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Magic: I Bought Adriano’s Surfboard!

Michael Ciaramella

by Michael Ciaramella

Like Excalibur beneath my feet!

This week I visited the Channel Islands surfboard factory for a project with a Japanese surf mag. I was guided by Britt Merrick (Al’s son and lead shaper/designer at CI) and Blake Howard (CI marketing director) and was genuinely impressed by their production. I’d never seen a board factory so large, so efficient. But then I’ve also never been to Taiwan.

After touring the whole assembly line (machine, shaper, glasser, sander, QC), we arrived at the used board rack. The foamy graveyard consisted of three rows, the sum of which would cover the length a football field.

Sleds of Jordy, Dane, Lakey, Kanoa and every shredder under the sun could be recognized by their stickers and board art. But I’m a tiny fucker, so it was Adriano de Souza’s board that caught my eye.

A 5’8″ x 18 1/4″ x 2 3/16″ Rook 15 with a rounded pin. Plenty of rocker, moderately used, with an homage to Ricardo dos Santos, scribed by ADS himself, on the bottom. I snagged it for $250.

“The worst part about this purchase is having to remove all these stickers,” I told Blake.

“You should leave them on,” he replied. “At least for the first session. That way if you don’t like it, you can always sell it for a profit. He is the world champ.”

Shit. He was right.

And I could hardly bear the thought of paddling out on Adriano’s Formula-One racer. The snickers from the lineup would be unbearable. The pressure to perform like a million Hawaiian Dreams on my shoulders.

The next day I was supposed to go to Lowers but a guilt-trip from my lady (sharks!) led me to Blacks instead. A new south had filled in and the surf was as fun as it gets for a non-barreling beach break.

I carried the board, cloaked under a towel, to the middle of the beach. In a calculated effort I removed the towel and sprinted for the surf, successfully submerging the craft before anyone could witness the atrocity.

The paranoia was real, but my first wave masked every Mitsubishi-laden insecurity.

Instead of having to nurse it off the bottom, this board gripped the water in a way I had never experienced. My rail drove through the surface and brought me to the lip faster than anticipated. I check-snapped off the coping and set up for the money section.

Carrying as much speed as a head-high wave will allow, I threw all my weight off the incoming wedge and carved back to the pocket. Rather than catching an edge or getting stuck behind the foam, I was able to lean on my toes and float-climb the lip for a finishing maneuver.

Never had I felt so connected with, and in control of, a surfboard. There was no adjusting my surfing to suit the craft; the board simply followed my every direction. It was stuck to my feet.

A Magic Board.

And this got me thinking, maybe pros are actually riding better equipment. Maybe the shapes are more refined or the foam more carefully selected. Maybe it’s the lighter glassing?

All I know is, I felt like I was drawing Adriano-esque lines on the damn thing. His decades-long bottom turns and seamless carves finally made sense.

Have any of you had a similar experience? Ridden a pro’s stick and felt an immediate difference in ability and control? Maybe even inherited some of said pro’s powers?

I know it seems loony but I have no other explanation! It’s not like I got better at surfing overnight.

Shark strikes back: Attack in Los Angeles!

Chas Smith

by Chas Smith

And just like that another southern California bite!

Remember when an angry mob pulled a baby white onto Huntington’s pier yesterday? Of course you do! I posted the story just minutes ago! Did the shark’s mama read, perhaps, and bite a nice girl in Pacific Palisades to the north?

Let’s now turn to KTLA!

Sophia Raab, 18, was paddling back to shore along Pacific Coast Highway and Sunset Boulevard about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday when she fell off board.

When Raab got back on her surf board, she described being in excruciating pain. She looked down at her leg and found a chunk of her thigh missing.

“I was standing up looking down at my leg and it was peeled open. I could see the inside of my leg,” she told KTLA. “It was the goriest sight I’ve seen in my entire life.”

“I have no idea how it happened,” she added.

With the help of other beachgoers, Raab managed to get back along PCH and into an ambulance. She was taken to a hospital, where she underwent surgery.

