Kieren Perrow Pipeline
"It was a good decision to put the Pipe Masters on hold after round two. Waves did get good later that afternoon but way to late to run heats. So he nailed it," says Jake Paterson.

Opinion: KP nailed it says Jake Paterson

The former Pipe Master on how ASP commissioner Kieren Perrow got it very right… 

Think Kieren Perrow’s feeling the heat right now? Maybe, maybe not. He ain’t one for stress.

But he does have Slater, Matt Warshaw, Chas Smith and half of Hawaii breathing down his neck for his call to both run, then not run, the Pipeline Masters and wrap up this goddam world title.

Good call? Bad call? Who you gonna ask?

How about Jake Paterson. If anyone knows about clutch decisions in tight situations it’s The Snake. Doubt it? Who beat Bruce Irons in the final seconds at Pipe? Who had the stones to put the Quik Pro in 2013 on hold and deliver perfect Kirra to silence the naysayers? The Snake! Let’s ask!

BeachGrit: What do you suppose is going on in Kieren’s head right now? 

Jake: A million things would be going on in KPs head I bet but the main one would be to give the world title contenders the best opportunity he can with the forecast at hand.

What did you think of his decision to put the comp on hold? 

Good decision to put it on hold after round two. Waves did get good later that afternoon but it was way to late to run heats. So he nailed it.

Do you remember the pressure on your shoulders during that Quik comp in 2013… how’d it feel? 

It’s draining. You’re up super early for two weeks and I had the added pressure of not having Snapper because all the sand had been washed away. It’s a semi freak-out for a few weeks for sure.

What gave you the confidence to put the comp on hold? 

As a contest director you never want to go on hold, you’re forced to go on hold. So many different factors can make you go on hold. I always tried to stop the event before you have that bad heat, you know, when everyone starts to say why are they running! I try and stop it before it gets to that. It’s not easy with women’s as well. Time is an issue and most of the time you have to push on.

And how’d you feel when you woke on finals day to see pumping Kirra? Did you feel validated and was it hard not to go around telling everyone “I told you so!” 

It was a huge gamble to wait till the last day to run and to move to Kirra! I had to make the call the afternoon before to move to Kirra. If the swell didn’t kick I was in big trouble. Luckily it all worked out. You learn very early never to boast about making a good call as a contest director.

Kelly was pretty vocal about not running round two at Pipe the other day, how hard is it to block out someone like that?

Kelly is a freak at reading swell charts and most of the time is right on the money with his call. He’s the best surfer ever to ride a surfboard so you have to listen to him. But he normally is all about him, when his heat will be best. As a contest director you have to think about everyone in the event, the event sponsors, the whole lot. Damien Hardman once told me people only remember the last day of the event, no one remembers round one or two. You really need to finish in good waves. I have learnt that’s super true. It’s a mugs job really because you can’t keep everyone happy and you have to make the hard calls that’ll upset someone all the time but, it’s part of that gig I guess and I think KP has done a great job all year. Hats off to him.

Nathan Florence at Teahupoo by Daniel Russo
"The camera, in its housing, in the saltwater, is an aberration of an aberration," writes Chas Smith. "And as the magician swims out to sea with his creation and can capture souls out at sea and does capture souls he is also an aberration. A collector. And he collects souls riding waves." Nathan Florence, Teahupoo. | Photo: Daniel Russo

The miracle and gift of water photography

Daniel Russo is so close to God he can almost smell his bacon-y breath!

We are transient beings, on this earth for but a few all too short moments. And then we turn to dust. We scratch and feel immortal, at times, yet really, we are dust.

But water photography? Water photography is forever.

Photographs, unlike us, are truly immortal. They live on through the eons whether sepia-toned, black and white, color or high-definition color. They live in drawers and boxes and cell phones and computers and the internet. Aboriginal peoples on different continents often believe that photographs capture the soul. They are derided as backward. Unsophisticated. Curly headed naïve children (or straight headed in the Americas).

But they are right. Photographs capture the soul and lock it into celluloid or megabyte where it lives eternally. Captured. And how much more eternal are water photographs? That much more.

