Noa Deane
Noa Deane, number three in my list of favourite surfers to interview after Andy Irons and Mason Ho. If y'don't dig what he's got to say, "That's your problem, baby!" says Noa.

Noa Deane: How to survive Coolangatta!

Avoid the skate park, the post office if you're boozed and maybe the old gals at Twin Towns…

You’ll first see what makes Coolangatta what it is, first, from the window of your plane as it banks over Point Danger on its final landing approach. The vision is as fantastic as it is wondrous; a geographical twerk in your face.

There’s the rivermouth beachbreak Duranbah on its south-east flank, the everyday staple for its surfing population, but on its northern side, thoroughly protected from any southerly wind, are the points of Snapper, Rainbow Bay, Greenmount and Kirra. In between all that is the occasionally epic Coolangatta sandbar.

Coolangatta is a sweaty (literally!) sub-tropical city on the Queensland and NSW border. But an easy, breezy lifestyle doesn’t necessarily lead to utopia. If you want surf, you’ll find it. If you want a good job, maybe not. If you want drugs and a fight every time you swing your caboose after dark, you got it.

It’s a town where you can pick and choose the life you want to lead. Live like a caveman, up at first light and indoors when the sun squashes behind the mountains, and it’s a dream.

Noa Deane grew up and continues to live in a blissful state there. His advice reveals many secrets…

Best place to drink: The Sands. It’s the pub that everyone goes to start off. Maybe go to one of the clubs after, but you never know.

The clubs: Komune or Neverland. I really try to not to go but it’s too easy to get sucked in. It’s pretty funny. You always walk out of there thinking why did I do that?

The main players around town: In Cooly it’s all the local crew, Jack Freestone, Mitch Crews, until summer comes around, and then you’ll get a few people from America and the rest of the world. It’s different than Surfers Paradise where it’s gym junkie and sweatshop nation. There’s a group of people that hang out in the Snapper carpark all day long, every day. It’s a bit weird.

Where to find Mick and Joel: I don’t know about Joel but I could find Mick. If he was home after a comp he’ll be down at the Sands with the boys having a beer. If he’s not there he’ll be at D-Bah, parked in the same spot he’s parked in for years. On the hill up the side street, he loves it.

Best breakfast: Café Scooterini. Ask for the secret sandwich: chicken, aoli and fries.

Coffee: I don’t drink that shit anymore, anxiety reasons but when I did I’d go to Lido. Maybe have an English Breakfast tea and a biscuit instead.

Dinner joints: I like Top Noodle. It’s cheap, tasty and you can take beer in. Burgerlounge is incredible too, but it’s a bit more expensive.

Where to surf when it’s pumping: I surf at D-Bah. Everyone will be over at Snapper fighting the crowds and I’ll have the peaks to myself.

When it’s onshore: If it’s a northerly head down to Ballina or Tallows in Byron. When it’s flat go to Straddie, it’ll be double-overhead.

Sharks: I’ve never seen one down here, so it’s not really something to worry about. I thought I saw one once but it didn’t look very big and it stayed away.

Best kept secret: Cudgun Reef, down towards the backside of Kingscliff. It’s this crazy right reef out there, and no one surfs it. When the waves are four-foot and offshore it’s perfect.

Cheapest bar: The Sands has half-priced beers from on Fridays (from five pm til seven pm) and Sundays (two till five). You can get a schooner for $2.50 and I don’t know anywhere else in Australia that’s cheaper. You go down and get so loaded with the biggest mix bag crowd.

Most expensive bar: Café Fresh Lounge Bar. They make some rad cocktails.

Where to get plastered and not kicked out: Once again, The Sands does a pretty good job of that. When you get kicked out of Neverland just sneak across the road and you’ll be fine.

Best bar story: My friend Toby and I were at Neverland one night, standing at the top of a staircase, and this old lady was yelling at us, “I’ve fucked boys half your age,” poking us and stuff. We handed her a beer, she chugged the whole thing and went ass-over down the stairwell. She got so squished, it was heavy.

Where to find girls: Komune. A lot of girls go there. Or if you want a real rough chick go to Cooly Hotel.

My brother was walking through the park and somebody jumped out of the bushes and stabbed him, took his wallet and his phone. It’s full of crackheads that are so high they just want to kill people.

Cougars: At Twin Towns and Cooly Hotel there are a lot of women on the prowl. Watch out younger men.

