Yours truly getting ready to surf all alone in Yemen. For sure no one is out today. What are you waiting for?
Yours truly getting ready to surf all alone in Yemen. For sure no one is out today. What are you waiting for? | Photo: Cole Estrada

Get learnt: World War III for surfers!

Mass global conflict is around the corner! What this means for you...

Of course you don’t come to BeachGrit for your world news but why not? I feel the collective IQ of our commentary team is higher than the average public radio listener’s (here’s looking at you Negatron, longtom, Audit in Progress, Trogan, Badger, mullet, Mariano, Landa Super Jr. etc.) and as such, could provide helpful advice for the surfer staring down the barrel of World War III.

In case you haven’t been keeping up, here is the short of it. The United States invaded Iraq a decade-ish ago, deposing Saddam Hussein under the guise of deposing Osama Bin Laden. It worked, on both fronts, if we feel like being solely results-oriented, but left the Middle East with power vacuums in the strongman arena (bye-bye Saddam, Hosni Mubarak, Mums Gaddafi, etc.) and in the terrorist one as well (so long, Al-Qaeda and welcome, ISIS).

Now, ISIS is behaving extra-badly, carving out large swathes of the Middle East and calling it a caliphate but also attacking continental Europe and threatening both the U.S. and Australia. There is only one strongman left, Syria’s Bashar Assad, and Russia has decided to go all in on him but the rest of Europe and NATO ally Turkey don’t like but also don’t like ISIS so are hamstrung. Russia is bombing ISIS but also bombing Assad’s enemies in Syria. The U.S. and Europe are sad but stuck. And Turkey just shot a Russian fighter jet out of the sky.

Hello, World War III!

Now. What is the generally shortsighted surfer to do? He doesn’t typically care about the Middle East because he thinks there is not very good surf, thus no reason to go or miss it when it explodes. He is wrong. I have surfed fun waves in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, Oman and seen fun waves in Israel. He also doesn’t think geopolitic matters and he is also wrong because  to the victor go the spoils, which is to say, a working knowledge of the globe’s situation will allow him to surf better waves alone, especially when things start really going to hell.

In any case, for both his future surf vacations and if caught in an unfortunate holiday meal debate, what should the surf position be on WWIII? Should the confused surfer back Putin and Assad? Europe/Turkey and a nonexistent Syrian democratic resistance? ISIS? Is there another party he should throw his support to? Also, what board will be most effective?

Let’s discuss!

Kelly Slater and the six-six CI Semi-Pro he rode to victory against John John Florence at the 2013 Pipeline Masters.

Rumour: FCS sold for $160 million?

Is Australian bank offloading fin pioneer Surf Hardware?

You can react two ways to the merciless and aggressive greed of the biz world. Either crave, pointlessly, for less rapacity or you can marvel at the ability of those who can grab a co with potential, polish it a little, and offload it at fantastic profit.

Vulture Investors” Oaktree Capital Management, which owns 19 per cent of Billabong and now controls Quiksilver Inc after its recent bankruptcy, is one company very good at this kind of biz.

Pals in the share game tell me the new, leaner, debt-free Billabong has never been a better buy, thanks to Oaktree.

Last month, it was reported that the plan was to combine to the two surf co’s. 

Surf Hardware, aka FCS, meanwhile, is in the process of being sold, at least according to a recent phone call I received. Now, if y’aint au fait with the biz and its importance to our surf game, maybe y’should.

In the early 1980s, Bill McCausland and two partners founded the company Fin Control Systems. It grew. We all started buying boards with plugs in ‘em. Along came a raft of removable-fin imitators.

It all went pear-shaped when the new company’s CEO and McCausland didn’t, uh, get along. The company sacked McCausland but, wait, he had thirty per cent of the company. A receipt for harmony, yes? But, no.

Shit went downhill. I glaze over at this kinda stuff. But read it all here. 

Ten years of court battles followed. Read about the case here. 

Anyway, looks like McCausland came out of it with a few mill. Enough to keep the wolves at bay, but maybe tough to swallow when y’hear the biz is rumoured to be sold for $160 million, and your share would’ve peeled you off $50 million.

I called FCS for a comment, got a nice enough accounts guy who refused to comment either way but obfuscated enough to make me think, yeah, the sale is under way.

And we’ll find out if it’s true soon enough.

Peer pressure: Bruce Irons into Pipe!

What other hashtags can we cook up on the stovetop of liberty?

Oh glorious day! As first reported on Stab yesterday, and followed up by the World Surf League themselves today, Bruce Irons has received a wildcard into the Billabong Pipeline Masters in Memory of Andy Irons!

Let’s examine! Stab‘s Elliot Struck says:

And now Bruce is in the event. But not because of any hashtag. It’s because WSL Commissioner Kieren Perrow is a fucking lord and knows how to pick his cards. Bruce will paddle out, not because of any Internet peer pressure, but because Kiz was always gonna put him in.

