If Dane Reynolds is fat, I don’t want to be thin

The man from Ventura is changing surfing again.

SURFING MOROCCO from gudiferrer on Vimeo.

This little clip, as seen on Stab, is gorgeous and it is lush. Filmer Ayoub Abouizza and editor Gudi Ferrer do a great job of making me want to surf. Moreover, Dane Reynolds makes me want to surf. He doesn’t appear much, but when he does it is all clean lines with exceptional speed and razor certainty. It is beautiful.

I never really got in to “power surfing” because I didn’t care about Tay Knox. He was too “American” for my taste and by “American” I mean dull and provincial. And I’m sure the sort of action featured in this clip gets categorized in the “power” camp but, to me, Dane is doing something different. He is, single-handedly, bringing surfing back from the air to the wave. He is digging his rail deep and he is throwing tons of water. But it seems more dance-like than anything Taylor Knox did. It doesn’t have the grunty grimace of each of Cap’t America’s arcs. It is how I aspire to surf.

How do you aspire to surf? Should we all put on a few more pounds/kilos?

Ian Walsh, Cloudbreak, FIji, 2012.
Want to surf big waves? It's as easy as hucking yourself over the ledge, says the Hawaiian Ian Walsh, pictured here at Cloudbreak, FIji, in 2012. | Photo: Brian Bielmann

5 ways to improve your big-wave game right now!

Do you even have a "big-wave game"?

The Hawaiian Ian Walsh, who is 31, has shaped out a meaningful (read: he gets paid) career out of chasing swells around the world. For the northern hemisphere winter he is based in Maui (yeah, Jaws) but when those swells evaporate he’s ready to pounce on Tahiti, Fiji, Indonesia, South Africa or Australia.

Just lately, and mostly because he’s single and when you’re single and 31 and you know commitment might be just around the corner you do such things, Ian’s considering a move to Barcelona. It’s a convenient airline hub, but also, the girls are smoking, the the bars are alive and you can pounce on Scandinavia or Italy for a weekend of partying if the mood, or an uncomfortable tumescence, strikes.

Still, if there’s a swell, Ian’ll chase and lasso it. Here, Ian taps out 5 important slugs of advice for the big-wave novice.

1. Time in the water

This is so unsexy it hurts me. But it’s true. You’ve got to put more hours in the water. Surf a shitload. Find a connection with waves that comes from hours and hours in the water. And when it gets big being in the surf won’t feel so alien. You’ll feel a kinship. You’ll anticipate what’s coming, you’ll read signals that were previously invisible.

2. Learn to ride those giant boards

Don’t be one of those guys that has his eight-o in the racks and only pulls it out when the surf hits 15 foot. You don’t wanna be swiping off cobwebs from dirty wax. Ride it, ride it often. Know it. Yeah, it’s thick, yeah, it’s long, but it’s narrow and if you don’t make it part of your family, you’ll be struck with a lack of confidence in your equipment while you’re in the biggest waves of your life. Know it and it’s an old pal. You and she against the world.

3. Get pounded

No, no! Not in Barcelona! I mean, don’t shy away from falling and getting pounded. The more you go down, the more you experience those motions and experience what it’s like to be thrown around violently, the more comfortable you’ll feel. Embrace it. Think of it as a fun park ride without the tedium of safety rules.

4. Watch the alphas

When you start dipping your feet into the water on a bigger day, pay a quiet attention to the dominant guys, the consistently good guys, in the lineup. Don’t bother ’em, don’t pepper ’em with questions, observe from a distance how they approach everything. Take mental notes and remember to respect ’em.

5. Send it!

More is lost by indecision than wrong decision. Huck yourself over the ledge!


WSL gets slapped out of South Africa

Capetonian big wave surfers tell the World Surf League to "GO TO HELL! (or at least Mavericks or whatever)."

The waiting period for the World Surf League’s inaugural event at Snapper has been extended due to lack of surf. 11,000 kilometers away, though, a storm is brewing that threatens to knock the Surf League out for good.

