surf rage is so the rage!

Is there anything better than wipeouts? Yes.

I’m not proud of it, but I was in more than my fair share of fights when I was younger. If you’d asked me then I’d have sworn they were all justified, but if I’m being honest it was really all because I had a chip on my shoulder and pubescent levels of testosterone coursing through my veins. And also because I was a greasy little punk and no women would have sex with me.

In the decade and a half since I’ve only hit someone twice. The first time was an unfortunate mishap at a baby shower that I won’t delve into right now. The second involved me squaring off with the senior partner of my wife’s law firm in a Honolulu parking lot. I won that one, but the dude was in his sixties, so I feel like it deserves an asterisk.

On a related note, did you know you don’t have to hit an old man very hard to hurt him pretty badly?

While I’m not an advocate of using violence to solve problems, I do think that, sometimes, not often, you’re justified in delivery a stiff right to the center of someone’s big stupid mug. And I do enjoy watching other people fight, especially over surfing. It’s just such a stupid thing to come to blows over, watching two guys bash on each other over a totally inconsequential part of life puts a huge smile on my face.

El Porto is such a garbage spot. A shitty closeout 364 days a year, home to worst ten million freaks, boomers, egos, and assholes that LA has to offer. I just love how the guy throws his nice white …Lost on the ground before they go at it like two dudes who’ve watched a ton of UFC but never actually tried to translate their sweet mental karate into action.

Getting mad at a little kid is such wasted effort. The little shit can run his mouth at you, even take a swing at you, and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it. Because, if you try, Richie Collins is gonna come flying out of nowhere and kick your ass!

I take back what I wrote earlier about surfing always being a stupid thing to fight over. It’s a little more nuanced than that. For instance, I feel like Nathan Fletcher’s reaction in this clip is totally reasonable.

Thank the good lord for giving everyone video cameras, otherwise I’d never have seen a guy come pretty close to drowning a dude while two foot mush crumbles softly in the background.

There’s a moment in here when he realizes, “Oh shit, I’m way too old for this to end well for me.”

Remember, keep your chin down and your hands up and, until next time, here’s an old man falling down an escalator.

Art Brewer surf photo
Peel off $6200 for 12-days of personal surf photo instruction with the great Art Brewer! And you'll do it all in Sumba, that unspoiled little corner of Indonesia yet to be overrun by the barbarian west. | Photo: Art Brewer

Art Brewer’s 12-day surf photo school! In Sumba!

Have the secrets to surf photography unfurled before your eyes! By real-life icon!

Art Brewer, oowee, he good. Maybe all-time number one. Art owned the seventies, eighties, nineties in the American surf mags before splitting to do more lucrative commercial work, although his surf spirit still soars.

Y’ever see the book Bunker Spreckels: Surfing’s Divine Prince of Decadence on Taschen? That’s all Art’s work. He was Bunker’s personal photographer, y’see. Of course!

The Encyclopedia of Surfing has a lovely entry on Art, reproduced in part here.

“Brewer’s size (he once weighed nearly 300 pounds) and flaring temper, meanwhile, further suggested the idea of grand, even explosive creative talent. At times Brewer played on his aggression. Asked to supply a self-portrait for a 1997 portfolio, ‘this big elephant seal of a man,’ as described by surf journalist Evan Slater, provided a green-tinged face shot negative, jaggedly cut in two, then taped and stapled back together, with the handwritten caption: ‘Surf photography constipates me!'”

But also: “Brewer’s eye for color and framing is unmatched in the surf world, and much of his best work has been done as a portraitist, when he has unfettered control over light, texture, and mood.”

Which all leads into his on-location learn-to-take-surf-photos course on the Indonesia island of Sumba April 28 to May 9.  For $US6200 (excluding international airfares) you’ll shoot surf, water and boat, the sparkling indigenous community there as well as in-depth post-production instruction. Which, let’s face it, most photographers, suck at.

And it’s all wrapped up in a gorgeous, but very eco-aware resort.

As the tour operator Epic Photo Tours writes, “To spend 12 days shooting with Art Brewer will be a game changer. As long as you are a swimmer, you will be safe as we are providing a full support team to help you. If you are already a surf photographer, Art Brewer will take you to a new level.”

Sign up here. 

And see Art at work here.



Top surf photogs in online fight to death II

This time Jon Steele and Grant Ellis square off and we are the winners!

Jon Steele is a well-known surf photographer with stylish glasses and a keen eye. He has worked as a model. He has also gotten very angry at Surfer photo editor Grant Ellis. In a recent Instagram post he said, “Fuck grant ellis @grantellis1 and his ego fueled photo editor dictatorship! For the past 15 years I have been working to get Texas surfing into the magazine only to have him shoot the article himself and take money and work away from me. Congrats on being the shittiest photo editor ever!Take my name off the photographer mast head!!”

Why the anger? Jon Steele, you see, was born in San Antonio and reared in Corpus Christie. He spent the first half of his life surfing those Texas gulf oil tanker waves and if they were going to be shown to the world, he wanted to be the one to do it.

