SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 11: Iouri Podladtchikov of Switzerland competes in the Snowboard Men's Halfpipe Finals on day four of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park on February 11, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

the nine people who matter in surfing. Right now!

Tiago Pires ain't one of them...

Surfing is an ever changing tableau. Who matters today most likely didn’t matter yesterday and won’t matter tomorrow. Remember Joel Parkinson? Me either. But if the great modern feel-good philosophers have taught us anything it is that this minute right now is the only thing that matters. Or to quote Eckhart Tolle, “Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life.” Without further ado, here is who matters NOW:

Brodie Carr: The ASP is in massive trouble. Rumor has it that they are drying out of money and quickly. Big dreams of non-endemic sponsorship have run into the razorblades of surfing’s relatively small viewership. Aye-aye-aye! And when it goes into bankruptcy and is purchased, for five cents on the dollar, by a hedge fund who do you think they will turn to for day to day management? Brodie Carr. He is the only man, alive at this second, who can run that circus and he will ride in on a white Peugeot (he lives in France) to save the day. Terry Hardy will be so mad! And also so broke!

Dane Reynolds: Even five or six Coors Lights above fighting weight, Dane is still, and by far, the most mercurial surfer on the planet. He sees the wave differently. He tweaks his body differently. He rides his board differently. The kids want to surf like Dane. I want to watch Dane surf. Who knew that he would have such a long and fabulous run? I have no idea how he does it but there is no end in sight.

Bethany Hamilton: She has one arm. She is working on a film right now. You will never ever ever surf as good as her.

Joe G: Has quietly built a legacy making movies at Globe. They are each and every one beautiful but none more so than his latest, Strange Rumblings in Shangri-la. It is the first surf film, since Endless Summer, that is an actual film film. Like, it has story blended into hot action blended into gorgeous cinematography. He will go on to win Academy Awards and it will have started with a movie starring Dion Agius. Who would have ever guessed that? The Li’l Lion is a kingmaker!

Leonardo Fiorivanti: The Stallion shreds, charges, is Italian, speaks French and may well be surfing’s first global, Hollywood-level star. Sure, Kelly could have been what with all those good looks and Gisele Bundchens, but he chose to stay on tour, forever, and to get a bit weird with conspiracy theories. The fact that Leo is just now coming into his own is a happy day for our surf world. And a happy day for teenaged girls, around the world, fed up with Justin Beiber. He will turn the Beliebers into Fiora-fanatics and the sun will shine again on our bedraggled industry.

Gabby Medina: Your first Brazilian champ? He matters so much that he makes you get on Internet message boards and spew racist hate about a whole nation! If that ain’t power, I don’t know what is.

John John: Where Dane is mercurial, John John is consistently awesome. We all expect him to get very barreled, and he does. We all expect him to kick giant airs and he does. We expect his video parts to amaze, equally, with his competitive heats and they do. John John was worth waiting for and is he ever here!

Iouri Podlatchikov: The Olympic gold medal winning snowboarder from Russia/Switzerland does not surf but no one has ever looked better shredding and our world is buzzing. Take note. At the Olympics, the Swiss national team wore a very bland red and pukey brown ensemble. Iouri wore black on black on black, with a white Quiksilver logo, and smashed Shaun White’s face into the ice. If a man can look like that while competing in the most conservative sporting event on the planet why can’t surfers do it in the water?

You: Just kidding. Unless you are at the store, reading this on your phone while buying loads of surf t-shirts, boardshorts and flip-flops. Then you are giving Dane Reynolds a reason to paddle out in the morning. Bravo.

Kelly Slater portrait
KS's terrible legacy? How about the increase in the retirement age, the complication of board design and the ruining of Taj Burrow's home decor? | Photo: Morgan Maassen

Opinion: The Terrible Legacy of Kelly Slater

Or seven ways the greatest surfer ever ruined surfing… 

In Feb, Kelly Slater will hit 43. That ain’t news.

But what will be news is when Taj Burrow, 37 next season, officially takes the crown as the  Oldest Surfer on Tour. ‘Cause KS won’t be at the Quiksilver Pro.

Bells? Fuck no. Fiji, yeah, of course, who else is Lips Roseman going to have on his ski, Tahiti, yeah, Trestles, maybe, depending on how it looks this year, and then Pipe.

Because the sun must set on all empires, as it set on the British, the Ottoman and the French. And so next year, pro surfing will be without its great leader, the man who became, in 1992, the youngest ever world champion (20) and in 2011, on the precipice of middle age, the oldest.

But it all came at a price. Surfing? Ruined. You want a legacy of terrible?

