"Every surfboard that is shaped with feeling is a portrait of the shaper, not of the surfer," says Matt Biolos.

Surfboard Design for Morons!

Matt Biolos and the 10 things every surfer should know about their pleasure craft… 

Everyone rides …Lost surfboards for good reason. The sturdy, hairy man who makes ’em (Matt Biolos) has a connection with the average surfer (and so the boards…forgive) but he can also cross the aisle to the complex world of the professional surfer.

Who else you going to turn to when you want to simplify the game?

1. Boards with a straight rocker paddle faster. And, paddling is 50 per cent of the game. If you can’t catch waves, you can’t surf. Even if you’re surfing two-foot windblown peaks with three friends, you still have to compete to get waves. And, you thought it was all about thickness, right? It’s not; it’s how the bottom moves across the water. However…

2. Volume is your friend. You can have a really thick board, but if you put a vee bottom, it rides neutral, whereas a medium-thickness board with concave can ride flat like a plank.

3.Tail shapes don’t matter as much as you think. If the width going into the tail is the same, a square, a squash, a diamond or a swallow is going to behave in a similar way. Round tails and pintails decrease the rail line, so they’re going to hold a little better and shorten a turn radius.

4. I don’t buy into the whole back-foot/front-foot surfer thing. We’re all surfing from the back foot. You’re either a weak back-foot surfer or a strong back-foot surfer. You push hard or you don’t. You’re either Taylor Knox or a flicky little kid.

5. Look at the outline of your board. Straight lines go fast. Curved lines turn. Simple.

6. The straighter the rocker, the further back you need to stand and boards with a continual rocker have a bigger sweet spot. However, and this is a big however, a drivier board will be more forgiving in picking up speed, just less forgiving when you need to turn.

7. Match the curve of the board to the curve of the wave. This is for the average surfer. Everything goes out the window for pros – they can do anything. I travel with a curvy board and a flat board: curvy boards for the Gold Coast and for Sydney shorebreaks. Flatter boards for mushy points or blown out crumblers. On a planky board, it ain’t gonna work when you need to jump to your feet and bottom turn in one quick move. And, when you do get up, all you’re going to do is parallel floaters.

8. There’s a magic number and it’s called your cubic volume. It’s up to us shapers to educate people, and it’s information available, right now, on our shaping machines. Let me explain. One of my team riders, Shea Lopez, was teasing me about how big my boards are. We were down at Lowers, two fat cocktails in hand, and he grabbed my board and said, “Have a fucking look at this boat!” And, I said: “Well, I’m fat, I’m 40, but you know what, fucker? I bet my volume-to-weight ratio is not far from your’s. I’m 30 per cent heavier and have maybe 30 per cent more volume. The difference is, I’m a desk jockey and you’re a professional athlete.” If we know our cubic volumes, all the other dimensions can be left to the shaper. Instead of saying, I ride 6’1”s x 18 5/8” x 2 5/16”, you’d say, I’m a 42, make me a small-wave craft. This does require a degree of trust in your shaper. Which leads me to…

9. There are two types of shapers you can trust. One is the local shaper who knows the conditions and who probably knows how you surf. That’s a certain kind of trust. Then there’s the trust you have for an international shaper. You trust Al Merrick because he consistently makes great boards for great surfers and for the global market. If you live in Santa Barbara, where Al lives, you get local and international knowledge. If you live on the Gold Coast, you get both: Darren Handley and Jason Stevenson. If you live in Sydney, you get both: James Cheal (Chilli). If you live in San Clemente, you get Timmy Patterson and me. But, if you live in, say, Adelaide, you might have to balance the tradeoff between local and global knowledge.

10. Balance in a surfboard is everything and shapers walk a tightrope every time they build you a custom board. If you want a board with a lot of rocker, your shaper has to build everything around it to balance it out. If one element is extreme, the rest of the board has to act as a counterbalance to neutralize the extreme. Greg Webber was a genius on the wire. Everything is balance.


The Winning Team

Todd Kline: I want to be 5 forever!

Since the WSL doesn't pay, announcers "fish" for money elsewhere.

Remember Todd Kline? Of course you do. WQS surfer/Kelly Slater caddy who parlayed into a career as ASP/WSL sideline reporter?

