Surf rage is so the rage II

In this second round, Rory Parker serves up an ethnic melange worthy of UFC. Ding ding! Now that's the sound of entertainment...

The first fight I remember taking part in happened around the corner from Newport Heights Elementary School a few minutes after the final bell rang.

I was in third grade, a newly enrolled student facing the grind of assimilating into one of the ravenous packs of jackals that comprise childhood social structure. I was having a tough go of it, identifying and conforming to the rough and ready norms and mores embraced by the various naturally forming cliques was proving elusive. My Airwalk sneakers were lame, all the cool kids wore black Vision Street Wear hi tops.

It seemed unfair. To my mind I was a shy and bookish kid who just wanted to make a few friends. In truth I was more than a little obnoxious. Too smart for my own good, with a tendency, never unlearned, to voice whatever comment was currently running through my head. Then, as now, that comment was all too often either rude, cutting, inappropriate, or some combination of the three.

My opponent was one Ben Dover. I have no idea if that was his actual surname, I imagine not. He was in special education, sharing time with us at recess but spending his time learning in a trailer parked next to the baseball diamond. He was a friendly, happy kid. Due to whatever learning disability he grappled with, he was openly referred to as a “retard” in a way that was, in retrospect, viciously cruel, though totally acceptable by late nineteen eigthies standards.

I don’t remember why we were fighting. I suspect that one of the “cool” kids had decided we must, and told everyone during lunch that we would, and by the third grade laws of social pressure we were then required to. I definitely didn’t have a problem with Ben. I didn’t even know him, really.

At 2:45 the bell rang, and we were released into the surrounding neighborhood. Some kids had parents waiting to pick them up, but more commonly we were trusted to navigate our own ways home.

We were around the corner shortly, out of the eyesight of any teachers or administrators. A circle of taunting, gibbering, lunatics formed, with Ben and me at the center. The battle was on.

I shoved him first, he shoved me back. I don’t remember what I said, but it must have been mean. He started crying and tackled me to the ground.

I had assumed, because he was a “retard,” that I could take him. I don’t know why. He was bigger than me, ruddily healthy in the way that slightly slow, but physically strong, people often are, while I was a short, slight, tow headed little grommet. He pinned me down and shook me, not sure how, or not willing to, inflict any actual damage. It wasn’t long before I realized I’d lost and stopped struggling.

Ben let me go, stood up, and the moment he turned his back I kicked him in the ass as hard as I could. He went sprawling, face first, on the concrete, then lie there crying. He didn’t get back up.

I’d won. I was crying and shaking and victorious when I heard an unidentified voice behind speak up in a tone that was impressively sarcastic, for one so young.

“Yeah, Rory, good job on making the retard cry.”


The US Open is such a delightful clusterfuck. Since the days it was called the OP Pro and people burnt shit, up until it became the venue of choice for drunken inlander store window smashing, it’s been a guaranteed source of drama and hijinks. The waves may suck, and you may be forced to park three miles away, but I urge everyone who gets the chance to spend a day enmeshed in the branded exercise in borderline anarchy and child nudity that is Huntington Beach’s yearly WQS10000 event.

1. You’d have to be an idiot to take a swing at Kainoa McGee.
2. What’s with Kala’s beanie?
3. My lawyer wife thinks the dude who got beat should have sued Kainoa, Kala, the company that runs water patrol, and the event sponsor. But of course she does, that’s her job.

I can’t place these kids’ accents. Are they Aussies, Kiwis, South Africans? Anyway, watching kids fight is great, I wish there was a youth boxing circuit nearby so I could do it regularly.

I’d be really hesitant to fight anyone in Hawaii. MMA and joo jeetsoo are just too popular, you never know who’s spent years training to rip people’s limbs off. These guys don’t look like they’ve spent much time in the gym, but the tall dude’s relaxed and nonchalant style makes it pretty clear this ain’t the first time he’s fought someone in a parking lot.

It’s during moments like these, when tempers flare and passion rules, that surfing almost becomes a sport. Otherwise it’s just a bunch of hippies playing in the water and talking about how much they all love each other during post heat interviews.

No peace at Pipeline by glide64

I hope you enjoyed this installment. Until next time, enjoy watching this little butterball totally lose his shit.

Sally Fitzgibbons
An electric smile, abs you could grate cricket balls on and the most bewitching of accents. Wait, and tan lines! What's not to love?

WSL tips a sexist hand?


Current reporting states that the WSL is making moves towards moving the start date of the men’s Fiji Pro forward a few days in order to catch a “phenomenal” swell scheduled to hit Cloudbreak this Friday. That’s nice. Nothing would suck more than another tedious series of lay days followed by guys three-to-the-beaching it in junk surf.

