Andy Irons on Tavarua Island, Fiji
Everyone wanted to be around him. He had it. He was bigger than the room, the beach, the islands, the ocean. Bigger than even life. | Photo: Brian Bielmann

Andy Irons Broke Our Heart

Chas Smith remembers the most captivating surfer of the modern generation. Three titles on the shelf! Hawaii's greatest!





“Man, that kid made fucking-up look cool.”

“I may be bad, but I’m perfectly good at it.”

Andy Irons broke our heart. And he made it beat. And he made it pound and he made it shudder and he made it shake and he made it soar and he made it crash and he made it pound.

He made it pound.

When he was on, he was on. Machine-gunned truths coming out of that jaw. His jaw was like granite, carved and huge. Like Cary Grant. His eyes would blaze, blue and touched with pterygium, and he would fix you right in the dead center of that blaze. And those truths would pop pop pop pop pop. He would never hold back. Ever. Pop pop pop pop pop.

When his surfing was on, my goodness. Massive drops at Waimea and into the shorebreak and into the detonation. Late take-offs at Teahupoo standing straight and tall with the fury of thick turquoise hell all around. Pipeline. Pipeline. The only wave that truly matters. Low crouching Backdoor thrills, disappearing so deep, gone forever, and then getting shot from a watery crypt into the sunny haze, surrounded by millions of particles of salt and water and screams from North Shore decks, two fingers to the sky mouth open in a victorious sneer.

When he was off, he was off. Buried and burying his ghosts. Surly and aggressive. Surfing like he had concrete fins and a mind completely elsewhere. Screaming obscenities at those he loved.

But he was always captivating, on or off. Always. Magnetic. Everyone wanted to be around him and everyone knew he was as combustible as fire. Damien Hobgood, kind Floridian twin, gentle family man wanted to be around him. “Lots of times I’d talk to him and it’d be fun to see which Andy I was gonna get. He’s got such a big big heart…it didn’t matter what he said, or what sort of mood he was in you knew that he loved you. He was raw. Raw Irons. One time we were battling at Backdoor and I got a wave and came out right next to him and he just snapped. I paddled back out and started going off on him. Battling. And I won the heat.

Later that night I went to a party with my girl and I told her, ‘If Andy’s there and comes over here don’t make a scene…’ I didn’t want it to get weird if he punched me. So of course I see him and of course I gotta go talk to him. I went over and he looked up at me and, you just never knew what Andy you were gonna get, and he looked at me and said, ‘Ahhhhhh I don’t care’ then gave me a big hug. Cool moment for me. He had lots of love.”

Everyone wanted to be around him. He had it. He was bigger than the room, the beach, the islands, the ocean. Bigger than even life.

And his greatness was always known. It hung around him like a halo. Reef McIntosh, fellow Kauaian, with him since the second grade knew it. “I always knew he would be what he grew into. Even as a little kid I knew he was gonna be a legend. He never held back and he could do anything. From shitty Huntington to Waimea, he wasn’t a one trick pony. He could do it all.”

He could do it all. And he did do it. All. Kai Garcia, fellow Kauaian, Wolfpak leader knew it. “I remember watching him as a little little kid surfing Pinetrees. You could always see that he had it. Fucken hood rat ripper. Surfing was different for him. Wasn’t mechanical. Fucken Picasso in the water. Einstein. He looked at the ocean different.”

Across that ocean and a continent CJ Hobgood, world champ, twin of Damien knew it. “The very first time I went to Hawaii I was twelve and they were holding this contest at Diamond Head. I had heard about Andy Irons but had never seen him before. So I was at the contest site and he rocks up the hill in a Lincoln riding shotty with his board hanging out the window no leash or nothing. He hops out, grabs his contest jersey, and I remember it was breaking way way out the back, and he cruises right out. When you’re twelve you don’t even think about surfing those kinds of waves without a leash but that was Andy.”

That was Andy.

He surfed like a man possessed. Like a man not bound by natural law or twelve year old law or any law. He defied gravity and he did it with ease. Style. Always so much style. Arms behind the back, back arched, looking at the roof of lurching pits. Punts so high and effortless and. Effortless. He surfed with almost too much power and power is rarely beautiful but Andy Irons made it thus. When he hit the lip it was like a bulldozer. He destroyed it. He ravished it. He committed to its death with every ounce of his strength but he made it look like a piece of art. Like a dance. Like a tango. The lip became complicit in its own destruction and thrilled at becoming immortal. It was all there and it was all brilliant. He surfed his personality. He surfed without limit.