Raab suffered a laceration that was described as being 10 inches by 10 inches and 4 inches deep. Her orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Bert Mandelbaum, said the injury is consistent with a shark bite.

What is going on here? Are the inmates running the asylum? Is this armageddon?

Sophia Raab, smartly, changed her Instagram handle to @shark_bite_sophia. Now that is the sort of sharp marketing mind BeachGrit needs to lead us to The Inertia levels of fortune Chazz Michael Michael’s has promised.

Shark Bite Sophia? Are you there?

Shark Invasion: Baby white tortured in HB!

Chas Smith

by Chas Smith

Totally illegal but... “In reality, no one is going to jail.”

It is man vs. beast in Southern California with no end in sight! Beast struck in San Onofre a week ago, taking the leg of a single mother. Man struck back yesterday, pulling a six-foot baby white out of Huntington’s lineup and hauling him/her onto the pier near Ruby’s.

Let’s read a snippet from Laylan Connelly’s wonderful story, gleaned off a South Carolina man who happened to catch the action whilst on his way down the pier after trying to eat at Ruby’s, in the Orange County Register!

That’s when a commotion stopped him in his tracks – anglers wrestling to pull a 6-foot shark from the water, something Hefner had never seen before. Like others who had gathered around as people cheered, he pulled out his phone and recorded video.

“Someone caught something, so I stayed and watched,” Hefner said via e-mail. “I’ve seen sharks caught on other piers in different states, but this was my first time seeing a great white. By reading the comments on my Facebook, I guess it’s illegal to pull a great white out of the water. The guys could have easily cut their line and let it go, but they decided to try to net it and then when that failed, they used a gaff hook in its gill to pull it onto the pier.”

The comments on social media show mixed response to the incident. The video showed the shark hitting a concrete pier pillar as it was pulled up toward the deck, with people surrounding it and appearing to be posing for selfies. Some argue the incident was not just illegal, but also cruel. Others say a flurry of great white activity off the coast represents a healthy ecosystem and they should be legal to catch.

Lifeguards worry anglers catching great whites off the pier can cause them to be agitated and attack nearby surfers and other ocean users, similar to an incident that happened a few years ago in Manhattan Beach when a swimmer was bitten after anglers snagged a great white. But lifeguards have no authority to enforce fishing laws on piers, which is regulated by Fish and Game.

State law protects the great white from being caught off California. Hughan said it’s a misdemeanor to capture a great white, and if those in the video are convicted, they likely would not face jail time or the maximum penalty of $10,000.

“If they were convicted, the Orange County judge would decide the penalty. It depends on the charge and how the judge feels about it,” he said. “In reality, no one is going to jail.”

And doesn’t that last “in reality, no is going to jail…” sort of seem like a tacit wink, wink toward “personalized culling?” It so does to me! And doesn’t the whole scene, as described by Mr. Hefner as well as captured by his phone (look here!) feel like when the townspeople formed an angry mob to get the beast in Beauty and the Beast? I just watched yesterday afternoon!

In any case, should southern Californians form angry mobs to pull great white babies from the sea, bashing their heads on concrete for good measure or should southern Californians stay out of the ocean altogether? Is there a happy medium? Will the sharks ever turn into handsome princes and beautiful princess if given enough love?

Australia, help!

Slater: “Everyone’s got a fucking opinion!”

Derek Rielly

by Derek Rielly

A fine documentary made by and starring Kelly Slater… 

Think about it. How often do you see Kelly Slater really loosen up? How often do you hear him unholster his thoughts without a feeling that it’s all part of a bigger game?

In part one of a two-part documentary called Continuance, we find Kelly, who has just turned forty-five, warming up for the first event of the tour at Snapper.

Cut to his Palm Beach apartment where he keeps a stash of world title and, curiously, 2012-2013 runner-up trophies.

“Fricken Parko and Fanning, gotta have ’em on the Gold Coast, right?” says Kelly.

Cut to a shaping bay with the Lennox Head surfboard shaper Daniel Thomson talking board design.

