Aerial view of Teahupoo
The French-made cinema release Imagine is going to give you chills. Y'ever see a fresher vision of Tahiti's most famous reef?

Must see: An Extreme Sports Movie That’s Actually Good

French made cinema-release Addicted to Life is going to give you chills…

For one, I’m not normally one for cinema-release melanges of “action sports.” Surfing is real fun to do when you’re not chasing the wheel at work, a chance to connect with pals, a way to keep off those rings of fat away without hitting a treadmill, and maybe a life-or-death thrill or two here and there.

When I want to watch surf it’ll be the ultra-hard surf candy of Kai Neville’s cuts or the autobios created by Dane, John John or Jordy Smith.

Booming anthems cut to HD footage of snowboarders, skiers, biker riders and big-wave surfers, thrown onto a 60-minute reel is the nadir of what I think of  when I think of surfing. I don’t do pompous and I don’t trade in faux danger.

But this… this… I like.

Maybe it’s just how unselfconscious it is; maybe it’s ’cause the flying men in their wing suits are the most wonderfully crazy things I’ve ever seen.

The director Thierry Donard has been making his La Nuit de la Glisse (The Night of the Slide) documentaries since 1984 and the films have this very French, very romantic quality. How can we not love?

(Click here for more details…) 


Kelly Slater portraits
Do you really want to surf with the cutest and best surfer alive? It ain't all y'think it is… 

Candid: Fleeing Kelly Slater!

Why surfing with the cutest (and best) surfer of all time ain't no great thing… 

Wouldn’t it be great to surf with Kelly Slater? He’s the world’s best surfer and an inspiration to generations of professional and casual surfers alike. Of course you want to surf with the King.

Are you sure?  Some true stories might make you think otherwise.  Read on!

A few years back I landed in Barbados on one of my many trips there. When I arrived late in the evening in Bathsheba, home to the consistent and often powerful Soup Bowl, I was greeted at the local rum shop by a few local friends. The first thing out of their mouths?

“Kelly’s on the island.”

Now, this isn’t an unusual event. The King cut his teeth over the years on powerful north swells at Soup Bowl, pound for pound as heavy as Hawaiian North Shore juice. Check out his section in Campaign 2 or the myriad illegal downloads of that section on YouTube for proof.

Slater is well-liked on Barbados and frequently returns to the island in between contests and sponsored events. No big deal, but wouldn’t it be cool to have a session with him at Soup Bowl? Of course!

Or, of course not…

Three days into the trip, I was out at average November Soup Bowl, a combo of windswell and smaller, rising north swell. It was a typical weekday, mid-day crowd of five, with myself, a Huntington Beach lifeguard named Adam, and three locals, including Kevin Nicholls, a homegrown Bathsheba standout. We were trading waves in the shifting peaks, with plenty to go around.

About an hour into the session, we noticed a little commotion in the parking lot, but thought nothing of it. Soon, a familiar bald head paddled out and sat with us in the lineup.

Kelly is very personable. Not too talkative, but polite. Not overly aggressive, but often in the right spot. I would surf a wave as hard as I possibly could, then paddle out to watch him show me how I truly was not surfing the wave to its fullest. I was surfing with Kelly Slater!  I was stoked!  For about 20 minutes…

Soon enough word got out and average Soup Bowl with just six guys out turned into a mad house. I guess everybody wants to surf with the King. And damn near everybody on the island seemed to have the same idea at the same time. Suddenly the main peak was swarming with locals, tourists, kooks and chicks on longboards sitting in the channel, you name it. It was out of hand. Unstoked…

Adam and I paddled up the reef to High Rock, another peak altogether and watched the mayhem until Slater paddled in about 45 minutes later. Lesson learned: don’t surf with the King if you don’t want to share.

Unhappy Corollary #1:

Two days later, the Bajans (that’s what Barbadians call themselves, sounds kinda like BAY-jen, not Bah-hen, because they’re from Barbados not Baja California) had their annual national surf tournament at Soup Bowl, so it was closed to free surf. It was windy that day, so after a few fun days, it was time to take a break, drink a few Banks beers and rum punches and watch the event. Reggae music over the loudspeaker, good local food, and a great tropical vibe are typical to any Bajan surf event.

After a few hours, we were walking back to our place along Parlour beach, which is just up the road from Soup Bowl. Parlour is a big, shifty, tricky field of waves that takes some time to get to know. Usually it’s empty or uncrowded, but up top we could see what seemed to be at least 20 people out. Twenty surfers at windy, shitty Parlour?  What’s up with that?  Then we figured it out.

