What happened to having FUN? About getting up on stage and just...just...given' 'er hell?
Piety is the death of surfing. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it one thousand times and this damned conservatism, this cursed pharisaical golem has reared its ugly head once again, today staring mealy eyes and wagging a crooked judgmental finger toward Dion Agius and the rest of the Globe crew.
“Xanax?” it gasps, completely horrified. “Fuck the WSL?” it shrieks, less horrified but more rudely dismissive.
Well what happened to having FUN? What is so wrong about a letting the good times roll? About getting up on stage and just…just…given’ ‘er hell? It seems like Dion is doing just fine sans Xanax but everyone else (especially at Australia’s Surfing Life. Click here to read.) should take at least two and calm down.
And now let’s speak to Noa Deane’s exuberance. There the cherubic Australian stood, gazing out at a roomful of industry types. What is the first thing that springs to his mind? Fuck the WSL! He don’t like it. And the Hawaiian locals, numbers paired from 16 down to two don’t like it either. He shouted for them. He shouted for their children and their children’s children and I hope to see him in Da Hui soon.
There should be no gripes from any of surfing’s disparate corners. No tsk-tsking at all.
And if you have a gripe? Email Graham Stapelberg’s bodyguard at [email protected]. It is a bit harder getting to G these days but with enough persistence and enough moral outrage I’m certain you’ll find a way.
The Australian photographer Raymon “Ray” Collins has just jammed his coal miner’s redundancy package into what do you want to call it, a coffee table book?
Or is it better than something to decorate a piece of unessential furniture?
The book is Found at Sea, designed/edited by White Horses creator Graeme Murdoch, and it’s more than just a bathtub of pretty, but somewhat oblique, pictures to soak your eyes in. Water photography is a game that ain’t for the faint-hearted and Raymon, a half-Russian and bodyboarder-surfer with a handful of North Shore seasons under his 34-inch belt (all muscle!), has married the bravado of shooting from the drink with an artist’s eye. What’s not to love!
BeachGrit recorded an interview with 32-year-old, six-feet tall, 94 kilo Raymon (big!) a week into summer (not Raymon’s favourite season) and in between swells (not Raymon’s favourite oceanic conditions). His story is as compelling as the book.
First, he’s radically colour blind. He gets by on the road ’cause he knows the traffic light at the bottom means go (and is brighter) and the top one (which is dark to his eyes) means jam on the skids. If he puts a red tee into the grass during golf he can’t see it. He has no comprehension of red. How can he know if he’s never seen it?
“It’s weird editing photos in Photoshop. I play around until it looks… rich.”
The little Raymon went to 14 different primary schools before the family settled into living at Sandon Point, a quality right-hander an hour-and-a-bit south of Sydney.
In his final year of high school, Raymon surfed during 1999’s famous floods, in the murkiest, dirtiest water, and developed meningitis, an inflammation of the protective membranes around the spine and brain. Spinal taps and invasive treatment followed. For two weeks he was knocking on heaven’s door but his faint tap was not enough for God to welcome Raymon into his loving arms. Actually, he was close to dying for a little less than that.
“I milked it a bit. Who was going to argue!” he says now.
These street smarts got him out of his final year exams and, soon, he was working as a labourer at the area’s coal mines. Fourteen hundred dollars in his account every week. Good money, you’d think, but “It’s like working in an office where the roof is going to fall in and the walls are going to explode,” he says.
Raymon has seen hands get crushed, legs broken. “But it’s not like the old days where heaps of the older guys had seen their mates die.”
Raymon came into photography when he snapped his knee underground. Bored, he bought a cheap camera, read the manual, and just… started shooting. He became good, fast. And with advice from veterans like Daniel Russo, Nate Smith and Bill Morris, he was soon in the biz.
And then Surfing magazine’s photo editor Peter Taras helped shape him into what he is today, one of the game’s most interesting shooters. Raymon would send jpegs and Pete would say, hey, maybe do this, do that, how about you try this?
