Candid: Print is Dead! Long live What Youth!

How Travis Ferré and pals decapitated Surfing magazine to create a media hothouse. What Youth is #1!

“Don’t try.” –  Chuck Bukowski’s epitaph, Green Hills Memorial Park, LA.

Our story, which is the story of What Youth, begins on the balcony of Mr Travis Ferré’s Huntington Beach apartment four-ish years ago. Chicken fries on the Weber hot plate and Coors Light is served. The writer Stuart Cornuelle recites Bukowski poems in a corner while Travis rubs the cover of his Keraouc book Big Sur as if it is the holy koran.

Travis is the editor-in-chief of Surfing magazine, a high-volume title produced by Source Interlink, who are the also owners of Surfer. In a rare departure from the magazine’s usual style, Travis has given his latest issue over to Kai Neville’s newest film, Lost Atlas.

Travis is pleased with the result. And, so is Kai. In the wings, Surfing‘s gun writer Stuart Cornuelle and their New York-based designer Scott Chenoweth also feel an unusual fizz.

But, what is this fizz?

Very soon they will recognise it as the first electrical impulse of a great idea, one that will soon have them emptying their desks, seeking an investor, and moving out of the comfortable world of mass media and into independent publishing.

This impulse has been turned into What Youth, the online portal (featuring Kai’s latest clips) and the quarterly magazine, now up to issue nine.

Every couple of months when a new issue of What Youth appears I’m taken aback a little. Isn’t print dead?

Well, yeah. But here’s a secret about the publishing biz. It’s a house of cards, a Ponzi scam, built entirely upon the premise that all that expensive advertising actually works. That anyone even connects with print anymore. How do you consume your surf news? Online, yeah? Magazines are a curio, a novelty from a past when screens didn’t soak up our lives. There’ll come a day, and it’s a day coming real soon, when the backbone of print, advertisers prepared to piss away five or 10k for a few pages, say, no more.

What Youth will survive the carnage. It’s online, it’s film, it’s paper, it’s whatever you want it to be. Print is dead. Long live What Youth. Now let’s talk to one of its founders and print editor, Travis Ferré, on its birth and adolescence…

How about you tell me how it all metastasised, you slick bastard.

That’s the most loaded question! Well, Kai and I had such a good time working together and it started out as that casual barbecue conversation. We just thought it’d be cool if we could put a lot more energy into Kai’s films and into print pieces and into a daily online approach to how it all comes together. I was pretty happy being editor at Surfing. But, at the same time, I was up for a challenge. I was 29, with no mortgage, no kids, nothing to hold me back. We were all in the same position. Leaving good opportunities to try something wild is easy when you ain’t shackled.

What limitations did you have at Surfing?

I liked what we did, like, I didn’t feel like an idea wasn’t doable, but it’s a brand that’s been around since 1964 and it’s surrounded by a lot of infrastructure to make it what it is, and you lose a little flexibility in connecting. Starting fresh, for us, was what we felt needed to be done. Surfing’s a big ship that’s not going anywhere, but it was time for someone to jump and start a title that was a little more manoeuvrable.

Did the decapitation of your masters at Surfing (the editor-in-chief, the designer and their best writer all leaving) cause poor vibrations? 

Oh, it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It was the only place I’d worked since I finished school. There were so many good people who’d given me everything. When I told them, there were no freak-outs, only a kinda sadness.

Oh, you paper over the cracks! Breaking up ain’t never easy!

Well, I respectfully made my transition. I didn’t want to make it hard on anyone. I stayed and smoothed the transition as much as I could. I wanted to make sure the final issue I was involved in was finished. I did what was needed. I was there for two more weeks.

Investors or y’stump the cash y’selves? 

We had a little bit of both. We had a private individual put in some of the initial costs of the building, but, it was really, like, we had a lot of support from industry out of the gates. They put faith in the product they knew we could create.

Who came up with the name? 