The WSL’s Kieren Perrow says:

Bruce and I have been talking about a possible opportunity and it’s great to see him charging Pipe again this season. He’s always been a standout at Pipeline and remains amongst the world’s best surfers when conditions get critical out there. With the withdrawals of Frederick Patacchia (HAW) and Matt Banting (AUS), the WSL is in a position to allocate one of the replacement spots to Bruce and we feel like he’s certainly a worthy candidate given the form he’s in. Looking forward to a great event.

And bullshit!

The #bruce4pipelinewildcard is to thank. The angry Internet forced a feeble WSL hand and voila. Bruce is in. What else would you like that paltry WSL to do? What other hashtags can we cook up on the stovetop of liberty? Let’s think!

While we think, and at the end, congrats to Bruce Irons, who says:

I’m so honored to be given the opportunity to compete in the Pipe Masters in memory of my brother, I reached out to Kieren [Perrow] a couple of weeks ago and asked if it would be a possibility and he’s been completely open with me through this whole process. I understand that the opportunity is coming to me due to someone withdrawing, which is never what you hope for, but I’m really pumped to surf Pipe with the world’s best. Really looking forward to the event and I hope the waves fire.

But back to our other hashtags. Is #nomorenolosersround too technical? Would #1swell1event fire the masses? Help me help you!

Ted Grambeau
This is Grambeau's favourite shot from the 20-photo series because "it's dark and a little forbidding with a glimmer of light that sums up, I think, where we are with the issue of climate change." | Photo: Ted Grambeau/ Sea Level

Ted Grambeau Wants to Save You!

…from a wretched, maybe apocalyptic future…

Are you a firm believer in the idea of “climate change”? Of apocalyptic storms and floods and whatever else engulfing the world because of the carbon dioxide we’ve been pouring into the air? That a couple of hundred years of mankind’s excesses has led us to the brink of annihilation?

The Australian photographer Ted Grambeau believes and he fears society ain’t giving it the oxygen the issue needs.

“It’s pretty obvious it’s the greatest long-term threat to mankind,” he told me today.

Now Grambeau ain’t got much cash but he’s got his photos, his art. And, so, beginning at the Pipeline Gallery in Haleiwa next week and, soon, touring internationally, Grambeau has an exhibition called Sea Level, which he hopes will raise awareness of climate change among surfers.

“So it struck me that it stands to reason the general public can’t comprehend the magnitude of the issue. It always gets put to the back of the line, behind terrorism, behind paying the rent, behind eating food.”

The twenty-photograph exhibition is of photos taken, “literally, at sea level, says Grambeau. “I’ve been shooting for 40 years. I’m someone who immerses their eyeballs every day at sea level and yet I couldn’t see any perceptible change in the rising sea levels.
“So it struck me that it stands to reason the general public can’t comprehend the magnitude of the issue. It always gets put to the back of the line, behind terrorism, behind paying the rent, behind eating food.”

Grambeau had the same experience with some of his photos. He noticed they had elements he couldn’t see with the naked eye.


“They were actual physical manifestations of light dancing across the water and creating these… moments,” he says. “I’m not a Photoshop person and so all these beautiful moments were just happening while I was shooting. Representations of impending weather, of glances of light through clouds. Water coming off the lens.”


The play is this: just ‘cause you can’t see something doesn’t mean it ain’t real.

See more of Ted’s work here. 

Reviews: Guns, Bidets, Pot!

And the ultimate hangover board for those days the surf is firing but your body is shit…

I like writing for the internet. Sure, the money is shit, even when compared to the paltry wages paid by the old-timey pulp and print set, but there’s something be said about getting your words out within hours of putting a piece to bed.

Like, I finished a piece for The Surfer’s Journal nearly six months ago and it won’t see the light of day until next issue. That makes perfect sense, the realities of print necessitate a far more exacting approach to editorial and layout than the ‘net, where you can fix typos (or just ignore them) within minutes, but at this point I’ve totally forgotten what I’ve written, so it’s going to be just as new to me as it will be to you, should you decide to go pick up a copy.

Which you should. I’m sure it’s just brilliant, if a bit more conservative, than the typical tripe I pump out semi-daily for our beloved BeachGrit.

But one thing I sorely miss is product reviews.

Smaller companies without the budget to pay for ads would send along a box of gear and get a little positive (or not) press about said product. The bigger swinging dicks would plead poverty, throw money away on a two-page spread in Vice, and expect exposure in exchange for a pair of size 28 skinny jeans and an extra-small sample tee that no one in their office wanted.

But the upshot was that I didn’t pay for clothes or skateboards for nearly a decade, and the sense of entitlement that engendered led to a fashion sense mirroring that of a down on his luck hobo. I’m cool, dammit! Why should I pay to rock your label?

Chas and Derek may like to get all gussied up, but I’ll keep shopping at Ross and Costco and wearing my shirts until they fall off my filthy body. At least until people start trying to bribe their way into my good graces.

Since that hasn’t happened yet, and because I’m kind of out of ideas today, here’s a little list of things I like. Each one was paid for with my wife’s hard earned money, and has made my life better.

