Culture: You really know you’re a surfer when… 

It's the dumb quirks that bind us together… 

The diversity! Everyone surfs, or at least, talks about it.

From the televisions that adorn our living rooms walls to highway billboards and shrieking cinema advertising, it’s surf, surf, surf!

But there’s a surfer and there’s a surfer. There’s the once-a-monther with his polished log that he carefully straps onto the roof of his SUV, who covers his nudity with a poncho, has bottled water in the back of his whip to remove sand, who wouldn’t know a Filipe Toledo from a Julian Wilson, and then there’s, I’m guessing, people like you and me.

We live for the minutiae of a sport that, realistically, consists of 10 five-second rides per two-hour session. But, still, we adore the tour, the often pointless changes in board design, the fads, the names, the kings and the queens.

And, therefore, let me list, below, the five characteristics of the modern surfer.

1. We hold our breath at work

Lately, every big-wave surfer, and even some small-wavers like Kolohe Andino who are currently climbing the rungs of credibility in juice, have taken to apnea training. Breath holding. Deliberately giving yourself the shakes just so you can stay underwater a little longer, therefore making you able to survive, I don’t know, 10-foot Cloudbreak? One tip the best free-divers will give you is to practise breath-holding at your work desk. I know half-a-dozen surfers who’ll practise it half-a-dozen times in a morning. A couple have even woken up at their desk having tripped the wire of consciousness.

2. We care about the sponsorship deals of millionaire athletes

Just recently, I finished working in an office where for hours, over years, everyone discussed, gravely, pro surfer sponsorships. Was the surfer under discussion being paid enough, we wondered? How would they make it last into their dotage?

I remember the concerned shaking of heads when Bobby Martinez stopped getting stickers and 50-grand a month cheques and the hesitation when we learned Quiksilver wouldn’t be resigning Kelly, whose property portfolio spans the globe.

Did it matter that the surfers made more in two weeks that most of the office made in a year or that our own situations were far more perilous than there’s would ever be?

3. We own too many boards

What other sport requires only a sturdy pair of legs, some kind of modesty protection and a $700 piece of equipment? And so we buy too many of ’em. And it defines us and it defines us to the non-surfers who swing into our houses and say things like, “You really do have a lot of surfboards.”

4. Our optimism is organic

Why wouldn’t it be? One clean turn, one in-and-out head-dip and there isn’t a problem in the world that can’t be stomped on. Meditation, yoga, therapy, it don’t even come close.

5. We don’t do “inland.” 

Whether it’s international travel or setting up a crib, we never, ever, budge from our coastline perches. Yeah, it retards our cultural experiences. Yeah, we miss a lot of terribly exciting things.

But in a life that might be 25,000 days, if we’re lucky, who’s got the time to traipse the Macchu Pichu trail?

WSL CBS Sports Network
WSL joins Global Force Wrestling and Round Rock Express on CBS Sports Network! Which is easy enough to ridicule, but if you got the channel (and hence you're in the US) you'll get splashed with highlight packs you may or may not've already seen on

Legitimacy: WSL Signs with CBS Sports Network!

Mainstream America, here comes the pro surfing juggernaut!

Did you know that ABC was broadcasting hour long wrap ups of WSL events as part of their World of X-Games series?  Neither did I, which I shameful since I’m sure I could have found a way to make fun of it.

Lucky for me, our surf table comp tour has recently managed to reach a deal with CBS television, and together they plan to air a bunch of stuff:

“The programming, which begins today, Tuesday, July 28 with the Quiksilver and Roxy Pro Gold Coast Men’s and Women’s double-header, continues through January and includes 20 two-hour episodes featuring coverage of the Semifinals and Finals from each Championship Tour event, as well as a special presentation of the Vans U.S. Open of Surfing, a nine-day event recognized as the largest professional sports competition and action sports festival in the world, on Saturday, Aug. 1 (9:00 PM, ET) and Sunday, Aug. 2 (9:00 PM, ET).”

But we won’t be seeing surfing on network TV anytime soon, not unless shark attacks become a trend. The WSL scored airtime on CBS Sports Network, formally the National College Sports Network, a channel I didn’t know existed until this morning.

