surfing in Israel
…oh look at you, brave little country that's suffocated by hate on every border. Still you carry the shield of democracy and the sword of freedom. Surfing in Israel is the sweetest fruit.

Movie: The Hebrew Hammer

The surf has been pumping in Israel. Jew fever! Catch it!

Who knew the Med could whip up this kinda milkshake?

Ten days ago, a four-to-six-foot swell lit up the Israeli coastline. This film by Noam Eshel captures the best of Israel’s surfers at a surfing contest in Sokolov Beach, Nahariya, right there on the border with Lebanon, a dear friend to world Jewry.

Israel has waves and not just in some oblique theoretical way. Pull out that old school atlas and swing into the middle east. See how much fetch there is in the Mediterranean west to east? Over four thousand kilometres. Enough to create swells that’ll hit, at times, eight feet plus and light up one of the most wonderful collection of reefs, breakwalls and beaches you could ever imagine.

Take a swig!

Billabong Up North 2015 – אליפות ישראל בגלישת גלים, סוקולוב נהריה 2015 from BoardShop Israel on Vimeo.

Ask Pam (Episode 3): Dance Like Happy Black Chillun!

Come and romp with Dane and Courtney's french bulldog Pam! She was sick, but now she healed!

How can you trap the exuberance of Courtney Jaedtke and Dane Reynolds’ french bulldog Pam?

Over the course of the last four months, Ask Pam, an advice column that has covered topics as diverse as the loneliness of modern life, existentialism and the Solange-Jay-Z rift, has become a much loved and much visited part of

And, today, Pam, advises on surviving in a dirty world (“Focus on doing you!”), how to market yourself as a pro surfer (“If you can’t do a super good air I recommend getting a single fin and getting a bohemian style”) and how to tap into a new vein of music (“Watch videos of other countries’ dancing”).

Everything seemed so useless until now! She purrs!

Send your own (audio) questions to Ask Pam ([email protected] or [email protected]). That voice memo function on an iPhone? It’s perfect.  Include a photo too!

Ask Pam (Episode Three): dance like happy chillun! from BeachGrit on Vimeo.

MEA CULPA: Vissla creates! Innovates!

"I was wrong," says Chas Smith. "I mocked Vissla but it is flying out of shops! And they just signed Eric Geiselman."

I was in college, I think, when I first got on the Internet. Having grown up in rural, coastal Oregon “technology” consisted of quality mud flaps and the local 7-11’s big gulp machine.

My guide, sitting at our shared prefab desk in a cement block dorm cell, poked some keys on his Mac and there we were. Online.
“Look. I can chat with girls…” He said with a smug mouth.
“I chat with girls in person, you fucken nerd.” I responded with a smugger one. This internet ain’t going nowhere. It’ll be the bastion of socially inept turds.
Years later, I remember when people started whispering about online shopping. I was online too, at this point, reading the news and buying airplane tickets but real shopping? Like buying denim? No way! “I buy denim in person, you. This internet shopping ain’t going nowhere. It’ll be the bastion of people whose clothes don’t fit and who also shop at Costco.”
Years later, Vissla came out. I mocked its prefab hipster marketing but apparently it’s flying out of the shops, helping bouy mom and pops and, recently, they signed Eric older brother of Evan Geiselman. Eric totally rips. He is really good and fun to watch but no one ever sponsored him because maybe he was from Smyrna Beach? Or because maybe he didn’t smoke cigarettes and look all cool an industry insider told me. Whatever the case, the kid, who is no longer a kid, went sponsorless.
Like about the Internet, in general, and online shopping I was wrong!
God bless you, Vissla. But your sister D’Blanc is still a piece of shit.

northern lights in canada
Pretty ain't she? The northern lights as viewed from a downed US Navy plane in Alberta, Canada. Chris used a 30-second exposure, camera on tripod (natch) and a cable release to ensure max sharpness. | Photo: Chris Burkard

The Miraculous Photography of Mr Burkard

From the northern lights to warm-water tubs in the Caribbean, Chris Burkard sure do know how to steal a photo… 

How about we bring it back a little to the ol school. When photographers epitomised the rugged individualist ideal, wrapped in bandanas and flack jackets loaded with Nikon cameras and wide-angle lens, and traipsed through snow and dirt and scum, cutting through barbed wire with pliers, to steal photos that made y’wanna throw your trunks in a bag and find an adventure.