Up the road, there were three long-lens photographers shooting the surfers. I walked up to one and said, “Let me guess.  Kelly’s out, right?”

“Isn’t it obvious?” he replied sarcastically.

Parlour was crap. Total crap. The King probably just wanted a solo session to get wet. I know I’ve done the same and though it’s not a quality wave when it’s windy, warm tropical waves all to yourself aren’t so bad in the end. Unless of course you’re out and Kelly paddles out, then it’s a mob scene. So I’ve learned. So I’ve learned…

Unhappy Corollary #2:

Fast forward two years. I’m out at Surfrider Beach in Malibu on a fun south swell. Malibu is always crowded when it’s on, but I have this special lineup between Second and Third points that I like to sit on. When the waves shift a certain way, I get a bunch of long waves in a session. It’s never crowded in that “tweener” spot and is a great way to enjoy a “secret spot” between the mobs at the main peak.

There were just five of us out trading waves. Sounds familiar? A familiar face paddled out and it turned out to be Adam the Huntington Beach lifeguard. After a high-five, exchanging “waddups” and so on, I brought up that time we were surfing Soup Bowl when Kelly paddled out and everything went crazy. We had a laugh and compared that crowd to double whatever we were seeing at the main peaks here at the ‘bu.

Not five minutes later, as if on cue from the director of a grade-B surf horror film, a familiar bald head paddled out. Dammit, it’s Kelly and he’s coming straight to our little “secret spot.”

As I said, the King is a nice guy. He gives us a nod, asks if it’s fun, and otherwise just fits into our little pack. Not for long…

Faster than white on rice, flies on shit, you name it, it seems as if the packs at Second and Third point flowed to our spot as if a drain opened and they were caught in a rushing rapid headed straight for the King. Adam and I looked at each other as if we are caught in the same déjà vu moment at the same time (because, well, we were) and immediately bailed to the beach.

From the sand we witnessed world class surfing not at Second or Third point, but at what had become “Slater Point” because everybody wanted to surf with the King. It was a crazy display of crowd mentality that I will never forget.

What’s it like to be the greatest surfer in the world? You’ll have to ask Kelly Slater. He’s an excellent ambassador for the sport, a role model in many ways, and sure he has well-earned privileges: boat trips, secret spots, keys to cities, you name it. But, apart from those waves on the Dream Tour or a secluded surf magazine trip, it has to be hard to find privacy at any regular spot.

Superstardom has its advantages, but clearly it has its disadvantages.

And that privacy thing?

I’m not just talking about him. I’m talking about me. I mean, look, he’s able to get any wave he wants. People either give him waves, or he just goes deeper, dodging kooks, wannabes, and groupies as he flies down the line. But I’m a regular guy and I get stuck having to move down the beach, go in, or just wait until he’s done so that people can go back to using common sense and return to what they were doing before the King paddled out.

Of course you want to surf with the King. Wait, are you sure?  Be careful what you wish for…


Mitch Crews and Kelia Moniz
Fast convertibles, beautiful Hawaiians like Kelia Moniz to pal around with (such a "a beautiful and respectfully platonic relationship") and all under the canopy of the tropics! It's the life!

Mitch Crews: My Year on the Dream Tour

The awkwardness of the banquet, the physical strength of Gabriel and the absurd intensity of tour competition…

In case you missed it in the hullaballoo of the Brazilian clean sweep, Mitch Crews, the 24-year-old Gold Coast tour rookie, has relinquished his grip on a World Tour spot.

Mitch realised he was doomed as early as July in Jeffreys Bay when he made “really, really dumb decisions” in his heat and “just had a mental breakdown. I was, like, fuck, I’m on the Dream Tour and I’m not happy. I’m not even as happy as the same point as last year when I hadn’t even qualified. It was a very strange scenario. I mean, holy shit, isn’t the main thing in life to be happy?”

As far as interviews goes, Mitch is my second favourite surfer to call, just behind Mason Ho. When a surfer isn’t surrounded by expectation, when his every word isn’t headlined, he can afford the luxury of candour.

BeachGrit spoke to Mitch at roughly 10:15 am, two days before Christmas, at Duranbah Beach, where Mitch was preparing with wax a five-six single fin his brother, the shaper Alex Crews, had made him. “The waves are horrible and I haven’t surfed since I’ve been home,” he says, “and this is the best way for me to enjoy myself.”

