How to Enjoy The Minutiae of Surfing

It isn't just about the grand gesture or the majestic "swell event." Find magic in the little things…

There is no other sport with such a potential for grandeur as surfing. Football? Tennis? No matter how good you get, you’ll still be in a court of the exact same dimensions. All that changes is the size and intensity of the crowd.

But, surf?

One week ago we saw the recently head-injured Jeremy Flores (but “not brain damaged”) win in an arena that could just as easily have peeled a new flap in his skull.

And all of us know of those great days at our own beaches, when spectators line the beach and choppers hover overhead, and we find, or at least experience, a momentary grandeur.

But surfing can’t always be magnificent.

In fact, it’s rarely even good. Most of the time we nose our boards around imperfect wind-swells while competing for the experience with dozens of other surfers. Grand it ain’t.

Lately, I’ve been trying a few things to squeeze even more joy out of my sessions. As in trying to find beautiful experiences in the smallest of moments. Perfect waves? They happen, and when they do you’ll embrace like an old friend, but their scarcity shouldn’t be something to fret about.

Here are five tips to punch up the thrill of your own sessions.

1. Learn a new move: Here’s a secret. Practise something enough and you’ll learn it. Surfing is tough because you might get that one wave and that once section that lets you try that frontside reverse or club sandwich only a few times every session. But the joy it gives you when, finally, that board spins around, the fins connect back in the face, and you realise you’ve completed your first air reverse, even at some ridiculous age, is profound. Your enthusiasm goes through the roof. And you don’t need – you especially don’t need – good waves to try new moves. Never become one of those homebodies who sees a pro throw the fins and says something along the lines of, “Oh, that’s amazing, I don’t know how they do that!” Yeah, you do. There’s enough HD slow-mo cam going around to dissect any move.

Never become one of those homebodies who sees a pro throw the fins and says something along the lines of, “Oh, that’s amazing, I don’t know how they do that!” Yeah, you do. There’s enough HD slow-mo cam going around to dissect any move.

2. Open your eyes underwater. There’s so much going on under there. Swim out without a board, before or afterward, and watch the waves from below. Discover how the three-finner generates tremendous cavitation and turbulence through turns while the quad is foam free. Actually witness the way energy spins through the tube.

3. Don’t check the surf. So many days are wasting driving from spot to spot. Drive to the carpark, suit up, paddle out and vow to surf, to the limit of your ability, the waves on offer. Futile surf checking is the ultimate killer of a surf buzz.

4. Study sections. Every wave has at least three or four different sections. Learn to identify what you should hit, where you should top turn, cutback, toss the fins, spin or jump into a straight air. Look closely! They’re like secret little doors. It’s our secret garden!

5. Watch the best surfers. It’s fortunate that we can so closely examine the ways of the sport’s best. Any other sport you’d be behind a fence or 100 yards away in the stands. There’s not a thing stopping you from paddling out at Emma Wood to sit side by side with Reynolds or doing the same at Snapper with Mick and Joel. Watch how they paddle, their level of focus, the way they drop into a ledging wave.

It might be the school of hard knocks but it’s there you learn well, and you learn fast.

JOB? “Gross! Creepy! Old!” says Shaved Teen

But maybe case of mistaken identity!

Part of me feels like I should hate Jamie O’Brien. Not for any real reason, the few interactions I’ve had with him have been really positive and he comes across like a very nice guy.

It’s just that all his clips make him look like he’s having so much fun, and trying so hard to market that image. And, you know, trying isn’t cool. Cool people don’t try, they don’t care about anything. Because life is, like, pointless, man.

Damn, though, doesn’t his life look awesome? So much fun. Killer waves, a bunch of cronies, hot and cold running pussy.

Or so I assume.

A few years back I ate Thanksgiving at my wife’s employer’s house. It was lame as hell, everyone was glued to their cell phones like a bunch of spoiled teenagers. And there was only one teenager actually present. A smoking hot little eighteen-year-old nugget with small tits and a firm plump ass.

We’d been playing in the pool all afternoon and she was rocking this tiny little up-her-butt number. The kind that shows off how well her aesthetician handles waxing duty. God damn… if only…

I lost my temper and yelled at everyone for rubbing on their phones during dinner and made them put them away. Then my future unwed teen baby mama started talking about her previous night. Apparently one of her friends had ditched her at a North Shore house party so she could get humped on by some dude she just met, and girlfriend was pissed about it.

