Another Great Moment in Surf Photography

Steve Sherman looks a raging bull in the eye and does not flinch.

Say what you must about Steve Sherman but his tireless work ethic and unparalleled enthusiasm for the Sport of Kings is something to behold. There are those who don’t appreciate, of course, like Kaipo Gomes-Balzer but these few are generally anonymous, or recently outed, Internet trolls who prefer to lob insults from far away, or Manhattan Beach. They are not brave.

But Steve Sherman is. He is as brave as he is handsome and, as evidence, just examine this great moment in surf photography right here!

It is 2009 and the North Shore is alive with feeling! Sunny Garcia, Hawaiian darling and powerful surfer, in the lead for the coveted Vans Triple Crown. He had done very well at Haleiwa. He had done very well at Sunset. All he had to do was ok at Pipeline and the honors and the glory would be his.

But he was late to his heat, mere ten minutes because he was getting fins from the Rothman house. Contest director Randy Rarick said “Alo-nah” though and Sunny was not allowed to surf, Torry Meister taking his spot, and Sunny did not win the Vans Triple Crown.

I was not ten yards away when this scene played out. Sunny was enraged. Furious. A stung tiger. Randy was hardened. Unmovable. They tugged of war over the contest jersey. Sunny screamed swears. Randy folded his arms. It was very uncomfortable and I wished I was elsewhere.

And Steve Sherman was not five yards away but he, brave and handsome, did not wish he was elsewhere. He waded even closer, in fact, capturing Randy’s stoic but more importantly Sunny’s hurt.

Look at Sunny’s face. Look at the rage and the resignation and the frustration and the pain. It is a beautiful shot, a great moment, but also look at his surf trunks. Affliction. A mixed-martial arts brand. Sunny could have just as easily waltzed over and taken his hurt out on Steve Sherman’s face. This great moment is what separates the boys from the men. And Steve Sherman is the man.

Dane and Courtney
Eleven years ago and we see the just-turned 19-year-old Dane Reynolds and the gal of his dreams, Ms Courtney Jaedtke.

Dane and Courtney Just Had a Sammy Boo

Worlds' best surfer (2006-12) and Ask Pam mastermind got a brand new bebe… 

It’s raining bebes on the most unlikely plains. First, it was revealed two weeks ago that perennial batch Taj Burrow (perennial as opposed to “confirmed” bachelor) is to be a daddy (as opposed to sugar daddy)… click here… and now we see the result of a most wonderful union tween Dane Reynolds v Courtney Jaedtke.

The pair are decade-old lovers from Carpinteria in central California (see main photo). Dane, the undisputed best surfer in the world from 2006 until 2012 and Courtney, the Pam Wear clothier (click here), falconer (click here), Ask Pam mastermind (click here) and, perhaps, the most profound stylistic influence on her bae.

Yesterday, the pair announced that Sammy Boo Reynolds, a little eight-pounder had been hoisted into the world. What a great honour and privilege motherhood is! A mammy’s strength is more powerful than natural laws! The world opens up to mammies!

IMG_5534 copy

And Reynolds turns thirty this September so he’s ready. He’s built for fatherhood. Playful and serious. Daring and loving.

What greater challenge is there than raising a great son?

Shawn Barney Barron Dies
Barney really grasped things at the root. He flew, he painted, he died.

Barney was rad!

Shawn "Barney" Barron really grasped life at the root. So let's celebrate his art, his airs, his fever!

Yesterday the surfing world woke to a bummer: Shawn “Barney” Barron had passed away at 44.

Barney’s exploits – documented in shakey, lo-fi glory in Josh Pomer’s The Kill series, and especially some of Volcom’s early masterpiece –  were something to behold.

Honestly, do you remember how radical Stoney Baloney was when it premiered? Or fucking Magnaplasm? Remember his barrel roll attempts or his throw away back flips? Were they actually called Barney flips?

Barney, along with a young Bruce Irons, was the face of Volcom for the brand’s infant years. Pre-Ozzy Wright, Barney was Volcom’s weirdo artist/air guy, his surreal, cartoony paintings featuring occasionally in Volcom’s campaigns.

We could look forward to him mugging for the camera for Hotline in every Wetsuit Preview Surfer ever did or to him ripping in in those epic Spiderman wetsuits, punting airs at the Lane, getting slotted all around Santa Cruz’s Westside reefs and slabs and mysto spots.

Of course with Barney, like virtually the entirety of his Westside crew, there were always rumours of something gone awry – stories of excess, stories of doomed, desperate darkness amid the playfulness of his persona.

