A 200k dance!
A 200k dance! | Photo: laserwolf

Rip Curl’s second best decision ever!

Welcome to the team, Mason Ho!

As first reported in Stab, Rip Curl has made the second best decision in company history by signing Mason Ho to a multiple year deal. The best decision? Basing out of Torquay, Australia. Just kidding! Torquay is a total pit. The best decision is inventing Quiksilver.

In any case, Mason will be paid $200,000 dollars per year and no longer ride for …Lost clothing. How furious is …Lost co-founder Matt Mayhem Biolos? “If someone’s going to pay him, if someone’s going throw fuck-you money at Mason, well, fuck, I love you guys!”

We love Matt. Matt loves Rip Curl. Mason loves fuck-you paychecks. White Lightening Mick Fanning loves scratching his head and wondering if Dillon Perillo or Mason Ho will make a better training partner. So much love!

Exposed: Taking 40ft waves on the head is easy!

Is big wave surfing as dangerous as taking a warm shower?

This clip is years old (and also Nazare and also Garrett McNamara) but it has confounded me ever since I first saw it. Big wipeouts in giant surf, you see, are nightmarish. I picture being ragdolled underwater, unable to find my way to the surface, bile rising from stomach to throat. I picture pain and confusion and death’s cold hands wrapping around my feet pulling me down down down down. Even when I surf slightly overhead swell at my home beachbreak and a sneaker set feathers on the horizon I feel panic. I paddle for Japan with all my might. It might be a product of growing up on the Oregon coast and surfing so many unforgiving slabs and being sucked out in so many unforgiving riptides that I have PTSD. Who knows.

But this clip makes big wipeouts in giant surf seem no more threatening than putting my head underneath a bathtub’s faucet. Watch it carefully. How small does that wave look? How not bad does the ragdolling look? Is it a great secret that from head on big wipeouts in giant surf look terrifying but in reality they are no more threatening than putting my head underneath a garden hose?

I’ve had various people tell me that GoPros make things look smaller but that makes no sense so could someone explain? Peter Mel, are you there? Evan Slater can you pretty please either help me understand or paddle me out at giant Todos Santos so we can giggle in the gentle hot tub together?

John John Florence and Kolohe Andino
Are surfing companies missing a great marketing opportunity by ignoring the gay market? "Don't get me wrong," writes Rory Parker. "I love seeing huge airs and watching the girls' caramel haunches flex through a bottom turn as much as the next guy, but you've gotta admit that focusing solely on the hetero-types leaves a huge potential market untapped."

How surf co’s could make billions by selling “gay”!

Laughing, gasping, grunting boys! Tell me it won't sell!

I was watching the WSL Dawn Patrol show today, thoroughly enjoying the sloppy onshore backdrop and attempts to convince viewers that the second round of the women’s event was held in anything other than weak garbage, when the new Quik ad appeared on screen.

Featuring a young boy getting a hack job tattoo on his hairy leg, and pimping boardshorts which are, apparently, not meant to be used in the ocean, it conveyed beautifully the idea that you don’t need to be a surfer in order to look like one.

Unfortunately, outside of that one exceptional piece of web marketing, the majority of adverts aimed at the audience fall far short of accomplishing the capitalist goal of an ever-increasing market share.

Maybe it’s a result of decades of complacency created by more or less owning a captive market, but the world of surf marketing seems caught in perpetual loop of rehashed themes and uninspired campaigns. In its current form it’s like getting a rimjob in a public toilet from some dude you just met. It’s not, you know, terrible, and it gets the job done, but it’s not exactly something to brag about. And you definitely won’t win any awards for it.

Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing huge airs and watching the girls’ caramel haunches flex through a bottom turn as much as the next guy, but you’ve gotta admit that focusing solely on the hetero-types leaves a huge potential market untapped.

Picture this:

A pristine white sand beach, deserted but for Kolohe and John John. Slim supple bodies glistening with cocoa butter, sweat beading on their chests and trickling down towards the waist of their low-slung board shorts. The surf is flat, but they don’t care. Their hearts are filled to bursting with unbridled joie de vivreThey exist in a pure moment, filled with a hedonistic disregard for the mundane, unbridled by life’s distractions.

Kolohe leans over and playfully pokes John John in the ribs. With a giggle born of innocence John John returns the gesture, his hand lingering just a little longer than necessary. They lock eyes and come together.

Laughing, gasping and grunting they begin to roll across the beach, arms and legs tangled. They wrestle with abandon, two young men in their prime delighting in their strength and flexibility.  Kolohe pins JJ for a moment. John John is on his back, Kolohe straddling his hips, shoulders down, back arched. John John reverses, grabbing Kolohe’s wrists and pinning them to the ground. He presses down with all his strength, we see his back muscles ripple, proud firm buttocks pointed skyward, only a thin layer of nylon denying the viewer a glimpse of his pink, blond-fringed, asshole.

They lock eyes again, chests heaving, moist lips slightly parted. There’s a meaning behind the gaze, but is it merely the joy of two competitors testing their strength against each other, or does it spring from something deeper, something more sexual?

Smash cut:

Hurley Boardshorts: Guaranteed to stay on, but so fun to take off.