1. He increased the retirement age by 100%

When Martin Potter won his world title in 1989, aged 24, he correctly recognised he was in the twilight of his career and soon retired. Kelly Slater, meanwhile, has slugged it out, and finished top two or better, mostly, in nearly every year he’s had a swing at the tour. For quarter of a century. Most pro’s could look forward to five years at the top then a long, sublime retirement as sales reps or as the principals of regional surf schools. Now? There ain’t no rest until the hair’s grey (or gone) and the body soft and beyond the middle age. Where’s the fun in making a million bucks a year for travelling the world your whole working life?

2. He confused the hell out of board design

It used to be so easy. Three fins. Squash tail. Something around six-two. Quads? Hadn’t they been tried and discarded in the eighties? Sub-six foot surfboards? Wasn’t that a quirk of the seventies? Kelly proved everything was rideable. But only by he.

3. Records? They ain’t going anywhere

Seven years ago, Kelly blew past Tom Curren’s record for event wins. Tom had 33. Kelly’s now at 54. Do you know what it’s going to take for anyone to amass that kinda haul? Or 11 world titles? It’ll happen, of course. All records smash. But the surfer who’s going to do it hasn’t been born yet. And you and I’ll be dead by the time this guy gets close.

4. He proved even world champs are duds at marketing

Sales used to be so easy! Get an endorsement from a world champ and watch the shekels pile up. But Kelly, from the Wizard Sleeve to the grim palette of his VSTR label, proved you can be the best in the world, handsome beyond belief, articulate, and just lovely as hell, and still stink in the market place. You think Quiksilver would’ve played such hardball if the trunks were selling?

5. He was the catalyst for the hipster-longboard movement

What are you going to do when you’re a 16-year-old pro surfer but you realise you’re never going to get close to the world champ? Ah! Ride a longboard! Grow hair! Experiment with heroin (but only smoke)! Pretend you don’t care! (But really do.) Join band! Feedback! Disappear from surfing, aged 27.

6. He made Rob Machado retire

After 1995’s sucker punch, the best screwfoot ever on tour threw it in prematurely to become an advocate for…uh…awesomeness? Hurley’s harlequin trunks? A year younger than Kelly and retired for a dozen years already.

7. Taj’ll never get a world title cup for his Yallingup mansion

Rat on him on IG (“Why don’t you thank your girlfriend?”), sure, we understand, you’re emotional, it’s your gal’s lil sis, but ruin his home decor? Just plain cruel.


Stephanie Gilmore in bed
Tips for seduction, #14: Ask her where she lives. Drive to the beach. Or a hill. Sit and look at the stars. Let Imogen Heap wash over the both of you. Produce gum and chew a piece. Ask her if she’d like one too. Reach over and roll down her window. As you do, brush your lips past her neck. Cheek. Don’t kiss. Control. | Photo: Morgan Maassen

Learn! 19 ways to to seduce a woman

Most importantly, watch your fucking voice, don't lie and smoke cigarettes…

Women are delicate creatures. Their skin is poetry. They smell like fields of perfume. Like strawberries. I love them. I like to touch them. Most men do. Many years ago the journalist Neil Strauss wrote a best seller called The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists in which he elucidates ways to “close” women. Have sex with them. He uses other ridiculous vocabulary like “peacock” and “layguide.”

It is not hard to seduce a woman. To get her to yes. It takes a handsome face, fit body, sense of style, fabulous hair, car or truck with a story, a little bit of money, a lot bit of panache.

Mostly, it takes a critical understanding of your worth.

First. Look in the mirror before you sally forth into the night. Or bar. Is your hair receding? Are you wearing a rayon shirt? Are you wearing jeans by Diesel? Is your jaw as weak as your constitution? If yes, no, yes, yes then do not NOT aim for the most attractive woman. Aim for a woman slightly uglier than you.

Unless. You are genuinely funny. And slim. Then you can aim higher.

Second. By funny, I mean not an over the top clown but someone who subtly elicits a smile. A quick witty word about global warming. Sexy Santa outfits.

Third. Target and approach. Don’t use a fixed line. Don’t be smooth. Be confident. Smile broadly and wink. Shoulders back but not awkwardly. Head up. Make sure super sure that she is in your wheelhouse. That you would not pollute her presence and she would not pollute yours. Again. If you are reading this you would probably pollute hers. Aim lower.

Fourth. Compliment. But never the shoes. Men complimenting shoes has become overly clichéd unless you know the difference between Louboutins and Manolos. Compliment her laugh. Her voice. The way she fingers her drink. The way she toes the ground.