Where to avoid: The park near the skatepark is such a no- zone. So many people get stabbed there and punched out. My brother was walking through the park and somebody jumped out of the bushes and stabbed him, took his wallet and his phone. It’s full of crackheads that are so high they just want to kill people.

How to get punched: Walk by the Post Office, drunk and vulnerable, and you’ll get beat up. Or if you go to the Cooly Hotel and try to back up a chick that’s getting picked on, come in and say, “Beat it bro,” you’ll be in a fight in no time. Bang.

How to buy drugs: You can really just ask anyone in a bar and they’ll probably be able to help you out. If you’re after something hard, go to a tattoo shop or porn store. They’re run by the bikies and haven’t had business in years, just drug dealin’.

How to get laid: I’m the worst person to ask for this. If you’re after a typical Gold Coast chick, be a dick to them. If you’re nice they’ll think that you’re a creep and brush you.

The girls: There are two main types, the normal chicks and the full-on Gold Coast chicks. The GC girls are pretty easy to pick out, just look for cheap cocktail dresses and caked-on makeup.

The boys: There are the surfers, then you have you’re average hipster-esque group, and then the roid-raging bikies. Somebody looking in might think this is the weirdest place, but once you get your own shit going on it’s one of the best places in the world even if there is the odd obnoxious steroid freak, but they’re always good for a laugh.

Best pickup line to use: For the average Gold Coast girl, say something really stupid. “Should we get out of here?” Don’t even bother introducing yourself. I swear people walk around the bar doing that and it works.

Pros and Cons: The biggest pros would be the waves and that there’s always stuff happening: dinner, drinks, shows. There’s not a whole lot of pressure to always be busy though, it’s a pretty relaxed place. I really like it in winter when there are not as many people and the waves are in the best shape. The bad side of it is that it’s pretty easy to get caught in a bubble and if you don’t watch out you’ll turn into something pretty rank. Everybody does the same shit and goes out to the same places over and over, it’s like Groundhog Day. Komune, Neverland, Sleep, Repeat.

During the Quiky Pro: To surf, go to D-Bah. Everyone surfs over the other side of the cliff and there’ll be no one out. I was surfing Lovers and it was five-foot and empty.  To drink, it’s Neverland prime time. All your friends from around the world get to Cooly at the same time, and are always keen for a beer. They always host the sponsor parties, which are so fun.

The best time of year: From the middle of February to June would be the best window, but shoot for April. Clean conditions and a nice east swell.

Worst time of year: October through December is horrible. You wouldn’t even bother getting in the water.

Where to stay: There are houses near Rainbow Beach that you can rent out for weeks at a time and if you have a fair crew it wouldn’t be too expensive. Otherwise, there are a few backpackers in town that wouldn’t be bad. There’s one above The Sands but it’d be hard to stay away from those beers.

How to get around: Everything is so close. You can walk anywhere in five minutes. Or skate.

Biggest events: You have the Quiksilver Pro and then there’s this Cooly Rocks On thing that is pretty huge. It runs at the very start of winter for about a month. Pop-up shops take over the beachfront.

Where to get a board: I ride for Rusty so I get all my boards from the factory in the states. But as a tourist, head to Cooly Surf. The boys in there have a shit-ton of different designs and shapers.

Best shop to waste time in: Motorcycle Music. It’s the coolest store! You have records and these crazy vintage guitars. The guy who runs it, Gary, will just jam with you for hours. Steph (Gilmore) always stops in for ages when she’s at home. But he’s only open full muso-hours, 12:30 to 6:30.

Where to buy clothes: There are a few Op-Shops that are so cheap. Re-psycle is where I’ve gotten most of my good stuff and the proceeds go towards mental health foundations. If you’re a girl go to RSPCA, it’s full of dresses and that.

Where to get a haircut: Beeba. They have nice, young ladies working there rather than weird old dudes that are real eggy, wishing they could cut your throat with the razor.

Where to go for drunken eats: The Cooly Pie Shop. When you’re really out to lunch and you get a sausage role or a spinach triangle, you’ll leave with a pretty big smile on your face.

Where to buy a book: There’s a secondhand book store next to Big Chiefs, a burger place, that is pretty good. It’s just called Secondhand Book Store.