(As an aside, here’s a collection of mainstream sports meltdowns)

I haven’t owned a TV in years, though, so it’s not like I’m really keyed in to all the goings on in the televised world.

In fact, I’m always a little surprised to see that people still have cable subscriptions at all. I originally let mine lapse after my move to Hawaii, where it quickly became apparent that I wouldn’t be able to afford those types of luxuries until I got my act together.

Over the ensuing years internet piracy technology got so good that cable became unnecessary. Why pay money for something I can steal for free?

But God bless the kind hearted chumps who do.  Someone has to shell out for content.

Anyway… good for the WSL! This is a type of legitimacy. Maybe they can negotiate a lucrative AM radio contract to round out the whole media blitz.

Program here!

Samsung Galaxy WSL Championship Tour on CBS Sports Network schedule:

– Tuesday, July 28, 10 p.m ET – Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast (Gold Coast, Australia)
– Tuesday, July 28, 12 midnight ET – Roxy Pro Gold Coast (Gold Coast, Australia)
– Saturday, August 1 and Sunday, August 2, 9 p.m. ET – Vans U.S. Open of Surfing (Huntington Beach, California, USA)
– Tuesday, August 4, 11 p.m. ET – Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach (Bells Beach, Australia)
– Tuesday, August 11, 11 p.m. ET – Rip Curl Women’s Pro Bells Beach (Bells Beach, Australia)
– Tuesday, August 18, 11 p.m. ET – Drug Aware Margaret River Pro (Margaret River, Australia)
– Tuesday, August 25, 10 p.m. ET – Drug Aware Margaret River Women’s Pro (Margaret River, Australia)
– Tuesday, August 25, 12 midnight ET – Oi Rio Pro (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
– Tuesday, September 1, 11 p.m. ET – Oi Rio Women’s Pro (Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil)
– Thursday, September 10, 9 p.m. ET – Fiji Pro (Tavarua/Namotu, Fiji)
– Thursday, September 17, 9 p.m. ET – Fiji Women’s Pro (Tavarua/Nomotu, Fiji)
– Thursday, September 24, 9 p.m. ET – J-Bay Open (Jeffreys Bay, South Africa)
– Thursday, October 1, 9 p.m. ET – Billabong Pro Tahiti (Teahupoo, Taiarapu, Tahiti)
– Thursday, October 8, 9 p.m. ET – Hurley Pro at Trestles (Trestles, California, USA)
– Thursday, November 12, 9 p.m. ET – Swatch Women’s Pro Trestles (Trestles, California, USA)
– Thursday, November 19, 9 p.m. ET – Cascais Women’s Pro (Cascais, Portugal)
– Thursday, November 26, 9 p.m. ET – Quiksilver Pro France (Landes, South West France)
– Thursday, December 3, 7:30 p.m. ET – Roxy Pro France (Landes, South West France)
– Thursday, December 10, 8 p.m. ET – Moche Rip Curl Pro Portugal (Peniche/Cascais, Portugal)
– TBD – Maui Women’s Pro (Honolua Bay, Maui, Hawaii)
– TBD – Billabong Pipe Masters (Banzai Pipeline, Oahu, Hawaii)


Surfing North Korea
For $US2400, which is awfully cheap when you think about it, y'can jump on a trip to North Korea aimed at opening up the top half of that wonderful peninsula to surfers!

Amazing: North Korea Opens for Surf Tourism!

You want to cast off into the wildest of yonders? Come surf right in the dictator's lair! Ain't it just a movie waiting to happen?

Indonesia’s passé, Fiji is crowded and Hawaii, who needs the headache! If exotic is your game, how about you join a surf expedition to what is affectionately called “the hermit kingdom” or, officially, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

This September, a New Jersey-based travel company that specialises in trips to North Korea, Uri Tours, is “launching an 8-day surf camp and expedition for a chance to surf the virgin waves of North Korea.”

You like? Let’s read the press release!

