Surfing Teahupoo in Tahiti is one. It doesn’t have to be big, it doesn’t even have to be six foot. You just have to feel it: the long paddle from the end of the road, skirting the reef and paddling around the channel markers, up the point and pulling up at the world’s most infamous and photographed hunk of volcanic rock. | Photo: Dominic Mosquiera

10 Things Every Surfer Has Gotta Do (Before Lights Out)

Talk to Slater, spend a summer in France, catch a wave at Teahupoo, order a board from this century's Duke… 

1. Surf Teahupoo: It doesn’t have to be big, it doesn’t even have to be six foot. You just have to feel it: the long paddle from the end of the road, skirting the reef and paddling around the channel markers, up the point and pulling up at the world’s most infamous and photographed hunk of volcanic rock. It won’t be crowded, at least it won’t be if you avoid the two weeks of the Billabong Pro, and you’ll sit up on your board and see the green-covered mountains throttling upwards from the shore, the reef fish swimming among the crevices below your feet, the fishermen hurtling through the dynamited channel close to shore in their speedboats steered by two levers and a wave that’ll come from either a south or west direction. As a Teahupoo novice, select the south swell running up the point. It’ll let you in easy and, more importantly, it’ll let you out. If you’ve got a stab of courage in your gut, take on a west swell. Once committed, it’s a clean, in-out tube or a wrestle with your craft as you ride the cylinder straight onto dry rock. Whatever the outcome, when conversation with non-surfers turns to surf and someone asks: Have you ever surfed Teahupoo? You can confidently and honestly tell the truth and bask in the wave’s associated cred.

2. Order a surfboard from Simon Anderson: Imagine your grandfather putting you on his knee and describing the time he had a board personally built for him by Duke Kahanomoku. Do your future grandchildren a service by ordering up a craft from the inventor of the thruster, Mr Simon Anderson. Despite his reputation, Simon works out of a small factory in an anonymous industrial estate in Mona Vale on Sydney’s northern beaches. Call, make an appointment, and share a cup of tea (this is Australia, saddled with so many English cultural references) with the most influential man in surfboard design while seated on stools in a backroom brimful of boards destined to all four corners of the world. Simon will repay your handful of gold (a paltry $900) with a beautiful surfboard and an experience that will pay for itself over and over. Remember to keep the order form with Simon’s notes.

3. Be towed into a big wave/have a small-wave whip in sesh: You don’t like jetskis? You’re not alone. There’s a plague of the things. Anyone with access to a benevolent parent or personal loan is stumping up the green for a little jet power. Meanwhile, you sit in the lineup and you can’t believe the clowns on the things. What a joke? Who do they think they are, Laird Hamilton?  But, if something’s popular, it’s gotta have something going for it, right? By whatever means, get yourself a couple of sessions behind a ski. Be towed into a 12-foot wave. Be launched into a four-foot ramp. Then tell the world how fucked it is.

4. Be coached by the Martin Dunn: It’s horrible to think about and even worse to admit, but most of us surf with an appalling technique. We try to hit the lip a second too early or late, we outrun sections, we only try cutbacks when we’re a mile away from the tube, our airs are dreadful throwaways and backdside tuberiding is something we can only enjoy vicariously through video of Dorian or AI.  For the price of a couple of sticks ($330 a day, private, or $165 a day if you can find two other souls) and maybe an airfare from wherever you are, you will stay with super coach Martin Dunn, surf three times a day, and have every session videoed and analysed. You will leave either a vastly improved surfer or so discouraged by the shit you saw on the tv, you’ll never want to touch the sport ever again. As for Martin’s credentials, have you seen how good his kid, Ben, surfs?

 5. Visit the Mentawais on a luxury charter vessel: For the last 15 years, the surf mags have poured a tsunami of ink onto their pages documenting the Mentawai islands. Is it as perfect as you’ve been led to believe? Only one way to find out. And if you’re going to go, save a little longer, save an extra couple of grand and experience it as if you were a millionaire professional surfer. Air con cabins, a fast boat, hot showers, a king’s supply of Bintang and food so artfully prepared your taste buds will weep with joy. This, and waves you’ve only ever seen in the movies.

6. Surf in South Australia: Ever since the Great White had the bounty lifted off its head in 1999 (July 16, mark it on your calendar), they’ve become so plentiful Port Lincoln fishermen reckon some days you can just about walk from boat to boat on their backs. Good news? Of course! What paranoid, weed-smoking locals wobbling around with shotguns couldn’t achieve, the conservationists have with the protection of the Great White – zero crowds! Experience hot days, cold nights, cold water and a cold frission of fear every time you paddle across the bottomless channels. You’ll either die in the mouth of a primitive mammal or leave with a headful of memories of desert barrels.

