Bodyboarder breaks Kelly Slater’s face!

Not just any bodyboarder, though. Paul Roach! THE Paul Roach!

He comes screaming down the line like a slippy, slidey salsa dancer. Like a liquid torso’d Cirque du Soleil acrobat. Onlookers, standing on the beach, gape. “How is he throwing so much spray? How is he snapping so damned hard? A 360? Right in the middle of the wave after that snap? How is he getting so barreled? Isn’t this wave a dumpy three-footer?” He blows apart their preconceptions. Some of the onlookers, though, bury their awe beneath a rude and heavy sneer. “Booger.” “Fucking speed bump.” “Dick-dragging kook.” The rudest. If only they knew this “dick-dragging kook” was the one, the only, Paul Roach, their jeers would soon turn to admiration. And if they didn’t soon turn to admiration? Well, then those particular onlookers should rot in hell because Paul Roach is beatific. He is the Patron Saint of Choosing the Wrong Historical Side.

Yes, culture perpetually comes to forks in the road and there are groupings that choose the Right Historical Side and groupings that choose the Wrong Historical Side. Millions of years ago, for instance, there was a fork with one path leading to Hominini and one path leading to Panini. Those who walked with the Hominini became Homo sapiens—humans—like you and me, while those who walked the Panini can now be visited at the zoo. They are chimpanzees. Almost one hundred and fifty years ago there was another fork called the Civil War with one path leading to freedom and one path leading to slavery. Those who walked the freedom path became thoughtful, well-bred Americans like you and me, while those who walked the path of slavery live in southern backwaters, inbreeding and screaming incoherently that, “The South will rise again!” A few decades ago there was another fork with one path leading to VHS and one path leading to Betamax, and shortly after this, yet another with one path leading to surfing and the other leading to bodyboarding. VHS and surfing have had respectable runs—you and me have enjoyed both—while Beta and boogie clog the darkest corners of embarrassed garages.

The history of bodyboarding shares the same fine root as the history of surfing, like Panini and Hominini share the same root, like democratic principles and dictatorships share the same root, like VHS and Beta share the same root. Both began in the mists of ancient Polynesia (or Samoa, depending on where you happen to be vacationing and who happens to be cracking their knuckles in your direction), and Captain Cook’s men observed the practice of each in Hawaii. The natives were riding the surf, some on their stomachs, some on their knees, some on their feet. It was the feet varietal that became popular, later. Still, the alaia, ridden prone, and later, the paipo, continued on as semi-viable, though not widely practiced, alternatives. This all changed, though, one bright Big Island morning in 1971 when Tom Morey stood on the beach dreaming.

Tom Morey wearing a moustache, a Speedo, and a glint of weird baha’i in his ey’e dreamed of riding faster than heavy, single-finned surfboards of the ’70s would allow. They were all soulful but all sluggish. And Tom wanted all fast. He had toyed with the idea of a board, to be ridden prone, with a polyethylene foam deck and a fiberglass bottom but, when he actually crafted it in Waikiki, it broke under the crushing lip of a tiny wave. So it was off to the Big Island—to dream.

Morey had one piece of nine-foot plastic foam left from which he could have made some sort of plastic surfboard but he did not. And a fork suddenly appeared in the path when Tom Morey cut that piece of plastic in half, shaped the rails like Vs, squared the nose, and took it surfing. Or, no, not surfing, he went and laid on it. He “paddled” out and “caught” a wave without ever getting to his feet and claimed that he could “feel” the wave through the “board” in a way that he had never “felt” before. He put his body on a boogie and shebang! He knew he had “something” “spectacular.” He asked his Baha’i brothers and sisters for some cash to return to the mainland and sell the feeling. They ponied up. He flew to California. And another Wrong Historical Side was fully realized.

Bodyboarding, though, was not realized by its patron saint—the Patron Saint of Choosing the Wrong Historical Side—until some time later. Paul Roach was born in San Diego, only two years after the Boogie, to a father who loved the ocean. “My father loved to bodysurf and he had me on a board by the time I was 4 or 5.” The board of which he speaks was a surfboard, not a bodyboard. Paul spent his early years on the Right Historical Side. “We lived down by Mission Beach and I was always out there,” he says, glowing an aura of serene nostalgia before taking a sip of frosty, cold Stella Artois. He is handsome now, tall and lanky, strong arms, strong chest, the brunette version of an all-American face, partially obscured by a gray knit cap worn low. I’m sure he was handsome in his youth, too, handsome but poor. “Yeah, really poor. I slept in a bed with my two sisters, with my parents in the same room on a foldaway bed.” But it ain’t as hard to live a pre-Willy-Wonka-meeting, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory life on the beach, and Paul’s parents moved to Encinitas when he was 11. He was always in the water there, too, always surfing. But one of his first North County friends did not surf. He rode a bodyboard. Paul’s initial reaction to this was not negative. He mostly thought, “That looks easy.” When his friend told him of an upcoming bodyboard contest Paul thought, “That sounds easy.” And, for him, it was easy. He won. It was the first thing he had ever won. There was no cash prize, but for an 11-year-old kid sharing a bed with two sisters, the brand new bodyboard and the brand new spring suit felt too good.

