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Beach Grit


Focus Group Creates surf brand. Names it Vissla.

Chas Smith

by Chas Smith

Is it ever too late to jump on a trend? Paul Naude shouts an emphatic "No!" before time travelling to 2010!

Paul Naude, ex-Billabong chief, and the other creators x innovators of surf start-up Vissla are genius. Like, very salt-of-the-earth smart. It is difficult to perfectly capture the zeitgeist of any era. Wes Anderson spends years and years painstakingly re-creating the nuances of romanticized epochs from early 1930s Eastern Europe (Grand Budapest Hotel) to mid-1960s New England (Moonrise Kingdom).

Paul Naude decided that 2010 was the best year ever and painstakingly recreated a surf brand based on a bearded DIY aesthetic four years after its high-water mark.

Note the v v subtle components shown in their brand launch video.

1) Coffee

2) Hand tattoo

3) Hand-shaped board

4) Hand-drawn art

5) Grainy Super 8 black + white footage

6) Slob air (in black + white, of course)

7) Briefcase filled with…

8) …film!

9) Footage of a Super 8 camera being held

10) Wide swallow twin-fin

It transports you, exactly, to a far away time (2010) and a far away place (Newport Beach). It is genius because, as trends go, it is never to soon to imitate. And by imitate I mean innovate.

ASK PAM: oooh ya she cool!

Pam Reynolds

by Pam Reynolds

French bulldog answers your metaphysical woes. Money can't buy you love but love can't buy you shit!

Dear Pam,
Sometimes, when I’m alone at night, I look at the stars and think, “They seem little and shitty.” I know that stars are supposed to inspire us and make us feel insignificant and stuff but I just can’t get in to them. Any suggestions on things that could inspire me?
Brown Boy, PR.
Pam says: i feel u, theres not many things that make me feel insignificant. as far as like inspiration, i always read nylon magazine and it always gives me good ideas about fashion.
Dear Pam,
Politics totally isn’t my thing but everyone always talks about Barack Obama at parties. What should I say? What should my standard line be?
Wants to Shine Socially
Pam says: i have never met him before, but i heard some people talking about how he’s cool. so jus b like oooh ya hes so cool.
Dear Pam, 
I’m not really into having girlfriends. I usually try and ride ’em like waves, ride ’em as long as I can. But iI have hooked up with a few psycho girls. I used to be able to hook up with anything, I didn’t mind their attitude. I cruised with this one psychotic bitch, this total hate flirt, and then one morning I woke up and just left. Now I miss her sooooooooo hard. What do I do? I think I’m in love…
Not a Door Mat
Pam says: i think u r trippin. i try to stay clear of boys that change they mind too often. its kinda over now and she was probably too crazy anyway. dont look back and always stay busy.
Dear Pam, 
I’m a pro surfer and I got anger issues. What do you do when you see someone get a six for surfing totally on axis and they beat you and you’re supposed to clap and shake their hand and then push up against the girl interviewer on the beach? Do you understand the boundaries in this territory? I’m giving u the truth. I feel like I’m gonna explode but I don’t wanna get Bobby Martinezed off the tour… I’m FUCKING serious, man!
Dante, LA. 
Pam says: to b serious it only takes one person to start a revolution. when I first started in this game I was pretty much the first. now look. you midget, mini-me with a bunch of little mini-yous running around your backyard swimming pools. but cereal, if you wanna stay in the game you gotta play by their rules sometimes, unless you just start your own game.
Dear Pam,  
That whole French Bulldog Boston Terrier thing?
Pain and Disrespect, OC.
Pam says: well my cousin is a boston. so i know a lot about them. some people get us mixed but 2 b straight, bostons have some looks but not as much intellect. theyre cool tho. they’re super sporty and come mostly in black in white. i saw a list on google but some stuff is wrong. a boston tends to be less independent and not loyal..ew.    heres a photo too, whos cuter?
A boston terrier and a french bulldog