The only problem, Friday is the final day of the women’s event. With the ladies constantly playing second banana to their penis bearing counterparts due to overlapping waiting periods this might’ve been an opportunity to display their skills in honest to god A+ quality barreling surf. Of course, that presupposes that the WSL sees the women’s division as a legitimate sport with world-class athletes, rather than some half-assed sideshow they’re obligated to maintain to stave off feminist indignation.

Today’s decision to run the final day of the girls’ deal in crumbly onshore slop makes the WSL’s stance pretty damn clear. The women aren’t good enough surfers to deserve truly good surf. Even if they somehow luck into it, it’ll just be ripped from their grasp and handed to the men.

I wonder how the girls will feel come Friday, as they watch guys get pitted off their gourds in six-foot Cloudbreak. Will it bother them? Will they rage against the injustice of the situation? Will they ponder their place in an industry that largely portrays them as sex objects unworthy of the respect due any truly talented waterperson?

Or will they heave a sigh of relief?

Kelly Slater at Cloudbreak.
Kelly Slater at Cloudbreak. Like cream with your peach!

Interview: Ross Williams on Filipe, Kelly, Fiji!

The WSL's gun commentator analyses the tour at its mid point… 

I have never heard talk come more naturally or casually than from the mouth of Mr Ross Williams, the 43-years-old WSL commentator, and one-time tour habitué.

It has none of the tautness or deadly care that is the in the speech of his contemporaries. He is devil-may-care. He gets in an easy rhythm and he saws without cease.

The Fiji Pro, men’s division, starts in one week. I was compelled to ask Ross his opinion of what lies ahead. The following interview was made over email, which I usually hate, but which I had no choice since Ross is in Fiji and I’m in the Mentawai Island with only the smallest sliver of phone reception. Satellite internet, on the other hand (three grand a month on my vessel) was decent.

Picture yourself as the meat in this vocally inspiring sandwich. Such fun!
Picture yourself as the meat in this vocally inspiring sandwich. Such fun!

And, therefore, we begin…

BeachGrit: I was thrilled to hear from you again. I don’t what it is, or maybe I do (such zest!), but your commentary enlivens the game!  With Fiji about to boil, I do want to ask these questions. First, is Filipe, this year, the most exciting thing you’ve ever seen? Did your heart explode in Brazil when he ran down the line and punched out the ten? 

Ross: Filly is surfing out of his mind right now. The performance he put on in Brazil was radical on its own but if you think about the fact that he’s been displaying that level all the way back from the Goldie, shows me that he can sustain this circus act for the entire year. Fiji, Tahiti and Hawaii will be places where his act gets diluted a bit but I think he could definitely muster up decent results in heavier waves as well. In my opinion, he will have a shot come Pipe time to win the title.

BeachGrit: If you were still in the pro game, what would be your strategy against the kid? 

Ross: I’d personally just try to draw attention away from the airs with throwing spray. Especially in non beachbreak venues. Nothing anyone can do in rippable beachies.

BeachGrit: Fiji is a diff game to Brazil, and to Snapper and Bells and Margarets, for that matter. Four foot and under, who are the favourites?

Ross: For Cloudbreak? I’d say ADS (Adriano de Souza) and Gabriel. When it’s smaller out there they are really tough to beat.

BeachGrit: Six feet and over, who would you sling your cash on? 

Ross: Kelly, JJ (who’s out, anyway) and Owen are big favorites when it’s heavy at CB.

BeachGrit: Overall, who thrills you to watch at Cloudbreak? 

Ross: Kelly reads that wave better than anyone. He draws super aggressive lines and always maxes out the tube time with his positioning.

BeachGrit: If it moves to Restaurants, what’s your call on event favs? 

Ross: Still Kelly, but I think the goofies will be stoked, as the waves can be tricky to find the right pace.

BeachGrit: Last time, we spoke about your gun phrases, event-specific phrases you dress a contest up with. What’s on the griddle for Fiji? 

Ross: All my little cheeky phrases just pop in my head at random. Most times I’m just as surprised as the people listening. Ha!

BeachGrit: The riddle of Kelly in 2015. Thrown out in terrible conditions, languishing in the middle of the tour ratings. What do you see? What are your thoughts? 

Ross: I think Kelly will be heavily energized if he wins this event. If he gets another poor result in Fiji it could really force him to check out mentally in terms of competing on tour. His surfing is on-point and still more than relevant on tour. No one would be surprised if he wins the next three events.

Scandal: Surfing Magazine outsourced?

Has yet another American institution been shipped to foreign shores?

Factory Part: Evan Geiselman from SURFING Magazine on Vimeo.

As near as I can tell, Surfing Magazine has moved their most important people (besides Pete Taras) to Bali and set up what they call “The Factory.” There filmers film, editors edit, shooters shoot and 2-3 sessions are cranked into full video parts with delightful frequency. Look at Evan G. in the clip above. Look at him flare and have fun and be cute etc. etc. Nice, no? A gorgeously simple 2 minute plus break in your day.

