A LEGEND IN LIQUID: Would you recognize a surfing master if he were dining at the next table over in a restaurant

In August 2002, Joel Tudor was named the 16th most powerful person in surfing by Surfer Magazine.

For a guy who's 6 feet, 1 inch tall and only weighs 145 pounds, that's quite a claim, until you see him surf or engage him in conversation.

With the style that made him world longboarding champion in the Canary Islands in 1998, and his uncompromising, opinionated comments, Tudor has carved out a niche within the surfing world as something of a maverick - an exceptionally talented young surfer who retains a strong sense of who he is and where he's from.

Having lived and surfed in La Jolla for most of his life, the 28-year-old remains one of the most recognizable and influential surfers in the world. His well-documented experimentation with varied surfboard designs has culminated in the launch of his own surfboard company, Joel Tudor Surfboards, in 1999.

In the past, he has been vocal in his criticism of anything from the Association of Surfing professionals, which organizes surfing competitions around the world, to the illegality of marijuana.

A sharp-eyed, soft-spoken individual, Tudor is opinionated and open. He is almost abrasive one moment and warm and friendly the next. He rarely does interviews, and admits he is wary of speaking to the press at all. He says the press has tried to present him as the bad boy of surfing, as a drug-taking, loose-talking hooligan.

These days, he has mellowed, and in this exclusive interview, conducted at his home in Del Mar, Tudor opens up about his past, surfing in La Jolla, travel, his local influences and his new company.

Light: How long did you actually live in La Jolla?

Tudor: I grew up in University City, on the back side of La Jolla, then I moved to La Jolla when I was about 18 and lived there for a little over a year. Then, I bought a house there when I was 19 and quit paying rent.

Light: Whereabouts is your house?

Tudor: Close to WindanSea. I lucked out. I went from living right in the alley on North, west of the boulevard at WindanSea. Then I had to move home because I needed to save money to try and buy a house and at that time La Jolla was still ... well, it was ridiculous how cheap it was.

People would pull their hair out if they knew what the price went from, when I was 19 to 28. It was ridiculous. So, I had a lucky window of opportunity and I got a house there, and I know some day I'll go back to La Jolla.

Light: Are you still surfing in La Jolla?

Tudor : Oh, yeah, all the time. That's the staple of my surfing, from Black's to Big Rock, that's my definition of La Jolla. Basically, the territory I don't leave goes from Cardiff to Big Rock, but the majority of my surfing is down there.

Light: On the last swell, where did you surf?

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