New study: Surf tourists rob, drug and sex!

Also, Jordy Smith punts a massive one after getting barreled!

Oxfam is a fantastic organization that seeks to put an end to global inequality and poverty. It operates in almost every country, bringing food, education, medicine and help to the most needy. Today one of their interns, Ben Fortun, wrote a piece on how the surf industry is, for the most part, shit.

Ben, apparently, used to be a pro longboarder but got hurt and then got thinking. “I remembered the farmers in Cardon, Mexico forced off their land to build resorts…” he wrote on Oxfam’s blog “…leaving them with the choice to either become resort workers or turn to illicit activities. I remembered the gangs in Costa Rica that have grown out of the massive inequality there. I remembered the sweatshops in China and elsewhere that produce surfing products, from board shorts to surfboards, by the thousands with little to no safety regulations to protect their workers. I have seen the dark side of the surfing community, that existed then and persists to this day, but is rarely seen or talked about.”

Bummer. But it gets worse!

He cites an Argentinian study that found “Costa Rica experienced a 700 percent increase in robberies and a 280 percent increase in drug related crimes between 1990 and 2006. Similarly, Indonesia’s Tourism Department recorded more than 13,703 child victims of sexual exploitation between 1972 and 2008. Coincidentally or not, these trends parallel the emergence of surf tourism in each locale.”

Bummer. Are there any bright spots?

I don’t think but BeachGrit still believes, above all, that surfing is anti-depressive so watch Jordy launch! (don’t worry about the privacy business just click and watch on Vimeo!) (Rob, drug, sex)

An inmate suns himself in between surf sessions.
An inmate suns himself in between surf sessions.

Incredible: Inmate escapes using surfboard!

The little butterfly shreds to freedom.

Norway’s Bastoy Prison is widely considered the world’s most lovely place to be locked up (amongst connoisseurs of such things).

It’s an island one square mile in size. It’s got no fences, no cells. There’s tennis courts, beaches, saunas, the works. According to Time, it’s Scandinavia’s line in the sand as far as treating all humans, well, humanely. rapists, murderers, drug czars—they’re all there, basking in the sun, debating: sauna now, tennis later? Or tennis now, sauna later?

And yesterday an inmate—a “sex offender in his 20s”—grew tired of doubles games and beach bronzing, and set out from the island via surfboard and plastic shovel, paddling the two miles to shore before disappearing.

Obviously, with Bastoy being so posh, escape attempts are super rare. Not just because it’s so nice, but because if you try and escape and get caught, well, you ain’t coming back to the beach. Escappees are instead sent to the more standard correctional facilities.

Time’s report claims the prison’s response to escapes is particularly precious:

“When inmates come to his island jail, [Arne Kvernvik] Nilsen, the governor, gives them a little talk.

Among the wisdom he imparts is this: If you should escape and make it across the water to the free shore, find a phone and call so I know you’re OK and ‘so we don’t have to send the coast guard looking for you.’”

As of this writing, the inmate is still at large. And he hasn’t called.

Heartwarming: “Surfing is for everyone!”

A Rohingya girl shreds Bangladeshi waves and inspires!

When the act of surfing extends beyond sheer selfishness it sure does warm the heart. Julian bravely paddling toward Mick. Tyron Swan duct taping his friend’s paraplegic mother onto his back.

And here we have Nassima Akhtar in southern Bangladesh. Her story is a few years old, now, but even more inspiring than ever because the plight of her Rohingya people is increasingly bleak. The small minority group, predominately Muslim, hails from Burma (Myanmar) and is widely persecuted. The Burmese government does not recognize them as citizens. The women are sold into sexual slavery, the men killed. Pope Francis recently said that the Burmese government’s treatment of the Rohingya constitutes war against them. Thousands try to flee via rotten boats and are lost forever.

Nassima, pressing through not only ethnic discrimination but sexual too, is a true inspiration. Get that girl a sponsor! #ImWithNassima!

Predictable: The Kelly Kut Kanned!

The best recent edit of Kelly Slater pulled down for breach of copyright… 

The Kelly Kut, a free-time edit project that distilled twenty-plus years of the best surfer ever into a beautiful bite-sized morsel of awesomeness, is no more. A quick trip to Vimeo to give it a watch shows:

Vimeo has removed or disabled access to the following material as a result of a third-party notification by Poling Productions claiming that this material is infringing: The Kelly Kut 

I can’t say I’m terribly surprised. It was, after all, completely comprised of “borrowed” footage, and in this day and age it doesn’t matter how creative you are, a DMCA request will take you down in a heart beat.

