Story and photography by: Taylor Robinson

In the small but bustling surf town of Canggu along Bali’s west coast a mere eight degrees South of the Equator & held within the island chain of Indonesia there is a most remarkable oasis of all things cool… The Deus Temple of Enthusiasm. “The Temple” is host to local musical acts, a custom motorcycle shop, great food, a boutique clothing line, an art gallery, a concrete mini ramp and even a barber shop. 

Deus ex Machina is a Latin term meaning “God is in the Machine” – over a period of 8 years the brand has built a global empire of euphoria. It’s Bali location is a endorphin evoking hub for adrenaline junkies and creative wanderlusts. One of the key characters of this ‘Oasis of Awesome’ happens to be a La Jolla native. Rich Pavel (the subject of our story) finds rare solace in the surfboard shaping bay tucked away in the back patio of this sanctuary to sleds and steeds. 

So there I sat – pondering my path, desperately trying to convince myself that I had made the right decision & searching for any sign of reassurance…. when a silver haired man with gentle features breezes through the courtyard of the Temple grounds, on a custom built sled with a beautiful polished aluminum tank with leather accents. As a fellow custom motorcycle enthusiast I struck up conversation with him when he approached the bar for his morning brew. In less than a minute he had sized me up as a trustworthy individual and deftly slid a key across the table and offered to let me… “take it for a rip”.

Now, I’ve been following the custom motorcycle movement (that Deus ex Machina had a hand in catapulting into the spotlight) for some time. During a 9 month “walkabout” in Sydney, Australia I had become enamored with the quality and craftsmanship of these hand built leisure machines at the Deus “House of Simple Pleasures”. 

Years later, I would find myself in Venice California, where the Deus US flagship store adopted my ‘Motley Crue’ of vintage motorcyclists, offering us safe haven and a place to enjoy a live band and a beverage after a long group ride. I had spent countless hours studying the meticulous details that went into each Deus vessel that emerged from their workshops. Owned and loved by Hollywood elites: Orlando Bloom and Ryan Reynolds and singers Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen and Jason Mraz these motorcycles were unobtainable to the average vagabond traveler. So, needless to say that the opportunity to throw a leg over one and actually ride it was a real treat. What I didn’t realize during my short pleasure cruise down to Canggu beach was that this pure gesture would lead to a solid friendship and to a modest reveal of the formidable faculties of this man. More significantly…. one of the greatest hearts I had ever met. Filled with more aspiration than ambition this old soul has grabbed life by the reigns and deftly ridden it around the world. 

Along with Custom Bikes, Deus is at the pinnacle of the hand crafted surfboard scene. Each of the 8 Deus stores has a small but diverse selection of wave sliding machines each one designed and glassed by some of the most revered shapers in the industry. Shapers like San Diego native son Ryan Burch, Santa Barbara stalwart Ryan Lovelace and Down Under’s like spirited Neal Purchase Jr. & Bob Mctavish (just to name a few). Rich Pavel sits atop the short list of ‘Legends in the Making’ that have graced the Temple of Enthusiasm with their presence. 

Rich “Ritchie san” Pavel is the founder of the “Greenroom Design Tour” – a semi-annual sort of wandering pilgrimage throughout AustralAsia. In this Greenroom Design Tour, Ritchie takes up residency in various cities and outposts from “Tasmania to Tokyo” with adopted roles as designer, mentor and environmental activist – sometimes he is known as a tribal elder or even affectionately called “Uncle”. His current, largely undefined role at Deus Temple of Enthusiasm can loosely be upheld as ‘Director of Procurement’.

Richard John Pavel was born at Scripps Memorial on Prospect Avenue. Those days, La Jolla was more of a settled California cottage community than the La Jolla it has become today. A community that once was an enclave to artists, painters, poets and writers has now given way to Coach purses and Maserati dealerships. 

Rich Pavel figuratively and literally cut his teeth on the reefs of La Jolla. His early influences came from an unexpected source. In the late 60’s surfing had a drug culture overlay, an affiliation that left a fog slow to lift. In fact, it’s taking decades to overcome. 

