Living the Dream, with Strider Wasilewski

Anna Dimond

Todd Richards and Strider Wasilewski loosen up before their commentary duties at Vans U.S. Open of Surfing. Strider in his element: On the beach, mic in hand, having a laugh. - WSL / Kenneth Morris

It's not easy traveling the world, paddling out at world-class breaks and interviewing the world's best surfers. There are early mornings in the dark, long days on the road, and living out of a suitcase. It's not the endless summer that most people think.

Scratch that--who are we kidding? It's every surfer's dream. The World Surf League's new series, Living the Dream, will highlight the people behind the scenes of pro surfing: From hosts to photographers, caterers to security, you'll meet the people who are chasing it every day. The series kicks off with the WSL's own commentator Strider "Raspberry" Wasilewski.

Vital Stats:

Hometown: Santa Monica, Calif.
Past career: Pro Surfer, Quiksilver Surf Team Manger, Quiksilver Surf Marketing Manager
Family: Married, three children
Siblings: Brother
Stance: Goofy

Strider - family s/s 2 It's not easy to juggle life on the road with moments like these. photo/@stridersworld - WSL / @stridersworld

The Interview:

WSL: What did you want to be when you grew up?
SW: Happy.

WSL: Three words to describe yourself as a teenager?
SW: Street, surf, adaptability.

WSL: How did you fall in love with surfing?
SW: I fell in love with the ocean, the feeling of it. I would body surf, boogie board and surf all day. It was where I was most comfortable, the ocean was my church. It's where I went when things were hard in life, the world could be blowing up on land but looking out to the horizon from the lineup was always settling.

WSL: What was your first job? What was the best thing/worst thing about it?
SW: Laundry! My brother and I set up a business doing laundry in our apartment building. I was like eight years old, we set up a TV/VHS [video player] and a couch and clocked dollars while watching movies! No folding though. Ha.

What was the worst that could happen? They could say no, which I was used to hearing.

WSL: How did you end up doing what you're doing now?
SW: I raised my hand, pretty simply put. A lot of people often told me I should do it, and I always wanted to. I actually asked to do it with Quiksilver (where I was a team rider and team manager) for years but never got the chance.

So when the new WSL management took over I asked again. I mean what was the worst that could happen? They could say no, which I was used to hearing, but after some time with the new crew I was given a chance. It's something new for me and the 2014 Rio Pro in Brazil was my first World Tour Event that I had ever done! That was just over a year ago. So pretty much still learning at every event and trying to get better.

WSL: What's the best part about your job?
SW: Traveling the world and seeing such amazing places with such an epic crew -- my co-workers and the athletes.

Strider at the desk s/s With the WSL crew in France: On point, amid the chaos. photo/@stridersworld - WSL

WSL: What's the toughest part about your job?
SW: Trying to manage time between the WSL, my business -- Shade Sunscreen -- and my family.

WSL: What's the biggest misconception about your job?​
SW: The biggest misconception about what we do is that everyone thinks they can do it. We do our best to be on point during a live broadcast while your producer is running info through your earpiece, while you're talking to the camera. Or while you're doing an interview, trying to listen to your interviewee or counterpart on the desk to articulate a stimulating comment so that hundreds of thousands of viewers are happy.

The biggest misconception about what we do is that everyone thinks they can do it. It's not easy.

It's not easy. It's actually downright chaotic and to have it all go through your mind and have to physically compose yourself to look "normal" all at once. That's live broadcasting, baby!

WSL: What's the best perk?
SW: For me the best perk about the job is the job itself, getting to be in the water doing sideline reporting is pretty amazing. Sitting with the athletes and getting to share moments of glory and defeat -- it's pretty awesome.

WSL: What's been your biggest flub at work?
SW: There's one time that really stands out. I was wrapping up the final day with Ross Williams and my whole mind just went blank. I couldn't talk or even remember Kelly Slater's name. It was so strange! Ross came to my rescue -- he knew where I was going with the conversation and finished my sentence. But not until after a few seconds of awkward silence, ha! Thanks Ross.

Strider Wasilewski commentating from the barrel. While doing sideline reporting from the channel in Fiji, Strider took off on this bomb for an epic shot and unforgettable moment. - WSL / Kirstin

WSL: What are you most proud of at work?
SW: The thing I'm most proud of at work is probably getting better and keeping an open mind so I can keep improving. It's an art, and working with this crew has been amazing. They are so good and I watch and learn from every event.

I'm also pretty proud of following up on a task that Owen Wright (AUS) and Joel Parkinson (AUS) put me up to as well: We were in Fiji and Owen and Joel said I should pull into a bomb at Cloudbreak during the break between the Semis and Final with the water mic and talk all the way through it. They said, 'Just pull into the barrel, make it or not it would be sick.' So I did, and got an amazing wave.

WSL: What the best advice you've ever gotten?
SW: Always listen to your quiet, inner voice.

Catch Strider Wasilewski and the rest of the WSL broadcast team live daily from the Target Maui Pro beginning November 21 on the WSL website and WSL App.