The famed Dungeons, that breaks off Cape Town’s Hout Bay, has been yanked from the Big Wave World Tour by the local Cape Big Wave Trust (CBWT). The event was on this past year’s slate, even though it didn’t run, but this year’s vote was 100% unanimous to take it away. Why? Barry Futter, spokesman for the CBWT tells South Africa’s WaveScape, “There is not a reliable open and clear qualifying system meaning that surfers from the media centric areas get chosen over really good surfers from more remote areas. This would mean that in the event of an event happening here a really good and capable South African surfer may have to sit and watch a less capable, but more social media popular surfer from a different area ride waves here. Given that we only get to surf here 5-10 times a year, this is a bitter pill to swallow. Even if a South African surfer did well at Dungeons it seems unlikely that he would get into one of the major events at another location- like Jaws. We have had some magical days of big wave surfing recently and we were once again reminded that what we have got here is absolute paradise and to prostitute it for media publicity (but no sustainable financial gain) of one or two people would be an absolute sin. It is every surfers dream to be able to surf perfect waves without crowds and a good vibe in the water. We do not want the hype, crowds or politics that a competition brings specially if there is no sustainable long term reward for anyone involved.” (read full article here).

Well son of a bitch. It may seem a small thing, one stop on a the smaller Big Wave World Tour that doesn’t necessarily run every year but in standing up to the World Surf League, the South African big wave community is certainly making a statement. They were given 6 local wildcards in the first event and that number was dropped to 4 for the upcoming year. Sound like a familiar flash point? What if Hawaiians said, “Enough is enough. Go back to Santa Monica, Haoles.” ? What if Tahitians did? What if Fijians and San Clementines did too? The World Surf League operates, more or less, beneath the good graces of local populations. It owns no beach, no infrastructure, only operating licenses and with enough anger, those can disappear.

Are South African big wave surfers being unchill? Should the WSL just have allowed more local wildcards in to the event? Is Graham Stapelberg going to get slapped in Hawaii this upcoming year on the 4th anniversary of his originally getting slapped in Hawaii?

The Mad Hueys are a clothing label/jackass-esque troupe from Australia's poverty wracked Gold Coast. They dragged themselves out of poverty on their own terms in much the same way as the rapper of Chicago, Detroit, Paris or Marseilles strikes out of the ghetto with his unique rhymes and cadence. A win for the noble working class! | Photo: Courtesy The Mad Hueys

The working class are brutal, petty and intolerant!

And they should not be celebrated. But there is something much worse… 

If there is one song among the many that I do not like and could wipe from the earth, it is the song Working Class Man by the Scottish-born Australian Jimmy Barnes. (Guests from anywhere but Australia and New Zealand, click here to listen).

People tell me it’s a classic, that it’s the best pub song you’ll ever hear and even my girlfriend once drunkenly yelled it to me across an earthquake damaged street at 3am. Still, I hate it and I have no time for it, if only for the simple fact it extols The Working Class Man.

I don’t like the working class. I’m allowed to. I grew up among them and worked among them. I laid concrete, drove forklifts, processed fish, caught tuna commercially and even cleaned for a living, so I’ll stand by that statement.

The working class are jealous, petty and fiercely parochial. They can be brutal and intolerant too. As my thesis supervisor once told me, “The average British citizen is stupider, more uncouth and prone to violence than the ‘savages’ they look down upon.”

He was from Nova Scotia, so I am not sure whether to trust him on that (though he is the world’s pre-eminent scholar on Herbert Spencer and social Darwinism in 19th century political thought). My own experiences of the working class led me to adopt a similar view.

“Is their predicament because of the oppression of the masses by the rich elite?” you ask.

I am not here to answer that. And don’t you know? Marxism’s dead baby, even if he does grace my 5’7” Lost Mini Driver. Thomas Piketty? I haven’t gotten around to reading him yet.

Yet, for all my dislike of the working class they serve a purpose. Brave New World taught me at 13 that we need them for a harmonious society. If only because they can handle the grunt work better than fragile alphas. They also make excellent political pawns. Need support for a pointless war? Then rally the patriotic working class around your cause. Want to topple your political rivals in the next election or revolution? Then tell the working class that the ruling party is shafting you.

Alternatively, if you are the ruling party and want to protect your power, tell the masses that the opposition don’t care about them. Call the opposition latte-sipping liberals, which seems to work a treat in riling the working folk up. And like all human groups, there are outliers… people I’d hang out with any day. But God, they should not be celebrated.