“The hard core surfers of that day were more often seen as the people your mother warned you about.” … Naturally parents of young children weren’t exactly enthusiastic about their children adopting such activities. 


It was Ritchie’s love of all things flora and fauna and his fascination with geology and sandstone formations that would bring him down to La Jolla’s lesser known reefs where but few of his peers would explore the sandstone arroyos. He watched in amazement as  watermen would emerge from the near and not so near shores edge holding bags of abalone, lobster and various aquatic oddities which been extracted hidden below the surface amongst the depths. Being in love with nature and peering over the bluffs at the undersea world of Jeac Cousteau turned his attention to what lay under the crashing waves that lined the San Diego coastline. This natural curiosity helped him develop a deep understanding of tides and currents. It’s worth acknowledging his upstream influences the the likes of Bill Johnson, Wally Potts and Jack Prodonavich & other members of a dive club called the Bottom Scratchers. 

Naturally, spending years of his youth submerged in the ocean freediving lead to Rich to caste his eyes on the surface. By this time Rich and his cronies were known associates of local seasoned watermen and were adopted and mentored by the some of earlier pioneers of the San Diego surfing community. These include Baxley, Bud Caldwell the Martin Brothers and many more direct influences.

For Rich his presence as a cosmic being and desire to have an earthbound experience was derived from his love and respect for God & nature. 

Reflecting on philosophies of the French Physiocrats Carl Sagan said, “We’re in very bad trouble if we don’t understand the planet we’re trying to save.” 

Ritchie’s respect for man’s union with nature, the ocean and the environment have become elements deeply embedded into the core beliefs of the Greenroom Design Tour.

The inception of the Greenroom was on the island of Kauai in September of 1970. Riding the phoenix of the short board revolution, the Hawaiian surfers of that era were somewhat happy to be living as an outpost to the establishment. 

But along with that there were difficulties procuring the necessary elements required to create the newly conceived forms of their spirited soul surfing. 

Utilizing the relationships coming from living in Southern California, the founders of The Greenroom were able to acquire the foam, fiberglass and resin that was otherwise scarce in the island. 

What originated as a supply vessel for surfboard design’s best and brightest, soon gave way to Rich becoming a creator of his own boards and further developing a brand that is highly revered around the world today.

Geographically the nomadic pilgrimage of the Greenroom Design tour will next make its way down to Noosa Heads, a quaint surf town on Australia’s east coast. His bearing and the harvest of his fruitful fortune will be seen in the smiles of the watermen lucky enough to possess one of his noble sleds.  

Physical locations are just a mere technicality for Rich Pavel. Moreover his presence metaphysically can be sprirtually felt across the world amongst its ocean going tribes.

“If you are looking for a piece of wall art, then look somewhere else. His boards are best hung on walls of water of every proportion, ratio and scale.”

Rich Pavel is to the fish what Phil Edwards is to the longboard or Skip frye to the Egg. Over the span of his career he has unyieldingly and subtlety refined the science of surfing – not unlike the way today he methodically refines the rails of a board with a sanding block. Every stroke is a reflection of the countless surfboards that have passed through his hands. Each one subtlety giving way until nuance in form is reached. 

These days Rich has the luxury of cherry picking his clients and will often take pleasure at the serendipity of how his boards interact cosmically with their owners. His boards are works of art that are built to do just that… work. 

If you are looking for a piece of wall art, then look somewhere else. His boards are best hung on walls of water of every proportion, ratio and scale.

Summary – I came to Bali searching for a creative recharge and a chance to explore a world unknown to me. What I found, unbeknownst to me, exceeded all expectations. In these few synchronistic weeks I have garnered knowledge (among the light and shadows of this beloved shaping bay) that will forever sculpt my perceptions of success and personal contentment. 

The many conversations I shared with Rich taught me about life and the inner peace that comes with spending a lifetime doing what you  love. 

He has dedicated his life to the art and science of surf and physics. The reward for his hard work is life has lead him on a beautiful and mysterious journey. 

If you close your eyes you can almost picture him in a small monochromatic room… monastically covered in fiberglass dust, his bright blue eyes carefully studying every curve of this next creation. 

His spirit lives in everyone he has encountered. He is nowhere but he is everywhere. 

~ T

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