Ultimate surfer dude makes film about ... life

By Elise Esprit


“We dream of the perfect wave, the perfect job, the perfect house ... when we get there, we dream of something else and the journey goes on,” said Rob Machado, a Cardiff resident and surfer extraordinaire whose new movie premiered recently at the La Paloma Theatre in Encinitas.

The movie, aptly titled “The Drifter” and directed by another San Diegan native, Taylor Steele, chronicles Machado’s nomadic months around the remote islands of Indonesia on a quest for new meaning and purpose in his life while surfing some breathtaking, perfect waves.

Back in the early ‘90s, Machado was part of a new school of young-gun surfers, which included Kelly Slater, Shane Dorian and Ross Williams, who challenged the older, more powerful surfers of the time with their skateboarding-inspired moves.

Machado, a goofy-footed surfer best known for his laid-back, casual style, recently was rated No. 21 of “The 50 Greatest Surfers of All Time” by Surfer Magazine.

“This theater is home for me,” he quipped to the packed audience inside the La Paloma Theatre. Machado, 36, was born in Australia but grew up in Cardiff. He currently resides in Cardiff and surfs the local waves pretty much every day that he can. He owns more than 40 surfboards — two of which were showcased in the theater’s foyer during the night of the premiere.

Machado was joined by Steele, who now lives in Bali, and who flew home to answer questions at the film’s premieres in San Diego and Los Angeles. From his descriptions, the hours, travel, technology and dedication that went into making “The Drifter” are impressive.

Whether one will enjoy the movie or not, as it is sure to stir up controversy within the surfing community with its artistic meanderings, one can watch it knowing it’s not meant to prove anything about Machado’s personality. It’s meant to entertain and excite audiences about surfing, traveling and doing something good for the world in return for its gift of bountiful, beautiful waves.

“The Drifter” will be shown around the United States over the next month. Each presentation will include a live acoustic set with Machado and Jon Swift, a screening of the movie and a post-film Q-and-A.

On the Web

‘The Drifter’ is

available on DVD for $34.98 through Rob Machado’s online store at