Healey: “I saw the footage and wanted to throw up!”

Mark Healey and Hawaiian legend Michael Ho on their potential wave of the winter… 

A week ago, the 33-year-old Hawaiian goofyfooter Mark Healey paddled out to second-ish reef Pipe with a GoPro camera. That ain’t unusual. Along with Jamie O’Brien and Anthony Walsh, he’s made Pipe a self-portrait studio.

But this day, Healey was all about getting some follow cam. So he paddles up to Michael Ho (the Pipe Master and two-time Triple Crown winner) and John John and says, Hey, if you see me going, just go, I want to get a shot. 

Michael, on an eight-o, says he was just “kicking out the back listening to Mark say that wanted to get barrelled behind someone and I was thinking, not me, if I make a mistake I might get run over.”

And then this wave (hit play!), rolls through. Literally… rolls… on through. A weird swell that crumbled slightly on second-ish reef before depositing its load on the inside.

And Healey, on a six-ten, gets the easiest chip shot into the wave. Michael Ho, slightly on his outside, gets about as soft a takeoff into Pipe as you’ll ever see.

“It was the perfect setup,” says Healey. “It gave me such an easy chip shot into the wave that it was easy to get my camera out of my mouth and into my hand. If it was a nuts drop it would’ve been real friggen hard.”

And, so, “I was trying to keep some distance from Mike. I wanted him to be able to go ahead and set his line. I wasn’t too worried about being too deep. I knew I had to be aways back there to try and get the shot. I thought the foamball was going to catch me because I was taking a lower line. I was waiting for it. I knew it was going to be like stepping on a land mine. I could see the lip just breaking over my shoulder. I’ve never been that low in a barrel and made it.”

Oh yes! Describe the view.

“My view was ridiculous. Fuck, it was so insane. It was one of the coolest views I’ve had in surfing. It was so insane to see a tube ride from start to finish. I got to be in the barrel, see him come into my field of vision to finish his bottom turn and set up the tube, disappear from my view for a second, and then to have the depth perception of it from behind, catching up and coming out at the same time.”

And the surfer! The great Michael Ho!

“He’s the fricken man! He’s such a legend. To share a wave with him was an honour.”

Michael, meanwhile, flicked off, yelling: “I would never have dropped in if you hadn’t asked!”

“I was so embarrassed,” says Healey. “I said, ‘You’re the man out here! You can get any wave you want!'”

“I didn’t even know that he went,” says Michael. “If I did, I would’ve fallen off and got run over, f’sure. Was I surprised he came out with me? I was baffled. I always grab my rail, just to be sure, and because my board was a little long, I just stood in this thing.”

As for the GoPro footage, “I totally missed the framing,” says Healey. “I totally botched it. I was too low. When you hand-hold a GoPro and you’re trying to surf it puts your framing off. I missed the best part of it so hard. I was ready to throw up when I looked at the footage.”

Given the uniqueness of the double tube, and the surfers involved, the wave is there for a shot at winning Surfline’s Wave of the Winter. First prize is 25-grand to the surfer and five-grand to the person who shot it.

And was Michael thrilled with the ride? Let’s ask his son, hot-shot Mason Ho.

“I was just laying at home, cruising, when came in through the door freaking out about how barrelled he got. I freaked out that I was just laying there, grabbed my board and drove to Pipe but by the time I got there it was blown out.”


All those pre-dawn surfs at Pipe and Backdoor used to happen unacknowledged. It was only after seven am that there would be enough light for all those men with their stills and motion cameras to finally swim out. But, now, thanks to high-speed cameras and the expertise of craftsmen like Australia's Chris Bryan, the viewer is allowed a glimpse into the early morning world of, in this instance, John John Florence. | Photo: Chris Bryan

John John and the miracle of pre-dawn photography

For the first time, photographers can capture the preciousness of a pre-dawn session…

One thing you never see in surf mags, online whatevs, are images of those precious pre-dawn surfs. You know ’em. You paddle out into the oily darkness, into the stillness, and for maybe thirty minutes, you’re gifted a few uncrowded ramps or tubes. It’s a special time, a time when you get a feel for what surfing might’ve been like fifty years ago.

