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Now: Owen Wright Gets Injury Wildcard!

Derek Rielly

by Derek Rielly

Not unexpected, but still… 

Two weeks ago, the surfer Owen Wright competed in his first contest in a year and a half.

Owen, who is twenty seven years old, suffered a brain injury in Hawaii shortly before the 2015 Pipeline Masters, where he was an outside shot for the world title, and hadn’t surfed a contest until this year’s Newcastle QS6000.

Owen waltzed through his first heat with high sevens, but lost in round three.

And, now, Owen will carry the injury wildcard through the 2017 season.

“Owen Wright is one of the most electric and powerful surfers to ever grace the tour,” Kieren Perrow, WSL Commissioner, said. “Following his injury in December of 2015, the WSL’s priority was Owen’s well-being and, if he were to return to competition, a healthy return to the sport. After assessing his performance and health after a QS event earlier in the season, Owen has accepted the WSL Wildcard for the 2017 season. We’re happy to have him back.”

Owen Wright Tyler Wright

Owen and Tyler after his lil sis won Snapper last year.

His little sister Tyler, who is the women’s world champion, and his littler bro Mikey, who is the Quiksilver wildcard, will make it a Wright three-way at Snapper, which begins, waves willing, on March 14.

 

Wow: Man catches 65 waves in one hour!

Derek Rielly

by Derek Rielly

New Wavegarden promises untold riches (and barrels)… 

How many waves can you catch in an hour? Like, if you really try, head-down, no talkies, paddling here and there, and there ain’t much of a gap between sets?

Ten, twenty?

If you’re the banker-turned-surf entrepreneur, Andrew Ross, the man behind the promised proliferation of Wavegardens in Australia, and you just rode the new version in Spain (made to fend off the Slater pool), it’s an impressive wave every fifty-five seconds. Can you imagine such a thing?

“I had 65 waves in about an hour with a few other guys – was hard to walk afterwards,” Ross told Surfing Life. “One of the wave types includes a true barrelling wave, with a trough and a concave shape, that means the wave wraps back at you like a point break. This is different to the current wave foil tech where the wave is somewhat convex shaped, in that it bends back away from you as it breaks. I surfed the new full-scale ‘Cove’ in December, and it is awesome!”

Wait. I’m paragraphing another magazine’s website? Has it come to this? Reporting on an emailed, quasi-press release?

Oh, yes. But it wasn’t always this way.

When Ross, who is a former lawyer and investment banker appeared on the scene with his noble plan to seed Australia with ten wavepools, I made a phone call and reported, faithfully, what he said.

I think, and I know the feeling because I’ve been dumb enough to talk to the press, what he said and what he… thought… he said were two different things.

The line, “I’ve never been associated with the surf industry. But I’m a 35-year hardcore surfer, all my mates, we know what surfing is about, we all go to the Ments each year” looks more awkward in print than it felt coming out of his mouth.

And, therefore, repeated requests to re-interview have hit a wall. Which is a bummer. I like pools. I like Wavegarden. And I’ll melt whatever plastic it takes for a season pass, old version of the pool, the new  Cove shape, whatever.

Reaching back around to the Surfing Life interview, Ross also likened the current epoch to skiing in the nineteen-forties and wavepools to chairlifts.

In response to the question if he believed surfing’s future growth will rely on wavepools, he replied:

If by growth you mean growth in total participation in the sport, then absolutely. And by total participation, I mean getting more people into surfing for the first time, getting former surfers back into surfing, and by giving existing surfers more opportunity to increase their overall wave count per year and simply surf more.

A good analogy is the chairlift – no-one really undertook skiing prior to the late 1940’s because you had to trek up a snow-covered mountain to do it. With the invention of the chair lift though, it opened up winter sports to the general public by making it convenient, accessible and safe. From a relatively small base, the winter sports market has grown over the past 60 years to about 2,600 ski resorts, 24,000 installed lifts and about 400 million participants a year. 

More people ID-ing as surfers means more website clicks. BeachGrit soars. Revenue pours. I’m thrilled.

You?

Read the full interview here. 

Former: “Not a ‘finger your child’ site!”

Chas Smith

by Chas Smith

Do we live in an age of ruthlessly enforced egalitarianism?

Former, Dane Reynolds/Craig Anderson + skateboarder Austyn Gillette’s super brand, has been out in the world now for over two weeks and are you quietly thrilled by its existence or do you not care?

Have you stopped by the website? Have you filled your cart only to leave it there or did you click the “check out” button?

Are you wearing Luxury29.99 whilst sipping your morning coffee?

Quiet thrill or indifference, it takes a hefty amount of work to bring dreams to life and Austyn Gillette opened up to skateboard magazine Jenkem and said some interesting things, particularly as it relates to our surf world. It is rare, I suppose, to have an informed outside opinion and worth reading!