And he competed the same way. Ever since he first put on a colorful singlet. Freddy Pattachia, Andy’s closest friend and North Shore standout and North Shore legend, remembers, “It was the first time I thought, ‘this guy is radical.’ It was, like a junior pro I had known Andy and Bruce for a while but this must have been one of the first events or something. It was at V-Land. And Bruce was beating him in the final and had this little barrel and Andy purposefully tried to get in his way. He, like, bailed his board and tried to hit Bruce in the barrel but he still made it out and won. And you know Bruce, he rubbed it in. Andy chased him around V-Land for a minute and then we all left and as we were leaving I saw Andy’s trophy jammed in a tree. I thought, ‘Holy shit, this guy’s on another level.’ He wouldn’t take losing. Didn’t accept it. Wasn’t in his vocabulary…to see him get rid of his trophy…I would have been stoked just to have any trophy but second place wasn’t good enough for him.”

Andy won an event at Pipeline as a seventeen year old. He won Teahupo’o too, later that year, but of course it took a hot minute for him to really dig into the world championship tour format with the judging and the monotony and the procedural expectations and the blah blah blah but by 2002 he was there. He arrived, competitively, just in time for Kelly Slater.

King Kelly. Royal hand around the neck of competitive surfing. Too good to stay interested in the other plebes blaséing in the water, too bored of beating them senseless, so he left for three years. And when he became too bored of whatever else he was doing in those three years, Pamela Anderson, acting, he came back. To rule for another thousand years. But blocking the gate to his kingdom was a carved granite jaw and two blue eyes touched with pterygium blazing pure hatred.

CJ Hobgood, world champ during one of Kelly’s three absent years, witnessed the boil. “Andy was the first person who came along that hated Slater. He hated everything about him and I know hate is a strong word but he really hated Kelly.” (Reef quote) Hate. Rage. Rage. Passion. Brodie Carr, CEO of the Association of Surfing Professionals described the passion. “He attacked and destroyed waves with an element of flair that only he has. Competitively he was UFC meets ASP. He attacked every wave of every heat of every contest.”

And those attacks and that hatred and that passion and that style and that flair and that hatred meant victory. Kelly banished. Kelly locked out in the cold. The sexiest moments in competitive surfing’s history, those battles. And three in a row to Andy. The Champ cometh. The Champ cometh. The people’s champ.

Victory meant cock sure swagger. Andy would strut around the parking lot, the club, the awards’ show, the Foodland and everyone would know he had it. Was it. Barking, chest pounding. And in an era of humble athlete love Andy’s “Here the fuck I am” was the greatest show in town. We all enjoyed. Reef McIntosh enjoyed. “He was the best and he beat the best at their best. He was the only one who could and he let people know it.”

And victory meant victory parties. Celebrations. Mad burn it all down, down, down to the ground bangers. Tom Dosland, Maui surfer, underground charger, remembered Andy partying, “because he was always winning. That guy would go the gnarliest. His benders were legendary. He’d party and then charge the next morning…I mean, his whole trip… a real rock star life.” Kai Garcia added, “That’s just how we were raised on Kauai. Win and earn your right to have a good time. When you get older you realize better to treat yourself to a Pepsi…but we were young. It’s a reward thing.”

A rock star and young victor’s good time is coke, not Pepsi. And other uppers and also other downers. And drinks and drinks and drinks. The World Tour is not an iniquitous den of damnation and it is not a preschool of saints. It is a good time. A modern good time and let he who is without sin cast the first stone for Andy Irons partook in that good time. And there is no need to report on what, exactly, he took or in what quantities but, yes, sometimes Andy went overboard and sometimes he sat quietly in the corner but mostly he was in the center because, always, people wanted him. He was the motherfucking Champ. Kai Garcia witnessed. “Everybody was always pulling on him. Everybody always wanted this or that…” And Freddy Pattachia corroborated. “He’d light it up. He’d light up a room and every one wanted something. People freakin loved him all over the world.” And Reef McIntosh corroborated. “Nobody could take their eyes off him.” And I corroborate. He was magical. Magnetic.

