Pat Parnell and Ross Williams
Pat, he's sorely missed here. There's a lot of fond memories being recited about Pat. He's a fucking epic human.

Candid: Ross Williams talks “gangsta” and Pat Parnell!

The tour's best commentator on life "inside the hurricane" that is the WSL… 

There’s a split in the electrical current in BeachGrit‘s twin bureaus, Sydney and Los Angeles. In the noted writer Chas Smith’s city of angels, the World Surf League is, “Maybe the worst thing that has ever touched the Internet. Watching professional surfing is a tremendous waste of time, especially during the early rounds. The commentary, new starlet Chelsea Cannell aside, is utterly asinine. So bad that it is an assault on the decency of human speech. The waves very rarely put on any sort of display and the surfing, while clearly exceptional, rarely wows. Especially at stops like the Gold Coast and especially two days ago.”

In Sydney, meanwhile, I’m beguiled by every feint of the World Surf League, every bold stroke of its monied masters. When God awakens me with his hot minty breath breath during the contest waiting period, I pray a little swell will kick down Snapper’s famous bank.

Combine new signing Chelsea Cannell (a queen of the television set!) with the former Slater-slayer Ross Williams and the beautiful Ron Blakey (who makes me want to anchor his thumb in my mouth), and you have broadcasting perfection.

I recorded this interview with Ross Williams at 11:58am, this morning, just prior to the Roxy Pro.

BeachGrit: You came out of the gates, swinging. Tell my why…

Ross: Oh, on that first day of competition it was so easy to be a commentator. The waves were really fun and everyone was surfing the best they’ve ever seen for Snapper. Yeah, I know it’s cliched to say that, but every year they seem to get a little better. And that was one of the finest days to watch small-wave stuff.

What turned you on? 

I did four heats of the men and Dusty really, really impressed me and then I was really psyched on Mick Fanning even though he didn’t win his heat. Girls? All the hype is on Silvana Lima and deservedly so. She has all the big rotator clips online and she backed it up by smashing Steph. There’s old school in her, too. She’s got her swagger. She’s come to compete and she’s letting everyone know.

How does she broadcast this intention? 

She’s been firing vocal shots across the bow about how she wants to win. More often that not, you hear competitors talk about how humble they are and how they want to give credit to their opponent. Silvana doesn’t. She seems like she wants to destroy ’em. And that’s cool.

“That was straight gangsta.” So bold! So African-American of you! I loved it when you used it to describe a Mick Fanning turn. What’s the genesis of the phrase? 

I grew up listening to nineties rap. It means someone who’s not messing around, somehow you can compare it to competition, and it means someone who is really bringing the heat. Y’know, I just wanna mix it up. I don’t wanna overdo it but it’s nice to hang a cheesy phrase on an event. I don’t wanna be repetitive. I’m like anyone else. I love to tune in to sports and I try not to be redundant.

“Buttercup manoeuvre”. That was sublime…

Half the time, stuff will come out of my mouth and sometimes it’s cool, sometimes I sound like an idiot. “Buttercup” came out of my mouth, I think, to describe a really smooth Matt Banting air 360, meaning, really smooth, too easy. In my weird little world, it seemed to come out ok.

Tell me about  Chelsea? Is she simply the most beautiful gal ever on television? 

She is definitely a breath of fresh air on our crew. She’s so at ease, really good, spot on. She’s really good at interviewing and we’re all really, really stoked to have her on board.

Is there anything in the world that hits a man right there in the heart than a smart, beautiful gal? 

I’m a married man so I wasn’t looking at her that way. But, uh, yeah, she’s beautiful! And more importantly, she brings it, man. She’s a great reporter.

My partner Chas and I have a different electrical current on the WSL. I love, he don’t…

You know, I get really stoked to hear what people’s opinions are outside of the bubble. We’re so in it, and when you’re inside the hurricane, you can’t what the hurricane’s effect is. I love to hear feedback, good and bad. Everyone takes their job seriously, here, and is passionate about providing a good show.

Where’s Pat Parnell?

Um… that I won’t answer, I don’t know if I’m at liberty… obviously, he’s not here, I’m not going to say he’s off and lo and behold up in the office they decide to bring him back. Ronnie’s stepping in the booth with me… he’s fricken way too easy to work with. He’s naturally funny, doesn’t push it, he’s extremely surf savvy and he knows what he’s talking about. I will say about Pat, he’s sorely missed here. There’s a lot of fond memories being recited about Pat. He’s a fucking epic human.

Is he dead? 

