Mick Fanning wins Portugal
Each time he surfs a frightful force propels Mick Fanning to victory. His impulse to win gets stronger and stronger. But what is his secret? To his endurance? | Photo: ASP

The secret of Mick Fanning’s Endurance

He keeps a boy in a cage and feeds him booze and whores and belts him three or four times a day! Maybe true!

Just moments after sailing into world title favouritism (if Gabriel was paralysed with fear in Portugal, wait until the long switch blade of the world title, of Hawaii, of Pipeline is above his head), Mick Fanning explained the secret to his endurance.

And such a secret!

“I still get letters in the mail,” confides Mick, “mostly from cracked-up men in tiny rooms with factory jobs or no jobs who are living with whores or no woman at all.”

The people’s champion!

These fans, says Mick, “have no hope, just booze and madness. Most of their letters are on lined paper written with an unsharpened pencil or in ink in tiny handwriting that slants to the left and the paper is often torn usually halfway up the middle and they say they like my stuff, that I surf on rail, that I don’t make mistakes.”

Mick is thoughtful. He lays on a clean bed. We can hear the bellow of a truck outside.

“I wonder if they realise where their letters arrive?” he says. “Well, they are dropped into a box behind a six-foot hedge with a long driveway leading to a two-car garage, three-jetski garage, a rose garden, fruit trees, animals, a beautiful woman, mortgage about half paid after a year, a new car, fireplace and a green rug two-inches thick…”


The secret to your endurance?

“I have a young boy to surf for me now,” says Mick. In between contests, “I keep him in a ten-foot cage feed him whiskey and raw whores, belt him pretty good three or four times a week.”

Does it work? What do you think.

” I’m 33 years old now and the critics say my stuff is getting better than ever.”

(And the world title scenarios at Pipe? Cut and pasted from ASP press release below!)

  • If Medina finishes 2nd or better at the Billabong Pipeline Masters, he
  • will clinch the 2014 ASP World Title.
  • If Medina finishes 3rd at the Billabong Pipeline Masters, Fanning will
  • need to win the event and Slater will be out of contention.
  •  If Medina finishes 5th at the Billabong Pipeline Masters, Fanning will
  • need to win the event and Slater will be out of contention.
  • If Medina finishes 9th at the Billabong Pipeline Masters, Fanning will
  • need to finish 2nd or better and Slater will be out of contention.
  • If Medina finishes 13th or 25th at the Billabong Pipeline  Masters,
  • Fanning will need to finish 3rd to win or 5th to send the title race into a
  • one-heat “surf-off” between himself and Medina. If Medina finishes
  • 13th or 25th at the Billabong Pipeline Masters, Slater will need to win
  • the event.


I’m having so much fun it’s ridiculous!

Mason Ho (yes! again!) on the enchantment of surfing… 

That hip sneer! That kinky top! Mason Ho surfs and his face (and ours) light up at his flashing finery. Mason makes BeachGrit (and you, we believe) hoarse with ecstasy. Where so many others play a baleful tune Mason hula-dances to an electric spark.

Over the course of four or five years, I’ve interviewed Mason maybe half-a-doz times. And each time I hang up and, think, son of a bitch, that kid is good. An original thinker and someone unburdened by that undefined fear of saying the wrong thing.

Here’s some of his best.

On head-checks at Backdoor: I swear it’s a dick thing, don’t even try it. I think, frick, it’s such a habit but I cannot stop doing ‘em. Every time I watch a clip I think, frick, stop doing it! It’s nice doing ’em at Backdoor. The look down’s so easy I’ll do it on every thing. And then I got hooked on it. And now, it’s like, damn it, I try not to do it. But it still feels good.

On surfing: I’m having so much fun it’s… ridiculous! I’m addicted to filming and surfing!

