What sort of magical vessels will The Champ ride at J-Bay? Let's ask Jon Pyzel.
Mr Jon Pyzel is the forty-something shaper for the world surfing champion John John Florence. He is, therefore, old enough not to be stolen away by fads and unridable flights of fancy, but young enough that his mind is able to accept alien concepts. His North Shore-based factory means he builds boards that work, tested in the world’s best waves and so forth, and not to give you epilepsy when it’s two foot.
Pyzel made John John his first surfboard almost twenty years ago, when his mother Alex brought the boys to see him at his old bay at Sunset Beach and gave him two-hundred dollars for materials to build John a board. The yellow four-six with a halo of orange rails is “hideous to look at” but now exists as a memorial of sorts to a boy destined for greatness.
Earlier today, I asked what Jon made for John John for Jeffreys Bay, which may or may not a little later today.
BeachGrit: First, what the hell has he got in his bag for J-Bay?
How do his boards differ, if at all, for J-Bay compared to, say, Margaret River? Margs is a very specific wave; J-Bay will forgive many crimes.
Actually, this year WA was a few different waves, and even Main Break can have many different faces to it, so I always try to cover a lot of territory when building a WA quiver. J-Bay doesn’t vary that much, except when it is really small and weak (not super common long term, but seems to happen at least one day out of every year there). I feel like J-Bay boards need to be designed to carry speed over long distances, yet turn on a dime when you need to. You need to make the high-line speed sections and then capitalise on the slower sections to throw all that speed into a huge manoeuvre while always maintaining down-the-line momentum.
Did your beautiful teamrider make any specific requests for J-Bay?
John John has really been fired up on the Ghost model I’ve been making, but mostly 6’2”s (Margaret’s winner, Bells super oop) so he asked for a few 6’0”s and after Fiji he sounded like he was really starting to like the feel of those shorter ones too. I made a few for Michel Bourez (through Firewire) as well so I’m a little curious to see if MB likes the feel of them too.
What are the important elements of a board for J-Bay?
Pretty much straight out of the WSL handbook – Speed. Power. Flow. Gotta be able to be pushed hard at top speed and not give. You want some thickness in the centre to keep up the speed, but I try to keep them thinner through the rails to give them bite without having to back off the gas. Fitting into the pocket while still providing high-line projection is also crucial.
That damn wind, oowee. You make ‘em a little heavier?
Nothing out of the ordinary. It’s really windy where we live even if it doesn’t really appear that way in pictures so JJ is pretty used to that feeling. Plus he is a pretty solid kid so he can force his way through it alright.
How long’s it take you to shape one of them sonsofbitches?
Ever board is a little different, time-wise, just depending on how I’m feeling and how I like the feel and look of the pre-shape off the machine. I try not to overthink it, but I sometimes spend a long time on the little details. It doesn’t make the board better because I take a long time to shape it. Sometimes the best boards are the ones that I shape without stopping to over analyse.
Is the glassing process highly-scientific, blanks weighed and so forth like Kolohe, or do you just sling ’em through the glass shop?
I send all of John’s board to a wizard not a scientist! The guy who glasses all his boards is the biggest, over-analysing, all-time most classic, ex-Manhattan ad agency writer, horse-betting, ultra-neurotic, artistically gifted mad man, a Hawaiian-born haole and the actual guy they hired to train Turtle from the movie North Shore on how to talk pidgin. Brian King! His shop is called Bra Bra Resin and he can pick the best boards out of the batch when he gives them back to me. You could do an amazing piece on that fucker. Oh, yeah, he writes screenplays too.
Brian King, at left, with Turtle on the set of North Shore.
How many boards y’made for JJ this year?
I’m not positive, around fifty or sixty. The first few events we usually build a bunch of different boards, but as the year progresses JJ gets them narrowed down to the best of the batches and it turns more into just filling in the gaps or replacing broken boards here and there.
Do you worry your little champ will die in the jaws of a big fish, his blood a fatal stain in the Indian?
Zing: Say hello to surfing’s Tom Brady!
by Chas Smith
South Africa's Dale Staples gives John John concern!
Last week found me in a Santa Monica eatery later in the evening drinking a nice Sancerre and chatting with an extremely attractive woman whose attention seemed to flag right when I was delivering a particularly delightful surf journalism anecdote involving Matt Warshaw and Nick Carroll.
“Hmmmmm…” I thought. “…strange.”
I tried again, dipping into another very humorous reminiscence about that one time on the North Shore but still her eyes were still foggy, hovering somewhere over my shoulder.
Puzzled, I turned around. Sitting not four feet away was Tom Brady.
THE Tom Brady.
Quarterback of the New England Patriots. Husband of Gisele Bundchen.
And I’ll be damned if he wasn’t even more handsome in person than he is on TV. Perfect bone structure, a wonderful head of hair, blue blood jocky. An undeniable gravitas.
I instantly forgave my date and began to wonder why surfing didn’t have its own Tom Brady.
John John is so talented but… not handsome. Adriano is cute like a troll. Jordy has issues that extend beyond nipple-gate. Owen is a professional receding hairline. Wilko is less talented than John John and… way not handsome. Etc.
We must travel all the way down to Parko to find handsome but Parko is now handsome the way your grandfather is. Like, old and stately. Julian Wilson, next on the list is a total dreamboat but boy band dreamboat.
Well hell yes that face is most definitely John John’s cause for concern! But maybe I was seeing things? Maybe the body attached was round or something. Like Mick Lowe or something. I quickly clicked on the link and was delivered here.
