How to: put a little zing into your surf game!

Who doesn't want to get better, like, now… 

(Photo of DH at J-Bay by Steve Sherman)

You know it, oh god, yes you do. When you flick off a wave and you think… man… I just did the same turns and covered the same tracks as I did a year ago.

You can call it a rut or you can call it getting comfortable.

Whatever, it’s the fast track to boredom. It’s the first step in the decline of your surfing.

So how do we get back that feeling we used to have when every single wave presented a new and interesting canvas, when you’d go to bed at night dreaming of sections, dreaming of turns you’d never made but you knew you were close to nailing?

Here are five tips to turn your lazy ass around.

1. Get desperate

Remember Bells in 2014 when Jordy Smith needed a 9.97 to beat Julian Wilson in round five?  The scores are 17 to 12. It’s a massacre. He’s gotta surf the wave of his life to win the heat. No chance.

Forty seconds on the  clock and he strokes into a three-footer. No chance in hell is it a wave that offers a perfect score. But Jordy being Jordy, pumps down the line, finds a section and lays down a cutback that he sprinkles with the sugar of a rail held longer than usual.

Immediately he swings back up into the lip and throws the dial 180 degrees, foam climb, pump, four cutbacks into the shore break and a slightly-boned air reverse that he rides out of almost up into the Winkipop rocks. Three judges score it a 10, two don’t. Final result: 9.93.

He doesn’t win but it’s the perfect example of desperation’s enlivening effect. How do you artificially create desperation? Limit your surfs to one hour, max. 10 waves. Even if it’s pumping. Those 10 waves are all you’ve got. Make ’em count. Add a bonus extra wave if you try a move you’d never attempted before; two extras if you ride out of your new turn.


2. Surf around pro’s

After a while most of us are good enough to call ourselves one of the better surfers at our beach. We occupy the main pack, we get the sets, we feel confident. But what happens when a pro paddles out? He takes off later and deeper. He surfs faster and more critical than you thought was ever possible. And it pushes you to try harder. Whenever you can, maybe it’s around a contest, maybe there’s a pro who lives at another beach, surf around their times. You want to grow? Follow the best. Kolohe Andino still remembers Clay Marzo going ham at the 2005 NSAA’s. “I just remember thinking to myself, I really want to do that,” says Kolohe.

3. Find a new shaper

So you’ve ridden the same boards for the last five years. That’s great! Now find someone else. Unfamiliarity is a great stimulant. Ask anyone who’s fooled around a little on the side.

4. Focus on one move and nothing else

One day you’ll swing into your beach and you’ll find conditions perfect for, say, alley-oops. Problem is, you’ve never done  ’em. Steep little sections, a puffy breeze sticking your board to your feet. No cutbacks no reverses. Alley oops. Alley oops. Everything you do has to revolve around setting up the Turn You’ve Never Nailed.

5. Look stupid

During the filming of Bending Colours on Reunion Island, Jordy got one hellvua shock. All that ultra-HD footage showed just how contorted a surfer has to get to make turns. Dignity? Forget about it. “I looked like a monkey,” Jordy said after. It’s a lesson to savour. The best surfers in the world? They’ll do whatever it takes to get rad. Leave your self-consciousness in the car park.



security guards
Wanna-be authority figures, powerless chumps, lame-ass quasi-militia.

Utter Contempt: Me and security guards

Who doesn't feel a wash of contempt for these powerless chumps, these quasi-militia?

I’m back! It’s been an exciting week in Roryland, what I thought was going to be a relatively simple surgery to remove an infection in my shoulder was instead an object lesson in the utter hell that is hospitalization.

Sitting in bed all day pumped to the gills full of assorted opiates sounds like fun, but it gets old really fucking fast. Especially when you’re getting hourly blood draws and aren’t allowed to leave the hospital floor.

But I’m free now and the future looks bright. Another six weeks of pumping antibiotics into my bloodstream twice daily via the PICC line inserted in my right arm, running through a vein into my heart, but time continues to pass and it’ll be over before I know it.

I think I’m relatively easy to deal with as a patient. I’m friendly, more than a little stoic, and I follow medical direction.


Want me to take pills, hold still while you cut on me, or shoot stuff into my body all day long? Whatever, let’s do this. Tell me I’m a prisoner who’s confined to a small area because I’m all doped up and might fall down and sue the hospital?  That’s gonna be a problem. I can handle my drugs, and I’m going batshit stir crazy. The best thing for all involved is to cover your ass by telling me the rules, then pretend you don’t see me dragging an IV tree down the hall in a stupor on my way to the cafeteria to buy a root beer.

The nurses understood, the security guards did not.

I’ve got a real problem with security guards. It doesn’t take a whole lot of insight to understand why, growing up skateboarding and being hassled by the type of wannabe authority figure that embraces his position as a powerless enforcer of pointless rules has instilled in me an utter contempt for the job. To the point where I welcome any chance to engage with them. Go ahead and tell me what to do, I’m just going to ignore you.

Press the issue and I’ll tell you to go fuck yourself. Because I know the secret: they can’t actually do anything. Their entire job is built around the idea that most people will do what they’re told by a person in a uniform. But not everyone plays by those rules.

Which eventually escalated into an overweight little man telling me he was going to have me declared absent against medical advice, or something similar, meaning I would be forcibly removed from the hospital, treatment discontinued, if he saw me outside my room again.

The problem with bluffs is that people can call ’em.  I’d, eventually, die a pretty horrible death without treatment, and I had in no way checked myself out. For this guy to assert that he had the power to basically kill me because I wouldn’t listen to him didn’t sound very true. Because, of course, it was not.

It became a bright point of my stay, making his job more difficult. But, really, it was his fault.  If he wasn’t so wrapped up in his ridiculous pseudo authority we might’ve got along fine.

