Josh Gilberts is a talented young surfer from El Segundo, California. A team rider and test pilot for Tyler Surfboards, Josh can be seen regularly at El Porto mixing it up with a blend of noseriding and bombing big waves. We spoke with Josh to learn more.
What was your childhood like?
My father was in the military, so we did a lot of moving around when I was really young. I was actually born in Japan. I think I was 5 when we moved to El Segundo so I’ve been here almost as long as I can remember. My parents were always very supportive in anything that I wanted to pursue growing up. When I was 13 and wanted to start surfing and bag AYSO and Little League, they just said “Okay”.
When did you get your first surfboard?
I was 13 and it was an 8’0″ Soft Top from Dive N’ Surf.
What was the feeling you had when you first stood on a surfboard?
I don’t remember the first time I stood up but, I remember my first open face wave. I was surfing the Jetty during the summer. The wave was actually a left and I stood up goofy foot and went down the line. It felt good but awkward and since then I’ve been a regular foot (laughs).
Who did you look up to and admire when you were a child?
I looked up to my dad and grandpa a lot. They both think and behave in a similar manner to me so I have always been able to relate to them. My grandpa was one of the most educated people I have ever met, anything from medicine to planes, to literature, he could cover it all.
When I was 12 or so, I started to spend a lot of around Tyler’s shop and got to know a lot of the old “car guys” pretty well. I enjoyed hearing their stories of growing up in the same area I did 50+ years ago. A lot of my friends at school would give me grief for hanging out with guys who were 30–70 years old but I thought it was a great experience.
Of all the places you have traveled to, what place in particular stands out? And why?
I have really not travelled that much but, I would have to say the Pacific Northwest is my favorite place. I have family up there so that’s part of the reason. It is also a huge change of pace from living in a suburb of LA. Up there it seems like everyone takes the time to say hello or just have common courtesy, which is becoming more and more rare here.
Who/what inspires you?
It sounds cliché but anybody in some sort of an underdog position. Anytime someone is told they can’t do something and then they go out and accomplish it, that is what inspires me.
What is the greatest thing you have learned in your life?
Probably to not waste time on people who are not worth your time and to try to stay positive.
Do you have any regrets or wish you had done something differently?
What are you most proud of?
My friends and family.
What meaning does surfing hold for you?
Surfing has had a huge impact on my life. Without it, I would not have my current job or friends.
What brings you the most happiness in the world?
Besides surfing, maybe driving or riding. I’m wired weird, I like to just sit behind the wheel of a car and just keep driving – doesn’t matter where to.
Who are some of the people you feel are shaping the path for surfing today?
As far as board builders, I think guys like Tyler who have been modifying and advancing surfboards for 30+ years are paving the way. There is a large group of guys who have dedicated their lives to building surfboards and I think that is very respectable. And for surfers, guys like Dane Reynolds are really pushing the limits of what can be done on a surfboard.
What is your favorite board? Your favorite surfspot?
It’s a tie between my 10’0″ Tyler Noserider and 9’2″ Tyler Baby Gun. I can get on either one and know exactly what they are going to do. My favorite spot is the Jetty.
What’s your favorite meal?
Beach Mex Fish Tacos.
What are you currently listening to on your iPod?
Old Crow Medicine Show, David Allan Coe, Hank Williams, Buck Owens, Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard, Chuck Berry, Elvis… pretty much anything but rap.
What are you most grateful for?
My friends and family. I am very fortunate to have such a positive group of people around me.
What’s next for Josh Gilberts?
I’m going to eat a bowl of Captain Crunch, a donut or 3 and then check the waves.
Photography by Brent Broza, Kiyo Okada, and Brad Jacobson/ Civic Couch.