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Opinion: Wildcards ain’t candy!

Rory Parker

by Rory Parker

The louder the child, the greater the reward?

My wife’s law firm hosted a fancy pants wine and dine schmooze party the other night, and I got wrangled along in order to fulfill my role as dutiful spouse. The requirements of said role are mostly minorL don’t wear boardshorts, iron your aloha shirt, smile and nod and, for god’s sake, don’t offer up any of your crazy fucking opinions about class structure, the legal system, or small town political dynamics.

Not too much of a chore.

I’m nearly deaf in my left ear, with a decent amount of hearing loss in my right. Between the background chatter of the crowd and the guy playing guitar in the corner I couldn’t understand most of what was being said.

So smile and nod and try to read facial cues. Was that a joke? I think it was. Chuckle politely.

As the night wound down and people trickled home, until only employees and close friends of the firm remained. The volume dropped to a point where I could actually understand and interact with the people around me.

All of them are very nice, though if I felt differently there’s no way I’d say so here. Despite my urging the wife tells all and sundry about BeachGrit, and at least a few of her colleagues actually read it.

And thank you very much, guys. I swear that anything unflattering is not aimed at you.

The thing about lawyers, at least the successful ones, each was, without exception, the smartest kid in school. Highly intelligent, very competitive, skilled at testing and writing and putting their opinions into words.

They love to talk shop, and after a few bottles of wine every lawyer gathering devolves into a contest to see who can shout their opinions loudest. Which I find exhausting. It’s not that I don’t understand what they’re taking about, I’ve been front row center to the missuses legal trajectory, you can’t help but pick some stuff up. I just don’t care.

I’ll run my mouth for hours, given the chance. Yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yapI love attention, I just hate competing for it. Look at the shit I write for BG. Ninety percent of it is just me talking about me.  Which has become my answer when people ask the awful question, “So what do you write?”

It gives off a strong silent type vibe, which is kind of cool, but couldn’t be further from the truth.

I’ll run my mouth for hours, given the chance. Yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yapI love attention, I just hate competing for it. Look at the shit I write for BG. Ninety percent of it is just me talking about me.  Which has become my answer when people ask the awful question, “So what do you write?”

Self involved essays, mostly. Such a weird answer. Definitely don’t say that to someone you just met.

Which brings us around to the point, beyond just writing about myself. Something, again, I obviously love to do.

Sometimes you just don’t belong.

It’s got nothing to do with ability, the skill to play the game.It’s rooted in desire, or anxiety, or some deep-seated personal flaw that says, “This far, no further.”

Just because you could, doesn’t mean you should, and being driven by the expectations of others can only lead to failure.

Win or lose, you’re gonna lose.

Bruce Irons has no business being granted a wildcard to Pipe.

Yes, he’s a legend, brother to another whose tale has only grown larger in the telling. But he’s never been able to succeed in the contest world. Like Dane, it’s not ability holding him back, just desire.  Sure, he may be able to make a few heats, mix things up, crush a dream or two. But that’s all.

There’s an entire generation of young Pipe chargers just dying for a chance, and that spot is rightfully theirs. Bruce had his time, but blew it and chose to walk away. I’ve no idea what he’s done with his life in the following years, but he’s stayed out of jail, out of the news, so whatever’s going on it can’t be all that bad.

He should’ve turned down his shot, looked magnanimous, become an elder statesman.

But it’s too late now. Whatever it is about competition that tears him apart, he’s gotta face it again.

In the public sphere, after a huge to-do, all eyes on him.

Update: SurfStitch buys FCS!

Derek Rielly

by Derek Rielly

For, uh, $23.7 million… 

Update: Less than a day ago, I wrote the story below in which I suggested Surf Hardware International (which includes Gorilla Grip, FCS etc) was just about to be sold for bullish $160 million.

Boy, was I off. The online clothing retailer SurfStitch, which also owns Stab and Magic Seaweed, just bought it. For the very bearish $23.7 million.

