Our Story

The Beginning...

In the 80’s in Santa Cruz, California, life was pretty “Rad”. Without the distraction of video games, Internet and social media, life was happening at baseball diamonds, the Boardwalk and the beach. Buell wetsuit founder Ryan Buell was one of the lucky few to be in the right place at the right time. At 8-years-old Ryan got his start riding waves on a soft top out in front of the Casino by the Boardwalk. A love affair with the ocean had begun.

The Waterman...

The Santa Cruz City Junior Lifeguard program was where the passion to become an all-around waterman grew. Monday through Friday all summer he and hundreds of kids would learn the skills needed to become strong swimmers and capable of saving lives if necessary. Taking this training seriously, Ryan quickly became one of the standouts in Junior Guard competitions. After years of training and competing, Ryan secured a spot as a Lifeguard on Main Beach in Santa Cruz. Years of saving lives and winning paddle competitions would follow. With a long resume of victories in Paddle Races and Beach Flags all over the world, his two proudest moments were being crowned the only non-New Zealander to win the Auckland Regional Championship and winning the first-ever Jay Moriarity Memorial Paddleboard Race.

The Wetsuit Designer...

In 1997 Ryan started working at Hotline Wetsuits. Within six months he was the head of production. Soon after he began designing suits. When team riders, Shawn “Barney” Barron and Darryl “Flea” Virostko asked for suits that stood out in a crowd, Ryan answered the call with some of the wetsuit industry's most outrageous and iconic designs of all time. Taking his inspiration from comic book heros such as “Spider-Man” and “Aquaman” Ryan created the most innovative wetsuits ever seen. While Barney and Flea were pushing surfing to the limits in the water, Ryan was taking wetsuits to the next level. Not only was he changing the look of wetsuits he was also re-imagining their function. Inspired by a bathrobe one evening in a hotel room, Ryan drew-up the first overlapping upper entry. Not long after he conjured up the one-sided “slant zip” entry. Years later, both designs are standard in most brands high-end wetsuits. After years of dedication at Hotline it was time for Buell Wetsuits to take flight.

Buell Wetsuits and Surf...

Ryan, now a husband and father, envisioned a wetsuit brand unlike the rest. The plan was simple, make the best suits in the world and sell them to a few select surfers. A grassroots plan to create demand. Designing and fabricating prototypes in his garage, Ryan’s vision was coming to life. Soon Buell began making custom designs for surf industry leaders including; Volcom, Nike, Fox, Reef, and Oakley. During this time he had the opportunity to work with many of the world’s top surfers, such as World Champions Carissa Moore and Adriano DeSouza. Others included Bruce Irons, Dusty Payne, Mitch Colburn, Kai Otten, Nat Young, Bede Durbidge, Dean Morrison, Coco Ho and he even designed a suit for Jennifer Lawrence for the Blockbuster Movie “Hunger Games Catching Fire”.

Now Buell moved his headquarters from his garage to 41st. Ave in the heart of Santa Cruz's surf mecca. You can now find Buell Wetsuits all over the world in core surf shops like Huntington Surf & Sport, Cleanline Surf Shop, Main Beach Surf Shop, Surfride Surf Shop and many others.

Driven by our passion for surfing, Buell Wetsuits & Surf was born out of Ryan Buell's garage and today creates quality products for core surfers the world over. From frothing groms to touring pros, Buell Wetsuits are trusted and worn in line-ups from Steamer Lane to Manasquan Inlet and beyond...

WORD ON THE REEF IS:
If you want to get waves at The Lane, you’d better be wearing a Buell. (Wetsuit, that is.) Nephew to legendary Surf Walk of Fame watermen, Denny and Sam Buell, Ryan Buell knows how to craft a wetsuit that rides movements.

 

Rubber worn by the men that put Santa Cruz on the map. Rubber worn by icons (R.I.P. Barney) who weren’t afraid to channel the mutant superhero inside us all. Now a successful independent California company, Buell still supports that working-class ethic through teamriders like Stu Kennedy, Keely Andrew, Leif Engstrom, Andrew Gessler and Jadson Andre. Not to mention West Coast stalwarts Nate Yeomans, Kellen Ellison, Chad Compton, Mike McCabe, and Matt & Luke Rockhold. Now, after nearly a decade working under his own label, the man who made Barney’s suits himself chatted with Surfline. Read the entire interview HERE.