Drugs and Surfing! Sex and Surfing! Violence too…

What you creeps and dipsomaniacs searched for in 2014… 

It is impossible to praise Matt Warshaw too highly. If you care about at all about surfers who have blood in their veins, it is imperative that you attend his website Encyclopedia of Surfing. (Click to jump into his tub!) It’s the history of surfing but contained on an electronic page.

Just now, Matt posted the most-searched items from the site. And wouldn’t y’know it! You’re a pack of creeps and dipsomaniacs!

“Trying to figure out why these two pages came out on top this year, and all I can come up with is that with alcohol and surfing, as well as drugs and surfing, you get both comedy and tragedy,” write Matt. “The Stone Steps contest, for example, as seen in the black and white photo above. That was a sloppy, stupid, incredibly fun event. Buckets of beer drained before each heat. Silly trophies. Nude dancing on the beach afterwards. And star power: that’s Butch van Artsdalen up there on the far right, in the early ’70s, getting his neck around 48 fluid ounces of Miller Lite before paddling out to win the event. On the other hand, Butch drank himself to death in 1979. Same with drugs. Cuddling up your giant fluffy-friendly-green pot plants — funny. OD-ing alone in a Dallas hotel room — not funny.”

If you are nostalgic for surf history and want a website of structure and commitment then you can’t afford to do without it. An extraordinary achievement! Happy New Year to you!

Hypothetical: Bruce Irons on Death Row

Who doesn't have prison fanasties? Let's tap into the head of Kauai's Bruce Irons!

A favourite past-time of my childhood was to engage in Death Row fantasies. How would I handle the march to the Chair or to the gurney for the series of injections that would end my life?

What would my last meal consist of – would it be cheap calories (Bucket of original recipe KFC, peas with butter, two pints of mint and chocolate chip ice team, cherry Kool Aid) or organic and meditative (Kale chips, quinoa, beans)?

And given my squeamishness, what would be the crime that got me there in the first place?

All these things I’ve wondered and pondered. And I’m not the only one. In a series of interviews, BeachGrit has asked surfers of note to detail their Death Row decisions. Today, Kauai’s Bruce Irons.

What crime got y’here?

First-degree murder.

What would drive a man to such a malicious act? 

Maybe catching his wife cheatin’ on him. But, I couldn’t kill my baby’s momma. I mean, I’d sure wanna, but, murder, fuck, you’d be pretty damn mad with your wife’s lover. You’d chop em up, put em in some acid.

Y’gonna cannibalise the fool?
Would I eat him? I might as well, if you’re going to death row, I mean.

Did you enjoy the crime? 

Talking about it in the context of fantasy is one thing, but doing it is another. I’d wanna shoot myself after it, to clean that slate.

How’d you get caught? 

This is a fucking great topic. How’d I get caught? I wouldn’t. If you know you’re going to end up on death row, you’re fucked, so you might as well go on a killing spree, killing your estranged wife’s lover first. So you kill him, chop him up, pack up all your ammo and guns and go down the street and take the bank down, take down the squadron of police and go until you get killed so you don’t make it to death row. You go out in a blaze of glory, chopping down fucking everybody in your sight.

Let’s presume you don’t flame out and you get busted. Whom among your friends wilts? Who betrays you under police questioning? 

Y’know, a lot of people say they’re your “BOYS” but when push comes to shove, you’re lucky if you can count the fucking people on one hand who are solid.

What’s your method of execution? 

Electric chair, definitely. You might as well go out as a Hell Raiser.

Last phone call. 

Argh, my daughter. I’d tell her, Daddy’s gonna… daddy’s gonna (Bruce’s voice drops low, real low, emotional)… daddy’s gonna miss you, baby… 

Last conscious thought? 

What the fuck did I do?


The only regret would be that I wouldn’t be there for my daughter. That would suck and I’d deserve to go to hell.

Who’s in the audience? 

Well, since I killed my wife’s estranged lover, I’d let her be there to watch me. This is fucked up, isn’t it?

What do you wear? 

A priestly gown.

Who do you give your boards to?

I’ll fucking burn my boards with me.

Last dream session

Big Hanalei Bay. Me and no one else.

Last-minute apologies

I apologise to nobody.

Last-minute regrets? 

No apologies and no regrets.

Last-minute religion? 

Any conversions? No, but here I come Ronnie Boy. He’s my friend. He shot himself about a year ago. You know the Volcom movie, the guy with the panties on his head? Yeah, he killed himself. High-caliber rifle straight to the head. Over a FUCKING CUNT! Yeah, well, that’s what I’m talking about. But, he killed himself instead of the chick.

Last meal?

I’d like to go for some New Zealand lamb cutlets, lightly marinated, served medium.

How do you meet your end? With dignity or a screaming mess? 

There’s no getting out of it so you just gotta suck it up. Alright, here comes the next chapter.

Soundtrack to execution? 

(Bruce shows your reporter a 45-minute documentary on the making of the Pink Floyd album, Dark Side of the Moon on his new iPad.)

Dark Side of the Moon, Pink Floyd.

Last cigarette? 

Even though I don’t smoke, I’d lung that fucker in one hit.

Last words? 

Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way.

Jack Robinson portrait
The signing of teen Jack Robinson is just one of the smart commercial decisions made by Billabong in the past two years. | Photo: Morgan Maassen

Opinion: To surf or not to surf

It's the most profound decision you'll ever have to make. It's life or death!

I am frothing. 

I pull up to the waist-high beach break with you and immediately jump out to grab my board. You say wait a minute it’s not so good because it’s small and the swell is not here yet and the wind has just come up. I say I see waist high A-frames with rampy peaks and blow-tail end sections. You do not go out. I definitely go out because I am frothing.