Read about it the acquisition here and what SurfStitch plans to do with the company. 

You can read my other failed prophecy below…

You can react two ways to the merciless and aggressive greed of the biz world. Either crave, pointlessly, for less rapacity or you can marvel at the ability of those who can grab a co with potential, polish it a little, and offload it at fantastic profit.

Vulture Investors” Oaktree Capital Management, which owns 19 per cent of Billabong and now controls Quiksilver Inc after its recent bankruptcy, is one company very good at this kind of biz.

Pals in the share game tell me the new, leaner, debt-free Billabong has never been a better buy, thanks to Oaktree.

Last month, it was reported that the plan was to combine to the two surf co’s. 

Surf Hardware, aka FCS, meanwhile, is in the process of being sold, at least according to a recent phone call I received. Now, if y’aint au fait with the biz and its importance to our surf game, maybe y’should.

In the early 1980s, Bill McCausland and two partners founded the company Fin Control Systems. It grew. We all started buying boards with plugs in ‘em. Along came a raft of removable-fin imitators.

It all went pear-shaped when the new company’s CEO and McCausland didn’t, uh, get along. The company sacked McCausland but, wait, he had thirty per cent of the company. A receipt for harmony, yes? But, no.

Shit went downhill. I glaze over at this kinda stuff. But read it all here. 

Ten years of court battles followed. Read about the case here. 

Anyway, looks like McCausland came out of it with a few mill. Enough to keep the wolves at bay, but maybe tough to swallow when y’hear the biz is rumoured to be sold for $160 million, and your share would’ve peeled you off $50 million.

I called FCS for a comment, got a nice enough accounts guy who refused to comment either way but obfuscated enough to make me think, yeah, the sale is under way.

And we’ll find out if it’s true soon enough.

Audio: Bruce Irons Talks RVCA, Hashtags!

Derek Rielly

by Derek Rielly

A phone call to Mr Irons yields the fruit of his RVCA signing and the power of social…

Almost exactly two hours ago, the Hawaiian surfer Bruce Irons signed with the clothing label RVCA. Yesterday, the WSL announced that he would be squeezed into the Pipe Masters on the back of an injury wildcard.

It ain’t been easy for the 36 year old these last few years. Big brother dies, sponsors disappear, baby mama ain’t around so much. A few biscuits thrown at him at this juncture is very welcome.

In this twenty-minute call, Bruce talks about the obvious, RVCA, Pipe etc, but he also jams on the brevity of fame, what it feels like when pals evaporate from your life, and a few other things.

As with all phone calls, and especially phone call interviews that I make with a pounding heart (I still watch The Bruce Movie), there’s a few misunderstandings, a few misheard things, some pauses, awkward laughter from me, mumbling questions even I don’t understand when I played it back. If I was a little better at trimming voice memo files you’d get a cleaner, more cohesive interview.

Starts slow but warms up.

If you like Bruce, this is what it’s like if you were to call him, right now

“World Class Points” in North Korea!

Derek Rielly

by Derek Rielly

Coastline is like “northern California”…

Four months ago, it was reported here that North Korea was open for surf tours. If you peeled off $US2400 (plus airfare) you could throw yourself straight into the mouth of what the West rightly, or wrongly, calls a “hermit kingdom”.

But who can speculate about such things?

Maybe chairman Kim Jong-un has a beautiful thing going. Maybe his animal vitality is reflected in a smiling well-fed populace. Maybe there is no famine, no summary executions, no anti-everything narrative. Maybe, by side-stepping globalism and porous borders, the glorious chairman had created…perfection.

The NBA Hall of Famer and former Chicago Bull Dennis Rodman has famously visited North Korea six times. About Kim Jong-un he says: “When he’s around his people, he’s just like anybody else. He jokes and loves playing basketball, table tennis, pool. They love American ’80s music. They do karaoke to it. He has this 13-piece girls band with violins. He gets a mic and they play the whole time. He loves the Doors and Jimi Hendrix. Oldies. When I first went, the live band only played two songs for four hours: the theme songs from Rocky and Dallas.”