Remember this?

bobby-crackers

 

I didn’t see Todd on the beach in Snapper. He seemed to be replaced by a much better Chelsea Cannell but maybe he’ll come back. Who’s to say? The WSL stopped letting me inside their meetings once Brodie Carr left.

In any case, did you know Todd Kline is also a pro bass fisherman? Here is his website (totally worth a visit). He was back to back Angler of the Year in 2013 and 2014, sponsored by Skeeter Boats, Yamaha, Okuma, Under Armour, Sun Country Marine, Savage Gear, Robo Worm and The Winning Team. I wish I was sponsored by The Winning Team.

He fishes professionally in Lake Havasu, the California Delta, Clear Lake and the Ohio River and likes it because it makes him feel like he’s 5 years old.

If you could be a professional in something what would it be? If you could feel any age forever would it be 5?


Secrets of Surf Magazines! (Part One)

When surf magazines used to burn DVDs for kicks!

Life is an unending river with a different surprise around every corner. An enigmatic puzzle, a puzzling enigma.

And you want to know what really cracks me, a vet of five different print mags from surf to men’s interest (porn) to gossip, up?

It’s the faith in which we hold the paper magazines despite their lack of transparency (sales) and influence (advertising). At face value we accept the magazine’s own inflated sales and circulation figures and the success of its static advertising.

But there is no secret about surf magazines more hidden than the great DVD bonfires of yore. Y’see, back around the turn of the century, the sales of paper mags plunged once DVDs got into the market.

Who wanted photos and dreary words when you could push yourself back into a couch and get all the surf y’needed? And the surfing magazines, realising this, soon began packaging “free” (it actually upped the cover price by a couple of bucks to pay for the raw costs of burning the discs) DVDs onto their covers.

The big surf co’s were happy at this turn because it meant they could make, say, 50,000 DVDs, give ’em to a magazine with a circulation of 50k and they’d have a home for their promo discs.

Such a touching naivety! The childlike innocence!

I remember once pitching for the DVD of a major surf co. and being told they were going to give it to a certain surfing magazine that targeted “youth” because they could shift 40,000 of the co’s DVDs.

I’d worked at that magazine and knew it sold between 4,000 and 9,000 magazines, closer to the former than the latter. What could I say? I wasn’t going to throw the mag under the bus (journalists in arms!) but I knew what was going to happen to 30,000 of those DVDs.

Wanna know?

They arrive in a large truck at the printers. The printer who is altered to the unfortunate mismatch of numbers takes 12k or whatever the print run is and sets ’em aside, ready to be bagged with the magazine.

The rest are burned with incredible precision and discretion. The printer, and the magazine, know that a bonfire of 30,000 DVDs  would likely take down the warehouse with it, and so they are disposed of in lots of one thousand, every second or third day.

Cremation is the only solution despite its toxic payload. The DVDs can’t be dumped because what would happen if an official from a surf co. found thousands of its precious movie scattered over a dirt hill amid the detritus of mattresses and Ikea furniture and broken toys?

Over my career I can estimate almost half-a-million movies, from the very bad to the iconic, ended in flames.

If that doesn’t make your spirit wilt, wait until you hear about the circulation figures. Next month!


The Five Most Compelling Surfers on the Planet

…according to Dion Agius…

Who do you believe are the five most arresting surfers roaming this earth right now? Dion Agius is a pro surfer, a photographer, a business devil (Epokhe) and makes enough hive in his honey to support a beautiful nomadic lifestyle. He sees much surfing. He knows what sticks.

1. Andrew Doheny

I’m sure you’ve seen so much of him but I still feel like we know so little. I’ve known him for a long time and have a lot of friends that claim he’s the most awesome dude ever but I don’t know him very well. There’s a certain air about Andrew that I can’t put my finger on. He feels as though he could take off in a van at any moment and disappear into the depths of Mexico, laying down Tom Curren-esque hacks solo at some mysto point, never to be seen again. Or he might be on the brink of becoming one of the biggest breakthrough performers of the year. Andrew is one of the most talented surfers in the world right now and I think he’s quite content if anyone knows it or not.

