"It was the biggest waves I've seen paddling for sure," says Shane Dorian of this session. Jamie Mitchell, pictured here, didn't make the wave but says it was the wave behind that shook his nerves. “I couldn’t see anything because of the spray but when it cleared all I could see was a massive wall of water. It was at least 70 feet, blocked out the sky and was about to break directly on my head. I’d never seen anything like that from that angle before.” | Photo: Timo Jarvinen

WHAT A SEVENTY-FOOT WAVE LOOKS LIKE. REAL CLOSE.

It's the loneliest feeling in the world, say Jamie Mitchell and Grant "Twiggy" Baker…

Feel this most dreamy scenario. You and two pals sit atop a clear and very blue sea two miles off the romantically named town of St Jean de Luz in France. It’s January 7, 2014. Winter, sure, but it’s one of those gorgeous Bay of Biscay days where the air is clear and sharp. With the right wind, you can smell bread baking and coffee brewing within the bakeries and cafes that inflate its medieval streets. Today, is one of those days.

Friend one, positioned 50 yards out to sea, paddles for a wave. You detect his inability to connect and proceed to paddle shoreward.

Friend three, positioned 50 yards shoreward, hoots encouragement just as the wave grabs the tail of your board and proceeds to project you forward.

Ok. Now, stop, right, here.

A quick change in the variables reveals thus. Friend one is Shane Dorian. Friend two, Grant “Twiggy” Baker. And you are Jamie Mitchell.

Between the three of you is 30-plus feet of fibreglass and more volume than most have in their entire quiver.

And you, my friend, is about to eat shit.

“We got up that morning and the swell was so big it had sunk our jet-ski which we had waiting in the harbour,” recalls Mitchell of the day that would further catapult him to absolute godliness. “It freaked us out a bit, but we managed to jag a lift on a boat and met up with Shane O and a few of the guys who were busy waxing up.”

The trio are about to paddle out to the deep-water break named Belharra.

Mitchell, once only a mythical character in lifeguarding and paddle-boarding circles, partially inflates the Patagonia inflatable vest he’s wearing beneath a Quiksilver-issue steamer and takes a moment before plunging into the cold ocean and paddling towards the peak.

Somewhere amid the hubbub, videographer Vincent Kardasik mounts the back of a jet-ski and heads off in the same direction.

Dorian, Mitchell and Baker position themselves amid the vast line-up and begin an anxious wait for the tell-tale signs of bumps on the horizon and the ignition of jet-skis way out the back. As each wave passes, the plumes of whitewater being blown off the back shower down golf ball-sized pellets onto the backs of our three heroes.

“That shit hurts,” says Mitchell of the droplets. “But, we were all talking to each other and keeping one eye out to sea at the same time. Talking, but real nervous at the same time. And then I saw Shane O make a move and start paddling for one and I thought to myself, ‘Righto, here we go.’”

Mitchell senses Dorian’s inability to connect with the wave and digs his heels in, swings his 10’6″ around and begins to paddle shoreward as the wave starts to jack.

Further in and to the left a little, Kardasik subconsciously manoeuvres a gloved thumb towards the record button.

“We had been waiting for that wave all morning,” recalls Twiggy. “As soon as I saw that wave, I knew Jamie was in the perfect spot to catch it, so I paddled as hard as I could to get out of his line and get myself over the back safely. All the while I was just screaming at him to ‘Go, go, go'”.

The tail engages and as Mitchell feels the familiar sensation of lift, he recalls hearing Twig’s encouragement, but turns his attention to the task at hand. “The thing with waves of that size is, you get a bit of time to ready yourself for the drop, and I felt like I had a real good stance, everything felt sweet,” says Mitchell. “But I got a bit down the face and just started to bunny hop.”

Twiggy is gifted a remarkable view. “I was worried about what was behind that wave, but at the same time I was so mesmerised by it,” he says. “I was front and centre for one of the greatest surfing moments ever and all I could think about was how incredible it looked and how badly I wanted Jamie to catch it.”

Twiggy, at this point, is paddling skywards just as Mitchell dismounts his board and begins to skim in the opposite direction. “I had a bit of time to think about things and then I just made sure to pull my arms and legs in and braced for impact,” says Mitchell.