Coming up with the name was one of the funnest processes. We had a few names early on, names we worked art direction around. None of it worked. And, then, Stuart said, “What Youth” one night when we were talking names. And, after weeks and weeks, it sounded exactly like what wee doing and it epitomised what the current generation is about and it worked graphically.

What is the current generation, and by extension What Youth about? 

It’s top-notch surfing interacting with the world around it and doing it with good photography and design and doing it thoughtfully. We have this saying, Radical Class, that represents that. Being radical, but doing it with class, doing it well, thoughtfully, paying attention to the world around you and participating in it. This generation is full of really interesting thinkers, who think about the big picture, and about what surfing means.

What does surfing mean? 

I guess, surfing is, like, this thing we all do no matter what and we’ll always do it. What Youth leads with that, with some of the best sequences, some of the best high-performance surfing to always lead with that, some of the best sequences, some of the best high performance surfing in it. A magazine that shows what our culture means, what guys are into, like photography.

As a percentage, what was your pay cut when you left Surfing? 

Forty per cent, maybe more. I didn’t get paid for the first eight months. I was living off my savings, spending maybe $1500 a month. But, that kinda sacrifice comes with the territory. And, I didn’t have any obligations that beyond being a surfer in California. And, I just knew I had family and friends so if shit hit the fan, I’d land somewhere kinda soft.

Now, the first issue is back, what did you like about it? 

Obviously, it’s really exciting to see modern surf imagery that big on really nice, thick paper. I really liked the feature and interview with fashion photographer Dan Martensen. Felt unique and a departure for a surf magazine. And, we all liked keeping the interviews candid and casual and authentic. We want to give an accurate portrayal of what these guys are like when they’re on the road, what they’re talking about.

What didn’t work as well? 

Nudity doesn’t work in America. We found that out. Magazine shops in America aren’t quite ready for that.  I think we underestimated that a touch.

What is the single most important, pivotal issue, in surfing? 

We focus on, like, less like an issue, being critical of things and trying to…  uh…  install the zest for travelling with your friends and surfing. We want What Youth to be aspirational, about the pairings of guys having more to do with style and personality than what brand they ride for. Hitting the road for other reason that just to do it. Documenting that in an authentic way.

…and why Dustin Barca won’t be mayor of Kauai…

Can environmental hero Dustin Barca beat the football hero incumbent Bernie Carvalho for the Kauai mayoralty? Maybe not…

Dustin Barca will never be the mayor of Kauai.  Carvalho is a football hero and favourite son of the powers that be. He toes the line, does what he is told, and in this small island of political corruption, is predictable.

Barca is not. He is a pro surfer, labelled as a hot head, and now cools his heels as an MMA fighter. This does not impress the vast “mauka” population that does not surf (nor cares who does) because they rely on their agricultural jobs, the paycheck, and the healthcare for their family that the ag-industry provides.

In this “small town” know as Kauai, it’s better to embrace the devil you know than the devil you don’t know when it comes to political “common sense”.

Sure there were what seemed like thousands of “Barca4Mayor” posters and bumper stickers circulating all over the island but that doesn’t mean squat if you break it down to the basics:

1. Not everyone on Kauai surfs

2. The agricultural industries (those people who provide jobs/wages/healthcare) have Carvalho’s undying attention

3. Not everyone with Barca4Mayor bumper stickers can even vote (because they are not permanent residents of the island).

In many ways, the illusion of support for Barca stems from the fact that the seasonal, part-time “residents” of Kauai are actually transients from the mainland — mostly from California, but plenty from the east coast. And Canada. Yeah, Canada —not even eligible to register to vote if they decided to become full-time Kauai residents.

They are haole: not “born and raised on Kauai and, unlike Oahu and other over-populated islands, that term is used correctly here. If you are not born and raised on the Garden Island, you are haole. Colour does not matter.