Though he hasn’t been as present in the surf world in recent years he did put out a few goofball episodes of Barney Barron Web-TV! in 2013, which were basically clips of him doing airs and weird, radical grab-rail cutbacks, then talking nonsense into a microphone…

Barney died Tuesday, at his home, after a “23-year-old woman who lived at [Barney’s] home… went outside to an area between the home and an in-law unit, and saw Barron on the ground.”

He wasn’t breathing.

Here’s some reminder’s of Barney’s bouncy, boyish brilliance:

From Josh Pomer’s The Kill 4 (Click here) 

The first episode of Barney Barron Web-TV! (Click here) 

A few peeks at his art and lifestyle. (Click here).



Makua Rothman
Makua Rothman, middle, flanked by Chilean Ramon Navarro on his left and squishy Cristian Merello (also Chilean) on the right.

Why the WSL shut down Chile’s Guerrilla Webcast

Smart biz sense or corpo thuggery?

After much hype regarding the size and quality of surf predicted for the first event of the 2015 BWWT, the surf world was treated to a last-minute back-pedal from the WSL.

In the days leading up to the event it was quickly and quietly announced via press release that the event would not be streamed live due to technical limitations created by the Chilean internet infrastructure. Instead surf fans would be treated to an exciting series of numbers designating scores which would be posted live sans context, commentary, or visual medium. It was a bold move on the part of the WSL, retaining all the excitement inherent in watching numbers change, but removing the unnecessary distraction of actually watching people surf.

Meanwhile, a crew of Chilean sports broadcasters gave lie to the notion of their country’s technological inadequacy, setting up beach front and preparing to stream the event to the “legions” of surf fans scouring the internet for an event stream they’d been expecting but was, curiously, no where to be found.

And, thus, internet controversy was born. The Chilean stream was shut down as the event began and the first event of the 2015 BWWT unfolded with only local eyes watching. (In case you were wondering, Makua won.)

I reached out to Carlos Gallardo, director and host of the Chilean TV program Via de Escape, the broadcasters muscled out by the WSL, to get his take on the whole shebang.

(The following has been edited for length and translated using online resources and my own somewhat rudimentary Spanish skills.  Polyglot readers can view the unedited Spanish text here:)

“We were surprised that this year’s WSL decided not to transmit the event, appealing to geographical impossibilities and technical complications that do not really go beyond the lack of a stable internet signal in the competition area, an issue that can be solved with money, which they do not lack. Since there are many people interested in watching the ceremony live, and no one was going to broadcast it, I decided to invest our time, effort and money as a company to carry out the transmission of a special program of Via de Escape from the ceremonial, this clearly being an independent and unrelated to the WSL broadcast.

“We arrived at 7am, and began installing our system in a roadside in the area of Punta de Lobos. We began broadcasting at 9:00 am, telling what was happening and mainly showing waves, giving the information to each time the first heat was delayed, and interviewing competitors (Mark Monteiro and Gabriel Villarán) just before paddling out.

“… A few minutes before noon, as I was interviewing spectators, the general producer of the event, Carlos Ferrer (a surfer and personal friend of mine), appeared with a look of despair telling me that we would have to immediately cut transmission because  it put at risk the event and he would be suspended by order of the Chief Executive Officer of the WSL.

“I did not immediately agree to stop the transmission, expecting some convincing explanation, and telling Carlos that he could not stop transmission without giving an explanation for the more than 12,000 people were connected at the time. I then agreed to end it, but not before explaining on screen what was happening. It was never my intention to cause any problems to the development of the event, nor cause problems to my friends who were hired by the WSL to produce the event.

“In the meantime they called the police who were there for the event itself, who did nothing but ask what was going on and say that the issue was not major and as they know me personally and know that I am a television host who specializes in these sports and am always my job on this and other events. Well there came two characters from the WSL demanding that I end transmission and leave.  Seeing that the situation was becoming tense and my friends could be hurt, I decided to stop transmitting but not without giving explanations of what happened to the public on screen, both in Spanish and English.

“After that the situation grew like a snowball without us to give context… the rest of the story has continued being written through feedback from fans who have repudiated the attitude of the WSL. For our part we still have doubts to the legality or the rights they have over what happens in our sea. The only thing that made me stop transmitting, I repeat, was our friendship that I have with the organization and not wanting to harm the event, and perhaps what they can appeal is that, despite being a public place, the organization had asked for permission to restrict access and produce the event.