“He is a massive part of what I do now. He encouraged me to keep chasing my style. He wrote to me the other day and said that he didn’t think that in 2014 someone could stand out with a unique angle and that I’d done it.”
What else intrigues? Let’s ask.
BeachGrit: What do you think about yourself?
I’m average ocean-going Australian with a penchant for coffee. I’ll drink instant, percolated, fucking whatever, and I take between two and five a day. Triple shots. I stopped drinking two years ago because I found it was taking away some of those arvos and some of those mornings… fuck… everything has taken off since then. I’m going to continue with a clean mind… clear head…
What’s your favourite season?
Winter. I love those really moody dark and cold day and wild windy oceans. My whole family is from Russia. My mum was born a couple of days after they landed from Russia on the boat otherwise she’d be a Russian citizen and I’d be the first Australian in the family.
Tell me about you father…
He took his life when I was six years old. It was a strange feeling as a kid. What do you do? You’re just learning your fundamentals and one of your main ones is pulled from you. But I’ve always had positive male role models.
Do you think your mother made a conscious effort to make that happen?
Yeah, I do. I don’t think it was a coincidence…
What’s your favourite time of day?
Ten minutes before sunrise. That light. Light is more important to me than good waves. You can make good photos without good waves and that glow before the sun comes up is the best part. I would say afternoon, but we get cut short here with a mountain range behind us and that sucks… My wife’s from California. I love the light over there.
What are your bad qualities?
I can be selfish. You have to be selfish if you want to dedicate so much time to something. We’ve put off having kids due to selfishness, to the desire to see the world more. I can be lazy too. I get comfortable and stay in the familiarity of things. But these are general human traits. And it never lasts for long. I always snap out of it or someone helps snap me out of it.
What’s the nicest thing someone has said about your photos?
Someone told me they cried from looking at my photos.
How many text messages and emails did it take for Kelly to light up and write your foreword?
I emailed him and asked if he would write the intro and I woke up the next morning and the whole thing was written out. It woke me up at three in the morning. I couldn’t believe what Kelly Slater was saying about me. I woke my wife up and read it to her.
You and Kelly shoot together. Are you ever starstruck?
When I see his number on my phone I have to breathe in and breathe out and clear my throat. I get so scared but I try to act super normal.
Why do you think Kelly likes you?
I don’t know if he likes me. We both like good uncrowded waves. Maybe I’m just a decent non-threatening human being and I treat him the same way.
Have you tried Purps? It’s incredible. It gives you such pizzazz! Maybe he’ll send you some!
I’ve eaten the occasisonal chia pod but I haven’t had Purps.
You must! BeachGrit is having it chemically analysed because it must contain something absolutely magical!
Oh yeah! That’s fucking gold.
How do you identify yourself to non-surfers?
I’m at a crossroads. I shoot photos of the ocean whether people are there or not… what does that make me? Am I a surfing photographer?
Found at Sea is 184 pages and costs $69. Click here to buy it. It’s a real limited run too. A quarter have gone already.
Surfer Poll: John John best surfer; Kelly best air!
The Surfer Poll. It ain’t the greatest show on earth. But it’s all we got. And who does good awards shows anyway? MTV? The Oscars? The format is always going to be stiff unless there’s some kinda soft and smooth waitress with honey pouring from her pores and long silky hair discreetly handing out bags of whatevs.
And last night on the North-ish Shore (the Turtle Bay is a little outta the action) the earth was tipped on its access when John John, 22, won most popular surfer (as voted by the most popular surf magazine in the world) prising Kelly’s fingers off the trophy for the first time in a decade (Kelly has won it 19 times since 1993) and Kelly, 42, won best manoeuvre.
What is this, the Twilight Zone?
“Kelly’s won this 22 times. It’s as old as I am,” said John.
“I’m actually super-stoked that John got this. It’s actually the happiest I’ve ever been at second place,” Kelly said, convincing only the very drunk.
