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Beach Grit


Resolution: Leave the 100 ft wave alone!

Chas Smith

by Chas Smith

Andrew Cotton is looking for it... or is he?

Does the dream of a man surfing a 100 ft wave thrill you to pieces or leave you cold and confused?

It leaves me cold and confused!

Oh I don’t mean to take anything away from brave souls combing nautical charts, calculating wind, fetch, ummmm Fletch, in order to find and conquer the biggest waves on earth but the number 100 just seems so arbitrary.

Like, do you remember when Garrett McNamara claimed that he had done it, done the 100 ft, at Nazaré in 2013 but it maybe turned out that it was 60 something? A little embarrassing.

It is impossible to really measure a wave. Isn’t it?

CNN just did a nice story on the fabulous surfer Andrew Cotton that pushes the 100 ft narrative but it seems that Mr. Cotton might not care so much about the number. Let’s read!

Andrew Cotton is on a perpetual quest, the thirst for which he admits will probably never be truly quenched.

Two years ago, the English plumber was fixing dripping taps — now, as a professional surfer, he is tackling the world’s biggest waves.

His obsession is twofold: To beat the unofficial record size of 100 feet high; and to track down treacherous waves in waters that have never been surfed before. Combining the two is the ideal.
“I think what drives me is the biggest wave,” Cotton says. “That’s the dream isn’t it, in a place where you’re not going to have 50 surfers? That’s exciting.”

If he breaks the record, and in uncharted waters … what next?

“The thing about big-wave surfing is that it’s not like you climb Everest and say, ‘That’s me done’,” he says. “There’s lots more Everests to climb; with surfing you have no idea when the bigger wave will come. I’m searching for the biggest wave, and that search is never ending.”

That sounds like the right attitude. It doesn’t really sound like he cares about “100 ft.” That’s CNN’s trip.

The Top 20 surfers in the world (Part 3)!


by Longtom

Joel Parkinson through Albee Layer, Ryan Burch and Filipe Toledo!

Are you new to the BeachGrit Global Power Rankings? It’s a top twenty of the best surfers in the world, including those who chase contests, those who chase clips, boy, girl, binary neutral etc. Read part one (surfers 20 to 15, here) and part two (surfers 14 to ten) here. 

And, now…

9. Joel Parkinson

Thoroughbred racehorse being flogged to go around a track one more time. The argument is the CT produces the best surfing on earth, from the best surfers. I argue the opposite: too often the CT forces the best surfers on earth to down tune their surfing to a level of excellent mediocrity, to make heats.

Joel being exhibit A.

He can rack up two sevens all day long. What about a detailed filmic exploration of Joel doing what he does best? Surfing J-Bay. Working title: Portrait of the Artist as Pointbreak Surfer. Set him up for months, allow total freedom of quiver, allow every minutiae of style and technique to reach it’s fullest flower and fruit. Is that a boring concept? Not as boring as watching the great thoroughbred grinding through the low gears of another year or two on tour for diminishing returns.

8. Albee Layer

Take the Snowdonia wave tub victory, add it to the Peahi Finals, under the lip take-offs to otherworldly tube-riding during the El Nino winter, throw in the recent backside 540 and you get a convincing case for Layer being the best surfer in the world over the last two years.

Put him up against Adriano, imagine any surf from two-foot to twenty and tell me who was the best during 2015. That’s no convenient truth for a sport that relies on the production and global acceptance of a continuous series of more or less agreed upon world champions for it’s credibility. John Florence restores the global balance for now but Albee Layer remains a fly in the ointment.

7. Ryan Burch

Hand on heart, I wouldn’t swap my hand-to-mouth existence, economically useless, taxpayer-subsidised higher education, loving family and surfing life at one of Australias best pointbreaks in the most consistent sub-tropical wave zone on earth for a single day of a competitive pro surfer’s life.

The futility of surfing to a subjective criteria and being judged in an incomprehensible manner would bring me to a homicidal/suicidal fury in weeks, even if I had the talent, which I do not.

But there are paid surfer mocassins I would cut a left nut off to walk a mile in. Mostly Ryan Burch’s. Psychic Migrations shat all over View from a Blue Moon, for feels. That South American light, so Californian, but a California with hollow lefts and no strip malls. A better world. Heaven.

I keep imagining that Burch could be the most influential surfer of a generation and I can’t understand why Burch, best surfer-shaper in the world with daylight second, is shaded by androgynous Aussie millenials like Craig Ando in terms of moving picture and editorial coverage.

Can you?

6. Filipe Toledo

When you have the world on a string, like Toledo had in 2015, with a small/medium wave game that simply erased opponents like irrelevant amateurs then you keep doing what your doing, right? And fill in the missing pieces with the hollow lefts. Which he was on the way to doing.