Andy Irons was raw and that is what the people loved. He surfed raw. He partied raw. He was raw. Each nerve and sinew and emotion laid bare which meant, also, he was sensitive, extremely sensitive, which is rough when combined with a white hot spotlight perpetually burning. CJ Hobgood knew the feeling. “I’d always said being a professional surfer is sick, but you are definitely signing up for a job where you’re gonna be judged. You’re judged during your heats but also outside of the water you’re getting judged. You’re always being judged which might have been real hard for Andy.” Kai Garcia added, “All eyes were on him for his good days and his bad days. People always want the dirt and that took it out of him. It took it out of all of us. When he was doing good he was on a pedestal and when he was doing bad people just….it’s real hypocritical. You’ve got to be strong and Andy…..he didn’t roll with the punches.” And Freddy Pattachia, who was there for each step of the way, saw. “People either wanted him to be winning or they wanted a controversy with his lifestyle. That got to him, being judged all the time. He was a pretty insecure guy. He always looked up to Kelly and he’d seriously ask me, Borg, his brother, ‘Fuck am I a kook?’”

And the wheel kept spinning. With every unpredictable and throaty top turn, with every towering barrel with every big night out with every victory and with every loss with every bit of bit of introspection and every lash out and every hug Andy Irons kept spinning. Kai Garcia knew the feeling. “Those are the pros and cons of being famous and we both came from a small little island. It was gnarly.”

Andy Irons, raw, sensitive, big-hearted, sucking the marrow out of life and maybe also medicating the constant pressure, the constant attention. Burying his ghosts.

And then Kelly Slater crashed the gate, winning then winning then winning and the pressure and the lifestyle and all of it. Too much. Just too much. So Andy Irons went off the rails then went off to rehab.

He didn’t share much about those days with the public or even his closest friends. He didn’t share much with Freddy Pattachia. “He hid a lot from me with the drug use. I didn’t ever know exactly what he was doing because he took a big brother roll with me. Sometimes I’d show up somewhere and it was clear he wasn’t acting normal but he’d never show it to me. He didn’t want me to be a part of it…And so when he went to rehab I’d never bring it up. I didn’t want to be the friend who was all about his problems in life. I was more like, if you want to surf, let’s surf. Or if you want to go out to dinner with our wives lets do that. I didn’t want him to have to talk about it though. I didn’t want to be that guy…”

Freddy wanted him to be free. So many wanted him to be free but then there would be the people always looking to party and Andy Irons was only ever raw and he was sensitive and he was raw. He was a force of nature.

So last year he showed up to Puerto Rico and didn’t surf. Depending on who is speaking he was either genuinely sick or heavily drugged. And he left the island early, heading home, but stopping in Miami for one last giant night out.

And then stopping at Dallas/Fort Worth.

And he was too genuinely sick or drugged to continue home so he checked into room 324 at the airport’s Grand Hyatt and he dragged his backpack up the elevator and he opened his door.

And he closed his door.

And he got into bed.

And he closed his eyes.

And he broke our heart.


His last moments, life even, have been picked over by tabloids and men’s magazines and with the release of the toxicity report have been picked over even more. But none of it matters. It doesn’t matter if his blood is soiled only with disease or if it is soiled with heroin and OxyContin and cocaine and prescription sleep aids and any wild sort of poison. Because Andy Irons is not a cautionary tale about the dangers of drug consumption. He is not the sum of his parts.

He is a legendary tale.

He crashed this earth and lived completely. He loved his wife. He bore a child. He partied, yes, he surfed powerfully and beautifully, yes. He lived more in his lifetime then most ever do or will. Yes.

And those who argue that none of vices should ever be made public, that his existence should be whitewashed and all we should look at is his only at his surfing rob his life of its complexity and its power and its beauty. Of his rawness. Andy lived like he surfed, remember, and his living and partying wildly and going mad are as much a part of his legend as those three titles.

And those who argue that he was a degenerate, that he should not be glorified because of his tainted record, should go to hell and on the way there should look in a mirror.

Andy broke our heart.

And he made it pound.

And that pounding will reverberate throughout eternity.


