surf novel

Great Unfinished Surf Novel: Literature!

One Day in the Life of John Dennis (part II)

Out the airplane rear door. Down the metal roll-up stairs still bopping and into the terminal. He has read, on iPhone, that the forecast is for clearing so his mood feels better. Plus that his car is here and he can drive himself home. Plus there is rumor of possible surf from mate Les who calls.

“Les…Nah ah just landed. Is it good? No no, ah’ll be down there by twenty. Where are you now? Are you goin’ out already? Ahhh call us when you’re goin’ down. See ya dude.”

Though Wes is unreliable. He just got a girlfriend so whenever he sees the surf, or gets to go, claims it’s all-time. Rock it like a baby cradle.

He is ready to get his bag and get to car. He knows his bag will be last because it is an oversized board coffin. Four boards inside plus one wetsuit some jeans and some t-shirts and some socks. Maybe he left his socks behind. The airport crowd is uninspiring and he needs a coffee and a surf and a breakfast and a sun. Oversized luggage is always last, never first or even mid. Leaning up against a stainless steel column he plays with one of the wool threads on his camel colored jumper. It was his dad’s or still might be his dad’s. In any case, he was too lazy to fetch a jacket out of his room before leaving for South Oz so has been wearing this oversized tan wool cable knit for the past three days. He pulls a black beanie, from his back jean pocket, over his long long almost to shoulder hair. Sunbleached from blonde to so many colors of the blonde pantheon. Girls die over it. Really go mad. He doesn’t really care.

His board coffin gets shoved, finally, through a small door near the luggage belt when only a last lonely suitcase is circulating round and round and round. He grabs its nose and drags it toward the parking structure across the way.

8:30 am

Silverchair made this town famous. Newcastle, Australia. Population . Maybe 100 kilometers from Sydney. The airport is an isolated almost Russian steppe looking area to the north. Green trees give way to a plain and there are absolutely no hills. He lives in the south, in a neighborhood named Mereweather. He’ll drive there first, collect his filmer, check the surf in Mereweather and then…He doesn’t quite know, but for sure surf somewhere.

Board coffins are such a pain. His scrapes and scratches as it drags across the wet concrete. Bounces a little up the stairs and then there it is. His car. A black Dae Woo station wagon handcrafted with pride and joy in South Korea circa 2002. Dae Woo. He got scammed on this car, royally. Picked it up from a man in Sydney for five thousand dollars as he was driving it home realized nothing worked. Not the electric windows or engine or anything. The man who sold felt so bad that after John signed the papers etc. he gave him the hugest lolly bag ever. Filled with all sorts of snakes and feet and everything etc. His dad told him to spend two grand and replace the shocks. Fat chance! For this heaper? But it still always seemed to get him where he was going and the interior smelled of comforting mildewed wetsuit but the front passenger side speaker annoyed like fuck with that little hiss it did.

He folded down the back seat and slid the coffin in, started the engine, weasled a CD from out of the glove compartment and backed out of the spot. Pursuit of happiness.

“Crush a bit; little bit; roll it up; take a hit

Feelin’ lit feelin’ like two am summer night

I don’t (hisss) care; hand on the wheel; drivin drunk; I’m doin’ my thing

Rollin the midwest side and out livin’ (hisss) my life getting’ out dreams

People told me slow my road I’m screaming out fuck that

Imma do just what I want lookin’ ahead no turnin’ back

If I Fall If I Die Know I (hissss) Lived It To The Fullest

If I Fall If I Die Know I Lived And Missed Some Bullets.”

Driving round and round and round until the fee pay machine. He doesn’t know what the fee is because he pays on one of his two new credit cards and throws the receipt on the ground before looking at it. Credit cards. It took him, like, an hour to sign the back of these two because he was trying to sign the strip that is normally swiped. He finally figured it out but not before being laughed at by his friends. Li’l bastards! But it was funny.

He crawls through the exit gate and onto the main gate. Possible clearing? Looks not in the cards. It is raining and really raining. And really cold. He would turn the Dae Woo heater on if it worked.

