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!
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.”
Board swaps, cruelty to best friend, pussy eating, usual…
Born into loving, motherless poverty in a beachfront rental at Pipe, Jamie O’Brien’s life has always been a work of extremes.
And in this, the final episode of Who is JOB 5.0, we see, and here I dip into the press release:
“Jamie and friends surf the best swells of the year from Tahiti to Mexico including the biggest South swell in more than a decade. Shopping carts, water-skis, rafts, and the infamous Supsquatch are just part of the best quiver ever assembled by a rag tag surf bunch affectionately known as #TeamGrom.”
But how extreme? How motherless? How poverty?
Listed below, are 10 things y’mebs don’t know about JOB.
1. He’s Motherless. Jamie’s mom left baby J and dad Mick to seek her emotional fortune back on the mainland. Australian-born Mick, a lifeguard, scraped every cent he had from his seasonal lifeguard work to keep his son, and him, on the beach at Pipe.
2. He’s concerned about age. “You know what freaks me out? That it ain’t a joke that I’m actually halfway to 60!”
3. Three Red Bulls a day, mostly. “I become very energised. I just do it. My fridge is pretty much empty. There are so many scavengers coming and going around my house. And, all that’s in the fridge is Red Bull, so when they’re hungry, I tell ’em to grab a Red Bull. I grab one, go surf, then have a food attack and eat poke, drink some more.”
4. He was John John Florence’s principal tormentor as a child. “Jamie used to tease John and throw poop at the kids,” says John John’s mom, Alex.
Jamie says, “It was all in good measure.”
5. Jamie wasn’t all bad to John John. “He’s the reason John started contests in the first place. John was four and Jamie went out there in the heat and pushed him into his waves,” says Alex Florence.
6. Speaking of John John. “He’s alongside Dane and Kelly as the best surfer in the world. His surfing is so good. John is 21 and charging Jaws. John is always going to be that one steep ahead. He surfs more than anyone alive. He surfs all day long. He wakes up in the dark and surfs until dark.”
7. His heart remains loveless. “The chicks are all savages here on the North Shore. There’s no love around here.”
8. He refuses to believe his hair is red not blond: “I ain’t red. Cheyne Magnusson’s all red. Easy, brag.”
9. His win at the Pipe Masters in 2004 drives him a little nuts. “It’s a long time ago now. It pisses me off.”
10. His beachfront rental at Pipe was glorious, but his new house 20 yards back is even better. “At our beach house at Pipe I was so sick and tired of these rats and cockroaches. That was the dream pad on the beach, now I’m 20 feet from the beach. But, this place is clean and nice and not a rundown beach house. That thing was savage. ”
Derek Rielly and I, before your beloved BeachGrit, started a gorgeous little blog called LikeBitchin. It was very popular and we, both of us, wrote great unfinished surf novels that we posted serially. Has any great, truly great, surf novel ever been written? We are reimagining it here. This is my first offering. Derek’s and maybe Rory’s will follow.
8:00 am He hates the grey.
His Qantas flight seems like it is descending for ages. Through kilometers of slate grey grey without break. It was grey in South Australia too, that marbled grey which perpetually suggests rain but never offers, and he is convinced that he hasn’t seen the sun for weeks. Since Bali. When exactly was Bali? Weeks ago? Rain droplets form on his little coffin shaped airplane window. But not his, his neighbors. Middle seat hell. He lays his head back, tired. He closes his emerald eyes and almost instantly feels the wheels touch, bounce, skid on the tarmac. Newcastle. Home.
He doesn’t spend much time in this his blue-collar town. Mere weeks out of the year. He travels constantly. Around Australia, Indonesia, Mexico, Europe, the United States. Wherever there is the surf and he is obsessive about finding the surf. Like, way more than most professional surfers. He spends hours digging through wave reports (on stormsurf) and wind reports (on windguru), calling, finding it.
