Todd Kline, Mick Fanning, Joe Turpel and Mark Occhilupo
Todd Kline, three-timer Mick Fanning, Screaming Joe and once-only Occ.

Warshaw: “Pottz is a bully! Joe Turpel is so blank!”

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.”

(Read it in full here)

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.

BeachGrit: Potter?

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?

BeachGrit: Yes!

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?

Laird Hamilton nude
"Give him food and sex regularly. These are the two biggest ways to show alpha males you care," says Laird's athletic wife Gabrielle.

Advice: “Give him sex and food regularly”

How does Gabrielle Reece keep her alpha Laird Hamilton happy? Guess!

How’s the saying go? Behind every great man…

Doubt for a second Laird Hamilton is a great man? Nope, me neither. Turns out Laird’s wife Gabby thinks so too, so much so she has four basic rules to keeping her “Alpha Male” happy.

Mrs Hamilton shared her “Controversial Secret to a Happy Marriage” with Lewis Howles on his “The School of Greatness” podcast.

“Even though some may find the following advice controversial, she had some smart things to say about how important it is to enable alpha males to stand in their power,” says Howles. “Gabby shared that by honouring her partner in this way, it allows him to support her as a strong powerful woman, which is a key to their successful marriage. She also pointed out that it hasn’t been smooth sailing all through the years.”

Amen to that. Oh honey…I’m home!

Gabrielle Reece’s Four Rules for Keeping Your Alpha Happy…

1) Respect his masculinity and give him space. Men know what they need to do when you give them the space to do it and allow them to step into their power.

2) Give him food and sex regularly. These are the two biggest ways to show alpha males you care.

3) Allow him space to be tender and honour you as a woman. Even very masculine men need to tap into balance by showing their softer side.

4) Don’t try to be his mother. An alpha male does not need that authority figure in his partner.

(Listen here)

(And in case you missed it, here’s the ESPN nude shoot)

Candid: I’m fat as hell, and it sucks!

Good god, I'm pathetic…

I could make excuses if I wanted. I just came off an absurd two-year run of injuries and illness.  Broken bones and ruined shoulders and life threatening infections requiring lengthy hospital stays don’t make it easy to stay fit.

But let’s be honest.

I could have eaten healthier, I didn’t need to chase those Percocets with a half-dozen beers. It’s all my own damn fault. Maybe partially my wife’s for loving me unconditionally.

But now I’m healthy again, or something resembling it, and I have a good forty pounds I’ve gotta shed before winter. I can fuck around in summer slop all day long, but if I want to blow the dust off that gorgeous pintail gun I picked up two years ago I need to be lean and mean.

Which means exercise everyday and lots of veggies and no more beer. The last is probably for the best, when a lady at the recycling center comments on how many empty Pacifico bottles you’ve got it may be time to take a break.

Lest you make the same mistakes I did, here’s the reality of being a fat surfer.

Your ribs hurt: I don’t mean the standard soreness you get after a really long session, every session feels like a mule kicked you in the rib cage.

Don’t give in and slather your pits in vaseline or whatever other gunk they sell fatties specifically for that reason. Embrace the agony. Let every burning stroke be a reminder, you look like shit, you surf like shit, and you deserve every ounce of pain.

Your arm-pits too! Arm-pit rash? That’s a thing? Good god, I’m pathetic.

Don’t give in and slather your pits in vaseline or whatever other gunk they sell fatties specifically for that reason. Embrace the agony. Let every burning stroke be a reminder, you look like shit, you surf like shit, and you deserve every ounce of pain.

Your boards don’t work anymore: All those stark white high-perf rip sticks piled in the corner are a recipe for struggle and pain and blown sections and self-loathing. No more blow-tails, no more airs, just bog and struggle and fucking suck. You’ll find yourself thinking, “Wow, longboarding is super fun, maybe I should add a few more to my quiver.”

Don’t do it! That way madness lies.

You look disgusting: You know that gorgeous piece of ass who’s always out at your local break?  The one who only surfs okay but rocks a thong and jams mind blowing duck dives? Wouldn’t it be nice to go chat her up, maybe lure her to your place for a few glasses of rotgut followed by an intense session of slap and tickle? Well, guess what? It ain’t happening.