No, he’s not dead! He’s just sorely missed. It’s a big deal that he wasn’t here

Is Hayden Cox stoked that he is ruling the world? Is Matt Biolos? Is the guy who brought a longboard to the shoot bummed? Are they all bummed?
Is Hayden Cox stoked that he is ruling the world? Is Matt Biolos? Is the guy who brought a longboard to the shoot bummed? Are they all bummed?

Is surfing the new golf?

Come read the piece that sinks your beloved BeachGrit!

Business Insider, a leading biz and tech journal, just published a story titled “For Tech Entrepreneurs in Silicon Beach, Surfing is the New Golf” which profiles a group that calls itself “Silicon Beach Surfers.” (read here)

In case you don’t know, Silicon Beach is what tech start up people have dubbed Venice/Santa Monica. Google has an office there and I walked by and saw tons of gross foam boards stacked outside the main door. Will Google thrash BeachGrit for writing that? Will searches for “Beach Grit” turn up pictures of cigarette butts in the sand?

Silicon Beach Surfers was started by a man named Robert Lambert who says, “In many cities and industries, the business sports are still golf, tennis, and racquetball. Here in L.A. the sport of choice is surfing, which is apparent when you realize how many of the more active and influential people in the L.A. tech and startup community surf.” Is surfing really a sport and do that many people in L.A. actually surf? Will Robert Lambert pick up on my overt sarcasm? Will he employ thousands of Indians to pepper BeachGrit with Eastern European Nike spam?

Ten people apply to join the group each week but only three get accepted. It costs $50 to apply and potential members get hazed for a month and then they can join and it costs $30 each month. Would I get accepted because I co-found successful online surf venture BeachGrit? Would Derek Rielly get accepted even more because he co-found both BeachGrit and Stab?

Silicon Beach Surfers paddle out in a large-ish group and surf everywhere from Point Dume to “The Trestles near San Diego.” They hold their meetings in a “surf shack” in Manhattan Beach. Will BeachGrit get totally destroyed, online, for posting this story? Will Derek and my applications rot in limbo forever? Will BeachGrit get, mysteriously, blamed for online espionage and other very bad things? Will Derek and I end up in Guantanamo Bay?

Should I not be snarky about the people who run the Internet? Will Graham Stapelberg be thrilled when BeachGrit is only pictures of cigarette butts in the sand and Derek and I are in Guantanamo? Will he be angry when the Silicon Beach Surfers sink the WSL because they are tech savvy and actually know how many people watch professional surfing and then tell Samsung “Ummmmm, yeah, 387 people watched. All day. And all 387 are super poor. What? No. We weren’t watching. We were busy surfing The Trestles.”


It is shit. I love it!
It is shit. I love it!

Confession: I love the world surf league

I also super hate it. What fun!

I do not care about professional surfing. And then, two days ago, the Quiksilver Pro, Gold Coast, began and I became so excited that I logged on while Dawn Patrol played. Dawn Patrol. The maybe worst thing that has ever touched the Internet. Why? Why on earth did I do that? Watching professional surfing is a tremendous waste of time, especially during the early rounds. The commentary, new starlet Chelsea Cannel aside, is utterly asinine. So bad that it is an assault on the decency of human speech. The waves very rarely put on any sort of display and the surfing, while clearly exceptional, rarely wows. Especially at stops like the Gold Coast and especially two days ago.

Why then? Why, why, why, why do I watch professional surfing? I have given my actions a hard look and have come to two concrete conclusions. I hate watch. I watch The Devil Wears Prada every time it is on because I hate Anne Hathaway. I hate her fetal alcohol eyes. I hate her hair and I hate how she is styled in the gaggiest couture in the silliest most affected way. I hate Adrian Grenier. I hate his doughy face and his whiny mouth and his curls. I hate their relationship, in the film, and I hate all their friends and I hate that Adrian Grenier is always prattling on about Jarlsberg cheese. I could go on all day because there is something very satisfying about hate watching. I get the same satisfaction out of the World Surf League. So part of it is, yes, hate watching. But there is something far greater.

I watch professional surfing because I love the outcasts and misfits and weirdos who make up the larger surf community. I love giggling on Twitter with Matt Warshaw and Really Super Jr. and Jamon Bagel and Sir Gorik Badinskas and Not Dane Reynolds. I love chatting about which tour bottom feeders should get cut with anyone and everyone but especially Austrians and French Moroccans. I love hoping against hope that CJ Hobgood will win each and every event so I can laugh with him about it later. I love looking at Matt Biolos’s Instagram. I love pulling out the iPhone, when heats are running, at important functions and watching the worst derelicts come look over my shoulder and carry on about Dane’s beer belly.