Andy Irons and Lyndie Irons in Fiji
"He was the most handsome man I’d ever seen," says Lyndie, "and now when I look back at pictures it takes my breath away. So handsome …  and so…  perfect…  he was… perfect…  it’s still really hard for me to even look at photos… I always tell my friends I can’t believe how handsome he was." | Photo: Brian Bielmann

He was Magical and Crazy: Lyndie on Andy

Lyndie Irons remembers the whirlwind of her nine-year love affair with the Champ…

They were perhaps the fiftieth or maybe the hundredth couple to make out beneath the tall Ficus tree between First and Third streets, Encinitas, after a night at The Saloon. Andy Irons, 25 back then and a world champ too, but only one-time and not thrice, although he was mid-way through his second, pulled the brown-skinned Californian gal toward him and then pushed the both of them back into the trunk.

Ms Lyndie Dupuis, 20, held her breath and felt like…felt like…well, how can she explain now, what it was like, back then, to be held, pushed, owned, by a Hawaiian god who’d suddenly become, unexpectedly, the most exciting and dominant surfer of his generation?

Years after, when they’d come to town, married now, Andy’d reenact the whole thing, back at the Saloon, under the tree, and behave like “a real donkey, ” says Lyndie, laughing, something rare these days, except maybe when their boy Ax goofs off or runs, which he does with the same loping gait as his dad, the dad dead not one month before Ax saw daylight for the first time.

What does that make Ax now, four? Can you believe it’s been that long since we woke up to the stupid, the insane, the this-has-to-be-a-prank-but-we-all-know-it-ain’t, news of Andy’s death?

I spoke to Lyndie in Sydney, in Hawaii and in Costa Rica. Tears interrupted most sentences and that’s hard when you’re the one pushing her to remember certain memories or reviving buried stories. But, the gal is, maybe not tough, cause that conjures up a hardness and Ms Irons is soft as butter, but…brave, brave because it’s hard to cry in front of someone and brave because she knows it’s up to her to carry the legacy of Hawaii’s greatest ever surfer and ensure its luster never dulls.

DR: I want to read you a quote from his last interview and, if y’could, I want you to interpret it for me. It’s a recurring dream he’d had since childhood: “I’m on top of a mountain and I’m trying to stand on the pinnacle without falling off. The wind gets really strong and it turns into this radical Wizard of Oz trip with the wind coming up and with lightning bolts appearing around. It starts to rain and the mountain starts getting real slippery. What does it mean? Probably that I’m trying to hold on…

Lyndie: Interpret it? His life was a whirlwind. Every single day he was… he wanted more than anything to be normal. That’s what he’d always say. His lifestyle and his job kept him on this crazy 100 miles an hour treadmill. He was always trying to just hold onto life, to normalcy. I could see him in his dream just thinking that everything around him was just crazy and chaotic, which it was. He just wanted to stand still.

DR: When he spoke about normality, what did he mean? Living at home, splitting from the tour?

Lyndie: Everybody caring about what he did, his business, his personal life.  It’s really hard to be an athlete and to perform for everybody else. He’d always say, “I’d love to be a valet worker at St Regis, have a normal job and not have everybody watching me and wanting me to perform.”

DR: Did Andy dream a lot? Were they sweet dreams, nightmares?

Lyndie: Definitely nightmares. He’d wake up screaming a lot. And, he was talking to Koby Abberton about it. Seems like they had similar dreams. Andy would wake up sometimes screaming out or he’d sit up and start punching the bed. He had some very, very radical dreams, and a lot of them.

DR: Did he describe these dreams?

Lyndie: Sometimes. When he had radical ones. There’s a few I can remember, but I’d prefer to keep them to myself. He definitely had emotional, physical dreams even though he looked so sweet and peaceful when he slept. I look at Axel and get the same feeling. Axel goes a million miles a minute and when he goes to sleep I feel like I can take a breath.

DR: Andy spoke about being a terrible insomniac.

Lyndie: He had a really, really hard time sleeping. I think, the travel, the pressure and everything that comes with it. It was hard for him to relax.

DR: Can you talk to me about the Tahiti contest win in 2010, what he said to you on the phone after he won? You were at home pregnant, yeah?

Lyndie: I was really pregnant so I stayed home. I wish I was there. I watched most of the contest lying down.