“It was so creepy, this one old guy kept trying to get me to come home with him. I had to leave and call a friend to pick me up.”

“What’s old?”

“Like, thirty. Gross. Do you know the guy? His name is Jake Brians or something, they said he’s a famous surfer.”

“Jamie O’ Brien?”

“Maybe. I don’t know. He kept saying I could stay at his house if I couldn’t find a ride.”

Poor JOB.

I, too, know the sting of appearing elderly to the ripest. Little girls can’t handle body fur, they want their boys smooth and lithe as a shaved otter.

Gimme: Shark attack inspired shoes!

The Bloodbath is here and it has never been so amazing!

Sneaker culture is something I stand very very far away from yet admire. The passion, lust, dogged pursuit. The always limited edition that turns a usually nerdy kid from Tokyo or Omaha into a vicious hunter, a Sherlock Holmes.

I don’t know what makes a great sneaker great. I don’t know what turns the crank of the sneaker head but I know what they feel. I once had a pair of Nike Air Pressures. They made me feel like Marty McFly in Back to the Future II and I loved everything about them and I would do almost anything to find a pair today.

While you’re looking for my Nike Air Pressures, though, (I’m a size 10!) check this out. Sneaker Freaker, a destination website out of Australia, has maybe done the greatest collaboration of all time. They paired with Germany-based Puma to bring not one, not two, but three sharky shoes!

The first, released in 2008, was called “The Great White” (natch) and dropped to universal acclaim. A version of Puma’s Blaze of Glory runner, they looked like a great white shark swimming on the feets. 30 pairs were even made with shark skin and sold out in seconds.

The second, called “Sharkbait,” is a turquoise terror with “hints of treasure-chest gold, mako grey midsoles and infinite black accents, it’s the perfect endgame for this predatory project.”

And the last just launched. It is called “Bloodbath” and is all red, like blood, and wow. To quote the website, “The shoe, drawing inspiration from the New Jersey shark attacks of 1916 (also the inspiration for the film Jaws), boasts a creamy crimson red leather-and-mesh upper with black accents, white and mint outsole, a gum bottom and metallic gold Puma branding.”

It is as delicious as it is insensitive. Just think of all the recent shark attack victims, more every day, seeing a shoe that glorifies blood in the water! They’d be so mad! But Sneaker Freaker proves, once again, that great design trumps all.

Go to Footwear News and read more!



What separates a rad magazine from the flock? How about a slice of inspiration mixed with a rare hit of daring? An American surf mag with a kid (in this case little Christian Fletcher) inhaling a beer on the cover? Oh What Youth!

Rebuke: Surf magazines are pointless!

Murdered trees, stale news, obscene print bills, waste, waste, waste…

Why I Still Cling to Surf Mags… Jesus christ. This is what happens when you let a commenter start writing shit.  We’re a website, not a magazine. Digital, not analog. The future, not the past.  Toe the party line, motherfucker.
I get where ol’ Negs is coming from, though. I, too, was a young boy enamored with the printed word, rushing down at the beginning of each month to the weird magazine store that kept a full selection of glossies in every genre as an excuse for the existence of the large curtained area that took up the majority of the floor space.  So many pornos.
I popped into a similar shop in downtown Honolulu a while back, near the Fort Street bus stop, where all the hobos and dispossessed mentally ill hang out.
It’s 2015, modern notions of decency meant the proprietor barely provided a pretense for his smut peddling. A handful of National Geographics, a few assorted celeb rags, arranged haphazardly in the front. A steady stream of perverts making their way to the back.
Who jacks off to a printed page these days?
I remember once, way back when I still lived in LA and the internet was barely a thing, my wife, then girlfriend, accompanied me to the newsstand. Which I guess is what they’re called, though it was a proper store.
“Wow,” she said, “This place is popular.”
Six or eight single men were browsing the shelves.
“Do that many people really buy magazines?”
I paid for my haul, a lovely selection of skate ‘zines, weird art mags, awesome independently owned adventure journals.
“Watch this.”
We left through the front door and watched the mad rush to the porn section the moment the only woman present was gone.
The point is, magazines were pointless, even when they had a point. Stale news, obscene print bills, waste waste waste. Murdered trees smeared with ink, delivered to your door once a month.  Rarely anything good in them. And even then, never worth saving. My colossal pile of cherished issues hit the dumpster years ago. Nothing of value was lost.
I don’t even think I have more than a handful of books in my house. Digital is divine. You can read them in the dark, fit thousands on little magic device, and, if you know what you’re doing, they’re all free!
No one gets to control the narrative anymore. Everyone gets a voice.
Admittedly, most of those voices spew from the mouths of morons who have nothing of value to say, but that’s hardly a new development. People haven’t gotten stupider since the 90’s. Poorer, definitely, but not dumber.
Yeah, I miss a few, and yeah, I definitely miss the money (not that it was much, but it was more), and I’m a little sad I never got to play the big man magazine mover and shaker I always dreamed of being.
But, shit, I put my effort into building a better buggy whip. The times are changing, better get with ’em or get left behind.
So I moved on. All my subs are lapsed. In the end they’ll all be dead. With the exception of a few niche titles.
The Surfer’s Journal will probably hang around for a long time, as well as… well, that’s all I got.

