The action is sheer brilliance but those commercials? Like, gag!
I have watched almost every heat of this year’s Pipeline Masters because it has been so great and also coincided perfectly with my two-year-old’s school/nanny schedule. Indescribable joy has filled my heart!
When the action ends. It is in these brief windows that my soul is cringes for I know I am going to be served one of four things, each worse than the last!
Billabong, the event’s title sponsor, throws up a commercial that looks like it cost $12.00 and made in 30 minutes. Jingle-jangly hipster guitar, crossed out words, black n’ white…damn it all! Is this the Pipline Masters 2011? Why Billabong? Why so MarineLayer?
But Billabong is the best in class. Next comes a Point Break trailer. Fine enough the first time, aside from tacky voiceover talking about extreme athletes. But I’ve seen lots of different trailers for the film, most better than the one playing between WSL heats. Why can’t they mix it up? Why do we have to watch the same exact one 300 times a day?
But I dream of Point Break when I see Shane Dorian looking gloomily out his window, fondling a picture of his family. Qalo? An action sport medical grade silicon wedding ring available exclusively at Jack’s surf shop? The spot has so much gravitas the viewer might think it is for something meaningful. A silicon wedding band that costs $19? Who in the world thought that would be a good idea?
But I would go buy a Qalo silicon wedding ring and wear it every day if I never had to watch Nathan Florence talk about his Vans slippahs again. “I wear them here and here and here. Not here. And here and here. But never in the house.” His voice was not made to be used. And his ankles, thick and bold, wonderful for bucking chop in massive waves, were not made to be shown.
The action comes back and I thrill again but am left to wonder. This is the WSL’s super bowl and it is living up to its billing. You Can’t Script This™! So many contenders! So fun! But there is no way Qalo is paying for their ad, Billabong and Vans are sponsors and so their spots don’t count which leaves Point Break. After this whole year, after Paul Speaker going to New York and touting geo-tagging and NFL and blah blah blah, Point Break is the only paying customer. A movie with a Christmas release that is trying to appeal to the same exact market as professional surfing. A complete one off. Samsung who?
Is the World Surf League truly a financially viable property outside the 29 million Brazilians who tune in each day (READ ABOUT THEM HERE)? Yeah? It is? Really? Qalo?
What do the NRA and your fav website have in common?
It ain’t easy being the website where “thinking surfers congregate.” All those multiple orgasms under the womb stroking of Zach Wiesberg’s formidable weapon, all those swooning love stews, quickly sour if anyone deviates from the “thinking surfers” script.
Is there a demographic more prone to hysteria and rigidity of thought than one that casts itself as “thinking”?
Recently, The Inertia posted an innocuous story on Facebook called Why Every Surfer Should Know Rescue Breathing with the note, “It’s better to have a gun and not need it than to need a gun and not have it.” While guns are different story, the message applies to rescue breathing: Learn it. Hope you never need to use it.
Guns! Not at the The Inertia where Salon.com and the Huffington Post are held to the bosom of its readers as beacons of truth and righteousness!
The comments hissed like wildcats.
“Shithouse analogy. The Inertia started out as the the thinking surfer’s blog but it has become the surfer’s version of Fox News, rubbish.”
“How on earth is saving someone’s life related to guns which only cause injury and death!?!?! You are idiots!”
“As others have suggested I think you need to edit the post and get rid of the silly gun quote. Absolute idiocy to make such a comment, especially in the current climate!”
“How much did the NRA pay for this Facebook post??”
“Nobody ever needs a gun! All the mass shootings that happen in the USA prove that the pro gun argument doesn’t work! If it did as soon as a maniac pulls his gun out then John Wayne walking down the street would shoot the bad guy before 10’s or 100’s are killed!! The world is a different place to 1787! Wake up America! Wake up the enertia!!”
“What the hell, Inertia, did you really post that analogy? I had to read it twice. I strongly consider unfollowing the page – not that you care, but i hope more followers will do the same if there’s no respond to all the comments.”
