by Chris Lepore
I’ve known Jon for almost 15 years now, and he’s been a man of many nicknames – ‘Smythers’, ‘Mr. Smithers’, ‘Mr. S’, ‘Johnny Boy Gomes’, ‘John Benet’, ‘Smithereens’ and most recently ‘Nino’ and ‘Juanito’. What’s never changed is the fact that he puts everything he has, physically and emotionally, into anything he does. He’s always had some form of high-octane action on his mind too. So, yeah. Surfing was Jon’s destiny. He gets pumped up when the waves are firing, and sometimes when there’s just a slight bump in the water. Underneath it all, Jon is a genuine, fun-loving and humble gentleman.
Hailing from- Red Bank, NJ
Sponsors- Ted Shred’s, Pride surfboards, 17th Street Surf Shop
Quiver- 5’6” Quad to 7’0 Gun
Before we get into your surfing and lifestyle, who were your biggest inspirations growing up?
I don’t know……inspirations. They’ve come and gone over the years. You got the ones that brought you into world. Dad and mom. And then the family goes after that. Sister, friends. (Chris) Carlone, (Jay) Baldessari, (John) Walker, (Chris) Lepore, Kyle T (Hopfensperger), got the whole crew. Then you just keep adding on, (Tyler) Thompson, Parno (Brian Parnagian), (Ryan) Struck, (Tyler) Vaughan, the Cordero brothers (NC)down south, the Schub brothers (NC). Everybody pretty much did their due diligence to keep me going. (laughs) Pretty much keeps me ahead of the game.
A lot of people don’t know that you’re a corporate guy with an 8-6 grind. What do you do when the waves are pumping?
What? Jon Smyth has a job?!? Quote, unquote from Murph (Jack Murphy) himself. I remember Ing (Ian Golfe) told me that. Ing 187, that’s another one to throw in the crew …I got lucky, scored a little cubicle farm not too far from the ocean. 10-15 minutes from the ocean. Grind it out at work, and then grind it out on the beach break out back (laughs). Make my boss happy and he’ll let you take 2 hour lunches, 2 hours here (at the local break). Get little 15 minute sessions here when you know the wind’s just going offshore. “Hey, I got to go.” “Alright.”
Name some of the artists that you have on your iPod.
iPod, that’s at Tiny Tim’s (Paul Zaidinski) house right now. I need that thing back…..ASG, there’s always some good ones off them. Valient Thorr. A couple of bands I picked up down in North Carolina when I was down there. I like all music. Music in general is just a good way to charge me up. People are doing their art through music, and I’m feeding on that before I go do my art on the wave (laughs). Go smash a couple of lips and chuck some airs and pull into some barrels. Everyone’s got their way of doing their own art and expressing themselves. I guess I do so through surfing.
Looking at yourself in photos and video what 3 words best describe your style?
(laughs) I don’t know…surf harder.
That’s only two.
Which do you prefer, double overhead perfection in the middle of January or a punchy 4-foot bowls in July?
We all know answers to questions like that. (laughs)
Talk about what you think has changed in the surfing game from when you first started.
Progression. Progression has been everything. You’re never going to cap yourself. That’s what keeps it fun. You never know what you’re going to do tomorrow or the next day, or the next day. Or where surfing’s going to bring you.
Last one dude. You just won $100 million. Where does Jon Smyth go from there?
Um. That’s a serious question. $100 million. I really don’t need all of that, you know? I can make that last, no problem. Give back. $100 million you can do so much with. I’d give it to the people that really need it. Plus, I’ll keep it for us so that we can go live freely. Live comfortable.
I guess the crew. The whole crew. The family and crew. Everyone who is networked to Johnny Smyth. (laughs)