2. Ozzie Wright

How can one man be so good for so long and still maintain every bit of awesomeness as Oz? Not only one of the nicest guys ever and a committed family man, Ozzie still maintains his figure head position as one of the greatest influencers on our sport. And he’ll keep doing it until the day he can’t launch himself out of a two-foot shorebreak onto the sand anymore.

3. Ryan Heywood

This man is six foot and has hair past his nipples. But that ain’t all that thrills. Ryan exudes energy unlike any man that has ever lived. Is he on mushrooms consistently or just plain high on life? I think the latter and maybe just plain high on surfing. There’s a good chance you will see a giant flash of a this man wearing an all-over lycra bodysuit and flying down the line like a wild animal at Tallows on a finless craft. When Ryan isn’t in the water surfing he spends his time creating absolutely incredibly images behind his lens. Some of surfing. Some of the tips of soft-serve ice-cream cones. Either way, when he’s shooting surfing he creates some of the most incredible and refreshing imagery you’re likely to see.

4. John John Flo

He is too good. Why is he so good? What is he doing? Does he surf three times a day every day? I don’t understand. Every time I see a video, a contest, a clip, he seems to be getting better. How is it possible to be so good and then keep getting better. Himself. Kelly and this last guy are now the best three surfers in the world.

5. Dane Reynolds

He’s good looking, smart, humble, nice, creative, genuine, has a really pretty house, with heaps of awesome knick-knacks, with nice dogs and a really nice girlfriend. And maybe the best surfer that has ever lived. And what makes him tick, who knows? I don’t think we will ever know. He loves surfing so much. It makes me so motivated because he loves it more than anyone I know. As much as any 12-year-old kid who has just learned how to do floaters or cutbacks. But he is 29, and the best surfer in the world, and he still has that. That’s incredible. I like him so much for that.


Dance, daddy, dance! Sean Combs by Justin Jay.

(Audio): How to shoot rap superstars (and JJF)!

New York photographer Justin Jay and the alchemy of image making… 

Justin Jay, you’ve heard of. At least if you swing around these pages. Maybe you saw his work in Stab magazine or Surfer.

Justin’s the 41-year-old photographer from New York City’s Lower East Side who made his name shooting rap superstars Jay-Z, Sean Combs, Outkast and Drake and, then, ’cause he surfs and he sees surfing “through the eyes of a 13-year-old surf fan” has captured some of the game’s most beguiling images.

Remember this one?

Dion Agius and Kelly Slater, 2014 Surfer Poll
When the Strange Rumblings in Shangri La crew took the stage to accept the award for Movie of the Year, did their antics seem a little contrived and unnecessary? Perhaps. But if they set out to make a mark on the evening, then mission accomplished. Perhaps the most ironic consequence of the night was the assistance that the boys gave to the recent rebranding strategy of the ASP. Noa Deane caught a ton of shit for his profanity laden quip, but after all, he did say “Fuck the WSL”. Clooney and Nicholson pounding gin at the Golden Globes is charming, but apparently referencing prescription meds in front of a surf crowd is strictly verboten, Dion. Live it. Learn it. Later backstage, Australia’s favorite track-suited aerialist got a friendly but firm talking to from surfing’s Cool Dad.

And this?

John John and Alex Florence 2014 Surfer Poll
In most award shows, the main focus is the announcement of the final award. At Surfer Poll however, there were two surfers who so unequivocally occupied the top two places that the unveiling of the number two spot became a de-facto crowning of the winner as well. All eyes were on John John. Number two was finally revealed and it was Kelly. A new King was crowned. Not a single person in the room could muster a justification to argue against this year’s winner. Well deserved. A class act. Period.

And how about this shot of Ali from JJ’s archives?

Muhammad Ali
BeachGrit’s favourite son of Allah, Muhammad Ali! By Justin Jay.

Recently, an interview with Justin featured on Surf SplendorPodcast, the same audio podcast site that jammed with Chas Smith a few weeks back (click here).

Justin talks about his journey from Santa Barbara to New York to Hawaii; from hip-hop to surfing and “how the surf media and WSL has failed to develop compelling narratives and personalities of its stars.”

Listen to to Justin here.

 

And tap into Justin’s Instagram here (you’ll like!).