Back To Top
Beach Grit


World Surf League unveils new ads!

Chas Smith

by Chas Smith

Are they good or are they great? Come find out!

Our World Surf League unveiled its new campaign yesterday and I am sorry for my slow response here. Cocaine etc. But let’s talk about it now!

The four spots are up tempo, colorful with bold text filling the screen. Each fall under the year’s new tagline It Takes a Tour to Make a Title and highlight a different component of professional surfing. Let’s watch then grade! (Just click play here and they’ll roll one after the other!)

The first is King Queen and features those who actually have a shot at the title and a jazzy soundtrack. Bold text reading “King Queen” fills the screen over John John Florence’s face and maybe slightly rude to call the boy “King Queen” but I like the playful absurdism! Grade: A

The second is The Obsessed and set to a very moody song plus lots of slow motion. Much pensive. Many emotion. It stirs the heart but there is a moment that lifts The Obsessed into the realm of high art and that is Jordy Smith’s dead serious Are You Entertained? claim. Any clip featuring that or Cryin’ Jordy wins! Grade: A+

The third is New Dream and revolves around all the hot new rookies on tour this year. Soundtrack is very youth. The text details freshness. New school, job, car. First date, day. And then everything swells while the text gets bigger, bolder, filling the screen, demanding, “DO YOU EVEN UNDERSTAND?” Oh it had me standing and cheering! It is like they asked the youngest person at the World Surf League’s Santa Monica office what the kids are saying these days. The youngest person is Dave Prodan (39) and he responded, “Do you even understand?” As in, “You don’t know what us kids are thinking. You don’t know what’s in our young heads. Get lost. GET LOST I TELLS YA!” Dave’s rebel snarl is tasty! Grade: A

The fourth is Ready to Strike and is about Kanoa Igarashi, Jack Freestone and Conner Coffin and Italo are set to win it all. Strange, yes, but I like the magical realism! Grade: A

And will you look at that! The World Surf League graduates with honors! Now back to cocaine.

Obituary: A younger brother remembers!

Scott Kocher

by Scott Kocher

Michael Kocher's younger brother lays a wreath....

If you have been here, to BeachGrit, more than five times then you will certainly remember the swinging prose of Michael Kocher. He blasted onto our little universe with stories about being a Marine and surfing and giving up surfing for drugs and getting spinal cancer. Turned out the spinal cancer bit was a scam but funny. Right? Or interesting at the very least. Sure he wrote bad junkie prose from time to time but overall Kocher was a fun part of our DNA. An interesting part. Last week he was gunned down by police in Denver for taking people hostage. Here his younger brother writes an obituary. 

He was a very intelligent young boy, able to breeze through most academic challenges the schools could throw at him, excelling in math, language arts, history, and social studies, eventually earning his degree in political science while attending UAA. As a teenager he became interested in computer programming.

He was also a voracious reader, reading anything that piqued his interest, fiction or not. When he was younger (in middle and high school) he enjoyed reading Star Wars novels, something he passed on to me, but more than anything he loved the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, having read The Lord of the Rings trilogy dozens of times as well as every other work published by the man and also posthumous releases.

If you had a question about Middle Earth or the Star Wars Universe, he could talk at length about it or nearly anything else, as he had a memory like a steel trap. He had a boisterous personality from the very beginning and though he wasn’t always quick to agree, people usually found something about him that they liked or had in common and he made countless friends and acquaintances throughout his years and travels.

He was in JROTC in high school and always showed a great deal of respect for military service of which my family has contributed a fair amount. His greatest influence was probably his maternal grandfather, who served in World War II as a United States Marine. He joined the USMC and in 2006 at age 23 and made it through boot-camp despite a bout of pneumonia; He pushed through it, something for which he carried a great deal of pride.

Unfortunately, he was not prepared to handle some of what he witnessed in Syria and Iraq, and though his time there was mostly spent fixing radios and aiding the locals, the experience changed him. As the article in the Eagle River star reported, he reached out to friends and family for donations of soccer balls for the local children.  He succeeded in gathering over 50 soccer balls and a Hand Pump.  It was the most humanitarian/charitable thing he ever did.

He continued college after returning, but, despite earning his degree and being a Veteran, his search for gainful employment was met with one disappointment after another leaving him feeling downtrodden and hopeless at times. Much of his difficulty in life after that was tied to a recurring addiction various substances including alcohol and opiates, the toll of which seems to have ultimately lead to his demise.

During this time he did some things he regretted and had intended to rectify in his life. His family, friends, and those that worked and served with him will remember him as intelligent and passionate with a personality that could fill a room. He loved surfing, having surfed Yakutat, Alaska and the California coast and revered the works of Allan C. Weisbecker who wrote In Search of Captain Zero was his and my mom’s favorite book. Jack Kerouac was also a favorite author of  Michael’s who always had a romantic and poetic outlook on life. He wasn’t one to let obstacles dictate his path and usually found a way to achieve what he wanted in life.

His greatest downfall, perhaps, was expecting too much from himself and the world…

Scott Kocher, brother of Michael

Trans: Westerly turns (back) into Drouyn!

Derek Rielly

by Derek Rielly

Surf hunk turns into show girl and back again!

Two years ago, the American writer Jamie Brisick wrote Becoming Westerly, a book about the “transformation of surfing champion Peter Drouyn into Westerly Windina.”

