Exclusive: 108 ft wave forgotten by panel?

Hurts worse than mulit-wave hold down.

The nominees for all categories in this year’s WSL Big Wave Awards are in and the standard bearers are well represented. Shane Dorian, Twiggy Baker, Jamie Mitchell, Ross Clarke-Jones. Some surprising but welcome new additions too. Damien Hobgood, Dingo Morrison. But there is one glaring omission. The biggest wave (maybe) ever ridden.

Benjamin Sanchis, handsome Frenchman with a chipped-tooth smile, towed into a Nazare monster one windy December 11th day and skittered down what many believe to be a 108 ft wave. He fell off somewhere ¾ of the way through but wow. Big. But not included in either the Biggest Wave or Ride of the Year category. Bill Sharp and the powers that be would be forgiven if they had simply deemed the wave uncompleted, and to be fair, Mr. Sharp did go on record to the Inertia, surf website for geriatric shut-ins, in January saying, “The rider must complete the meaningful portion of the wave and Sanchis fell on his…It would idiotic to encourage someone who is a total kook to try to go on a 200-foot closeout he has no chance of surviving and will get a posthumous award.”

But! BeachGrit’s exclusive insider tells us that when it was time to actually choose which waves go accepted and where they went, Sanchis’ wave was not deemed uncompleted. It was not deemed anything because the committee totally forgot about it! Like, literally forgot it happened and when they were eventually reminded, it was slotted in as the last in the Wipeout of the Year category. Maybe it deserves to be there but to be forgotten about? At (maybe) 108 ft? That must hurt worse than 200,000 tons of water on the head.

Exclusive: WSL to ban US Open of Surfing?

Hundreds of thousands of twelve-year-olds weep.

You know the Vans US Open of Surfing as a pedophile’s dream. Professional surfers know the Vans US Open of Surfing as a place to Huntington Hop their way to $100,00.00. The World Surf League used to know the Vans US Open of Surfing as a place to give Brett Simpson 6 stars worth of points but maybe not anymore!

BeachGrit’s exclusive insider tells us that the World Surf League is busy making a new enemy with the Vans US Open of Surfing’s rights’ owner IMG!

IMG, a “…global leader in sports, fashion and media operating in more than 25 countries around the world…” has owned the event for some time and last year was acquired by the agency William Morris Endeavor, or WME. You know the Endeavor part as the agency helmed by Ari Emanuel, played lovingly by Jeremy Piven on HBO’s Entourage.

In any case, the WSL, according to our insider, does not like anyone else owning a professional surfing event. IMG/WME thinks the WSL is goofy and won’t sell its stake for the $7.86 that Graham Stapelberg has in his bank account. So there they stand, glaring at each other. The WSL has even launched the first salvo on its website, calling the event the “US Pro” and listing it as “tentative.” In your face Ari Emanuel!

If the WSL pulls its sanction then professional surfers trying to Huntington Hop their way to $100,00.00 could get kicked off tour. Such power mongering! Who do you think will come out on top? Will Ari scream at Lloyd? Will Paul Speaker scream at Graham? Will Lloyd and Graham fight? Who would win? Let’s wait and see.

The US Pro? Tentative? Such a slap!
The US Pro? Tentative? Such a slap!

"I'm so afraid of big waves," says Poopies. "And everything got really scary on the show. We were going to big-wave spots and I'm not a big wave surfer. Jamie is, but for me it's terrifying. I just try and make the best out of it and charge as hard as I can."

Candid: My Dangerous Friendship with Jamie O’Brien

Jamie O'Brien's fall guy Sean "Poopies" McInerny on surfing 10-foot Pipe tandem on a soft-top… 

If you had the good fortune to be on the North Shore yesterday you would’ve seen, and maybe ridden, an eight-foot spring swell. A lot of sand around, sure, so there’s that summertime backwash feel about it, but relatively uncrowded Pipe was yours for the snatching.

Sean “Poopies” McInerney, Jamie O’Brien’s  crazy sidekick in the Who is JOB series, celebrated the surprise arrival of a big swell by paddling out, with Jamie, on an eight-foot Catch Surf board, both in speedos.

Their goal? To catch a set tandem. If anything they figured they’d get some dazzling footage for the new 10-episode season of Who is JOB 5.0, premiering May 1.

“It was bombing,” says Poopies. “It was eight-to-10-feet, coming from Second Reef and just… flexing… right on the reef. We wore Speedos. I finally got Jamie to wear some cheetah Speedos and then we charged it. He was in the back, I was in the front. My legs were spread and he was up in my…uh… butt area. He said, ‘Don’t fart! If you fear it’s over!’ I had three foot of surfboard in front of me to work with. We both paddled super hard and we had four arms so it was good getting into the bombs.

“We caught a couple and the tandem thing was working out okay so we said, let’s wait for a bomb. Forty-five minutes later, it came. We started paddling for it and we got stuck at the top. We were both standing up, grabbing rail. I call it synchronised surfing. So we get stuck at the top. I’m trying to stick the rail into the face and get down the wave. It was a really, really good wave and we tried to make it and then Jamie jumped off. I was still grabbing rail and got super sideways and fell off.