The photo, here, is of John John Florence at Backdoor Pipe and was snatched from the darkness at roughly 6:45am, twenty minutes or so before any real light can land on all those digital sensors.

Isn’t the photo (actually a frame-grab) a little dark? Yeah, it is.

But it’s true to what the filmer Chris Bryan was seeing as John flew past, came out of the barrel near Off the Wall and then hucked a double-grab…well, Chris can’t say whether it was a backflip or more of a corkscrew. The waves he says, were six-to-eight if it was Australia, maybe four-feet if you’re talking shop to Hawaiians.

Chris, an Australian, was actually on holidays with his family on the North Shore and was checking the waves in the dark when he saw John John paddle out. “I couldn’t resist grabbing my gear and swimming out,” he says. “I really like to shoot low-light moody kinda stuff.”

It was only because he owns a super high-speed Phantom camera that he had the technological grunt to steal the photo, something that pleases him very much. And not just for the uniqueness of the shot.

“At that time of the day, you’re not chasing photos with every other photographer. You’re not doing battle with ten other guys to get the shot. There’s no clashes of ego. It’s relaxing. You’re out there by yourself and you’re getting something that is very different.”


Candid: The Beginner’s Guide to Mankind

Despite all the propaganda to the contrary, man is not created equal…

In our politically correct day and age it’s hip to say that all races are the same. Boooolsheeeet. Each stock has abilities and disabilities buried deep within the genetic coding. Double helixes jiving or goose-stepping to a colour-based beat. We’ve all winced at white farm boys dishing stereotypical hoo-ha about how Asians have extra pieces of their brains to do math, but that’s just fluff, darling, and if I live by one rule it’s: “When farm boys say something, it automatically sucks intellectual dick.”

Not that they’re on the wrong path, it’s just that they’re too stupid to discern the subtle complexities in what Asiatics (or any other race) do best. Race is like fine wine. You’ve got to sniff, swill, swish and judge. The first flavour is the least multifarious. Hold, hold, hold on the tongue. Let it breathe up into the olfactory epithelium. Ahhhh, it’s not that Asians are excellent at math, it’s that they’re rotten at prose. Dig?

Have you ever read Shusaku Endo? Twil’ make your eyeses burn. If that was the best novelisation your people could do you’d concentrate on digits too. But I digress on a minor point. So what does each volk have to offer the world stew?

Arabs

First palette: Anger. Second palette: Rage. Full character: Arabs offer a pretty simple, straightforward flavour to humanity. There’s never a doubt as to what you’ll get. Unmodified umbrage. Just like you know that you’ll always partake in homosexual Italian fusion food. These are life’s constants. Sometimes Arab choler manifests itself in worthless effigy-burning parades, sometimes in jumbo jet suicide attacks. But all the time their little brown bods pulsate with displeasure. Enough to balance the glee of south-east Asians

Whites

First palette: Clumsy dancing. Second palette: Business suits. Full character: The white man contains loads of complex sapidity. From Jerry Lewis’ coked up humour to Chris Martin from Coldplay’s whiney free-trade songs. A seemingly robust, complicated brew. But the essence of the Caucasoid is effective heartlessness. Oh sure, we pretend we care about stuff (Chris Martin) but we don’t. We stopped having feelings around 1258 AD. Yup. Nothing in the ticker but a will to power. So long suckers.

Hispanics

First palette: Tequila. Second palette: Beer. Full Character: The Hispic gets written off as lazy by the race-taste neophyte. They pair a glass of Hispanic with afternoon naps and exotic soap operas. Fucking neophytes. In all actuality Spanish speakers are the gasolina that fuels the White Man machine. Without em the world (and by world I mean US) economy would bog down and the White will to power would go sour. They do grunt jobs nobody wants and make delicious tacos. So Hispanics also taste like tacos, but they mostly taste like easy livin’ (if you’re white).

