Five years ago my cousins, Rick and Paula Bickford, came up for one of their bi-monthly photo shoots. The Perfect Day Surf Camp was in session right next to our photo shoot. I noticed a skinny, nine year old that looked like the late Buttons Kaluhiokalani learning how to surf trying to catch a wave off to the side of the Roxy Camp. Being off to the side, I thought he was too poor to go to the camp and was trying to get a free lesson by surfing within earshot of the other students. I didn’t know that Nathaniel’s beautiful mom, Cindy, and very successful Fox TV sitcom producer Dad, Scott, were also students that day. I grabbed Nathaniel and put him on my board spending the entire photo shoot trying to get him a good ride to the beach. Nathaniel and I succeeded and he seemed more confident when he paddled back out on his 7’ yellow Body Glove soft top. After the photo shoot Rick and Paula Bickford went over the photos. Nathaniel had all the best photos. I said “He is a natural. Just like Buttons”.
Nathaniel started taking lessons from Jamie Meistrell at Dive N’ Surf. Nathaniel said that up and coming South Bay surf star “Annie Dodge was in my first class.”
“Jamie took me under his wing and began giving me private lessons. Before I knew it I was surfing with his other young prodigies in an advanced class,” he said. “These classes are really cool because they are filmed and we critique them afterwards. Jamie goes to all my surf contests to give me pointers before my heat.”
Nathaniel has been competing for the last three years.
“I started with the South Bay Boardriders Surfing Contest making it all the way to 9th place and last year I won the Boy’s Becker South Bay Boardriders finishing 3rd overall for the season,” he said.
Last summer,Nathaniel finished 2nd in The International Surf Festival and 1st in the Jimmy Miller Memorial Surf Contest.
The 14 year old, 5’6”, 120 lbs., Redondo High School freshman with has a brand new set of braces lives in Redondo but surfs El Porto most of the time.
“There is always something big enough to ride with Jamie,” Nathaniel said. “ I love the avenues when it’s on charging the hollow bowls with Dominick Giefing, Ryan Hughes, Joey Sanivelian and Luke Slanina. I would love to go to the North Shore or deep down in Mexico with my crew to sample some power.”
Nathaniel’s favorite maneuver is the roundhouse cutback.
“It is two radical moves combined into one,” he said. “You have the long slicing cutback with a backside coaster on the end.”
Dane Reynolds is his favorite surfer because of his no holds barred, I can make anything approach to surfing. But, John John Florence and Jamie are not far behind with the same attitude. Jamie helped Nathaniel get sponsored by Dive N’ Surf and Body Glove which lead to Spyder Surfboards and Matrix clothing.
Nathaniel rides three different boards depending on wave conditions.
“I have a 5’4” and a 5’8” Ian Wright Aftermath Models but I also ride a 5’6” Pat Ryan E.T. Surfboard,” he said.
On numerous occasions I’ve seen Nathaniel grab his parents 10+ ET longboard and rip in a longboard heat.
Surfing is not Nathaniel’s whole life. He plays drums for his cover band, “Black Rain”. He is not exactly Gene Krupa from the big band jazz era but he does have great range playing the Surafari’s “Wipeout” or “Let Me Stand Next to Your Fire” by Jimmy Hendrix on Saturday afternoons at the Lighthouse.