(The proximity of the contest win to his death, his surprise success given the unspectacular nature of his earlier contest results in his comeback year and how visibly moved he was immediately afterward, makes it extremely difficult for Lyndie to talk about the period without crying. But, she knows it was a pivotal moment in his life, a peak before the endless trough, and so she talks through the rain.)

DR: How long after the contest did he call?

Lyndie: He always called me right after. I… I… to watch him… to see him beat Kelly… and see him splashing the water and seeing him so happy…  it was definitely the most emotional contest for him. I’d never seen him so happy. Cause I know… he loved to win and he needed that…he was so happy… I’d never seen him so happy, too. He said to me on the phone, “I really did it! Can you believe I can still do it?” Well, of course. He had been doubting himself for a long time. That was my favourite win by far in the nine years I was with him. It meant the world to him.

DR: Around the world there were a lot of fuck yeahs! And fist pumping! The comeback kid. Like the best Kenny Powers episode y’ever seen…

Lyndie: I know! Words can’t explain how happy I was for him. That he…  ohhhhhh…

(The intermittent tears and mewing and shudders turn into the wail of a human being torn away from their soul mate. We pause and start again a few minutes later.)

DR: Sorry… Maybe you can talk to me about the whirlwind of those world titles, you the gal next to the guy. How about the year he made Kelly cry? That was intenso!

Lyndie: When I was first started dating Andy he’d already won one world title and was already in the middle of his second one and so him winning every contest seemed like the natural order of things. I was shocked if he didn’t make the quarters or the semi finals. He was so happy and so on top of the world. He never second-guessed himself. He was such a magical human, particularly in those world title days. It was like he was floating on air. He never even, it’s so hard to explain it in words. I wish he was here to explain it for me because he was so good with words…  But, that year that he beat Kelly in the final was magical in itself. It was so unexpected. I remember G (Graham Stapelberg, the then VP of marketing at Billabong) adding up the points and he was like, “Whoa, Andy, you can actually win this world title.” He wasn’t a long shot for me, and not for Andy either, but for everybody else it was shocking. It was magical and crazy.

DR: After that final, when you were finally alone, do you remember what he said, what you spoke about?

Lyndie: He was always, uh, these are my personal moments. But, he was so focused on wining and he was so shocked that he won.

DR: Tell me about Andy’s qualities…

Lyndie: One quality that was crazy about Andy was that he never talked bad about anyone’s surfing. No one. Not even to me, personally. There’s not one person on that planet who could say otherwise. He thought everyone was an amazing surfer, from Kelly all the way down to that guy that’s just learning how to surf. He never had a negative thing to say about someone’s surfing, which is pretty crazy. Most athletes talk shit about other athletes.

DR: He was a great surfer, and I mean great in its literal sense, but he didn’t believe how good he was, particularly later on…

Lyndie: He had all the confidence in the world but then he’d also be shocked that he could win. But he was such a dominating person outside and in the water.

DR: When you want to put yourself in a good place, what memories do you access?

Lyndie: I never think of the negative, the hard stuff, the hard part, I know a lot of people know that, but since the day he passed I don’t even think about them. We travelled the world together and we were best friends. We had…  (tears)…  so many good times. I think about it hourly, minutely. There’s not a day that goes by or a minute when I’m not thinking about it. I can push it away when I’m not alone. I try not to cry in front of Axel or my friends anymore. Nobody can say the right thing. Bruce’s (now ex-) wife Mia is my rock, the only one who says the right thing when I’m that sad, when I’m having a rough…  Every day with Andy was amazing. I’m not saying that because he passed, either. I’d say it if he was still here. I just loved him, every inch of him, everything about him.

DR: Here’s another quote from that last interview: “You gotta go in the sometimes to figure who you are. I’ve had my fair share of hills and valleys, but life’s been radical and exciting. Stuff that kings would die to do. The lifestyle we’ve got and the life I led since I was 17, I couldn’t even tell my friends. I try and tell stories and they think I’m making it up. Straight up. It’s the life I wanted since I caught my wave.” Now, ain’t that a classic quote from the Champ?