Much like Adrian Grenier prattling on about Jarlsberg cheese, I have spent the larger part of my surf journalism career claiming that surfing is cool. Only lately have I come to the true realization that it is not. It is where addicts with no real skill come and waste lives that once held promise. And it is the greatest community of all. So I watch because I hate but I also watch because I love. Two very fine emotions. Thank you, WSL for providing the platform. And if you start charging for it, I will burn down your fucking Santa Monica studio. Or at least figure out how to pirate the stream.

We have a champion!

Makua Rothman takes the big wave crown.

Waves are a fickle mistress and big waves so much more. It is no small task for ocean storms to generate monsters and then for those monsters to point in the right direction and hit within certain time windows and thus the difficulty of the Big Wave World Tour but thus, also, the glory in taking the crown.

This year’s winner hails from surf royalty and so the crown rests easy. Makuakai Rothman from the North Shore will have his name etched alongside other greats. He accomplished his feat by winning the first event of the year, in Peru, and running up second/last event of the year in Spain.

“Only two events?” You say.

“Yes. But hundreds of feet of (combined) wave height.” I respond.

Makua will receive his award at the World Surf League Big Wave Awards (formerly the XXL Awards) in May. A good time will, certainly, be had by all.

Do you like watching big wave surfing? Do you think it is the future of the sport?

Candid: I was too lazy to not watch the Quik Pro

Would I do it again? Probably… 

The first day of the Quik Pro and I was nowhere to be seen for it. I left the comfortable confines of my house littered with banana-box bookshelves, banana-box furniture and my fiancée still asleep to chase waves two hours from home.

What a leisurely drive: a sunny day, beautiful scenery, a stint herding middle-aged women down a gravel road like they were sheep, and what smutty and condescending conversations were had along the way! The waves? I, along with my two companions scored a three-foot righthand reef break to ourselves before the wind ruined it (Don’t come to New Zealand, the wind ruins everything, particularly if you’re a fly fisherman).

Returning home, I was reminded that the Quik Pro was on and out of curiosity checked it out to see what the conditions were like… disappointing to say the least.

I perused through the previous results and confirmed my initial thoughts that I hadn’t missed much: Joel won, Kelly hadn’t, Ric tanked (as a New Zealander, you expect as much from your sports people) and Dane obviously didn’t really care.

Nonetheless, I continued watching, I was too tired to do anything else. The new girl bored and annoyed me, I got stoked that Ronny was finally in the commentary booth and there were moments of brilliance, but on the whole, the conditions made it boring.

And that was the men’s. By this point, the conditions looked sad. Sad enough, that even I with my lightweight frame and perpetual hunger for surf would not have wanted to paddle out in that.

So out went the girls. I went to close the window, “Ah no!!! I want to watch the girls!” declared my fiancée. So I left her to it while I skated on the road outside and was nearly hit by a car.

I grew bored, though, and returned to watch it with her. The waves looked better and the girls made it look fun. I took great delight in Silvana Lima trouncing Steph. As a former Slater-hater and someone who distrusts the establishment, such scenarios fill me with glee.

Then came Carissa’s heat. My fiancée is a huge Carissa Moore fan, she only occasionally surfs, but thinks Carissa is the shit (justified I guess). She got in to that heat way too much. An avowed feminist (Rory, your analysis?), at one point she yelled at the screen, calling Tatiana Weston-Webb a stupid bitch (before quickly retracting her statement), after Tatiana got a smoker to take the lead from Moore.

Then Moore got her last wave. Was it, or wasn’t it enough? My fair lady wanted to know. I thought not and said as much, not a popular call, so I tried to soften it by saying that I wasn’t a judge. It was enough and there was much fist pumping and yelling in our small place. The last heat went by and I was sure there was some dubious calls made, but oh well.

This morning, I reviewed the previous day and thought about whether I would have paid for the privilege of that afternoon/evening. The answer is no. Mostly, it is because I don’t care enough about it. It is not worth the money I earn giving “free and frank” advice when I only watch it because there is no surf.

Likewise, this idea of bonus content being included does not interest me. I don’t care where Medina lives and I don’t care about what Sally does in her down time. I might bite if Pam was in the commentary booth (hey, I like French Bulldogs). I’ve given back to the industry enough (giving the companies hordes of newby tourists hooked on surfing in my past life as an instructor), I’m not paying any more for it, nor will my conscience allow it.

All that fetid content between waves? I’d rather endure the 15 minute lulls and associated boredom. Yet, given yesterday’s spectacle, I may not have a choice. Will I watch it today? If it is on, yes, as I am a contrary creature.