On the .xxx web address…

We actually had to go through this really strenuous process to get that URL and prove we’re not some sort of black market, underground, finger-your-child website. That took a long time but luckily we got it. We didn’t want to compromise with anything else.

On why the clothing pieces are not named Dane, Craig etc….

We’re trying to create this community, we’re all into everything that we’re presenting, so why would we have a product named after someone and push someone to the forefront? Nobody is getting pushed to the forefront, and that’s cool. It took a long time to figure out how we were going to do that.

On the surf brands being run by surfers…

None, none of them.

On why…

It’s a different cliquey environment than skating. If you do something just a little bit off and the community turns its back on you, you can’t fucking surf at certain places. It’s a weird thing. Mainly because it’s an ego thing, like using your name to make money or start a brand, even though there’s these guys that ride for Rusty and Billabong. People think it’s really cheesy and lame using your name, and it’s frowned upon in surfing.

And I suppose this is the section of the interview most interesting to me. Is it true that the ego is now considered uncool? That a ruthlessly enforced egalitarianism is what the kids are practicing? Did these three, Dane + Craig + Austyn, really hate the way that their respective brands put their names and pictures on things to sell? Did they hate that Kelly Slater was primary, during their shared Quiksilver years? Or did Dane dislike when he became “the guy?”

It confuses me, I suppose. Former is all about the personalities involved but at the same time a repudiation, it seems, of the very concept of “personality.” I also wonder what happens if someone does “get pushed to the forefront?” Like, what if one of the founders happens to be a liiiiitttttllllle more talented than the others? Will he get tall poppied? Cut down to size?

So many societal questions! Do you have the answers?

P.S. It seems Former is going to bring on the fabulously gay skater Brian Anderson too!

Puerto Rico Retains Right to Surf!

Michael Ciaramella

by Michael Ciaramella

And the government said, let there be barrels!

Do you remember when it was reported, here, that a proposed law in Puerto Rico would allow government officials to remove surfers from the water in times of “inclement atmospheric conditions”, AKA good waves? Well I am happy to inform that surfing has once again beaten the system, this time even legally!

A new report from Puerto Rican periodical El Nuevo Dia states that, “The measure aimed at empowering the authorities to evict surfers from the beaches when the weather became dangerous was stopped today to give way to a resolution to – among other things – investigate the areas where sports are practiced In Puerto Rico.”

The initiative against the ban was led by local surfers, none more vocal than Ernie Álvarez, the executive director of the Federation of Surfing of Puerto Rico (FSPR). Ernie announced the results of his meeting with government officals which were that, in lieu of the ban, they’ve created a new measure, Resolution #227, which seeks to further study the problems of Puerto Rican coastal safety in hopes of creating a better infrastructure to save lives in the future.

From the looks of things, the initial bill was a knee-jerk reaction that hoped to alleviate public pressure on Puerto Rico’s drowning issue. One report found that between 1999 and 2010, Puerto Rico lost 363 people due to drowning. If stats like this persisted into recent times, which is likely, it’s understandable why locals would put pressure on their local officials to address the issue. However, while the people seemed to want solutions such as more lifeguards or better ocean education, the government deemed it easier to cut off coastal access altogether in times of high seas.

But by banding together and effectively demonstrating the ignorance of their lawmakers’ proposal, the Puerto Rican surfing community made giant leaps for surfers’ rights and the future safety of the general public.

One negative parallel that can be drawn is to the shark epidemic in Reunion Island. Because the French colony has also taken the hands-off, “let’s just study this some more” approach to a dire issue, it has caused something of a violent upheaval in the local communities, seen most recently in the bombing of a marine reserve on the island.

As Kelly Slater famously said, these are “tricky, touchy subject(s).” To react haphazardly in pursuit of a quick solution is almost never the right answer, but to do nothing, AKA “study the issue further”, will only allow the problem to persist.

Let’s hope that Resolution #227 leads to quick answers for the Puerto Rican people.

Like, uh, lifeguards…

I was Robbed in Panama Part 3!

Michael Ciaramella

by Michael Ciaramella

The epic conclusion!

Panama Part 2 here!

A few days later Timmy brings home another girl, but this one looks especially wounded. A C-tier hooker with drawn-on eyebrows who appears to live off Cheetos and cigarettes. They spent all day in our room; I stayed away as much as possible.

When I returned for the evening they were still in the apartment, the chick staggeringly stoned. I never saw any hard drugs when I was there, but it was clear this girl had moved beyond the confines of weed. She could barely talk and was constantly running into walls. Her eyes like black pearls.