Lyndie: He’s not here and I have a very quiet life with Axel. I think back and my life with him was like a movie. It was unbelievable. I don’t think, I know the guys on tour, they all travel and do their thing, Andy was just…  he had so many demons, I guess, that set him back a little bit in life, but I never felt that way. That’s who he was. He got dealt these cards and he was just trying to figure out life the best he could. He had a lot of ups and downs but it came along with who he was. He was up high and on top of the world and then he’d falter a little bit and then every day was like a movie. I think back now and wonder how I had the energy to keep up with him. I don’t even have the energy to keep up with baby Ax and Andy was on a whole other level. He lived every minute to its fullness. He was the only person so far that I’ve met who actually lived that quote. He really squeezed everything he could out of every day and it was game on the second he woke up. It was crazy, but I loved every minute of it and I wish I could…  still have it.

DR: Talk to me about how the movie Blue Horizon affected him. It played on him for years.

Lyndie: It really did. For many year after it came out, he was really, really hurt and unhappy with it. He didn’t want to seem like the bad guy in the surfing world against Kelly and he thought that was how it portrayed him. I thought it was a really beautiful video. It was his video but he thought it made it seem that Kelly was the good guy and he was the bad guy; that Kelly was the white horse and he was the dark horse. He didn’t like that. He didn’t want people to think that he was the dark horse. He wanted to be the happy, good guy. It affected him for many, many years afterwards. People would bring it up and say, “Oh! I saw Blue Horizon! And he’d be like, “Yep, so what!” and look at ‘em, like, “What have you got to say about it?” He was ready for… war!

DR: I believe it was a study on what it takes for a human to beat Kelly Slater and Andy, being Andy, wasn’t going to hide a thing…

Lyndie: I felt that it showed Andy had an amazing life, that he was human and a little more radical and confrontational than Kelly. But Andy never wanted to play up that side of himself. He really wanted to be the happy, loving guy, which he was, but he came with a little bit of…

DR: Graphic honesty?

Lyndie: Totally! He was so honest it was crazy. Sometimes he would be getting interviewed and I’d hear him going in a direction and I’d literally hold my breath… thinking… please don’t! Don’t be too honest! Now, I’m, like, why did I even care? He was who he was. He’d always be honest. There was never a moment where he wouldn’t be honest. Every interview, maybe because he was my husband, I listened to every word that came out of his mouth because he was so funny… so real…  I think a lot of people felt that way. He was so interesting. On the tour it’s so mechanical, the same thing after every heat. With Andy, he was either really excited or really upset.

DR: The physical attraction when you guys met was kinda off the chain, wasn’t it?

Lyndie: Yeah! Totally! He told me loved me after a week! It was on from the second we were together. He was the most handsome man I’d ever seen and now when I look back at pictures it takes my breath away. So handsome …  and so…  perfect…  he was… perfect…  it’s still really hard for me to even look at photos… I always tell my friends I can’t believe how handsome he was. I’m shocked now that he’s not here.

(There’s a raw silence for a while as the built-up pauses and stutters pour into a wail…)

DR: How will you describe Andy to Ax when he’s older?

Lyndie: Maybe in a few years it’ll be a lot easier… but today… I’ve never met anybody like him. Even Bruce. When I didn’t know Bruce as well as I do now, I used to think, they’re so similar it’s crazy, maybe it’s why they fight so much, but now, I know Bruce, they’re nothing alike. Andy was… so amazing… so full of life and love and happiness he could make anybody laugh and get along with anybody, a five-year-old kid, a 90-year-old woman. He had so much charisma, and he was so witty, he was just perfect. I’ll be able to explain it to Ax a little better and in a little more detail. In a weird way, I really think that he knows. Sometimes when I look at him I see so much Andy it freaks me out for a minute. I’ll tell him, well, you’re exactly like your Dad.

DR: Is there anything that we don’t know, something you think it’s important we should know? I mean, for one, he was a dynamic motherfucker!

Lyndie: (Laughter! Rare laughter! So sweet!) He just wanted everybody to like him and to love his surfing. He became so doubtful about that. He cared so much. I guess everybody cares in a way.

DR: He loved that in 2010 that people, fans, were finally cheering for him.