On surfing naked: I hate to say it, but I do that so much. People would think I was out to lunch if they knew how much I do that. Every full moon for the past couple of months it’s been perfect. I don’t got much to do with chicks. I hang out with chicks and they’re always, like, (in a sing-song voice) “Let’s go on an adventure!” I’m, like, no way, I wanna kick it. My favourite adventure is, I tell ‘em, “Full moon time!” And, we go down the beach and get all sixties, all naked, and I go surfing naked, whatever, get all weird…  Oohhh…  ohhh…  I don’t know if I should be saying that but…  it’s all sixties…  it’s all beautiful-ed out…

On girls: I’m so bad, Derek, I think every girl is hot. Australia’s the raddest place, for sure. Everyone asks me and I tell them every single time the same answer –  Western Australia. Like… boooooom! You can’t beat (surfing) The Box and the girls’ mentality over there. Too much fun! And, that Prevelly wine! Damn! The mentality is like a 17-year-old Hawaiian boy!

On guys pushing up against Coco: Oh, fuck, nowadays I just play dumb. When I was younger, I’d slap kids up the side of the head. I thought it was a super funny thing but kids would just get rattled. Nowadays, it just seems like I have too much respect for her. I’m kinda like…  she let’s me hook up with all these…  She lets me fricken runaround so fricken…  I just figure, fuck, I can’t be bringing all these chicks home every night and then just snap on her with one guy so, like, fuck it.

Kolohe or John John: Hooooo! That’s so sick. That’s the sickest! Who’s better? Let me think. You’d be so surprised how tight I am with both of them. Because, I’ve been staying at Brother’s house every summer since I was 10 years old. To this day, every single summer, almost all summer. I was just talking to Tina, Brother’s mom, and I’m moving in tomorrow. So, yeah, Brother’s like my full brother, literally. He was named after one of my uncles, Kolohe Bloomfield. John John, on the other hand, is the little brother I see at home every day. We surf together and he’s sooo cool. He’s like too cool I don’t even know what to think. He rips so fucking hard.

But, who’s better, that’s the question, let me think: oh brah, I can’t say. I’d get so busted. I like John John because, obviously, he can paddle out to Waimea, fricken pull-in at Backdoor and he’s fully up to par with all the boys at home… I mean, I’ve never seen Brother do that, yet. But, then, when it comes to me surfing every day in super tiny waves all I’m thinking about is how I grew up with Brother surfing at T-Street (in San Clemente, Kolohe’s home town).

Who has the most aloha on the Shore: (Slowly) Most… aloha…  on the North Shore…  sick question.  I wonder. I was going to say Kalani Chapman. He’s, like, almost like a modern day Owl Chapman (Sunset stand-out, influential shaper and Kalani’s uncle) –  super cool and groovy without even trying. He’s so nice – too nice to even try. But, come to think of it, if he got burned five times at Pipe he’d rip someone’s head off.

Who has the least aloha: It seems like all of us at home, we all try to have a lot of aloha on the land, we’re learning you need to have aloha to get through life, but in the water…  (laughs)… we lose that aloha.

Is aloha variable? Like, in winter, does it evaporate completely? That seems like it’s pretty true. A lot of people do that at home. My Dad’s never ever done that, though. He always seems super cool ‘cause he always has a lot of friends come in the winter. It seems like Dad’s always showing aloha, year round, so that’s what I’ve tried to copy. A lot of the boys get all…  SNAAAPPPED!…  when winter comes  round like, “FUCK! THESE FUCKERS… AGAIN? FUCK!” And my Dad’s always telling ‘em like it ain’t going to change, you’re getting all nuts in the water. But, then, Dad kinda eggs everyone on. It’s fucked up. He eggs everybody on and then when he’s in the situation, he’s cool, but if it’s someone else he’ll be like, “Ho, what, you never even do nuthin!” I look at my Dad and go, “What? You just told me 10 times not to do anything and now you’re teasing my friend for not doing anything.

On Michael Peterson: I try to copy MP the most when I’m surfing. Big time. Because he’s PSYCCCCCHHHED! So in the moment!

On surfing: I love getting barrelled. It could be a one-foot barrel or a 30-foot barrel, whatever, just let me get barrelled. It’s such a sweet feeling. That’s my best manoeuvre. Airs are second. Turns are third. People can be, like, “Oh, you’ve got to do a big form carve.” But, all the guys who say that have never done a 10-foot air so they don’t know the feeling. You could be going a hundred miles an hour on a wave and do the hugest carve ever and to me that’s the third best feeling in the world. But, if I was going a hundred miles an hour and did a 20-foot air, and fucking stuck it, I’d be the happiest man. And, then, if I was going a hundred miles an hour inside a barrel? That’s number one.

