Mason Ho
…serving up a little whipped cream to the world title race. And Strider's hair? Menopausal lesbian cut? | Photo: Julian Wilson

Replay: Mason Ho’s Portugal Interview!

Who else does post-heat interviews like Mason Ho? He vibrates like little dog!

I only made it a few minutes into ADS v Pires before turning off the webcast and heading to bed. Only nine-ish, Hawaiian time, but I had a long session earlier in the day, my body is still recovering from my last surgery, and I was pretty wiped.

I’d’ve soldiered on if it had looked worth the effort, but with waves resembling a fun day at the Newport River Jetties, pretty good for normal humans, not so awesome for competitive rippery, sleep seemed the better option.

I woke up this morning, dutifully headed to the WSL site to check the heat analyzer. Looks like I made the right call. Pretty uninspiring stuff. Even JJF, owner of the highest heat total of the day, failed to excite.

Mr Mason was my highlight.

His surfing was good, barely restrained, you could see him holding back.  Quivering with excitement, dying to go balls to the wall, but dialing it down a few notches, from his natural eleven to a heat winning 7.  Which is what it takes to take it.

Mason’s body language reminded me of my french bulldog, Mr Debs, when he knows we’re going for a walk but I make him sit at the front door and wait for me to get my shit together. Muscles tensed, eyes wide, chock full of excitement. Shaking so fast he’s vibrating. Mason’s his human equivalent, not in physical build, just all around adorability. Which I’m pretty sure is a real word.

He’s the perfect polar opposite of Dane.

Reynolds is so obviously over the comp scene, not that I blame him. Like a lot of people who dedicate their youth to a single pursuit he’s moved on. There’s more to life.

But Mason’s so obviously stoked to be there. You can even see it in his surfing, riding that fine line between amped and out of control. And you can taste it in his post heat interviews. They’re always gold, last night was no exception.

That little grin, the body language that says he doesn’t want to gush but just can’t help it. I’m opposed on principal to giving multiple wildcards to the same person, but our little Ho is making me rethink that position.

One thing I wonder about, and I feel a little bad for asking, do you think Strider cruises into his hair stylist, sits down and says, “Give me the menopausal lesbian”?

(Video should autoplay at the interview, but if it doesn’t, head to 1:59:00)


Owen Wright
"This is the first time I've surfed conditions like this in years," said Owen Wright after losing to contest alternate Caio Ibelli. "I'm devastated to go out in conditions like that. There's no hiding from it."

Owen: “A crucial heat and it’s one foot!”

World title hopefuls tumble like dice at the Moche Rip Curl Pro Portugal…

Supertubos is my favorite wave in Europe and I’ve gotten the best barrels of my life there. I live in Portugal. I know how good it gets. I love the joint.

Now get this stop off the fucking tour.

Or make it mobile.

As the second-last event on tour, the implications of this stop are obvious. Last year, Gabriel Medina and Kelly Slater were eliminated in consecutive round three heats by Brett Simpson and Aritz Aranburu. The waves sucked and the world title was on the line.

This year, the victims are Owen Wright and Julian Wilson, numbers three and four in the title race. Both are almost certainly eliminated from contention after consecutive round two losses, both served up by contest alternates in barely QS-worthy waves.

Owen summed it up in his post-heat interview when asked about the world title implications of the loss, saying he “hadn’t surfed waves like that in years… that’s the part I’m pretty spewin’ about. Apart from my performance, I felt like I did ok, but yeah, the world title part I’m devastated about that. To go out in conditions like this, you know, this is not what we surf all year. This is a one off. It’s a crucial heat for me, and you know, its one foot. There’s no hiding from that. I’m pissed off about it.”

Julian mustered a similar, yet more concise response: “It’s hard. You work so hard all year to get in the title race and it comes down to those conditions. It’s a tough pill to swallow for sure.”

At this time of year, Supertubos can be real fickle, mostly  due to the shiftiness of the wind. There can easily be a week straight of south wind (as was seen the two previous years) or west wind (which will make its debut during next week’s run of swell), in which case it’s shit for Supertubos.

