Ritual: Being chaired up the beach

"It is a great evil and it should be stopped."

There are few guarantees in life, fewer in surfing, but you can rest assured that if a man or woman wins a surf contest, two friends, acquaintances, countrymen or sponsors will be there to chair him or her up the beach.

In theory it is wonderful. There she are, held above the adoring masses who cheer her accomplishment. She floats through them, like royalty, carried by overwhelming support until finally reaching the stage. A frenzy of applause as she takes her trophy and blows kisses. She is queen of the world!

In practice it is awkward. Maybe once a year, maybe once every other, at one professional surfing contest is the crowd actually thick enough to extend from beach to stage, you see. Thus when his two friends, acquaintances, countrymen, sponsors arrive at water’s edge they are alone with maybe a cameraman standing nearby. They lift him up, not gracefully, placing one buttock on each of their shoulders. Often the hoisters are not the same height leading to severe bending of the spine. Onlookers, standing many yards away, wonder, “Does he have scoliosis?” No he does not. He is merely getting chaired up the beach.

The walk through empty patches of sand is arduous. It is difficult to walk gracefully though sand under any circumstance, but having one buttock on a shoulder makes it completely impossible. And so the trio stumbles, victor shouting loudly because he must because the onlookers are standing many yards away wondering, “Does he have Tourretes?” No he does not. He is merely getting chaired up the beach.

The trip takes far too long, bumbling along, onlookers giving even more room then usual because the scene has a messy quality. And when the victor takes the stage his legs are often asleep leading to more bumbling. Onlookers, fleeing, wonder, “What evil has descended to the beach this day?”

Yes, chairing a man or woman up the beach is evil and it should be stopped.

Kolohe Andino
“Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavour," says Kolohe Andino, the world #1 (but qualifying series not CT). | Photo: WSL

Kolohe Andino Just Won a Surfing Contest!

And you thought he was washed away by the Brazilian tide?

Earlier today, the Californian surfer Kolohe Andino, who is 21, won the Allianz Billabong Pro Cascais over Caio Ibelli (BRA), 21, in “four-to-five foot surf at the backup venue of Praia do Guincho.”

I normally don’t like to quote press releases so early in a story, but this piece builds a mood so well, underpinning Kolohe’s existential desperation.

The back story is this:

Kolohe Andino, rated #29, or close to last on the CT, is a goner, a has-been, washed away by the Brazilian tide. As relevant as beards or cold-drip coffee in 2015.

But suddenly, here he is, sending shivers down our spine.

Kolohe Andino, rated #29, or close to last on the CT, is a goner, a has-been, washed away by the Brazilian tide. As relevant as beards or cold-drip coffee in 2015.

Let’s read.

“Andino came firing right out of the gates in the final with a solid display of power surfing on his backhand for a 7.67 and the heat lead in the first instants of the 35-minute bout. A quick exchange on successive righthanders gave both surfers limited opportunities, but Andino with an average score increased his lead over the Brazilian.

Ibelli launched his campaign 15 minutes in, with a similar lefthander to Andino’s opening ride to collect a 7.10 and get right back in the mix for first place. Both surfers continued to surf the clean lefthanders back-to-back, without changing the situation as they were only able to post medium scores.

On the five-minute mark, Andino found a bigger, cleaner set wave and performed two beautiful turns including a huge vertical blast against the closing section for an impressive 8.90 and eventually the win.”


“Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavour,” Kolohe told BeachGrit after.

Watch his elaborate rotation in the semi final. It’s operatic!

And the final! Finger biter!

Perpetual Youth

Advice: Never Let Go Of Your Inner Child!

You can be Peter Pan forever… 

The problem with having a childlike sense of wonder is that children often make bad decisions. It’s why they don’t get to call the shots, poor grasp of consequences.

Who doesn’t remember being asked by an adult, “What the hell were you thinking?”

“I dunno.”

For some of us those moments stretch well into adulthood.

Abomination: SurfTech surfboards!

The worst ever invention?

I am still in Cabo and every day is like paradise. Margaritas chased by 86 degree nugget waves chased by more margaritas. My hair is so blonde and my skin is so brown and my smile is so wide. But there is one problem. I have a surfboard here, a gorgeous little Mayhem number dropped off a few years ago, but I can’t currently get it (complicated) and, thus, am forced to ride a rented SurfTech.

When was the last time you paddled one of those out? Mine is a 6’3 Merrick Biscut and it is absolutely hideous. The other day I rode a twinnie something rather else and today I also rode a 5’10 Robert August thing and they were absolutely hideous too. Because they were all SurfTech.

And riding SurfTech is not actual surfing I have come to realize. The boards, so plastic-y stiff, don’t respond at all. The best one can hope for is a general slide down the line. Putting it on a rail? Milking a section? Finding the sweet spot? Forget it all! SurfTechs are “like having sex with your pants on” a wonderful friend told me and is he ever right.

I remember the controversy, back in the day, about boards being rolled off assembly lines in Thailand, or wherever, and the shapers getting angry because no soul maybe or something and I remember being not interested. I didn’t have one and wasn’t going to get one.

Now I am interested. Because they are absolutely hideous! When water slaps their bottoms they make some weirdly annoying pinny sound and when you paddle for a wave they hold in the lip and when you finally build speed in an open section there is no slowing them down to keep pace with the wave.

Riding SurfTech is not actually surfing. It should be called water tabling. And water tabling on a SurfTech is sort of fun. It involves running over dry reef, people and other SurfTechs. It involves letting children throw rocks at them and smiling wide.


Freediving will kill you!

But what a way to go!

Freediving is an inherently dangerous activity, even more so when you add a competitive aspect. Diving deep on a single breath, dealing with your body’s reactions to pressure, oxygen deprivation, and carbon dioxide saturation is always a potential recipe for disaster.

Fortunately, the vast majority of risk can be eliminated by employing proper safety protocol and, in a competitive scenario, by ensuring the presence of trained medical personnel.

Unfortunately, humans are prone to error, and even the most accomplished divers, perhaps most especially the most accomplished divers, can easily grow complacent and lose their lives at routine, relatively shallow, depths.

No Limits, a documentary produced by ESPN about Audrey Mestre as part of its Nine for IX series is an amazing piece of film that illustrates the dedication and determination necessary to push the limits of human physicality, as well as show how quickly everything can go wrong.

At fifty minutes long it’s an easy watch, though, fair warning, there’s no happy ending.

“No Limits” – The Audrey Mestre Documentary from DeeperBlue.com on Vimeo.