HERE TODAY… GONE TO CABO – EPISODE #2 from Lost Enterprises on Vimeo.



Kelly says: “It was actually an 810!”

The 11-timer on the roter-and-a-half in Portugal that has gone more viral than Ebola…

One rule here at BeachGrit. No aggregating. No swiping stories from other sites or re-running the same Aritz or Nic von Rupp clip unless it’s to make a point or hit it from a different angle.

So when Kelly’s roter-and-a-half started doing the rounds last night my heart sunk. His 720 (or whatever) was too good to ignore, but it was spread so thin over all the other surf sites I feared it would evaporate. What might BeachGrit add to the pool of clips and soapy adjectives?

An interview, maybe? This exchange happened just before midnight, Peniche time, nine am in Australia. Still warm!

BeachGrit: I love the casual nose-wipe-to-board-flick at the end. How thrilled were you to make it?

Slater: It felt real nice but I didn’t know whether I double-grabbed or if I did whether I had let go or whatever. I kinda blacked out with surprise that it stuck as well as it did.

BeachGrit: Was it a hail-mary -full-of-grace etc that stuck or was it a planned assault?

Slater: I was trying to rotate as far and fast as I could and see where I ended up. Kolohe was talking about how good the wind was for airs and I was saying how scary it was cause there were ramps but with such hard wind you could take some stitches to the eye before you knew what happened.

BeachGrit: Does landing something like this elevate your spirit?

Slater: Yeah. It sure makes you feel good. I’ve had the best air guys on earth and also skaters and snowboarders all weigh in so it feels like something special for me personally.

BeachGrit: Y’calling it a 540?

Slater: The rotation in the air was about a 540, I guess. I’ve heard everything from 540 to 720 to 900 depending on if you feel the whole rotation counts or it’s a wall versus a down the line takeoff. I actually think it’s an 810.

Drone angle of Cape Solander
Writer Robert Fazio (from New York City!) and I disagree sharply on the subject of drones. I think they're just the greatest things ever. But what is BeachGrit if not a hub of opinion? To support my case, I present this photo of my great pal Sam McIntosh (with whom I started Stab 11 years ago) at the wave that deposits upon the rocks of Cape Solander in Sydney's Botany Bay. Have you seen a surf photo better than this? I say no! Shot by Mark Mathews' girl Britt! | Photo: Britt Jones


Let a man surf in peace, for chrissakes!

I must preface this with an apology. I do not mean for this to be a pontification. I am not an auteur nor am I a cinematographer and I am also not a technophobe frightful of the future hoarding every last cartridge of film that I can find. But the Go Pro and drones are killing surf cinema.

Over the last four or five years there has been an implosion of cameras made available at very affordable prices. This is wonderful and great and I love everything about it. All people should have the chance to document their adventures at ease for a very low price. But since when did amateur cinematographers stop referencing the greats like Goddard, Cervantes and Bunuel for the likes of Michael “360-degree-angle-shots-only” Bay?

For a while it was only my eardrums that would bleed. There was a period during the late 00’s in which dubstep took over surfing and every large turn coincided with a thump while every “drop” was prefaced by an insanely choppy sequence. The formula was so predictable but the solution was easy. Mute your television and put on some better electronic music that could keep up with the edit.

The Go Pro-facing-the-body shot came next. This was a nightmare for those suffering from Podophobia or anyone with half a brain that pays a little attention to aesthetics. During this time we learned that many pro-surfers don’t use toenail clippers. Although in 2014 Go Pro footage looks more like homage to the last 30 minutes of Crystal Voyager with a modern twist, it’s still repetitive.

Now we have the drone.  Not only has the angle become tired, when I go to the beach I don’t want to see some asshole with a soul patch piloting a drone because he can’t surf the wave that he is filming.  Drones are obnoxious and ugly and they create unoriginal footage that reminds me more of CNN’s coverage of a crash site than it does of scantily clad men riding pieces of foam in paradise.

Young filmmakers need to purchase a Hulu account, to check out their Criterion collection instead of an Xbox Live account, and study the masters. They need to carry their cameras across barren deserts until their gluteus burn with lactic acid. They need to get the shot. Technology doesn’t scare me.