However, I’m sure everyone remembers all the dreamy GoPro barrel footage from last year’s comp. Just in case you forgot, it’s the same footage being looped throughout this year’s broadcast. Yes, that was in the Peniche area, and yes, it was firing like that exactly during the contest window.

What makes it even more ironic is that the stretch of coast at which it was filmed happens to lay directly in front of where the majority of the competitors stay while in Peniche and is no more than ten minutes from Supertubos. The same thing happened two years ago as well.

What makes Peniche (and Portugal as a whole) such a good place to go surfing is that there are beaches angled in every direction, all of which get swell. To put that it into perspective, during these last two shitty days of competition, there were spots within 30-minute drive that were firing (or at least much better than Supertubos).

Even now,  they are claiming that there are waves on the way. However, it’s obvious the wind is going to be straight onshore. I guess big junk is better than little junk, right?

I got a little advice for the WSL. Mobilise and use the bounty of easily accessible waves in the region or take this event off tour.

Either that, or just come straight out and say that wave quality is simply not the top priority for WSL. Given how important this event is to both the local economy and the thriving Portuguese surf scene in general, I can guarantee permits are not the issue.

Sack up or pack up.

And now the highlights!

Round two results:
Heat 1: A. de Souza, 12.43, T. Pires 6.17
Heat 2: C. Ibelli 13.33, O. Wright 12.37
Heat 3: M. Ho 13.93, J. Wilson 13.06
Heat 4: I. Ferreira 11.50, T. Hermes 9.74
Heat 5: J. Flores 12.76, A. Aranburu 12.00
Heat 6: R. Christie 10.73, W. Dantas 8.70
Heat 7: J. Florence 16.20, G. Hall 8.70
Heat 8: K. Otton, C. Hobgood
Heat 9: J. Parkinson, A. Melling
Heat 10: A. Buchan, S. Zietz
Heat 11: J. Andre, K. Andino
Heat 12: M. Pupo, M. Bourez

Investing: “I lost my shirt!”

But Nick Woodman lost $1,400,000,000.00! But my shirt was really nice.

I was riding high on a cloud of optimism a few short months ago. “Action sports is a growth industry!” I thought “It bottomed out after years of questionable decision-making (hello, Rossignol!) and now we are all going to ride a rocketship to financial glory!”

And I wanted to join in on the largesse. I wanted to rub shoulders with the big wigs, the hoity-toity, so I threw money at Quiksilver’s (ZQKSQ) stock and at GoPro’s (GPRO) stock and waited for my invitation to ring Wall Street’s opening bell.

Then Quiksilver went bankrupt.

And GoPro shed 50% of its value.

This last one actually took me by surprise. Apparently “market downdraft” and persistent rumors that Apple is going to get into the cam game have shredded GoPro.

Now I’m poor.

But guess who else is poor? GoPro’s CEO Nick Woodman! According to Bloomberg Biz:

Nick Woodman, the billionaire founder of action camera-maker GoPro Inc., has seen his fortune fall $1.4 billion this year…

GoPro is down 53 percent in 2015. Woodman’s net worth is down 46 percent for the year to $1.6 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, buoyed by cash from sales of GoPro shares. Apple is up about 2 percent this year, according to data collected by Bloomberg.

The decline comes even as the company has sought to expand its reach, including a deal with Toyota Motor Corp. to use GoPro as the on-board camera for its 2016 Tacoma pickups, and the hiring of Hulu’s Charlotte Koh as head of a newly created division to produce features and series.

GoPro’s rout has also hit Woodman’s compensation. He collected $287.2 million last year, mostly in restricted stock, which made him the highest-paid executive in the U.S. One-third of the shares paid out immediately. Another two-thirds were earned based on price targets the company hit in January — the first month of a three year performance period. Those will pay out through June 2017, according to the company’s proxy.

He remains the highest-paid executive in the U.S., according to the Bloomberg Pay Index, though his compensation has fallen to $136.3 million. The second-highest earning U.S. executive, Liberty Global Plc Chairman and CEO Michael Fries, has seen the value of his 2014 pay fall to $119.4 million from $132 million. Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla Motors Inc., is No. 3 with a current value of $115 million.

