Surfing in Berlin
Santa Cruz ex-pat Ira Mowen is chasing cash via Kickstarter to make a movie about a once-a-week wave that lights up just outside the German capital of Berlin. But the badly-designed ship that creates this monster wake is about to be replaced by a sleeker design. But sleeker design equals no wave! Compelling! | Photo: Ira Mowen

Epic: A German Surf Movie

Santa Cruz-expat Ira Mowen's odd project about a once-a-day wave that is, suddenly, in grave peril!

surfing in berlin
Tavarua? Sumatra? Nein!

Can you imagine what it’s like to be a surfer living in Berlin? Yeah, sure, you’ve got all those cultural hits playing (marvel at the Brandenburg gate, the Reichstag, hunks of the old Berlin Wall, stroll down the Kurfustendamm, hit the bars and clubs) but old habits die the hardest.

Ira Mowen drifted into Berlin from the States and had soon accrued all the attachments necessary for modern hipsterdom (moto, cute cams, twin fin, mat, journals, Polaroids, long hair parted delicately in the middle and accessorised with beard etc) but was missing the most important ingredient, waves to shred.

And then after six years, there it was. The massive wake created by a poorly designed ship coming back to port, once a day. Head-high, fast and fat.

“Like a head-high swell hitting 38th, in Capitola in Santa Cruz,”, says Mowen.

Except it’s real hard to catch. So hard Mowen had a seven-foot, twin-keel Simmons-style sled built for the joint.

Anyway, the ship that creates the wave is being replaced by a ship that’s sleeker, faster, with a hull that ain’t got the same gas-guzzling drag. But sleeker equals no wave. And so Mowen is making a film (and selling tees, books, framed photos too) about the experience.

Throw some cash at his Kickstarter (click here) and at least let’s get some pretty pictures of it before it vanishes…

Surf Berlin: 60 seconds from Ira Mowen on Vimeo.

Chas Smith with his book Welcome to Hawaii Now Go to Hell
"The following extract comes roughly one-third of the way through the book, if I recall," says Chas Smith, "and was a dream come true. It was perfect. It was so perfect, in fact."

(Audio) When Eddie Slapped G

Chas Smith reads from Welcome to Hawaii Now Go to Hell. Here, Eddie Rothman slaps Billabong's Graham Stapelberg…

From the author: The extract you’ll hear comes roughly one-third of the way through the book, if I recall, and was a dream come true. I had sold the concept to my publisher based on past North Shore experience. The New York executives sat across the table and rubbed their eyes in disbelief as I described the ever beautiful but ever ominous North Shore. I sold the dream/nightmare and was hoping beyond hope that the 2011 season would live up to the hype. Eddie going to the Billabong house and having a slap while I was flying across the Pacific far exceeded even my wildest hopes. That event sent the tone for my winter of 2011. It was grandly amazing. Everyone was more tense, more scared, more weird, more North Shore. Surfers of all stripes were, quite literally, shaking as they walked down the bike path for their daily surf check. And then John John won the Triple Crown. It was perfect. It was so perfect, in fact, that I only needed 24 hrs to tell the whole story. Fortuna? She loved me that winter. She loved me lots.”

(You can buy the book here!)


How to survive a surf injury

Opiates, self-loathing and sit-ups. Wait, screw the sit-ups… 

It’s been a rough year. I destroyed my shoulder bodysurfing Pipe last December, got it rebuilt using a dead man’s ligaments and assorted screws. Fought through physical therapy long enough to break my collar bone spearfishing. Sat out two months of life waiting for it to heal and then copped a bone infection that put me put for two more. I’ve got this recovery thing down.


Opiates, weed, and booze are your friends. Pop a few Percocet, hit the bong and drown your sorrows. You won’t heal any faster, but life will pass in a blissful stupor. One day you’ll wake up hung over and dope sick because your asshole doctor cut you off from the gravy train and you don’t know any teenagers to score dope from, but that’s a worry for tomorrow. Today you’re riding high in the sky rambling on to your wife about the ASP judging criteria and how they’re obviously inflating scores to create more tension during heats.

Self loathing

This one dovetails nicely with the preceding. Spend hours in front of a mirror, watch your waistline expand and your upper body shrivel.  Gaze in awe as your cock shrinks in increments, as your shorts cut deeper and deeper into that sagging pile of shit your call a stomach. You disgusting pile of shit, you should be ashamed of yourself.

Contemplate suicide

Don’t do it.  Offing yourself is for fucking losers and pussies. But think about how you’d do it, should you ever turn into such a sad sack piece of shit that you can’t think of any better option than flipping the off switch and joining the void. Would you don black face and drive around running stop signs in LA? Swallow the balance of that bottle of benzos and chase it with half a bottle of gin? Go old school and kick out a chair while wearing an extension cord necktie? So many choices, but how to choose?