Brisick’s book was a masterpiece, and not because it tells the fascinating story of a one-time stud’s bleak existence living in public housing in a shitty Queensland suburb as he struggles with gender dysphoria, but because it created as much mystery as it revealed.

Becoming Westerly begins in Bangkok where Drouyn is about to get a cut-price sex change. But does the knife descend on his privates? Does Drouyn officially transition from surf hunk to showgirl?

The answer is promised in an accompanying, yet-to-be-released documentary, which I was interviewed for. (I told ’em I thought it was all a beautiful piece of theatre and that, eventually, Drouyn would reveal the gag.)

Now, nine years after he announced that he was turning into a gal, Westerly is gone and Drouyn is back!

As reported by Brisbane’s The Courier-Mail,

Westerly is no more – and Drouyn is back, larger than life.

He made his first big public reappearance as Drouyn at a reunion for the WindanSea Surf Club at Currumbin RSL last week attended by past and present surfing luminaries, including Joel Parkinson.

Drouyn was one of the leading members of the now defunct Gold Coast branch of WindanSea, a venerable boardriding club established in San Diego in the 1960s and which spread all over the globe.

The ever-eloquent Drouyn delivered a stirring speech at the reunion in keeping with his reputation as one of surfing’s biggest characters and deepest thinkers.

Old mates including reunion organiser Andrew ‘Andy Mac’ McKinnon and Gold Coast surfing solicitor Mal Chalmers were stoked.

“He hasn’t missed a beat,” Chalmers said.

So what’s that mean for Brisick’s movie?

“The film is nearing completion,” Brisick wrote in an email from his Malibu writing base. “It’s became a far bigger story than we ever imagined. And we have never felt more love and compassion for our subject, Peter Drouyn. We always knew the story was about identity above all else. Pardon the pun, but Westerly transcended transgender. A one-in-seven-billion girl, you might say. Did she or didn’t she? We’d be fools to tell. Or, you’ll just have to see the film.”

Quiksilver Inc. fools baby writer!

Chas Smith

by Chas Smith

The innocence of youth is a beautiful thing!

Minutes ago our dear Michael Ciaramella wrote a story about how Quiksilver just changed its name to Boardriders and don’t you just love the innocence of youth? The glass half full? The corporate name being the same as the brand name?

I remember when I thought everything I loved was owned by benevolent elderly men (or women) much like Willy Wonka. There he (or she) toiled, building magical products for us to enjoy. There he (or she) put his name on the seal and it was his. And it was mine.

But then I grew and realized this is a world of S-Corps and C-Corps and holding companies and offshoring and onshoring and hedge funds and junk bonds and conglomerates and DBAs and… ummmm… I didn’t major in business but also didn’t need to.

This cruel world slapped the Willy Wonka from my dreams and taught me that everything we see is smoke. Is mirrors.

Boardriders, Inc. is simply the new parent company name of Quiksilver, Roxy and DC. It ain’t sexy and the brand should have never issued a press release that found its way to our starry-eyed little man but… I guess now’s as good a time as any to break the tough news.

Michael… Santa don’t exist and Donald J. Trump is President of the United States of America. It’s a hard hard hard world.

But at least we still have Quiksilver!

Just in: Quiksilver Changes Name!

Michael Ciaramella

by Michael Ciaramella

High Times was just the tip of the iceberg! Say hello to...

Is this not a uniquely exciting time in the world of surf? What with the WSL losing Samsung and the WSL gaining Facebook and girls maybe doing full rotations? And then, just today, a company of nearly fifty years and hundreds of world championships goes and… changes its name? Yes!

Yahoo Finance reported just ten half-hours ago that Quiksilver, Inc. has officially changed its name to…

Drum roll please…

Boardriders, Inc.!

The scoop, via Yahoo:

In February 2016, the Company’s U.S. entity emerged from Chapter 11 reorganization and began an aggressive turnaround program led by the Company management team and the Special Situations team for funds managed by Oaktree Capital Management, L.P. (“Oaktree”). Since that time, the Company has dramatically right-sized its cost structure, re-engineered its entire global development engine, streamlined distribution, reduced excess inventory and instilled clarity, rigor and discipline throughout the organization.

The renaming of our company signifies the beginning of a new day at Boardriders. Our teams around the world have been building our resurgence brick-by-brick. Their passion and tireless execution, along with the loyalty of our customers, suppliers, and partners, has allowed us to complete the restructuring phase of our turnaround and to begin shifting our focus to growth,” said Pierre Agnes, Chief Executive Officer of Boardriders. “As we pivot to growth, we think it is important to recognize the importance of all three of our iconic brands, and the passion of the boardriding culture that those brands support.

Now readers, I ask you: is Boardriders, Inc. the most drab name one could ever conceive, and in that way destined to fail? Or is it so simplistic, so un-esoteric, that it will achieve Quiksilver’s I mean WSL’s I mean Boardrider’s lifelong goal of acquiring genuine mainstream appeal? Or should they have named it LatterKnown, as a really funny prank on Kelly and Dane and Craig?

It’s important to note that Boardriders, Inc.’s properties of Quiksilver, Roxy, and DC will retain their namesakes. But will their branding schemes be altered? Like, what gives for Quiksilver’s latest and greatest marketing scheme — starring Mikey Wright as the new-age Michael Peterson — High Times? And, could there be a new logo in the works? The mountain and wave is still, in my opinion, an idyllic and historic symbol that will stand the test of time. But maybe I’m wrong?  Throwing Disqus, this could be your big break!