Best Mexican food: There’s not much. I go to America and come back thinking where the fuck is the Mexican food at, because it sucks here. If you feel like driving to Byron, there’s a new place across the road from The Beach Hotel that makes amazing margaritas. You have one and you’re cooked.

How to avoid the cops: Don’t pee in public and don’t walk around with open beers. They’ll corner you and fine you $100 and be dicks about it in the meantime. Aside from that you’re fine.

Where to go when you want to get out of town: The Currumbin rock pools. They’re about 15 minutes north and such a fun spot to spend the day.

Free entertainment: If you’re not counting fuel, you can drive to the Anchorage, just up Tweed River. It’s this bridge that you can jump off of and a nice little sandy beach to hang around all day.

From the tanned cornified layer of his epidermis to eyes that shine like wet metal and hair that swells like a freshly opened fruit, Joe Turpel is number one! That voice! Somehow carnivorous and repulsively innocent! | Photo: WSL

Shocking: I like Joe!

Joe Turpel creates the most divine press box poetry, sets the scene with astonishing accuracy!

I recently had to drive ten hours miles through the great state of California. Traversing coastal planes, rolling hills, fertile valleys, scorched desert and urban gridlock, I have the privilege of making this drive about ten times per annum.

The best part? That lovely stretch where the German sedans and Italian sportsters of bayside tech millionaires and clairvoyant LA business mavericks cohabitate with lifted American diesel trucks toting confederate flags, all hell-bent on cutting the five hours from SF. to LA down to three.

They all drive like assholes. Why? Because they all drive the way above-average surfers navigate a crowded lineup. Only instead of trying to pluck a set wave from the pack, they’re seeking out that 200-meter stretch between big rigs where they can accelerate to the limits of their 2016 engines and an equally turbocharged sense of self.

Of course, like getting waves in competitive lineups, you gotta burn some motherfuckers if you operate an expensive automobile. You see many a near-death-by-forced-lane-change when driving distances on a major California interstate, and there are exponentially more quattroporte LEDs burning your pupils than there are indicators.

I like to imagine that for the sedan and sportster drivers, visibly more affluent than I, clearly in a hurry, and maybe famous, such haste is because there’s a big eighter of cocaine at the destination and a world-record cock to snort it off of. Or an orgy, preferably on a boat somewhere. Also with pure drugs and huge cocks.

The lifted bro trucks? I like to imagine that the confederate crowd — proudly of desert or valley parentage —a re urgently off to a Tea Party meeting. But with meth and cute trailer chicks.

And then there are dudes like me, the Bede Durbidge of distance drivers, guys who’re just trying to get the job done and end up on the right side of things at the end of the ride: for Bede, heats and requalification.

For me, not bumming out my in-laws or employers. But ten-plus hours down and back practically every month? There’s not a soundtrack in the world that can make passing Coalinga for the umpteenth time this year even remotely desirable.

Now, here in America, early autumn is the most exciting time to be cripplingly addicted to sports media. Like the emergence of a batch of the most ebony of black tar, the rabid sports follower finds himself at the spectatorial verge of overdose.

Late-season baseball characterized by pennant races and wildcard hopefuls. College football upsets abound, rife with narratives of rust-belt mid-majors stuffing the pigskin powerhouses of the former Confederacy while East Oakland and South Central’s fastest and most furious represent universities who would have escorted them from campus for loitering were it not for a 4.4 second forty-yard dash.

For four hours, everyone’s favorite Val-twinged monotone ejaculated some kind of unexpected, divine press box poetry, setting the scene with astonishing accuracy and even a hint of emotion!

But on the day of my drive? It wasn’t a weekend, so no American football. It was far too early for a midweek pitching battle between San Francisco and San Diego.

It was just right, however, to catch the final day of the Hurley Pro, live to the good ol’ mobile device while descending from Fresno to LA!

Now, the bitch about watching a surfing contest and driving is that it’s actually quite difficult to watch television and drive at the same time (drinking and driving is, strangely, much easier, but maybe it’s a practice thing). Even harder when what settles for ‘television’ is an undercharged cell phone placed on the dash at a less-than-ideal viewing angle.

So I had to settle for the experience of radio.

Unlike Matt Warshaw, I didn’t grow up in LA listening to Vin Scully and Chick Hearn. As for my knowledge of greater Los Angeles, I couldn’t tell you the difference between Burbank and Bell Gardens if my life depended on it.

