Mason Ho
"Mason Ho is the saviour of the fucking corporate straight-laced, uptight, fucking, pre-planned interview answer surfing world we live in today," says his shaper Matt Biolos. "He's everything that people think surfing is and should be when you think of all the beautiful stereotypes, like the fucking Beach Boys to fricken Sean Penn to Big Wednesday. Mason is fucking incredibly fun to watch surf two-foot junk to 12-foot Pipeline. He's what everyone's selling without trying. He's the most real guy out there. We're fortunate to have him in our lives."

Audio: A Phone Call to Mason Ho!

Who proves, conclusively, to be the most dazzling interview in surfing… 

…wait! I made this particular phone call a couple of years back and it fuelled about six interviews, for Stab, for BeachGrit and I even cut off a slice here and there for a profile on him in the new Surfers Journal. (A very small taste here) 

But, considering how rare it is to get an unedited piece of a noted surfer’s world, as in a phone call from dial tone to hang-up, I figure it’s worth posting this thirty-minute conversation.

For me, it’s difficult to listen to my shrieking and fawning and weird non-question questions without questioning my sanity for opening my poor interview techniques to the whole world.

Mason, of course, is gracious. You can almost  hear his brain spinning as he tries to decode whatever it is the hell I asked.

For the Journal interview I did, I spoke to his shaper Matt Biolos about Mason. He said,

“Mason Ho is the saviour of the fucking corporate straight-laced, uptight, fucking, pre-planned interview answer surfing world we live in today. He’s everything that people think surfing is and should be when you think of all the beautiful stereotypes, like the fucking Beach Boys to fricken Sean Penn to Big Wednesday. Mason is fucking incredibly fun to watch surf two-foot junk to 12-foot Pipeline. He’s what everyone’s selling without trying. He’s the most real guy out there. We’re fortunate to have him in our lives.”

It’s very true.

Listen here.


Opinion: Skating is better than surfing!

It embraces progression, creates better art and doesn't give a fuck about contests… 

It’s kind of shameful to admit, but I pretty much quit skating when I moved to Hawaii. It’s just too damn hot all the time, and the constant series of rolled ankles and sprained/broken wrists that are my skateboarding reality made it almost impossible to surf. I’ve never been a very good skater, I fall down a lot.

But, prior to moving out here, I lived and breathed skating for almost a decade.  I was writing for Automatic Magazine, a sick little indy rag out of Encinitas which was the only place that would publish my garbage.

While I still surfed whenever it looked fun, I wasn’t very interested in surf culture. Because, by and large, “surf culture” is boring. It’s too polished, too concerned with being marketable, too tied up in contest results, forever striving to find a way to sell itself to the unhip.

And you can’t call bullshit in the surf world without people taking it personally and getting their panties in a twist.

Other than the whole slamming-face-first-onto-concrete side of the sport, skating is pretty much better than surfing in every way. It embraces progression, no bullshit airs-aren’t-real-surfing type arguments that hold back progression for years and years.

It creates far better art, and thank god for that because I could go the rest of my life without seeing another painting of a fucking wave, turtle, palm tree, or some combination of the three.

It doesn’t give a fuck who won the latest contest.

And it’s friendlier.

As hard as people try to sell the notion that surfers are just one tribe, we all pretty much hate each other. But skating is welcoming, at least, it is if you stick around beyond your teenage, heckle everyone for everything, years.

Surfing will land you a better looking class of woman though. Being tanned and muscular does that.  But the type of girl who’s into guys that spend all day falling in the gutter is generally a lot more fun to be around. They’ll do dirtier stuff in the sack as well.

Even though my current skateboard adventures consist almost solely of pushing around in the street in front of my house and trying to remember how to do frontside no-complys, I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for the the fun you can have zipping around the streets on a little wheeled plank.

And I’ll keep watching skate videos when I’m trying to find a little bit of pre-surf-session stoke.

Watch these:

Chet Childress and Jason Adams. Black Out.

I once saw Ol’ Dirty Crooks himself strolling through the Honolulu airport while I was waiting to pick up a friend. Without thinking I yelled, “Childress!” then realized that I’m way too old to be playing fan boy, and pretended it wasn’t me. He looked around for a second, then cruised on to wherever he was headed.I then realized that yelling his name and hiding is way more lame than yelling his name and fanning out.

