Interviews

Published on April 19th, 2020 | by Darren Paltrowitz

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Exclusive: Pro-Surfer Turned Entrepreneur Rocky McKinnon Talks Huntington Beach & More

Formerly one of the top 10 longboarders within the United States, professional surfer and shaper Rocky McKinnon is an accomplished waterman who has gained success and notoriety throughout the years. These days, McKinnon, is changing the way people surf in Huntington Beach, California. With new boards designed for more than one rider, people with physical and/or mental disabilities are able to take surfing lessons and ride some waves, as supported by both McKinnon and the city as a whole.

The founder of the adaptive surfing program McKinnon Surf & SUP Lessons, McKinnon’s program is the first big push for this sort of inclusive surfing. Because of the year-round sunshine and steady swells, Huntington Beach — otherwise known as “Surf City USA,” thanks in large part to Jan & Dean’s Dean Torrence — is of course an ideal place to implement this inspirational program. As a Surf City native, McKinnon is both giving back to the community that helped foster his successful surfing career and opening up this one-of-a-kind sport to those who previously were not able to easily participate.

On April 16, 2020, I had the pleasure of talking with Rocky McKinnon about McKinnon Surf Boards, Surf & SUP, how he’s holding up in the midst of the current Coronavirus pandemic, and Huntington Beach as a whole. The full chat is embedded below for your listening pleasure, while part of the interview has been exclusively transcribed for The Hype Magazine. More on both Rocky McKinnon and Huntington Beach, California is online via the city’s official tourism website at www.surfcityusa.com.

On working with Huntington Beach with his adaptive surf program:

Rocky McKninnon: Since I’ve been contracted and I’ve brought my adaptive program to Huntington Beach, that is now a program and experience that’s available to the special needs community that at one time wasn’t. I’m proud of that. I know the city is excited about that and being all-inclusive and providing another segment of the community to participate in what Surf City offers, it’s exciting.

The visitors bureau is excited about it, City Hall is excited and of course I am, because I get to go have fun with these people. I love what I do. I love to share my passion with others, so this is just another facet of that. It’s really a great thing that I get to be part of.

On what makes Huntington Beach so special:

Rocky McKninnon: One of our key attributes that makes Huntington Beach so special is our beach, and what makes it so special? “It’s a beach, every coastal community has a beach.” Well, what I love about Orange County is I feel it’s one of the last bastions of space. You look in L.A. and the high density movements that are going on all across the United States, you’re kind on top of each other and the beaches are gonna be very crowded.

We have 10 miles of spacious beach. Of course around Huntington Beach pier can get a little crowded, it’s popular, the restaurants are there, the pier is exciting for all, the surf is good right along the pier. Then you have Dog Beach, which is really uniqur, where you can bring your dogs down to the Huntington Cliffs area, which can get really crowded also. But then there’s also a bunch of areas too where you can go down and have some space to yourself.

I think when people go on vacation and people are wanting to get away, or if you’re on a work retreat or a sales meeting, you can go down in the morning and go for a nice walk on the beach and have it virtually to yourself. A lot of other places don’t really have that amenity… Our weather, I love the fall, it’s still beautiful but everybody still goes back to work, back to school, so I can selfishly get my beach back. (laughs)


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About the Author

Darren Paltrowitz is a New York resident with over 20 years of entertainment industry experience. He began working around the music business as a teenager, interning for the manager of his then-favorite band Superdrag. Since then, he has worked with a wide array of artists including OK Go, They Might Be Giants, Mike Viola, Tracy Bonham, Loudness, Rachael Yamagata, and Amanda Palmer. Darren's writing has appeared in dozens of outlets including the New York Daily News, Inquisitr, The Daily Meal, The Hype Magazine, All Music Guide, Guitar World, TheStreet.com, Businessweek, Chicago Tribune, L.A. Times, and the Jewish Journal. Beyond being "Editor At Large" for The Hype Magazine, Darren is also the host of the bi-weekly "Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz" podcast, as co-produced with V13 (formerly PureGrainAudio.com). He has also co-authored two published books, 2018's "Pocket Change: Your Happy Money" (Book Web Publishing) and 2019's "Good Advice From Professional Wrestling" (6623 Press), with a second podcast set for a June 2020 launch.


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