You cannot show up on Kauai, try to blend in with your Asian or Latino culture, pick up some pidgin, and be local. If they don’t know you, if they didn’t grow up with you, you are a haole. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just a fact.

I am a haole. I have lived on the island for a few years. I have a lot of “born and raised” local friends on Kauai. But I am only a “resident” of Kauai. And that’s fine with everyone, so long as you know and acknowledge your place in the island’s culture.

Which brings us back to Barca4Mayor:  In the primary elections, Carvalho smoked Barca with a 2-1 vote advantage (over 10,000 vs 5,000) votes. They will go head-to-head in the general election and Carvalho will walk away easily with a second term.

Why? All those Barca4Mayor signs and bumper stickers are not on the lawns or cars of most locals. The South Park temporary-locals of Hanalei give a false illusion of support but most of those haoles can’t even vote on in Hawaii. Move away from Haole-Hanalei and it’s clear that the working class core of the island on the east side, south, and (most most definitely) west side will never support someone with “haole” support who appears to threaten their livelihood.

Dustin Barca at a mayoral rally on Kauai
Why should Barca be given the keys to Kauai? How about a platform that places the health of the island, and the people, and a pragmatic approach to the scourge of meth, above the whims of big biz? "I would die for this island," he says.

Why Dustin Barca Should Be the Next Mayor of Kauai

Tomoz, Kauai goes to the polls to elect a new mayor. Should it be pro surfer and MMA fighter Dustin Barca? We say yes!

These days, utter the phrase “save the environment” and there’s every chance you’ll draw yawns or be called a “stinking hippie,”.

But, you gonna call Dustin Barca a stinking hippie?

It’s not breaking news that the former pro-surfer-turned-cage-fighter has leapt to the defense of the environment of his beautiful, lush, tropical island home of Kauai.

But it does warrant a mention that a couple years in, Barca’s still in the fight and will be contesting for the title of Mayor of Kauai on November 4 (tomorrow!) with a pledge to tackle multinational chemical companies he says are using the island as “an open air experimental lab”.

“The root issue we are fighting against is poison,” says Barca. “Poison in our air, Poison in our drinking water and water tables. Poison in our soil. Poison on our reefs. Poison around our homes, schools and hospitals. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that that much poison is not good for us.”

Those “poisons’’, Barca says, are being developed to speed along the development of the new boogie man on the block, the genetically modified crop.

But the issue of genetically modified crops is also quite the divisive one as evidenced by a landmark case in the Supreme Court of Western Australia earlier this year.

Two neighbouring farmers, one organically certified, the other a proponent of genetically modified crops found themselves the center of world-wide attention after the organically certified farmer, Steve Marsh, contended his neighbor, Micheal Baxter’s crops had contaminated his.

Despite global support for Marsh, the judge ruled against his claim and Marsh lost both the case, and his organic certification.

Barca says he’s aware of the fluctuating support environmental issues can bring but has no plans of backing down long after the rallies are finished and the crowd’s gone home.

“Quitting is not a option when you are fighting for the health of your ‘ohana (family) and ‘aina (natural resources),” he says. “On Kaua’i, we are born and raised to protect what we love and right now, with the world environmentally at a tipping point everybody needs to unite no matter what color or creed they are. Everyone needs to get their heads out and realize what’s going on.”

Barca for mayor? Say yes!



Cory Lopez
"You know how Andy was. Everything was full bore. We were best friends and I'd have him in a heat, and in some of those years I was top 10 or top eight and he was running for the title, and we'd be in the water screaming against each other. It'd take a good two hours or even the next day for us to be normal again. Andy was a real passionate human being but he had so much love for everyone."

“We were the radical kids!” Cory on Andy

The former world number eight Cory Lopez remembers his best friend Andy Irons… 

Cory Lopez is the 37-year-old surfer who can claim Andy Irons as his best pal. The pair met when they were both lighting up the boys division at the US amateurs at Diamond Head on Oahu. Cory was 13; Andy was 12.