Nick! If you need to supplement your income, now that you’re poor, you can come work with us at BeachGrit! Like GoPro, we are a fast-paced business with an eye toward year-on-year growth. Also like GoPro, we use Apple products to….oh wait.

Quiksilver Bankrupt

Quiksilver gets $175m bankruptcy loan!

Unsecured creditors, meanwhile, get screwed for $192 million…

Bankruptcy is a helluva biz. You can wipe away years of bad decision with a snap of the fingers and leave all those poor schlubs that kept the biz alive for all those years with their textiles, their services, their artisan skills, holding out their hands, begging for a few pennies in the dollar.

In the case of the bankrupt surf icon Quiksilver Inc, which has just won court approval for $175 million in bankruptcy financing ($115 million from the largest distressed-debt investor in the world, Oaktree Capital, the rest from the Bank of America), unsecured creditors who are owed more than $200 million would get to split seven-and-a-half mill.

What’s that work out to? Three and three-quarter cents out of every dollar.

Let’s do a little maths. Say you were owed a hundred grand. You get a little under four gees back.


Quiksilver Inc, meanwhile, will exit court protection with half-a-billion dollars less debt.

Not that the circling by distressed debt investors is over, even if Oaktree is the front-runner.

Read the full story here. 

surf writing
Vast fortunes are made in the surf writing biz. From left: Matt Warshaw, Nick Carroll, Sean Doherty and the BeachGrit affirmative action squad featuring me, Chas Smith and Rory Parker (head arrogantly swivelled away from camera). | Photo: Peter Taras

5 Rules for the Golden Age of Surf Writing!

Learn to hold a grudge and don't be a coward… 

This is the Golden Age of Surf writing. Chas Smith said it here, so it must be true.

But also, objectively, it is true.

At one end of the spectrum, you have the wise old men of the establishment like Nick Carroll and Shaun Doherty laying down smooth grooves. So trustworthy! So objective!

And, at the other end newer hands with different voices. You like a bit of tropical fruit in your daily word salad? Dell Rielly is your man.

Even fruitier, with impeccable Somalian/Yemeni surf cred and a Tom Wolfian penchant to suffer for style? Chas Smith will delight and infuriate with equal elan.

What about brutal semi-autobiography dripping with 100 proof machismo and Ray Carver word economy? Rory Parker has you all in check baby.

“Wild” Bill Finnegan has got the coolest, most detached New Yorker prose going anywhere outside New York City, even when his gal takes up with a Cuban revolutionary and he discovered Tavarua. Impeccable cool cat! All tastes accounted for!

Surf writing is taking over the world. We are all surf writers now. As we speak university courses are being rolled out in Slovakia, Borneo, Hamburg, Minnesota and many other places including Pakistan. Community colleges in Humboldt County California are struggling to find tutors to keep up with the demand. Everyone wants to luxuriate in the warm international bath of surf writer-hood and why not? Plenty of room for everyone. But please newbie surf writers, let’s try and advance the art form whilst we all enjoy the fruits of the Golden Age.

Here are some simple rules to follow.

  1. Say Something

So simple. So often neglected. Before you sit down to write you have to have something to say, an idea, a premise, a point of view. Facts won’t do. Facts without a narrative are meaningless. This is Kurt Vonneguts first rule of writing in effect: use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time is wasted. The concept of a premise is sometimes easier to understand in the negative. These are examples of non-ideas: a college graduate intern at The Inertia writing a thousand words on a subject of their choice for free, wanting to help your friend by writing an encouraging review of their film/music/writing, re-printing a WSL press release without context, wanting to surf Macaronis with pros and writing about the trip, writing about a pros first day on the CT.

Nothing to say? No problemo hombre. Put the pen down and hit the bricks pal. Go about in the big wide world and do some living.

Tip: Failure is more interesting than success. And easier to access.

2. Don’t write to a word count

Nothing can rescue a shit premise or non-idea, nothing. So don’t compound the error by padding it and making it even it an even more miserable waste of time for the poor sap reading it. Don’t say in a thousand words what you can say in 500 or 50. If your idea is good, strip it naked and send it into the sunlight to dance. If it needs twelve thousand words then defend that to the death against ignoramus editors.