7. Spend December on the North Shore: Like the Mentawais, it’s just one of those joints you have to see once in a lifetime. Pick up your rental pickup (black) from Alamo, follow the signs to the North Shore and stay at your pre-booked beachfront house at Off The Wall. Go to the opening ceremony of the Eddie, visit Foodland every day, eat at Café Haleiwa, surf Rocky Point and Sunset and the various Pipe waves (Backdoor, Off the Wall, Pipeline), watch the Pipe Masters, get yourself on a nodding basis with Kala Alexander in the Pipe lineup and pick yourself up a sweet mainlander looking for surfer prime beef. Just once.

8. Spend a summer in France: Think you know it all? Think France in summer really is a kaleidoscope of naked Lolitas with bushels of pubic hair beckoning you to their favourite sand dune while sand-bottom barrels spin off on dreamy uncrowded banks? Reality is never like the dream. Sometimes better, often worse. It’s your duty to discover the truth.

 9. Have a conversation with Kelly Slater: As irony would have it, the most in-demand surfer in the world is also the most approachable. For the sake of a memory bank you’ll need to access when age and decay force you out of the water, engage the best surfer ever in a conversation. He isn’t hard to find –  his movements are posted on the WSL website in a section entitled Events. Don’t be drunk, don’t overfawn, treat the champ with dignity and respect and you’ll be rewarded with candour and insight.

10. Get stitched by a skipper: You haven’t lived until you’ve drunk half a bottle of Captain Morgan’s rum and had the skipper of your charter vessel crudely weave your split knee/arm/back/skull back into shape. Now that’s a scar you can brag about.

"Lewis (Samuels) is first choice, except the waxing costs would break me," winks Matt Warshaw. "(Drew) Kampion I’ve maybe got a daddy thing for. I could be Chas’ (Smith's) daddy. Chas actually might be my #1, not Lewis. Chas talks a big game, perversion-wise, but family life suits him. I’d trust him to raise my son."

Warshaw: Give Me Lewis Samuels as Lover

What surfer or surf writer would you take to bed, men? But only hypothetically (wink!)

A few days ago, BeachGrit ran a story called the Five Best Interviews in Surfing (click here!). In response, the surf historian Matt Warshaw from San Francisco wrote about his own five best interviews (click here!). 

Obvs, Warshaw’s dance all over mine, a result of his superior intelligence gathering.

But one interview I took exception to was that with the big-waver Fred Van Dyke and his claim that most big-wave surfers are “latent homosexuals.” He actually said that in a Life magazine interview in 1967, but it wasn’t until Warshaw spoke to him in 1992  that he clarified it. In the lamest way.

“What everyone missed was that I said latent homosexuals,” Van Dyke told Warshaw. “I didn’t say we were all lovers. I meant that we all came to the North Shore, and it was Boys Town USA. One guy would rent a house, 10 other guys would move in, all these macho big-wave surfers, and it turned into a classic case of arrested development. Freud describes different levels of development, and one of them, for males, comes at around 10 to 12 years of age. That’s when you band together as guys, and don’t let girls into your lives. It doesn’t mean you’re gay. It means that the only thing that matters is your status among male friends—and that was everything for us. Everything! But instead of being 10 years old, we were 18, 20, 22, even older. We were still like kids. We were stuck”

Lame, right? Latent means hidden. Homosexuality is a beautiful dance. It ain’t for me, but not much is besides a gal’s ass that is as precious as bone china and titties that sway and sway and sway across my lips.

Anyway, I got Warshaw into a little exchange, below.

DR: Fred’s explanation regarding latent homosexuality has always bothered me. “Latent” means hidden. And latent homosexuality is that wonderful erotic zing toward your brothers that you keep hidden, not a desire for bonding. So I want to know, was there a genuine latent homosexuality between all those early big-wavers, you think, holed up together on the Shore? All those strong men! All those stiff cocks!

MW: Fred I think messed up the Freudian definition of “latent homosexuality.” Although who knows, like everybody else I haven’t actually read Freud. But yeah, Van Dyke’s take, like he says, is that North Shore big-wave guys were all about the guys. Just like my five-year-old is all about the guys. All that matters is what your buddies think. Girls aren’t in the picture.

DR: But man-on-man action? You think?

MW: Fuck, who knows.

DR: Secret gay feelings? 

MW: Between big-wave surfers? Sure! One of 10 of those guys is probably gay. Just like the rest of the male world.