BeachGrit: Will the ASP banquet be tinged with great sadness? Will your dance moves be a mere shuffle instead of your usual twerking/crumping?

Mitch: I’d prefer not to go. I think this could be the one year that I actually get away with not having to go. I’ve never really enjoyed myself in the past. I feel awkward at it. The surfers’ speeches address a group of people that aren’t surfers and then you look at the crowd and it’s all surfers.

BeachGrit: Why the personal awkwardness?

Mitch: Maybe how everyone dresses is a bit awkward. I feel that people aren’t comfortable in their suits and in their dresses. It’s like they think they look really suave but it doesn’t actually fit them properly. And everyone’s got makeup on and when you walk into the first brightly lit room you can see how much makeup is on. Throughout the year people are salty and sandy and looking horrible but, still, it’s funny to see how everyone looks in those suits.

BeachGrit: Dion (Atkinson, the rookie of the year, also relegated) has to make a most difficult speech at the banquet. Thanks for the trophy, see you… uh… maybe in 2016…

Mitch: I almost didn’t want to win if I got knocked off. That would be a horrible speech to make. Like, I’m stoked but I did shit. Not that Dion did shit, but I’m really, really happy I don’t have to make that speech. That’d make the banquet extra extra awkward.

BeachGrit: What will you do during the Snapper contest? 

Mitch: I was thinking about going on a sabbatical somewhere else, a small town, where’s there fun waves and where I can get better at surfing. It’ll be the first time I avoid it. I’ve always been there for it. I live there but I have no reason to be around it. I’m not in the comp, I’m not in the trials. I’ll go away, practise, and come back with a backhand like Adriano De Souza and fuck everyone up!

BeachGrit: What good friends did you make on the World Tour? 

Mitch: I became good friends with Kai Otton. I got deep with that guy. Kerrsy is awesome. He’s a nomad and he doesn’t give a fuck about anything. In general, everyone was very intense and very serious and it was hard for me to insert myself into conversations.

BeachGrit: Did your rookie year feel like your first year in high school? 

Mitch: It was really hard to break into people’s comfort and trust zones. I feel like I had to drive a lot of the conversations with people. It’s very hard to get a laugh out of some people. I knew who to keep clear of and who I’d get a good convo out of of. I had to pick and choose my conversations.

 

BeachGrit: Did you fall under Kelly’s spell?

Mitch: Every time I looked at him I felt as if I didn’t get much value. I didn’t want to ask him stuff because he’s the hero and he’s the guy. I had so many questions, too, because he seems like he’d have so much cool stuff to say. I was out there when he did the 720 and I got to touch his bald head. Me and Brother (Kolohe Andino) paddled up to him and we said, you did it! I got a quick grab and that was that.

BeachGrit: How was Kelly’s demeanour afterward? 

Mitch: He was very calm. He was very cool. But he did say it was the best air he’d ever done. I think that’s strange for him. He never says that was the best barrel or best turn I’ve ever done. Brother said, Fuck! after Kelly landed it. Obvious, that’s the end of the hunt for the 720 and the old mate did it.

BeachGrit: What was the best surfing you witnessed, up close? 

Mitch: The heat with John John and Kelly at Teahupoo was the most stupid surfing I’ve ever seen. That first exchange, in the first two minutes, when John John got the nine-nine and we saw him ride the barrel no-hands on a 10-footer and then Kelly did a Bob Burnquist loop-the-loop and got a 10. I didn’t know what to do or say. The waves were fucking huge and they were doing this crazy barrel riding at an event I couldn’t believe I was a part of, really.

BeachGrit: What is the one misconception about the dream tour? 

Mitch: It’s not as much of a dream as people make it out to be. It’s real stressful and I had a lot of trouble dealing with all the attention. And the whole competition side was very intense. I felt very awkward in the competition area because I’m really social and felt like I had to go through the charade of putting my headphones on and then staring at the camera all strong. I lost interest during the year because, straight up, I’m not ready to sacrifice all the cool things in life to go for those big competitive goals. I’ve gotta wait until that kicks in. I’m only 24. I like being 24 and a normal dude and getting to have fun and meet people and drink coffees and go out in clubs and do that sorta shit. And, truthfully, I’m not good enough at surfing yet. I need to put in a hard year of getting better.

BeachGrit: How good is Gabriel up close?

Mitch: He’s ridiculous. He’s got that full Avatar body and I think he’s really, really ridiculously strong. So strong. He muscles through any form of wave. He plays with any wave from knee-high to six foot. He’s unfathomably good.