What I do know is that the play-by-play from Trestles was delightful from a radio perspective. Mere weeks after Warshaw “wrote a hurtful piece barbecuing the brave men and women who front the WSL broadcasts”, I had the unanticipated experience of hanging on Turpel’s play-by-play for every paddle-battle, every turn, every punt, and every score of the last seven heats.

And I’ll be damned, but with the predictable (you said boring, not me!) style and trademark of each quarterfinalist so clearly engrained in the collective memory of the surfing world, Turpski’s commentary was spot on, painting an aural portrait of every wave ridden at that ever-so-iconic-if-overhyped SoCal venue.

The sets on the horizon! Mick’s deep bottom turn-to-wrap! Filipe’s corked reverse and the heartbreak of defeat! The very mechanics of the runner-up’s claims! For four hours, everyone’s favorite Val-twinged monotone ejaculated some kind of unexpected, divine press box poetry, setting the scene with astonishing accuracy and even a hint of emotion!

And although I can barely tell Turpel’s voice from Ross Williams until Ross refers to some long-forgotten trouncing by Kelly decades past (context clues!), I have to hand it to him.

Joe Turpel braved the “color” commentary of the most whitebread media team ever assembled to lay down a mean day of play-by-play, providing an enrapturing radio account that transported this commuter-listener onto the very cobblestones of the San Mateo Creek.

For this, I hesitantly —I’m told it’s a faux pas to speak nicely of the WSL without overwhelming irony — say, good on ya, Joe Turpel!

Somebody get that man some drugs and a phallus, because he’s going places fast.


Mariano Landa – 25/9/2015

Turmoil: WSL a financial sinking ship?

Two top financial executives gone within a month!

It has seemed, since the Mick Fanning shark incident, that the fates had finally smiled broadly on the WSL. Tahiti was fun and won by a brave not brain damaged youth. Kelly Slater did the most talked about 4. something ride in the history of judged sport. Mick Fanning won Trestles in boring, albeit boring, fashion.

But BeachGrit has exclusive and inside information that all may not be well. “The CFO (chief financial officer) abruptly resigned and left last week. The COO (chief operating officer) left on very short notice last month.”

Chris Payne, the CFO, worked at EBay and Tinder before taking the financial reigns of the World Surf League. There is no news, as of yet, why he resigned. Could he have accidentally swiped left?

Smart: Mike Oblowitz on surf film!

Also, is the above Brian Bielmann photo the greatest surf photo ever?

The bio-epic Heavy Water will be premiering in a few short days at the San Sebastian Surf Film Festibal. San Sebastian, for those who don’t know, is the creme de la creme of the action sport festival scene. It is extremely well run and perfectly executed and fancy. It is the one festival you should, someday, attend but do not forget your tuxedo.

South African director Michael Oblowitz (read Rory Parker’s interview here!) is a force of nature and his newest film, Heavy Water, following days in the life of Nathan Fletcher, is a brilliant piece of filmmaking. I met Michael on Oahu’s North Shore. He was amazing. A character and I lounged on his bed next to Surfing magazine’s then editor-in-chief Taylor Paul and watched Oblowitz’s other work of art Sea of Darkness.

In any case, the most important Hollywood trade, Variety, published an interview with Mr. Oblowitz today and he said the smartest thing I have ever read related to surf film. He said:

Making a film is never easy. Each project unfurls its own set of difficulties. My first surfing documentary, “Sea of Darkness,” dealt with characters derived from the 1960’s and 70’s. There was a certain romantic openness to their narrative. Whatever nefarious activities they engaged in had a native utopian goal. This kind of transcendental optimism characterized the hippie era and beyond, even when it had all turned to shit. It was kind of a self-indulgent narcissism that defined the “turn on, tune in and drop out” era.

The contemporary characters of this documentary deal in a different kind of narcissism. Nathan Fletcher is a character who is almost a throwback to the hippie era — a charismatic yet enigmatic character with a care free attitude. However, this belies a rigid disciplinary approach to riding huge waves.
For all his nonchalance and Marlborough (misspelling Variety editor’s fault not BeachGrit’s. I used to smoke!) smoking, anti-athleticism, he never appears to wipe out on a wave. The precision and control of his surfing is amazing to behold, as is his ability to survive a variety of extreme experiences. As one of the characters comments: “His senses are always sensing.”