Andy thought Cory, with his long dyed black hair, was “a punk.” But, still, they hung out, ’cause Cory, being Cory, and Andy being Andy, well, “we were the radical kids in our group. I came from a single dad and he was running loose and having fun. We weren’t bad kids but we were wild kids. My brother Shea was three years older than me and so when I was 13 I was doing the things 16 years old do. Andy saw me having fun and… you know how it is. We were ready to surf and have a good time…”

And so from amateurs to the qualifying series and to the world tour, the pair became as tight as friends get. Every January when the tour went into its yearly hiatus after Pipe, the pair would grab their girls and vay-cay somewhere not necessarily for the waves, but anywhere away from the heats and cameras and phones and whatever else, somewhere, and it was usually in the Caribbean, where they could surf a little, swim, scuba dive, inhale a cocktail here and there. Flash trips.

Andy Irons and Cory Lopez with wives at the Surfer Poll
Lyndie and Andy Irons and Cory and Jenn Lopez at the Surfer Poll awards. Check the time in the bottom right corner. Sweaty!

“No pressure, just me, him and our girlfriends,” says says Cory today, speaking on one of those wonderfully clear autumn nights at Indian Rocks on Florida’s Gulf Coast. A day that also marks the fourth anniversary of Andy’s death in room 324 at the Grant Hyatt, Forth-Worth International Airport.

Cory had just landed from a trip to maybe the Azores, or was it Donkey Bay, Cory can’t quite remember, but he was listening to voicemails from Andy, who was in Miami the night before, saying, “Cory! Where you at?” And this is where Cory laughs ’cause Andy couldn’t quite fathom that even though Cory lived in Florida, Miami was a four-hour drive, even with your foot to the floor.

And then he heard from the Venice Beach filmmaker Alek Parker that Andy had just been found dead in Texas. “Alek told me and I didn’t want to believe it. I got another phone call and you just don’t start a rumour like that. No one would fake a rumour like that. It instantly hit. There’s disbelief, all these emotions, you can’t believe it’s true but you know it…is… true. You want it to be a nightmares that you can wake from. I still have dreams that it’s not true.”

Let’s talk a little about Andy, the dynamic motherfucker. “You know how Andy was. Everything was full-bore. We were best friends and I’d have him in a heat, and in some of those years I was top eight and he was running for the title, and we’d be in the water screaming against each other. It’d take a good two hours or even the next day for us to be normal again. Andy was a real passionate human being but he had so much love for everyone.”

Cory says that Andy’s great social skill was his phenomenal memory. “He could go anywhere in the world and anyone he’d met at any time in the past, he’d remember their name and what they were talking about, even if it was five years before. He’d make them feel so special. Y’know, I was lucky to have been so close to him for so many years. I think about him all the time. (His death) is something I’ll never get over, no matter how much time goes by. I think about his every day. I’ve had dreams about him, crazy dream, dreams that would blow your mind, but I’m not going to share them.

“Life and death is such a fine edge we ride. Andy wouldn’t have been who he was if he didn’t do what he did. That’s why we loved him so much, because he was so extreme. We lived vicariously through his radical and wild life.”

Andy Irons was a dynamic motherfucker!

Andy Irons' last-ever interview, recorded shortly before flying to Puerto Rico in November 2010… 

The surfing magazine plays a dishonest hand. We gild the pro surfer’s life as the greatest aspiration but for so much it’s a life spent in pressurised aluminium tubes and at airports, feet folded under chairs, food served in foil-wrapped rectangles, headphones over ears, with backpacks as pillows.

Who talks of this loneliness? Who tells you when you’re 12 years old and ruling the beach all you want to be is an ASP professional?  Who tells you that when you make it, in just nine months you’ll travel from Australia to Brazil to South Africa to Tahiti to California to Europe to Puerto Rico to Hawaii and home again just in time for Christmas?

