"I don't do well if I don't surf."
Most mornings, if you look far enough, you'll find an anchored boat behind sets at Point Loma, San Diego's hilly peninsula. Here, Grant McGann starts his morning, early, ritualistically, on his Dark Arts Vegan Fish. He's an oral surgeon at McGann Facial Design in San Diego. To say he has time constraints would be an understatement.
"I keep everything on my boat, so I'm ready to go whenever. Unfortunately, everything on a boat eventually breaks, rusts, or sinks. There are so many things I love about my Dark Arts board. But its durability is beyond anything I've ever ridden. It's the only object on my boat that needs next to little protection."
On the way in, he puts the boat on autopilot while dressing for surgery.
"I've been surfing since I could walk. I can't remember a time when the ocean wasn't a huge part of my life. People trip out when I tell them I'm a surfer and pretty decent at it."
McGann is linebacker-like, 6'4, 230lbs, nimble, and skilled enough to surf Teahupo'o double overhead without needing an ambulance.
photo: Grant McGann
"I first saw a Dark Arts board at my kid's school fundraiser. I bid on it, certain of winning, only to be outbid, surprised that somebody wanted it more than me. But then my wife contacted Justin and had him build one for my birthday. I was so stoked."
The local board-repair shop has been a stable part of Grant's surfing life. "It's not a good thing if the ding-repair guy knows you by your first name."
Grant rides hard, and he chases big waves.
"Before getting my Dark Arts board, I put a hole in the deck of every board I've ever owned due to my front foot. I like to surf big powerful waves. Eventually, to make a board last, I had to add layers of glassing to the front of it to keep my front foot from destroying it. But that soon wore out too, or the board became too stiff that I couldn't ride it properly."
One would think a man of Grant’s stature, charging four times a week could do damage to a piece of metal, let alone a carbon surfboard.
"In two years of riding my DA board, I've never had one ding repair or put a hole in any part of the deck. The durability is mind-blowing."
He's not adrift for performance either. Durability is only as useful as the board is performing.
"I can get a fat-guy board. That's fine. But I'm looking for high performance. I'm looking to cut and turn and rip and go fast. It's a little tough out here in Southern California sometimes. The continental shelf slows it all down. We don't get the powerful waves of Hawaii and some other spots. So one ends up compromising on board choice. You choose a board that has float that can get you into the wave, but then it's stiff. The crazy thing about my DA board is that it has all of it. The carbon floats better, even for a big guy like me. Because of that, the rails can be thinner so that when you're on it, you're flying. It's livelier, but not too bouncy so that you're losing control like some of the high performing EPS boards. It's a perfect board through and through."
Grant's current board: JT Vegan Fish
He believes surfing is more than a sport or a religion.
"I'm not sure if you can find any comparison to surfing. Every time I come out of the water, I'm more alive, more focused, a better human. There's nothing like it."
Even still, Grant hails the essence of surfing as learning how to give the best three waves of the session away. "There's plenty of waves. It's a lot like life. The more you give, the more you end up getting."
Surfer Level: Advanced
Current Board: JT Vegan Fish
Next Board: SMTH Mini Demon
“The crazy thing about my DA board is that it has all of it. It's a perfect board through and through.” - Grant McGann