surfing portugal

Drone-Vision: A year of waves in Portugal!

Including Ericeira, a very secret slab and even Nazaré, all shot from the world's tiniest helicopter…

If his Facebook photos are to be believed, Pedro Miranda is a striking and hirsute man of, let’s say, late twenties to early thirties. Good jawline, a hint of a beard without looking like he came from 2010 and two fine legs held up by a powerful superstructure.

Pedro is part of a two-man “drone operation team highly specialised in surf and bodyboard action shots, a niche where we’ve been doing a lot of experimentation trying to get new unseen angles.”

Their setup is a custom-made DJI Quadcopter with a GoPro Hero4 Black mounted on a three-axis gimbal.

(Ladies? Are you wet?)

Pedro sent me his movie The Flying Machine today and wrote, “The waves featured in this clip are all in Portugal, and all captured during the last winter season. There are a few waves captured in several spots of Ericeira, including the ‘Cave’ which is one of the dangerous slab in the country. The most perfect waves on the clip were captured during one of the best sessions of the season on a secret spot of the west coast. At the end of the clip, there’s some action on Nazaré, Garrett McNamara rescuing Rodrigo Koxa from the rocks, a wave from Ross Clarke-Jones, another massive one by Tom Butler, and the last wave which you may recognise from Samsung’s latest commercial We are Greater than I. That’s Sebastian Steudtner surfing that wave. He won this year’s XXL Biggest Wave Award on an even bigger wave caught that day.”

My advice?

Breeze past the first minute, it starts slow, y’see, and maybe avoid it altogether if a cross-cultural mix of bodyboarding and surfing ain’t your thing.


The Flying Machine from Máquina Voadora on Vimeo.


Just in: “Quiksilver Filing for Bankruptcy!”

Iconic surf brand reported to be filing for bankruptcy as early as tomorrow, says Bloomberg Biz.

Nothing lasts forever. Not the Roman Empire, not the German Third Reich, not the ASP and, now, not the most iconic of all surf brands, Quiksilver.

Quiksilver. Yeah. 

As reported by Blooomberg Business this morning,

“Quiksilver Inc. is preparing to file for bankruptcy as soon as Tuesday evening in a deal that would hand control of the beleaguered surfwear chain to investment firm Oaktree Capital Management, according to people with knowledge of the deliberations.

“As part of a prearranged Chapter 11 restructuring, Oaktree would provide $175 million in debtor-in-possession financing and assume control of the reorganized company, said a person familiar with Quiksilver’s thinking, who asked not to be identified because the proceedings aren’t yet public. Any plan would require court approval.

“Representatives for Huntington Beach, California-based Quiksilver and Oaktree didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

“The company had been trying to attract bidders for a management-led buyout, ideally outside of a bankruptcy, people familiar with the situation said last week. But that approach would have made it harder to abandon the company’s costly leases, something Chapter 11 will allow Quiksilver to do.

“Oaktree, based in Los Angeles, already has a connection to the surfwear industry. The firm, together with Centerbridge Partners, is the largest backer of Billabong International Ltd., the Australian brand. Oaktree has a total of more than $100 billion under management.

“Quiksilver shares tumbled as much as 78 percent to 10 cents in late trading Tuesday after Bloomberg News reported on the bankruptcy plan. The stock had already lost 79 percent of its value this year, closing at 46 cents earlier in the day. The company received a warning from the New York Stock Exchange in July that its low stock price put it at risk for being delisted.

“Quiksilver rode the fashion trend toward surfer and skateboarding styles in the 1990s and early 2000s, along with names like Billabong and Pacific Sunwear of California Inc. The company, which teamed up with athletes such as surfer Kelly Slater and skater Tony Hawk, sponsored surfing competitions around the world.

But a shift away from surfer fashion — along with broader pressures on the apparel industry — took their toll. After a period of heady expansion, Quiksilver struggled to compete with fast-fashion retailers like H&M. Those brands lured away Quiksilver’s teen customers with lower prices and on-trend clothes, and the company lost its cachet with athletes.

“The chain suffered a 13 percent decline in sales last year, with its net loss widening to $309.4 million.

“Quiksilver has been working with FTI Consulting Inc. on a restructuring, and is using Peter J. Solomon Co. as its investment banker. The company plans to continue with a store-closing effort after filing for bankruptcy, according to one of the people. Quiksilver’s European and Asia-Pacific operations won’t be part of the filing, the person said.”

The Virtue of Selfishness!

Like Ayn Rand said, "The question isn't who is going to let me; it's who is going to stop me."

As a surfer, I am a selfish, selfish person. I will greedily scratch for any and all waves that peak in my vicinity. I will roll my eyes if you are in better position to take one. I will look at shore and think, “There are no waves for YOU” when I see you paddling out. I will give you the silent treatment when you get there. I will get mad at you if you get mad at me for dropping in on you. I will shake my head in silent disapproval if you drop in on me. I will only respond, “Good” if you ask me how I’m doing. I probably won’t listen if you answer back. I will audibly groan if I see a crowd in the lineup. I will avoid any plans that conflict with my plans to surf.

I know I am not the only one to feel this way. I know this from experience. This weekend, the breaks in Southern California came to life for the first time in what felt like months. I surfed at multiple spots. Each time, I was greeted by hoards of likeminded, surf thirsty, wave mongers. I was dropped in on. I was given the silent treatment. I was jockeyed for position. I was talked shit to. I was disregarded.

