057: Rob Machado/The Arc of Friendship

That classic Machado poise.

“I felt as good as I’d ever felt. I felt in a really good place, and was ready to potentially win a world title. So then all of a sudden to be removed from it – life was just totally flipped upside down. It took me a long time to get over that”.

Its always great when the legends live up to the hype – and that was definitely the case when I welcomed Rob Machado onto the show for episode 057.

Rob was in town to promote Momentum Generation, the new documentary that catches up with the iconic Momentum crew 25 years after they first came onto the scene via Taylor Steele’s classic film of the same name.

Photo: Tozer

It’s a compelling watch, and the film doesn’t shy away from tackling some of the great surfing talking points of our time: Rob and Kelly’s infamous high five, the injury wild card vote that ended Rob’s tour career, the death of Todd Chesser, and plenty more.

The Momentum Generation

Happily, Rob was also happy to talk in-depth about these same legendary stories, and the result is an intimate, honest and totally compelling chat with one of the greatest surfers ever.

As well as the key stories that underpin Momentum Generation, we discussed the nature of truth, the unreliability of memory, how a group creates its own mythology, and how ultimately the Momentum story is about the lifelong arc of friendship.

Rob Machado, London, October 2018. Photo: Tozer.

Huge thanks to Rob for taking the time to come on the show, and for getting into the spirit of Looking Sideways so whole-heartedly. Don’t miss this one. Momentum Generation is available via digital download from 5th November.

If you only have five minutes…

Listen to this section - Todd on growing up with the greatest surfer ever, and the infamous High-5

Connect With Rob

Show Notes

  • Rob’s South London roots
  • Momentum Generation
  • The research and interview process that went into the film.
  • How friendship is the key theme of the film.
  • The importance of Benji’s house to the group.
  • ‘Learning to juggle the competitive spirit’.
  • Two goals in life.
  • Concealing individual weaknesses from the group.
  • How the film was the first time these issues were rekindled and dealt with.
  • The storytelling chops at work beneath the surface.
  • Digging into the entire archive.
  • The uncertainty of collective memory.
  • ‘Well there are three sides to every story’.
  • Growing up with Kelly Slater.
  • Rationalising the Kelly factor.
  • Enjoying the rare victories.
  • Digesting the high five from this remove.
  • Rob’s perspective on the whole heat and incident.
  • Sharing the moment with Kelly.
  • The three sides to the high-five story.
  • The moral importance of Todd Chesser to the group.
  • How the injury wild card vote hit Rob hard.
  • Unfinished business on the tour
  • Huge life changes.
  • How Rob coped with the transition from the tour years to the free surf years.
  • ‘The pure enjoyment of the act of riding waves’.
  • Pushing Al Merrick to go retro.
  • Surfing the Surf Ranch Pro trials
  • Coping with this new environment.
  • How wave pool surfing compares with competitive ocean surfing….
  • …and how the pressure effects performance.
  • How you need to be ready to tackle evolving conditions.
  • What’s getting Rob stoked right now – surfing with his four year old son.
  • Seeing the ocean through new eyes.

People Mentioned

Places Mentioned

  • Surbiton
  • Pipeline
  • Himalayas
  • Off The Wall
  • Japan