Chris Burkard knows travel. He searches the constellations for waves. Where the air is cold and pure and remote. He lived for six months in a Kombi, driving from Oregon to Tijuana for his book The California Surf Project.

Nat Geo features his work, of surfers standing beneath aurora borealis in Iceland and water shots with snow draping the mountains behind, begging for the technical details of his images.

His movie and book with Ben Weiland, Russia: The Outpost, follows Cyrus Sutton, the eldest Gudauskas bro and some extra pals camping on the very exotic Kamchatka Peninsula. Google Earth! It’s rad!

But it ain’t all cold water. His book Come Hell or High Water – The Plight of the Torpedo People is a treatise on bodysurfing featuring his and others photo essays on the purist craft.

Now let’s catch some of his advice, from this wild creature who floats upon any tide and on any wind…

First big adventure: My first trip was one of the scariest. It was the first time I left the country. I went to Dubai/Oman/Yemen. My passport was brand new. First stamp. My parents thought I was going to die and yet I I met some of the nicest people I’d ever encounter. It really opened my eyes

The difficulty of adjusting back to normal life after a stint in the wilderness: Oh, that is tough. I hate the feeling. Turning your cell on. Hearing buzzing and whistles and just the idea of knowing you have to respond to all these people about stupid things when you’ve been immersed in nature’s glory. The worst part is getting back to sleeping in a bed. It just makes you lazy. When you camp, you’re up with the sun. You’re in the cycle with nature’s time clock.

Preferred method of travel: By car. I like road trips. The idea of seeing it all and being able to jump and photograph something. Boats and planes are way too confining for me.

Rules for packing: I break all the rules and always bring too much. My rule is to pack a week before and think about everything you’re bringing and slowly unpacking the crap you don’t need. There’s a few things I always take and if I’m not taking ’em, I usually question if the trip is gong to be super soft and that maybe I shouldn’t even be going. I take: Water purifier, Gerber Multi-tool, a Goal Zero solar charger, a down jacket, a tent and sleeping bag.

Best trip: Norway for a month was unreal. We took snowmobiles to surf in the north next to the Russian border. And we took a three-day ferry ride to these remote islands in the south. Scored incredible waves. Ate whale. Got frozen. got snowed on. And saw the northern lights almost every night.

The worst: I did a trip with a bunch of groms to Oz a coupla years back. It was sorta like a big advertising trip and I basically to babysit while they got wasted and tried to pick up chicks for a week. Not to mention the strong onshores brought bluebottles into the lineup every day and the waves sucked.

Most amazing place: Iceland. I’ve been 10 times and I can’t wait to go back. There’s nowhere on earth I have felt as close to nature. It sounds funny but you feel like the country is forming around you. Geologically it’s just… active. It feels alive.

Most scared: When I was locked in a jail cell in Russia in 2009.

Moments of utter surrender: When the jailer escorted me to my cell in Vladivostock, Russia, and locked the door.

Chris Burkard shooting in the Caribbean
…maybe when y’think of Chris you think of his cold-water work. But he certainly isn’t adverse to throwing himself into the remoter corners of the Caribbean. This wave works maybe six times a year and if you’re not ready to throw your bag over your shoulder at the first sign of an appropriate swell and wind combo, y’gonna miss it. Chris isn’t one to miss an epic wave.

Most extreme poverty you’ve seen: A woman lying face down on the ground in India with vomit coming out of her mouth. I couldn’t even take a picture because I didn’t think I could live with myself documenting that kind of poverty without being able to help in some way. I also did a trip to Nicaragua and visited La Churecha which is a trash dump that families live in. Lots of disease and girls driven to prostitution. It was wretched.