“Everybody’s got a fucking opinion,” says Kelly.

Cut to new vision from the Surf Ranch.

“I wanted to make a wave that mixed Teahupoo with Kirra.”

Cut to talk about trying very hard to win a farewell world title this year.

Cut to Slater, post-heat, and a forensic examination of how his board looked.

The documentary was produced by Kelly, his OuterKnown biz partner John Moore and Jeremy Groff, and made by Alek Parker and Group Films.

I found it thoroughly compelling.

Watch here. 

The Inertia: “BeachGrit is a bad dog!”

Chas Smith

by Chas Smith

Venice-adjacent mountain website, The Inertia, founder Zach Weisberg finally speaks his mind!

I went to a surf party last night in Laguna Beach and guess who was there? The famous cinematographer Eric Brandt. And guess who else? The Inertia founder and creative head Zach Weisberg.

The Zach Weisberg! From The Inertia!

And what are the odds? He came marching up to me with a forced smile on his face, stuck out his very small hand and said, “I’m Zach Weisberg.” And my heart soared. It is generally rare for people, and especially people in the surf industry, to directly approach their nemeses and I told Zach how happy I was at this chance meeting.

He had a photographer there with him and I said, “We must document this historic event.” He demurred with hurt feelings written on his face and sadness in his eyes, telling his photographer, “No. No pictures.”

I said, “Zach, this is your problem. You don’t have any fun. I am very sorry that I am not at all sorry that I make sport out of kicking your Inertia in its goads every chance I get but if you would just respond we would all have a lot more fun.”

He said, “What would we stand to gain from that? We would get nothing out of the exchange.”

And this greatly confused me. “You would get fun!” I responded though it was very clear our idea of fun was different.

The photographer stood to the side holding her camera with a crestfallen half-grin on her face. I couldn’t tell if she felt sorry for Zach or thought I was a dick but biting her tongue.

I continued, “Who do you think you are? The Washington Post? The Inertia may be bigger than BeachGrit but we are all tiny.”

He said, “But it would be like rewarding a bad dog… I’m sorry you’re not a bad dog but…”

And I said, “Yes! I’m a very bad dog. Incorrigible even. Responding may be the only thing that stops me though.”

He hemmed and hawed while I told him people don’t like The Inertia because it is like rocking up to your favorite surf spot and seeing a 30 student strong surf school on the sand doing their warmups ready to paddle out on the back third of their foam boards.

He seemed sad about this but then shared the most enlightening thing, saying, “When I was at Surfer, The New York Times was doing some stories on surf and it made me frustrated because some of the information was off. I thought, ‘If they’re going to do this they should do it right.’ So I called the Times and got to an editor and told him that I was with Surfer and they should use the magazine as a resource. The editor, though, told me, ‘Who are you to define someone else’s surf experience?’ And that was a great epiphany for me.”

I shrieked in horror. If a New York Times editor would have asked me, “Who are you to define someone else’s surf experience?” I would have slammed the phone down, gotten a plane, flown to JFK, gotten in a cab and gone straight to the paper’s Manhattan office. Once there I would find the editor, march up to him, show him my neck tan and my baby pterygium and said, “I’m Chas Smith. Who the hell are you?”

Surf culture is wonderful precisely because of its rigid definitions. Its archaic rules. It bizarre nuance that we learn over time. Its lineup etiquette. Its vocabulary. Its strut and its silliness. Its hours and hours, years and years, spent sitting in water. Paddling out in wind blown slop and pulling in to closeout tubs. Everyone is invited but, like Hell’s Angels, everyone has to get jumped in. We may be dumb, pointless, selfish, shallow and generally worthless but we have spent our lives becoming these things.

By removing any barrier to entry, by defining “surfer” as broadly as “someone who has, at least once, either ridden something in a body of water and/or thought about it” The Inertia takes the joy out of belonging.

That’s why it is a piece of shit and Zach Weisberg knows it. An indefensible piece of shit but God bless the man for having enough intestinal fortitude to shake my hand.