Just in: Shark Attack on NSW North Coast!

It's the winter of the shark! Another attack, this time at Black Beach Head, near Forster… 

Just off the wire: a man in his sixties, David Quinleven, was belted by a shark an hour ago at Black Head Beach, Hallidays Point, near Forster on the NSW mid-North Coast. The man was knocked off his surf-ski close to shore and his leg “bitten to the bone”.

A helicopter flew him to John Hunter hospital in the nearby city of Newcastle (Hello Craig Ando! Hello Ryan Callinan!).

Two surfers have died and two’ve been severely injured in the region in the last year.

It struck me as ironic that the attack came on the same day the writer Fred Pawle had a piece in Australia’s only national newspaper calling for some kind of management of shark numbers. And by sharks, ol Mr White-y, mostly.

(Read it here.) 

Considering the timing, and because nothing is quite as satisfying as an immediate I-told-you-so, I asked Fred to write a piece on why the protection of sharks is no more than a piece of moral grandstanding.

This is what he came back with:

The arguments in defence of sharks were always cliches: It’s their home. They’re majestic creatures. They’re apex preadators. And, paradoxically, more sharks are killed by people than vice versa.

It was only a matter of time – sadly hastened by futile, tragic attacks on people – before those arguments lost their persuasiveness.
Now even career researchers can’t back them up. I’ve tried to interview two of Australia’s leading researchers several times during the past two months, to no avail. They’ve both appeared on the ABC, of course, because that taxpayer-funded sheltered workshop is a swamp of green algae that welcomes like-minded envirologues with the warm embrace of quicksand. But front up to some awkward questions regarding the human toll of their “research”? Sorry, not available.
Thankfully, if my reading of things is correct, normal people are less gullible.
The first time I wrote about sharks was for The Australian, in 2000, after two fatalities in South Australia (Cactus and Elliston) in consecutive days. I humbly argued then that our respect for great whites was as much cultural as it was scientific, and, tongue-in-cheek, pointed out that surfers understandably loathed the stoopid things. The letters to the editor from outraged green critics lasted for three days. Bless
I hope the parasites who study these things, pat them on the head, and set them free to continue their carnage on surfers are experiencing the opposite response.
I’ve revisited the issue with a lot more knowledge and fervour, not to mention urgency, this time, and am happy to report that the resistance from readers has been almost non-existent. The mood is changing because there is no freaking point in letting prehistoric monsters roam freely where we play.
I hope the parasites who study these things, pat them on the head, and set them free to continue their carnage on surfers are experiencing the opposite response.
There isn’t a single human activity that doesn’t somehow affect our environment. For some reason, it’s recently become common for paranoid, depressive people to think this is a bad thing, and condemns us to imminent planetary doom. Such people should develop a meth habit or join a transsexual burlesque troupe. Maybe then they’d realise how boring they’ve become.
Meanwhile, we should all be campaigning for great whites to be put back on the menu. I’ve heard the young ones are damn tasty.
(Fred Pawle is The Australian’s surfing writer.)