It’s been almost 25 years since Tom Lochtefeld invented his FlowRider stationary wave, an idea that came to him while he was in his custom bathtub in 1987.
“Now this tub was not just an ordinary Kohler – it was my custom design, with a picture-window view from La Jolla Cove to Blacks,” says Lochtefeld. “Flying swan spigot, two outback shower heads, and eight custom Jacuzzi jets turbo’d by a five horsepower pump. Not one to just relax in the lap of luxury, I hooked up a series of hoses to those jets and started squirting water up molded plastic sheets. Voila, the FlowRider® Stage One.”
The FlowRiders, which y’can find everywhere from cruise ships to bars and, soon, China, resemble a moving skate half-pipe and, crucially, all those stationary waves created, sometimes by chance, sometimes by design, at rivermouths and at certain parts of a river.
What it means is, cats who grew up surfing at, say, the Munich Eisbach river wave, absolutely own FlowRiders. And, last week, at Munich airport (FlowRiders are so portable!), the Surf and Style European Championship was held (okay, not the world champs when it comes to stationary wave jams, it’s close) and, surprise, the Germans dominated.
What a thrill to see names like Fritz and Moritz in the limelight!
Yeah, y’can write it off as a chop-hop fest, but there’s something liberating about seeing gals bust out their fins and an absence of floaters or dead air as two surfers wait twenty minutes for a set.
Best of all, my old pal Quirin Rohleder stomped everyone and won the masters. (Hello to you!)
Anyway, here’s the clip. Do with it what you will.
Nothing serious, just a funny lil movie of surfing crumbs, having fun…
I talk a lot of shit about longboarding, but if I’m being totally honest, I actually ride a log pretty often. I don’t go in for the single-fin plank though. Give me a rockered out potato chip of a 9’0″.
Yeah, they break like crazy, and they feel a hundred times cooler than they look, but what do I really care? I’m a married man in his mid-thirties. If I can’t dork it up to my heart’s content, then who can?
I think my real problem with longboarding is how seriously it’s taken. Because, I mean, it’s supposed to be all about fun, right? And if you’re having fun you really shouldn’t be worried about being taken seriously. It’s like rocking up to a bar right before last call and looking for the horniest slag in the room to creep home with. Super fun, nothing wrong with it, but if someone wants to bust your balls for taking the easiest road possible you should just shut your mouth and take it.
If I had my druthers and could pick my poison, I’d rather watch Bonga charge bombs at Second Reef than a bunch of long hairs style it up at Byron Bay. That scene’s just too thought out for my taste. Too many lifestyle shots, too much time wasted on skinny boys staring soulfully into the distance.
Knobs is the first longboard vid I’ve seen in a long time that didn’t leave a sour taste in my mouth. Nothing serious going on, just playfully tongue-in-cheek wave sliding in Redondo Beach slop.
And my buddy Tom’s brewery, the King Harbor Brewing Company, got a shout out in the credits, which is pretty neat.
Those lil 'copters driving you crazy? Blast 'em to bits with special new ammo!
I love drones. Not the sort that annihilate Islamists, their brown faces lit up by US ordinance in the murky interior of their Yemeni huts, but the little helicopters that gift us surf footage that was once only available to anyone with the cash to hire a helicopter.
Lately, howevs, there’s been a swing in opinion against drones.
Late last year, BeachGrit ran a story by New Yorker Robert Fazio where he wrote, in part, “Not only has the angle become tired, when I go to the beach I don’t want to see some asshole with a soul patch piloting a drone because he can’t surf the wave that he is filming. Drones are obnoxious and ugly and they create unoriginal footage that reminds me more of CNN’s coverage of a crash site than it does of scantily clad men riding pieces of foam in paradise.”
Now, thanks to Snake River Shooting Products, there’s a 12-gauge shotgun shell built specifically to take down drones.
Let’s read the press release!
“Drones or light-quad-copters are one of the best-selling new gadgets on the market, and were among the top new Christmas gifts given in 2014. Stories about drones are hitting the news daily in both positive and negative light. While a great product idea, unfortunately, drones have a tremendous potential for misuse and these misuses have been happening more and more frequently.
“With the ability to carry on board cameras, drones have been and are being used for spying on unsuspecting neighbors and others without their permission. With little regulation surrounding drone use, there is much confusion about what a person may do to defend against drone threats.
“Drone Munition was created to provide defense against the danger caused when drones are misused. Drone Munition is lead free, safe for the environment and provides a very high quality load that will effectively disable a drone encroaching your property’s airspace. As a side note, the round also makes for a very high end hunting load for ducks, geese or turkeys.”
Note: I ain’t a lawyer and I’m definitely not across international laws, but it might be illegal in some states to start shooting drones out of the sky. In the meantime, here’s a wonderful drone clip from the Tasmanian photographer Stu Gibson.
Candid: The Irish are the greatest people on earth!
I’ve been lucky enough to travel pretty extensively. After my wife got her undergrad degree we sold everything we owned and spent a year traveling around the world. Good times, lots of adventures, some of which I should really start putting down in words.
Like the time I got drunk and agreed to fight a professional Kurdish kickboxer (I did not win that fight), or the night we did filthy, filthy, things to two beautiful 19-year-old backpackers from Vermont (you haven’t lived until you’ve seen a girl stick a digit in her best friend’s ass).
Since Americans rarely travel we spent a lot of time with other types. It’s how I learned that I really don’t care for Italians or Belgians or Israelis (just the men though. My god, are Israeli women beautiful!), that Argentine men are gorgeous enough to tempt the most hetero soul, that Australians are a blast but don’t know when to turn it off…
Like the night we did filthy, filthy, things to two beautiful 19-year-old backpackers. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen a girl stick a digit in her best friend’s ass.
…and that the Irish are my favorite people in the entire world.