“Now if you ask my opinion, I can only say that we are the television program with more experience, track record and credibility in our country and we will continue spreading sports and events that are important to the Chileans and the world. And with respect to the rights, Chile’s beaches are free for all Chileans, and I obviously disagree with this censorship. I only try to explain because perhaps we caused a big problem of credibility to the WSL, since they reported that they could not transmit the event due to technical limitations because of geography of the event, while a local television team with limited resources was able to  make a transmission with only the desire and the love we have for this sport, demonstrating that could be done. Turning to the facts and no desire to continue arguing we even offered provide our technical resources to carry out an official transmission late Thursday and Friday, to which they ultimately did not agree.

“We deeply regret the situation, which could have been beneficial to all but ended in controversy. I repeat, our intention was always to make Via de Escape as we always do, but this time live through our website and never an official transmission, because we as a program we have our own style and our own sponsors who accompany us always. Which was the real reason that caused the trouble and caused the WSL to make the decision is the issue of them. We have our editorial line, our people who follow us and want to now more than ever to continue working on broadcast pro sports in our country and the world through our program UCVTV (the first open channel TV Chile) and our website 

This is hardly the first time the WSL has tried to lock down images stemming from events. Early last year Pete “Joli” Wilson spoke out against a, since rescinded, policy that stated that any event images taken by those with media credentials would be the property of the then ASP tour. 

Undoubtedly WSL apologists will find justifications for the corporate thuggery the tour is employing to protect their “intellectual property.” The only real way to profit from professional surfing is to monetize its images, and a tour that fails to generate a profit is will be, eventually, shit-canned by those hoping to wring an income from it.  And you’ll never see the NHL, NFL, NBA, or MLB allow anyone but themselves to broadcast footage of events.

But the WSL faces a real problem in the fact that the differences in venue spell trouble when it comes to claiming ownership rights.

While the vast majority of professional sports take place on private property and allow owners to dictate who and what is shown, surfing utilizes public resources to generate a profit for private individuals.

In order to run an event the WSL desperately needs the cooperation of the local population, and their heavy handed tactics have already led to the loss of the Dungeons event (Click here for “WSL Gets Slapped Out of South Africa”) after the Cape Big Wave Trust decided to shut them out.

With the animosity currently being exhibited towards the WSL by Chilean locals there seems to be a real chance the 2015 Ceremonial may end up a one off event.

Click on the play button to watch the comically shitty finals video.

WSL: “Suck it, haters! But let’s also hug!”

I love the smell of Molly in the morning...

Remember when I used to make fun of the World Surf League for being super poor and super cheap? Well those days might be over! In the past two weeks Speaker and co. have unveiled two major deals with such adjectival flair!

The first is with almost luxury watch company Tag Heuer (pronounced like Josh Hoyer) who signed on as “The Official Timekeeper of the Big Wave Tour.” This move is slightly strange because our inside source says that the WSL is trying to outright kill the BWT but whatever, right? Money is money is money!

Tag Hoyer will use the tagline #dontcrackunderpressure and push out Tweets and Instas to the #kids in #newportbeach and #notjacksonvilleflorida. WSL CEO Paul Speaker issued an ecstatic press release. “When the WSL acquired the Big Wave Tour and Big Wave Awards, we believed it was an opportunity to elevate some of THE MOST INSPIRING SPORTSMEN ON THE PLANET and their PASSIONS to a bigger stage. This elevation has not only seen a SURGE IN ATTENTION to this INCREDIBLE SPORT but has also provided the League with the opportunity to partner with WORLD-CLASS ENTITIES. We’re THRILLED to announce TAG Heuer as the Official Timekeeper of Big Wave surfing…”

The second is with iconic auto brand Jeep. As of today, Jeep is the official car of the WSL and naming rights partner of both the men’s and women’s tour. This means the Samsung Galaxy Men’s World Tour will now maybe be called the Samsung Galaxy Jeep Grand Cherokee Men’s World Super Tour Feat. Tiesto and DJ Snake. Paul Speaker, once again, seems over the moon, saying, “The WSL is a sport built on the back of the PIONEERING, PROGRESSIVE and INNOVATIVE spirit and it is this common DNA that we share with the iconic Jeep brand. Coming off a RECORD-SETTING 2014, the sport of professional surfing has NEVER BEEN IN A STRONGER POSITION, in and out of the water. We are HUMBLED and GRATIFIED that a brand with the UMPARALLELED HERITAGE and authenticity of Jeep shares our vision for the WSL.”

It is unclear, at this early stage, if both the Tag Hoyer and Jeep deals were finalized in the Sahara Tent at Coachella. It is unconfirmed that balloons filled with nitrous oxide were floating within easy reach. There is also no evidence, as of yet, if the MDMA was in liquid or tablet form. Stay tuned!