“The way I was drawn toward it was, like, fully a monetary thing,” he says now, after taking a sip of still-frosty Stella sitting next to me at Encinitas’s favorite dive bar Mr. Peabody’s. “There was a contest every month and I won every single one of them.” A full monetary thing. There are always reasons to choose the Wrong Historical Side. There are reasons based on fear of change, on incorrectly discerning the arc of history, but money is the purest reason to go Wrong. It is simple. It is powerful. It is very powerful. Free bodyboards and free spring suits and Dell computers pave the way to hell. Remember how cheap Dell computers were? Remember how Apple crushed them?

Paul Roach was winning and things were going well. He had sponsors like Morey Boogie—Tom’s company—and Beaver Sunblock giving him free product and a few hundred bucks per victory. He particularly liked Beaver. “I had this shirt that said, ‘Is that a Beaver on your body?’ and I thought it was super rad. I think my mom threw it away though.” Yet suggestive shirts, paychecks, and all, he was still not completely satisfied. “So I started riding drop-knee. There were others who where doing it too but not so many. I cut Roach off and we drink half our Jagermeister shots. Then I ask, “Why? Why drop-knee? What does it add? What is the magic behind it?” I drink the other half of my Jagermeister shot while he rubs his chin.

“You know, all I can think is that it is really fuckin’ hard to do and I needed the challenge.”

“But,” I interject, “isn’t there some sort of leverage thing happening that lets you get all that lightning quick wow-wow?”

And still rubbing his chin, he says, “No. It’s not functional. It’s a really awkward position that’s only good for really hurting your back or breaking your nose on your knee. The thing about it is, though, if it is done right, it looks cool. It is a way to ride a bodyboard and show style. It’s hard to show style while riding prone but on a knee…It’s like drop-knee turning a longboard—not functional but stylish.”

Stylish indeed. Drop-knee and Paul went together like rama-lama-lama-ke-ding-a-de-dinga-dong. There was something very specific about his glide and his power. He was good at it, and it is a marvel to watch an expert no matter their field of expertise. Have you ever watched an expert archer arch? Or an expert birder bird? Or an expert dancer bowl? I mean, dance? The field matters not when marvelous skill is employed. And, for whatever reason, drop-knee and Paul went together like shoobop-sha-wadda-wadda-yippity-boom-de-boom.

It was at this point on his journey down the Wrong Historical Side, when he was 13, that he started getting rides to Seaside reef in San Diego. There he met a young Taylor Steele in the water. They hit it off and became fast friends. Taylor surfed. Paul rode his bodyboard. And later, Taylor stood on the beach filming while Paul rode his bodyboard. “He would throw clips of me into his high school project,” Paul says after taking a bite of a chicken wing. “It was really awesome. Sometimes as it was all happening, I gotta say though, I would wonder, ‘Shouldn’t I be surfing right now?’ But I was already too deep into it.” That high school project became Momentum and there was Paul Roach in the middle of it all—insta-snaps in the middle of a wave, 360-floaters, 360s in a barrel. Drop. Knee.

Despite the groundbreaking surf footage, one of the most memorable scenes in the film is when Roach boxes Kelly Slater. When Taylor Steele called him, he could hear the rest of the Momentum crew giggling in the background. Even though Roach had some experience boxing, he remembers thinking, “Great. Kelly’s gonna kick my ass and they are all gonna laugh at this bodyboarder who gets beat up by Kelly.” Film equipment was set up when he arrived. In comparison to Roach’s tall and lanky frame, Slater was muscular and fit. “But I had reach and I used it,” he recalls. “We started boxing and I got in a couple of cracks and then he got all upset and ripped his gloves off and said, ‘Let’s go film some surfing or something…’Now I consider it a real honor to have boxed Kelly Slater, though his manager called me a few years ago and asked if I would fight Kelly in a cage match.” (WATCH KELLY GET ALL BENT OUT OF SHAPE RIGHT HERE!) I am sure the very public loss Kelly suffered at the hands of a bodyboarder haunts him to this day. He is as competitive as anyone on earth. And I am sure it would have been a friendly bout, maybe. Just two old acquaintances having a laugh whilst choking each other out but Paul declined, he only loves to box. And Kelly is as competitive as anyone on earth. It is good that they do not meet in the octagon.

