The Plight of the Torpedo People is a remarkable book by the photographer Chris Burkard and bodysurfing aficionado Keith Malloy. “Rarely have I had the opportunity to photograph something as pure as body surfing,” explains Burkard. “It’s the most stripped down form of wave riding.” | Photo: Chris Burkard

The Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Bodysurfing

You, a wave and a torrent of water fording your ass. "It's sexy!" says Keith Malloy…

Keith Malloy is the middle brother of the Central Californian family famous for their purist behaviour. Bar fights! Much board paddle! Big waves!

Last year Keith released a film documenting the pleasingly simplistic craft of bodysurfing called Come Hell or Highwater. There’s also a book that fits alongside the film called The Plight of the Torpedo People, featuring Keith, but made by the photographer Chris Burkard, who also shot the photo you see on this page. (Click here to buy! You should!)

Keith sat in a Eames aluminium group office chair in tan denim pants that were somewhat cowboy-ish, a black Patagonia t-shirt and with his head wrapped in a Farmer and the Cook hat, an organic cafe in Ojai, California, near where he lives, and delivered to me (and hence to you) the following primer on bodysurfing.

“It’s sexy!” says Keith. He ain’t lying…

1. It’s more dangerous than you think: Getting smashed is part of bodysurfing, pulling into barrels and getting flogged and washed up on the beach with sand in your hair. But it’s super easy to break your neck. There’s nothing to break your fall. So it’s easy to end up head-first in the sand or reef. The main injuries are shoulder dislocations. I’ve seen ’em all over the years. I saved a bodysurfer once who broke his neck in the shore break at Ventura wedge. He came up screaming. Luckily he wasn’t paralysed. There’s a couple of guys from the (Newport) Wedge crew who are paralysed right now. What do you do? Use your common sense. Don’t think you’re invincible, especially in hollow waves.

2. Learn to pull through the back. If you’ve been bodysurfing long enough you’ll do it without thinking. Mike Cunningham, Mike Stewart, Chris Kalima and I surfed Teahupoo for 10 days straight, six-foot plus, and there wasn’t one scratch on us. One guy didn’t have the experience and he got shredded. What’s the trick? All you gotta do is ride it out as long as can and at the last minute, drop down extra low, penetrate the water and twist back through. Lead with your hands.

3. Always the hands, sometimes the chest: In most biggesr waves, always have a hand out in front. The only time the chest gets a workout is when it’s a mushier section.

4. Bodysurfing etiquette ain’t that diff from the usual: If you’re bodysurfing with a pack of pals, you don’t take off on somebody and ruin their wave. That isn’t hard to remember. But what you might wanna realise is that bodysurfers are the lowest of the totem pole. A 10-year-old girl will drop in on you and not think twice about it.

5. The best waves? Makapu’u on Oahu’s East Side, Point Panic on the South Shore there, The Wedge in Newport, Boomer in San Diego with Teahupoo as the mythical Jaws-style pinnacle

6. The best bodysurfers in the world are Mike Stewart and Mark Cunningham: Mike is number one, Mark is the legend. It’s like Slater and Curren. Mike is the hot-dog master, Mark is the master. Cunningham has the best style and the best technique. Mike does half the shit on a bodyboard without the bodyboard. He does crazy things like getting sucked up the face, blown out into the flats, and keeps going.

7. Travel is easy. A pair of fins. A wetsuit or a pair of trunks. Maybe a hand plane for when it’s small. There ain’t a lot of excess.

8. Bodysurfing isn’t a pain in the hierarchy: The one thing that’s nice about bodysurfing is it’s not going to affect the lineup no matter how popular it gets. Stand-up paddle boarding ruins the lineup. But when you bodysurf you pick up the scraps and you still have a fucking better time than anybody out there. You get more waves because you don’t need a great wave to have a great time.

9. It’s physical and it’s sexy. It’s super neat not having anything between you, your body and the wave. You’re completely submerged in the ocean and the wave. There’s a classic line in the movie where a guy from Wyoming (cowboy country) talks about bodysurfing and how erotic it is, all that water rushing over your body.

10. Bodysurfing smashes ego: It’s connected. It’s what surfing’s all about. You’re not putting on a show. Nobody is watching you. It takes you back to that state when you were a kid when it wasn’t not about your fucking ego. Whoever has the most fun wins. I love that aspect. I started bodysurfing while I was on the tour. It was driving me crazy trying to tear a wave apart from start to finish and surf under the contest criteria. I was living on the North Shore and I started going bodysurfing with Mark Cunningham and it was a breath of fresh air: riding waves without being tethered to equipment, the glide. It was like a vacation from surf contests.

 


RED BULL SUED. YOU GET RICH.

It don't give you wiiiiings, they say? Clearly they have never seen Julian Wilson.