Surf photographers are very proprietary. If you want an angry email, post surf photos online without permission. Of course it all stands to reason. Their images are their currency. Their knowledge, connections, access are also their currency and Grant Ellis spent Jon Steele’s. Should Jon, though, have taken such a torch to Surfer’s office? Should he have burned a bridge? Probably. I once got fired from a restaurant job. I was a bus boy and moved as quickly as I could but it was, admittedly, slow. Once night the manager took me aside and told me that everyone else was in fifth gear and I was in second. I became so enraged that I went home, put my uniform in a brown paper bag, wrote cuss words inside, had my dad drive me to the restaurant and threw the bag at the door.

It is nice to see the fire from Jon and BeachGrit will be sure to bring you Grant’s response. I don’t know how the Surfer story looks, nor will I, because I am not 73 years old and don’t read Surfer. But fuck you Red Lion Coos Bay!

Brenden Newton on big wave by Ray Collins
"The lunatics with their little foam squares kept seeking out the shallowest, thickest hell waves the ocean had to offer," writes Rory Parker. "While hard-board surfers were struggling to learn the smallest of airs, 'spongers' were blasting huge rotating aerials over razor sharp reef. And all the terrible barneys, the type who gave bodyboarding a bad name? They went out and bought surfboards." The bodyboarder here Brenden Newton ain't rich from the game, at least in a cash sense. "If any group can lay claim to being free of corporate conformity, of being nothing more or less than a group of like minded individuals dedicated to fun and freedom and self expression, it is bodyboarders." | Photo: Ray Collins

It’s Here! The Pay-Per-View World Tour!

Uh, bodyboarding only. But still! Maybe the future.

Today marks the kick off of the very first event of the 2015 Free Surf World Tour, a bodyboard-only, video-based tournament that’s actually kind of cool.

Rather than go the traditional run-a-heat-and-make-the-guys-scrap-for-points format, the FSB is taking the purely social media route.

For $US4.99 a contest viewers are given access to the videos and allowed to vote on their favorites. Whoever gets the most votes, wins. It’s not a totally original format, there have been numerous video voting contests run, but this one could, potentially, spell actual money for competitors.

I think.

See, I first heard about the FSB about six months ago, then promptly forgot about it.

In the meantime they underwent a site redesign and some of the information I’m about to relay has been removed.

Or moved.

Whichever, I can’t find it. So the following is dredged from the depths of my drug-addled mind, making it of somewhat dubious reliability. But it might be totally factual. \Sometimes I surprise myself.

Anyway, it goes like this: twenty professional bodyboarders (plus an unspecified number of wildcards) have one month to submit minute-long clips which are voted on and ranked accordingly.

The twist is that voters pay $US4.99, per event, for the privilege of casting a vote, the proceeds of which are split among the riders.  The split goes: $1 to the company, $2 into the winner’s pot and $2 to whichever athlete got your vote.  It’s an innovative plan to get some money into riders hands, one that I like.

But not everything is perfect.

Their website still needs some work (Click here) , not a great thing for a web-based contest series, and the fact that everything is locked behind a pay wall from the get go isn’t very enticing.

Ideally they’d give the first away as a free trial, show that it’s a worthwhile concept to support, and begin charging with the next one. Though that would mean they’d have to pony up cash for the first event and it is bodyboarding.

There’s undoubtedly a ton of love behind the tour, but very little cash.

They need to take a second look at the name as well. It’s called the Free Surf World Tour, but promotional material repeatedly refers to it as the FSB, short for Free Surf Bodyboarding. It confused me, and I’m not totally retarded, so they’ll probably want to tighten things up a bit.

But it’s run regionally, which means guy are competing in the same swell window, eliminating a need to travel extensively. Which is great, since, again, I highly doubt these guys are making enough sponsorship dough to travel the world chasing swells. I could be wrong, but I doubt it.

But it’s a great idea and I really hope it works out for them. When everything ocean related is being commoditized and marketed at a break-neck pace it’s great that their weird little clan of belly sliders exists out their on the fringes, doing their own weird little thing.

Kelly Slater at Cloudbreak.
Kelly Slater at Cloudbreak. Like cream on your peach! | Photo: WSL

Kelly Slater’s Epic Cloudbreak Breakdown!

'Cause who else y'gonna ask?

Yeah, it’s a year old. But why not replay something if it’s going to bring a little exultance into your life? And, especially now, with the Fiji Pro (no naming sponsor! Yike), two weeks away.

As far as wave breakdowns go, this is as incisive as it is entertaining. Some of them I’ve seen are awful, dull as anything, superficial without any research, but Slater has given much thought to the problems of lineups and reefs and as he takes off from Tavarua and soars over the Cloudbreak reef.

We discover his favourite lineup (get your marks from the judging tour which stands year-round half-way up the reef and the mountain behind), the peculiarities of the reef as well as the best swell direction (205-215 degrees).