One dumb, one pretty, one is independent, the other so not loyal…ew

WHO IS PAM? Pam Reynolds is a four-year-old French bulldog born on a ranch in Oregon, but left at the age of 13 weeks for a more fast paced life in Southern California. She currently resides in Carpinteria where she enjoys modelling, hunting and fashion. Her motto? LIVE AST DIE YOUNG BULLDOGS DO IT WELL. Send your questions to [email protected] If you want to see Pam answer ’em live, send an audio file. Get to know Pam on IG @pamlovesferrariboys


How to make a surf film (with Kai Neville)

Derek Rielly

by Derek Rielly

Now that Cluster is out in the wild, let's talk hammers with Kai Neville… 

The independent filmmaker Kai Neville is an elegant rough-neck who has lassoed the surf-cultural zeitgeist like no one else. Over the last ten years he has made three era-defining films: Modern Collective, Lost Atlas and Dear Suburbia.

And this Christmas, the world will see his new film, Cluster, unsheathed from Kai’s blue velvet camera pouch more than two years since Dear Sub. And it ain’t around sessions this time. Kai is “taking it back to the OG. It’s a parts vibe,” he says.

Thirty-two-year-old Kai was motivated to jump into the independent film game again because of Creed McTaggart and Noa Deane, the two most photogenic surfers not spending their fuel on the World Tour. “I feel like an old man all of a sudden,” he says. “They’re different 19 and 20 year olds. I was a weird confused kid and they’re way ahead of their time, in music and in surfing. They own themselves. And they look up to the older generation of (Mitch) Coleborn and Dion (Agius). You need that X-factor in your films. People expect to see the best guys and they want to be surprised.”

Who knows how to make a surf film better than Kai Neville? Soak in his advice, in his 10 Iron Laws of Surf Film Making.  

1. Location It’s the key to a surf film. You want variety. I like variety. Unless it’s a documentary, there has to be at least six locations. Some exotic, some Medieval. I love that European surfing vibe and the dark beaches and the ramps. Have clean-faced waves, some barrels and a mix of backdrops and angles.

2. The Production Crew Keep it small and keep it tight. There’s nothing worse than rocking up to a remote beach with a handful of filmers and boats and jet skis and helicopters. It’s puts a bad taste in everyone’s mouth and ruins the vibe. You should be going in as a fly on the wall. Three surfers, two filmers max. Whether you’re talking to locals at the pub or arriving at a South Australian secret spot, the smaller the crew, the tighter the clique, the smoother it is. When managers start coming, it’s not a surf film anymore, it’s a commercial shoot.

3. Booze After a hard day on the tools, get a slab of beer for the boys. When it’s been a good day and the vibes are high, you can reminisce on the session and talk shit. A bad day? Beer works as well. Keep those vibes… high!

4. You do the logistics Not many people don’t realise that 60 per cent of a successful film is doing your research: looking at maps, reading up on locations, booking flights, car rentals etc. Most surfs are pretty retarded and they don’t do shit. You have to be proactive and do everything. Put them in the right place at the right time and they’ll repay you with their athletic talent.

Noa Deane hangs outside of car window

Noa, so summer! And such an important ingredient in the reinvigoration of Kai Neville…

5. Music You want a balanced soundtrack with good pacing. I’ll try a thousand songs until something triggers an emotion. A song can make or break your party. It’s worth whatever time and money you have to spend.

6. Work with brilliant art directors Collaborate with great designers and it’ll set the tone of your film and bring your vision to life. I’ve worked with a different art director on each film and it defines each film by its different flavour. Find an art director, a creative, who has a similar vision for titles and your filmic textures. I keep a ton of references of design I like and if one clicks, I just contact that person. You’ll be surprised how many top-shelfs creators are into surf. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone or pound out an email.

7. Killing babies! When it doubt, leave it out. If you’re second-guessing a shot, cull it. When you look back in a year you’ll be fucking glad you got rid of it.