The reception to his peculiar role in a game-changing film was immaterial. Paul Roach did not have to care what surfers thought at all. Life has its own momentum and his was on the upswing—five figures up. It wasn’t the millions that many others in the Momentum crew would go on to earn but he didn’t care. He was getting paid to kick around in the warm, warm seas.

He turned pro at 16 and traveled the world with sponsors like Quiksilver. “Board Fast. Rock Hard.” He competed, though he hated it. He hated it because he would only ride drop-knee, which did not have a separate division, so he was judged against the prone riders. Silly business. Yet his sponsors required him to compete. He remembers staying in the Pipe-front, Momentum-famous Weatherly home, sleeping on the floor before the Morey Boogie Pipeline Pro, and hearing third reef thunder—nerve-racking to say the least. He woke up the next morning, though, and kicked out into the maxing fray. “I’m in the Morey Boogie Pipeline Pro,” he thought. “I am not going to ride on my stomach.” And he didn’t. He rode like he always rode. Whack, whack, slip, slide stylishly. It is twice as hard to ride giant surf drop-knee. The bodyboard has a propensity to go too fast, and when it goes too fast the nose bends down toward the water and pearls. It is twice as hard to keep the nose up whilst on a knee but Paul Roach stayed true. He didn’t win. He never won. But he stayed true.

As much as he hated the contests, he loved to travel. He rounded the globe on magazine trips and video trips, drop-kneeing Teahupoo, Indonesia, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Sometimes the trips would include his surfer friends, and he’d stand-up surf on those trips, too, but only when the waves were small. “When it was cracking, I was on a bodyboard,” he says, while finishing the second half of his own Jagermeister shot. “I was a cocky shit. I thought I was rad.”

He sounded rad. He played in a death metal band called Niner, even playing the Belly Up in Solana Beach for one of Taylor Steele’s premieres. He laughs, “We opened for Sprung Monkey, Unwritten Law, Pennywise—all these punk bands. We were on first and it was just crickets. Death metal was the completely wrong sound for the crowd. It was then that I kinda realized Taylor and I were going in different directions.”

Twenty-three-year-old Paul Roach was at the height of his career. He was buzzy. He was rad. He was coming into his own. Then the bodyboard industry in the United States collapsed suddenly and all the way. The magazines folded. The brands crashed. Quiksilver pulled its sponsorship. “Stop boarding fast. No more rocking hard.” It went from a fringy but robust business to absolutely nothing overnight. Roach, with his young wife and younger daughter, picked up an Australian sponsor that would never send him checks. He went bankrupt, then picked up a hammer. “I had done a little construction before and I really needed money quick. No training, but a couple of local surfers took me on, let me start,” he says, taking the final sip of a no-longer-frosty Stella. He has worked construction for the past 15 years.

Is he angry that he chose the Wrong Historical Side? Kelly Slater makes millions of dollars each year. Paul Roach, many years ago, made only a small fraction of that. Angry? He laughs. “I regret nothing.” The biggest cliché in the book! But I look at his brunette all-American eyes and I see truth. “It has been a trip. I surf whenever I can, whenever there are waves. I’ll get work off—whatever it takes.” But what about dip-dadip-dadip-doowop-drop-knee? And here his brunette all-American eyes grow wistful. “Yes. When the waves are good for it.”

This is what makes Paul Roach a patron saint. The Patron Saint of Choosing the Wrong Historical Side. He still loves it. “There is something about it on the right wave,” he explains. “That’s the problem: the right waves for bodyboarding are not really in Southern California…With no fins, and less structure, the bodyboard does what the wave wants to do… It’s very functional. It’s like music.”

He talks feeling. He talks shape. He talks nuance. And he glows. Bodyboarding has been proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt, to be the Wrong Historical Side. It is in ruins, probably to never return. But Paul Roach sees the beauty. He sees art. He sees what the masses, rushing headlong with virtually all others on the Right Historical Side, fail to see. He sees nuance in an openly derided deal. So easy to know that humans are smarter than apes, that slavery is worse than freedom, that Betamax and Dell are shit. So difficult to find appreciation, and not ironic appreciation like I-once-voted-for-Ross-Perot-hee-hee-hee revelry, but real, true, honest appreciation for something as ridiculous as drop-knee bodyboarding.