3. Don’t be a comment coward

Is there anything lamer than someone who can punch in the co-ordinates but can’t deliver the ordnance in the comments section? Answer: Nein, non, nyet. Surf writer, you ain’t Moses strolling down from Mount Sinai delivering the Ten Commandments on stone tablets. So wipe that smug grin of your face. Everything you say is contestable and maybe completely wrong. The article is just the entrée, foreplay and nothing else.

It’s in the comments where the surf writer has to show up, get down and turn it loose. If you can’t defend your ideas in the comments then they were probably shit to begin with. Like a major, you drive for show, putt for dough. That is to say, the short game, via social, via the comments, is where the shit goes down. The ancient conceit amongst the old print surf writers is that they are smarter than their audience. For the USA, wrong. For Australian readers, maybe. A safer place to start is the assumption that the commenters are smarter than you and you better get ready to hustle. If you can’t make boogie-woogie in the comments then GTFO.

You got your nose bloodied in the comments surf writer? Get over it, you had it coming!

4. Make the call

Art is long, life is short and success is very far off, said excellent Polish surf writer Joseph Conrad. Except, for the surf writer there is no success. It’s not a career, it’s a calling, an affliction. To rip off Hunter Thompson: a cheap catch-all for fuckoffs and misfits — a false doorway to the backside of life, a filthy piss-ridden little hole nailed off by the building inspector, but just deep enough for a wino to curl up from the sidewalk and masturbate like a chimp in a zoo-cage.

Surf writers are loathed by their fellow surfers, scorned in polite company, destined to always mumble out of the corner of their mouths when asked what they do: “surf writer”. Not real writers. Bush league batters left to die on the diamond. Parasites, low lifes, gutter dwellers according to Miki Dora via Maurice Cole.

What to do then? Make the call. If you saw it, call it as you saw it. As you see it. Don’t lose courage at the critical moment surf writer. All that is required, said Lester Bangs, is to be honest…and…unmerciful. Those people you’re writing about, they ain’t your friends. If you want to write to make them look good then you’re in the wrong neighbourhood. You need the one over there marked PR, with all the fancy homes and good looking girls.

Be like the Godfather of surf writing Freddy Nietzsche, he who “handles his language like a supple blade and feels from his arms down to his toes the perilous delight of the quivering, over sharp steel that wants to bite, hiss, cut.”

The best surf writer is the one having the most fun in hiding from the most people.

5. Hold a grudge

Weird thing: surfing is mostly nothing but a frivolous pastime undertaken by privileged white people but to write about it it has to feel like the most important thing in the world, with high stakes where nothing else matters. To you. That means you take every slight personally, not thanks very much for the feedback like a college circle jerk, but fuck you very much and everyone that you love. You don’t roll over like a cocker spaniel waiting to get it’s tummy tickled when someone slights you.

No writer worth anything a damn hasn’t held a grudge. Norman Mailer punched Gore Vidal in the head after Vidal wrote a negative review of Mailer’s (shitty) book Prisoner of Sex. Vidals’ response: “Once again, words fail Norman Mailer”.

Who was the better writer? Mailer wrote better novels, Gore was the superior essayist. In the end, after more than twenty years, they called a truce. If criticism doesn’t stab you in the heart and make you want to commit bloody homicide then you ain’t no surf writer. Above all though, if it isn’t fun you ain’t doing it right.

To put the cherry on the cake here is the definitive list of the Top 5 Surf writers of all time.

Top five.

  1. Derek Hynd

2. Louie Samuels

3. Blasphemy Rottmouth

4. John Millius (for Apocalypse Now script, Big Wednesday, not so much.)

5. Andrew Kidman

OK,  Top Ten, to quell dissent

6. Miklos Dora

7. Dave Parmenter (despite the appalling error of judgement over SUPS).

8.Chas Smith

9. Cori Schumacher

10.Michel Houllebecq (for Lanzarote, funniest book about German lesbians on a surf island ever).