Read about Rodman’s trips here. 

Anyway, the eight-day tour (operated by the New Jersey company Uri Tours) went in September and I was curious to examine the results. The Italian surfer, Nik Zanella, who is also the current coach of the Chinese national surf team, led the tour.

Potential for surf? Yes?

“There is potential in the DPRK for world-class pointbreaks, especially during typhoon swells,” he says. “Google Earth shows astonishing images of actual waves breaking on perfect setups. While we didn’t have full access to the coastline, the setup we had on Majon Bay was as good as a single location could be along that coast. The bay faces straight east and receives swell from over a 90 degrees angle, SE to ENE. The beach break activates also with minimal swells. When it gets bigger, there is a clean pointbreak just under the cliff.”

surfing north korea

The coastline, he says, “looked like Northern California, deep bays of golden sand, interrupted by ferrous cliffs.  I was surprised by the overall beauty of the place.”

surfing north korea

Were the people kind, nice, fearful, terrorised? “Traveling to North Korea was an eye opening trip for me,” says Zanella. “People were beyond nice and we were treated with respect and curiosity. I found that Koreans are hard working smart and have a sense of humor.”



Why would you go there? The German entrepreneur Markos Kern, one of the heads behind surf tours to North Korea, says,  “North Korea is the last white spot on the map and there are many amazing experiences to be had there. The country is beautiful and the people you meet possess a rare type of curiosity and kindness. Unconventional travel destinations always hold a certain amount of magic and I think trips like these may be the last few off the beaten path adventures we can really have.”

surfing north korea

Yeah, this does all read like propaganda, don’t it.

surfing north korea

So why not visit! See with eyes!

Book here. 

Get learnt: World War III for surfers!

Chas Smith

by Chas Smith

Mass global conflict is around the corner! What this means for you...

Of course you don’t come to BeachGrit for your world news but why not? I feel the collective IQ of our commentary team is higher than the average public radio listener’s (here’s looking at you Negatron, longtom, Audit in Progress, Trogan, Badger, mullet, Mariano, Landa Super Jr. etc.) and as such, could provide helpful advice for the surfer staring down the barrel of World War III.

In case you haven’t been keeping up, here is the short of it. The United States invaded Iraq a decade-ish ago, deposing Saddam Hussein under the guise of deposing Osama Bin Laden. It worked, on both fronts, if we feel like being solely results-oriented, but left the Middle East with power vacuums in the strongman arena (bye-bye Saddam, Hosni Mubarak, Mums Gaddafi, etc.) and in the terrorist one as well (so long, Al-Qaeda and welcome, ISIS).

Now, ISIS is behaving extra-badly, carving out large swathes of the Middle East and calling it a caliphate but also attacking continental Europe and threatening both the U.S. and Australia. There is only one strongman left, Syria’s Bashar Assad, and Russia has decided to go all in on him but the rest of Europe and NATO ally Turkey don’t like but also don’t like ISIS so are hamstrung. Russia is bombing ISIS but also bombing Assad’s enemies in Syria. The U.S. and Europe are sad but stuck. And Turkey just shot a Russian fighter jet out of the sky.

Hello, World War III!

Now. What is the generally shortsighted surfer to do? He doesn’t typically care about the Middle East because he thinks there is not very good surf, thus no reason to go or miss it when it explodes. He is wrong. I have surfed fun waves in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, Oman and seen fun waves in Israel. He also doesn’t think geopolitic matters and he is also wrong because  to the victor go the spoils, which is to say, a working knowledge of the globe’s situation will allow him to surf better waves alone, especially when things start really going to hell.

In any case, for both his future surf vacations and if caught in an unfortunate holiday meal debate, what should the surf position be on WWIII? Should the confused surfer back Putin and Assad? Europe/Turkey and a nonexistent Syrian democratic resistance? ISIS? Is there another party he should throw his support to? Also, what board will be most effective?

Let’s discuss!