Lyndie: Yeah, exactly, the first time he felt people were backing him and backing his surfing. He had a couple of years where he felt everybody was talking about him and being really negative, which they probably were. He struggled with his demons at times and people were extremely judgmental about them. Everybody has issues and Andy’s were broadcast around the world. In 2010, when he was on a good path, when we were living in Australia and surrounded by really good people, and when he won that contest, he couldn’t believe how many people were happy for him. I can’t even tell you the amount of many texts I received after that contest and the phone calls from people telling me they cried, like he did, after he won. If any surfer said anything good about him, and he was always reading magazines, he couldn’t believe it. He was so stoked. If someone talked about their favourite surfers and mentioned him he’d be… wow! He couldn’t believe he could ever be someone’s favourite surfer.


The Doc is Alive! It’s a Hanukkah Miracle!

Yesterday we pronounced the great Dorian "Doc" Paskowitz dead! But he ain't!… 

I’ve never been happier to’ve been so wrong. Y’see, BeachGrit had it from a usually good source that Dorian “Doc” Paskowitz, the 93-year-old surfer who developed the most common-sense guide to eating (“Pinch an inch of fat anywhere on your body and you’re overweight”) and living (“Don’t screw another man’s wife!”), and who was still surfing until a few weeks ago, was dead.

But he wasn’t! Not even a coma, as reported.

Just got off the phone with Josh his youngest son and he said he’s actually doing better!” said a more reliable source.

But, while you’re here, let’s revisit his remarkable life.

I bought Doc’s famous book Surfing and Health a few years back and was turned onto his fabulous ideas. In the intro, Doc says  “This is a book about Health – a new and entirely different definition of Health. Health is much, much more than just not being sick. Health is the presence of a Superior State of Well Being – a vigour, a vitality, which must be worked for each and every day of your life.”

It came a few weeks after I ordered it (from here) with the inscription, “I can’t tell you what a kick is gives me to send this book all the way to Australia.”

Lately, I’d been trying to get hold of Doc for weeks for a piece I wanted to write called “A 93-year-old man tells you everything you need to know about sex” and, so, me and his son Mo started a little back and forth via email.

“Doc is thrilled at the idea of meeting you and helping you with an original article.There is only one catch, when you come here to shoot/write this… You have to feed TheDOC….”


“Bring Black Card. For Snacks.”

Just as it was about to happen, I got an email from Mo, saying:

“All on HOLD. Will give more info later…”

Damm, ol Doc, the Russian Jew, who went to Stanford, became a doctor, threw it all in to chase surf, introduce surfing to Israel (and later to the Palestinians of Gaza) rear children, surf up and down the American coastlines with nine kids in a 21-foot van, following his philosophy that wisdom comes not from formal education but experience, write books, teach at community college, inspire the hell out of cats like Rob Machado and Kelly Slater and, still, in his nineties, surf the waves of Hawaii’s South Shore, albeit on his knees after his hinges gave out.

A documentary of his life was made called Surfwise (Click on the photo to watch) and, even if he comes across as a little tyrannical, maybe crazy, the stories of him and his wife fucking in the van while the kids blocked their ears and living on gruel and beans and surfing their lives away, is an example of life as an experiment, as a Great Dream.

Doc’s legacy for most of us, maybe for you, will be his book. It’ll change your life, swear to god.

And keep rooting for the Doc! Maybe it really will be a Hanukkah miracle!

A Real-Life Surf Goth Reviews the Pro Tour!

Such a halloween treat. Professional surfing has never been so evil!

Rarely do goth kids get in on surf prognostication. We are, therefore, very lucky to have SinDie of Irvine as a fan and contributor. Read and learn about the ASP’s top surfers as the tour heads to the scariest place ever. Oahu! Without further ado, we present…SinDie.

Chamber Divine is the favorite club of my ilk. We materialize like visions each Tuesday, trancelike to hear Roderick spin his ethereal music: Bauhaus, Sisters of Mercy, Specimen – all divine! In a halo of clove cigarette smoke we dance until dawn.

Then! The sun destroys the night and we must return to our lairs of Irvine and Mission Viejo.

How may I, SinDie of Irvine, be expected to assess those who earn their gold from sea-nymphing on the World Tour?

This art of surfing has not one apothecary jar’s worth of dark divine, but I will do my best to make the jockular nature of surf relevant to those of us who dwell in the shadows of the night.