What is it about surfing that produces such angst and self-centeredness? A sport that is otherwise reveled for its Zen-inducing influence? Individualism. That’s what. Surfing is a sport that supports the one. There is no team, no roster, and no room for anyone else. Just one person. One board. One need. When waves are a desired but limited resource, it becomes survival of the fittest. Competition ensues. And the needs of the one are promoted over the needs of the many. We care less about our neighbor and care only about our fix. Addicts. Selfish addicts.

Today when I realized this, I felt dirty. I needed to resolve it. I sat in the lineup and let each wave pass me by. I watched everyone else smile. It occurred to me that we are all competing for the same thing. Not waves but happiness. The pleasure that only comes from riding water. The replication of that feeling; that indescribable feeling. So today, I gave everyone else my happiness and received nothing in return. I don’t know how long that will last.
As a solution-oriented person, I’ve been searching for a more permanent answer. One that will offer more reward. It finally became so clear to me: I wish everyone else would quit surfing, so I can be happy.

Big: Dane Reynolds turns 30!

Our favorite bird has become a man.

Has any single surfer meant more to our beloved pastime over the last decade plus one year than the enfant terrible from Long Beach/Ventura? Has any single surfer made us hold our breaths, more often, or gasp as louder? I will say non! And the boy turned 30 this weekend past. He is an adult!

Let us, then, take a quick look back at the first half of a fabulous career. Do you remember Young Guns 2? He was 19 then but not enough superlatives can be employed to describe his ferocious attack.

Do you remember when he joined the World Tour, winning rookie of the year? His surfing was spectacular, of course, but his manner was even better. He was hungry to learn, to grow and change. I interviewed him at his house, around this time, and we had many laughs and I wrote a bad story (on purpose!) which he subsequently marked up with pen (innovative!).

Do you remember when he got 4th place in 2010? 4th in the world! But everyone knew Dane was better than 4th. He was number 1. “The greatest free surfer in the world!” according to Andy, or Bruce, if I recall.

Do you remember when he quit? He did not think the tour suited him, calling it “retarded” and broke many hearts. As much as we loved Dane’s video bits we loved him competing too.

Do you remember when he launched A game changer! More clips and better clips than anyone out there. Beautiful and inspiring!

Do you remember when Quiksilver paid him 23 million dollars? Worth every penny!

Do you remember his section in Dear Suburbia? My favorite by far.

Do you remember when Quiksilver almost declared, and maybe still will, declare bankruptcy (yesterday)?

What will the next decade plus one year hold for our Dane?

Jerks: The Welsh surfers hating Surf Snowdonia!

Welsh surfers shouldn't complain, they should learn to shred!

There is a tiny little shit storm brewing in South Wales. Surf Snowdonia hasn’t invited the cream of Welsh surfing to show off their wave pool and the result is a  significant amount of moaning, huffing and even grommet abuse which came to a head this weekend on social media.

Red Bull seem to have added fuel to the fire by organising a pro contest at the venue and also overlooking the Welsh brothers. A Swansea grommet opined that maybe RB weren’t that concerned by giving us lot a shot at bogging around with the best free surfers in the world. After a lengthy dressing down and character assassination he was instructed to “give up” surfing by two of his now former idols. High spirits indeed.

Ever since the invitee list for the press day  in Snowdonia was released, there have been a fair few prominent Welsh surfers stating what a travesty it is that we were not represented at the facility. The Inertia, a racist but otherwise well-intentioned website, published an article suggesting it was a ‘PR disaster’ (click here), but people are forgetting that Surf Snowdonia is a business (see Oxford dictionary) and requires top talent to highlight what it is trying to sell.

The facility needs paying customers coming through the doors to pay the bills, they have consulted knowledgeable people in British surfing and have taken advice on whom to invite to surf their waves, for free, to showcase their machine.

The  top surfers in Britain got the nod, among them, Oli Adams, Alan Stokes and Ben Skinner, all of whom’s talent is without reproach. They dutifully turned up, tore the lefts and rights to pieces and declared the place to be a success. Job done.

But oh, what’s this?

There’s a group of my peers that seem really upset about this. They are incensed that both Surf Snowdonia and Red Bull have not included any of us on their respective invitee lists: “Shame there were no Welsh surfers invited”, “Why are we not represented?” “We can compete at this level” so on and so forth.

Here’s the thing.

Firstly Surf Snowdonia is a private enterprise and they can do what the fuck they want. They made a choice on whom to invite and went with it. The fault can only be ours if we are not glaringly brilliant enough to get an invite. Red Bull are organising a pro contest. There are currently no real professional surfers in Wales.  This, too can only be our fault, no-one elses.

Secondly, this facility is in North Wales, four hours away from the winging masses. Ordinarily we don’t give a shit about what goes on in North Wales, and from a surfing perspective there is a complete disconnect between the north and south of our green, wet country.

Very few of us make the drive up north to surf, we have plenty of waves down here. Why, suddenly, are we so concerned with getting a free ticket to surf a man-made wave in the middle of nowhere? If you want to surf it that bad, get in your car, drive up there, pay your entry fee and surf the bloody thing.

Lastly, the only PR disaster here is the fact that the moaners are inadvertently advertising our mediocrity. If there is no talent shining bright enough in Wales to get even an invite to a glorified bath tub then we really do have problems.

The only reason we’re not on any invite lists is because we have been deemed unworthy. Tough shit.  If you don’t like it, do what Carwyn Williams did: get in your van, drive to Europe, put yourself up against Europe’s best and become a better surfer.

Put in the effort and refine your trade. That way you may get invited to things like this and you can stop sucking on your sour grapes and have some self-respect.