BeachGrit: What was your high point on the tour? 

Mitch: Travelling to the events in Europe, on the road, being young and being a pro surfer.


Mick Fanning's Matt Biolos-shaped surfboard
Mick, who rode it to the quarter-finals of the Hurley Pro in 2011, says the board, "changed my view on how all my boards should be. Instantly I added the those two extra litres to all my boards and requested a little more width all over. From time to time you get a board that changes your world and that thing came to me at a time I really needed some fresh inspiration. The board allowed me to to take new lines and switch my approach and as a result I got completely psyched on surfing and competing again."

The Surfboard that Changed Mick Fanning’s Life

Mick says, "The board allowed me to to take new lines and I got psyched on surfing and competing again."

The year 2011 was Mick Faning’s worst-ever on tour. The same surfer who’d won the title in 2007 and 2009 and who came third in 2010, had fallen to a miserable 11th. And coming into the Hurley Pro at Trestles that year, Mick had finished second-last in the previous two events, both time losing to Fred Pattachia in round three.

Pressure? None. No world titles on the line. No expectation of an event win. But that didn’t mean he’d lost he will to win. The thing was, he didn’t have a board that felt alive under his feet, nothing he loved.

So Mick did what surfers do before the event at Trestles and he talked to Matt “Mayhem” Biolos who lives, surfs, shapes, breathes, sweats, fucks and sucks Trestles.

Kolohe and his pro surfers pops Dino all ride Mayhems refined in its soft but high-performance wedges. Matt remembers thinking that Mick’s supplied dimensions seeemd pretty refined. He asked Mick what his volume was and Mick shrugged but offered that he liked the way Kolohe looked in all the edits he’d been seeing around. Matt told Mick he’d have some boards soon and Mick left.

Round one came and went. Mick finished last behind Tom Whitaker and Brett Simpson. Mick showed up again and asked how the boards were coming along. They weren’t finished and Mick asked about a pile of boards stuffed in the roof. Was there something up there he could try? Mick climbed up the ladder and dragged a couple down, blew the dust off ’em, and felt one up and down a lot, tripping on the wide tail-block and the wide nose.

It was a typical Kolohe Andino board, the same dimensions he’d qualified for the World Tour on. Even though it’d been ridden and had a  small crease, Mick grabbed it and said that maybe he’d ride in the contest. The next day, Mick took it out in the heat and Matt’s phone lit up with text messages that said,

“Mick’s on one of your boards.”

“Mick’s doing airs in his heat and going mad”.

Matt says: “I saved all the emails and texts from Mick. Guys like Handley and JS, those guys are used to working with someone like that in their prime, but I really wasn’t. He is so professional and well spoken and well written. He really is the ultimate R n D surfer. His surfing is so mechanically flawless and his demeanour is beyond reproach. Like, it’s not fair that DH has had that specimen to work with all these years! I think Kolohe is on his way to being that guy. Anyways. He ended up just saying he was completely perplexed on how some thing that looked like that board rode the way it did.”

Mick, who rode it to the quarter-finals of the Hurley Pro, says the board, “changed my view on how all my boards should be. Instantly I added the those two extra litres to all my boards and requested a little more width all over. From time to time you get a board that changes your world and that thing came to me at a time I really needed some fresh inspiration. The board allowed me to to take new lines and switch my approach and as a result I got completely psyched on surfing and competing again.”

Matt says having Mick ride it “vindicated the work and design concepts that Dino and I had put into Kolohe’s boards over his young career. Like we knew we were making the kid the best possible boards for the QS and lacklustre waves he had to deal with in amateur and junior events, but to see the textbook technical surfer of a generation, a two-time world champ, in his physical prime, surf that perfectly on our little stumpy board, it was a great feeling.”

The classic thing about the whole synergy between Kolohe, Dino, Mick and Mayhem is whether or not it’s driven by the Americans’ hero worship of the Australian.

“Dino adores Mick. He and I both obsess over Mick’s technique like one would over say Alex Rodrigues’ or Albert Puljos’ swing in baseball.”

MICK FANNING’S MAHYHEM SUB-DRIVER DIMENSIONS: 5’11” 18.88” 2.25”, 26.7 litres of volume


Corona beer advertisement
Formula: Worlds Best Surf Cinematographer + Gaggle of renowned Surf hessians + Mexican Sunset + Product = Poetry. | Photo: Corona

Opinion: Surfing is sex and sex sells!

Sun, summer, toned bodies, tanned skin, can’t ya just taste it?

