//photographer// Chad Wells
BREAKS // Where did you grow up?
TEDDY // I didn’t grow up in Huntington Beach. I grew up in Whittier.
BREAKS // How did you get introduced to surfing?
TEDDY // My Brother and Dad always brought me down to the Ocean. So, I started like any ordinary kid, going down to the beach on the weekend. Just using the sand toys, the boogie board. I tried to knee board. Went through the whole nine. So yeah, I eventually got settled into just surfing.
BREAKS // Did it come pretty natural?
TEDDY // Yeah, I won the US Amateurs. I think I was already 19 or 18 years old? Something like that. I started surfing when I was 16.
BREAKS // Didn’t know that.
TEDDY // Yeah, I started surfing when I was 16. It was one of those habits. It was like the gnarliest habit you could imagine. I lived, breathed surfing. My whole life was surfing.
BREAKS // Yeah.
TEDDY // Like shut everything out. Just focus on one type of thing.
BREAKS // Do you ever go back and visit Whittier. See your old neighborhood?
TEDDY // I’ve always kept in touch with a couple good friends. I hear about a lot of my friends that I hung out with have either moved on, done the family thing, or gone down the wrong path and chose drugs or gangs. So I’ve had numerous amounts of friends pass away, get shot or killed. My sister and brother still live there, so I go back there periodically.
BREAKS // Your last name, Navarro, what nationality is that?
TEDDY // It’s Spanish.
BREAKS // From Spain?
TEDDY // From Mexico. My mother side is from Texas and Mexico. My father’s as well.
BREAKS // Do you speak Spanish?
TEDDY // No, I’m so bad with the Spanish.
BREAKS // Do you still compete?
TEDDY // I try to compete as much as possible.
BREAKS // Local level?
TEDDY // Yeah local level. I tried to do the ‘QS, but it was so hard to get the upper level events without a seed. A couple years ago, when I was moving from sponsor to sponsor, I was on the ‘QS a bit. Flying to Japan. I had a Japanese sponsor for like 8 years. I had that in my contract to fly over to Japan to do a couple contests a year. So I was doing Australia, Spain, Japan, and France. I was sponsored by Reef at the time. I mean, shoot, I had a big billboard at Jack’s. I had that big window. It was during the time when the surfing community was going the opposite way, you know. There was that big spike for awhile and guys were making good money. I was making good money from Reef. I was doing contests. I was living here in Downtown Huntington Beach, running the vibe, 110%. My parents were happy, everybody was happy. I was about to have my baby girl. You know what I mean, I was going on trips to get photos and stuff like that, then Boom! I got hit with the looking for the sponsor thing. During that time, I had a bunch of ‘WQS points. I was getting seeded into events. Times became so tough, I couldn’t make my membership fee. So I lost all my points that year.
BREAKS // What? Just because of a fee? Like that?
TEDDY // So 6 years of competing on the ‘QS all gone. Taken away. Ultimately, it was my fault. I didn’t stay on top of it. I could have hustled and paid the membership fee, but normally I was getting that set up.
BREAKS // If you don’t make the payment?
TEDDY // If you don’t pay your membership fee before the year is over for the next year, you lose all points. So, in 2007 or 2008, with zero points. So, I’m eliminated from the latter part of the ‘QS.
BREAKS // That’s bullshit!
TEDDY // Start over from scratch. Grind out the 2 stars and 3 stars. The ones you can get into.
BREAKS // That makes it more about financial means over skill level.
TEDDY // Where is the support for the local professional surfing? The East coast has it going , but California? There are no professional tours…during the time I was doing the ‘QS, they had the San Diego Ezekiel Prime Tour. $10,000. I was making $1,500 a month just off of contest earnings, just for the local events on top of the ‘QS wins here and there. To get into the bigger ‘QS, you have to grind out and travel 3 stars and that’s super hard. Plane tickets, your accomedations, your food, your rent-a-car, your surfboard bags before you leave the country.
BREAKS // Sounds crazy expensive!
TEDDY // It’s nuts. You need a good backing, but if you prove yourself on the local ones. If you win some around here, it gives you motivation. You know, like, “I’m ready for the ‘QS!” You start making some quarters, some semi’s. You start making the money. You go to the next event. When you are on that roll, it’s good. But to get to that roll, it’s tough.
BREAKS // What do you think about the ‘WCT cut offs? Seems brutal.
TEDDY // Yeah, Brett Simpson is cut next year. I mean, he’s top 10 in the world potentially. I see him and surf with him all the time, you know what I mean? He was by far one of the best surfers on tour, and on this coast. That just goes to show you man, competition is just a completely different beast. Competition is jut cut throat. Guys are putting their necks out there. It’s insane. I couldn’t even explain it.
BREAKS // So what are you doing now?
TEDDY // So, 4 years ago, when I just got sponsored by Alpinestars, my good friend Kalani Robb, I’ve known for 8-10 years now, called me up one day, “Hey I think you should come down and surf Creek with me. I was like cool! And at that time, I knew he was working for the Mauli Ola Foundation. We surfed with James Dunlop. He’s the President of the Mauli Ola Foundation. His brother Charles is the CEO of Ambry Genetics. I came to find out that I was on a job interview with Kalani and James. So, I met James and he liked me and said, “Why don’t you cruise to Ambry tomorrow with pants and shoes, and I’ll give you a job. So, I had just had my baby girl, and I was expecting a son at the same time. So, everything meshed together at the same time! It was really cool! That was the next phase in life.
BREAKS // What did you do?
TEDDY // I was working in the Ambry Genetics lab for 3 years. I was entering data, and I was entering information into the computer system. It was gnarley, but those guys have always given me support with my surfing. Since day one. So, I have a couple jobs.. I work for Ambry, I work for Mauli Ola Foundation. I’m a still a professional surfer. Still have my sponsors. So, I’m so blessed man! My kids are healthy. I’m just blessed man. It’s awesome.
BREAKS // So they let you surf when you wanna surf?
TEDDY // Yeah! They are so cool man. The best company, the best vibe ever! 100%!
BREAKS // Could you talk a little about what you’ve experienced with helping Mauli Ola Foundation?
TEDDY // As a parent, I’m a parent , I have 2 kids. When I go on the hospital visits, I see how precious life really is. From a baby level all the way up. These are life shortening diseases that these kids are dealing with. Life’s a good thing. Life is precious. The surf experience days over at the Foundation are…the kids come in and get to hangout at the beach with professional surfers, other professional athletes in other action sports, movie stars. We have Kala Alexander, Sunny Garcia, Kalani Robb, Gavin Beschen, Hans Hogen, Brett Simpson comes out. Torrey Meister, CJ Kanua, Shawn Barron, the list goes on. MMA fighters like Brian Ortega. We take them out into the water, and their sickness becomes secondary. All of a sudden, it’s about the surf. They are surfing. They are going out with a celeb or a professional surfer. They come back into the beach with smiles. It’s realy cool to see!
BREAKS // I see on Instagram, you and Kalani Robb are doing work with the GoPro. How’s that going?
TEDDY // I don’t know man? I have a bunch of photographer friends, and we are their worst nightmare?
BREAKS // ahahaha
TEDDY // We are our own personal photographers. We have this thing called AJAM, capturing those moments. Those moments you always see, paddling back out and your buddy is doing somethng super gnarley. We have some angles that are insane. We do that follow cam, where it’s that skater feel. Like how skaters film.