Maybe you could’ve pulled it off, once upon a time, but the moment you catch a glimpse of your saggy hanging paunch in your driver’s side window reality’s gonna give you a kick in the nuts. You look like her dad, and no girl wants to bang her dad. Well, some do, but that’s a ball of crazy best avoided.

You’ll want to kill yourself when buying clothes: Want to end your day sitting in your car sobbing hysterically? Go ask the teenage wage slave at your local shop if they have any board shorts larger than a 38. The eye roll followed by “No” is a soul crusher.

All memory, no muscle: The best sessions are the ones when you aren’t thinking at all. Your mind goes blank, the body takes over, and you’re flowing effortlessly from bottom to top, fading perfectly into the pocket, nailing late drops like it ain’t no thing.

But when you’ve packed on a thick layer of blubber it don’t work like that no more. When you’re slightly inside and the wave of the day rolls straight at you and your mind says, “Just spin around and two stroke in, you got this,” you’re in for a ride.

Because it takes four strokes to get your fat ass over the ledge now, and you’re a split-second slower than you used to be. And now that guy, the one you used to sneer at when he blew a perfect barrel or bogged off the top and flailed over the falls, is YOU.

Another Basque Triumph: Electric Surfboards!

First Wavegarden, now another cure for flat-day bummers… 

The Basques are an industrious, smart and only occasionally violent people (Hello ETA!). Ten years ago, Wavegarden was formed and has since become a sort of hot-bed of Basque engineering talent from San Sebastian.

You ain’t got waves? Overrun with sharks? Wavegarden will put the world right.

And now, another Basque company, Onean, are about to release three electric surfboard models.

The UK Daily Mail describes the vehicles as thus:

“Its 440W motor and axial water pump allows it to slalom over the water’s surface at speed, so adrenaline junkies can perform tricks and make sharp turns. They can control the direction of the board by leaning and the power by pressing buttons on a handheld remote control. The board’s battery lasts around 20 minutes on a single charge if it is pushed to its limits.

“The firm says on its website: ‘With the Carver you will immerse yourself into a completely new and unbelievable sense of freedom. ‘Tides and wind conditions dependencies remain to the past, now you have nothing to depend on but yourself.’

“The rectangular-shaped Manta is designed for relaxed cruising and has a top speed of 5 mph (8km/h) with more than two hours use on a single charge.

“Its stable and buoyant ‘for those wanting to relax and enjoy the peacefulness of taking long tours or excursions at low speed,’ according to the company.

You like? Three-and-half-thousand Euros apiece ($US3800). Buy here. 

Sunset Surfer

Do it: The 12-Hour Surf!

Why you should milk the teats of a summer's day …

If you’re living in the northern hemi, you’re drinking in the final few weeks of summer. Soon, there’ll be no shredding before or after work, just a world of dark, and crowded weekends.

My advice? Punch out a few pre-dawn to post-dusk surfs before your part of the world starts to tilt away from the sun. Surf so much you have enough memories to drag you through winter.

Right now, north of the equator, it’s possible to surf from five-thirty am til eight pm. It ain’t easy but the rewards are magnified for reasons I’ll explain below.

1. You’ll own the lineup: First surfer out always has a proprietorship over the waves. Every single surfer who paddles out early will see you as the wave’s caretaker and will generally yield in those first few early hours. This is presuming of course that this is your regular surf spot.

2. Surf yourself into form: By surfing for over a dozen hours straight you’ll experience a sharpness in your surfing you’ve never felt before. Want to know why John John Florence and Dane Reynolds are the best two surfers in the world? They’re hippos. They boil in their tanks! They never get out!

3. Meet your surfboard: Catch a hundred-plus waves in a row, on the same day, and your surfboard will become as familiar as an old friend (or a terrible foe). Suddenly, you’ll feel your fins, the concave under the front foo

4. Experience thirst like a marooned sailor: There’ll come a point when it becomes absolutely necessary to beach a wave and suck on a tap. You hear about cats on life rafts, lost at sea, drinking seawater such is their madness. Water never tasted so fine. Better than ice-cold Coca Cola served from a dusty vending machine!

5. It’s profound: See a sun rise and watch it set on the same day and know that you’ve watched earth’s daily 360 at work.

6. The day belonged to you: You were the first in and the last out. The day belonged to you.

Satisfying? Yes and yes.