The internet was awash, yesterday, with stories of Red Bull settling two class-action lawsuits because it doesn’t actually “give you wiiiiiings” and also, its claims of bequeathing better concentration and improved athletic performance are unsupported. Clearly, no one is looking at Jordy Smith, Julian Wilson, Kolohe Andino, etc.

This is not to say, however, that Red Bull lost the suits. Their legal team released a statement denying any wrongdoing or liability. “Red Bull believes that its marketing and labeling have always been entirely truthful and accurate, it confirms that all future claims about the functional benefits of its products will be medically and/or scientifically supported.”

What made the stories appealing to so many was that anyone in the United States could get in on the financial windfall, nabbing a piece of the whopping………………… 13 million dollar settlement meaning all the claimants will get nothing but embarrassment and maybe 4 pennies.

Red Bull is worth 7.2 billion according to Forbes. The suit must have been filed by the worst lawyers ever. It was not immediately clear if the Association of Surfing Professionals’ legal team was involved. It was not immediately clear if all ASP staffers went out and celebrated with extra big Monster + vodkas.

If you are dumb and want 4 pennies, you can file an online claim form here.

P.S. You don’t get rich but I dare you to sue BeachGrit for misleading advertising.


…two photos from Alana's Sports Illustrated shoot. It ain't topless but close enough. And she's gorgeous, yeah? The leaked shots, howevs, demonstrate the banality of nudity, the utter ordinariness of a woman without the cantilevering or the straps or the smoke and the mirrors. And then there's the privacy thing. How do you feel about pulling open a girl's bedroom door and peering inside? BeachGrit says don't do it! Don't peer into the sun! | Photo: Sports Illustrated

NAKED PHOTOS OF ALANA BLANCHARD LEAKED ONLINE!

But you won't see 'em here. Here's why…

Is anyone else completely and utterly over Alana Blanchard and her butt pics? Is anyone but the most arch-creep really interested in the batch of 29 just-leaked photos of Alana topless?

According to Instagram, Reddit and Hookit the answer is a resounding, no. And that really pisses me off.

Alana had over two million fan interactions on her Instagram account during the month of September. That’s just absurd on so many levels.

I don’t even know what classifies as a “fan interaction” and to quote Yadin Nicol on the topic of why Instagram pisses me off, “It’s all fucking politics behind it. Who follows who? Follow me back. Don’t follow me back. Like my shit, don’t like my shit. Fuck off.”

I’m over, and have been over, Alana Blanchard for a long time. To me, she’s lackluster. She has zero fashion sense, and posting about your friend’s jewellery line while touting your cleavage and saying “good morning” is like pouring Veuve into a solo cup.

I’m also a jaded man who works in the fashion industry and has a beautiful girlfriend that possesses tremendous taste and affection for French fashion labels so, with that said, you must bring more than an over-advertised butt to the game if you’re going to change my opinion on what’s attractive these days. But what does Alana’s 2+ million user interactions on Instagram mean to the surfing industry and the world?

To the surfing industry, it is insurmountable. It is gold. It is the Audemars Piguet rose-gold Royal Oak watch. It is everything to an industry that has seen apparel sales decline and decline and decline more and more as the fashions have moved on and the CEOs and directors have been replaced by equity groups looking to seize any and all opportunities to turn the surfing industry’s apparel business in the right (billion dollar) direction.

Target got into the surf-game for a reason. It’s the sun-bleached hair, golden tans and sexy lifestyle that surfing embodies. It’s the sand, it’s the sun, and it’s the money. And, son of a bitch! It’s the butt-pics on Instagram that the surfing industry loves.

It’s why the surf industry is boring. It’s why Jack Freestone dyed his hair blonde and takes selfies, and John John likes taking photographs for “fun.” And why Julian Wilson’s girlfriend is more article-worthy than Julian Wilson. And why I’d rather work out with Johnny Gannon than drink a beer with Taj.

I’ll blame Alana’s 2 million user interactions on Instagram. After all 2 million divided by the 30 days in September gives me 66,666 likes and/or comments and that’s far too close to the devil.

So you want to see those topless shots? Don’t. Don’t peer into the sun.


"I’m not afraid of death," says Jordy Smith, "but it’s crosses your mind, like, 'Oh my god, there’s a gun and if he pulls the trigger I’m dead.' To be in a situation like that, you don’t think about the physical act of dying, you think about how you’re not going to live and you’re not going to see your family." | Photo: Brian Bielmann

JORDY SMITH STABBED IN DURBAN ROBBERY!

Like years ago. But still…

Jordy Smith, the reigning Hurley Pro champion and world #9, will be 27 in a few months. And that’ll mark the 10-year anniversary of his stabbing in a Durban back street as he swung home from school.

Who even knew bad things could happen in that Mandela-era utopia! Wasn’t it a time of coffee-coloured rainbows and a society freed from the burden of white racism?