“Like when your 3-year old accidentally kills you with rescue breathing.”
“What kind of idiot uses a gun analogy like that, in these times, to make a point about being an improved human? If that’s you Guillaume Barucq, you’re an effing tool. The Inertia, you need to check it before you wreck it.”
“Create a headline that gets attention. Check…Social Media 101. Gun violence has been in the news a lot lately. Get as much publicity and followers seems to be the Inertias goal. Also, You know surfing is becoming mainstream when media outlets, like this one, get paid to run articles for companies. How else would they get money in an industry where even surfboard builders give up and have machines make their boards for them. Not saying it’s wrong, but surfing is Losing its soul.”
This is my fav: “Why is everybody so butthurt? If someone came into your house with a loaded gun, how else would you protect yourself but by being PREPARED. Don’t hate the player, hate the game.”
For one, did you know your leg length determines your board's dimensions?
It was around this time last year when I shot an animated portrait of the shaper Matt “Mayhem” Biolos. The short film was for the effervescent energy drink co Red Bull and was intended to reveal the full arsenal of Biolos’ opinions on design.
Thirty years a a shaper is a dope stash you want to raid.
What can you learn?
How about the importance of your stance and leg length to your shaper?
How about the worst design fad of the last five years?
Did you ever wonder what board someone like Biolos would ride if he couldn’t jam on his own design?
The world's number one jumbo surfer goes to court!
Remember James “Jimbo” Pellegrine the world’s most wonderful plus-sized surfer? Earlier in the year, as reported right HERE, he was driving around hometown Kauai when things went slightly pear shaped. Like, maybe the hood of his car (bonnet if you are Australian or English) flew up while he was driving after enjoying a few drinks with friends…maybe only Cokes…who knows! But anyhow his hood flew up and blocked his view and so he had to stick his head out of the window but a car came whizzing by and whoosh! His arm fell off! And then he went to a police substation for help.
He went to jail, after going to the hospital, charged with multiple things like DUI, reckless driving, inattention to driving and driving without a license but his bail was set so high, over $5o,000.00. Why? Because, apparently, he also made terroristic threats to the ambulance drivers transporting him to the hospital. But his wonderful lawyer, in trying to lower the bail told the judge last week, “Curse words were used. If you lost your arm, your honor, if anybody lost their arm, and were requesting pain medication, you may say some words you may regret later on.”
Except it maybe wasn’t curse words. It was maybe, “Once this is over, I’m going to put a bullet in your head…” the prosecuting attorney told the judge.
Whatever the case, Mr. Pellegrine’s lawyer, as part of the plea to lower bail, told the judge, “He’s considered one of the top five jumbo surfers in the world…” but Jimbo spoke up and said, “I’m number one on that list, actually.”
Which brings up the most important point. Is the World Surf League getting in to the jumbo surfer game? Is there going to be a jumbo surfer world tour? Will Jimbo win and inspire like Bethany?
Read the whole news story HERE! It’s even better than this curtailed version!
I took the person I love and forced her to stand idly by as I tried to kill myself…
Last year was rough year for my body. I ruined my shoulder bodysurfing Pipe, underwent surgery, broke my collar bone in a freak spearfishing accident almost immediately after finishing physical therapy, then was diagnosed with a life threatening skull infection soon after my collarbone had mended.
It was a tedious twelve months, awash in painkillers and weight gain, constantly struggling to keep that demon named depression from getting too firm a grip on my soul. I won’t go into too much detail, I’ve written about it before, and if you’d like to learn a little more you can check it out here.
I was cleared by my ENT to re-enter the ocean on December 24th and was excited to find that Kurt Chambers would be holding a three-day intermediate freediving course a few weeks hence. I’d taken the course on Oahu in 2013 and it was an unbelievably positive experience.
Kurt is an amazing diver, and an excellent instructor, capable of explaining the physics and physiology behind freediving, building your confidence, and then guiding you into the longest breath holds and deepest dives you’ve ever done. Over the three-day course I pushed my static breath hold to a personal best of 4:10 and hit a depth of 130′, two things I could not have done, or, at least, not in any manner resembling safe, without his assistance.
