Paul Naude’s story starts in the Bay of Plenty, Durban, South Africa. At a young age, his passion for the ocean and riding waves led to learning the craft of surfboard building and innovation. From South Africa, Paul’s competitive surfing skills took him around the world including to Hawaii where he competed at the highest level and quickly cemented his place as a leader among the global surf tribe. In 1976, Paul started ZigZag Magazine, widely recognized as one of the respected and longest running surf media publications in existence as it is still relevant today. In the 80’s he traded in his caliper, clippings, and contest jersey to help Michael Tomson run the Gotcha brand, the most radical and influential surf brand of its era, if not ever. This role brought Paul to California where he was later appointed President of Billabong in 1998. After being one of the key players in building the Billabong group into the biggest multi-brand holding in the surf industry’s history, in 2014, Paul opted for a change, and created the Vissla surf brand. Vissla has since challenged the surf market with a foundation in craftmanship and true surf culture, winning multiple awards, establishing business in over 40 countries, celebrating the work of Creators & Innovators in surf culture, and pushing an aggressive sustainability agenda.
Throughout his career, Paul has stayed true to his ocean roots and earned a reputation as a steward for the environment. He has helped raise millions in funding for ocean conservation NGOs as President of Surf Industry Members Association’s SIMA Environmental Fund, been a steadfast partner for Surfrider Foundation, influenced the Coastal Defender Coalition, supported Save the Waves Coalition, Surfers Against Sewage, Oceana and numerous other Ocean related environmental organizations. His other passion is African wildlife and he Co-Founded The Chipembere Foundation, working to protect African Rhino. As a reflection of Pauls commitment, Vissla has collaborated with Surfrider, Surfers Against Sewage, SIMA’s Waterman’s Annual Gala, Dr. Cliff Kapono, The Ecology Center and other similar groups. Despite the challenges involved, Paul has grown the percent of sustainable products in the Vissla line from 30% in 2017 to now over 75% with ongoing commitment to continue innovating business practices in order to minimize environmental impact, and ultimately to protect the ocean.
If you can’t reach Paul on his flip phone, he is either surfing, taking world-class photographs, adding a vintage surfboard to his collection of over 500, making organic wine, upcycling something, or hand shaping and laminating surfboards for a lucky few.