Who tells you of the overnight layovers in anonymous airport hotels? Another check-in, another wake-up call, another mini-bar, another phone call to the woman you love. And, then, when you get to the other side of the world, you wait around in more hotel rooms for two weeks for a contest to run.

Dream Tour? Yeah, it is. But it ain’t always dreamy.

Four years ago today, Andy Irons died in a Texas hotel room, bed sheets pulled to his neck, an empty Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup on the floor beside him, six thousand clicks from a wife pregnant with his son Axel and a home gilded by the rays of a Hanalei sun.

I spoke to AI before he flew to Puerto Rico about his fears, his loves, about recurring dreams and about a comeback year punctuated by the exclamation mark of a surprise win at Teahupoo. Surprising because after a year-and-a-half on the sidelines, the Champ was a long way off his peak. In a cartoon I wrote shortly before his death, Kelly Slater and Andy Irons muse on the loneliness of competition.

The week before I spoke to Andy, I’d been in the Canary Islands with his little brother, Bruce, and we’d recorded an unusually thoughtful late-night conversation.

In both interviews both men said the same thing.

Andy: “If I ever lost my brother, I don’t know what I’d do. I couldn’t live without him.”

Bruce: “Andy’s my brother and I don’t know what I’d do if he weren’t around.”

Andy Irons was full of hope, he was frank, he was friendly and his gift for surfing was innate. And now? Now? The party’s over, the chairs are upside down on tables and the lights are off. The fat lady has, to quote AI, honked her horn.

DR: Is that the Champ? 

AI: Is that Rielly? I know that voice…

Hey, I’m talking to the fucken Champ! 

The people’s champ! That’s me! Fuck yeah! (Laughing) Fuck yeah, how y’doin, brah?

I’m good, if y’count owning balls like peanuts good. I know you’re good. After Tahiti, you’ve got your comeback locked down tight like a little girls tuna (Editor’s note. This is a quote from AI’s favourite show, Eastbound and Down, series two. It ain’t me being a weirdo.) 

Yeah, yeah! Kenny Powers, bro.

Kenny fucken Powers. Andy fucken Irons. 

Kenny fucken Powers! You know that! Hey, so what are we doing? What…what… what’s this whole deal (interview) about, D? Is this for the (Stab hardcover) book?

Yeah. Y’know how it is. It ain’t a book without The Champ inside. Last year we shot you for an interview about your awesome style… 

You should see me right now. First time in three years, bro, that I’m down to my gold comp weight, 176. This winter it…is…fucken…on, brah. Fucken major Kenny Powers way.

You’re so fucken back. 

My results don’t speak for themselves (apart from Tahiti), but I fucken haven’t surfed so much in ages, brah. I’ve been surfing two times a day with Freddie P and Dusty Payne. Dusty Payne. That kid fucken pumps me up! He’s my new Cory Lopez. I lost Lopey (from the tour) and I’ve frickin’ finally got some sparring partners. Dusty’s the coolest, gnarliest little kid. Full Maui style, brah. Those guys, they’re a different breed, brah. Dusty is awesome.

Dusty’s gold, almost as gold as his reddish-gold hair. 

He’s fucken classic as shit.

I just came back from the Canaries with your brother. He’s supersonic, too. 

How’s this? I was in Madrid on the way to Portugal and I’m going, this guy looks like my brother and he goes, “It is your fucken brother.” He comes up on me… (laughs)… all creepy and sweaty, introduced Evan Geiselman to me as Evan…(laughs) Geiselfuck! And, then he showed me footage of this wave-pool thing. It was fucken sick, but, wave-pool’s are so hard to surf. Y’gotta read those things like the fucken Matrix!

Did Bruce tell you about all the poor bastards in wheelchairs in Tenerife? 

The Canary Islands? Wheelchairville?

Yup, go to a hotel and instead of hire car booths in the lobby, there’s a rack of motorised wheelchairs… 

No shit!

Hey, how good is this! We went to a party with some locals at the beach and all our shit got ripped off! 