“The surf expedition is led by Nik Zanella, official representative of the International Surfing Association and current coach of the Chinese National Surf Team and Andrea Lee, Uri Tours Founder and CEO. The team has been tracking waves and weather patterns along the eastern coast of North Korea for over a year. And the results are promising. ‘The pristine beaches and rocky outcrops of the Hamhung and Sijung area receive a decent amount of swells from a 90 degrees easterly window,’ according to Zanella, who has just completed a 5-year long mapping project of the entire Chinese coast. ‘The DPRK has all of the ingredients for an excellent surf adventure, great surf bathymetry, good exposure and pristine beaches.’ But virtually nothing is known about these areas except for satellite images. ‘Our goal is to cast some light on this coastline, search for the waves, map them and, of course, surf them,’ says Zanella.

surfing North Korea
Potential? “Virtually nothing is known about these areas except for satellite images. Our goal is to cast some light on this coastline, search for the waves, map them and, of course, surf them,” says expedition leader Nik Zanella.

Want to go? I do!

“The trip is from September 13-20, 2015 and priced at US$2,400. Package includes airfare from Shanghai, DPRK visas, sightseeing and all accommodations. Deadline August 28.”


Andrea Lee

Uri Tours [email protected]

+1 (201) 588-3874


Mesmerising: shooting pretty girls underwater!

With the one and still-only Ted Grambeau… 

If you’ve ever been pulled into Ted Grambeau’s orbit you would’ve found a technically brilliant photographer with the eye of a master.

I’ve known Ted since I first swung into the surf mag game and, back then, it was rare to ever find Ted at home. From the early days in Indonesia to West Africa and Micronesia, Ted was a pioneer of the best sort. He never named. He never trampled the places he came to shoot.

Ted is a photographer in the style of Cartier-Bresson, his favourite as it happens, whose life goal goes beyond money (he has none) but to create images that… speak.

“Photography is a way of sharing your experiences but through your own creative signature,” he says. “And that’s why I love Henri Cartier-Bresson and Sebastian Selgado. They capture real moments and they have their signatures all over it.”

In between all the travel, however, Ted quietly developed his fashion game. Surf co’s and whoever else hired him and without any kind of histrionics he… nailed… their shoots.

All those great Alana Blanchard shots? Yeah, it’s Ted.

His style isn’t studio couture, although this he can nail with his eyes shut, but revolves around water and the movement of the sun.

Lately, he’s been working on a fashion series shot entirely underwater and using the fine-art artillery of Danish Phase One camera backs.

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Watch Ted in action here. And you must follow his IG (click here) and email if you want to say hi, or buy, or learn. [email protected]

Dolphin and Hot Girl
"I've no particular love for dolphins," says Rory Parker. "They're definitely impressive creatures, but intelligence-wise I've always considered them to be, essentially, thousand pound ocean monkeys. Like monkeys, or apes I guess, they're about as intelligent as a particularly stupid teenager. Which is to say not very intelligent at all. And, like monkeys and teenagers, they're kind of rapey, and their total lack of any notion of consequence makes them more than a little terrifying."

Wow: When dolphins attack humans!

They rapey and neurotic too… 

The Hilton Waikoloa on Hawaii’s Big Island is a tourist trap par excellenceTotally self-contained, far removed from the surrounding civilization, it creates a captive audience then proceeds to suck their wallets dry.

I was able to score a free three day stay a while back, piggybacking onto my wife’s work trip so I could get drunk poolside while she spent all day locked in a small room digging through piles of financial documents. The hotel had been stealing their employees tips and she was there gathering info for the class action lawsuit her firm had filed.

I’d shipped over my spear gear from Oahu. Big Island has absolutely amazing diving, due in part to near-shore edges that drop straight into the abyss, luring in deep-water prey and removing the unpleasant necessity of a half-mile swim to reach decent depth.

I realized within minutes of check-in that I hadn’t really thought things through. Our room lacked a kitchen, I wouldn’t even be able to cook anything I caught. Oh well, I’d just go shoot at roi (an invasive grouper) and enjoy the view.

Shortly after unpacking my gear there was a knock on the door. Two security guards stood in the hall. The bellhop had apparently told someone I was planning on spearfishing in front of the hotel and, possibly because I was a member of a party looking to drop legal damage on the business, that was a problem.