Luddites be damned. I want more albums like Yeezus, pushing buttons and creating outrage, and less reunion albums from bands that had their time in the 70’s. I want more Opening Ceremony and less pre-fabricated vintage. I want more Pynchon and less Hemingway, although Hemingway shouldn’t be ignored.

Living in the past is for kooks. The drones are fucked yet the future is bright, very bright. I implore that all cinematographers in surfing continue to push boundaries and find new angles and new ways of looking at things. But momma, please don’t take my Kodachrome.


African-Australian boy at Eastern Beach Geelong.
Sudanese-Australian boy photographed at Eastern Beach in Geelong. "Bior came to Australia in 2002 at the age of six," says Frank. "Bior is a gun Australian Rules Football player and has been selected to play for elite team the Western Jets. This young man has a bright future ahead of him indeed, something to remember in this era of political fear-mongering surrounding the immigration debate." The photo won second prize ($30,000) for contemporary photography at the 2013 Moran Prizes. | Photo: Jon Frank


A new photo book that holds a mirror to Australia's soul. "It's not a political book," says Frank. It is… 

Australia. Now there’s a tricky one.

A couple beats over 200 years ago, Captain James Cook plants a flag in the name of England on a stretch of sand and the fun begins. Between now and then unravels a lively tapestry of identity defining moments and a flood of immigrants that helped shape the country into what it is today.

And that’s where it gets a bit confusing.

Australia’s home to 23 million people, a mixture of good, bad, angry and sad all living in a beautiful country girt by sea. And if you had to pick one photographer to turn the lens on the people that for better or worse make Australia what it is-wouldn’t you be glad it’s Jon Frank?

Frank has set aside a year to, in part, frame Australia’s identity but to also “take you on a trip through a modern-day Australia far removed from the colour brochure. It will weave an unflinching visual narrative to lead the reader through the streets and back-blocks of our capital cities and rural centres.”

The end result will be a large-format book simply titled, Australians, all shot in the distinctive Frank style, the style that set the Cronulla-raised immigrant apart from the herd early on in his stellar career.

“It’s not a political book,” says Frank. “But to tell you the truth, the Australia I landed in aged 10 to the one we have now. It’s a completely different country with a different set of ethics and morals.”

Frank’s chosen to shoot the book on film and at times of the day which offer little in the way of flattering light. It’s a decision which certainly gives the shots a certain feel but also harkens back to his body of work as a surf photographer, open, often empty, but always stunning.

“I made a conscious decision to avoid trickery in the project and that may very well turn out be a case of me biting off my nose to spite my face,” he says. “But, I don’t want to use beauty to distract from the honesty of the work. I started off saying no tricks, no using the light to provide dramatic affect.  I’m trying to not get caught up in the games photographers can play using light but I don’t know how long I’m going to go along that road. I might change tack halfway through and decide I need to add some beautiful light, make things a bit more varied, but at the moment I’m just trying to get to the nuts and bolts of the people.”

The early results, which can be seen on an accompanying blog (click here) are what you’d expect from Frank but are also slightly uncomfortable to look at, as if we’re catching a glimpse into an odd mundane private moment.

“I don’t approach anyone,” says Frank of his method. “And not everyone likes having their picture taken. I’m a sensitive person but there’s a certain amount of aggression needed to lift the camera to your eye, stare someone down and take their picture. I’m not always comfortable doing it but I see the benefit outweighing any sort of squeamishness I might have about photographing a stranger.”

Frank’s also embraced social media to chronicle the making of the book, a welcome decision to his legions of fans but one he reckons he may never would have if not for the book. “I’m no luddite and let’s face it, the world doesn’t need another photograph, that’s for sure,” he says.

So what’s the point?  “I get depressed sometimes about the new media landscape and the sheer quantity of visual information. But, at the same time I find it liberating to pursue the craft of photography using the techniques I enjoy but in a modern way, using modern methods of communication like the blog and Instagram to take people with me on the making of journey.”

Among the many looking forward to the end product is Aquabumps founder, Eugene Tan, a much lauded chronicler of the Australian identity and one of many to admit to being influenced by Frank’s style.

Jon makes people feel very comfortable and in turn is able to capture those intimate moments,” says Tan. “I can imagine the end result will be pretty special, real and personal.”