CJ Nelson was born into a surfing family. He grew up in the Santa Cruz area with his mentor and father Mark Nelson. Mark taught him the ins and outs of beach culture, surfboard building and wave riding. CJ has always been artistic, and he excelled in understanding the physics of board design. He designed his first pro model fresh out of high school, a board that’s widely known as the best nose riding surfboard ever made. His travels and accomplishments have been well-documented throughout the pages of major surf publications and surf films worldwide. As a well-established professional surfer, CJ continues to push the limits of what’s achievable on a surfboard.
He also continues to design cutting-edge surfboards for his company CJ Nelson Designs with his long-time friend and surfboard shaper Ian Chisholm. CJ’s contributions to surfing have been remarkable and he continues to give. He is one of the best ever. ~ Words By: Justin Bowers (northern California based photographer)
Ramping out on my 9’8” at the warm water jetties in Carlsbad. I love riding my traditional longboard in untraditional conditions.
The key to surfing everyday is having the right tools for the right job. I go everywhere with lots of surfboards.
Nose riding at Cardiff reef in north county San Diego, CA. The warehouse for CJ Nelson Designs is just up the street from here so I spend a lot of time in this zone. Photo: James Perry
Longboard surfing is all about trim and simplicity. Photo: Justin Bowers
On tour in Japan with fans. I’m so thankful to have the opportunity to meet good people all over the world. Japan is one of my favorite places and a lot of that has to do with the kind people there.
Here is a backside hang 5 captured by Justin Bowers. You and the photographers you work with have to have a lot of trust in each other. There is not much room for error getting images like this. Photo: Justin Bowers
One of the cool things about riding big, heavy surfboards is that you can put all your muscle and weight into your turns. Photo: Justin Bowers
Messing around in studio at Cabrillo College with my long-time friend and photographer Justin Bowers. I work with Justin almost exclusively at this point. It’s nice to develop a relationship with a photographer you share a vision with and trust. Photo: Justin Bowers
All good surfing starts with a solid bottom turn. Here is my best effort out in front of my 2nd home in mainland Mexico. Photo: Justin Bowers
My home. Pleasure Point, Santa Cruz, CA. Looks like a nice fall afternoon with a 4ft northwest swell running. My house is nestled up against that eucalyptus grove on the left of the pic.
One of the greatest things about being a surfer is that anytime you’re near the ocean you feel like you’re home. Foggy Santa Cruz-esque morning while walking out for a surf near Tokyo, Japan.
Malibu Summer 2014. If you want to be a famous longboard surfer, you have to prove yourself at Malibu. Photo: Dane Peterson