There is, first, the black arts used to bring the camera into water. Saltwater is a damaging agent. The most damaging naturally occurring agent on earth save hot lava. It rusts and corrodes. Cameras are born delicate. Small, sensitive metal pieces. Glass that can scratch and shatter. And so to keep the camera from being destroyed, on contact, by saltwater the magician must cast a spell over it. He must conjure the spirits of silicone and plastic and rubber. He must create valves.

The camera, in its housing, in the saltwater, is an aberration of an aberration. Something otherworldly. And as the magician swims out to sea with his creation and can capture souls out at sea and does capture souls he is also an aberration. A collector. And he collects souls riding waves.

And there is, second, the even more transient existence of waves. If the human life is over in the blink of an eye, the life of a wave is then over in the flutter of an eyelash. Waves, even the longest rights at Jeffreys Bay, never last long enough. And they are never repeated. Once they pass they are gone forever and no memory is good enough to hold the feeling or even really the image of a wave. Waves defy containment. They laugh at the addiction created in us. They laugh as we forever chase a feeling.

As we look at a picture of  Nathan Florence, say, grinding through a perfect barrel we can put ourselves, right there. We can imagine how it feels. How racing toward the almond eye, foamball nipping at heels, tastes. The water photograph brings all of us there together. It brings us to a moment which passed, like the flutter of an eyelash, and we can live in it forever. Or until we turn to dust.

But the camera, in its housing, does contain waves and furthermore it can contain the feeling. We look at pictures and we stare at them and we sear them into our hippocampi and we remember our own experiences. Which is, third, the transportational quality of a water photograph. It takes us into our own memory, back in time, but it can also take us into someone else’s memory. I, nor most of the friends I am lucky to call my own (save the professional surfers I am lucky to call my own) have ever surfed heaving Teahupoo, or any Teahupoo for that matter, but I, and most of my dear friends, have surfed large, sucking lefts at one point or another.

And as we look at a picture of  Nathan Florence, say, grinding through a perfect barrel we can put ourselves, right there. We can imagine how it feels. How racing toward the almond eye, foamball nipping at heels, tastes. The water photograph brings all of us there together. It brings us to a moment which passed, like the flutter of an eyelash, and we can live in it forever. Or until we turn to dust.

The surf shot captured from land or boat is wonderful. It is pleasant and fun and artistic. Amazing. But the surf shot captured from water is beyond all. It is, again, magic. Maybe an evil magic. Maybe something that should never be captured, but life is too short to care and, anyhow, it is not me being captured. It is not my soul. It is the professional surfer’s. The best ones doing the best things on the best waves in the best light (and proper shutter speed etc.) during the best of their youth.

“How sad it is!” they can crow. “I shall grow old, and horrible, and dreadful. My body will give out and I will no longer be able to send plumes of spray into the ether with strong thighs and a stronger back. But these pictures, these water photographs, will remain always young. They will never be older than the day they were taken. If only it were the other way! If it were I who was to be always young, and strong, and able to frontside slob, and the picture was to grow old. For that, for that, I would give everything! Yes, there is nothing in the whole world I would not give! I would give my soul for that!”

But in truth, they already have given their soul. They have given it to me and to my friends and to you and to every other man, woman, child who casually flips open a surf magazine, or coffee table book and gazes. And the surfer is right to despise this fact. The ugly and stupid and those who cannot even frontside hack without swinging their arms like epileptics have the best of it in this world. They can sit at their ease and gape at the play. At the surf videos. At the water photographs. They can surf Teahupoo forever as they gape. The surfer who is in the photograph, though, will grow old and he will feel the gnaw and he can crow, “How sad it is!”

The surfer is right to despise but he should not ponder his fate for long, however. Beauty, real beauty, ends where an intellectual expression begins. So he should succumb to his fate. He is blessed and, at the same time, cursed. He should accept this and let it go and he should certainly not despise the water photographer. The magician capturing his soul in a moment of rapture. If he is mature, his unreal and selfish love could yield to some higher influence, could be transformed into some nobler passion and the image that Daniel Russo has created of him might be a guide to him through life, would be to him what holiness is to some, and conscience to others, and the fear of God to us all. There are opiates for remorse, drugs that can lull the moral sense to sleep. But here, on surf magazine page, or coffee table book, is a visible symbol of the degradation of sin. An ever-present sign of the ruin men bring upon their souls. The sin of desiring immortality and the sin of desiring one moment frozen in time.

