Listen up: perspective is key. Take Jason Borte’s first, humbling surf as an example. “1982, Virginia Beach with Chris Decker and Brad Harrell,” Borte says. “Put wetsuit on backwards, borrowed fat yellow twinnie. Didn’t stand up but did a few pile-drives into the sand.”
And just look at him now. It’s truly difficult to condense in a couple hundred words Borte’s mark on not just East Coast Surfing, but on the surfing world as a whole. Not long after that fateful VB session in 1982, Borte became an ESA All-Star, then followed that up with a pro career that led to an ASP East Championship. Next, he became a prolific surf journalist, contributing to nearly every major surf publication on the planet and co-writing Kelly Slater’s 2003 biography, Pipe Dreams — one of the surf books to reach far beyond the surfing community alone. Since, Borte has authored another book, The Kook’s Guide to Surfing, and co-authored The Pipeline.
But perhaps Borte’s greatest gift to East Coast surfing is the one that he continues to give today: teaching newbies the ropes at his The Surf School camps, which are located in Weekapaug, Rhode Island and, of course, Virginia Beach — where it all began. Whether it’s single-handedly keeping up the traditions of memorial surf contests for fallen friends Jeff Hunter and Zeke Sanders, or giving countless hours to The Wounded Warriors, Life Rolls On, and Surfers Healing, Borte’s generosity and desire to give the gift of surfing to others is — and always will be — the stuff of legend.
Borte was inducted into the East Coast Surfing Hall of Fame in 2016.
Photos by Tom Dugan / ESM, Dick “Mez” Meseroll / ESM, John Wright and courtesy Jason Borte