The road leaving the airport, two lanes, is empty and speeds by the desolation and then the outskirts of The Steel City and then the plants where his dad works. He didn’t work here when the family first moved to Newcastle, he worked as an electrician, but now he is a manager at….this plant here to the right. John isn’t sure exactly what he does.

He continues driving. Oncoming cars’ lights reflect off the wet asphalt. The brick buildings look drab against the drab sky.

They pass. Pubs, etc. Opportunity shops etc.

He speeds past the downtown train station and looks at some of the new apartment units that have been built over the port. The construction is quality and they look like they’ll hold their value, whatever that might be. International housing bubbles, which sent the whole world into financial crisis, never hit Australia and things look better and better here.

He winds through parts of town and out in front of the ocean and stops to watch.

He gets out of the cold and a touch drafty Dae Woo interior, stands on the wet curb and looks at the waves for a minute and there is certainly swell. Looks to be either straight east or nor’east. Forster might be all time. Newcastle ain’t terrible. The Gold Coast is probably perfect. He stands in front of the ocean and watches lines streaming in. He watches a few surfers scratch in over the lip and down racing walls that line up not quite as good as he would want. Though he has been stoked for surfing heaps. Been so excited. As excited as he’s been in a long time. He’s got good boards going from JS, his shaper. That’s why he’s been excited. “I’ve got good boards.” Mmmmm.”

He stands in front of the white wooden guardrail, in front of the beach grass which leads to the sand and the ocean and watches the waves peel. “It’s shit.” It isn’t really shit but it might be a bit dumpy. But there is surf and surprise beyond surprise, possible clearing. The overcast ends in an abrupt line just kilometers away. “Clear here!” he thinks. “It is so wintery cold, huh? Looks fucked. Out there, there’s some good reefs. A couple. It should be improving. I wonder if Sydney’s sunny? It has to get sunny.” Another set steams in over the horizon. Thinks more, “There’s a couple of little swells. If it was bigger….this place gets so good when north swells come. Like, see how the lines are going down like that? It wraps around…You get big lefts that barrel. Funny how excited my friend Les gets. That sucks pretty much.”

He climbs back into his Dae Woo and heads home.

Almost there he pulls through an intersection that gave him a terrible fright a few weeks ago. Right there. He almost died. The memory floods. He told his sister moments after it happened, shakey kneed and pale faced. “Ah was comin’ from here and there was a car comin’ this way on that street and he started driving so I thought he’s driving and I’m not even gonna stop. I thought we’d go like that. Like in sync. So I was sweet. Then I looked this way. And there was a car fuckin’ straight in front of me. It almost tagged me good. And I pulled over and sat for ten minutes. It was the worst.”

Billy Stairmand wavepool

Novelty: Albee Layer Wins WavePool contest!

Completes metamorphosis from goose to swan! Wins Red Bull Unleashed at Surf Snowdonia, Wales!

Earlier today, the Red Bull Unleashed event at the Surf Snowdonia wavepool in Wales ran its length. All things considered, it was a good-natured event and well furnished with non-WSL surfers.

These surfers included Jack Freestone, Mitch Crews, Ian Crane, Evan Geiselman, Zeke Lau, Kalani David, US Open winner Hiroto Arai, Kalani David and Albee Layer.

Let me tell you the result: the Hawaiian Albee Layer is no longer a goose but a swan!

In mostly identical two-ish foot waves, Albee worked a surprise act that showed his manifest intention to leave the judges (Pipe Master Jake Paterson, World number two Brad Gerlach and Alain Riou, the Tahitian once beaten by a girl in a heat) gasping.

Let’s dip into the press release, momentarily.

“Layer was consistently the fan favourite, picking up on the nuances of the tricky waves early on and mixing up his manoeuvres to keep the crowd and judges entertained. His musical selections were as sharp as his surfing, and between his 80s metal and pop shuvits it was clear from the early rounds that Layer was the man to beat, despite being one of the bigger surfers in the draw. Aside from Layer and Jack Freestone the WaveGarden proved to be the domain of the lighter surfer this week, and Stairmand, Crane, Mitch Crews, Kai Hing, Ian Gouveia and Hiroto Arai were but a few of the fleet- footed ninjas who left their mark on Surf Snowdonia this week.

