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Discovered: Oldest surf picture ever!

Chas Smith

by Chas Smith

This surf picture is 120 years old! Has anything changed?

This image was apparently taken in 1890 and in the private collection of a Manchester man who lived in Hawaii by the name of Herbert Smith. It has been in his family for 120 years but they have decided to sell so we get to see.

The striking thing, I think, is the way these old Hawaiians are standing. To me they look exactly like surfers today. The kind of purposeful laziness, the head facing camera but not really caring, even the angles of the boards. Not too stiff, not too loose.

Also, it looks very fun out the back.

And surfing really is a wonder. It is ancient but part of me thinks it has always been the same. Sure the boards change but surfers, I suppose. Surfers seem like they’ve always been the same. It is, anyhow, what my head has been chewing on for the last few months as I punch out next book about the grandest love affair of all.

Happy Valentine’s day dear cocaine and surfing and happy Valentine’s day to you!

 

Girls: “Surfing is like shitty yoga!”

Chas Smith

by Chas Smith

Hit HBO series goes to the beach!

Of course you don’t watch the HBO series Girls but no doubt you’ve heard of it. The show might have once been clever but now exists purely as a vehicle for a very unattractive Lena Dunham to get as unattractively nude as possible in order to goad the viewer into wincing at her unattractiveness then degrading the wincing viewer by suggesting he/she is the problem with society because he/she body shames and makes girls feel badly about themselves.

It is very try-hard and silly etc. because Lena Dunham looks like Shrek on purpose but I watched last night’s season six premier because it involved our beloved surfing!

Lena Dunham’s character Hannah was sent to write about a surf camp in Montauk for a magazine. The editor described surfing as “shitty yoga” and that made me smile very much. Hannah shows up, anyhow, and the camp has a very non-Montauk Hawaiiana vibe, many older rich women and a Pakistani surf instructor described by Yahoo! TV as:

…an experienced wave rider played by Riz Ahmed who combines the effortless cool of Jan-Michael Vincent in Big Wednesday with the sheer studliness of Patrick Swayze in Point Break.

And he was so effortlessly cool and the whole surf camp looked so fun! Like, open mic karaoke at night and very many fruity cocktails etc. And do these sorts of things really exist on the mainland of the United States or Australia? Very fun surf camps? Is this a thing? Have you been to one?

If it is not a thing I am still happy that surfing remains culturally relevant enough to be used as a vehicle within a vehicle for a very unattractive Lena Dunham to get as unattractively nude as possible in order to goad the viewer into wincing at her unattractiveness then degrading the wincing viewer by suggesting he/she is the problem with society because he/she body shames and makes girls feel badly about themselves.

Viva surfing!

Mick Fanning Finds Reverse Skeleton Bay!

Michael Ciaramella

by Michael Ciaramella

Give this man one good reason to rejoin the tour...

For several years I’ve watched the development of Skeleton Bay, an African left-hander commonly referred to as the best wave on the planet. Over time I’ve discerned its precise whereabouts, assembled a worthy squadron, stashed ample cash and pin-pointed the exact swell I’d need to make this dream a reality. This is the best wave in the world, and I must surf it before it’s gone.

But now Mick Fanning’s gone and fucked everything up. In Rip Curl’s latest edition of The Search, Fanning finds himself standing before the tropical, right-hand version of Skeleton Bay. I will say no more until you’ve truly savored this phenomenon.

You don’t need a mediocre explanation of the wave you just drooled over, so let’s jump straight back to me.

I’m pissed. Livid. All this time I’ve spent and money I’ve saved with sights set on Namibia, and Fanning just spits in my face. Kicks me in the shin. Calls me a fucking Episcopalian!

As a regular-footer and adorer of warm water, this wave is a clearly superior version of my once idealized African locale. But no worries, I can just transfer the money I saved for Namibia towards a trip to this conveyor belt heaven, right? Wrong. That sunofagun Fanning won’t divulge a peep! Not an ocean or continent or even a goddamn swell direction. But I’m not giving up.

The internet is great because eventually someone is bound to blab a worthy morsel. And when they do, I’ll be the first one there to devour it like a rabid vulture. In fact, maybe someone has already loosed a valuable secret! If you don’t hear from me in the next few days, I’ll be on Google Maps.

Warshaw: “Fred floats bullshit!”

Derek Rielly

by Derek Rielly

Matt Warshaw examines the legacy of the father of pro surfing…

Last August, I spent a wonderful afternoon at the Outrigger Canoe Club in Waikiki interviewing the father of pro surfing, Mr Fred Hemmings. I ate the house ahi and extinguished the summer heat with a Gin Ricky while Fred pawed at a Reuben sandwich with extra mustard, and drank water.

The story appears in the latest issue of The Surfer’s Journal (read here) and I was thrilled by its examination of Fred’s role in the creation of pro surfing and the history of the sport. After the story appeared, Fred sent the editor and myself hand-written cards praising our accuracy.

One man who wasn’t in raptures was the Encyclopedia of Surfing’s Matt Warshaw, who said, “He floated many balloons of bullshit in his conversation with you, and I can’t wait to explode them one by one.”

Let’s burst!

BeachGrit: There are so many things to love about Fred Hemmings. Created pro surfing. Clean. Right wing. Big-waver. And yet he doesn’t give you the same thrill as he does me… 

Warshaw: I’m gonna tear the both of you up here in a second, so yeah, let’s get the love part out of the way. I loved Fred’s wave in Endless Summer, the white trunks and white board, ripping five kinds of shit at Ala Moana. I love that when I asked about him showing up at the ’68 world titles awards ceremony in a suit and tie, and said the place looked like a “Cheech and Chong convention.” That’s a great line. And of course I love Fred for getting the pro tour started.

But . . .

