Malibu surfing industry sees boom during pandemic

MALIBU, Calif. (KABC) -- The surfing industry is seeing a boom in business during the COVID-19 pandemic.

One place where business has boomed is at Drill Malibu Surf and Skate.

Craig Clunies-Ross said he and his staff will be riding the surf frenzy wave as long as they can.

"It's exploding," Clunies-Ross said.

The shop owner said surf lessons and board and wetsuit sales have quadrupled.

"People are chasing the delivery truck to our shop and there's a line before we can even get them off the delivery truck," employee Christian Pflaum said.

After losing both his homes to the Woolsey Fire in 2018, the Malibu business owner thought his luck was turning around in the spring.

"We felt like we'd really righted the ship and got things back to normal and then the pandemic hit this spring," Clunies-Ross said.

Clunies-Ross was forced to shut his doors for a few months, but with the pandemic pushing most outdoors, people want to hit the water.

"I was just stuck in my apartment all day. I'm a musician. I've been working from home and I just wasn't getting outside, so I'd always been thinking about it and just decided to teach myself," surfer Sam Saunders said.

"During COVID, there's not as many ways to be social or be in a community and so for me, surfing has kind of become that way to just connect and just to be around people," surfer Mattie Peña said.

"As stores started to open up and down the California coast, the demand got crazy and companies like O'Neill wetsuits, Catch Surf, Storm Blade, Rip Curl - they started running out of product because stores like mine were seeing elevated business," Clunies-Ross said.

"Before, we would do one-time lessons for first-time tourists who just want to get the California scene. Now, it's more like surf coaching and surf training with people that are renting the beach houses in this area, so we'll have clients that'll stick around for months with us," Pflaum said.

Clunies-Ross said sales have been record-breaking in September. He's on his way to his best year since opening his shop in 2009.
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