Blacks

First palette: Poor. Second palette: Gaudy. Full Character: Those hailing from Africa have had it rough. They run a good marathon, on one hand, but then they chop of each other’s arms, on the other stump. Confusing. Diamond encrusted, musically-gifted deliciousness or brackish bloatedness? Both. Maybe? Shoot, them blacks can tug of the heartless strings as well as anyone. Their tang is one of confusion. It goes well with a huge rack of ribs or starvation.

Orientals

First Palette: Gorgeous off-axis eyes. Second palette: Great at math. Full Character: Asiatics ferment a heads-down, cash-up varietals. Money, money, money, money…. money. In Japan, China and Korea the masses groove 80-hour work weeks for the all mighty Yen, Yuan and Yollar. Sometimes the heads down part screws them in the ass. Like when Japanese markets crashed or when the Chinese painted every toy they could find with a heavy coat of lead. But it don’t matter too much cuz love of lucre is a fire that reigns in the heart.

Red Heads

First Palette: Ugly. Second Palette: Ill-tempered. Full Character: Ugly and ill tempered.

Russians

First Palette: White. Second Palette: Asian. Full Character: Ruskies combine the heartlessness of Whites with the heads downess of Asians. They miss out on the will to power and the love of money. Luckily, the Lord has given them miles upon miles of frozen tundra in which to make sadistic jails and run headlong into bad forms of government.


The Surfer and the Terrorist

Surfer gets barrelled; Fundamentalist says his prayers. Both feel something that challenges the soul.

Little did you know, but that bearded Arab hiding behind a sand dune with his rocket propelled grenade aimed squarely at your Qantas flight to Bali is actually your bro. Oh sure, he hates your guts and you hate his (especially after Lindt, after Charlie Hebdo, Bali, Madrid, Bali again and New York), but that’s just because you don’t know each other.

So, everybody extend hands…  it’s time to meet.

Why surf? Every time you wax your board and paddle out, you kick the dominant Western ideology in the balls. Not the theoretical principles of individuality, freedom and happiness but the actual principles of work, cubicles and fluorescent lighting. Surfing is not about making money and it’s not about being efficient.

Frankly, it’s a fucking waste of time and money. It demands your heart and energy for an idea and a feeling that can’t be explained in any rational way to those who don’t surf. It’s about stoke, which can’t be bought, sold or traded on the international markets (unless you’re talking about the Stoke Exchange).

Surfing is an alternative discourse which asserts, “You bitches can make all the efficient capital you want. Go ahead and keep the Ikea furniture stacking up in your suburban homes, Landrover Discoverys needing baths and one billion overtime hours worked last week. I’m going to the fucking beach.”

Why back an Islamic fundamentalist revolution? Every time Mr. Beard-o Jihad goes to the mosque and takes his religion seriously enough to put it before financial upward mobility, he kicks the dominant Western ideology in the balls.  These fellas don’t hate freedom or life. They do hate the reality of a soulless economic system that denies there is any more to it all than making capital in the most efficient way possible while destroying countless lives and claiming that it’s really a more evolved way to exist. Radical Islamic fundamentalism is an alternative discourse which asserts, “Try as you might by shoving McDonald’s down my throat, driving your bling bling Lexus over my family and putting me to work bottling delicious Coca-Cola for one penny a year. I will not repent for believing there is more to life than making efficient dollars, pounds and euros for you and/or your fat-ass bosses.”

You may think that Islamic fundamentalism is austere and hateful. Fundy-bro may think that you are frivolous and shallow. What you feel about each other – or each other’s tactics – doesn’t matter. In truth, surfers and fundies are both part of a broader revolutionary discourse, which percolates under the surface of capital-driven humanity. People wake up, drive to work, drive home, go to sleep and die, lost to any genuine feeling. Surfer gets barrelled; Fundy says his prayers. Both feel something that challenges the soul.