Mark Gonzalez. Video Days.

The fucking Gonz, man. Was any other skateboarder ever as gifted when it came to filming fun, shralp your way down the street, parts? His art kills it, his poems… I don’t really get poetry so I’ll pass on passing judgment. Mark Gonzales built a life around being weird and creative and making life look so damn fun.

Louie Barletta. Man Down.

Following the Gonz in making it all look so damn fun, Barletta is one of those guys I still look up every so often to see if there’s any new footage floating around.

Natas Kaupas. Streets of Fire.

I’ve still got scars in my shins from trying those damn fire hydrant spins.

Tony Trujillo. In Bloom.

Something worrisome happened the other day while I was surfing super fun, super shallow, head-high semi-closed out sandbar barrels down the street from my house. I dodged a slightly overhead set because I was scared, then watched the thing suck dry and grind all the way to the beach. Fucking pathetic.

Trying to wrap my head around committing and taking my beatings has been slow coming over my last few paddle outs. The idea that I might get bounced off the bottom and re-ruin my shoulder makes my balls crawl up inside me and my hands shake. And that ain’t good. Winter’s just around the corner and I really don’t want to be that guy who’s always driving around looking for a sheltered spot to puss away the day.

TNT’s old TWS part always did a good job of amping me up, and it turns out it still does. Trujillo’s got a sick surfy style, goes balls to the walls fast, and makes me want to do the same.

Andrew “Jaws” Homoki. True Blue.

This kid is fucking nuts. That’s all.

Scientific: New Statistics for the WSL

As The Sport of Kings attempts to professionalize, here are some new data points to help elevate the low-brow webcast commentary.

American sports are booming (financially) and booming on the back of sport science. The nerds love to nerd out on all kind of stats. Like WHIP in baseball. And PAC in football. Here are stats for surfing. Get ready to enjoy in ways you didn’t believe possible!
Peak Evening Blood Alcohol Content to Wave Count Total, a ratio comparing a surfer’s peak alcohol consumption the night before a contest to the number of waves caught in a heat the following morning. Consistently high numbers on both sides of the ratio are generally considered a sign of a short-lived career on tour. Consistently low numbers on both sides of the ratio are generally considered a sign that the surfer’s sponsorship contracts may not be renewed.
CompIntel Rating
A measurement designed to calculate a surfer’s competitive intelligence. Subtract years of formal education the competitor received after middle school from the average hours per day the competitor spends with a personal trainer. For WSL surfers, anything above 0 is considered extremely high Competitive Intelligence. For average Americans, anything above 12 is just considered normal.
 The number of fins a competitor has on his surfboard. Any number above two and less than five is considered a competitive advantage. (Any number less than three is sticking it to the judges. Any number more than five is either revolutionary or a severe disadvantage.)
Tens Plus Daily Catch, the number of tens a competitor scored in the previous season, plus the number of fish the competitor catches while sitting through lay-days when the waves are flat.
The 808
The area code on the North Shore. Commentators generally note surfers whose contact information contains this number to avoid saying something on-air that would be cause for “getting slapped” during the Triple Crown.
Victories Replaced for Male Modeling, a calculation of how many heats a surfer would have won if he hadn’t quit the WSL for a much more financially lucrative, much more stable career in male modeling.
Instagrammed Contest/Event Shots, the number of self-promotional shots a surfer posts to Instagram on days when the contest is green-lit. A high ICES number indicates the surfer may soon go on to post an even higher VRMM (see VRMM).
Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, this is not a new statistic for the WSL but when you say it out loud it sounds exactly the same as ICES (see ICES), which can be confusing to some commentators with low CompIntel Ratings (see CompIntel Rating). Also, it’s a good reminder that there are way more important current events than a WSL webcast. Go outside, surf, be thankful for this day.
Stoke Meter
 “But how stoked are the boys?” This simple 0/1 binary scale awards a “0” to surfers who are not stoked, and a “1” to surfers who are stoked. The Stoke Meter is generally considered the only statistic that all WSL commentators have a high enough CompIntel Rating (see CompIntel Rating) to calculate for themselves.