DR: The one in ten figure is thrown around a lot. Which gives us four fabulous fruits on the tour! I wonder who?

MW: All I know about all those guys is what I see on ASP webstream. I certainly like the cut of Michel Bourez’ jib, though.

DR: Who doesn’t?

MW: What about you?

DR: I’m besotted by the sheer ordinariness of Bede Durbidge.

MW: You’d want to set up house with a guy like Bede?

DR: On the contrary, it’s house-setting I’d like. Sundays in bed with espressos and newspapers and… flashback… amyl.

MW: Okay how about this. Rielly, Warshaw, Doherty, Samuels, Sam George, Chas Smith, Kampion, Jarratt, Carroll, Baker. Pick one.

DR: Whom I’m attracted to? Or who swings?

MW: Both.

DR: I can only mention those I’ve met. Sam George I would describe as a classic Californian beauty, so maybe. Nick would be rough and his tongue would have absolutely no subtlety. So, no. Jarratt is too old, maybe slow to arouse. Tim Baker has a chocolate brown bosom that I’d always longed to tug at with my mouth, again, maybe. Brisick you didn’t mention. I’d fly to Bangkok with Briz and one of us would be gender reassigned in the interests of long-term happo. You?

MW: Lewis is first choice, except the waxing costs would break me. Kampion I’ve maybe got a daddy thing for. I could be Chas’ daddy. Chas actually might be my #1, not Lewis. Chas talks a big game, perversion-wise, but family life suits him. I’d trust him to raise my son.

DR: Yeah, well, I don’t get the Lewis fixation. The last time I saw him he wore a red-checked shirt, baggy stonewash jeans, New Balance sneakers, tortoise-shell seeing glasses (the sort preferred by middle-aged women) and a fist of hair climbed out of the neck of his undershirt. Is Kampion attractive? And tell me what rough trade you’d have with Nick Carroll. 

MW: Kampion was once the spitting image of Bob Dylan, from the Freewheelin’ days. Fine looking man. Nick’s working what we in San Francisco call the Bear angle, which never appealed to me. But honestly, at 54, I’m looking for romance of the mind. I left my libido somewhere in my mid-40s.

DR: No libido? Let’s bust some myths about Miki Dora, tomoz! You ain’t even a sexual being!

Lisa Ann never goes to The Inertia. Ever.

Don’t go to the inertia, surfing, surfline or surfer!

BeachGrit's semi-regular wrap of those other sites.

We try and save your time so you can surf longer and/or view more porn. Come here and feast and, if something is better than Lisa Ann (PornHub’s most popular star) we will let you know!

Don’t go to Surfing and read about Ricardo Dos Santos. No one knows anything yet and everyone rushed out and posted something because rubber neck! If you have a rubber neck, though, BeachGrit’s post is more thoughtful.

Don’t go to Surfing and watch Kaimana Jaquias // Bali // 3:07. Surf clips that go longer than .30 better be real, real special. We live in the future! Attention spans are small!

Go to Surfing and look at Lightbox 2014 (here). Surfing’s photographers, including Jimmicane and DJ Struntz are the best in the business and Surfing’s photo editor Pete Taras is second to none.

Don’t go to Stab and watch NeoTokyo is about to Explode. It is ummmm a nice try? The comics and lasers are very zip zip zap but the surfing seems antiquated. Like, I hope they ain’t pulling little mini airs on regular old thrusters in the future. And I hope for attention spans right around .000003.

Go to Stab and watch Computer Dilemma with Beau Foster (here)! His laugh is just the most infectious!

Don’t go to Surfer unless you are 50 going on 83.

Don’t go to Surfline unless you have low self-esteem and are unable to make your own decisions.

Summer’s over! Get radical!

The bubble of youth is going to pop! Soon! Milk it!

Big Wednesday is and always will be the only time that Tinsel Town has effectively captured our beloved surf. The themes portrayed in John Millus and Denny Aaberg’s 1978 classic are still totally relatable to the lives of every surfer today, and offer an almost prophecy like sermon on the circular nature of the surfing life.

The film’s major success is that it’s not about surf; it’s about the golden period in every young man’s life that inevitably has to come to an end. Summer’s almost over and every song has an ending, but that’s no reason not to enjoy the music!

Denny Aaberg, the creative prophet behind the film wrote a short story for Surfer magazine called “No Pants Mance,” from which much of the film was based. The piece is short and describes a swinging Malibu party that ends in a brawl and someone urinating in the host’s Mum’s steam iron.

The intro to the piece is most telling as Aaberg describes how the generation of Malibu surfers that came before him, including Miki ‘Da Cat’ Dora, all packed up their trunks at the end the summer of 1962, “the last great summer,” because, “the great days are gone, the real surfing is over and it’s too crowded!”