Title hunt:

I’ve often had this fantasy that Gabriel Medina and his family are really vampires traveling the world, claiming ASP events and victims. A tour stop in France, a few bloodless corpses found in the alleys of Bayonne. Brazil is the home to the practice of Barradaci, the drinking of blood to consume the power of one’s victims. I, SinDie, dream this dark fantasy to make bearable the testosterone-laden droning that is the ASP world tour machine of old.

Mick Fanning: Release us from this mortal coil. Mick looks like a circumcised phallus. His neck runs from his shoulders to his earlobes with nary a piercing in between. He reminds me of the football players in high school who tormented me each and every day with shouts of “Hey it’s not Halloween yet.” A thousand curses on your tanned, hairless, muscled backs!

Kelly Slater: The blood of the ancients courses through his veins. How else could one so long in years play so with the seawolf pups? As the world title will go down at Pipeline I know this: The gods are alive and magic is afoot!

The Rest!

John John Florence: The boy-man has much to learn in the ways of the world, so we watch and are fascinated by his water dancing. Yet he reminds one in looks of the Vampire Lestat. He can’t be all bad.

Joel Parkinson: Among the shadows dancing he does not, he has stepped into the bright spotlight unawares that future glory waits for him. Future glory not bound to this earth, but to the sea!

Josh Kerr: Oh mid-level pro of confusion! Absinthe will take this one from air-dances and California dwelling into the realm of those who can truly see what awaits them! Grand, grand plans are afoot and Lord Kerr will rise from the ashes of his former self. Drink the absinthe Josh and claim your future!

Julian Wilson: This lover of life hath not the wherewithal to soar into Top 10 reality. Pourquoi? Because his mind has not tasted the darkness that lay waiting for those who doubt themselves, for those who live in the shadows, for those who lock themselves in their closets and cry! cry! cry! all night.

Jordy Smith: Perhaps closest in spirit and awareness to the tethers that bind us to the mortal coil that is life on earth, this African prince knows love, life and the horrors of being ripped apart by jackals.

Matt Wilkinson: Curse the gods for not making him top 10! His cherubic skin stays pale even after a Winter in Hawaii. In SinDie’s fantasies I dress up as Malefocent and he dons wings and we soar through the pleasures carnal… and… well, do excuse me now I have to go write some poetry.

Now how about a little Beach Goth?

The Cleanest Men in Show Biz

Two drug-free athletes in their forties own board sports. Tell me that ain't a coincidence… 

One man is 46-years-old. The other, 42.

Tony Hawk and Kelly Slater. One causes mayhem with a solitary spin; the other drops 3.26 minutes worth of… what’d you even call that? Kelly calls it an 810 (click here to read interview).

Granted, Hawk’s latest video edit, Perched, was pieced together over months while Slater’s single 540 was simply a moment in time.

But, Christ, looking at the two of them, at that age, doing that… who’s suddenly ashamed at blaming their lack of skill on age? What inspiration Tony and Kelly are!

Two totally different men, of course, but there is one defining characteristic they share. Both were marginalised from within their own sport early on in their careers for their clean living and refusal to hang out and sink piss.

Hawk drew the ire of skating’s coolest, including Duane Peters, the child prodigy turned tattooed, tooth missing, pot-bellied, booze-and-drug-addled punk rocker who recalls spitting on The Birdman “a lot”.

And do you think Slater won any fans when he was quoted on the cover of the now-defunct Waves magazine stating, “Being an Aussie is a poor excuse for getting on the piss”.

But both stuck to their guns, continuing to rack up wins, fame and glory while the detractors either disappeared, snuck off to rehab, or worse still, got a job in the industry.

But isn’t life just like that? And to some degree it’ll start on the school playground. The cool kids and the weirdos. Those bathed in glory and/or pussy from an early age and those gifted an awkwardness that’ll go one of two ways. A vengeful school shooting or… the creation of Apple.

Stumble upon any school reunion and the funny little algorithm will be plain to see. The once-were Mr and Mrs Cool, clinging onto 1985 or whenever, usually sporting a couple extra kilos and a bad tattoo. “Oh, that’s your children’s names? How cool. Do I want to do some… speed?” 

Then there’s the weirdo, primed and pumped (if not incarcerated for said shooting) ready to dazzle with a list of achievements and, often, a trophy wife to boot.

Kelly Slater and Tony Hawk. Never cool, but forever cool. Kids. Don’t do drugs.