“In the semi finals Layer had to come from 2-0 down to beat Crews 3-2 on his final wave, in what will be remembered as the best duel of the event. In the second semi final Stairmand accounted for Freestone 3-0, before rolling on to the ultimate duel with Layer, who carried the momentum of his epic win over Crews into a 3-1 defeat of Stairmand.

“Sprayed with champagne on the podium, Layer, who notoriously does not compete, couldn’t help but beam with pride. “I didn’t know what to expect coming here,” said the Maui local, “but it’s been incredible. Surfing so close to so many people, music playing, heaps of energy in the air, to get the win is crazy. If more events were like this, I’d do them!”

Albee Layer and Billy Stairmand
Event winner Albee Layer was overcome by love for…everyone… and loved Billy Stairmand, if briefly, like a brother.

Can you feel the vibrations?

We’ll take a little more of the press release to explain the event.

“As opposed to traditional half hour heats, there are no second chances at Red Bull Unleashed, every wave counts and falling is a curse. “It’s cool!” said keen spectator Jordy Smith, “you both have an equal opportunity, and there’s no two ways about it, the best surfer always wins. You can’t afford to fall so you really have to walk the fine line between pushing it to the limit and pushing it too far.”

“Throw in an audience 10-feet away and a DJ pumping out the surfer’s chosen tracks, and you have a stadium-worthy spectacle. “The crowd’s right above you, as close as you can possibly get to someone on a wave,” said Smith, “some guys thrive off it, other don’t. It’s an arena for those who can feed off the energy of the crowd.”



Albee Layer (HAW) 3 def. Billy Stairmand (NZL) 1

Semi Finals
SF1. Billy Stairmand (NZL) 3 def. Jack Freestone (AUS) 0

SF2. Albee Layer (HAW) 3 def. Mitch Crews (AUS) 2

Quarter Finals
QF1. Billy Stairmand (NZL) 3 def. Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 1

QF2. Jack Freestone (AUS) 3 def. Kai Hing (AUS) 1

QF3. Albee Layer (HAW) 3 def. Jayce Robinson (GBR) 1

QF4. Mitch Crews (AUS) 3 def. Ian Crane (AUS) 1

Round One
H1. Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 3 def. Alan Stokes (GBR) 0

H2. Billy Stairmand (NZL) 3 def. Leo Fioravanti (ITA) 1

H3. Jack Freestone (AUS) 3 def. Evan Geiselman 0

H4. Kai Hing (AUS) 3 def. Kalani David (HAW) 0

H5. Jayce Robinson (GBR) 3 def. Hiroto Arai (JPN) 0

H6. Albee Layer (HAW) 3 def Ian Gouveia (BRA) 2

H7. Ian Crane (AUS) 3 def. Mikey Wright (AUS) 2

H8. Mitch Crews (AUS) 3 def. Reubyn Ash (GBR) 1

Goals: To be a surf expert on Fox News!

What do you dream of doing?

I’ve got goals, one of which is positioning myself as a media expert on surfing. Being the guy Fox News uses when they need someone to go off half-cocked, yammering on about vaguely racist subjects with no basis in reality seems like it would be fun as tits. Probably pays pretty well too.

My problem is my filter, or rather, lack of one. Since I have no real incentive to keep my thoughts private I occasionally hear something come out of my mouth which, really, would have been best left unsaid. Fortunately most people don’t take me very seriously, and since I’ve more or less effectively branded myself as a creative type I feel like there’s some expectation of half wit insanity.

But I need more practice. I swear too much, I’ve got a terrible tendency to make unconsciously anti-semitic remarks (and I adore the chosen people), I’m easily riled but have hard time sustaining that fervor for longer than a few minutes. I also lack a bullshit doctorate to give my opinions weight, and you just cant buy them online as easily as you once could.

I recently had the opportunity to be interviewed for a podcast about surfing, which fits my end game to a tee, and I lept at the chance. I think I’ve got a beautiful, resonant, mellifluous voice, if a tad nasal, and I’ve been told many times throughout my life that I’ve got a face made for radio.

