Talking SUP, Surf, Stoke and Spots with Glide Ambassador, Ross Thomas

Being with Glide SUP from the beginning has given me the opportunity to wear many hats within the company; everything from shaping, sanding, laminating, trade show guy, sales, etc. Over these years, I have been lucky enough to develop friendships and talk with people from all aspects of the SUP industry. It has always been interesting to me how differently people view some the issues pertaining to SUP such as construction of different SUP brands, the best style of SUPs to buy for each individual’s needs, SUP athletes, state of SUP racing, and the over-all state of SUP. Being an avid paddler myself along with being a part of the inner-workings of the SUP industry, I was inspired to be a source of helpful, exciting, controversial, fun, informative, and interesting information. So was born, “In the Board Room with Anthony”.  ENJOY!

Ross Thomas is one of the most humble and rad humans I have ever met. He emanates stoke, joy and kindness. Most people who meet him probably do not realize that he is an established actor and ripping SUP surfer. Beyond that, Ross is a true adventurer, husband, and soon to be father. I am blessed to call Ross my friend and it was an honor doing this interview with him.


Ross chilin' post surf with hiw Glide Retro

AJ: How did you get into SUP?

RT: I was filming a television series in 2006 called “Beyond The Break”. We filmed on location in Makaha, on the island of O’ahu in Hawaii. The show was basically the TV version of the movie “Blue Crush” if you remember that…a drama series about pursuing a professional surfing career in Hawaii. Our stunt coordinator and producer was Brian Keaulana, who is a world renowned Hawaiian waterman from Makaha. Brian and I became good friends and he took me under his wing while we filmed in Makaha over the course of 3 years. When we weren’t filming, Brian would take myself and my co-star David Chokachi out and teach us new ways to interact with the ocean. We’d go tow into waves on his Hydrofoil board or go canoe surfing or run lava rocks under water for a workout. He was the first person who introduced me to SUP. He got both David and I hooked on the sport. We immediately fell in love with SUP surfing and have been doing it ever since. At that time, Brian was the only one making SUP’s and it hadn’t even hit the mainland yet. So that tells you a little bit about the sport and how much is has taken off in the last decade. I’ll forever be grateful to Brian Keaulana for introducing me to SUP and teaching me about the ocean.  We remain great friends to this day.


Ross ripping one of his hidden gem spots

AJ: What is your favorite style of paddling?

RT: I prefer to SUP Surf. I’ll definitely do some distance paddling for training to stay in shape, but I’m happiest when I’m surfing my SUP on nice waves.

AJ: How does SUP surfing affect you?

RT: SUP Surfing for me is like my meditation. When I am out in my element in the ocean and paddling for that big set wave, all the noise of the world and chatter in my mind goes away. It’s pure focus and intention and that is such a blissful state to be in. I can be having a bad day, but anytime I get out and catch waves on my SUP, it lifts my spirit and brings me great joy. It’s interesting that no matter how many times you’ve paddled into waves, it still always has the same stoke effect that just makes you laugh and smile…like it was the first time you ever caught a wave.  There is something primal and beautiful in that.


Ross on an epic day!

AJ: How has paddling affected your life?

RT: Most importantly, paddling has given me a profound relationship with the ocean…a relationship that I am forever grateful for. It’s also given me health and fitness. It has allowed me to access parts of the world, I might never have seen otherwise. Paddling has given me a community of amazing, like minded friends who share the passion for the sport and help push me to always get better. Paddling has given me my sponsor, Glide SUP, who has supported me in this sport and who have become family to me. Paddling is the gift that keeps on giving.

AJ: What are a few details you like about Glide SUPs?

RT: I really love that Glide is environmentally conscious with the materials they use. Glide makes a strong effort to have the least amount of negative impact on the environment. I’m all about reducing our footprint on the environment, so this company really falls in line with my eco friendly ideals. In addition, I also love the fact that Glide prides themselves in making it’s boards in the USA. Glide really sets itself apart from the competition by manufacturing in America vs. say China like so many other companies. You can really see the craftsmanship, attention to detail and pride that goes into these boards.


Ross adventuring with a whale shark.

AJ: How is it being a Glide SUP ambassador?

RT: Being a Glide SUP ambassador is a great privilege and honor. I love being able to share the philosophy and vision of the brand with those I meet in the oceans around the world. I appreciate being an ambassador for a company who listens to my ideas and always strives to achieve the best in it’s craftsmanship to meet the demands of my SUP surfing.

AJ: On a personal level, as your friend, you emanate so much stoked and passion for life. What is your secret to happiness? What keeps you stoked?

RT: I always strive to be stoked and happy. In my opinion, happiness is a choice and a mindset. That’s not to say that I’m always happy or that life is easy breezy. But I’m aware of myself in the harder moments and always strive to ground myself back into happiness and gratitude for this beautiful life we have been gifted. In addition, I believe we can fuel our happiness with the things that make us feel most alive and gratified on a primal level. An example of that is my love for the ocean…interacting with and communing with the ocean brings out a joy and happiness inside of me that words cannot describe. Life is one giant adventure and if you can pull yourself out of the box, challenge yourself to a life of greatness, passion and drive to fulfill your spirit…that is happiness to me.

 Ross stoked after a sick session on his Glide Retro.

AJ: What are your top 5 SUP/ SUP surf spots in your area?

RT: I live in the Monterey Bay, on the Central Coast of California. It is a beautiful, rugged stretch of coastline that constantly blows my mind. There are amazing waves here to SUP surf, incredible expanses of coastline to paddle and the diving is world class. That being said, my lips are sealed on the specific names of top spots here. We all know the sport is growing and the crowds in the water are almost inevitable these days when the surf is up. That’s not me being greedy…I just feel that if one wants epic waves, one has to search them out for oneself;)

AJ: Top 5 SUP destinations?

RT: My five SUP destinations are as follows:

  • Papua New Guinea
  • Maldives
  • Cloudbreak Fiji
  • Raglan, New Zealand
  • Tahiti

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