This is a theme that rolls through Aaberg’s seminal film, but also acts as a metaphor for all things surf. The influx of surfing’s popularity, the government’s influence and the fact that everyone has to grow up, whether they accept it or not, is most potent.

Big Wednesday’s three protagonists effectively cover the spectrum of the weird and wonderful characters that our beloved pastime attracts. Jack Barlow is the talented introvert, a natural company man who’s been influenced by his beach side habitat.

Far over to the left is Leroy the Masochist, a wild dude who lives to “get radical” in the form of recklessly charging big waves and trying to grill himself in the oven at parties.

Smack bang in the middle is Matt Johnson,  “That is Matt Johnson!” –  an Adonis destined to burn briefly, but ever so brightly. Every surf town from Cape Town to Carlsbad has a Matt Johnson. The handsome, humble dude, who between the ages of 18 and 25 has it all. The best haircut/car/chick/sponsor, but inevitably loses it. Being popular in high school never did anyone any favours.

Male-on-male admiration is portrayed beautifully in the film. It’s such an inescapable part of the surfing world, and it’s totally gay! Stephen Fry says that, “The best thing that you can do is to have a hero, someone that you admire,” but Stevie also used to play a game called ‘rudies’ with a childhood pal, which involved watching each other defecate in the woods! So I’ll leave that one up to you.

However, you know that bile-inducing feeling you got when you first learnt the fate of our Andy Irons!? That’s love my friend! The grommets in the messiah-like Bear’s surf shop certainly feel the same about one Matt Johnson. In a moment of indulgent self-deprecation Johnson tried to shrug his endorsement deal with Bear and declares that:

“I don’t want kids looking up to me… I’m a drunk Bear. I only surf because it’s good to go out and ride with your friends. I don’t even have that anymore.”

This sentiment is quintessential to the route to surf stardom (Bonjour messieurs Marzo, Wood, Archbold, Herring) and brings to a head the reason that professional surfing is almost void of characters: If you want to be a professional surfer at the highest level then you literally have to spend the whole of your adolescence surfing!

Everyday, surf, surf, surf, it sure doesn’t make for interesting interviews! Gabby didn’t spend his teens making out with Bridget Bardot types on picnic rugs at beach-blanket burnout style parties and getting in bar-brawls in Tijuana with Leroy the Masochist. But then again that’s why Gabby’s a world champ and the proverbial Matt Johnson ended up cleaning pools for a living.

The scene ends in classic style, when Bear, with gravel in his voice and tears in his eyes, preaches his poignant sermon:

“Growing up’s hard on any kid. But those kids do look up to you whether you like it or not!

(Lengthy trumpet crescendo to theme tune)

“You better pick yourself out a new board now, don’t ya think.”

The “all good things must come to a end” sentiment is perfectly punctuated in art as in life by the Vietnam War. The conscription scene in Big Wednesday is one of the all time classic depictions of youth defiance in cinema history. The boys belting each other in the knees, dousing themselves in fish oil, dressing up as queens and Nazis alike to dodge the shackles of conscription is absolute silver screen gold! But this shit actually happened.

What a cruel twisted fate it was to go from the real golden era of surfing in the early-to -mid -sixties (think striped trunks, Volkswagon beatles, fires on the beach) to being thrust into the filthiest of mosquito-ridden jungles to fight the yellow man. What a wild ride!

Friendship ties into the tale of the golden era of the Malibu surf scene in an eternally relatable manner. It’s the morally incorruptible Bear, once again, who hits the proverbial nail on the head in his wedding day exchange with the newly appointed Los Angeles state lifeguard/excommunicated surfie Jack Barlow.

“For god’s sake Jack it’s my wedding day, have a drink.”

“No I don’t drink.”

“Jack, your friends are the most important thing you’ve got, have a drink.”

“What are we drinking to?”

“Only to your friends, to your friends come hell or high water.”

My best mate’s Dad’s in his fifties and he runs with a gaggle of weekend warriors that we refer to as The Johns. The Johns spend countless hours at the weekend, away from the trouble and strife, driving up and down the coast hanging out in car parks, drinking coffees, and checking the surf endlessly.

They barely ever surf, even when it’s pumping. The unexplained, eternally greener grass nature of this seemingly pointless activity became clear to me in the re-watching of Big Wednesday. The Johns aren’t searching for a better sandbank or a more sheltered cove. They’re searching for Atlantis, the Garden of Eden, a thing that’s gone and lost forever. The golden era of their youth. This powerful potion of nostalgia is the glue that binds the Johns,and it’s totally spawned an industry. Hello  Deus Ex Machina!