Alienate your loved ones

Fuck ’em anyway. What do they know about what you’re going through. You’re the only person who’s ever suffered this much in the history of humanity. Your wife’s a selfish bitch. Who cares what she cooks for dinner? Why can’t she just leave you the fuck alone. Throw a chair at her, call her fat, tell her she’s the biggest mistake you ever made. If you’ve gotta feel this bad, make everyone around you share the pain.

Do sit-ups

Nah, fuck that. Play video games. Go online and write racist messages on youtube. Wallow in your own despair until it fills your gut and spills out every orifice you have. Call an old lady a faggot. Fuck this world and everyone in it.

Is this the Greatest Surf Film of all time?

In which, among other things, Mark Occhilupo admits his largest regret.

Gerard Butler stood at the urinal pissing a vigorous stream. He had been holding it in all the way down the red carpet, those infernal camera flashes flashing. Through the interviews. Past empty conversations with drones. Fame was a heavy burden. Heaviest, maybe, on his bladder.

But, for the moment, he was free and his flow was strong. He looked to his left and it was empty. And he looked to his right. There, he saw a handsome young man with a chestnut brown face and lips as soft as pillows.

“You in the biz?” he asked.

“No, I’m just Sterling,” the young man responded. “Abby’s brother.”

Gerard squinted his eyes, recognizing certain features shared by his most recent co-star Abby, or Abigail, Spencer. “I see it,” he confirmed, before continuing, “Do you know who Rob Lowe is? Damn it. You look just like Rob Lowe…”

The young man said nothing. Gerard kept looking at him, sighed his approval, then zipped up and waltzed into the night feeling like a new man.

Sterling Spencer also left, feeling very good but not because he had a satisfying micturition. He had, in fact, been unable to perform while Gerard Butler stared directly into his face. He felt very good because he was not Rob Lowe. He was, rather, what Rob Lowe dreamed of being. A professional surfer and he knew he was on the brink of his own total fame.

Surf has, for the past sixty years, held a unique place in America’s cultural mythology. It represents vitality, youth, sun, perfection in a way nothing else quite does. Tom Wolfe wrote it better, though, in his essay about La Jolla called The Pump House Gang. “Surf is yip yip yow and the bronzed surfer is a-oooooga a-oooooga honk honk zow!”

And even though surf is being represented everywhere these days, from Chanel to Mazda to Visa to the Point Break remake and even though everyone, including Rob Lowe, wants to be a surfer, surf’s true stars are unknown outside of the cloister. Kelly Slater would maybe get a second glance on the street but that is mostly because he dated Pamela Anderson. And Gisele Bundchen. And Cameron Diaz.

Sterling was born knowing that even though everyone wants to be a surfer, to become truly famous, as a surfer, is a very difficult nut. He knew because his father, Yancy III, is a legend in surf circles. Sometimes called “The Duke of Gulf” and other times the “Godfather of East Coast Surfing,” Yancy III brought the sport of kings to Floridian rednecks. A statue has been erected in his honor in the town of Pensacola. But outside, Yancy’s legend means nothing. Initially, Sterling didn’t care. He looked up to his dad and wanted to be a surfer just like him.

He had the skill and the inimitable style born of great genetics. He danced on waves. His turns were almost perfect and his airs were second to none. The people on the beach went crazy anytime Sterling paddled out. They just couldn’t get enough.

He started competing on the east coast National Scholastic Surf Association tour when he was very young. The E.C. NSSAs are, in many regards, more difficult than surfing’s World Championship Tour where Kelly Slater has won twelve titles, smashing a field of drunks and heroin addicts. The competition is stiffer in the NSSAs and the stakes higher. Sterling shrugged off the pressure and surfed better than anyone, eventually winning four titles in a row. He was sponsored by surfwear manufacturer Billabong and laughing all the way to the bank. He was getting paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to float in the ocean. Then he laughed at Billabong and traded them in for Rusty.

One night, though, fate intervened in the form of a centaur. Sterling says it was not dreaming. He says he was wide awake when he walked outside the family home to the woods. There, a half man, half horse approached him and said, “You will never be famous.” Sterling responded, “What? I’m four time NSSA champion. I’m sponsored by Billabong and someday Rusty.” but the centaur was unimpressed. He shook his head and said, “No. You will never be famous.” Sterling decided, then and there, to prove him wrong.

His older sister, Abby, had already taken a more direct route to fame via Hollywood. She has been lauded for roles in Mad Men, This Means War, Rectify, Oz the Great and Powerful and alongside Gerard Butler in Chasing Mavericks. Sterling, though, decided to get famous as a surfer. He quit competing knowing that anyone outside of the surf world could not care less about titles and started a blog showcasing his unique ability, soon winning Surfer Magazine’s Battle of the Blogs. He became a big swell daredevil, snagging one of the largest waves ever ridden in the world off the coast of Alabama. He was interviewed by CNN’s Anderson Cooper. And he just finished filming his biopic titled “Gold.” James Franco recently caught a private screening and told Sterling, “I’m speechless. I’ve never seen anything this good in my entire life.” They subsequently became best friends.