But he always comes back to Newcastle though Newcastle isn’t even really home. He was raised in Newport Beach, California. So he doesn’t necessarily have a home at all. But he has a family. And they live in Newcastle.
The airplane stops motoring. The seatbelt light turns off and everyone stands up except elderly woman sitting next to him doesn’t and so he doesn’t either. He is too polite to push an elderly woman out of the way even though he can’t wait to get off this plane. Flying standby has its benefits (it is virtually free when holding a Qantas friends/companions pass) but also its problems (middle seats). The elderly woman appears to be not well. He’ll just have to sit.
He forgot to switch his iPhone to flight mode before the take-off and didn’t bother mid-flight. Does it really matter? Like, really? It dings out of. “ding ding.” His filmer, Greg, has texted to say he hadn’t taken the car last night because he didn’t have enough money for the parking fee and took a cab instead but he doesn’t read the text because he can’t be bothered right now. Why does it have to be raining?
He sits in his seat and thinks about nothing much. The early morning commuters and cheap flight connoisseurs shuffle down the aisle to rain but freedom and the elderly woman finally shoves her counterintuitive frail portly frame into the flow and floats away too. Then it his turn. He slips out and bounces down toward the rear door, reading his texts (the one about his car) and bopping his head unconsciously. It is a rap tune thumping inside his memory. Pain from a rap cat.
“Man you didn’t know that
3 AM, man, we bumping Bobby Womack
My homie keep all his bullets hollow
That’s why I smell like Salvatore Ferragamo with the diamond sparrow
A rap cat with the BOSS apparel
I put my rhymes on your block then I run it just like little Darrell
Money and dope, man, don’t come for free
Man, I don’t have no competition, ho, all I got is enemies
I turn around like a tornado
Rock it like a baby cradle
Call me Doctor J if you a baller and it’s getting fatal
I make MC’s do angel dust
Take ’em to the Bay Bridge, make ’em strip, tell ’em jump
I don’t know why I get high
I’m so in love with money I keep spending ’til it runs dry
Hot like a kettle, when the pedal hit the metal
Pinocchio you know son of Guipetto, hello
Deep fried just like Friday fish
A lot a hot sauce, now we got it popping in this bitch.”
Heavy Water director Michael Oblowitz, left, and the subject of his movie, Nathan Fletcher.
Last night, BeachGrit showed a little of the Michael Oblowitz-directed documentary Heavy Water, a Nathan Fletcher biopic with an emphasis on energetic waves.
It premieres at the San Sebastian Film Festival on September 25. #SAVAGECINEMA, if hashtags are your thing.
Anyway, Oblowitz is an interesting guy. This interview just happened.
BeachGrit: You’re a busy guy. Finishing up a documentary on Sunny Garcia, one about Korean ceramics, and you’ve just finished Heavy Water, about Nathan Fletcher. But, what I really want to know is, when am I gonna get to see Sea of Darkness? I’ve been waiting forever. So many rumors flying around about the thing, what’s the deal?
Oblowitz: Martin Daly and I have made a deal with New York/London based distributor, Goldcrest. Goldcrest were responsible for some classics over the years such as Chariots Of Fire, The Killing Fields and more recently the Academy Award documentary, Sebastian Junger’s Restrepo. It was the latter film’s distribution success which convinced me that they were the right fit for our film.
BeachGrit: What I know about film making begins and ends with a single high school class. Why’s a distributor necessary? Why not just put it on itunes or something?
Oblowitz: How one distributes a film is the personal preference of the filmmakers and financiers. For the former its how the film will be perceived for the latter it’s how the money the film cost will be recouped. In my case, I’m old school. An OG filmmaker if you will. I make my films to be viewed on a big screen in 5.1 Surround Sound in a movie house. That’s the most desirable viewing platform for me. Secondarily I try to make films that are interesting to a broad audience. In this case not only the small international cadre of surf film fans (who I love and are my base audience) but I’m aiming for a larger audience who can immerse themselves in the experience of this film. Thus I need to create an audience through a large distribution network with a team that know how to manage this kind of thing.