Poling Productions, founded by Florida natives Jack and Clark Poling, undoubtedly has every right to protect their product. And, honestly, filmers don’t earn shit or get nearly the respect they deserve, so I can understand feeling salty when someone else reaps a ton of positive press employing footage they snaked from your product.

It feels petty, though.

When your website is dead, your company has no social media presence and the video the footage was lifted from is unavailable for purchase, what’s the point of enforcing your rights?

Sour grapes? Envy? Outright dickishness?

I know I’m not being fair, and I’m sure if I asked my lawyer wife about it she could give me ten million totally valid and fair reasons for the Polings to enforce their copyright.

But that doesn’t change the fact that it was a sick edit, a ton of work obviously went into it, and I’m kind of pissed because I wanted to watch it this morning while drinking coffee and trying to come up with an idea to write about.

Kelly Slater on Mr Porter!

Online clothes store makes wonderful interview with champ… 

Last night as I was strolling through the racks of Mr Porter, a little Saint Laurent here, Balmain there, can’t afford either, I bumped into Kelly Slater all trussed up in his new label.

Fast turnaround, that’s f’sure. One month ago, I was interviewing Kelly on whether or not the label actually existed.

Click here for that. 

Now it’s all over the world’s most prestigious online retailer of men’s clothes.

And whatever you think of a joint that doesn’t blink at trying to sell you two thousand-dollar sneakers (Berluti, Playtime high-tops) and plain grey tees for $1500 (Elder Statesmen, Cutter Cashmere T shirt) y’gotta admit, Mr Porter has…polish.

And, apart from its grating imitation Fantastic Man tone (Mr Kelly Slater this, Mr John Moore that), the interview with Kelly contained within its website as it launches Outerknown, is very, very good.

Kelly Slater Mr Porter

Here’s a taste. Link for the whole story below.

On style: Style, for a teen Mr Slater, was only something to be found in the sea. “The only style I recognised or understood was surfing style,” he admits. “The way someone’s arms looked when they surfed, the way someone bent into a turn, or whatever. I’ve never really thought of people as my fashion icons.” Mr Slater is both the archetypal surfer and the transcendental one. He still cuts an amphibious figure at surf competitions around the world but he’s also at home on the red carpet – recently donning a dark navy Brioni tux to the Met Gala, fashion’s Academy Awards. He’s representative of a new breed of surfer – evolved from logo-loving rebellious young guns and competition-rejecting rambling free spirits – into something more refined. These days, when he’s not surfing – or searching out new spots – Mr Slater enjoys the good life; fresh cuisine, rounds of golf and writing and playing music with his guitar (he downsizes to a ukulele on the road).

“I think that as a kid I always thought I’d have more of a home and a family, more of a normal life, but as I’ve grown and evolved, I think it’s not abnormal now [to be nomadic],” Mr Slater reflects. “Almost all my friends that I’ve made around the world are travellers of some sort. I don’t think I’ll ever be settled. I love too many places and people around the world to stay in any one of those places for too long.”

Kelly Slater Mr Porter

On his legacy: We all want to have a legacy of some sort. Although you can’t think too hard about creating it because then it’s not real,” says Mr Slater. “It’s pretty simple. I’d like to be thought of as a good, honest guy who stuck to his principles and followed them through.” He goes on to tell me about his daughter’s boyfriend’s graduation speech – the tale of how Mr Alfred Nobel turned his legacy from “the merchant of death”, as the inventor of dynamite, to one of ultimate pacifism, founding the Nobel Peace Prize. It’s one of many anecdotes that Mr Slater is able to bring to mind at any given time throughout our conversation. He seems genuinely amazed by these stories of wisdom, almost childlike in his curiosity.

The mention of his daughter catches me off guard. Would he wish his unorthodox life, I can’t help thinking, for her too? “It’s been fun and it’s been a blessing; the people I’ve met, the places I’ve gone and the access I have to experiencing different things around the world is really second to none,” he says. “I mean, yeah,” he continues, laughing, and reverting to something of a Southern drawl in his appreciation, “not to toot my own horn, but you’d have a hard time finding a better lifestyle than what I got.”

You can read the rest here.