I shuffled to the bedroom with hopes of falling asleep before they decided to knock out for the night, but was soon followed by the stumbling duo. While in bed I was forced to experience the stomach-curling sounds of orally engaged flesh, in what form or direction I care not to know. I woke up around 6:30 and decided to cleanse my mind with a surf.

“Hey Timmy,” I whispered. “Can I get the key to the room? I’m going surfing and wanna make sure I can get in later.”

“Bro you know what, I actually can’t find the key, but I’ll be here. No worries.”

Sickkkk…

Before leaving I grabbed a cab fare from my stash and deposited the remainder, something like $27, into my suitcase under the bed. The two appeared fast asleep.

My session consisted of a mediocre left point filled with disgruntled locals, and was capped off by a rainy, choppy boat ride back to town. At this point I was feeling rather disheartened with the trip as a whole. A combination of iffy surf and my increasingly uncomfortable living situation had taken its toll. I hoped that if nothing else, his chick would be gone by the time I got back.

But when I returned to the house she was still there, and still monumentally fucked up. The first thing I did was check that my cash was still there. Nope. Twenty-seven-odd dollars gone, and the little bag they previously resided in had been thrown haphazardly on the floor.

I took Timmy aside.

“Hey man… so I put some money in my bag before I left and now it’s gone. You think your chick coulda done it? She looks pretty out of it and I know how desperate addicts can be.”

“Shit man, you know, she could have. Let me ask her.”

Timmy left for a minute and returned with an amused expression on his face.

“Bro you won’t believe this. She said when she was in the kitchen this morning, Carlos (Luis’ roommate) went into our room looking for the AC remote, and came out looking all suspicious.”

He went on to tell me how Carlos is a crackhead that once stole money from Luis and is always getting in trouble. He said we’ll talk to Luis when he gets home and sort it out from there.

Then he drops this bomb on me:

“So bro, I’ma be straight with you… basically the property manager came in today to collect the rent and we don’t have it, meaning we might have to move out next week. So what do you think about renting this place for the month, and we’ll pay you?”

I almost burst out in laughter.

“Sorry man, I’m leaving pretty soon. Can’t do that.”

“Oh ok, well you think you can pay me for the next three days at least, so I have something to give them?”

I thought about it for a second and decided, out of pure laziness, that it was easier to stay there than to pack all my things and move elsewhere. That, plus the fact Timmy’s girl was leaving, led me to justify staying in Timmy’s apartment for the remainder of my trip. I handed him $60 cash.

“Thanks bro!” Timmy replied, as he and his lady left for lunch. Little did I know, I’d never see Timmy again.

As I sat in the living room watching TV, still oblivious to what had just happened, Carlos “the crackhead” started unloading a bunch of packed bags from his room. I asked where he was going.

“You mean where are we going,” he chortled. “You didn’t hear? We’re getting kicked out of this place. Can’t make rent.”

Confused, I asked, “…Today?”

“Yeah. Talk to Luis. He’ll be home in a few minutes,” Carlos stated as he walked out the door, belongings in tow.

Fuck.

Immediately I went to my room and started searching for essential items. Passport, wallet, computer, surfboards: check. Aside from the money I had just handed to my friendly assailant, plus that which was taken from my bag, the only things missing were a set of John John Futures fins and new Dakine leash. It roughly comes out to a $200 loss, which sucks, but is also a fairly reasonable idiot tax. I deserved this.

After a quick bout of anger, I started packing up my gear for what appeared to be an inevitable eviction. Just before I was about to depart, Luis walked in.

I’ll spare you the dialogue, but the short of it is this: the apartment was Luis’s all along, and he was letting Timmy stay there under the pretense that T would bring in clients (me) and pay Luis a certain percentage of the profits. Because Timmy (and I) lied to Luis about how much I was paying, Luis saw no money from my visit, thus rendering him incapable of paying rent. Meanwhile Timmy made off like a very literal bandit.

Apparently Luis had received ample warning about Timmy from people around town, but like me, decided to give him a chance because he seemed like a decent guy. That stings.

But do you wanna know what’s the worst part of this whole ordeal? What’s the thing that really gets my goat? It’s that my towel smells like that thieving son of a bitch!

Timmy always lathered himself in this distinctly odorous baby oil, and now my towel absolutely reeks of it. He must have dried himself off with the thing after his last shower, just before walking out of the house with my cash, leash, and fins. Now I have to be reminded off his swindling, baby-oil-smelling ass every time I use it.

So Chas, on account of your awful advice and my ensuing loss, I think it’s only fair that you cover the damages. That’s $87, a set of John John fins (medium), a 6’ x 5/16” Dakine leash, and a new fucking towel.

Or… maybe this story just proves your point? Dammit.