Most extreme wealth you’ve seen: Dubai. There are people you cannot, literally, even look at. These guards will shut you down. They  close off freeways to escort through rich sheiks. I’d never been anywhere where the white man didn’t reign supreme. They have license plates that indicate their class and if it’s high enough they can drive as fast as they want.

Craziest thang you’ve seen: Flying over Norway on our way to a small fishing village. We were in a light plane and the pilot let me come up front and watch the northern lights from the cockpit. It was the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen. The sky didn’t seem real. I almost question my existence, if I was still on earth. We flew right through strips of green, red and blue.

Where could you live apart from home: Iceland. And, yeah, I’ve already looked into it.

Damien Hobgood bleeding
"Everyone is scared of big waves," says Damo Hobgood. "But it’s an addiction you can’t fight. The first time I went to Hawaii I was 15 and out at a typical eight-to-10 foot day at Pipe. I went on some waves but I remember one wave in particular that I pulled back on. Sitting on the plane heading home I could hardly live with myself." | Photo: @damienhobgood

“Big waves are an addiction you can’t fight!”

A litany of wisdom about the burden of pulling back, to swearing (it ain't cool) to being godly without becoming a stiff.

What would I do if it was the last event of the year, me and CJ were equal in the ratings and we had a heat against each other and CJ didn’t have a good board? I’d loan him one of mine. No question. I want to beat someone at their best.

And, I’d do the same if the same situation went down with say, Bruce Irons. With Bruce though, we’d agree the first wave would be mine. A board for priority, that works.

When you slaughter someone in a heat, it does nothing for your confidence. There’s no sense of accomplishment. You watch a neck-and-neck heat, when two surfers elevate their game, and you see that winning surfer grow.

Swearing doesn’t add meaning to anything, especially nowadays because it’s used so much. I remember being in senior high thinking it was cool to swear and was laying it on thick. I snapped out of it. I’m from the south and was brought up to believe it’s a sign of disrespect and I wouldn’t want to swear at someone and have em be all bummed at me.

Everyone is scared of big waves. But it’s an addiction you can’t fight. The first time I went to Hawaii I was 15 and out at a typical eight-to-10 foot day at Pipe. I went on some waves but I remember one wave in particular that I pulled back on. Sitting on the plane heading home I could hardly live with myself. I got a chance to got to Hawaii, I might never come here again and I kept playing the coulda, woulda, shoulda over in my head. That’s a hard feeling for some people to deal with and that’s why they always go.

Dorian is the worst for that syndrome. The guy cannot say no. I bet when he looks at his photos he’s like, “Gosh, why did I do that” But in the moment when he sees that wall or that horizon go black, the only thing he knows to do is go. He’s definitely the extreme of that scale.

I don’t care what legacy my surfing leaves behind but I want people to know that because I have a relationship with god that I’m not a stiff. People from the outside think you’ve got rules and bibles and you’re a perfect person but, dude, ask anyone we hang with who’s not a Christian or whatever I’m having a real good time.

CJ Hobgood, Teahupoo
“It’s hard for me to look at that wave of CJ’s at Teahupoo,” says his twin brother Damien. “I was on the inside of him and when you look at the video you can see me paddle up and there’s a little wedge I couldn’t get over. Well, that’s my reasoning. When he got spat into the channel, I was, like, I shoulda gone that wave, I was in the perfect spot.”

It’s hard for me to look at that wave of CJ’s at Teahupoo. I was on the inside of him and when you look at the video you can see me paddle up and there’s a little wedge I couldn’t get over. Well, that’s my reasoning. The thing stretched all the way to the channel and I’d never seen one like that before. CJ looked at me and we didn’t talk but my eyes said, I think it’s gonna close and he had these big eyes that said, like, “Dude, are you goin?” I bet me paddling and thinking about going made him want that wave more. When he got spat into the channel, I was, like, I shoulda gone that wave, I was in the perfect spot.

Once he was over the ledge, I was like, “Okay, now…don’t…close…out…

Hobgood Documentary Sneak Peek from Justin Purser on Vimeo.