Jamie O'Brien with turtle
Turtles are like ponies, says Jamie O

The Myth of the Hard-Core Tropical Surfer

You've got the best waves in the world, it's 80 fucking degrees and you want to complain about haole boys and closeouts?

There’s a fundamental difference in outlook from those of us who grew up surfing in the North Pacific, and those even in places like Maine who surf. In order to learn to surf anywhere north of San Francisco you’re going to deal with shitty weather, rough and closeout breaks, and even getting into the lineup often requires forcing your way through six to ten separate breaks.

Hawaiians like to talk about how dangerous their waves are, how brutal the reefs are, and so forth. The reality of the situation, however, is that anyone who’s learned to surf in Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, Alaska, etc, has dealt with far more adversity in the pursuit of stoke than anything you will face in Hawaii. The one true difficulty that Hawaii has over somewhere like Oregon or Alaska is the rampant localism and the wicked crowded lineups. In exchange, however, you have the lifeguards, easy access to medical care and a distinct lack of Great Whites.

The most important aspect is that it’s easy to be a person who surfs somewhere like Southern California, Hawaii, Florida, etc, but in order to deal with all the bullshit it takes to surf the North Pacific you have to be a surfer.

No one else will put in the time, the effort, the physical toll, in order to catch a few shitty closeout waves by themselves, day after day. I’m obviously being biased here. I spent my youth in Alaska and my summers with my grandparents in San Diego so I had a rather unique exposure to the two different extremes of surf culture, if you will.

In Alaska just the logistics of getting to the part of the state where there are consistent breaks, mainly the southeastern part of the state, are challenging in and of themselves. In San Diego you’re within two hours of something like 250 individually named breaks. About the only place that’s difficult to get to are the breaks along the coastline that Camp Pendleton controls, and honestly it’s not that hard to get on the base, legally or otherwise.

The point of this article isn’t to pit people against each other, although the tone might lead you think otherwise, the point is to make people who are blessed to live somewhere like Hawaii, Orange County, or San Diego, realize how lucky they are and how much effort people elsewhere have to put in to catch waves that, for the most part, pale in comparison to what y’all find in your backyards.

Instead of focusing on all the stupid bullshit that we focus on, the assholes snaking waves, the kooks cracking boards or the standup paddleboards just fucking everything up, we need to focus on that thing that unites us all, the search for that endorphin rush that we all get from a decent wave, a good ride, and a woman to impress.

Give me stoke over the weak shit that is cocaine any day of the week.

The greatest surf photographer of all time?

Art is subjective. Isn't it?

Brian Bielmann is a legend. He is the oldest photographer shooting from the water right now. He has seen technologies come and technologies go but he is still there. In the water.

“I first started shooting water at Pipeline,” he says. “I remember moving out there in 1978. I surfed that Spring and thought, ‘ok next season I am going to be on every single swell!’ I was doing photography at the same time but I’d always say, ‘I’m gonna surf for an hour and then shoot. I’d never come in.’ And so winter came around and I paddled out on a bigger day at Rocky Point. I got pitched over and hit my head on the reef…basically almost died…and so I was sitting in the hospital with all these tubes coming out of me and that was it. It was gonna be photography.”

Brian Bielmann took his camera and his long lens and made his own housing and started swimming fearlessly. Capturing Gerry Lopez and Shaun Tomson and Marvin Foster and getting them famous. Getting famous himself.

The years passed and digital cameras became popular on land and Brian Bielmann thought, “enough of this film garbage” and switched over to a Canon Mark II. Nobody else was doing digital in the water. He swam and shot and captured an image of Andy Irons 3x world champ flying above the lip in Indonesia. The image was made into a billboard and everyone saw it and everyone switched to digital.

Maybe too many switched. Brian says, “Everybody started shooting digital and everybody started shooting fisheye. I never really liked shooting fisheye. I like shooting long lens where you see the whole wave. The roof of the wave and the ceiling of the barrel. You can see how big it is. Back in the day I remember Ted Grambeau yelling at guys shooting fisheye to go in because it makes everything look the same. It makes a four foot wave look four foot and an eight foot wave look four foot. Some guys are great at it and get amazing angles but too many people are doing it. I love the long lens look…”

And so Brian shoots long lens but he also loves to shoot underwater shots. Is getting even more famous because of it. “I love the underwater stuff,” he says. “It keeps me going and keeps me doing something really different. There are all those shots of surfers in the tube, which are really cool, but I’m also shooting different stuff. My wife is really pretty, I’m happy to say, and I do some mermaid shots with her. There is this thing called Flotilla in Waikiki where there are hundreds of surfboards, boats, legs and I swim underneath and capture all of that…I still love my backlit Pipe days but the underwater stuff gives me a new direction and allows me to stay in the water. I definitely don’t swim out on those crazy north days anymore.”

Since he has been around so long, knows the past and is the past, where does he see the future? “I think a lot of athletes are going to start getting into photography and put themselves places that we haven’t been. It’s just like surfing. People are taking off differently at Pipe, doing things that wouldn’t have been possible in the past. Now there are guys like Russo who, he definitely has a screw loose but is pushing the limits…”

And Brian Bielmann’s future will continue to be amazing underwater images and long lens amazingness. His future is beautiful.