 

 


PAYBACK: TWO GREAT WHITES KILLED IN WA

Surfer loses both hands in shark attack. Two white pointers killed by pro-active government… 

“Y’all know me. Know how I earn a livin’. I’ll catch this bird for you, but it ain’t gonna be easy. Bad fish. Not like going down the pond chasin’ bluegills and tommycods. This shark, swallow you whole. Little shakin’, little tenderizin’, an’ down you go. And we gotta do it quick.”

Remember Quint? The shark fisherman from Jaws? Well, turns out he had a point.

Actually, ‘member Jaws, and the good people of Amity Island racked with paranoia in need of an end to the “shark menace?

Well, cast your mind back just three weeks and you’ll recall a still-pissed West Oz premier Colin Barnett shaking his fist towards the ocean and telling all who would listen that rogue sharks would be “destroyed and removed.”

Barnett, of course, was still quivering with anger at the decision by his own Environmental Protection Agency, who advised against the redeployment of 72 shiny new baited hooks this summer.

But yesterday he kept good on that promise and authorised the swift “humane destruction” of not one but two four-metre white pointers found swimming in the vicinity of an attack on surfer Sean Pollard near the beautiful fishing town of Esperance.

 The 23-year-old from the state’s south-west was surfing solo prior to the attack and the injuries…Jesus… Sean lost the hand from one arm and part of his other arm from the elbow down.

He reportedly told paramedics that two sharks, perhaps bronze whalers, had attacked him.

The town’s shire president, Malcolm Heasman, absolutely caught on the hop by the circling press, urged locals and visitors, comprised of families enjoying school holidays enjoy to “exercise caution,” before stating:

“I am extremely sad, but I guess we live in a coastal community so from time to time unfortunately these things happen,” Mr Heasman said. “We would prefer they didn’t.”

 But for better or worse, the two whites were in the area, and out they came, straight onto the back of a waiting truck for transport to Perth, trailed by news crews, where they are currently being examined to determine if they were indeed the culprits.

And the method of their capture? Drum lines and baited hooks.  The whole incident unfolded at such a pace that opponents of any form of retribution towards the sharks did not have a chance to voice their disgust.

But, jeez, what do you think? Victory for good old common sense or knee-jerk reaction?

Picture Quint, talking to us from beyond the grave. Fixing us with that steely gaze, bottle of rum in one hand and sharp gaff in the other.

“You’ve gotta make up your minds. If you want to stay alive…then ante up.”

Let the debate begin.


CANDID: HOW SURFER-HAIR RUINED MY LIFE

When you're 15 years old, losing those golden stripes will tip you into the deepest existential gloom… 

I grew up, like every other kid, building a castle of unfulfilled moments, lost opportunities and slammed doors. An accumulation of regrets so painful – all those gals never kissed, all those set waves never ridden, all those heats lost cause of, what, nerves? – that if I ever let myself wade back into ’em I’d drive myself into the arms of crazy.

But, there was this one time. And, if I could backspin the planet 20 years or some, I’d play it diff.

I don’t remember her name, but I can’t forget her deep brown skin. She was just short of sixteen years, but lived alone, or so she said. The small house was one street back from the beach, an hour from my parent’s house, where I lived.

The situation was unusual, sure. But, when you’re 15-and-a-half and staring at a gal whose breasts speak of buttery milk and carnal abundance and she tells you there ain’t another soul in that house, in that house with the bedroom that faces east and so the morning sun pours onto the bed, onto her sweating body, you don’t argue the point.

I had met her outside a bar on a Friday night and she’d invited me to her house the following weekend. She was tall and had long limbs, a face too pretty, a gal built for modelling.

I was just coming out a summer of eight-hour beach days. My dark hair was balayaged with blond stripes, my body, although not the sort to thrill gym kinkos, was tight enough and brown, too. I was riding high. A surfer. And, surfers ruled my town.

In my pre-surf life, this gal wouldn’t have exercised her neck to check me out. Now, suddenly, I was going to her house, to the the empty house. I imagined her deep and fathomless submission to me. My expert groping hands leading her queer clumsiness. She would experience a seething electric female ecstasy while I controlled her like a master puppeteer.

I  imagined this many times in the week leading to our appointment. I spent so much time in my room, my mom thought I’d become clinically depressed.