(Laughs) Holy shit (laughs)… hey, so, let’s do this interview or have we been doing it? (Laughs)

Got a few lil gems. But, tell me, whenever I spoke to Bruce I always referred to him as The Champ’s Brother. I’d knock on his door and yell, “That the Champ’s Brother?” 

I love it!

Does Bruce call you The Champ at home? 

Fuck, I am the people’s champ, brah. You know, Slater’s taking 10 this year and it’s making my three look all the more… I told him, “Get that 10 and make my three look that much cooler, brah, cause I’m the only one who took you out.” And he laughed and I said, “No, I’m serious.”

Late at night, in bed, what keeps you awake, what are you fears? 

I’m an insomniac. I’m awake all the time, anyway, but my fears are fucken failure, letting down my family, my wife and I’m, fuck, I’m scared to be a quadriplegic, I’ll tell you that right now. A friend of mine’s in a wheelchair now from surfing and that sometimes pops into my mind at night and shit what with the waves we surf. I don’t think I could ever handle it. I’m a wild animal but that would really crash my spirit.

Andy Irons proposes to Lyndie Dupuis on Tavarua, June 2007.
Andy proposes to his then-gal of four years, Lyndie Dupuis, on Tavarua island, Fiji, in 2007. “Let’s go for a walk,” said Andy, steering Lyndie to a patch of sand that had “Will you marry me?” written in it. Later that year they got married on Kauai and on December 8 2010, their boy Andrew Axel Irons was born. Photo by Brian Bielmann (who also shot the opening underwater photo.)

When you need to put your mind in a good place, what beautiful memories do you revive? 

I still go back to my first surf at the pier, aged seven. Riding this wave that didn’t really break and it was the best feeling I’ve ever felt in my life. I went left, right, left and the wave didn’t really break and I was on the glide. I remember my dad being so proud that I stood up and rode the wave for as long as I did.

What childhood dreams have stuck with you? 

It’s usually, 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.

Have you ever truly believed you were about to die? 

Fuck, yeah! I’ve had some moments, even turbulence in an airplane, where I felt f’sure the plane might crash. I’ve even had planes crashing in my dreams and woken up on a plane. The other nightmare I have is, I’m on a plane and the bottom’s made of glass and it starts cracking. But, fuck, that wave in Tahiti where I got stuck in the lip and froze with fear and just made it? I really felt like I might be physically hurt then. That wave was, literally, a major moment in my life. I remember telling Mark Healy that I’d pulled back on a wave, that I’d fagged out, and he said, “The next one, just put your head down and go”. Bruce was actually trying to get that wave and he said, “Y’better go, FAG!” and the next thing you know I was in the lip and held up and…fucken… I was about to jump, I couldn’t move, I was petrified with fear, literally frozen with fear. I made the wave frozen with fear. I couldn’t move my arm or anything. Somehow it worked out and I didn’t land on my head and get my neck broken. But, it was the wave of my life. I think about that wave all the time.

Talk to me about failure. 

To me, failure is not living up to my potential. The whole world title thing was my major drive. I didn’t want to have that Taj Burrow thing where you surf so good but you don’t have a world title. I didn’t want to have that burden. That’s what drove me to take on Kelly. I couldn’t handle being 40 years old and living on Kauai and people telling me, “Oh you should’ve won the world title but you didn’t quite put it together.”

What’s your greatest achievement? 

It’s going to be in December. It’s coming. Little Axel Jason Irons is on his way. The name Jason is my cousin’s name. Jason’s my hero. It’s my dad’s brother’s kid. My dad tried to get me surfing, but it scared the shit out of me and it turned me off. And, Jason, who I looked up to my whole life, is a Shane Dorian-kinda guy, a genuine good person. He surfs like Tom Carroll mixed with Occy. He rides for Billabong and it’s a major reason why I ride with Billabong now. He’s my fucken hero. He’s a stud. Always been the nicest, coolest badass, but in the best way. No showboating and when it comes down to it, just everything I’d like to be like. He’s seven years older than me and I’ve always tried to tag along with him. I tried to comb my hair like him, fucken, you name it, whatever he had or did, I had to get or do. When he got into BMX, we (AI and Bruce) got into BMX. He showed me Pump and Surf Into Summer (iconic Billabong surf films), he got me into surf magazines, everything about surfing I’m doing today, is because of him.