Slater added, “I’d like to thank my sponsor, except I don’t have any… (But) I’m doing OK.”
Noa Deane is a 20-year-old boy from Coolangatta on Australia’s Gold Coast. He won the night’s hippest award, The AI Breakthrough Performer, delivered by Andy’s wife Lyndie and little boy Ax.
Naturally, Stephanie Gilmore, the six-timer, won the gals. “There’s always more to do, there’s always more to improve upon,” she said.
Globe and filmmaker Joe G won best film with Strange Rumblings in Shangri-La. The Globe team, including Brendon Gibbens, Noa Deane, Dion Agius, Damo Hobgood and Creed McTaggart, accepted the award.
Dion Agius, in a white singlet, beanie and Epokhe glass, said, “Last time I was here I was on Xanax and I was so out of my mind I couldn’t talk.”
“Fuck the WSL,” said Noa Deane.
“Oh you mother…fucker!” said Dion.
“No, no, we like the WSL,” said Joe G, panicked.
Surfer Poll host Gerry Lopez was wonderfully sublime, demonstrating you don’t have to be barbaric, shriek or gesticulate to front an awards show. He finished with a quote from the Dalai Lama.
“I wanted to end this evening with a little, not my wisdom, but the wisdom of someone I greatly respect, his holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. When asked what surprised him most about mankind he answered…
“Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money.
Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health.
And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present;
the result being that he does not live in the present or the future;
he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”
Full results below…
SURFER Poll Men’s Top 10
1. John John Florence
2. Kelly Slater
3. Gabriel Medina
4. Mick Fanning
5. Jordy Smith
6. Dane Reynolds
7. Joel Parkinson
8. Julian Wilson
9. Kolohe Andino
10. Taj Burrow
SURFER Poll Women’s Top 5
1. Stephanie Gilmore
2. Sally Fitzgibbons
3. Carissa Moore
4. Coco Ho
5. Alana Blanchard
A.I. Breakthrough Performer
Koa Smith, Skeleton Bay
Myron Porter, The Right
Grant “Twiggy” Baker
Thundercloud, directed by Talon Clemow
Best Short Cheese II, directed by Noa Deane and Shane Fletcher
Albee Layer in Attractive Distractions
Movie of the Year Strange Rumblings in Shangri La, directed by Joe G
He's just the world's hottest jibber! What else is there?
In a little Australian town overcrowded with late summer visitors (Cabarita!) we chance upon Mr Chris Wilson, just the world’s best huckster. Ain’t that good enough reason to gallop alongside and find out what life’s like when you’re paid to spin? Is it as beautifully romantic and as heroically sublime as it seems? BeachGrit has held Chris, nicknamed Chippa after the1960s TV show My Three Sons (kid in the show was cute as a button Chip Douglas), real close to our hearts ever since he stole 2009’s Little Weeds crown (an online search for new talent) by the stupidest of of margins.
When his sponsor master Analog changed direction a couple of years back and he was cast upon the shittiest of bear markets we foresaw black and heavy clouds, the oncoming crash of a catastrophe. Because Chris ain’t just your regular surf cat. He’s a little quiet, kinda shy in a lot of company, but smart, a thinker, a creator, and that don’t fit the structure of most brands that requires extroverts, hucksters in the 19th century sense.
He ain’t a drinker either.
“I just get super hangover. I’m like allergic to the shit,” he says. “And I can’t afford to be feeling like shit.”
Chip explains that if he’s out it’ll be the low-cal vodka-and-soda that”ll be in his paw. Beer, he says, is what makes him “get real cloudy.” (And honey we ain’t even going to mention the surcharge beer adds on your hips!)
But real talk, let’s get real. Tell me Chip…
BeachGrit: What do you do for kicks?