Fame, real fame, is now within his grasp. Sterling is fairly nonchalant about it though, saying, “Surfing and being number one are really easy for me.” The ease can be seen in this film where a young Sterling finds his Occy. The greatest surf film of all time? Probably.

Flashback Boomerang from SterlingSpencer on Vimeo.

Dusty Payne: I’d rather be playing NFL

Today's winner of the Reef Hawaiian Pro, Haleiwa, talks life-dreams and the day his dad nearly throttled him to death!

Who doesn’t love a tragedy with a happy ending? Two men from the famous class of ’88 gone for all money, both left on the sidewalk of broken dreams, suddenly amplified by the spectre of ignominy.

Julian Wilson, the world-title apparent gasping for breath on the World Tour; Dusty Payne swishing around in the most unimpressive 97th spot on the Qualifying Series, 50 places below Argentina’s Santiago Muniz, even more behind Australia’s Stu Kennedy.

But, here, today, in a final that also included Jeremy Flores and Adam Melling, Julian hit two nines, Dusty, two nines and a bit. Such defiant displays of power! “Some of the most incredible surfing I’ve seen,” said Taj Burrow. “Dusty Payne you are weapon!”

Dusty is now 24th on the QS though is unlikely to qualify; Julian is fifth and will.

Now let’s prise open the reluctant tonsils of Mr Dusty Payne, from Maui.

BeachGrit: What’s the biggest mental hurdle you’ve had to overcome? 

Dusty: Competing. You don’t feel good when you lose. I get really bummed out and disappointed and down on myself. I get about a thousand voices in my head talking to me. Stuff like, “I’m such such a kook.” I get real negative. So I’m working on turning those negatives around and being positive on the whole thing. But it’s not easy. It’s harder than going and training physically. You have to constantly work on it. Not every event is going to be perfect for you.

Have you ever truly believed you were about to die? 

Yeah, I’ve had a few of those. When I was younger, maybe 17, when I was just getting into towing with my Dad, we were out one day and he let me go into a wave. And when he came back to pick me up the rope went around me and then a wave came. My Dad had to leave and he went around the other side and the rope did a full circle around me. Underwater, I felt the rope tighten against my neck. My Dad was taking off on the ski and the rope tightened all the way, choking me. I was thinking, “Oh my goodness, this is the end” as it pulled harder and harder. All of a sudden, the handle hit me in the head right before I blacked out. I really thought that was it. My neck was bleeding, I had no air, I thought I was going to die. Afterwards people looked at me funny for a bit. They thought the rope burn on my neck was a suicide attempt.

What do you dream about? 

Beating Kelly Slater. That’s my dream. I thought I’d had him so many times, I’ve come so close, but then he just bumps me. I thought I had him one time at the US Open and he did a huge backside air and got a 9.8. That would’ve been a good one to win. Damn it Kelly! I just want one!

What about real-life, childhood dreams? 

I always wanted to be in the air force here in the US, an air force pilot and fly those fighter jets. My dad was a pilot for Aloha airlines, my Uncle was in the navy and I totally looked up my Dad and my Uncle. Later, I got terrified of flying. I still hate it.

Ultimate sense of happiness? 

Sitting on the couch on Sunday watching football.

When you lie in bed, late at night into dark, what do you think about? 

That I wish I was playing in the NFL. That’s my ultimate dream. I always think about it.

What’s your biggest fear? 

Flying is my biggest fear, for sure. I remember this one flight on the way to California when I was younger and we hit turbulence and I was, like, what…is…going…on? Ever since then I’ve been scared of flying. Turbulence is the worst thing in the world. But I’ve come to peace with it. If a plane goes down it’s God’s way of saying it’s my time. But it’d be a bummer to die in a plane crash. I’ve always thought of bringing a parachute on an airplane. Like, it starts going down and I open the door and say, “Peace! I’m out!”

Do you think about fate? 

I know you can control your own fate but there are things that are just out of your hands. There are certain things you can’t control.

What do you like about your body? 

My teeth are straight.

What do you dislike about your body? 

I wish my knee was better.

Have you ever felt love? 

Yeah, my parents love me. I’ve never had a girlfriend or nothing. I dunno why. I haven’t found the right one.

What’s the worst insult you’ve ever received?

Being told my hair is reddish-blond from you.

What one person do you hate most in the world? 

Osama Bin Laden. Hitler.

Have you ever felt  truly hated by someone? 

I’m sure there is. But I don’t know ’em. To them I say, I’m sorry! Whatever it is I’ve done!