“I got so pounded it was gnarly. I got pinned against the reef. It wouldn’t let me up. I got pounded every time I tried to get to the surface. The lifeguards, I heard later, were tripping! It was nuts! I popped up 50 yards down the line. It was definitely one of the best waves I’ve ever caught at Pipe. I wish we’d made it. In the end it was the wipeout of the winter.”

In case y’didn’t know, Poopies is originally from Carlsbad, California and earned his nickname as a 13-year-old after a Jackass-inspired stunt where he evacuated his bowels at a busy intersection (he was arrested). Poopies moved to the North Shore six years ago, rented a room from Jamie O, got pall-y with Jamie, and he soon became the second-biggest star of Who is JOB.

It’s a dangerous friendships, howevs.

“I’m so afraid of big waves,” says Poopies. “And everything got really scary on the show. We were going to big-wave spots and I’m not a big wave surfer. Jamie is but for me it’s terrifying. I just try and make the best out of it and charge as hard as I can.”

Still, Jamie is there with the tools to keep his pal alive. “He puts a flotation vest on me and says, ‘Poops, dude, this thing will let you pop to the top no matter what’.”

Pals 4 life!

Micro Hall and Kolohe Andino
Micro and Kolohe kick for safety, round two, at the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro 2015. A very not high-scoring heat, Micro's 5.94 points to Kolohe's 4.90. The lowest heat total this year, maybe ever. | Photo: Morgan Maassen

Kolohe: “Let’s hear what you gotta say now, haters!”

The sun will shine on you once again, Kolohe Andino...

There was once young man alone in a foreign bed in a foreign country. Salt water and kangaroo droppings burned his eyes and sleep was nowhere to be found even though the digital bedside clock read 1:37 am. He flipped the pillow then flipped again but it did not help. The sleeplessness was born of frustration, you see. Frustration and an Australian by way of Ireland who sounded like a Muppet.

His phone, next to the digital clock, buzzed. It buzzed again. He picked it up and looked at the glowing screen and saw an average assortment of messages, emails, missed calls. Nothing inspiring.

He scrolled onto Instagram and still nothing inspiring. Nothing inspired. His frustration bubbled. It was turning into a volcano and soon and his thumbs began to fly across the sapphire glass, posting a message to his followers but mostly to himself.

“onward and forward?” It began. “no. i aint happy with my results. i dont feel good about them. i hate losing. some things have gotta change. i gotta build better habbits. work harder. simplify my damn life. lets hear what you gotta say now haters. nothing i haven’t already heard. never did it for you anyways. did it cause i love it. 1:37am here and i cant sleep. leave me alone while i work. i can do all things through christ who strengthens me. and i will.”

He put his phone back, lay down and stared at the ceiling waiting for sleep. Waiting for morning so he could begin again.

And I wish I could have been hovering in the bushes outside his window, maybe a bouquet of wilted daisies in my hand, because I would have whispered “Buck up!” through the venetian blinds. I would have whispered, “Few have carried such a burden of expectation so lightly and so easily as you. Few have remained both hungry and unaffected. The throngs will, no doubt, have advice. ‘Don’t try so hard!’ They will tell you or ‘Don’t worry!’ or ‘You’re great just the way you are!’ But you know better than them what you need to do. Fire Mike Parsons! He seems like a tool. What? You already did? Great! Then you’re well on your way. Goodnight sweet Kolohe. May Rio de Janeiro bring glory.”

Do you have severe social vanity?

I do. Just look at my smug face!

The first time I went to Saturdays, New York City’s finest surf shop and maybe finest label, back in 2009 or 2010 I thought it was dumb. I thought, “This ain’t real because it ain’t Orange County.” As far as I was concerned, if a brand/shop/idea didn’t spring from Costa Mesa/Newport/Huntington’s fertile soil then it wasn’t an accurate reflection of core American surf. I was, in fact, the dumb one and have since come to realize that Orange County, for all its past Volcom shine, is now an ugly, stale backwater. The boys at Saturdays are busily creating a vision of surf that transcends the dull, conservative same ol’ same ol’. I don’t even think they know where Orange County is and God bless them for it.

They produce, alongside an epic white marino sweater with ribbed cuffs and hem, a seasonal magazine with zero advertisements and the most interesting people in the world like Francis Ford Coppola, Duane Michaels, Olaf Bruening, Balaram Stack, Lucien Smith, Grant Ellis, Jeff Johnson and Lucy Walker. The magazine effortlessly weaves surfing into a broader cultural narrative, looking neither try-hard nor tacky. It is brilliant. Especially the person on page 98. His name is Chas Smith.

You can buy it here for $25. And if you happen to have your copy when you see me across a crowded room I will sign it for free.

P.S. The gorgeous photo was taken by none other than Curious Gabe. Do you remember him? He used to and maybe still does feature in every Surfer Magazine asking questions and driving a green VW bus. Did you know he is a very accomplished photographer? That he is tall and handsome and kind and smart? That he married a model and she is beautiful and his children are also beautiful? That he is very close to perfect? I didn’t either.