But, and again, it is not the surfer’s fault. He is blessed and, at the same time, cursed. And not only should he not despise the water photographer, he should love him. For if Daniel Russo can give surfed-out ecstasy, a giant day at Teahupoo, a perfect barrel ridden with style and ease, to those who have lived without, if they can create a sense of beauty in people whose lives have been sordid and ugly, who cannot even slip into a backside closeout without hunching over like an ape, than they are worthy of adoration. Worthy of the adoration of the world.

I shared my theories on water photography with a famous professional surfer and with a famous professional water photographer about the capturing of the soul and the curses and the blessings and the despising. About the sin of desiring immortality and about the sordid and ugly who benefit from the images. About how beautiful those images are and about how damning they are.

The famous professional surfer looked at me, long, and he lowered his glasses (he wears glasses) and he said, “You have killed my love. You used to stir my imagination. Now you don’t even stir my curiosity. You simply produce no effect. I loved you because you were marvellous, because you had genius and intellect, because you realised the dreams of great poets and gave shape and substance to the shadows of art. You have thrown it all away with this theory. You are shallow and stupid.”

I went home to cry but found myself staring at a picture of Julian Wilson shattering the back of a wave at Keramas. The water photographer, I know not which water photographer, had set himself behind the wave and everything was visible. So much power in the turn. So many fins above the lip. So much water being flung in all directions. And I felt better.

I felt magical.

Parker Coffin, Jay Adams and Conner Coffin
The funny but not handsome little brother Parker, the gay-hating but otherwise rad skate icon Jay Adams and… Conner himself! "Life's pretty bizarre in general… pop music's bizarre, the fact that people like Justin Bieber is popular is shocking to me. America is one of the most bizarre places in the world," says Conner.

My 10 Mistakes with Parker and Conner Coffin

One is cute as a button, the other is ugly as sin but such a merry prankster!

It ain’t difficult to tell these two bro’s apart. Parker bursting from the mouth, Conner swollen with the good looks. Don’t you want to fondle Conner’s golden hair and kiss his eyelashes? Just last year, Conner was the subject of a Surfer magazine cover that I can confidently assert was the greatest cover in the last 10 years, a cutback for the ages.

Parker, meanwhile, is affixed to his board as if with sticky jelly, and is freckled and often delirious and babbling, uttering sounds of enjoyment.

For this BeachGrit piece, I approached the Coffin brothers to combine for 10 mistakes; a combination I sort because the pair have led such pleasurable lives it would be impossible to find a 10-pack of errors. Now let’s rap!


1. Eating Grandma’s Pie: She made the best apple pies ever. She was surrounded by apple trees and she’d make these rad apple pies which I’d eat with the most gusto. And therefore I went through a doughy pre-puberty phase. I have a round enough face as it is, but fuelled by apple pies, I chunked out.

2. Not Learning to Play Music Earlier: I wish I was that kid who took music class. I wish I had music ingrained in me. Kids who have parents who play music have it tapped into their DNA. I didn’t start playing guitar until I was 12 and now I feel like learning to read music and having that instinctual approach is impossible.

3. Smashing my brother: I’d just gotten back from a trip, Parker was annoying me and I overreacted and pushed him. Due to an unfortunate chain of events he hit a fire hydrant and had to go to ER. I may’ve scarred him subconsciously and, deep down, he may even hate me. Was I punished? Well, yeah, their deal was pushing us to be pals.

4. Listening to rap: I can’t believe I wasted year of my life listening to that instead of things that involve real instruments. I don’t like the artificial nature of it. I mean, I understand the sonic structure, the engineering, but I believe music should be played with instruments. I love the Stones, the Grateful Dead, the Allman Brothers, Hendrix, Led Zeppelin.

5. Breaking up with my gal: At the time it felt like the right thing to do, and maybe it still is, but she’s super cool and now she’s dating another guy and I think, was it a mistake? I was 20, she was 27 and at different points in our lives. It definitely bums me out a bit but I’ve got to feel happy for her.


