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Faux/Real: Novelty Waves!

James Booth

by James Booth

Waves for kooks looking for cool backgrounds for their next Instagram chop-hop? Or no?

Tell me.

In your considered opinion, are novelty wave exciting and intrepid and adventurous?

Are they cool?

Or are they the epitome of millennial douchbaggery?

If I were a Gen X contrarian, I’d be inclined to write novelty waves off as the domain of self-absorbed kooks who sacrifice size, length of ride, and the ability to manoeuvre just to get a cool background for their next Insta chop-hop.

But guess what?

I’m a millennial!

I love chop hops and quirky backdrops, and I reckon we get plenty of ‘manoeuvre’ training from all those daily surfs we get, while novelty wave haters sit in office cubicles pondering whether they still have the dexterity (and the immune system) to successfully navigate a wave like this.

Also, snaking seven year olds in Newquay harbour made me realise that no matter how shitty a wave, nor how many times you bog a rail, if you do it near something hard and full of barnacles, it’s kind of fun.

Fun?

Sure.

 

And if the threat of bacterial infection and stitches don’t get your juices flowing, novelty waves often provide an audience of non-surfers who ohh and ahh at every botched cutback and flailing highline.

Good for ego? Yes!

Bottom line.

Are novelty waves faux by definition?

Or does their inherent thrill make up for their inconsistency, tendency to be polluted, meagre size and so forth?

Finally: The Inertia comes clean!

Chas Smith

by Chas Smith

Founder Zach Weisberg admits, "I have sucked my entire life!"

In what has been long rumored, Steve Bannon today resigned/was fired from his position as President Donald J. Trump’s chief strategist. The Failing New York Times reports:

Earlier on Friday, the president had told senior aides that he had decided to remove Mr. Bannon, according to two administration officials briefed on the discussion. But a person close to Mr. Bannon insisted that the parting of ways was his idea, and that he had submitted his resignation to the president on Aug. 7, to be announced at the start of this week. But the move was delayed after the violence in Charlottesville, Va.

The loss of Mr. Bannon, the right-wing nationalist who helped propel some of Mr. Trump’s campaign promises into policy reality, raises the potential for the president to face criticism from the conservative news media base that supported him over the past year.

In other more explosive news Zach Weisberg, founder and chief strategist of Venice-adjacent log rolling blog The Inertia, admitted today what has whispered for years though never explicitly admitted.

I didn’t read the story, but remember watching HBO’s Entourage for the first time and seeing Vincent Chase, played by Adrian Grenier, and thinking, “Ugh.”

Adrian G. might be a fantastic guy but Vinnie was unbelievable as a fictional Hollywood star, though entirely believable as a world-class douche. He sucked and sucked badly. I hate watched almost every episode of Entourage after that, plumbing the depths of my own masochism.

Much in the same way that I regularly visit The Inertia. And it makes complete sense that Zach Weisberg would hitch his suck cart to Adrian Grenier. Both horribly malign otherwise purely superficial pursuits (surfing/acting).

What a day! What a red letter day!

P.S. Stop using straws!

Yemen: Love in the time of Cholera!

Chas Smith

by Chas Smith

What is the best way to counter a human tragedy?

One of my proudest life achievements is being included in Matt Warshaw’s epic Encyclopedia of Surfing (subscribe here already). The world’s greatest and only surf historian describes me thusly:

Bright, hyper-ironic surf journalist, author, and bon vivant from Coos Bay, Oregon; frequent contributor to Stab magazine, contributing editor at Surfing magazine, and co-founder of Beach Grit, a surfing website.

And while I’m only “bright” when juxtaposed with Stab’s utterly retarded staff and while, for reasons unbeknownst to me, I don’t contribute to them quite so much anymore and while Surfing magazine is totally dead in the grave, I did co-found BeachGrit and I am hyper-ironic. So hyper-ironic, in fact, that I can rarely discern what I actually believe about any given topic.

It’s anti-depressive!

But son of a bitch this last week has kicked me in the gut. Between a massive American shift toward identity politics and Presidential incompetence and terrorist attacks in Spain and ignorant babbling on the right and panicked screeching on the left, it all feels like a mess.

The thing that gets me most, though, isn’t happening in North America or Europe and it isn’t on the front page of any American newspaper and nobody is ignorantly babbling or panically screeching about it.

It’s happening in Yemen where Saudi Arabia, for no even halfway good reason and with the United States’ support, has bombed the country into the worst humanitarian crisis in the entire world. And today it was revealed that the Saudis are targeting children with their bombs.

And it crushes me. I’ve been to Yemen six or so times in my life. It was where I got my start as a “surf journalist” writing the worst thing ever for Australia’s Surfing Life. It was there I first shot an AK-47. There I first shook hands with a man affiliated with Al-Qaeda. There I first saw a tree bleed. That initial trip was from Sana’a, the capital, down to Aden and then along the entire coast, for three months, all the way to Oman.

Subsequent trips involved riding motorcycles from edge to edge, driving a Land Rover from edge to edge and sailing along its Red Sea coast.

It was always wild, magical, brilliant. Untethered. Yemen is not blessed/cursed with oil like its Arabian peninsula neighbors and has a rough, independent people so was mostly left alone over the last few centuries. My three friends and I were the first white men ever seen in some of those far off towns. At the time I thought it was a fun footnote. Today I think I am one of the few westerners on earth who know what Yemen really is. Like, really really is, and I have a responsibility to say something about its destruction.