Two days before we were to meet I decided to really light shit up by getting a killer haircut. At the big-city hairdresser, I showed ’em a photo of a CK model and paid fifty bucks for a cut and blow-dry. I watched handfuls of blond waft onto the floor, little golden parachutes whose contrasting beauty had secured me this erotic rendezvous. I watched as they were swept into the trapdoor at the corner of the salon. I might’ve whispered goodbye as the flap slammed shut.

That afternoon, I cried in the bathroom as I stared at the stupid boy with monotone  hair stiffened by gel on the sides and awash with mousse on the top panel. Then, I ran to the drug store and bought a bottle of “Honey Blonde”.

While my parents slept, I painted the peroxide in long stripes. It turned my dark hair red.

It looks okay, I said to myself.

On the day I was going to meet her I scooped up a handfuls of pomade, gel and mousse. I worked it in, I smooth it over. I shaped and sculpted.

It looks okay, I said to myself.

But, it didn’t.

And the gal’s face said it all when my bike came up her driveway and her vision was filled with an ordinary boy and not a surfing super hero.

What happened to your hair, she said, although the question rang rhetorically not quizzically.

If I was a painter, I could’ve made a masterpiece of that moment, a study of profound disappointment.

Then she said, Let’s go to the beach. 

On the beach I showed her my right bicep that I had inflated by lifting my school bag 200 times a day in front of the mirror.

I invited her to run her hands over the bulge in my arm.

It feels pretty good, she said.

But she kept looking at my hair.

It’s red, she said at one point.

I left at exactly three-thirty pm that afternoon.

I know because the radio news was on and there was something about the Australian surfer Martin Potter winning the world title, and I now hated Martin Potter because his hair was a bed of sun-burnt curls and I knew that if Martin Potter was here on this driveway, near this girl in the scoop leg shorts and the loose singlet that was cut low on the sides, he could take her, he could take her now, right in front of me, and they would bang and they would bang.

And, then they would laugh at my red hair while they smoked cigarettes and the sun coming through the bedroom window baked their skin even darker.

Regrets, yeah, I’ve had a few.


So serious and so much talent! But without the wrapping of beautiful words? What do we have? | Photo: Morgan Maassen

In Defense of the Hard-Working Sport Journalist

Surf without its journalist is like music without its soul.

Ex-Yankee baseball player, and Hall of Fame lock, Derek Jeter has recently launched a website called “The Players Tribune” and its sole aim is to make athletes horribly boring just like he. You can read a wonderful story about it on esquire.com right here.

In a nutshell, Jeter considers journalists “filters.” Cumbersome little things that get lodged between the fascinating athlete and his adoring fan. And is he ever wrong!

If our surf world is a microcosm of sport, and I believe it is, then eight out of ten “athletes” are dull to the max. It takes the journalist, and his swift pen, to breathe life into otherwise very feeble material.

“Athletes” don’t tell stories. They are stories. And without the Sean Dohertys, Matt Warshaws, Travis Ferres, Nick Carrolls of the world the whole thing would be as bland as a Joel Parkinson cutback. Pretty? Yes. Interesting? Fuck no.

Go out and hug your favorite sport journalist today and thank him for a job well done. And for telling you that Kolohe means “li’l rascal” in Hawaiian.


Candid: I was the world’s worst surf guide!

What does it take to be the bitch, the foil, the man servant to surfers on vacation? Phil Goodrich explains.

December 2005. I was already saving and planning my trip back to Indonesia when I received an email from a boat captain that I greatly respected.

“It’s a new resort so we can’t pay you but you’ll get room and board and you can surf and paint all you want. Just take the guests surfing.”

I was over the moon! I got chosen to be an Indonesian surf guide! Some would consider it a dream job: endless days of perfect waves, drop the guests off in the lineup, answer a few questions. How hard could it be?

For the last five years I had been traveling to Indonesia the hard way. I was always alone and staying in the cheapest and most feral of accommodations. I would haggle every rupiah to its lowest price. I studied the language and culture. My whole existence and identity was based around Indonesia.

What I didn’t realise was that I had become an emaciated cliche. When I got invited to be a surf guide on the island of North Sipora, I didn’t realise what kind of personality traits were required to be a good surf guide.

It started off badly. Roger was our first guest. He was a civil servant from Sydney. His boat trip plans fell through in Padang so the resort was his plan B or C. He let me know this straight away. His smug face suggested that he was doing us a favour by booking and being the first guest.