I am 12 years old and out of school for the summer. I am not doing Junior Lifeguards so I will not miss the best dawn patrol waves because I have to swim around a buoy or run on the sand. I am frothing.

I am 18 years old and I am going to college on the California coast (or University of Hawaii if I can get in). I will live in the Oceanside or Ocean Beach or Cayucos ghetto so I can be the first on it and check it after classes. I am frothing.

I am 24 years old and I turn down a good paying job inland because I will not commute away from the ocean. I make ends meet at a lower wage job but I surf every day before work. I am frothing.

I am 46 years old and I make about half the amount of money as other people my age. But I have twice the hair and I am healthy and fit because my work schedule is second to my surf schedule. I surf five to seven days a week before or after work. I am in the best shape of my life. I am frothing.

I am 65 years old and I am collecting social security. I surf every day because I never stopped and now I never have to because I have saved some money to go along with the retirement check. I am in the best shape of any senior citizen I know because I am in touch with the ocean every day. I am frothing.

I am frothing and you have decided not to paddle out.

I’ll text you to let you know how good it is and what you have been missing all this time…

… when I get out.

When Big-Wave Surfers Find Love

Garrett McNamara likes to plough down the world's mighty waves! And now he's in love!

Critics? Sure, Garrett McNamara has a few. He knows it, you know it but here’s the thing… he ain’t gonna die wondering.

A quick Google search in the wake of those last two gigantic swells that hit Nazaré and Mavericks will throw up endless images of G-Mac ploughing down the face. At Naz, Garrett and Australian big-waver Ross Clarke-Jones not only traded waves but also a trip underwater after Garrett went in to rescue Ross after a heavy wipe-out.

“It’s really cool what Garrett’s done both with his surfing and moving surfing into the mainstream,” says Ross. “I am so proud of him and a bit envious I guess given his association with Mercedes, I’d love to have something like with Porsche!”

The respect goes both ways, with Garrett claiming Ross, “is the only big wave surfer I’ve ever looked up to. His Aussie approach to the riding big waves is just perfect. He never runs from the wave and always goes as deep as possible. I love the guy and I was so, so stoked he made it to Portugal.”

But it was perhaps the Mavericks swell that may have surprised Garrett’s harshest critics, who lavished him with scorn after the drop-in incident and subsequent near drowning of Greg Long in 2012. Indeed it was Long, says Garrett, who convinced him the swell headed to Mavericks would be worth the trip. “I started getting excited by that swell while I still in Portugal,” says Garrett. “And I spoke to Greg about it and he convinced me it was going to a A plus swell and worth it. So I went.”

And went he did, relying solely on paddle power to catch some of the day’s biggest waves. Not that Garrett didn’t give a passing thought to the potential of being towed in though. “There were so many waves that went unridden and if we were towing we would have gotten the biggest barrels you’d ever get at Mavericks,’’ he says. “But paddling was just the most exciting fun and really, really challenging and the thing is, despite the crowds, there were so many waves that if you wanted a bomb, they were there for the taking.”

Wth two swells worth of XXL waves under his belt, the man known as G-Mac finds himself at home on Oahu, surrounded by kids, his wife and like so many others this time of year, a long list of jobs to do.

“I’m so so stoked there’s no major swells on the horizon for the time being,” he says. “I get to spend time with my kids, time with my wife and just put my feet up for a while.”

But don’t be alarm big-wave surf fans. Y’still get your slice of G-Mac! Click on the play button up top and bathe in his unselfconscious, non-ironic surfer-falls-in-love short…


Duke Kahanamoku on movie set
So here's the jam. The Duke came to Australia in 1915 for a little surf-riding exhibition. He takes a gal out at Dee Why for a tandem ride. Oral storytelling switches Dee Why for Freshwater. The girl, Isabel Letham, never marries and claims her heart was stolen by the Duke. But maybe Iz didn't dig buck Hawaiians at all! Maybe she liked a little beaver! Who doesn't!

Shattered: Australia’s Most Enduring Surf Myth!

Hawaiian legend fails to turn closet lesbian; Australia's first-ever surfer ain't who it seems!

In a sizzling reveal, The Australian newspaper reported yesterday that Australia’s first-ever surfer wasn’t Isabel Letham nor the Hawaiian Duke Kahanamoku but a Manly surfer, Tommy Walker, who exhibited the sport on a two-dollar surfboard three years earlier.

“Oral storytelling, particularly about new and radical experiences, forms a large part of surf culture,” writes Fred Pawle. “As a result, surfers, who are not the most literary bunch, are prone to exaggeration. But even by their hyperbolic standards, the Letham story is extraordinary. The truth, as usual, is even more fascinating .

“A reassessment of Letham is overdue, partly because her status in surfing has become ludicrously high, and partly because the centenary of her alleged achievement is approaching, and it would be a shame if the planned celebrations on Sydney’s Freshwater beach on January 8 commemorated a fallacy.”

Even better, writes Pawle, the now-legendary Ms Letham hid her sapphic tendencies behind a wall of supposed longing for the former Olympian.

“Letham herself repeatedly gave the impression that she, if not Kahanamoku, established a deep emotional bond on the day they supposedly rode together at Freshwater,” writes Fred Pawle. “But Sandra Kimberley Hall, Kahanamoku’s official biographer, is not convinced. ‘Any romantic interaction between a 15-year-old white girl and a 24-year-old dark-skinned Hawaiian in Australia in 1915 stretches the bounds of plausibility,’ she says. ‘Nowhere in Duke or Isabel’s archives is there anything that would lead researchers to believe there was a romance, a fling, or even a friendship between the two of them. It’s laughably ridiculous.’”

The story really is a remarkable piece, in its research and its shattering of an enduring myth.

Read the entire story here!