And as Mitchell is plummeted downwards, Twiggy is once again gifted a view so few will ever know. “I came over the top of Jamie’s wave and must have air-dropped about 10 feet off the back,” he says. “I couldn’t see anything because of the spray but when it cleared all I could see was a massive wall of water. It was at least 70 feet, blocked out the sky and was about to break directly on my head. I’d never seen anything like that from that angle before.”

Two friends, a long way from home, deep, deep underwater.

“It’s up there with the worst hold-downs I’ve ever had,” says Mitchell. “It gave me a real good work over, but the one after it, that’s the one that really got me.”

Mitchell surfaces just in time to be confronted with the same wave that’d dealt Twiggy a firm hiding. “It the loneliest feeling in the world,” says Mitchell. “I popped up and had a couple seconds to look towards the channel and I could just see no one was coming, no one could get to me. I looked towards the wave and it was just a massive wall of whitewater. I recall not being able to distinguish where the wave ended and the sky started.”

Mitchell takes a couple deep breaths and plunges as deep as his inflated vest will allow. “I actually don’t like going too deep under big waves because I find you get pushed along and out of the way of the wave behind and you’re less likely to have a two wave hold down,” he says. “And this thing must have dragged me a couple hundred metres, easy.”

Mitchell is eventually flushed into the deep-water channel still unaware of the enormity of the two waves he’d just dealt with. “I honestly didn’t think they were as big as they were. Then Shane O dragged me over to the boat to look at the footage,” he says.

“That wave, for sure, is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, ever attempted as a paddle in,” says Shane O.

Loneliness and exhilaration, what strange bedfellows.

(And how about that photo! If you like Timo Jarvinen’s work you can buy his prints just by clicking here.)


Matahi Drollet, the 17-year-old Tahitian kid who stole the show during filming for Point Break II at Teahupoo. | Photo: Chris Bryan

Screw You GoPro! Jetskis are coming to eat you alive!

Sometimes the best photo angle isn't POV or shooting from a boat. Put a jet ski at the front of a 15-footer and you have unique. Sketchy? Well, yes!

See this wave pictured? Pretty ain’t she. Oowee. But it was nearly filmer Chris Bryan’s last.

Chris is the High-Def gun for hire, a 37-year-old from Cronulla, Australia, for whom the phone tolls every time a studio wants the finest in surf-cinematic vision. And when Warner Brothers were hot for a remake of Kathryn Bigelow’s 1991 cheeseball surf-drama Point Break and needed vision of big waves, they called on Chris (as well as every other big-name surf shooter in the game. Hello Don King!).

But this wave, on this day, it was neither the stunt doubles for the film’s protagonists Bohdi (Dylan Longbottom) or Johnny Utah (Bruce Irons, called in after Laurie Towner busted his jaw on the reef), who scooped the waves of the day. It was the kid-brother of Manoa Drollet, 17-year-old Matahi.

And Chris, whose brief was to film Bohdi and Utah on the same wave, found himself soaring down a 15-footer behind Matahi.

“I was yelling at the driver to go and he was saying, ‘No! No! Not this one!’ And I was yelling at him to go. Because we hesitated we went late and because we were deeper than the other skis, to get the tracking shot, we had to bounce over their wake. And so we’re coming down this vertical face, trying to get down, I’m looking through the eye-piece, there’s no footstraps (which Chris had asked to be custom-fitted) or life jacket or helmet and because I’m holding the big heavy movie camera I can’t hold onto the seat. As we got to the bottom of the wave the transition was a right angle. And as we hit it, the ski start to nose dive and I was thinking, ‘Oh my god! We’re going to flip!’ But I kept my eye on the eye-piece and as we pulled out of the dive I saw this little kid completely disappear and then there was this huge blow out. I was thinking,’Oh god, the kid might’ve died.’ But then he came flying out. All the boats were scratching over the west bowl and we couldn’t even get near to the channel. It was the most dramatic thing I’ve ever seen. It was so big and we went straight into the lagoon where it was knee deep, watching for big coral heads.”

Chris is fond of this angle because of the perspective it gives. GoPros’ll make the tube smaller, the boat angle you’ve seen, but the ski, he says, gives a true indication of the wave’s size.

“It’s the difference between looking at skyscraper from a plane or standing on the ground looking up,” he says. “This angle puts the wave in its proper perspective.”

It’s the truth!