In saying this, I don’t dislike the working class as much as I dislike the middle class. Because of life choices, I’m currently operating in their ranks and what horrors I ‘m a witness to! The middle class is a risk averse bunch who wish for everything to be wrapped in cotton wool; they are a bland vanilla in taste and the most horrible shade of beige.

The mere mention of a tale about illicit drug use, sexual adventurism or slightly illegal activity involving firearms and they turn pale. Yet, home renovation shows send them giddy with a delirious delight, as if they are about to climax in the throes of a wonderful orgasm.

Their worst trait is their tendency (despite their aversion to risk) to gravitate towards anything even slightly edgy and to ruin it in a bid to find the ‘new’ golf. Motorbikes, road cycling, and mountain biking have all fallen victims to the middle class. On weekends, you see hordes of them in leather, sitting outside of small town cafes having brunch or gaggles of them clad in lycra struggling up hills.

Nor is surfing safe.

Surfing is being sold to the middle class en masse: that lovely floaty epoxy fun shape, car ads, and those Samsung ads on the WSL webcast, they’re all geared towards the middle class.

After all, they are the ones with money to spend. And don’t they just lap it up? It seems that surfing is now the pursuit of choice in trying to convey the image of being respectable, but slightly wild. Like at any moment Respectable Joe is just going to break out, drive away in his mid-range SUV and become a beach bum. The reality is he would hate the relative poverty, his wife would threaten to leave him and due to his sensible nature he would resolve to prioritise his life better.

The middle class are coming, and they’re likely to do a better job of ruining surfing than Christianity. They will swamp the line-ups on their high-volume craft. Saturdays will become ‘Social Surf Saturday’ where the middle-class network as waves pass by, cut deals and talk about their renovations before paddling in for a seaside brunch.

The line-up will become friendlier, it’ll be about fun and networking, the old ways will be pushed out as the bitter among us turn their backs on surfing. Performance will go out the window, the debauched tales will tail off until there is nothing left other than a bland and vanilla bunch bobbing out at sea up to fuck-all.

The worst part is, that once they’ve got the bug, they will pay to watch the WSL.

Silvana Lima air, Roxy Pro, Snapper Rocks
The push and the pull, the dropping of the shoulders. Who knew one lil air reverse could overwhelm… everything! This isn't the 10 Ms Silvana Lima scored in her round four heat, by the way, it's an expression session statement. | Photo: WSL

Revolution: Silvana Lima Just Smashed Women’s Surfing!

And all it took was one little air reverse…

As far as air-revs go, this ain’t ever falling into a Kai Neville edit. In the real world of frantic little blond boys with their mama-papa-filmer entourages scratching alley-oops and air-revs by their tenth birthday, it ain’t even that exciting, at least in the grandest of schemes.

But if there’s something about women’s surfing that does it for you, as it does me, (a puzzle I’m yet to solve. Is it the accessibility of the surfing?), Silvana Lima, round four, Roxy Pro, Snapper Rocks, just messed with the narrative line that girls can’t do airs.

If you haven’t seen Silvana’s 10-point ride, click here. 

Out of context, yeah, biggish deal. Maybe you’ve landed something better.

But out there, in front of everyone, this little sub-five foot 20-year-old from Brazil (not even 50 kilos and riding tiny 17-inch wide boards) came into the clouds. It wasn’t uncomfortable. It wasn’t a fall-to-make. It was a deliberate set-up, kick, twist of the shoulders, and contrived landing on a cooperative lip.

“All the hype is on Silvana Lima and deservedly so,” the commentator Ross Williams told BeachGrit. “She has all the big rotator clips online and she backed it up by smashing Steph (in round one). There’s old school in her, too. She’s got her swagger. She’s come to compete and she’s letting everyone know.”

Silvana won last year’s qualifying series. She’s been on the A-league a few times, finishing 15th, 16th, fifth, never fulfilling her promise.

Now she’s got a ladder to the stars, the Brazil flag and an amplifier.

Watch her jump. Watch her win. Watch Silvana brazenly kidnap a world title.