Chip: I’ve been working on a new motorbike at home, an old 1977 Kawasaki 100 road bike. It’s black and green with army green tank and fenders. It’s a good little bike, super rare. My friend at Byron at Thrills, Ryan, he Instagrammed a photo of it and I jumped on it. Hustled it down a bit and got it. I’ve also got this project in Cali where I’m chasing a 400 Honda and a big Ford van, somewhere you can toss your moto in the back and just cruise. That’s the dream.
Motos are great for kicks. And they kick back.
It’s addicting! I’m getting my license this weekend. I’ve been riding but I don’t wanna lose my license before I get it. And, yeah, it’s dangerous and you can kill yourself. That’s a setback. I’m going to be dressing to crash, f’sure.
What do you love and what do you hate about where you live?
Everything is so… easy. Just so green. It ain’t too overbuilt yet. I’ve lived there since I was one so it’s home. What do I hate? I hate it when there’s no surf and the surf’s shitty. But, pumping today, and yesterday, so all good in the hood.
Tell me all about your frontside 540, your new trick…
My goal is to nail it by the end of the year.
Is it an air reverse kinda flat spin or an alley oop spin?
Air reverse flat spin. It’s not inverted so it looks more crazy.
From there it’s only one more tweak to a 720, two full revs…
A 720 is gnarly, a 540 is weird enough. That last 180 is fucking trippy. You’re doing a 180 when you shouldn’t. Although the more you practise the more normal it becomes. Every time I’ve gotten close it’s been a pretty big wave, with a lot of speed, and a good wind. You need power and push to buck…
Were you bullied as a kid or did you bully?
When I was super young, like at primary school, I had a strong lisp and I got bullied. But then, thats what kids do. They’d copy what I was saying and tease me. Same old shit. Poor little Chippa, eh?
He’s doing alright now.
Ha! I ended up fixing the lisp myself.
Did you ever bully?
No way. I wasn’t into that. But, yeah, all kids do it to a certain extent.
What’s the meanest thing you’ve done to somebody?
Shaved eyebrows when the boys have been passed out. Dumb shit. But nothing real mean. I kinda sound like a pussy. I’ve been in a fight or two. Maybe a punch in the head is the meanest thing I’ve done.
How does a situation in your life escalate to conflict?
I only fight when I really have to, me getting punched in the head or sticking up for myself. I’ve only really been in two fights and the last one I blacked out, full of rage, and won. I was in Bali and some dude smashed his beer into my fish bowl drink. I got up and punched on. I remember I was on top of him on the ground. All the bouncers came and I got up walked out of there.
Do girls ever send you explicit letters with accompanying photos?
I feel like you’ve gotta be in the game to get that stuff from crazy creeps. I’ve got a gal so I deleted my Facebook.
How about our new pal Snapchat?
…that why I haven’t got it. That’s where It’s going to happen.
What about those tattoo gals? You’re a pinup for self art.
My friend Ben Grillo, he’s a real good tattoo artist from California, he made a few tattoos on my knuckles and he put the portraits on Instagram and he tagged me on the photos. I had 20 completely tattooed gals hitting me up, liking all my photos. Super weird.
What do you think about yourself?
Mellow. Tatted up. Shy. Put me on a stage with am microphone and I’d choke up and walk off.
Do you care what people think of you?
Everyone does. If they have a strong opinion, it’d be good if they told you. If they got it wrong, I do kinda care.
What is your favourite season?
Autumn in Australia. I like cold nights and cold mornings. I dig winter too so from here until a little after August. Nice offshore winds in the morning, full suits, coffee, it’s insane. I can’t stand summer here. It’s way too hot. In winter you can always find a place to get warm. In summer you’re completely fucked.
Are you comfortable talking to strangers?
Yeah! It’s interesting!
If you don’t like a person, how do you handle it?
I try not be near ’em. I stay clear and I don’t get involved.
What do you snack on?
I always eat bags of chips. Funny, huh?
What’s been your most memorable experience ever?
