surfer hair

NY Times: Surf-skate leads digital media!

Befuddled, once-great broadsheet, the NY Times, five years too late to party…

I’m always a little confused by the way mainstream media likes to refer to Millenials (those of us born between 1980 and 2000) as “young people.”

I was born in 1980, I’m 35 years old, far closer to middle aged than “young.”

I suppose it makes sense in the context of The New York Times, an archaic rag that earns its bread from an elder contingent too befuddled by internet tomfoolery to figure out how to find information online. To those geriatric fucks, a generation that spent their adult years dismantling every social program they benefited from, we all seem young.

Today’s technology section circle jerk contains a fascinating examination of digital media, and how hip and new it is.

It’s the next big thing guys! Did you know kids use the interwebs to look at stuff? Videos of extreme action sports. So radical.

Why is this in The New York Times? How is it relevant at all? Why is something that’s old news being used as new news? Money. Or the supposed opportunity for people to grab a hold of some of it.  Not the people who create it, of course. The people who distribute it.

“…as the audience grows beyond devotees, the opportunity arises to make videos and films with higher production values that fans are willing to pay for.”

Except probably not.

The driving force behind the majority of high quality surf and skate clips is advertising, something us “millenials” aren’t so hot on paying for any more. Pretty hard to monetize something I can, and will, easily torrent.

Even harder to get me to pay attention to an ad, a couple of clicks, a great little browser extension, and that shit’s gone. Red Bull gets it. They don’t try and charge for content, their whole gig is meant to make their addictive swill seem cool so they can hook little kids.

And it works. Very well. Add those of us who don’t drink the stuff get to see cool shit. It’s a win/win, except for the obese preteens with heart conditions, but who gives a fuck about those brats? Not me.

And we’re broke.

I mean, I’m not, I’m solid lower middle class, but that’s because I’m a kept man. But I was poor, not very long ago. So poor I couldn’t afford a cable subscription, something I only missed for a bit, and once it was gone I realized how much better my life had become. Like pills, basically. So good when you’re on ’em, so glad they’re gone when you aren’t.

The old way is dying, the new way won’t work. I refuse to pay a middle man for content. If Vimeo thinks I’ll give them a penny to watch videos other people sweat and bled for they’re even higher than I am right now.

(Read the story in the NY times here) 

Freddy Patacchia Jr

Freddy P’s sudden (and odd) retirement!

World #28 scores ten, wins first round at Trestles, quits…

The thirty-three-year-old Hawaiian Fred Patacchia Jr quit the WSL main game this afternoon after beating Gabriel Medina and Bede Durbidge in round one of the Hurley Pro.

With a little under five minutes left in the heat, and a minute after scoring a 10 for the swift murder of a five-foot set, Fred caught a wave alongside Gabriel Medina, high-fived the current world champ, and came in to rapturous applause. He was wrapped in a Hawaiian flag (hello Union Jack!) and announced his retirement, effectively immediately, in his post-heat interview.

Ross Williams was first on Instagram, posting a photo of his “chicken skin brah!!!”

Now ain’t that some way to retire! Screw the possibility of winning the contest, I just hit a ten, I’m out. It’s the oddest thing ever!

It’s in marked contrast, of course, to most surfers, who grind away, grind away, gradually slipping down the ratings until, sometime in their mid-to-late-thirties, they disappear altogether.

Who doesn’t like a little dignity in their farewell?

Fred’s career ain’t bad, in hindsight. He was the 2005 tour rookie (finished 14th), climbed to 12th the following year (his best), but tended to hover in the twenties.

What will he be most remembered by? His last-ever ride, a ten?

Or his frenzied attack upon the Snapper Rocks?

And here’s his goodbye interview…

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.