If you, like me, are in the apex of your golden years I urge you, I implore you, not to take for granted the rose-tinted phase in with you currently exist. Cherish your friends and your time, because before too long the bubble of youth will pop!

In the haunting words of Matt Johnson:

“Summer’s almost over, let’s get radical!”

Describe your winning strategy, Mason. "At Pipe and Backdoor, it gets really steep. I poke it down, like you poke the nose down, like you're going to poke something else. You just aim it and shoot it as hard as you can."

Interview: Mason Ho wins Backdoor Shootout!

…collects 10-grand and makes new friend in Bruce Irons!

Yesterday, Mason Ho, the just turned 26 year old from Sunset Beach, won a  slightly shortened version of Da Hui’s Backdoor Shootout. Jamie O’Brien strolled into second, Bruce Irons was third, Billy Kemper, third, Makua Rothman, fourth, and Makai McNamara was fifth.

Oh Mason! Such a popular winner! He gets us all drunk on his surfing. Those beautiful idiosyncrasies make his game the epitome of Hawaiian surf.

So let’s rap!

BeachGrit: Why’d you win? 

Mason: Whooooa! Fuck! I don’t know to be honest. Maybe… mmmm… frick… I can’t say that, let me think… wait… damn! I don’t know. I guess I put my heart into it but then I don’t know if those guys were doing the same. Maybe I picked better waves.

Describe what a pretty wave looks like, front door and back door? 

There’s those rights that look like huge teepees, you know what a teepee is, an Indian fucking thing. You want the rights to look like that. And the lefts, anything that looks like it’s coming from Off the Wall. You try and get as deep as you can and you just… poke it.

Poke it? 

At Pipe and Backdoor, it gets really steep. I poke it down, like you poke the nose down, like you’re going to poke something else. You just aim it and shoot it as hard as you can.

How about the winnings? How much y’get? 

Supposedly I won 10 grand. It’s usually 50 grand, that’s what I’ve seen on the cardboard cheques. The reason I got 10 was, usually it’s three heats and they take your best three scores and you get the results on that. This year, they tried to make it three rounds and the top 16 of the 32 guys were going to qualify for another round and then everyone was going to start from zero and then bang it out. So the plan was to have one more day of competition. But they missed one day. We thought yesterday was going to be the best day and it was kinda shitty. At first, everyone was going to get the same amount of money. But I started rousting everybody that had some power to change it. I told ’em straight to their face that the top six should get the same amount of money. They were laughing about how I was telling it straight. And then they said, “We’ll give you 10 and the other guys five.” I was, like, shooooooots (stoked)!

Who were you rousting?

Pretty much every single guy there. From the people running it to the competitors, from last place to fucking second place. Everybody. I needed the money.

What are you going to throw it at? 

Fuck! First purchase is a remote control car, f’sure.

An RC car? 

Somehow, fuck, I’ve been hanging out with Bruce Irons. I never knew the guy before but… wait… here’s a funny story. My friend had an RC car and I was, like, what the fuck? That’s the sickest thing! And so we went to the store in town so I could get one and the guy said, “Bruce Irons comes in here and buys everything!” I’m, like, what? I’m onto something cool. And then I ran into Bruce at the contest and I only know him to say, “Hey, what’s up, how’s your dad?” And after I got a 10 and a nine in my heat he paddled out… psyching! He’s so rock star, he never talks to guys, he just shines ’em and so I’d learned never to interrupt him or talk to him at Pipe. But he came out psyching, saying, “How was your stall! I love how you’re stalling! People just let go of the rail!” I was overwhelmed. I was in shock. The waves I don’t remember too well, but Bruce saying that was my highlight. And before the heat, my dad was sitting at Off the Wall and a remote control car flies by him. And he’s thinking, What is Mason doing playing with his car on the day of the contest? And he looks behind him and it’s Bruce pinning his car all over. And I say to Bruce, tell me my dad wasn’t lying! Were you playing with your RC car before the heat? And Bruce is, like, “I have my whole quiver here! Let’s go play after!” We get to play RC cars? With Bruce Irons? Winning the contest and playing with cars? 2015 is blowing my mind! I’m glad I got to get that off my chest. I had to tell someone.

How about the game of qualifying this year? Gonna happen? 

It’s been my goal since I was a kid to be world champ. I’m not giving up but to be world champ you have to get on tour. So my goal before my goal is to, yeah, qualify.

How you going to do it? 

I’m going to hypnotise myself into how much fun it is. I just want to beat guys in everything.