And this morning, Chris is buckling in for another ride to French Polynesia. Along with Dylan Longbottom, Bruce Irons and various other Point Break contractors he’s flying back to Teahupoo to greet another swell.

Can Hollywood fuck it up? Maybe. But there’ll be enough big-wave juice in it (they’ve already shot big Jaws on Maui), to scrape us into cinemas.

Point Break‘s hitting multiplexes and suburban joints late July, 2015.

(In the meantime, here’s Chris’ showreel.)

WWW.CHRISBRYANFILMS.COM 2014 Phantom Reel from Chris Bryan on Vimeo.


How much caffeine and sugar y'wanna get in the spike? Drink a 24 fl oz can of Monster and you'll absorb 240mg of caffeine and quarter-of-a-cup of sugar. It ain't the answer to your health dreams.

Exclusive: Monster Buys Pro Surfing for $2.5 Million!

And now the ASP wants to erase Red Bull from the game!

Jordy narrowly escaped his $50,000 fine for wearing a Red Bull cap up to the Hurley Pro podium, thanks to some very fine print, but an even bigger story brews behind the saltwater curtain!

The ASP does indeed have a deal with Monster at a rumoured $2,500,000 per year. Yes, The Claw is the “official energy drink” of professional surfing and so surfers who have Red Bull or Rockstar or Nos or Full Throttle branding must remove headgear before stepping up to the victor’s stage.

Pre-2013 it was anyone’s game. The brands owned the media rights and could do as they saw fit. Now ZoSea owns, and sells, all rights and the Monster-backed ASP is actively goading Red Bull. My source, an Austrian insider, says the Red Bull staff photographer, for example, has been banished from the competitors’ area. He is not allowed into the VIP or media zones either and is lucky if he can snap his pictures from the publicly owned sand. Once he has his far, far-away portraits, he must remove any ASP logo or branding or get sued. This is a tall order when Sally F., Carissa M., Mick F., Julian W., Jordy S., Kolohe A., Michel B. etc. etc. etc. each have wiiiiiiings.

Monster, through hired guns at the ASP, are trying to erase Red Bull, the same Red Bull that jumped a man out of space (in the goofiest stunt ever), from the ocean! For a mere $2,500,000!

Oh but don’t despair! There’s a new player! An inside player! As I write these very words a box of Kelly Slater’s new drink Purps waits downstairs! He launched it recently alongside RVCA founder PM Tenore and Dr. Schaumburg and it is supposed to contain so health! Such promise! I am going to take it to a scientist tomorrow for analysis and hope beyond hope that it isn’t filled with kerosene and hell. I hope, beyond hope, that our hero, Kelly Slater slays the Energy beast, once and for all, and saves our children from diabetes forever.

(P.S. if any energy drink would like to advertise on BeachGrit please contact our man on the ground Graham Stapleberg at [email protected]ng-usa.com)


"I have not read any good books lately," Pam says most candidly. "I don't read books and I don't know any dogs that read. I'm going to make a general statement… no dogs read." Who knew! | Photo: Courtney Jaedtke

Ask Pam Reynolds: Dogs Don’t Read! Gabriel Medina!

Dane and Courtney's French bulldog… advises! Soul food for your emaciated soul!

Advice for our stupid daily lives from the French Bulldog owned by Mr Dane Reynolds and Ms Courtney Jaedtke (with audio!)

When Pam talks her voice quivers, as if in song. It’s soul food for your emaciated soul!

If you like Pam’s mode d’été, her breezy summer fashion that neither defines its wearer nor talks too loudly, buy her shirt (for adults, toddlers and animals) by clicking…here! 

Write to Pam at [email protected] 

 

MODERN LIFE

Dear Pam, 

Modern life can be so frustrating. How do you deal with things like the internet only sporadically working, no “Continue Shopping” buttons when you put something in your online cart, cars pulling out in front of you or people being rude at check-out? 

Modern Girl. Thailand. 

NO DOGS READ

Dear Pam, 

Read any good books lately? Is that a dumb question? Do dogs read? I never knew they could talk until I heard your engaging voice.

Tash O, Malibu. 

MY FAVES 

Dear Pam

Do you follow the world surfing tour? I know that Dane Reynolds is your master and I was wondering if you pick up on things he says and if it helps you with choosing your favourites on the tour? If so, who are your favourites and what do you like the most about watching the surfing? 