Young Kelly Slater
For twenty five years, the kid has owned surfing, in, out, around the water. So what happens when he splits?

Can Pro Surfing Survive Without Kelly Slater?

Five reasons why the tour will get the shakes without the greatest athlete in history…

More likely than not, Kelly Slater, 43-and-a-half years old, will step away from the pro tour after Pipe.

But wait.

It’s never that easy with Kelly. He’s been threatening to leave since he came back from retirement in 2002 (he finished ninth) after a three-year sabbatical.

However, 2015 is different. His small-wave game is shadowed by the barely believable histrionics of Filipe Toledo, Gabriel Medina and John John Florence. Kelly is smarter than most. He’ll preserve his legacy and step off the tour in 2015 rated second or third in the world, a result that will surprise even him this year.

He won’t disappear, of course. Kelly’ll appear, in 2016, at those events at which he excels, Fiji, Teahupoo, and will hover around the commentary booth.

But how will the tour look without Kelly Slater? Can it even survive? Let’s examine the five issues that’ll arise once Kelly splits.

1. Will the title matter? 

Isn’t it something that Kelly is only a few thousand points off the title, well into his middle age, those harvest years? Let’s swing back to the years when Kelly wasn’t on tour, 1999, 2000 and 2001. In 1999 Occy won the title, Sunny got it the following year and CJ, in the abbreviated year of terrorism, the year after. Two of those titles went surfers far beyond their primes; the other was an anomaly of a six-event year.

Compare those titles to Andy’s three consecutive crowns fought against Slater. In 2016, without Kelly, the title will be the most open it’s been in a decade-and-a-half. But there’ll be a shadow of doubt on the winner.

As in, could he have beaten Kelly?

2. You can forget about the voodoo that strikes you in the heart

John John is very close to miraculous at Teahupoo and wherever else (yeah, ok, France). But it’s Kelly, who like Tom Curren a generation before him, who’ll conjure a 10-foot standup barrel where others were falling off in closeouts. Who’ll nail a full rotation in a stinging offshore to beat whoever he has to. It’s in Kelly’s fight-to-the-death nature. No other surfer has anything close to Kelly’s desire to win.

3. It helps if the Champ is lucid

Apart from being movie-star handsome, Kelly Slater is also the smartest guy on tour, a little too hot for conspiracy theories but nobody’s perfect. And so after a heat, or a contest, win or lose, Kelly will dissect in forensic detail his heat or event. He’ll push back on a commentator if they’re wrong and answer tough questions if he feels they’re warranted. And that passive-aggressiveness when he loses?Priceless! There is no other surfer on tour even close to Kelly when it comes to opening their mouths.

4. You can forget the mainstream coverage

News outlets can jam a story around the hub of Kelly Slater, the oldest athlete still shooting for world titles, former lover of Pam, Baywatch, slayer of the Andy dragon, committed bachelor, all that gear, whereas a piece about two 22-year-olds without much beyond their athletic ability, just doesn’t fly.

5. Kelly spikes

YouTube hits, crowds on the beach, everyone comes for Kelly. Take the Orca out of the marine park and all you’ve got is a pool full of jumping fish.

(Now let’s watch his world title interview in 1992)

(And world title 11 in 2011)

Youngbloods Spearfishing
Playing with whale sharks, spearing hell out of animals further down on the food chain, filming ass and even getting barrelled. What's not to love?

Sexy: Killin’ Fish, Ridin’ Barrels, Defiling Ass!

Youngbloods Spearfishing and the overhaul of a once-dreary sport.

There’s not a lot of good spearfishing content online. Tons of fun amateur videos, but not many people putting the effort into stringing together a high-quality edit. Which is surprising, given how damn expensive spearfishing is.

I don’t like thinking about the absurd amount of money I drag into the water with me each time I go for a dive.

Youngbloods Spearfishing is pretty damn awesome. Slaying fish, getting barreled, a rather nice ass repeatedly making its way into frame. It’s a lot like my life, only the fish are bigger, the barrels deeper, and my wife’s ass hasn’t looked like that in years.