The Lume Life of Billabong Pro Surfer, Rob Kelly
Pro Surfer, Rob Kelly, has surfed waves all over the world from the tropical waters of Hawaii to the bone-chilling New Jersey coast on Christmas morning. Rob has a healthy surfing resume filled with airs, barrels, and hard turns. If you thought he surfing ends when the sun goes down, you thought wrong! Rob hunts night-time barrels better than most and uses Lume Cubes to light the way! Meet Rob:…
WHERE ARE YOU FROM? WHERE DO YOU LIVE NOW?
I’m from Ocean City, New Jersey and that’s where I still live.
WHEN DID YOU FIRST PICKUP A SURFBOARD, WHAT BOARD WAS IT?
The first board I surfed on was a 10 foot longboard. I was on a family vacation in Waikiki, Hawaii and my uncle took us out surfing.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART ABOUT BEING IN THE SURFING COMMUNITY?
I think just the people. Being able to spend a lot of time with people that have the same passion regardless of what they do outside of surfing, everything else kind of just goes out the window. Everyone is on the same frame when we are out on the water which is kinda cool.
WHEN YOU’RE NOT SURFING, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?
When I’m not surfing, normally I’m out on the road. I work for Billabong in a kind of marketing role on the east coast, and I ride for them as well. I’ve been riding for them for awhile, and over the past few years I’ve taken on some marketing roles too, as a hybrid rider and team manager.
YOU’VE SURFED WAVES ALL OVER THE WORLD, FROM TROPICAL TO HOSTILE COLD ENVIRONMENTS, FROM BOARD SHORTS TO A DRY SUIT. WHAT MAKES YOU WANT TO TRAVEL OFF THE GRID TO FIND THOSE COLD ARCTIC UNRIDDEN WAVES?
I think a big part of the reason I’m drawn to travel and chase cold water waves is because of the challenge that comes with it. Having to deal with the weather extremes and extra gear makes scoring good waves that much more satisfying. It’s also a plus that most of the time you’re surfing an empty lineup in the winter too.
HOW DO YOU BALANCE CAPTURING THESE EXCITING ADVENTURES AND REMEMBERING TO LIVE IT?
I like the creative capturing part as much as I enjoy the actual suring. For me, it doesn’t feel like I’m juggling the two–I enjoy them equally. So I never feel like having the camera out and with me is a burden, especially with the GoPro and Lume Cubes.
IF YOU COULD RIDE ANY WAVE WITH NO CROWD, WHAT BREAK WOULD IT BE?
Ooh… definitely pipe.
WE SAW YOU SPENT THE 4TH OF JULY SURFING UNDER SOME FIREWORKS WITH LUME CUBES. TELL US ABOUT THAT NIGHT.
That was kind of a tradition, we’ve been surfing under the fireworks for close to eight or ten years now. A lot of surfers in town get behind it and it’s always such an awesome experience. Basically, we paddle out right before they fire off the fireworks from a barge. We were never really able to capture it because it’s at night, so having the Lume Cubes allowed us to capture it, relive it and to show it to the people that don’t necessarily surf. It was the first time we were able to capture that cool experience.
YOU’VE BEEN RIDING SOME MAN MADE WAVES LATELY, CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE DIFFERENCE IN THAT WAVE COMPARED TO A REAL WAVE? WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE AND LEAST FAVORITE PART?
The obvious difference is that it’s mechanical and that you get the same wave over and over again. That has positive and negative aspects–it kind of takes away the fun of trying to hunt out a good wave and a lineup, but that can also be positive. My favorite thing about it is the training aspect – being able to get the same wave over and over again, and being able to practice maneuvers in a way that you’ve really never been able to practice before. The few times that I’ve spent there, I could just see how much of a training tool that would be. On the creative side, it’s awesome that you know where the section is going to be every time so you can plan shots and set them up. The wave pools open up a lot of cool nighttime creative opportunities.
AT THE WACO WAVE POOL, YOU HELPED CAPTURE AN IMAGE OF ERIC GEISELMAN THROWING A SICK AIR AT NIGHT. TELL US ABOUT THAT SHOT!
So basically, Eric was surfing it and I was taking off behind him on a foam board with a stick, the GoPro mount and the cubes. I was just riding behind him, trying to get as close as I could to light him up while Pat was standing on the wall of the pool shooting the photo.
CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE FAVORITE CHARITY YOU WORK WITH AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO YOU?
The favorite charity I work with is the Chip Miller Foundation and it’s a foundation that helps spread awareness for amyloidosis. Through that charity we hold a couple of events that we’ve done for a long time. They’ve turned into big surf and skate events in our town. From that, we’ve brought on other charities where we do like surf lessons for kids with disabilities. In the summertime, we do a lot of cool events with them and give back every year. Every year we try to highlight a different charity through ours, and it’s great to help a wide variety of people all through the surf and skate contests.
HOW DID YOU START USING A LUME CUBE FOR SURFING AT NIGHT?
I saw a video of Jamie O’Brien doing it, and so I ordered one. We did some filming at night trying to get some barrel shots. We got some more cubes from you guys shortly after that, and we’ve been doing lots of experimenting since then. I think it was pretty early on from when you guys first launched.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE AND PART ABOUT NIGHT SURFING? LEAST FAVORITE?
My favorite part is just the novelty of it. It adds an element of challenge that makes it more exciting, and when there are actually waves it’s really difficult. My least favorite, at least around here in Ocean City, is how cold it is. Even when we surf during the day it’s pretty cold, and doing it at night it’s even worse.
WHEN YOU’RE NOT NIGHT SURFING, HOW ARE YOU USING YOUR LUME CUBE?
A lot of times, I’ll just throw one Lume Cube on my GoPro housing even during the day to film. We get waves on the east coast when we have weather, so it’s darker and cloudier out. The shot I’ve been trying to capture for sometime now though is when I use a Lume Cube during the day and it is snowing. It really lights up the flakes and it kind of bonkers them out. I’ve been trying to capture it, and everytime it starts snowing hard it seems like my battery dies or something like that. I’ve gotten some clips, but not quite what I want to get like a barrel shot in the snow.
DESCRIBE LUME CUBE IN 5 WORDS OR LESS
“Create the Unachievable”
Awesome! Thanks so much for sharing your time and answering our questions Rob!
You can find more of Rob Kelly’s adventures and images at the following sites: