Pipeline by Mike Purpus: South Bay Local Up-and-Comer Ethan Pezzolo

Published On February 26, 2014 » 912 Views» By Eddie Solt » grom, Pipeline, profile, Surfing
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Duck and Cover Pezzolo takes his mid-length under the crystal curtain. Photo by Paula and Rick Bickford

By Mike Purpus

Cut-off wetsuits, bad boards, scary fin cuts can’t stop Ethan

Redondo High senior Ethan Pezzolo started surfing when he was eight on a Joe Bark that his mother bought him.

“It was skinny gun shape that was almost impossible to learn. The smooth talking salesman convinced my mom it was the perfect beginner board. Then she bought me a used wetsuit at a yard sale. It was originally a full suit that somebody cut the sleeves and legs off of to make a spring suit. It was winter and the suit was at least a size too big. I froze every time I went out but stuck with it. I surfed every day no matter. Eventually, I got 5-foot-4 Dan Cobly thruster that made surfing easier.

Former Sea Hawk surfer Ben Fortune got Pezzolo started on a longboard last year and he’s been having a blast ever since. Topaz local Lenny Treadwell sold Ethan his classic 8-foot-7 Don Swift. Don is the big Kahuna at Topaz. He makes boards for many of the better locals.

“The Swift model still works great, but I just recently got another 5-foot-4 Dan Cobly and a 9-foot-3 Adam Davenport Pig Model that keeps me wet after school,” said the 5-foot-5, 120 pounder.

In addition, Pezzolo said he’s losing sleep waiting for a 9-foot-2 from Becker’s Jose Barahonas.

Pezzolo started surfing in the South Bay High School Surf League two years ago, finishing in the top three of every contest to help Redondo stay tied at the top with Mira Costa High School. His local surf breaks are Topaz and Sapphire Street, where he shares the break with Ben Fortune, David Filman, Dan Clark, and his best friend Ryan Woolner. His favorite breaks are Church’s for shortboards and San Onofre for longboards. His favorite surf days are the ones he shares with his bro’s at the Cove. Ethan hasn’t left the state but is looking forward to going with Redondo’s surf team down to El Salvador.

Ethan’s favorite shortboard maneuver is trying to emulate Dane Reynolds cutback off the lip. Ethan is into nose rides on his longboard, but has a love affair with the tube. He looks up to Ben Fortune but considers Joel Tudor, with his incredible smooth style, to be the biggest influence on his surfing. He thinks Alex Knost is so weird and outside the box that it makes him the best.

Pezzolo’s worst wipeout or surfing experience took place on his longboard on a fun day at Topaz Street. He got a good set wave and decided to jump on the nose and try to get barreled at the same time when something went horribly wrong. His board flipped over, catching Pezzolo between the legs.

He slid down the rail until his crotch hit the fin.

“It hurt so bad that I almost blacked out. I felt like one of those cartoon characters that sees stars after getting hit over the head with a frying pan. Only it wasn’t my head, it was my crotch. The next thing I remember was laying on the beach trying to take deep breaths. When the dizziness wore off I could see the surf was getting better so I paddled back out.

“I caught a wave but was in too much pain to stand up. I limped up the beach and went home. When I peeled my wetsuit off in the shower a lot of blood spilled out into the tub. I was in shock wondering if I had just gotten a sex change.”

Even though he was embarrassed he needed a second opinion, so he screamed for his mother to come take a look.

“Get in the car. I’m taking you to the hospital,” she screamed.

Ethan tried to talk her into going to Walgreens for some butterfly bandages. But she kept driving to the ER, where his hacky sack got six stitches, saving his marbles.

“I don’t know what hurt the most, the stitches or staying out of the water for three weeks,” he said. DZ

Pezolo skating through the soup on the nose. Photo by Brad Jacobson

Pezolo skating through the soup on the nose. Photo by Brad Jacobson


 Ethan has just joined the Becker Surf Team and is busy sending resumes to every college on the coast. He doesn’t care what the major is he just wants to go to school and surf everyday.

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