And look at that Dale Staples! Not round at all with a hairline so fierce, a jaw so strong that it has cast poor Matt Wilkinson (maroon sweater) into existential despair!
What do you think? Is Dale Staples the most handsome man in professional surfing right now? Should John John be concerned?
Gimme: The best surf vacation EVER!
by Chas Smith
Think, grey skies, cold water, pale girls and Bournemouth Cherry fans!
Are you home right now? Bored? Maybe you’re at work? Bored? Sitting there, staring at the computer screen twiddling your thumbs dreaming about better days? Well stand up, man! Stretch your hamstrings, throw your head to the fluorescents and let go a primal scream!
You only live once and I’ve got a once in a lifetime opportunity for you RIGHT HERE!
Think, grey skies, cold water, pale girls and Bournemouth Cherry fans.
Think Cornwall in newly single and ready to mingle England!
The Newquay Activity Center right there of Fistral Beach has just released a news letter detailing some various activities and providing instruction for the BEST TIME EVER. Let’s read some of the offerings.
British pro Sam Lamiroy offers exclusive surf coaching at Newquay Activity Centre
Fistral Beach Crowned No.1 in UK by Sunday Times
Are you ready for the Cornwall Castaway? Our Newest adventure activity is launched.
Eco Super Stand Up Paddleboard Tour – the most incredible way to experience Newquay’s coast.
Newquay Activity Centre abseil in to a cove with celebrity chef Nathan Outlaw
How to paddle out on a surfboard – instruction video from our own Surf Pro Johnny Fryer
What’s more there is an opportunity to win a free Rip Curl and Carve goodie bag for all bookings during Boardmasters.
Are you even kidding me?
Let’s now watch Johnny Fryer’s how to paddle instructional video.
Have you ever heard of a better surf pro name than Johnny Fryer?
And are you still staring at your computer?
Stop now and get thee to Cornwall! Adventure awaits…
Breaking: Human Chain Saves Lives in FL!
by Michael Ciaramella
Who needs lifeguards when you've got 80 of the world's greatest friends?
Last week New Jersey got a lot of play on this site due to its bizarre beachside happenings. But if we are to be honest (and what is BeachGrit if not an oasis of hard-hitting truths?), when it comes to strange occurrences in the States, Florida is the undisputed epicenter of all things weird.
That’s why it comes as no surprise when, just this morning, I read about an 80-human chain that was used to rescue a drowning family in Panama City Beach. They had, just like every drowning family before them, gotten caught in a riptide. But let’s pick it up from the Washington Post:
Roberta Ursrey was among those caught in the treacherous rip currents. From 100 yards away in the Gulf of Mexico, between crashing waves and gulps of salt water, she heard the shouting, she told The Washington Post.
By then, Ursrey and the other eight people stranded with her had already been in the water for nearly 20 minutes, fighting for their lives. Ursrey and the others had ventured into the water to rescue her two sons, Noah, 11, and Stephen, 8, who had gotten separated from their family while chasing waves on their boogie boards.
And goddamnit! Our oppressively addictive sport has done it again. Will these children, aged eight and eleven, who are clearly infected with the surf bug, be forever remembered as Rip Current Cadavers One and Two? Will their non-helpful family members perish alongside? Let’s find out!
On shore, the human chain began forming, first with just five volunteers, then 15, then dozens more as the rescue mission grew more desperate.
Jessica and Derek Simmons swam past the 80 or so human links, some who couldn’t swim, and headed straight for the Ursreys, using surf and boogie boards to aid their rescue efforts.
“I got to the end, and I know I’m a really good swimmer,” Jessica Simmons told the News Herald. “I practically lived in a pool. I knew I could get out there and get to them.”
She and her husband started with the children, passing Noah and Stephen back along the human chain, which passed them all the way to the beach.
By the time Jessica Simmons reached Ursrey, the 34-year-old mother could hardly keep her head above water.
“I’m going to die this way,” Ursrey thought to herself, she told The Post. “My family is going to die this way. I just can’t do it.”
So the boys have been saved, but what of their drowning mother and family members? Oh I’d love to tell you, but wouldn’t that be a little unfair to The Post, who worked so hard to compile this tale? You can read the ending here, and witness the amazing human feat below.
POV: Anthony Walsh goes to Namibia!
by Derek Rielly
Push the ether-soaked cotton-balls of Skeleton Bay's long tubes to your nostrils…
Last month, the Australian-Born, Hawaii-based surfer/POV expert Anthony Walsh joined the conga line of goofyfooters to Africa’s south-west coast.
Mr Walsh, who is in his mid-thirties and was a middle-run qualifying series pro surfer for a time, is an expert in point-of -view cameras and the various accruements that you can buy for your GoPro. All the best shots from our Girl Goes into Orbit series earlier in the year, the drone flying through town, it soaring over the beach, the behind-the-surfer shots, all came from his expert hand.
It occurred to me, later, as I paid invoice after invoice that I could’ve just brought along Anthony, sat back, and watched it all unfurl.
Skeleton Bay, as you know, is the wave du jour, as was P-Pass in Micronesia a dozen years ago and, more recently, the points of Salina Cruz in Mexico. And Anthony likes nothing much more than pushing the ether-soaked cotton-balls of Skeleton Bay’s long tubes to his nostrils.
While this clip is hardly news, it is intimate and warm and gives the viewer the chance to inhale without the uncomfortable business of having to get to Africa and make an impossible drop in very cold water.