“Too much money can ruin a project. You don’t know what to do with it all and you tend to over-produce. Be fucking organic. The less money, the more independent you are.” Kai Neville

8. It’s all about the vibes All it takes is one bad egg on a trip to put your film into downward spiral. Pick surfers who travel well together, who don’t get eggy. Everybody should be having a hell time. The last thing you want is someone, surfer, photographer, whomever, who spooks everyone else out. There’s a lot of down time during a trip, a lot of dinners and whatever with the same guys. The more you can tie the guys together, the smoother the shoot.

9. Marketing You gotta market your project from start to finish. Treat your film like a brand. You don’t wanna over-hype it and oversaturate the world with it but you don’t wanna under-hype it either so no knows about it. It’s a fine line. Find that magic ingredient that gets people psyched and go with it until it’s released.

10. Cash For any project you need money. You don’t need much, but you need some. You can do a lot with a little. Before you hit the road, pitch your idea to brands and surfers. Any bit of extra budget can take your film to the next level. It might enable you to get the art director you want or that song you’re hyped on. Howevs, too much money can ruin a project. You don’t want to do with it all and you tend to over-produce. So keep it simple. Be realistic. But don’t blow all your money on the one trip or the Phantom rig operator. And with titles, you don’t necessarily need crazy graphics. The best stuff I’ve done is when I’ve worked with nothing because you’re forced to get out there and be fucking organic. The less money, the less fingers in the pie, the less politics and the more independent you are. Did I mention independence? It’s priceless.

surfers who weep like gals!

Chas Smith

by Chas Smith

Winning a contest or even second is the best! But to weep? Like gal?

Crying is a poignant reaction to life’s cosmic drama. Diane Warwick, singer and champion of psychics, said, “Crying is cleansing. There’s a reason for tears.”

And she is right but she is also a she. Crying for a man, however poignant, whatever the reason, is a dicey proposition. Crying for the sporting man even dicier. Crying for the surfer, who practices the softest sport of all, the diciest. Which is not to say crying, for the surfer, is always wrong. We don’t believe in cruel blacks and whites at Beach Grit. We believe in open hands and open hearts. We practice a severe benevolence.

But we also look at Gabriel Medina’s watery eyes, beret perched on Rip Curl cap, with disdain. He is rubbing away the tears like a toddler after losing to Julian Wilson in Portugal. His expression is dour. Gabriel is, without doubt, very competitive but, and here is the irony, he is not old enough to cry after defeat. He is not old enough to cry after victory. He dwells in those tender years when crying is not appropriate because, quite simply, he has not experienced enough ups and downs to justify it. When he felt the watery sting begin to boil behind his eyes he should have marched off the stage in a huff. Being a bad sport is much preferred to being a bad sport and a baby.

Gabriel crying after coming second to Julian Wilson at Portugal Rip Curl Pro

When Gabriel felt the watery sting begin to boil behind his eyes he should have marched off the stage in a huff. Being a bad sport is much preferred to being a bad sport and a baby.

And we also look at Jordy Smith sobbing on the shores of Jeffrey’s Bay, blubbering openly, with great joy. Jordy is only slightly older than Gabriel and has only slightly more professional experience but the way he has given himself over, completely, to emotion makes it impossible to criticise. Jordy is crying like he has just accomplished the hardest thing on earth. He is crying like he alone, through sacrifice and great effort, brought lasting peace to the Middle East. His face is a mask of unimpeded emotion and it is so out of line with just winning J-Bay that it shall forever endure as Beach Grit’s icon.

And we also look at Kelly Slater weeping into the microphone in Puerto Rico after his victory and Andy Irons death. This was a dark, dark day in surfing’s relatively bright history and Kelly’s torture mirrored that of so many. It was a fine reaction to real loss. Kelly took the burden of tears and allowed others to be remain solemn and sad without also weeping. Through thick and thin, Kelly Slater has always been our ambassador. Our great totem.

Yes, the crying surfer is the diciest proposition but, as Diane Warwick said, “The problem with fame is you no longer belong to you. You lose your persona and become the object of other people’s obsession.” Amen.


