Steven “The Kraken” Buchan is a 32-year-old surfer who grew up in the Harbor Area of Los Angeles in a little town called San Pedro. His dad was a surfer so naturally, his pops always tried to get him into the water early on in his life. Despite surfing being heavily pushed by his family, he started getting into trouble and gravitated towards other things. This would end up being an ongoing theme throughout the early years of his life. Finally, at the end of his 8th-grade year in middle school, his dad finally got him on a board and into the water. He took to it like a fish to water and started getting noticed by people rather quickly. He had a small article in Longboard Magazine and got invited on several trips across the world. He started surfing for companies like Jon Wegener Surfboards, then Dewey Weber Surfboards and finally Tyler Surfboards.
“At the time, Tyler Hatzikian was an Idol to me. The way he was able to whip his 30-pound longboard around and lock in hang tens at a dumping beach break like El Porto, was astounding to me. It still is to this day! I met him in Oceanside one day at a contest, he watched me surf a heat & then put me on his team immediately. This was one of the high points in my life. Imagine meeting your favorite football or basketball player, them seeing you play and putting you on their team. That’s exactly what it was like for me!”
Right around the same time, things started going downhill for Steven once again. He went on a downward spiral in drugs, alcohol, and arrests that spanned well over a decade. During this time, his surfing became nonexistent. Things came to a crashing halt in 2013 when Steven decided that enough was enough and began to change his life. The road to recovery began with his love for surfing.
“Early in my sobriety, I began to find hobbies again. I picked up Muay Thai and started surfing again. It was hard at first and very discouraging. I hadn’t touched a surfboard in over a decade and it showed. I was living in the San Fernando Valley at the time so Malibu was just a 20-minute drive over the hill which helped. Slowly but surely, the surfing started to come back to me. I started to get my confidence back. Then I started doing contests again & putting myself out there”
Steven took first place in the 2015 “King of the South Bay” and then shortly after that, took first place at the 2015 “Santa Cruz Longboard Invitational” at Steamer Lane.
“Winning those contests were so cool! It felt like I had redeemed myself after the hell I had put myself through in the 13 years previous. Regardless of that experience, I was frustrated. The longboard scene had changed so much. Everyone was ripping so hard on single fins, which was awesome, but nobody was taking me seriously and getting noticed again seemed like an impossibility. So, I just kept at it and quit trying so hard. I took my ego out of the equation and just had fun with it. After work one day, I decided to go surf one of our local breaks in Malibu. To my surprise, CJ Nelson was out in the water absolutely shredding! This was a guy that I had grown up watching all throughout my childhood. I don’t think there’s anyone else in the world that can surf as well as he does. We snagged a few waves and started talking. He told me his story and his own battle with alcoholism. We hit it off and started working together from that day forward. What blows my mind about that day is that I almost didn’t go surf. I was tired from a long day at work and wanted to go straight home. I feel like something pulled me to the beach that day. With CJ’s coaching, my surfing is progressing to a level I never thought possible. I’ve learned about not being a one-dimensional “noserider”. Cutbacks, laybacks, lip smashes, slashes, all of these can be included in a single fin “classic” approach. Boards like the Sprout, the CJ Classic and the constructions these boards are made, have changed everything for me.”
Once Steven got hooked up CJ Nelson, things started to take off for him. He had a 6-page article in Pacific Longboarder Magazine come out in February of 2017 and he continues to move his way up in the longboard community. He’s also been picked up by several companies who support and sponsor his endeavor in finding that perfect wave. Companies like City Fog Clothing, Rip Curl Malibu, Cassette Sunglasses, and Olas Surf Grill. You can bet he’s out in the water having the most fun and caring about the experience, rather the contest finishes.
“The experiences I get from surfing are priceless. I’ve traveled all over the world to places like Fiji, Costa Rica, Baja and Mainland Mexico. My life is beautiful today. When I was sitting in jail getting sober, I never could’ve imagined where my life would be today. I started thinking about everything I had done and put myself through. Coming from where I came from, its nothing short of a miracle that I’m still alive. Yet today, I’m more than alive. I’m thriving! My goal every day is to give back what was given to me. A life of freedom. I try to live spiritually and help others. It’s in the giving back that we are given the most in return. I can’t thank my family, my friends, and the companies who support me. Especially the people out there struggling that I get the privilege to be there for and make a difference in their lives. Because in reality, they’re the ones making the difference in my life.”
On most days, you can either catch Steven surfing places like Leo Carillo, First Point Malibu, C-Street or Palos Verdes Cove. Or you might just catch him in a coffee shop, sitting with someone who looks like they’ve been through the wringer, trying to help them find their way back home.