Half-gringo kid Alan Cleland Jr's got one of the world's heaviest beachbreaks in his front yard and a drug-cartel war in the back. Oowee etc.
Thinking about having kids, but don’t want them to become soft, spoiled first world brats who never look up from their phones? Meet Alan Cleland Jr, sixteen years old, from Pascuales, Mexico.
Alan’s the type of fully actualized young guy you’d want as your co pilot. Take him on a trip and he’ll expertly strap everyone’s boards onto the car, surf all day, call you into a good one, catch a fish, make a fire, cook it for everyone and eat his share last.
How did he get this way?
His father was a pro surfer from the San Diego area in the 1980’s. He didn’t compete much, but I remember seeing photos of him in Surfer, always deeply tubed at SD winter reefs with a serene expression on his face. Alan Sr started making trips south in his late-teens and fell in love with the palm groves and bombing barrels of Pascuales.
Soon, he had a local girlfriend there who turned into his wife and who bore him a son and a daughter.
Alan Jr doesn’t look half-Mexican. He’s got bushy blond hair, pale, sun-roasted skin and blue eyes. But when he says “Orale, chingon” to one of his homies you know he ain’t no gringo. He didn’t learn any English until age six and went to a Mexican public elementary school before switching to a home school program.
Pascaules isn’t friendliest spot for a kid to learn how to surf, but if you watch young Alan you’ll see what it’s done for him. He’s got that mas tranquilo approach to the barrel you see from other greats who grew up toying with heavy drainers like Bruce, Andy, John John and Jack Robinson.
The difference for Alan is that his spot is overhead 300 days and a year, breaks over sand, and until recently, was rather empty of people.
Not many grommies from Coolangatta or San Clemente have been stuffed into a trunk of a car and had a gun held to their heads the way Alan experienced at age 12. That happened on a midnight trip to Puerto Escondido when the driver of the car stopped to take a piss by he side of the road and got jacked by some hoods lying it wait. The lesson? Don’t drive at night in Mexico and if for some reason you do, don’t ever fucking stop to take a piss.
But growing up in deep, dark Mainland Mex isn’t, ah, the safest place for a young surfer.
Not many grommies from Coolangatta or San Clemente have been stuffed into a trunk of a car and had a gun held to their heads the way Alan experienced at age 12. That happened on a midnight trip to Puerto Escondido when the driver of the car stopped to take a piss by he side of the road and got jacked by some hoods lying it wait.
The lesson? Don’t drive at night in Mexico and if for some reason you do, don’t ever fucking stop to take a piss.
Alan’s home base in the state of Colima isn’t the safest joint either. In the old narco days, coke and weed were moved through that area to mainly to feed the addictions of North Americans and Europeans.
Now the explosion of cheap pills and meth have yielded a class of Mexican drug fiends. These days, you’re not as likely to catch a stray bullet from a Zetas/Sinaloa cartel “heating up the plaza” shoot out as you used to be. But a desperate junkie looking for a fix is not the guy you want to bump into on a quiet street after dark.
“Pretty much every bad thing that happens in Mexico goes down about 10 minutes from where I live,” says Alan.
To stay safe, he bolts up the doors to his house after seven pm each night and stays there.
He proudly surfs for the Mexican national team and is way better in small, weak waves that you might expect. He took second at a Pro Junior in tiny waves in Florida and recently made the semis of a QS in Acapulco.
He’s got a loose, almost hipstery style that may or may not find favor with the judges on tour, but he’s down to give it his best shot. If it doesn’t work out, he’s fortunate that Nathan Fletcher hooked him up with Vans, one of the last bastions of curated and subsidized free surf artists.
I filmed Alan in the clip above in the silky smooth point breaks of Oaxaca and was blown away by his natural talent.
Out of the hundreds of young pros grinding away in small, mushy waves at Huntington Beach next week, Alan’s one to pay attention to.