Okay, so Derek, your opening line to Fred in the interview: “You’re one of the pivotal figures in surfing. And yet there’s hardly a word written about you in the surfing mags.” And Fred of course agrees, makes it sound like there was a conspiracy against him, the editors didn’t like me, waaah waaah waaah. The mags adored Fred. He got centerspreads, profiles, full-page ads. Fred was everywhere. Big 1968 interview in SURFER titled “Hemmings is Hot!” With exclamation point. Fred saying he was “never a darling of surfing” is such bullshit.

SURFER hated Fred.

Yeah, and that’s another thing. Fred doesn’t have the nuts to call out Drew Kampion. When Fred says SURFER, he means Drew. He’s the new editor in ‘68, got hired just a couple months before the world titles, and like 98% of surfers at the time, Drew was big on Nat Young and Wayne Lynch and shortboards and getting high. So here’s Fred, short hair, long-ish board, flies to Puerto Rico in a suit and tie, drinks Bacardi and Cokes while everybody else is beads and bell-bottoms, doing bong hits. Kampion included. So fine, the hippy deal wasn’t Fred’s thing, and he didn’t fake it. Very much to his credit. Same with his surfing. Fred’s style didn’t fit the the more radical variations of the new boards, and he didn’t force it there either. But the sport is moving in one direction, and Fred’s moving in another.

Fred makes it sound like there was a conspiracy against him, the editors didn’t like me, waaah waaah waaah. The mags adored Fred. He got centerspreads, profiles, full-page ads. Fred was everywhere. Fred saying he was “never a darling of surfing” is such bullshit.

He won the contest.

He did. Fair and square. Surfed to the format, rode like a master. Well, Fred and Midget tied for first, actually. I’ve watched the footage a bunch of times, and I would have given the Midget the nod, but that’s not the point. Keeping in mind what the rules were on the day, Fred’s win was totally legit. And Kampion himself said so! Opening line of Drew’s contest wrap-up story: “What happened in Puerto Rico was that a formal pronouncement was made: that Fred Hemmings was hot.” And photos too. The Hemmings pics in SURFER from that contest are great!

SURFER had a very anti-contest vibe, no?

Yes and no. Again, Fred way overplays the hurt. Oh, but here’s another thing I love about Hemmings – he retired from competition after winning the title. Went out on top. Fred and Mark Richards I think are the only two who did. Anyway, pro surfing was on the horizon right after Fred won in Puerto Rico, and “professionalism” was the hot topic, pretty much the only topic for a couple of years. Now, Kampion was sort of on the fence about it all. A lot of people were. But when Drew pulled together a feature on pro surfing in 1969, he did a clever thing. Drew himself stepped aside. He got Hemmings to write a “pro” pro surfing opinion piece, and had this Rasputin-looking guy in Santa Cruz named John Scott write an “anti” pro surfing opinion piece, and had SURFER Poll winner Jock Sutherland do a maybe-yes maybe-no piece. Drew put the three articles back-to-back, with Fred as the opener. Three different views. How much fairer could it get?

I loved how Fred carried a gun in response to threats from elements of the North Shore. Do you believe, like me, that the only thing that can stop a bad man with a gun is a good man with a gun? Or is you one of them faggot peaceniks?

Yeah, let’s do the politics. I’m anti-gun, pro drug-legalization, pro-LGBT. Break up the big banks. Raise my taxes till the public schools gleam, and me, Bill Gates, and Slater’s grandson all have identical government-issued healthcare cards. Fred and I will not be sitting together at Elizabeth Warren’s 2020 inaugural ball.

Hemmings isn’t a fan of Trump, as you might suppose he would be. Rubio was his boy.

Fred backs Rubio, Rubio backs Trump.

Did you know that Fred sent, what the TSJ editor Scott Hulet described as “remarkable hand-printed Senatorial cards from Fred praising your accuracy, with heartfelt thanks.” Thank you cards? To me, that bleeds class.

He is gracious. Fred has sent me similar cards and emails over the years. He’s good with small gestures. Most politicians are.

Vancouver BC ain’t just for bears!

Michael Ciaramella

by Michael Ciaramella

Raph is the man we should all strive to be!

Have you ever considered just… leaving? Of quitting your job, selling the suburban home, gathering your family and most valued possessions and getting lost in nature’s deepest catacombs? Then this short film, Bruhwiler Country, might be for you!

A little background.

Some forty-odd years ago, a young man named Bruhwiler entered Maple Leaf territory by way of Switzerland. He leveraged his knowledge of the land and manual skills to create a life on Vancouver Island, complete with a wife, beautiful home and gaggle of children all of whom adored their natural playground. One of those kids was named Raph, and he became Canada’s first professional surfer.

Now pushing forty (I think?) and having surfed the world over, Raph loves nothing more than kicking it around his hometown of Tofino and spending time with family. Raph is adamant that his kids are raised in a similar fashion to his rootsy upbringing — living off the land, learning how to survive in the wilderness and of course, surfing. After all, the Vancouver archipelago is home to many a nook and cranny, oftentimes delivering an abundance of slabbing tunnels for a crowd of one, maybe two.

Personally, I don’t think I’d fare so well going “off the grid”. While I appreciate the utilitarian and metaphysical benefits of living in a natural state, such as learning manual skills and being freed from the shackles of commerce, mainstream media and political hysteria, I’m also a very big pussy. Not much of a handyman, a major opponent to being cold and wet, and genuinely addicted to the pseudo-sphere of social media.

There are many bears in Vancouver BC but also plenty of room for twunks!

There are many bears in Vancouver BC but also plenty of room for twunks!

But what of you? Could Beach Grit readers bear the wet and cold and humble lifestyle of the Canadian island-forest? If not for tubes, then for family, for health?