But last year was mystifying. Take the injury out of the equation and he mostly tried to power surf to victory, with a few rare exceptions. What is that: a failure of will, of strategy, of intelligence in the Toledo camp?

Judges had already lost their marbles for him, no need for him to look backwards and try and meet them halfway back along a path he needed not traverse.

Daddy Toledo, take your boy back to 2015. Follow that template. There’s your Title.

Rory’s Repeats: “Money is Everything!”

Rory Parker

by Rory Parker

Just as likely to ruin your life as make it better.

Money’s a crazy thing. Just as likely to ruin your life as make it better.

I once knew a woman, very advanced alcoholic. Talented artist, but hellbent on drinking herself to death. Thought she was in her late forties/early fifties. Turned out to be early thirties. Wretched, haggard, pathetic.

She got her foot run over by her elderly landlord. Don’t know who was at fault. He was a doddering old man on the verge of dementia. She was a stumbling slurring mess of a human ninety percent of the time. A true gem that remaining ten, though.

She came into work limping. That’s how I learned about her foot. Told me what happened, but she was fine. Foot was just bruised, no big deal. Lots of little bones in there, better go to a doc. But she wouldn’t. Because she was in the US illegally, wanted in her home country for some crime she wouldn’t explain but sounded pretty sordid, and didn’t have insurance anyway. Which was fucked, because she was essentially a full time employee. Real easy for employers to dangle 1099 status, or cash under the table, and make people think it’s to their advantage. Which it almost always is not.

She shambled along drunkenly for weeks, foot never got better. One day I noticed a dirty bandage on it.

What happened? Hurt your foot again?

Not a surprise. Drink that much, as in all day every day, you fuck yourself up. Even us junior alkys in training wake up with mystery injuries.

Nope, still from the car. Foot’s not healing, there’s a little cut on it now.

She peeled off the bandage and exposed horror. Purple green sausage toes, wide open weeping wound. It fucking stank.

You have to go to the hospital.

I can’t. I don’t have any money.

You’re gonna die. Get in my car, we’re going now.

I can’t afford it, Rory.

It doesn’t matter. Get in the fucking car.

I took her to Wahiawa General, closest ER on Oahu. Not ideal, but you deal with what you’re served.

Turned her over to the doctors, sat out front and waited.

An hour later got pulled aside. Fucking gangrene, about to lose her foot. Checking her in now, don’t know when she’ll be free to go.

They discharged her a month later. They saved the foot. The period of forced sobriety knocked a decade off her appearance. Lucid, intelligent. This was a woman I’d never met before. But she was pissed. At me! Huge amounts of hospital debt, no way she could ever pay. Couldn’t exactly understand why she was concerned. When you’re in the country illegally, don’t have a pot to piss in, receive most of your wages under the table, large amounts of debt aren’t exactly a problem. Just don’t pay. What’s gonna happen?

Hit up your landlord’s insurance, I told her. That’s what it’s for. They’ll pay your bills. Maybe even toss you something extra.

She did, and a few weeks later came up to me smiling. The insurance company had paid off. Worryingly quickly, from my point of view. Ever tried to recoup cash from an insurance company? Those fuckers will drag their feet forever over a pittance. So I kinda knew the answer, but asked anyway.

How much’d they pay you?

Ten thousand dollars!

Oh, no.

Ten thousand dollars ain’t nothing, in the larger scheme. Wouldn’t zero out her hospital bills. You can’t do much with ten grand. Not enough to really improve a life. But sure as hell enough to totally ruin one.

Flush with dough she began living large. El Patron tequila and fruit punch became her go-to drink. A stupid choice, made more so by her inclination to buy in mini bottles at the local liquor store. Picked up a crew of addict friends. Like coyotes, those people. Sniff out the weak, drag ’em down as a group.

She was back on the bottle immediately. No surprise. Kind of sad, but what’re you gonna do?

Flush with dough she began living large. El Patron tequila and fruit punch became her go-to drink. A stupid choice, made more so by her inclination to buy in mini bottles at the local liquor store. Picked up a crew of addict friends. Like coyotes, those people. Sniff out the weak, drag ’em down as a group.

Turned out she had a taste for meth, kept in check previously by poverty. Given the choice between booze and crank she went with the former. But now that she was flush it was game on. She stopped coming in to work, when she showed up she’d be hammered. Was always drunk before, totally incapacitated now. Covered a dozen freshly shaped blanks in pink spatters one day. Came in sloppy, ended up slathered in pigment. Somehow managed to transfer it to nearly every surface in the factory.