Maybe not…

“I’ve been robbed at gunpoint a couple of times,” he says. “And, this time, as I was walking home I got mugged and stabbed on my right side at the bottom of the kidney. They rattled my pockets, put a gun to my head and that was it. They just thought, this is a kid, that was it. It happened so fast. I was bleeding as I got up. I was crying at the same time, ran and went to the hospital and got stitched up.”

Didn’t they ask first before sticking the knife in?

“They don’t ask, hey. They stuck the knife in and took. It’s not like, ‘Hey can I have your money?’ It’s more so, ‘Get on the fucking floor, we’re robbing you.'”

I might faint!

“It has its fricken moments, f’sure,” says Jordy. “Another time was a bunch of young kids. I wasn’t going to put up a fight. I was 15. It was pretty gnarly.”

And what does it feel like to be stabbed?

“I didn’t feel it. It didn’t go too deep. Sliced more than deep. It was a burning pain. I got such an adrenalin hit and then I started running and as I was running I felt my side and I realised what had happened.”

Does the spectre of death scare Jordy?

“I’m not afraid of death but it’s crosses your mind, like, ‘Oh my god, there’s a gun and if he pulls the trigger I’m dead.’ To be in a situation like that, you don’t think about the physical act of dying, you think about how you’re not going to live and you’re not going to see your family.”

 

 


Brock goes while Bradshaw taps out for a look at what he mistakenly thinks is a bigger wave behind it. “The… biggest… mistake… of my competitive career was not catching that wave,” he says. | Photo: Buzzy Kerbox

FLASHBACK: THE ONE WAVE THAT CHANGED TWO LIVES

Brock Little, Ken Bradshaw and the 25-footer that shaped both their destinies. And it still kills Kenny!

“Aaron Napoleon was just screaming at me, calling me every goddam name under the sun and just screaming ‘You go you fucking pussy, you go, go, go.’ There was no doubt in my mind I was going to make that wave.”

Reckon Brock Little ever gets sick of telling that story?

It’s the Hawaiian winter of 1990, Waimea Bay, the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau.

Look at the image and ask yourself once again. Reckon Brock Little ever gets sick of telling that story?

Well, would you?

“The thing is at big Waimea, when those big ones come through, not many people want anything to do with ‘em,” recalls Brock, now 47. “That wave came through and everyone just bolted for the horizon, everyone except (Ken) Bradshaw and me. We were side by side and both paddling for it. I took off, he took off and…”

Stop the tape… right… there.

Two careers are seconds away from taking two very different turns. One will be righteously bathed in glory for eternity; the other left to ponder what if and temporarily wander the desert like Moses, searching for internal redemption.

“The… biggest… mistake… of my competitive career was not catching that wave,” says Ken Bradshaw, now 62, and nearly a quarter of a century after the event. “He took off and fell and got all the glory, I kicked out ’cause I knew there was a much bigger one behind it. But…it just didn’t turn out. Biggest… mistake of my career.”

But back to Little.

“I knew I was in a good spot to catch that wave, just turns out I wasn’t in a good spot to ride it,” he says. “Either way, I paddled my ass off, I clearly remember just wanting it so bad and it was letting me in.”

Little manages to get to his feet and assumes the same position he’d done countless times before. “And then I hit a bump, and all of a sudden I was just skimming down the face like a rock over shallow water. And the whole time I was just looking up, thinking to myself, ‘If that lip lands on me I’m dead’. But luckily it didn’t”

Little then has a few seconds to contemplate what’s in store as he watches the lip thrown over him. “I remember thinking I was either get my ass kicked real good or I was going to die. Either way I was at peace. I put myself in that position and I was happy with that. But, and I don’t know if I was hallucinating or what at this point, I then remember being sucked up and over and for a split-second I could see the whole of Waimea Bay and I just caught a breath and I think from that point, I knew I was going to be ok.”

Thousands lining the shore of Waimea Bay see the wipe-out, but it’s the resulting image of Little, teetering on the brink of disaster that will end up on walls worldwide for years to come. “I remember walking up the beach after it, and everyone was looking at me like they’d seen a ghost,” he says. “But you know, I’m so proud of that moment. I don’t look back at it and think, ‘What the fuck was I thinking?’ I’m proud of wanting that wave and I wanted it real bad.”

Not that his reputation ever needed it, but the moment and a glorious attempt at a tube ride moments later elevates Little to the top tier of manliness among the most manliness of line-ups the world has ever known.

“It’s the same with Healey, Dorian, Jamie, Twiggy and all those guys,” says Brock. “You either have it or you don’t. You either want it or you don’t. I mean, I was in pretty good shape at the time but I knew some of my peers were training harder or what not but you’d see them out on the big days and you could see that fear in their eyes.”

As for Bradshaw…

“I don’t think I ever have gotten over that moment. And I’ve never really spoken to Brock about it either.”