Getting my first house and moving out of home. I went thirds with my older brother and a good mate and we all moved in together. I always had so much respect for my mum and dad’s house and it was always in the back of my head if I brought people back. In our house, it was a free for all. You come home and you can make a mess, have fun, party, drink all night and turn the music up loud. always in the bad of himy head, bringing people back, one house, free for all.
What do you do when you feel sad or depressed?
Lately, it’s been the crazy fucked up shit going on in the world. That’s sad and that’s depressing. I was in America when that Boston stuff happened. And on the way over on the plane there was a lady sitting in front of me with a Boston Marathon t-shirt and a tiny little kid. She was flying over to do it. As soon as I saw the news, I thought about her and that little kid. That type of weird shit gets me sad.
What’s your favourite time of the day?
Morning. I like to see what it brings. Some days I get up and I have no motivation to do anything. But some days are good and you get up and surf and you’re super productive.
What’s your bad quality?
I get lazy on the internet and having to write back to people. If I don’t do it when I have to, It’s going to take a while.
If there is one thing you’d die for, what is it?
I’d die for a coffee right now. I’m sitting across form Gloria Jeans and it smells that good.
Who has had the most influence in your life?
I’m always looking up to people who are ahead of me. I’ve always looked up to Craig Anderson. I could see how good he was. He was king and he’s still killing it. It’s insane. My old man’s been good. He’s a carpenter and he’s still working so goddamned hard.
It could’ve been Chip the chippy who like to eat chips.
That’s where I was going. If I had a hammer in my hand, I’d be thinking about surfing and hitting my thumb. I didn’t allow myself to get good at it.
What do you think about when you’re alone in your car?
Lately, been thinking about little projects I want to do, the moto, the van, surf trips, everything really…
Do you solve many problems in the car
No, but I make a few phone calls which can solve things.
On a scale of one to 10, rate me as an interviewer…
I’m going to toss you a nine. You actually talk back and not talk like you’re reading off a teleprompter. I get some where it feels like I’m talking to a computer.
Oh holy night! The most wonderful night of the surfing calendar…
It is the most wonderful eve of the year! An oh-holy night when little boys pair their finest, crisp-from-the-cellophane button-ups with creased denim and little girls slip into platform flip-flops. Looking as fresh as the leis around their necks, they walk in to Turtle Bay’s ballroom, filled to the rotting rafters with stink and paranoia, and vie for “awards” voted on by you and me (minus “me”).
Mai Tais flow like water. Sometimes fights break out. Always no one has any real fun. And you would be forgiven for thinking I write of The Oscars or the first night of Hanukkah but you would also be wrong. Darlings, it is time for Surfer Poll.
Surfer Poll, our red carpeted celebration of surfing and surfers. Surfer Poll, our Sal Masekela and Freddy Patacchia seven-hour comedy show. Surfer Poll, our Surfer Poll. It has been happening for too long, I think, and there have been so many memorable moments. All of them involve Dane Reynolds speaking at the lectern. And there have been many memorable winners. Kelly Slater.
The show used to take place in the friendly confines of Anaheim, California, if you recall. And sure, sure Anaheim has absolutely zero style, culture or charm but, back then, it was safe. Anyone could go. Anyone could drink and say anything at all. There would be no slaps, no shifty-eyes, no rotting rafters or paranoia. But what sort of awards show is that? A boring one is what and so the powers decided to move the event to Oahu’s North Shore and hold it during the Triple Crown. Genius is not too hefty a compliment to hoist upon those powers (not Roy, fyi).
What is more, the show is live-streamed. You can watch Dane Reynolds and Kelly Slater in the ballroom right here. If you sniff deeply enough, you can even smell the weird. Or it might just be Spam Musubi but anyhow, shall we watch it together? Yes? The red-carpet show begins at 9 pm Pacific Standard Time.
Mix yourself a mai tai and we’ll play a drinking game. One large gulp every time there is a long and awkward pause. Just kidding! We’d all die of alcohol poisoning!