Penny, Long Beach. 

 

 


Gal number five? "She did this movie and now she's super famous. She kinda liked me when she wasn't famous, then she didn't like me when she was famous," says Sterling. | Photo: Morgan Maassen

STERLING SPENCER: I WAS A FIRST-CLASS FOOL

Five bad ladies who tried to rip out Sterling's heart… 

In the game of love, ain’t nobody winnin’. Cards are forever being shuffled, rules bent this way and that. And there isn’t a man better qualified to talk about givin’ gals a heart and a diamond only to get clubbed with a spade than Sterling Spencer, the twenty-ish year-old surfer from the USA’s Gulf Coast. Love finds a way for most of us. But not for Sterling…

1. Lauren was my seventh grade girlfriend and I was in love with her. I thought we were gonna get married for sure but she cheated on me with a jock.

I dated Lauren for almost a year. I thought I was gonna marry her and I was, like, 12. She was my first kiss. It was at a school dance. I walked from one side of the room and she walked from the other side and we met in the middle. Straight out of a movie. Everybody saw it. I felt super-guilty for kissing a girl. I felt weird and scared. She stopped liking me and started dating a jock the next week. I was heartbroken. It was the first time I was truly crushed. She broke up with me at the skate rink and I went home and cried. I had another girlfriend by the next week. I moved on pretty quickly, but I was in love with her for, like, another year until I finally got over her. I think it was easier to get girlfriends when I was younger. It’s ’cause you’re all stuck in a classroom together and you see them every day. The guy she cheated on me with was a football player. He was short and he was full-on preppy. I always didn’t like him. I was a surfer guy; he was a jock. They made fun of me a bit, but I could play football really well so they didn’t give me too much shit.

2. Paige was my 11th grade girlfriend. I thought we were getting married for sure but she cheated on me with the guy she is married to now.

I dated Paige for two years and she was a full-on surfer chick. We’d go surf and I’d do a big air and she’d say that it turned her on. I went to Australia and she wasn’t talking to me much. I was calling her on a pay-phone every night and she wouldn’t talk to me. Then, she called me and said she was hanging with another guy and I was all freaked-out. On Valentine’s Day, I sent her a teddy bear from Australia. She was like, “This is stupid.” She didn’t break up with me, so I flew home and was, like, “I’m coming to you”. She said, “No, no, there’s someone else,” so I said “Alright, let’s just break up,” and she said ok. So we broke up and the guy she cheated on me with, she’s married to him now. I don’t think I woulda married her ‘cause she’s kinda crazy.

3. Sarah was a cougar and tore my heart into a poop.

The cougar. She led me on, like she really liked me, then she didn’t like me. She’s only four years older than me, but I call any girl that’s older than me a cougar. She moved to another town, though. It was more of a passing fling. She was a brunette, a bit shorter, with blue eyes. She was already in college and I was at school. She was way outta my league. I’d try to be adult and take her out on dates. We’d go to these nice restaurants and it was funny ’cause she could drink and I couldn’t. So I’d be the designated driver.

4. I dated Maggie for five years. And, then the oil spill broke us up.

Maggie is my most recent break-up. The oil spill broke us up. The oil spill happened and we broke up at the same time, so I just blame the oil spill. I’m still a little bit torn up about it just ’cause we dated for so long. But I think we both kinda knew that it wasn’t really going anywhere. She didn’t wanna travel with me. She’s got a serious job at a hospital so we just started to part ways. Being a pro surfer makes it hard. She never traveled. She was always doing school or work. She’d just graduated and was gonna go travel, but she got a job straight away. That was kinda the last straw. It’s hard, especially where I live, there’s no waves so it’s not like I can cruise at home and get work done. I always kinda have to be moving. For the first couple of years I thought she was the one. I started dating her when I was 19 and she was 16, so there was a few years there, but then the real world started creeping in. I’ve changed a lot since I started dating her and she’s changed too.

5. I dated a girl name Odetta, I was in love with her but she became famous and never talked to me again.

I saw her in California and I was hitting her up on Facebook. She did this movie and now she’s super famous. She kinda liked me when she wasn’t famous, then she didn’t like me when she was famous. Now she’s super famous and rich. And, she doesn’t speak to me.