BeachGrit: Your newest work, Heavy Water, about Nathan Fletcher, is coming out really soon. When I lived on Oahu he was like this ghost that’d pop up in random places. Like checking the surf at Alligators on a totally flat Summer day, or I’d see him out surfing alone at Log Cabins in the windiest, most horrifying, overhead close out slop. Always alone. The impression I always got was that he’s this kind of strange, super introverted, maybe a bit self destructive, guy. How close to reality is that?
Oblowitz: Nathan is a cross between The Marlboro Man and The Bob Dylan of surfing! Always changing always smoking a cigarette!
BeachGrit: Except Dylan dug fame, while it seems like Fletcher tries to stay out of the spotlight. Or, at least, doesn’t actively pursue it.
Oblowitz: Dylan repeatedly says in his lyrics how he shunned the spotlight, fame found him. “…I can’t help it if I’m lucky”..in the song Idiot Wind…”It wasn’t my intention to sound the battle charge…” another line about the unintended consequences of finding oneself in the spotlight. Nathan is quite similar. A Dylan line that really reminds me of Nathan is: “I can’t help it if I’m lucky…”
And of course the classic: “..the only thing that I could do is keep on moving on, like a bird that flew…” in Tangled up in Blue. Which, when you see the film, is the theme of much of Nathan’s life… things happen…I don’t use any Dylan songs in this film, I did that in Sea of Darkness, but you get the point…the law of unintended consequences…
BeachGrit: I just have hard time believing that anyone who gets onstage and performs doesn’t crave attention. They may not enjoy what comes with it, but there’s that “look at me” aspect that’s pretty unavoidable. And I get it, I crave attention too. I just don’t have any talent that’ll win it for me. But I’m supposed to be asking about your new flick. Who’s in it, what’s it all about? Obviously Nathan Fletcher, but is it a full-on bio, or do you focus on one aspect/event/whatever?
Oblowitz: No it’s more of an anti-bio. It adopts a rambling intuitive posture, not unlike its subject, and things just happen to him, to people who came before him, people around him. It digresses and shuffles along as the everyday elevates itself to the sacred…
BeachGrit: How long have you been working on it? How did the idea to make it come about?
Oblowitz: I met Nathan, briefly, a few years ago through his friend the great artist/filmmaker/surfer Julian Schnabel. It was not long after Nathan had surfed the historic Teahupoo wave.A lot of heavy stuff happened around Nathan, material for cinema
BeachGrit: What kind of heavy stuff?
Nathan is a man who pushes the limits of human endurance in a quiet understated fashion. At the level he performs at and with the extreme athletes he engages in his pursuits, things happen: Andy, Sion, Kirk Passmore. Things over which Nathan had no control, but happened around him.
BeachGrit: Oh man, I’d forgotten he was there all those times. And he was nearby when Peter Davi died too. So gnarly, that would have a huge impact on someone. I know Heavy Water recently premiered at the San Sebastian Film Festival, is there any way the rest of us can see it?
Nathan has been in and around a lot of heavy water, hence the title. The film has its world premiere at San Sebastián on September 25th, inshallah. If the stars align it will have a long life. Sea Of Darkness, Heavy Water, they aren’t going away….
BeachGrit: Sorry, something I read online must have confused me. I guess the only thing I have left to ask: you directed This World Then the Fireworks, with Billy Zane and Gina Gershon, as well as The Traveler, with Val Kilmer. Of those three people, which one exuded the most raw sexual magnetism?
Gina Gershon, duh! Have you seen her nude scenes in This World Then The Fireworks?
We were an official entrant in the Cannes Film Festival with that one- driving around Cannes in a limousine with Gina in some kind of transparent dress, stark naked underneath, paparazzi blasting flashes through the car window. As we walked up the red carpet, I had it all for a moment..