But what?

What works? I have no idea how to cut through the clutter, how to get anyone’s attention. I suppose I’ve reached a desperation point and no longer care what works. I’m going to start doing what I know. I’m going to start posting stories about those trips. About the waves, the people, the architecture, food, customs, religious practices, color, spark, life. I am going to spend the next six months painting a non-ironic picture of the country I love most right here.

Surfing: Not as racist as you think!

Chas Smith

by Chas Smith

Think surfing ain't diverse? Think again!

Surfing has a reputation, I think, for being a very white thing. Oh sure there are Brazilians and Fijians and Hawaiians and Tahitians and Indonesians but the outward facing representation is, more often than not, a blonde boy with blue eyes and pouty lips.

In Southern California, where I live, “ethnic diversity” is not the first thought that pops into my head when I paddle out each and every other day.

And it would be easy to think that surfing here is mostly white but guess what? It isn’t! A new story in LeBron James’s website The Undefeated is titled Black People Don’t Surf? This Org Proves That’s Not True.

Let’s read a few sections!

Four years ago, Detroit native Mimi Miller had never been in the ocean. Now she’s a devoted bodyboarder, surfer and volunteer for the Black Surfers Collective — a group that, according to its mission, raises cultural awareness and promotes diversity in the sport of surfing through community activities, outreach and camaraderie.

On Aug. 12, you could find Miller standing on the shoreline of Los Angeles’ Santa Monica State Beach, clapping and cheering on newcomers who took part in the collective’s monthly free lessons to introduce black people to surfing, called Pan African Beach Days.

Miller and the rest of the collective’s members are part of the proud if lesser-known tradition of black surfing, which some would argue goes back to native Hawaiians (descendants of Polynesians), who are credited with inventing the sport in the first place. Among the legendary surf icons are Montgomery “Buttons” Kaluhiokalani, a black Hawaiian whom Surfer magazine called “the father of modern day surfing.”

L.A. has its own lore, beginning with black surf pioneer Nick Gabaldon, who frequented the Inkwell Beach in Santa Monica in the 1940s, where black beachgoers congregated during segregation. Also, the late Dedon Kamathi, a radio host and onetime Black Panther, was a surfing devotee, as was police abuse victim Rodney King.

Pan African Beach Day was launched a few years ago because too few black people in L.A. get to the beach, and they don’t always have a background in swimming to enjoy the water, Rachal explained. He credited the Surf Bus Foundation, a nonprofit that promotes ocean sports and safety in L.A., for helping make Beach Day a success by supplying the boards, instructing students and providing additional volunteers. Beach Days are open to anyone, although most participants are people of color.

So very wonderful but could we back up just a touch. Rodney King was a surfer?

Mr. King was made famous for getting beaten by a pile of white police officers in 1992. Their subsequent acquittal led to the massive Los Angeles riots. He sued the city of Los Angeles and won 3.8 million dollars which he used to start a record label.

From 1993 on he got busted lots for drunk driving, won some celebrity boxing bouts and appeared on various reality television shows.

In 2012 his body was discovered at the bottom of a swimming pool. Toxicology reports declared a combination of alcohol, marijuana and cocaine contributed to his drowning.

A surfer indeed!

Watch: How Jordy Smith came to own J-Bay!

Derek Rielly

by Derek Rielly

"Jordy Smith is the best surfer at Jeffreys Bay," says Joel Parkinson. Yes?

In the film below, we’re gifted a five-minute short on Jordy Smith and his relationship with Jeffreys Bay, funded by his sponsor Red Bull, and made by Sage Erickson’s stud Jacob Woden.

Joel Parkinson is interviewed and says Jordy is the best surfer there, something the remote observer might call into question after Filipe Toledo’s dominant performance one month ago. 

We stand cheek by jowl with his dad Graham and his pal Chad du Toit as Jordy makes a perfect heat before, in the words of Red Bull, “a string of strange occurrences conspired against him” and he finished fifth.

The strangest occurrence might’ve been Jordy’s own conservatism during the event. As was reported here, an analysis of his performance revealed a deeply risk-averse approach.

Let’s recap.

Jordy Smith is the worst safety surfer on tour. I went through every single one of his scoring waves and gave every turn a number from 1-10. Ten was the highest-risk turn, the most radical and zero was, well, falling off or doing nothing.

As a reference point, Jordy’s standard top-turn wrap, a turn he can do with zero risk 99.99% of the time, was assigned a five. This was painstaking, tedious work. Out of 85 counted turns, 17 scored in the excellent range (eight and above) and eight of those came in a single heat (round five resurf against Conner Coffin, Jordy’s best heat by a mile).

Jordy’s average turn score came in at a very safe 6.22. That is, safe surfing.

Jordy’s camp can rail against this and shoot the messenger or they can do the analysis themselves and face the reality. Absent an angry, belligerent Jordy, what we get is safe, low energy surfing.

The highlight of the film might be Jordy’s suggestion that Nelson Mandela, looking down from the paradise of the afterlife, gifted him two perfect waves.

Whatever, the short is enough to make you want to hitch your pyjama pants and jump a bird to J-Bay.