The accent, the no-holds barred ball-busting, the good-natured drunken rants about football, you’ve just gotta love the Irish.
Unless, I suppose, you’re English. Then you just steal their land and force them into underclass status.
The great surf historian barbecues the WSL commentary team…
The Encyclopedia of Surfing (click!) is the ongoing, life-work of the former pro surfer turned surfing magazine editor turned historian, Matt Warshaw. This morning, Matt wrote a hurtful piece barbecuing the brave men and women who front the WSL broadcasts.
Here’s a taste.
“Martin Potter’s jaw-grinding voice sounds as if its been filtered through six espresso shots and a migraine headache. Ross Williams’ has me considering preemptive adenoidal surgery for my son. Todd Kline? Car saleman. Rosy Hodge? Who can hear her above the angel choir and softly strumming lutes?
“And then Joe Turpel. During a trifling Round Two heat between a couple of backbenchers, Peter Mel, from the channel, reported that he wasn’t sure if Glen Simpson was or was not riding a quad, and Turpel replied “Thanks for the insight, Pete!” at which point a rhesus monkey began flinging itself against the opposing sides of my skull because Mel’s comment was exactly, definitively, almost scientifically the opposite of insightful. Turpel hurts me on a both a professional and personal level.”
Immediately, I challenged Warshaw to back up his cruelty in the following email exchange.
BeachGrit: Why do the commentators trouble you so? I love every single second! Joe, whom you say hurts you, is the voice of surf! No does it better than Martin Potter…
Warshaw: Growing up in Los Angeles as a sports fan, you listened to Vin Scully all summer and fall, and Chick Hearn all winter and spring. Scully was the Dodgers announcer; Hearn did the Lakers. Both guys were so incredibly good. Vin was the ultimate in laid-back cool, very even-toned, unflappable, but so deep-down smart about the game, and had a million little stories vignettes that he’d casually drop into the conversation at the perfect time. Hearn was the opposite, all hyper and excitable. But again, monstrously smart about the game, and filled up with great stories. The point being, you’d turn the radio on just to be in their presence. They were every bit as good at what they did, every bit as practiced and professional, as the guys they were covering. So right there, that’s the unscientific measure I put to the WSL announcers. How good are they at their job compared to the guys they’re talking about? One-tenth as good? No way, not even that high. I mean, with Scully and Hearn it was the exact opposite of the WSL, where lots of people hit mute during the webcast. Even if the Dodgers or Lakers were having a shit game, you’d keep the radio on for the announcing. Vic Scully, by the way, is still at it. Eighty-seven years old! Sixty-six years in the biz!
BeachGrit: Of the WSL crew, who does it best, y’think?
Warshaw: Ross Williams and Ron Blakey. Ross has a friendly presence, and knows what it’s like to be out there hunting scores. But his voice has me reaching for the Mucinex bottle. Blakey I like too, and he’s probably the one who could take it furthest, but there’s something weird he does with word emphasis that kind of drives me up the wall. Just sort of boldfacing words to generate excitement, even when things aren’t at all exciting. It’s like a guy revving his bike in neutral.
Warshaw: He just seems irritated at all times. He’s kind of a bully. He likes to intimidate. He’s always been that way, even at 15. It made him great as a surfer, but it doesn’t work in the booth.
BeachGrit: Strider, he of the fantastic steroidal tits?
Warshaw: The greatest mystery of all. Fantastic surfer, amazing life story, from all accounts a super nice person. But Strider’s ongoing WSL presence is maybe the best indicator that the organization has no real interest in improving the product.
BeachGrit: And Joe!
Warshaw: Has to be the WSL’s sweetest, most decent person. And has the best TV face, after Rosy Hodge. But just so . . . blank! So opinion-free. Joe brings nothing to the table but mellow, mindless enthusiasm, and yeah it drives me nuts. Tell me again what you like about him?
BeachGrit: What do I like? The sing-song tone and, yeah, the pretty face. I do like Ron and Joe’s matching Hugh Grant foppish cuts.
Warshaw: What happened to the newbie, the girl from LA? What was her name? She wasn’t doing the heavy lifting, just quick little post-heat interviews mostly, but she was good. Chelsea Cannell! The best of the whole WSL gang actually, in terms of doing her job right. What happened to her?
BeachGrit: What did happen to Chelsea! This I’ll investigate! You liked her too?
Warshaw: Very much! If she was let go, wow, see if she’ll tell you what it’s like behind the scenes. Except she probably won’t. Too nice. Too professional. What I said about Potter earlier, you know, he’ll be the guy, once the WSL craters, who gives us the real story. I’m so looking forward to hearing about what this has all been like the past couple of years. The paranoia and secrecy and lies are going to explode someday and it will be amazing, and Pottz will be the first to tell us how it all went down.
BeachGrit: Would you ever do it?
Warshaw: Step into the booth?
Warshaw: Oh fuck no! What those guys are trying to do is incredibly difficult and fraught and just terrifying. I wouldn’t set foot in there for a million bucks. People have this idea that you just stroll in, put the headphone on and start slinging bon mots—no way! It’s just like surfing at the highest level. You need natural talent, and you need to work at it constantly. It ain’t like sitting around watching the webcast with friends. It’s a high-wire act, and I have huge respect for anybody who does it well.
BeachGrit: Last one, where are the people of colour? Is surfing that racist they couldn’t find one commentator of African descent? Or anyone LGBT? Or a native Indian? Or a Muslim, maybe?
Warshaw: Sal Masekela was pretty good on the mic. Too bro-down, too much of a back-slapper, but smart, and has such a great voice. Strider’s in there, but not Sal? How is that possible? There must be so much at work here that we just don’t know anything about. Maybe Strider works for free, and Sal wanted to get paid. Who knows?