nastiness?
The Franktank? (laughs) I’m not sure Daniel son, who knows what will happen?! But I definitely feel like I still have 10 years in me. And when the time comes that I do call it a day, I hope you are the one doing that interview.
Cool story, Frank.