(Editor’s note: The photo of Jordy weeping like gal is by English/Surf Images)


Derek Rielly

by Derek Rielly

Thirty-something Bruce Irons was once the best "free surfer" in the world. Then he turned philosopher in this archival interview!

What are your favourite sounds? Reeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! The sound of my ten-reel getting screamed by a Yellowfin [tuna]. This year we’ve had one of the best Yellowfin seasons ever. Officially, I’ve caught seven all from 150 to 200 pounds and one 500-pound marlin. All right in front of our house. My baby is making all these little noises that are priceless. All these little eee-eee, ooo-ooo, ah-ah. Goo goo, gah gah, that kind of shit. Everyday is a different little noise.

What is the most curious album in your collection? A GG Allin album that Nathan Fletcher put me onto. He’s an old-school punk guy, long dead. He’s a crazy, crazy old punk rocker (Allin was famous for his live shows in which he would often defecate on stage, perform naked, cut himself and sometimes, when hunger beckoned, he would eat his own shit).

What is heaven for you?  Getting stand-up shacks, catching big Ahis [another name for Yellowfin tuna], watching my baby grow and um, Kauai. Wait, I’m in heaven right now.

What is hard for you? Communication is hard. Sometimes I don’t want to pick up the phone and return calls for a week. Getting back to my so-called ‘responsibilities,’ is hard. Leaving Kauai. You get in a groove here and you don’t want to leave. It’s a little island, with a real tight island community where everyone knows everyone and it’s hard to leave your friends and family.

What is right with the world? We haven’t had a total nuclear-fucking-mayhem-weapons-of-mass-destruction bomb test yet. All this nuclear-fucking-mass destruction talk and still no one’s pulled the trigger. If one person pulls the trigger, we’re all fucked. Who wants to be the first idiot?

Describe a scene from a movie that moved you? Wave Warriors III changed my whole perspective when I was nine years old. To see Matt Archbold, Christian Fletcher and Pottz, at that time, doing airs and high-performance surfing – it changed my life forever. Archy at Trestles doing big backside grab airs. Christian Fletcher doing the fucken biggest airs. Johnny Boy was doing these backside back flip snaps. That was in ’89! I watched that section a week ago and it still pumped me up. It’s got the sickest soundtrack and the baddest airs. That was the beginning of innovation in surfing.

What is your motto or words to live by? My mum always said, respect your elders and treat someone, as you would like to be treated. Respect your elders is a Catch-22. If you respect someone and they don’t respect you back, fuck them. If someone is gonna shit on you, fuck them. Which is where the other part of the saying comes in.

What remarkable things have you found in remarkable places? I just came back from Mexico and it was a good reality check to see how good we have it compared to them. I was hanging with this crazy gnarly local gangster guy. He had three kids and he’d been in a Chicago prison for five years, for having a lot of drugs and a machine gun, I think. Heavy duty shit. He’d taken over this broken-down abandoned home and hooked it up with electricity and water. I walked into a room and there were his three little girls sleeping on a hard concrete floor on a towel. To talk to the guy and see how happy he is, with his chick and his three kids, just to be alive, made me appreciate that I’m spoilt.

“If you respect someone and they don’t respect you back, fuck them. If someone is gonna shit on you, fuck them.”

What do you wonder about? I’m more cautious about living and staying alive. I want to see my daughter grow up. Little things like wearing a seat belt and not driving drunk, which I overlooked before I had my little baby. I still make those dumb decisions but I try to cut back on them. (Does that cautiousness extend to surfing?) No. In those situations I feel comfortable because I’m confident that I can control what’s happening.

What’s your most thrilling surfing experience? Surfing Teahupoo at 15-feet plus with some bigger ones… you’re looking at waves that can kill you. We surfed a tow session in Kauai with my brother, Kamalei [Alexander] and Parko. It was one of the sessions of my life. Reallly big, big day, and this one spot that people usually paddle was randomly holding it. We had a window of just us four for two hours. I got the best waves of my life. Priceless.