1. Not smelling the roses: I regret not being more of a tourist when we travel to all of these amazing places. It’s hard to get motivated to go out and be a tourist when you are on a surf trip for some reason. So that’s a new personal goal I have. I want to try and learn more about the various places that we go to instead of just going to surf and then going home. It’s a lot more meaningful to come home with some thing knowledgeable than just a description of how the waves were somewhere,

2. Splitting from school: I so regret not going to school for a few more years. My family was super supportive of the whole surfing thing and at the time all I wanted was to not be sitting in a classroom all day. Looking back on it I wish I hung in until at least middle school because then I would have known a lot more girls throughout my teenage years. But it’s all good, I met ’em elsewhere.

 3. My big mouth: There has been a lot of times when I was younger that I would just mouth off to people I shouldn’t have. At my local break I was just some cocky little shit-grom who would make fun of the older guys and they would just get me right back with some grom torture. I’m still learning my lesson with that one.

 4. Burning my ears off: One of my biggest mistakes is being on my phone too much. I’m trying to make a serious effort to cut back because my brother is always making fun of me for not being a part of conversations. Technology is taking over our lives and I don’t want to miss anything by looking at a stupid little device.

5. Acting old: Sometimes I’ll worry about stuff that don’t really matter instead of just being a grom. I mean, one day I’ll wake up and be 30 and have a 30-year-old’s problem instead of being a teenager enjoying the essential breeziness of life.

A junkie can always be spotted by the way he rests his chin on his fist.
A junkie can always be spotted by the way he rests his chin on his fist.

Fact: Kieren probably did go!

KP as the commissioner of surfing? Much like giving Sid Vicious the keys to the heroin store.

Matt Warshaw wrote a wonderful piece on yesterday’s BeachGrit, sharing his frustrations with a lay-day being called on a perfect, albeit CRAAAAAAZY, Pipeline afternoon. The waves shook the sand and rumors of best Pipe ever? circulated from Ted’s Bakery to New York City.

It is commissioner Kieren Perrow responsibility to say yay or nay to a day of professional surfing. He checks the forecast, gazes out toward the horizon, puts his finger to the wind, goes for a test surf and then says, “Aye mates, we’re on.” Or, “Naaaahhhhhhhhhh mates, we’re off.”

But there is a small problem. As likeable as Kieren Perrow is, multiple sources on tour, from worker bees to professional surfers, have confided frustration about that fact that he is a full-blown surf junkie. He goes out for a test surf and doesn’t come back in. Or he goes out for a test surf, comes in, says, “Naaaahhhhhhhhhh mates, we’re off….” And then goes back out and surfs some more. Or he goes out for a test surf, comes in, says, “Mates. I can’t quite tell. I just need another few hours. Mates.” And then goes back out and surfs until his knees are sore. It is much like giving Sid Vicious the keys to the heroin store. Sure, he knows the product. But he also knows the product.

There was the epic lay day in Fiji, there were multiple late starts in Tahiti and now Pipeline. The ASP likes to call it a win-win. The kids at home can watch the freesurfs! But doesn’t that defeat the entire point of the ASP?

Kieren Perrow ASP Commissioner
…this time three years ago (2011) the ASP's highly credentialed Commissioner Kieren Perrow was owning the podium. Winning the contest? Possible. Making calls at Pipe? Not so easy.

Opinion: Kieren would’ve gone!

Matt Warshaw on calling a Pipe Masters lay-day during the best Banzai all year…

I whinged on Twitter, as any right-thinking WCT surf fan would, about Kieren Perrow calling off the Pipe Masters on Saturday, thus depriving spectators of what would have been a fine afternoon of high-stakes showdown surfing. The following day I asked if anybody had yet seen video from Saturday afternoon’s session. Links were forwarded. Clips were downloaded. PiL’s “Order of Death” sprang from the dusty recesses of my iTunes catalog onto my FCPX timeline, and the clip you see here practically made itself.

And yes, if they hold the Pipe finals in blown-out chest-high Beach Park, on the last day of the waiting period, I will indeed be tuning in. Throwing thunderbolts of pure Twitter fury, but watching nonetheless. The ASP is the gang that keep shooting blanks. And I will always ride along. Damn it.