Surfer and Islamic fundy: side by side, lockstep, in conflict against a piece of shit dominant ideology that denies what’s important, the very essence of life, for a measly dollar.

Skip work, paddle out, punt an air, flip off the fucking man and know that in the hills of Afghanistan Mullah Mohammed Omar is flipping him off too.


"How's your small-wave game these days, sweetie?" Lewis' voice has a raspy, lung-cancerous tone to it. "Fine sir!" says the professional surfer Kelly Slater, laughing nervously.

Memories: When Lewis Samuels Owned Surf

Once, Lewis Samuels was the biggest thing in surf lit. Oh how we miss his raspy, lung cancerous tone!

The dessert spoon overflows with choux pastry and chocolate-flavoured crème patissiere. The surf blogger is nervous at first and uses a sentence with the word “gay” in it. His protests are short.

Like every other man before him, he soon begs for the éclair, mouth open. I upturn the spoon upon his tongue, which greedily rims the crème patissiere, suddenly free to explore and experience.

“Delicious?” I ask.

“This is a joke! This is a joke,” he repeats, suddenly ashamed.

One hour later, Lewis, the half-Jewish surf blogger from Bolinas, 45 minutes north of San Francisco, is sitting naked and cross-legged, his naturally-curly hair teased into a brown ball, MacBook balanced in his lap.

Lewis is at Stab magazine, an Australian surf title that I once edited and owned. He had agreed to an interview and to a studio portrait that you can find here. The interview, that I’ve reproduced below, charts the rise of the online surf community he created for his now-defunct website PostSurf, praises him for the sharpness of his keystrokes and his excellent sense of humour, but puts him to sword for his dreadful Andy Irons interview for Surfline in 2009 and for his juvenile liptstick communism.

I asked Kelly Slater for his opinion about Lewis. Kelly replied: “Lewis just basically riles you up and puts a flame under your weaknesses and does his best to expose you and keep you honest. Every sport has it’s detractors but few actually get through on a personal and visible level to a lot of athletes but that’s probably cause of the nature of surfing and the lifestyle and accessibility surfers have  to people around them. I have emailed with him a few times. Not sure  if it was between heats meaning I was needing a pep talk or something  but may have been between rounds. I think he’s funny. My brother  wanted to punch him out for what he had written recently cause he  didn’t see the humour in it and was being protective. He tends to ride the line with people and will probably get punched by someone soon or  barred from going places comfortably. That’s kind of genius to put  your true thoughts and opinions out there for people to read like he does. Not a lot of people are truly honest in this world with what they are thinking cause they’re scared of the repercussions. He definitely rattled a few cages in his short surf-writing career. He did probably inspire me to step it up at Trestles after gassing out at J-Bay to Taj. Probably helped me stay more aware of keeping myself fit and ready and hydrated during contests. He actually has gifts for people if they take it the right way.”

Such memories! 

DR: On your website PostSurf you once wrote: “I feel for Dane. It’s professional courtesy – one false messiah tipping his hat to another. It’s a tough business, leading from on high, tacked on that cross.” Do you think you are seen as a messiah, and are you false, and are you crucified?

Lewis: People give a little too much credit to what I write and they take it too seriously. In terms of being crucified, what I was alluding to for both Dane and I, was that people expect you to have some great importance when realistically most of the things we do in our lives don’t have much importance.

You are the biggest thing in surfing, word-wise. You are the leader, the thought-provoker and the trendsetter. Is it a revenge of the nerds scenario? Skinny Jewish kid, sorry half-Jew, uses keyboard to slaughter the jocks?

There’s an interesting trend in popular culture and you see it in the hipster thing and in movies like Juno where everyone wants to be the quirky, unique one. Getting credit for their ideas, not just fitting in, non-conformity being a plus instead of a minus. There’s an aspect of that to it.