“We heard you have a speargun with you?”

“Yeah, so?”

“You’re not allowed to have spearguns at the hotel.”

“Says who?”

“It’s against the rules. We don’t allow guns in the hotel.”

“It’s not actually a gun, it’s an arbalete.”

“You’ll have to leave it at the front desk.”

“No.  If you want it you’re going to have to come take it.”

And that was that. Security guards can’t do shit, and they know it.

The next day, as I was ambling down to the rocks to jump in, another pair pulled up in their little cart.

“You’re not allowed to spearfish here.”

“Yes I am.”

“No, sorry, there’s no fishing allowed.”

“Yes there is. This isn’t a protected area.”

“It’s against hotel rules.”

“Sorry, the hotel doesn’t get to make rules about the ocean.”

I proceeded to do what I wanted, and the poor folks tasked with dealing with me had to go suck eggs.  I guess this isn’t that interesting of a story. It’s hard to capture the sweet adrenalin rush that comes with confrontation and pin it to the page.

I spent the balance of my trip sucking down overpriced blended drinks, trying to not get caught staring at the under-age, but legal in Hawaii, daughters cavorting carefree in the sun with hairless boys their age, which is less than half of mine, and tipping people off their rented SUP’s in the man-made lagoon.

With a decent breath hold and a pair of long fins you can creep up on someone underwater from quite a distance. Surfacing at their back, grabbing both rails, and flinging them overboard is a good time. Especially when your alcohol consumption has well numbed you to their sputtering indignation. I made one little kid cry when he fell in. Luckily, his mother thought it was just as funny as I did.

One of the Hilton Waikoloa’s big draws is their dolphin swim encounter. Guests pay good money to commune with the neurotic beasts.

I guess I should say, I’ve no particular love for dolphins. They’re definitely impressive creatures, but intelligence-wise I’ve always considered them to be, essentially, thousand pound ocean monkeys.

Like monkeys, or apes I guess, they’re about as intelligent as a particularly stupid teenager. Which is to say not very intelligent at all.

And, like monkeys and teenagers, they’re kind of rapey, and their total lack of any notion of consequence makes them more than a little terrifying.

That said, the whole dolphin situation was pretty depressing. The holding tanks are about the size of a largish backyard pool, and if you sit and watch them for a while you’ll see they spend their days swimming manically in a circle, periodically stopping to bite the shit out of each other.

In the larger tank next door groups of life jacketed pasties who’ve obviously never seen Blackfish stroke and coo over whichever lucky fish gets to stretch its fins for a moment.

I spent a few hours one afternoon getting fall down drunk on strawberry margaritas, trying unsuccessfully to buy drugs from the scummier looking hotel employees, and hoping against hope I’d get to witness some poor sap get drug underwater and thrashed to within an inch of his life by one of the captive cetaceans.

Not as any sort of karmic retribution for their spendthrift obliviousness, but just because I wanted to see some carnage.

The rest of that day is a blur. I vaguely remember smoking a joint with a group of kids from Hilo, then vomiting bright red into the bushes. I’m not sure how I found my way back to our room, but I was passed out face down in the nude when my wife found me.

Here are some of my favourite dolphin attack videos.

Dusty is a famous Irish dolphin who likes attacking the stupid pink things that are always bothering him.

What an awesome day this little girl had! Not only did she get to experience all the fun of a wild animal bite, she has video proof of her parents lying to her face. Oh the bittersweet nostalgia, that day you learn mom and dad are just as trustworthy as everyone else.

Oh, hey there, human. Having a nice swim? That’s great! Do me a favor, stay right there for a second. What am I doing? Oh nothing much, I was just curious whether I could break your neck with a flick of my tail. Oops, guess not!

I’m only an amateur dolphinologist, but all my research shows that most wild animals absolutely adore having dumb bitches jump on top of them. Not Dusty the dolphin, though. Here he is again giving some pink thing what for.

Hungry dolphins love being teased. Almost as much as they enjoy delivering stiff shots to the sternum.

Until next time, gaze in awe upon the birth of a child’s trust issues.