“Advertising is fundamentally persuasion and persuasion happens to be not a science, but an art.” – Bill Bernbach 

Some things are totally harder than others. Boxing’s one. The other night I was feeling particularly Dutch and courageous and decided to break a lifetime of loving and become a fighter. Squaring off against a good friend – and part irritating Tolkien-like character – I felt sure that my superior reach and Aryan genetics would see me victorious.

The game plan was to dance around for a few minutes taunting him a la Cassius Clay and then when he got really mad, plant one on the end of his nose, and have another gin and tonic. In theory: flawless, in practice: unrealistic.

I spent about half-a-second taunting, one minute avoiding a combination of right and left jabs and then three days recovering from the mild to moderate concussion that followed a haymaker landing straight in the temple. In entering the fight I ignored the golden rule: Don’t try to compete in an unknown discipline against someone who knows what they’re doing. 

Surfing and selling people crap that they don’t need in essence go together like peas and carrots. But the amount of times that it’s done badly, from surf and consumer points of views, really boggles. Surfing is sex, and sex sells. Sun, summer, toned bodies, tanned skin, can’t ya just taste it?

Convincing the great unwashed that they need to buy your product in order to look and feel better and in turn appear more attractive to the opposite/same/both sex(s) is the aim of the game and what better chariot than surf. What perplexes moi is that the ad companies try to do surf on their own.

Why they don’t stick half the budget in their back pockets and reach out to the salty struggling creative (me!!) doesn’t make sense. Do they sit in the board room are go, “Ah yeah Mike went on holiday to Waikiki with his family once, he’s in charge of this one…”

Here’s a hit, miss, and maybe of capitalisms whoring out of our beloved surf:

Subway:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O1WhKeAf55Q&list=UUVdWa9-Kl2RdRiB7aamVEFw

This is the ad in circulation that sparked my exploration of the surf ad and, man, it’s bad. It’s more or less impossible to work out who the target audience is. Backpackers leaning to surf? But they’re staying in a hotel. The youth? But the protagonists are fat and heading towards forty. Young professionals on boring holidays? But who with disposable income spends it on Subway sandwiches!?

It can’t possibly make anyone want to surf, have sex, or eat a goddam sandwich. Surely! The error isn’t in the corn. Corny is good, corny sells. Even in the surf world the enlightened amongst us thrive on a bit of romanticism. What this advertisement lacks is fun. The surf doesn’t look fun, the sandwich doesn’t look fun. The essence is fine: Can’t do something, consume product, victory! But why do surf with someone who can’t surf, on a beach with bad surf, and completely lacking in chocolate brown flesh. Fail. There’s no way that anyone with any surf cred had anything to do with this.

Guinness:

So close to perfection you can almost taste the fattening black gold! The copy is outstanding. It’s employed my beloved trick of plundering a theme, or piece of prose, from one of the masters of the Lit game (Melrose) and paraphrasing it just enough so that it feels strangely familiar to the reader, but keeps the legal team of Vintage or Penguin off your ass. Well played Tom Carty (copywriter) you savvy pilferer!

The concept again is genius: Waiting for a bomb, waiting for the Stout to settle into the gorgeously contrasted black and white. The action’s where this one falls short. Dude’s taking elevator drops in black and white at Waimea don’t need no CGI. Save your coin, ditch the unrealistic cut ins of wipeouts and the white horses, play the bomb start to end, and finish up on the beach where the surf was shot. Ahab, Moby and Greg Noll all go have a Guinness at Haleiwa Joes. Perfect.

Big Bill Berbach says, “Properly practiced creativity can make one ad do the work of ten.”

This is a case of the creatives over-cooking the goose with not enough sprinkling of surf knowledge. A commendable effort nonetheless.

(Editors Note: this ad won Gold at eh Clio’s, so who really cares what BeachGrit thinks.)

Corona:

Ah the Mexican Bintang. Bravo you brown-skinned devils for turning a drab local brew into a global monster!

Formula: Worlds Best Surf Cinematographer + Gaggle of renowned Surf hessians + Mexican Sunset + Product = Poetry.,

And glorious authenticity! It’s borne of a well-rounded vision of why people are interested in your product and why they continue to buy it. Corona’s just like any other lager. It’s light, fizzy, and if you drink too much of it then you’ll do something stupid and wake up with a headache (possibly in the arms of a stranger. Its unique selling point is that it’s from Mexico and people really do drink it when the sun goes down).

The most powerful element in advertising is the truth,” preaches Papa Bernbach.

Amen Father.