Are you thrilled that top pro surfers hang on your every keystroke?

It’s baffling they read it or care. I don’t blame them for being affected by it. It’s pretty gnarly reading what people say about you. At the same time, it never occurred to me that they’d take it seriously. Why the fuck would they care what I had to say? There’s no reason to. It’s trying to say the things that haven’t been said because the surf media’s pretty controlled, there’s a pretty tight lid on it. And, you just wanna be able to see that discourse that you hear when you’re at a party, having a drink and talking about surfing. You just wanna hear those things said out loud.

You often write about your hardboiled drinking. Yet, when we drank together you nearly fainted after a couple of long-balls and a few vodkas. What is drinking to you and how hardboiled are you? 

It’s all about a consistent intake during working hours. Staying consistently drunk in your working hours, that’s where I’m at.

Does drinking give you a feeling of boldness?

It’s not about being in the office and conveying things in a responsible manner, it’s about trying to get to the heart of the emotions behind it and that comes out better with alcohol on your breath. That’s all it is. It’s not so much that I’m constantly drunk, but consistently drinking.

A constant theme on postsurf is the lack of spine in surf media. Yet, I must put you to the sword for your dreadful Andy Irons interview. In the middle of AI’s public meltdown, you didn’t go near the reasons or causes. Like the rest of us, you crumble at the moment of truth. Tell me about the feeling of capitulation and weakness.

Ohhhh, man. The Andy Irons thing. At that point, I was still trying to play the game. And the numbers were huge. And the repercussions were huge even if people like you read it, snickered, and said, “Aw, that’s a bulls**t piece.” Some of the frustration with that experience manifested itself in creating Postsurf. At a certain point, I no longer was happy writing stuff that was controlled by a corporation that had relationships with advertisers and managers and surfers. I just wanted to say the things I wanted to say. And, now it means I don’t have an active mainstream career in the surf media.

On your site you wrote, the three biggest problems in surfing are: shithouse writers, jiu-jitsu and Joel Tudor. 

Well, I’m responsible for one of those three problems. The jiu-jitsu thing, on the other hand… where I live, if men want to have sex with other men, they just do it.

You mentioned the ironically named Fred Van Dyke saying big-wave riders are “latent homosexuals”. Latent homos, as you know, never consciously express their desires. It is a covert, not overt, desire. But, isn’t jiu-jitsu an overt expression of a desire to hold men? Can I ask you this: do you think Joel Tudor wrestles for sensual pleasure rather than to satisfy a competitive urge?

You can definitely draw some conclusions that there are sexual undertones. I’m not noticing the technical holds or the moves. I’m just going, there’s a man’s face and there’s Joel’s crotch. And the man’s face is being grasped and pulled into Joel’s crotch. By Joel.

What’s the problem with Joel?
People look at him like another false Messiah. If he’s really that talented of an athlete I would love to see him ride functional surfboards instead of archaic pieces of shit. He’s never really challenged himself to go ride modern equipment in perfect waves to see what would happen; just to see. For me, there’s a place for that stuff, when the waves suck. When it’s big and barreling, why do you want to hold yourself back? It’s a marketing gimmick. Technology has offered us better equipment to enjoy surfing. Better wetsuits, trunks, legropes. And, I’m not sure why, but when it comes to surfboards some of us ride shitty surfboards from 35 years ago that barely work. There was a great quote from Wayne Lynch, years back, on how Joel was trying to get some vintage Wayne Lynch board to ride at Tavarua and Wayne laughed at him and said: “The board sucked at the time and it sucks now, so why waste your time riding it.” And, that’s my feeling.

You are the self-proclaimed most hated man in surfing. Is there a pressure to keep the insults coming?

I definitely don’t think I’m the voice of a generation when it comes to surfing. I just think that there are some crazy motherfuckers out there who take what I say way too seriously. I’m just taking the piss in the end. – Derek Rielly.