Israel Preciado is a talented surfer from Mexico. Israel stands out for his soulful longboard surfing in a region filled mostly with shortboarders. We spoke with him to learn more about his life and inspirations.
What was your life like growing up?
Unfortunately, no soccer moms in mini vans drove us to the surf – that’s for sure. We were just a bunch of scrawny kids hitchhiking to the breaks and asking friends or tourists to let us borrow their boards. Although there was no money growing up, I was blessed to be raised near the beach, so when I had time between school and work I would go and look for waves. If it was flat then I’d go fishing or diving with my friends just for the fun of it and to make some extra money for school. Being in the ocean was like my escape from the other harsh things in my life that I had to deal with everyday. Nowadays it’s still the place where I go to find happiness and peace of mind.
Tell us about your first surfboard?
As a kid, I didn’t have a board of my own. I was always borrowing different boards. This was fun because I had to always adjust to different styles of surfboards and surfing. My first board was found by two of my friends during a big north swell, each found half on two different beaches. They knew I needed a board and I would take anything. It was a 9’0″ TDK high performance. Really thin, even though it was in 2 pieces it looked brand new, especially to me. I patched and re-broke that board so many times that it became too heavy to carry home, so I would bury it in the sand or hide it the bushes at the end of the day. I rode that board for quite some time.
What was the feeling you had when you first stood up on a board?
It was a crazy mix of feelings like an excitement-nervous-freedom. It was a while ago, but I think that was more or less how I felt!
Who did you look up to when you were a grom?
I looked up to all of my good friends. Josue Villegas, he taught me about tides, swell direction, swell periods, and wind direction. He would ride anything and everything and he still does! I would always borrow his boards or sometimes take them without him seeing me. I’m sure he was sick of me!
Diego Cadena, I always liked his style. He was ripping then and nowadays he just kills it, whether he is surfing 2 foot mush to pounding heavy barreling waves, he’s always both smooth and explosive short boarding. Tzahui Poo, is a hyper-energetic anarchist who made sure we surfed even though we had no boards, no food or bus fare. He taught me that with a little creativity and a lot of heart anything is possible. Gerry Lopez, best style ever and a really nice person. Then there’s Joel Tudor. I never met him in person but I used to watch him in movies or see him in longboard magazines. Enough has been said about him. His dad taught me how to cross step when he came to surf Punta de Mita – muchas gracias!
Tell us about the longboard scene in Mexico…
There is way more shortboarding happening here in Mexico even though there are amazing longboard waves along our coastline. All the sponsors are focused on shortboarding so naturally most of the longboarders gravitated towards high performance. There are some great longboarders throughout Mexico. Guys are charging huge Puerto Escondido or other great waves but with a high performance approach. In the past few years it has started to change. Surfers are starting to ride different types of boards: single fins, retro fishes, quads etc, which I like because it means I’m not the only one riding “weird” boards. There are a handful of people I know that are introducing different kind of surfboard shapes and little by little, the locals and tourists are being influenced by it. It’s nice to see Mexican surf culture maturing and diversifying a bit.
Of all the places you have traveled to, what place in particular stands out and why?
Amazing India in all its glory. It taught me that living in a tiny town called Sayulita on the central coast of Mexico with a healthy dose of warm waves, friends, boards and cold Pacificos is a blessed life. And that camels are only for those with fleshy thighs and flexible hips! Another place that stands out is California, being a longboarder, it was great for me to have the chance to visit and surf those fun longboard waves, be a part of the whole longboard culture. It was just really fun and educational for me to watch those guys riding their logs properly and all those different crazy board designs that are out there. And ”In-N-Out” makes the best cheeseburgers ever!
Who/what inspires you?
My grandfather for his work ethic. My buddy, Jimmy Chin, for his inhuman athletic ability sustained on Italian salami and gummy bears and the fact that no matter the size or condition of the waves he is always stoked and smiling. My friend, Ed Fladung, whose surf blog, Quality Peoples always shows a fresh and inspiring perspective on surf, photography and life in general. My compadre, Eric Obre, who got me in to riding single fin logs and is always filling me in on whats new to ride in alternative boards. He has a great knowledge of boards and a really funny French sense of humor. He always let me rides his heavy Tylers when I visit him. And finally, my friend, Luc Goineau, for living every male surfer’s dream.
What is the greatest thing you have learned in your life?
To be grateful.
Do you have any regrets or wish you had done something differently?
No regrets, what would be the point?
What are you most proud of?
While in India, I got many compliments on my funny wide mustache, so I’m pretty proud of it!
What meaning does surfing hold for you and how has it changed your life?
“I can’t imagine life without surfing – it has completely changed my life in such a positive way. Because of surfing I have met some of my best friends. It has been a window of opportunity to travel the world seeing amazing things and meeting incredible people, some of which I would never have experienced otherwise. Surfing keeps me in the moment. When I am surfing, I have no worries, no expectations, no fears – just pure bliss.”
What brings you the most happiness in the world?
Eating really yummy food after surfing fun waves with really good friends
Who are some of the people you feel are shaping the path for surfing today?
Those who are surfing all types of boards and waves pushing the limits of our sport with or without stickers on their surfboards. They are still using their creativity and imagination to find different and new ways to express themselves.
What is your favorite board? Your favorite surfspot?
If I am surfing a nice perfect waist to chest high wave that we have in this area, any of my Bing logs work awesome – especially my Bing Elevator 9’4″. But I also have sooo much fun with a Liddle or a Mini-Simmons, too. Once it gets a bit juicer, a Bonzer or a ”McThruster” is a good call. I learned this American saying: ”The right tool for the job.” I just really like to try different boards depending on the conditions. It is just more fun, challenging, and exciting this way. I can draw different lines and approach the waves with a different perspective instead of riding the same board all the time.
But, at the end of the day, my heart will always be on a single fin log. Besides the many pointbreaks we have in the Sayulita area, there is one place 300+ km south from Puerto Vallarta in the state of Michoacan that has one of my favorite long lefthanders!
What’s your favorite meal?
Chicken soup and Tacos de Asada
What are you currently listening to on your iPod?
Calexico, The Killigans, Black Keys, and Vicente Fernandez just to name a few.
What causes/organizations do you support?
What are you most grateful for?
My health. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to live to the fullest
What’s next Israel Preciado?
I want to keep surfing as much as possible and try different board designs. I’m working on my surf instruction and guided surf tours called Surf In Mexico throughout the country and I’m looking forward to continuing my relationship with Quality Peoples, I’m one of their models / brand ambassadors and I’d like to see where that leads. I’m also talking with Bing Surfboards about possible ways to collaborate together, I love their boards.
The future is wide open.
Photography by Ed Fladung. Learn more about Ed here.