John John Florence surfing at Le Penon France

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.

Sean Combs
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!).

Controversy: Did Micro have ulterior motives?

BeachGrit hates to speculate but...

And you thought the Glenn “Micro” Hall/Gabriel Medina interference situation would just go away? Well, you don’t know the new World Surf League! It is the grandest all singing, all rock sliding, all surfboard punching soap opera around!

Pictures have recently emerged showing Simone Medina, Gabs’ mom, giving Glenn Micro an innocent peck on the cheek at the Quiksilver Pro. Or is it innocent? Take a hard look at Micro’s eyes. They are both knowing and far too mischievous. They say, “I sit in the sky like a sphinx misunderstood; My heart of snow is wed to the whiteness of swans; I hate the movement that displaces the rigid lines, With lips untaught neither tears nor laughter do I know.”

Could it possibly be that Simone and Glenn Micro are an item? Could Glenn Micro basically be Gabs’ new stepdad? And might the interference have been a strong head cuff from stepdad to stepson, reminding the latter to stay in line?

BeachGrit hates to speculate. We abhor. It is probably nothing. But…

Slogan tee
Beat it, kooks.

Rip Curl: Our competitors are kooks!

Billabong and Quiksilver elbowed, sharply, under the bus by Torquay's favorite son.

Rip Curl’s profits rose an astounding 63% and revenue increased 7.8% last year according to The Australian and joy echoes off Torquay’s gloom. The company is now valued at $310 million dollars and major shareholders are buying less major shareholders out and throwing lavish parties which include magnums of Carlton Draught and cabanossi, crackers and cheese (probably). How is Rip Curl’s sun so bright? Director Tony Roberts explains.

“We are more of a core surf brand than either key competitors. They both grew bigger than us but in growing bigger they stretched into that non-core market more than we have and we have been very true to our roots in terms of our core products.”

Ummmmmmmmm. Great.

But, really, didn’t Rip Curl mostly get lucky and not have enough spare change floating about to build thousands of ill-advised mall stores? Wouldn’t the brand have gladly bought multiple New York locations if they could have? Yes. So maybe Mr. Roberts could have been a touch more honest. I will help! Here is his new quote!

“Nobody bought Rip Curl for lots of years and so we couldn’t really do anything stupid but not for lack of trying.”

Now that the sun is gleaming, though, (and also because of hottest surfer Mason Ho) expect profits and revenue to skyrocket even more! Expect a 10,000 sq ft Times Square showroom gleaming as bright as Rip Curl’s sun featuring the latest in platform flip flops and “live the search” XXXL t-shirts.

How will Billabong and Quiksilver respond to the dig? Will they set upon Torquay with pitchforks and torches? Will they laugh and then jointly purchase Rip Curl in hostile takeover, establishing stores only in Syria and Iraq?

Laird Hamilton push up
What sort of work-out does Laird Hamilton employ to balloon like he has?

The Ultimate Waterman Starts Tomorrow!

Big-wave contest in New Zealand may be inflated by cyclone-generated monsters! Maybe Laird too!

I remember a Sunday afternoon long ago out west. It was bathed in the golden light of May, the water was a comparatively warm (for that time of year) 15 degrees Celsius (59 degrees F for the metrically challenged) and the waves were overhead beachbreak barrels… such fun.

I came in happy and was wandering with my friend back to my car when we heard a tortured cry. It was a young seal on death’s door among the driftwood. All along its body were lacerations right down to the bone. It was pretty ugly with the festering yellow pus of infection creeping throughout the doe-eyed animal’s gaping wounds.

A discussion ensued and I was told that I couldn’t walk away from the seal without doing the right thing. This advice, which came from my friend, did not apply to him, and he walked off. It was just the seal and me, and so, with reluctance, I helped “end the pain”, as they say.

And so it was today with the Quik Pro. Finally, the suffering is over.

What struck me the most in these two instances was the sudden flourish of life exhibited by both in those last moments. These flourishes of futile resistance to fate served to make each event an immeasurably sadder affair.

While I was pondering the sad similarities of the Quik Pro and the doomed seal, I remembered that The Ultimate Waterman starts tomorrow/today (depending on when this appears and where you live in the world).

I perked up. We will soon know who the ultimate waterman is. What perked me up the most though is that they may get cyclone swell. Cyclone Pam is on her way and doesn’t she have NZ in a spin.

NZ, like our much better sibling Australia, loves an  existential threat and Pam fits the bill: she’s smashed the Solomons, is threatening to destroy Vanuatu and is heading to thrash Barry and Sharon’s vege garden in Whakatane.

Surfers in north-facing and eastern parts of the country are in a flutter with cyclone fever (my pick is the north-facing spots on the west and north-west of the South Island on Monday). None more so, apparently, than the contestants in The Ultimate Waterman, according to the NZ Herald.

And why not? They are big-wave surfers, the weather system is unusually large and it could fire. There are murmurings that they will surf somewhere near East Cape, but the projected path of the system means that they can surf further south later in the week, if the cyclone’s opening gambit is undercooked.

All this led me to some deep questioning: will they score giant cyclonic conditions? Will Laird as ambassador for the event turn up with his hydrofoil board to surf giant, well-groomed cyclone swell and show me the future?

There’s a high chance that the answer will be no. Pam will probably hit the cooler waters of the southern Pacific, lose her energy, and be downgraded to a moderately intense ex-tropical low. If so, my bold prediction of two-metres of north-west swell at 19 seconds on the West Coast will not eventuate.

The East Coast of both islands will be big, onshore and ugly for two days before being four-to-six foot and perfect for another two days. The brave watermen will score this perfection, but it won’t be the giants they want and nor will I see Laird show me the future of surfing.

It should end there, but it doesn’t. More questions keep arising. Will they take them down to the Foveaux Strait where large numbers of Great Whites are currently breeding in a bid to find even mildly large waves? Will Kai Lenny bash one with his SUP paddle, then be prosecuted for attacking protected wildlife? Will they come after me for my act of compassion years ago?

Will anyone even watch? Moreover, will it benefit the NZ economy?

All these questions will haunt me tonight as they should you.