What would you change about your life? 

Not a thing. Everything’s a learning curve. There’s a couple of things (laughs) I’d like to take back, but fuck, I wouldn’t be who I am or where I am today. You gotta go in the mud sometimes to figure out 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. Straight-up, fuckin A. The lifestyle we’ve got and the lifestyle I’ve 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 or I saw it in a fucken movie. Straight up. It’s the life I wanted since I caught my first wave.

Do you have a fear of being broke? 

Fuck no! I come from humble beginnings. As long as I have a surfboard, a pair of trunks and a roof over my head and, if I don’t a have a roof a tent, I mean, I’ll be happy and a hippy living  on bananas. Me and my bother have lived with my mum in a fricken place with no kitchen. What I have now is beautiful and all but I could go back the other way and live like that if I had to. But, I’m not gonna.

Do you have a fear of prison? 

Shit yeah. That would break me. I’ve had friends that’ve gone in wild animals and come out numb.

What do you like most about your body?

 My feet. They’re not too jacked up. Everything else is pretty blown out and scarred up. My feet handle it.

Who or what is your greatest love? 

My wife, right now, she’s fricken… ah, wait… you know what, I’m sorry, but surfing. Surfing’s the only thing that’s always been there day in, day out, fucken girlfriend breakups, fucken report card fails, surfing always makes you feel better. No matter what, when I’m in the water, even if I don’t catch a wave and just swim in the ocean, I always come out a better person.

Do you fear losing the love of your life? 

If I ever lost Lyndie or my parents or my brother, I don’t know what I’d do. I couldn’t live without them.

If you weren’t The Champ, who would you like to be and why? 

I admire a lot of people for different reasons, for their different traits and for the different values they have. But, I don’t know man, everyone has their own problems. Everyone’s got ‘em. It doesn’t matter who you are, there’s always something wrong with ‘em. I’m happy with myself.

Enough of the fruity shit. How’s that pussy palace of yours? 

The home at Hanalei? I call it the Hanalei Bomber. It’s radical, it’s my dream. I grew up across the street in my dad’s toolshed that we turned into a bedroom and it’s four houses across from the water. It’s everything I thought I wouldn’t or couldn’t have. It’s more than I could possibly fathom. No one handed it to me. I had to fucken go and do it myself. And, it’s my proudest accomplishment.

Anything y’wanna tell the world, now that AI is back? 

People have actually been so… fucken … cool with wanting me to come back. People that didn’t even like me, who thought I wan an arrogant little fucker, are now coming outta the woodwork and being stoked. Richie Collins (radical Californian pro surfer of the eighties) sent Lyndie an email today telling me to stick with it and how stoked he was that I was back on the world tour and how much he likes to watch me and that he only tunes in (on the webcast) to see if I’m there. To me, that’s the ultra fucken compliment.

We all missed The Champ. 

I swear, I don’t know what it was, but, yeah, I mean, shit, it’s been a trip. In Portugal, after my heats, people were coming up to me and all kinds of cool shit. Back in the day, it was sour apples and a couple of threats but I haven’t had that in a long time. It’s getting me really motivated to try and do good, you know, put my better foot forward.

Is it a good time to bet on the champ? 

Ha! I don’t want the pressure of fucken losing someone else’s money. But, I’m not going to pull that spoiled brat tantrum shit anymore. That was old Andy. The new Andy is still real passionate, but fricken, I’m gonna try my fucken hardest until the fat lady horns.