Gamo Big Cat .22 Air Rifle


There’s a reason my neighborhood is the only one on Kauai without a scourge of roosters screaming their brains out twenty four hours a day, and that reason is my beautiful .22 caliber break barrel Big Cat.

 The hollow point pellets I load have a tendency to fuck with accuracy, but at those speeds any hit to the body is a one shot kill.

Easy to obtain thanks to Hawaii’s insistence on regulating air rifles in the same way as toy guns, but with a muzzle velocity that breaks the sound barrier and cracks like a real rifle, this puppy has been responsible for a feral fowl genocide. The hollow point pellets I load have a tendency to fuck with accuracy, but at those speeds any hit to the body is a one shot kill.

Just make sure you talk to the neighbors before you go running around shirtless pre-dawn. A hairy haole with a  firearm tends to freak people out when they don’t know what’s going on.

Brondell PureSpa hand held bidet


As I grow older I find myself becoming more and more hirsute. Post-bowel movement cleanups are a terror, my rat’s nest of an asshole resembling a coprophiliac spider’s web. Wipe and wipe and wipe until I’m raw and sore and feel like it’s the final day of Fleet Week.

Praise Allah for the Brondell PureSpa hand held bidet! It installs in minutes and makes clean up a breeze! The adjustable water pressure ranges from gentle angel kisses to full blast 1950’s race riot fire hose, meaning that whatever ill-advised meal you jammed down your gullet the night before will be rinsed clean, leaving you with a sparkling fresh pucker nugget so clean you could eat off it.

Sea Sniper 110 rear handle open track speargun

sea sniper speargun

When it comes to freediving and shooting fish I’m a bit of a gear whore. There’s just so much cool shit to buy, most of it surplus to actual requirements, but, hot damn, so sweet!

Even though my speargun quiver is only one purchase away from double digits, I always find myself going back to this beauty. Gorgeous hardwood construction, a stainless-steel reverse trigger mech that gives it the band stretch of a larger gun without the unwieldy length, and a price point that, while not exactly cheap, is a bargain for what you’re getting. And their custom blue water guns! True works of art.

Les Creuset Dutch Oven

les creuset dutch oven

Yeah, paying $300 for a cast iron dutch oven is kind of retarded, but the wife and I scored an entire set of Les Creuset cookware as a wedding gift, and it’s one of the best things I’ve ever received.  Slow cooking pork belly, stews, baking, there ain’t nothing this thing can’t do.

And, oh sweet jumping jeebus, the bread that comes out of this fucker!

Perfectly crispy crunchy crust without the hassle of spraying water into the oven the entire time it bakes. A heavenly soft interior, the type of shit you send to work with your lawyer wife so you can bask in the praise of her envious coworkers cursed with spouses who don’t know their ass from elbow in the kitchen.

The only real downside is that they’re heavy as fuck, and long distance moves while hauling a hundred plus pounds of pots and pans is a chore. But if you really like to cook, make the investment.

Or just find a cheaper knockoff.

I’ve got no evidence to support my opinion, but I suspect all enameled cast iron cookware is pretty much the same.

Kahanamoku Sons Surfboards by Dan Ernest

promatic When I first moved to Hawaii I brought along a two board quiver. A 6’0″ Fireball Fish knockoff, and my 6’4″ round pin “step-up.” Between the two of them I’d been able to handle pretty much anything SoCal had ever thrown my way, and I saw no reason Hawaii would be any different.

I learned how wrong I was within weeks of arrival and realized I’d need to completely redial my boards.

Over the next few years Dan shaped me about a dozen boards, from small wave ripper boards, to barrel hunter semi-guns, to pin tail terror sleds, each one perfectly suited to a bigger guy who actually knows how to surf fairly well.

Figuring out boards as I got older has always been a bit of a chore.

I graduated high school at 5’8”, had a growth spurt ridiculously late in life, and struggled to wrap my head around the fact that those tiny boards I was used to riding didn’t work so good no more.  Especially in thundering North swells.  But Dan’s a big guy, absolutely rips, understands that a big version of a board designed for some 5’2” muscle bound freak doesn’t work at all for anyone, and managed to drill that fact into my hubris filled head.

Which brings me to a terrible confession.

And, yes, I’m aware my surfing doesn’t look nearly as good as it feels, and that everyone in the world absolutely hates hi-perf loggers, but big fucking deal.

In the last few months, as I’ve rebuilt my shoulders and transitioned from hideously obese to disgustingly pudgy, I’ve been riding, almost exclusively, a high performance longboard Mr Ernest built for me a few years back.  9′ x 21” x 2 9/16”, with as much rocker as he could jam into the blank.  It’s a fucking rocket, excels in the barrel, and can be put on a rail as long as you’re carrying an excess of meat.

And, yes, I’m aware my surfing doesn’t look nearly as good as it feels, and that everyone in the world absolutely hates hi-perf loggers, but big fucking deal.

If I really cared what other people think of me I’d act a hell of a lot differently.

Honestly, I think every surfer should have one of these guys in their quiver. Fast, fun, forgiving, they’re the ultimate hangover board for those days the surf is firing but your body is shit.