Needless to say, the exponents of contemporary extreme sports indulge in the full panoply of extreme experiences. As Danny Fuller remarks: “…they dance with death.” This penchant for extreme behavior is often at odds with the professional attitude that the big lifestyle companies expect from their athletes. Especially when the athletes meet their demise, which is inevitable in all extreme sports. The characters in the brilliant documentary “Meru” come to mind.

It hasn’t been easy for me dealing with the consequences of this film’s narrative tropes.

Whoa! You better read that again.

Opinion: Wavepools are bullshit!

Moving surfing inland, employing freshwater, that shit's golf.

I often wonder what the average landlubber sees when they look at the ocean. Just liquid in some shade of blue or green or brown or grey? I know they don’t see channels and shallow spots and currents and peaks and corners.

I had a fun session at the local beach break today. Nothing special, chest-to-head-high storm surf, lots of water moving, the occasional corner doubling up onto the inside sandbar, sucking smooth, making for a rippable little nugget.

Deceptively powerful, as Hawaii often is, I got my ass handed to me paddling out by a fun looking little set. Duck dived straight into the bottom, just enough time to think, “Oops, I’m gonna feel this one.”

Post session, drinking ice water, trying not to be too obvious as I lech’ed out on some pretty young things, a tourist family pulled up in a bright red Jeep with two epoxy rentals strapped to the roof.  Standard stuff there, but the few guys left in the water were trading off on some fun little waves, and I thought I’d spare them the hassle of two new additions to the lineup, while protecting the kook crew from their forthcoming drubbing.

Further down the beach is an old breakwall setup. Makes for a fun left on the right swell, provides a protected little nook the rest of the time.

“Head down there,” I told them, pointing, “it’s more forgiving, you’ll have more fun.”

“It’s okay, we’ve surfed before.”

Okay. That’s fine. None of business, really. And I got nothin’ to do but hang out and see how things pan out.

Pretty well, actually. From where I was standing.

Two parents, two teens, both kids at that awkward age when they’ve grown taller but failed to build muscle. Gangly limbs. One put his leash on his left ankle the moment his feet touched sand, tucked his board under his right arm, and ran for the water. One step, two steps, three, four, and there goes the leash around his right foot. Ass over elbows, face first into a scattering of driftwood. Play it off, don’t look around, I wonder if anyone noticed?

Little brother decided to hang with Mom and Dad for a bit, big bro dusted off the shards of wood and was out there. A twenty-yard paddle in about fifteen minutes. Not bad. To his credit, he didn’t give up. Splayed legs, no idea how to paddle, but he put his head down and bashed his way into the lineup.  Almost.

He was resting when a little set popped up, board horizontal to the beach, laying across the center of it, legs dangling shoreward.  The best thing to do, obviously, was to try to push the board sideways through the lip as it pitched, frog kicking with all his might.

Upside down and backwards, over the falls he went. Managing to tombstone his board for an impressively long time, given the depth of the water and size of the surf. No doubt terrifying.

He broke the surface climbing the ladder, leash goes sproing!, earned him a nice kiss from the tail of his board, right up the side of his head.

I was enjoying myself, and was disappointed to see him put his tail between his legs and head in.  That’s not how you learn to surf! Shit’s hard, take your beatings, get better. It’s worth it.

His family packed up and headed back to their rental, where I sat.

“Man, you took a beating out there, huh?”

What a dick thing to say, right?  Rub his face in it, should’ve listened dumb-dumb.

Teenagers, yeah? He mumbled something at me. Dad was a lot more verbose.

“We surf behind the boat back home, so he thought he could do it in the ocean too. I tried to tell him it’s not the same.”

Have truer words ever been spoken?

It isn’t the same, not even close.

We can build an ersatz thrill, excavate a pit and slop around water. Fill a $40K boat with overpriced gas, let go of the rope and do airs all day long. But it isn’t surfing, because you’re not going to die.

The ocean is beyond powerful, totally uncaring, always dangerous. And, yeah, knowledge can ameliorate a substantial amount of risk, but more than one talented surfer has lost their life in less than terrifying conditions.

Playing in a medium that can easily kill you is something to be embraced.

Moving it inland, employing freshwater, that shit’s golf. It’s prim and proper and packaged and fake.  It’ll never be the future, ‘cuz it’ll always be bullshit.