Roger reminded me of a cross between Fred Flintstone and Herman Munster. At dinner on our first evening he brought a guide book of Mentawai surf breaks to the table. It was battered and dog-eared with extensive notes in the margins. He began giving me a verbal pop quiz about each wave. In reality, I was new to the Mentawais. My area of expertise was Nias Island. One of the co-owners had taken me around on the speed-boat and shown me most of the spots and I had taken notes as to what wind and swell direction were optimal.

I was in no position to offer much of an opinion and the resort’s promise of internet and a cell phone had fallen through. This meant that I had no way to check a surf forecast and the resort was located on the leeward side of the island.  The closest spot was Icelands which meant it was a 10-minute boat ride and impossible to tell what the conditions were like.

Unbeknown to Roger, the main owner had informed me that because we only had one guest it didn’t justify using the amount of fuel necessary to reach the Playgrounds area. I was told to secretly keep him in our local vicinity which meant Scarecrows to Icelands. Roger told me at the end of dinner that he was keen to score Rifles, a very fast and shallow right in the Playgrounds area. I felt trouble brewing immediately.

On our first morning we came around the channel at Tua Pejat and pulled up to a wave we nicknamed Ombak Tidur (Sleepy Wave). Absolutely flawless five-foot peaks were spinning across the reef. There were no charter boats in sight. No local fishing boats. Roger was unaffected. Ombak Tidur was not in his guide book.

“We should go to Rifles,” he said.

I was trying to wax my board and apply sunscreen at the same time.

“Roger, IT’S GOING OFF RIGHT HERE! THERE ARE NO OTHER BOATS. It’s just you and me, man! We have it to ourselves!”

“I’m the guest here and I want to go to Rifles,” he said.

“Well, I’m the guide and its firing. We’re surfing here,” I said as I dived off the boat.

I watched as he fumbled with all of his gear and clumsily paddled into the lineup.  I called him into a nice set wave and watched as he slowly tried to get to his feet.  Roger did an excellent cartwheel down the face and got washed all the way inside. I didn’t see him again for maybe four hours.

I surfed until I couldn’t paddle anymore and got barrelled on just about every wave. As I approached the boat I noticed his arms folded across his chest and a scowl on his face.

Things got worse for Roger and me. He didn’t enjoy lefts and 7 Palm, Scarecrows, Telescopes and Icelands were the four closest breaks to the resort (all lefts). For the rest of the week he let me know how good all of the other waves in the Playgrounds are must be.

Roger complained about me when he got back to Padang on the Sumatran mainland. I only got to guide about five more trips and combined with my constant nagging about the internet and cell phone reception the Italian owner had enough. I listened as the chef received a phone call at dinner.

“Yes. Uh huh. Ok.  I’ll tell him.  Bye,” muttered the chef. “That was Seb. He says you’re fired mate.”

The motherfucker didn’t even have the balls to fire me face to face or even tell me directly over the phone.

So what makes a good surf guide? The finest example was Christian Jon Barton (Barts). I say this not because he passed away this October but because it is a plain fact. The guy was a legend in every sense of the word. He had the unique ability to combine confidence, knowledge, skill, patience, and people skills. He was a fiend for perfect waves. He coveted the best conditions possible for the guests and the mundane questions that plagued most guides would not faze Barts. The most challenging circumstances were water off a duck’s back. Within the rumour-mill and back-stabbing world that is Padang (the charter boat departure port) he was able to transcend all of the petty feuds. This allowed him the freedom to work for multiple charter boats and resorts. He was liked and respected by all of the captains and resort owners and especially the guests. He could mingle with top 16 WCT surfers and affluent, awkward old guys. He made every guest feel important. His confidence was contagious so everyone believed that they were headed for the best possible waves according to the weather conditions. He embraced all of the roles of a surf guide – coach, weatherman, referee, first aid expert, cheerleader, ding repairman, board caddy and psychologist. He juggled all of these hats while patiently waiting for the set of the day when he would pull in and get spat out or destroy the lip with expert precision.

Indonesia has not been the same this year without Christian. I’m working as a surf guide at Macaronis Resort for a few trips and as much as I’ve tried to honour his memory I still fall short. My people skills are still atrocious. I come off as aloof and indecisive. I’m usually just learning names when people are about to finish their trip. Although I am clearly better than that first attempt in 2006 I can still wear the badge of The World’s Worst Surf Guide.

(This video short is a collection of Phil’s waves as a surf guide. And to see his artwork, click here!)

Confessions Of The Worst Surf Guide Ever from Phil Goodrich on Vimeo.