But Surfing‘s “The Factory” begs a larger question. How expendable will Surfing Magazine‘s most important people be in Bali? Let us be, frankly and coldly, honest. American businesses have become very rich by cutting costs and expanding margins at the expense of the talented drone. Computer work gets outsourced to India, manufacturing to China, farming to Mexico. And I will get right to the point. Are the overlords at Surfing outsourcing content production to Bali?

I was just kidding about it being a scandal. It would be smart. Anyone can do this line of work. Literally anyone. But look at Evan’s dreamy turn!

Lance's Rights Mentawai Islands
A real pretty photo of the wave called Lance's Rights, the most sought after, or at least most highly populated, wave in the Mentawai Islands. | Photo: Uge/Aquabumps

10 Crazy Things You Didn’t Know About the Mentawais!

Waves that disappear, salt-water crocs and an upcoming apocalypse! Come to the Mentawais before it all goes to hell!

It’s a surf-photo studio, these pretty little islands halfway along the Sumatran coast, neither west nor east. Their proximity to the equator, one-and-half degrees off it in most places, means y’get, mostly, desultory winds and, in season, roaring south swells, coming all the way from the tip of South Africa.

But I wonder, how much do you know about these islands that fill our magazines, that decorate our websites and provide the promotional material for every surf co and colour all performance surf films?

Did you know, for instance…

1. Doomsday approaches!

Geologists believe we have 150-year earthquake cycles. And the Mentawais are at the epicentre of the Pacific Ring of Fire where tectonic plates meet. It’s an even chance there’ll be a monster rumble within 30 years; something that’ll make the quake of 2009 look like a kid’s  party. Plenty of villagers got the message when the Boxing Day and Nias tsunamis went down a decade ago and moved shop into the hills thus surviving 2009’s quake.

2. But not the village at Greenbush

You know Greenbush? Craig Ando, Damo Hobgood, etc, riding the most picturesque of lefthand barrels? There used to be a village of 200 people right there. They got… swatted in the 2009 tsunami. The village evaporated. An entire community wiped out. Go there now and it looks like a steamroller drove through the jungle.

3. Boat SOP for surviving a tsunami

When the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004 killed quarter of a million people in 14 countries and sunk hundreds of boats, an English sailor-surveyor was in Aceh, got his boat off anchor and climbed … just… over the tsunamis. What did he learn? That you need to anchor in a minimum of seven metres of water to have a chance of survival and you need to have some kinda quick-release on your anchor. Good boats will anchor… deep. Fifteen metres or more .

4. Salt-water crocs and orcas too!

Rare in the open ocean, but it happens. They live in the estuaries that meander up the islands. If you wanna buy one, and who doesn’t, go to the right village and they’ll get you a baby for a couple of hundred thousand rupiah. Keep him on chain. Feed chicken. Little pods of orcas come by every season too (impossible to catch or buy).

5. The waves disappear!

Every time the tectonic plates shift, reefs move upwards, in feet, not inches. Back in ’91 Martin Daly took Pottz and Tom Carroll to a monster lefthander. When a quake a decade later hit, the reef moved five feet. Gone. Happens all over the chain. It’s called “uplift.” Waves appear; waves disappear.

6. Illegal logging is mostly over

Illegal logging was rife forever in the Mentawais. Who didn’t want some of that gorgeous Sumatran lumber? Then, two years ago, the governor of the Mentawais got sprung with $17 million in his account and was slapped in chains. Since he split, the logging has stopped.

7. Jamie O’Brien keeps a container at Lance’s Left

It contains SUPs, a jet-ski and a mother lode of surfboards. He visits a lot with his guy pals.

8. Locals won’t stay at the Bumi Minang Hotel in Padang

In the 2009 earthquake, it was pancaked. Hundreds of westerners died. Locals say it is haunted by the ghosts of all those poor souls and refuse to go there. One skipper I spoke to said he saw dozens of bodies being stacked like cord wood.

9. Overcrowding is hitting a critical mass

At least it is around the Playgrounds area, home to the well-known waves Rifles, Bank Vaults, E-Bay, Nokanduis etc. There’s at least seven resorts, various boats and innumerable home stays. Thirty people in the water? It ain’t rare. Who wants to fly, drive, fly, sail, and squat in a crowd?

10. It’s mostly Christian

Did you know that in this vast archipelago, the greatest and most wonderful concentration of muslims in the world, that the Mentawais is… Christian? Gorgeous little infidels right here in Allah’s paw! Turns out the missionaries were the only ones who could give enough of a damn to trek through the jungles and build and pay for infrastructure. The biggest structure, therefore, in this chain is a church. The payback is the Mentawais don’t receive the kind of government funding as, say, the nearby Telo islands where Islam dominates.