Fifth. Watch your fucking voice as you compliment. Practice. Don’t let nerves make it waver. Or pitch too high. If you want to control a woman it begins with controlling your voice. Don’t be artificially low. Natural.

Sixth. Be totally cool with silence. Be totally cool.

Seventh. Buy her next drink.

Eighth. Buy her next next drink.

Ninth. Buy all her friends a drink. Even her man friends. Don’t glare at anyone. Smile and wink. Smile and wink.

Tenth. Take her outside for a smoke. Health issue bullshit. Nothing but nothing is sexier than a man properly smoking a cigarette. Inhale. Offer her one. Light it in your own mouth and give it to her. Don’t fish lip. Don’t smoke a cigar. Smoke a Marlboro or a Camel.

Eleventh. Hold her hand. Don’t ask. Don’t quake. Don’t sweat. Don’t interlock fingers. Just hold it.

Twelfth. Take her hand, and her, to your car. Tell her the stars are out. Don’t lie. They are.

Thirteenth. Don’t drive too fast and don’t curse other drivers. Have your music ready on car stereo. Have it be Imogen Heap. Or if you have seduced a lesbian, Tegan and Sara. Smoke another cigarette as you drive. Smoke it halfway and flick the still burning carcass at another car.

Fourteenth. Ask her where she lives. Drive to the beach. Or a hill. Sit and look at the stars. Let Imogen Heap wash over the both of you. Produce gum and chew a piece. Ask her if she’d like one too. Reach over and roll down her window. As you do, brush your lips past her neck. Cheek. Don’t kiss. Control.

Fifteenth. Don’t be wearing a fedora. Or headwear.

Sixteenth. Drive to her home. The long way.

Seventeenth. Drop her off. Have her point out her window.

Eighteenth. Drive around the block. Smoke another cigarette. Go back to her house. Sneak in her window. When she asks how you got there say, “With love’s light wings did I o’er perch these walls; For stony limits cannot hold love out, And what love can do, that dares love attempt.”

Nineteen. Make love.

Oliver Kurtz, wave of the week, on Surfline and every other surf website…
The Surf Video Seen ‘round the World! Or Exclusive! (Just kidding!) Oliver Kurtz at Newport Beach, California. I asked Ollie what he thought of getting such wide play and he answered, predictably, “Hey. As long as people are seeing it, I don’t care how many sites its on, to be honest.” Bravo enterprising young surfer, for the homogenization of surf media is great for you.

The Vissla Syndrome: All Aggregate, No Bite

Does the surf consumer really want to watch Ollie Kurtz three separate times packaged three separate ways?

Hurricane Marie brought rarely experienced awesome to Southern California just last week. Newport Beach’s jetties, in particular, received mainland Mexico-esque swell and every surfer from Jamie O’Brien to Mason Ho to Jordan Smith came to enjoy.

Of all names, though, Ollie Kurtz from Central Florida caught the wave. A lurching and massive left off of Newport Point. I called him, while eating the most delicate xo crabmeat vermicelli, and asked how it felt.

“That wave? It completely missed where everyone was sitting. I got lucky because I had just caught one and was paddling back out and this thing swung so wide but I was right there…and I knew it was a good one because it had a shoulder on it. You need a shoulder and that one had a shoulder.”

And you certainly know which wave he we are speaking of, no? It headlined Surfline, Surfing and many more websites on the same day. Its gaping barrely, spitty mouth was, literally, everywhere. “Hmmmmm,” I said to myself when I saw it literally everywhere. “What happened to originality? What happened to exclusivity?”

I asked Ollie what he thought of getting such wide play and he answered, predictably, “Hey. As long as people are seeing it, I don’t care how many sites its on, to be honest.” Bravo enterprising young surfer, for the homogenization of surf media is great for you.

But what does this race to the middle mean for the bedraggled surf consumer sitting at home? Does she want to see the same clips on all her favourite sites? Does he want to watch Ollie Kurtz three separate times packaged three separate ways?


But what does this race to the middle mean for the bedraggled surf consumer sitting at home? Does she want to see the same clips on all her favourite sites? Does he want to watch Ollie Kurtz three separate times packaged three separate ways?

I think no.

I think the craft of surf journalism has fallen on particularly hard times due  to ever tightening budgets and ever increasing advertiser meddling. The easy thing to do is lurk on other sites and then re-post what is already there. It’s a view game, honey, and being an aggregator of proven, engaging content is a sure fire way to barely exist. But ohhhhh is it ever boring! Ohhhhh does it ever crush the very soul! Repackaging does not a new product make, see.