Confirmed: The hatred between surfers and SUPs!

Did you think it was all in your head? It's factual!

NPR, or National Public Radio, is one the United States’ most esteemed news service. Its thoughtful hosts and journalists are rarely given to fits hyperbole. They report the stories that are most important, most essential to our shared world.

And so, yesterday, when the Boston affiliate WBUR reported on the hatred boiling between surfers and SUPers, it became an official issue. The journalist went to Malibu and talked with surfers Zuma Jay, former Mayor of Malibu and surf shop owner:

“It’s just a matter of time until they ban ‘S.U.P.s. It’s just waiting for the first monster injury, or the first monster lawsuit. It should not be out there. It’s another safety hazard. They themselves may feel that that’s the experience they are feeling, being one with the wave. However, I don’t feel that way. And that’ s just my opinion. It is not surfing, even though they might think it is. They have a paddle, an extra appendage. I am not rushing out there with an extra appendage. It is just myself and my board.”

And Rain Lehel, who must be in the film industry:

“If they are in the line up, they piss me off! Because they can really get in the way and can kill you if they drop in on you. Several times I’ve been on a wave and a paddle boarder has tried to go for it and it’s almost taken my head off, so they can piss me off if I’m in the line up.”

Al Duka, a paddleboarder, responded to these claims:

“Surfers, they are very chauvinistic and paddle boarding is more difficult. Yes, because you have to stand up. As a surfer you just wait for the wave to come to you but with this you continuously have to be alert. You cannot drift off. You have to be at the moment.”

NPR did not end the story with an opinion on who is right and who is wrong in this conflict but they are generally ethical and do not pick a horse in a race. Just the facts. What do you think, though? Where will history write the mighty SUP?

Kai Lenny is amazing no matter which way you fall.
Kai Lenny is amazing no matter which way you fall.


Curt Harper
The GoPro angle of Curt Harper, just-turned 50, diagnosed as autistic when he was two.

Feel-Good Documentary: Meet Surfer Curt!

He’s 50, autistic and tons of fun!






Autism ain’t a joke. It ain’t fun for the kid and it’s hell on the parents. Depending on what end of the spectrum the kid is on, he probably can’t interact that great with other kids, tends to be into compulsive and ritualistic behaviour (has to do stuff a certain way, has to do stuff…exactly… the same every time) and he might even do the head rocking sorta thing. If you don’t get it, if you haven’t seen it before, oowee, it’s wild. In a darker time back, y’would’ve called ’em spazzes or retards and threw things at ’em.

If it’s your kid, you love him, of course you do, but it’s hard. I watched a marriage break up in front of me over their autistic kids.

So it’s nice when y’read a story or watch something, as in the case of this 17-minute documentary of southern Californian surfer Curt Harper, that shows, what is it, the beauty, maybe, the humanity, of an autistic person’s life.

Curt Harper is 49 in the documentary and is the maddest surf dog y’ever seen. Gets up at four-forty in the morning so he can hit the Ventura Highway and beat the crowds at Silver Strand. Runs around like a fool at little kid’s surf contests, stays in shape, surfs his ass off.

This fine film was made by Jordan Tappis and Brendan Hearne. The Curt website is here. (Click!)

White Riot: Why the US Open is a cultural icon!

The US Open? All that jail-bait ass and white people destroying shit? What's not to love?

(Photo of 2014 US Open winner Filipe Toledo by Steve Sherman)

The WSL dropped some gold into my in box this morning. The US Open, formerly a “may run” due to a rights dispute is a go, and, furthermore:

“Huntington Beach is the perfect stage to bring the local community together with passionate surf, skate and BMX fans to enjoy all the beach lifestyle and surf heritage have to offer,” said James Leitz, senior vice president, IMG. “We’re proud to be working with Vans and the WSL for the third year to stage such an incredible event.”

The US Open is Huntington Beach. It’s boring, the waves suck, it’s packed full of flat-brim barneys rocking the lifestyle pose and it’s really only there to separate you from your wallet.

This year will have some decent surfers on offer. The contest’s traditionally fat purse, combined with the relatively new rule which forces top 44 surfers to compete in a QS10000 event in their area, will force top tier dudes to enter. Which isn’t a bad thing. It’s nice to see how poorly the guys perform when they’re forced out into the type of waves the women face nearly every event.

But we all know the true fun of the US Open is on land. Whether you’re a fan of jail-bait ass, terrible pop punk, BMX demos, or white people destroying shit, it’s got something for you. (Warning: turn down your speakers before watching these videos.)

The original anarchy, the 1986 Op Pro.

This chick’s flying squirrel attack is pretty impressive.

What a bunch of quitters. If you’re gonna flip a car, flip it. Don’t rock it for a bit and give up. That’s what’s wrong with this generation, no follow through.

The interesting thing about this video is the couple black dudes you see cruising around. If I were black I’d bounce the fuck out when white people start smashing shit. Innocent bystander or not, when the cops show up you can guess who’s getting cuffed and bashed.

Huntington is such a shitty town that if there were a literal flow of feces running down the street I don’t think anyone would notice.

I’ve posted this before, but it fits in too well to not use again. DO SOMETHING!

And, because it’s 2015 and everyone films everything, here’s another angle!

There’s a lesson here: if you’re a black community protesting police violence, or economic inequality, or institutionalized racism, you can expect to be labeled thugs by the mainstream media and have your asses beat by the cops while real criminals run rampant miles away. But, if you’re a bunch of drunk white kids, you can destroy a neighborhood without consequence. Even if the pigs pick you up, it’s not like they’re gonna whomp you too hard. And you parents will be along to pick you up shortly.

Until next time, here’s a fat lady getting wrecked on a rope swing.