WE COULD ALL WISH FOR A DAD as cool as Gary Murphy's. The senior Murphy, Jimmy, is a founder and the current chairman of Brendan Worldwide Vacations (www.brendanvacations.com), a wholesale travel company in Chatsworth, CA. His son, Gary, is president.
When Gary was young, his father would take him on exotic trips, where Gary was able to hone his skill at his longtime love: surfing. "My dad encouraged my surfing and took me on many of his business trips," says Murphy, who surfed in Tahiti 20 years ago. That's not all his dad did for him. "I'd wake my father up at 5 a.m. and he'd take me to the beach to surf."
Gary Murphy is now set in his day job atop a distinguished travel company, but he passes early mornings and evenings applying his surfboard to the famous waves of the southern California coast. Murphy, who lives in Malibu with his wife and two daughters, is able to enjoy his cathartic hobby year-round. Surfing is a respite from his job, where he is charged with running a $100 million company—Brendan, long known as a specialist in Ireland and Britain, sells land and cruise packages to all the continents.
"The great thing is that it's a one-man sport, something I can do on my own," says Murphy, who most enjoys surfing before he goes into the office. "I don't think about work when I'm surfing. It's saltwater therapy."
A Family Affair
Surfing is also all in the family for the Murphys. Gary's brother Sean, an avid surfer and frequent surfing collaborator, created his own travel company that specializes in surfing. Waterways Surf Adventures (www.waterwaystravel.com) is sort of a spin-off from Brendan, which was already offering packages to many great international surf destinations.
One of Gary's most memorable surf trips was taken with his brother in 2005. They went to Timor, an island in southeast Asia that's probably better known for the civil unrest surrounding East Timor's struggle for independence from Indonesia (achieved in 2002) than as a surfing destination on par with California or Australia. The Murphys chose to do their surfing in West Timor, which is Indonesian territory. "Still," Gary says, "there was a military presence on the beach. It was a little uncomfortable."
That didn't stop them from having a good time. They traveled on Sean's boat and surfed many different spots while exploring the islands in the region, such as Roti, just south of West Timor. "It recharges the batteries," Gary says of his surfing trips. "It brings a lot of clarity and renews ambition."
It doesn't hurt his home life, either. "When I come home, my wife loves me more," he gushes.
Murphy turns 49 in April, but he shows no signs of slowing down or curtailing the amount of time he spends trying to catch the perfect wave. "It makes you feel youthful," he says.
While he has no trouble selling travel, expressing the allure of surfing is an entirely different story. "It's difficult to describe what the feeling is in riding a mountain of moving water," he says. We can only imagine.