Take Vissla. Is the brand hip? Is it crafty? No! It simply saw “hip” and “crafty” as instantly profitable since the kids were posting handmade things on Instagram and usurped the look/feel. It ain’t real. And it probably ain’t profitable because what the kids are starving for is anything real.

But there is hope! There are fresh new entrepreneurs out there re-imagining for all of us. Yes, God bless The Inertia, I suppose, for posting things that nobody wants to see (like Laird Hamilton shooting Malibu’s pier). God bless, Desillusion, for being so damned Frenchy smokey sexy (tell me you don’t lust after Dylan Rieder). God bless Matt Warshaw for running the Devil’s errand and bringing us all The Encyclopedia of Surfing. God bless What Youth (who knew 300 pages of Craig Anderson could work?).

Those who live in glass houses, you say? Baby, BeachGrit’s abode has no walls. We believe in indoor/outdoor living.

Mark Occhilupo and his Rusty Preisendorfer shaped '84.
See the board here, ridden by Mark Occhilupo in the Hawaiian winter of 1984? It was shaped the previous year by San Diego's Russ Preisendorfer and became Occ's go-to board for the year. The board kicked Occ's career into gear and made a career for Russ. "I ended up making thousands," says Russ who soon left Canyon to start up his own label. Now you can buy a reproduction for $1200 including original decals and the touch of Russ' magic hands on the blank.


Buy a re-issue of the board that made Rusty Preiesendorfer famous and kicked Occ's career into gear…

I ain’t one for throwing money at useless causes. If I can get for five what sells for 10 I will. Phone plans? I’ll grind the companies into the ground for a $50 plan. Utlitilies? What’ll you give me if I combine gas and electricity? New car? I ain’t budging til those seats are nappa leather and the steering wheel has buttons.

But I like quality. I like the idea of buying something that’s been built from the ground up with the sole aim of beauty and excellence. And for that I’ll pay whatever.

See this board here? It’s 1200 shekels. I haven’t seen a board with that much on it since the nineties when Greg Noll and Miki Dora made a limited run of Da Cat boards at $1500 apiece. Now they’re worth 10-gees and up. If you can find one.

Mark Occhilupo reissue surfboard by Rusty and Billabong
You want authenticity? How about the original rice paper decals from Billabong, glass-on fins, and the same squared-off rails?

But maybe it ain’t a vanity purchase (unlike, say, a three-pack of Mandingos pawing your woman. Hello Pete Taras! You know I kid!).  This is a hand-made reproduction of the  surfboard that was made in 1983, but only ridden by its master Mark Occhhilupo who was the hottest 16-year-old surfer in the world back then, the following year and henceforth became known as the ’84.

The shaper, Russell Preisendorfer of Canyon surfboards, had been watching Occ surf heats at a contest in California in ’83 and saw the kid dying in his turns. Russ figured he could square up the rail and save him sinking.

Russ walked up to Occ, said, I wanna make you a board. 

Occ said, Yep, but didn’t ride it until the Pepsi Pro Junior the following year (he won it).

That year, Occ travelled with that one 6’2″ and used it everywhere from J-Bay to Japan to California, including a memorable win at the ’84 Op Pro

Russ calls the square rail and the squash tail his “one little contribution to the development of the thruster.”

And ’cause Occ was so hot everyone wanted a board from Russ. Soon it was 25 a month, then 75, finally 100 before he became the first guy to hire ghost shapers.

“I was making thousands,” says Russ who soon left Canyon to start up his own label.

Last year, Rusty surfboards’ Damon Hayes figured it would be rad to re-issue the board, complete with original decals, Occ’s classic Billabong sponsor logo, glass-in fins and team glassing. All hand-shaped by Russ himself. Rusty had made a version in the nineties called the ’84 but couldn’t dress it up like this ’cause of the Billabong clothing/Rusty clothing conflict.

Rusty gave a board each to their team riders at Rocky Point, Hawaii, last December for a group jam. Noa Deane, Josh Kerr and Jay Davies took ’em to the sky; Occ, meanwhile, waited half-an-hour for a set that was… just right… and put it on a rail like nothing had changed in the previous thirty years.

“It felt like I knew the board already,” says Occ. “It brings back a lot of memories. It kinda felt like home.

And the one small difference between the replicas and the original?

Because Occ was such an animal, Rusty placed the back fin 2 3/4″ from the tail so he wouldn’t spin out; the replicas are set at 3 1/4”. Russ respects you but says y’ain’t got the same jam as Occ. “No one’s got that same leg power,” says Russ.

Email: if you want one…