The money lasted two weeks. Pissed most of it away partying, was robbed of the last couple thousand. Some of her new friends held her captive and forced her to drain her accounts over the course of a few days. She ended up homeless, playing hide and seek with security at the sugar mill where she’d bed down in the bushes at night.

The last time I saw her she was sitting on the ground surrounded by her remaining possessions. What little she had left fit in a few plastic bags. She was bawling her eyes out.

I said hi, talked for a minute. Lied and told her things would get better. Handed her the remainder of a pack of smokes, the fifteen bucks I had in my wallet. Gave her a hug, wished her good luck.

Then said goodbye.

And the writers were fed to the wolves!

Derek Rielly

by Derek Rielly

Is Ari Zeen the new Rory Parker? Hoist your opinion up the ol mast!

“Hello,” writes hardboiled BeachGrit reader Ari Zeen, “I’m a no-one who lives in Huntington Beach, is an English student at CSULB, reads BeachGrit, and this is my submission to be the new Rory Parker. You can pay me in beer. Or tell me to fuck off.”
This is Ari’s story.
Surfing is dead. There is no best thing in surfing. It’s not the sport of kings the candy-asses at a beachfront hotel in Oahu would have the Aleeda-rashguard-wearing, white-bread tourists think.

It’s a hobby.

A hobby of degenerates and losers. Drug addicts and con-artist who would rather get lit than get a job. You want to tell me its plausible to have a job, to have a family, to surf?

Cut scene to a family smiling on the beach while dad pushes his kids into waves at the Huntington Beach pier, mom sits happily on the beach and the son thinks he has a shot on the ‘CT when his father’s only making 55k a year. Fade to black with Electric Light Orchestra’s Do Ya plays in the background, roll credits.

Fuck you.

And good luck grinding it out on the ‘QS.

Surfing is dead. The sport of surfing as a commercial enterprise is dead. But this isn’t a polemic on Capitalism. I don’t think about that shit ever since I plagiarized my poly-sci 101 essay in my second year of college. I didn’t vote in the last election because I was too busy surfing, then getting drunk, doing rails of cocaine with a C-list surf star who lives in Southern California (not Wardo. He’s B-list in my book and I would love to do some snortksies with that guy though), then railing a chick in a shed on a dock in Long Beach where I work.

I’m not bragging. Maybe a little.

I didn’t vote in the last election because I was too busy surfing, then getting drunk, doing rails of cocaine with a C-list surf star who lives in Southern California (not Wardo. He’s B-list in my book and I would love to do some snortksies with that guy though), then railing a chick in a shed on a dock in

Surfing died when we started catering to the metrosexuals in Santa Monica and Newport who rent oceanfront duplexes with their contractor father’s money and surf when it’s “two-feet and firing” on their CI quads because “you just can’t beat the speed of a quad” but hide as soon as a head high close-out detonates on the sand-bar.

But, sometimes, when I’m 12 Coors Banquets deep, and I’ve got an essay due at midnight, I’ll let my mind wander. I’ll drink one more beer, watch an old clip of Tommy Curren in 5’5” x 19’ ¼ or Andy Irons on, I’ll let myself dream.

I’ll put in my last lip of Skoal Classic Straight, I’ll pump Telephone Line by ELO so loud it hurts my ears, close my eyes and I’ll remember one beautiful eight-foot pumping, sand-bottomed barrel south of the HB pier.

Just me, slack tide, and dead wind, sun-setting, wall lining up before me, lip feathering and

Oh oh telephone line, give me sign, I’m living in twilight.

But I’ll wake up and I remember where I am. That Adriano de Souza won a title with a stink-bug stance.

Surfing is dead. And it’s not coming back.

Save me Dane Reynolds.

Happy New Year’s everyone!

Chas Smith

by Chas Smith

From your pals at BeachGrit!

What a year we’ve had! Some couldn’t wait for 2016 to end, citing political depression, a popular celebrity culling, war, famine, refugee crises, etc.

But at BeachGrit it was so wonderfully anti-depressive! What were some of your favorite moments?

When a boy got attacked while wearing a Sharkbanz bracelet?

Dane Reynolds telling The Inertia that it sux?

Cori Schumacher and Rory Parker’s thrilling chat?

Matt Warshaw’s inclusion into The New Yorker?

Kelly Slater singing like an angel?

WSL CEO Paul Speaker admitting that his activity of choice is skiing backwards?

The great Brad Gerlach diagraming the most secret turn in the world?

Advice on how to love a red haired surfer?

How Adriano de Souza almost single-handedly killed claims?

When WSL CEO Paul Speaker allegedly looked down at his phone and said, “That fucking BeachGrit…” ?

I could go on all morning and promise 2017 will bring even more joy.

Thanks for stopping by.