It was a perfect fit.

And I could plug Beach Grit, cross promotion galore!

Go here.

Mick Fanning wins Trestles
A poor student of surf technique will call Mick Fanning boring, or predictable. He ain't. There's a thousand variables in the movement of his feet, his board, his torso. It's a beautiful thing to watch. Who else can conjure that kinda speed out of a sliver of fibreglass. | Photo: WSL

Pillage: Mick Fanning wins Hurley Pro!

It's murder at Lower Trestles!

In conditions described by Peter Mel as “rough around the edges” Mick Fanning, three-times world champ, four come December, exposed the little waves of Lower Trestles to grave violence. He beat Adriano De Souza in the final and now swipes the yellow jersey off Adriano’s little back.

Here’s a taste of his finals jam.

A poor student of surf technique will call Mick Fanning boring, or predictable. He ain’t. There’s a thousand variables in the movement of his feet, his board, his torso. It’s a beautiful thing to watch. Who else can conjure that kinda speed out of a sliver of fibreglass in crummy two-footers?

“A flow clinic from Mick Fanning! Always organic!” said the commentator Ross Williams. “The last line in the judging criteria is speed, power, flow. Cross that out and write Mick Fanning’s name.”

Mick now plans to go to Europe “and put a few more nails in.”

And he will.

Watch Mick v Gabriel, in their semi final.

Watch Adriano v Filipe, in their semi final.

Oh! And watch the most theatrical interference claim in history! Here!

Carissa Moore Trestles
Carissa has her technique dialled better than anyone on tour. | Photo: WSL

Does Carissa Have the Best Technique on Tour?

The two-time world champ wins the Swatch event, leads tour. And there's a reason… 

A few minutes ago, Carissa Moore won the Swatch contest at Trestles, easily beating the South African Bianca Buitentag. She leads the gals going into Portugal, a contest that starts  in four days.

(Watch the final here)

What’s the secret to her dazzling success? Fitness? Boards? How about a flawless, almost-men’s WSL level technique.

Technique matters. It’s the difference between being a game changer and a numbers maker. Between top three or better in the world and shuffling orbits on the qualifying series.

It’s the difference of an eighth of an inch in foot placement, the ability to be able to shift around your board in response to curves in the wave, to the subtlety of the rocker in your board and the shape of the rail line.

And Carissa Moore? The two-timer from Honolulu? She’s got her technique dialled better than anyone on tour. Stephane Gilmore is close, but with style in her mind, she’ll ride a little forward if necessary to find the aesthetic she’s chasing.

Carissa, like Kelly Slater, finds her own style in the perfection of her technique. That only in the purity of her function will form follow.

Watch her in motion, here, in her semi-final against Dimity Stoyle.

I want you to watch how she opens her shoulders on those top turns (spray!), how a familiarity with the boards of her shaper Matt Biolos allows her to surf as if the board was an extension of her feet (note how she’ll delay her bottom turn to allow the wave to hit the bank a little harder, to curve, so she can attack… exactly… in the pocket).

Shane Beschen, the former sparring partner of Kelly Slater (same age, once scored three 10s on three waves in a World Tour heat, still the highest-scoring heat in history) knows it. He’s been working on Carissa’s air game (trampolines, video sessions at Trestles) and he’s seen her refine her technique to such a point, she can hammer a move that’ll give her a heat, at will. All she needs in the waves.

“There was a moment at the US Open at Huntington Beach,” says Shane. “And she was in the semis and losing to Sally Fitzgibbons. The waves were really bad and it was high tide and it had stopped breaking on the outside. It came down to one wave. Carissa caught it, there was nothing to hit on the outside and she barely had enough momentum to get to the shore. But, when she got there, she did this huge throw-tail. A proper throw-tail. She threw half the board out of the water and stomped it clean. You see very few things like that in women’s surfing. The crowd went wild. I was super psyched but I didn’t know how the judges were going to react. No moves on the outside? But she scored a nine.”

Technique? Yeah, it matters.