Further fueling my desire to retake the course was the fact that my wife has recently fallen in love with diving. She’s very talented in the water and her ability soon outpaced my ability to safely teach her proper technique.
I am not the best instructor. I don’t have much patience, tend to push myself in a manner which isn’t particularly responsible. Compounded with her rather unfortunate propensity to peg her performance goals to my own I was creating what was quickly approaching a very unsafe environment.
I live in fear of people assuming we have a Pipin/Mestre type relationship.
While I am proud of her accomplishments and drive to improve I take care to never, ever, push her to try anything with which she isn’t comfortable. Nor do I have any real desire to see her reach an elite level regarding her free dive ability. I have my own goals, but they come with decades of ocean experience.
For her this is supposed to be a fun hobby, a great way to see fish and take photos without risking her life to reach some arbitrary notion of accomplishment. When she suffered a case of baurotrama our ENT read me the riot act. I was pushing her to unsafe depths with my supposed hockey dad approach to partnership. And that killed me inside, because it’s just not true. But I can see how an outside observer would think it is.
We reserved our spots in Kurt’s class and she eagerly awaited the coming weekend (I did as well. I desperately needed a chance to check the condition of my newly rebuilt ear drum at depth, with an elite level diver present to ensure my safety, should my head explode at the bottom. Also, Kurt allows former students to retake the class for free, which is just freaking awesome!)
I’d seen blackouts before, and they are not pretty. Blue lips and limp arms, the chest convulsing as it struggles to pull air through a sealed epiglottis. Your body arches, appears to seize, until your throat finally opens and you pull in a long, rattling, gasping, breath; staring at those around you wide-eyed and confused until your mind restarts and you rejoin the living.
Day One begins with a few hours of dry land instruction, focusing on the physics of diving and your body’s response to depth and hypoxia. Fascinating topics, and Kurt is an excellent teacher. Despite being well aware of things like the mammalian dive reflex, the cause of diaphragm spasms, shallow water blackout, and safe methods of breathing up, I was as engaged as though I’d never taken the course before. Even better, he was able to touch on things I’d not thought to mention to my wife, as well as communicate ideas and methods I had struggled to convey but never been able to make truly clear.
The final two hours of the first day are moved into shallow water, where we worked on proper technique, ran rescue drills to prepare us in case of a partner’s blackout or loss of motor control, concluding by splitting us into two groups where we worked with our partners during attempts at static apnea (floating face down and holding your breath for as long as possible.)
Each group was given three tries. They were proceeded by a few minutes of breathe up- deep inhalations followed by long, slow, exhalations. Lower your heart rate and calm your mind, find that happy place, which is, to me, the blessedly empty sensation of being purely in the moment. The final seconds are called and you breathe deeply, then lower your face into the water. Attempt to relax, go completely limp. Kurt’s calming voice walks you through relaxing your body, focusing on individual muscle groups in an attempt to release any existing tension and prolong your time.
I’d seen blackouts before, and they are not pretty. Blue lips and limp arms, the chest convulsing as it struggles to pull air through a sealed epiglottis. Your body arches, appears to seize, until your throat finally opens and you pull in a long, rattling, gasping, breath; staring at those around you wide-eyed and confused until your mind restarts and you rejoin the living. A man in the first group blacked out during his final attempt. I watched it happen without much caring, safe in the knowledge that he’d be fine. I failed to appreciate the effect it would have on my wife.
My first two tries went well, meant to warm up and calm down rather than set any personal records. On my third try I set my sights on five minutes, planning to reach it or pass out face down trying.
Safety protocol in static apnea involves the time being called, the spotter tapping on your back. You give an “okay” sign, raising one finger to indicate consciousness without expending unnecessary effort.
Personally, with a proper calming breathe up, the urge to breathe kicks in at around two minutes. The time is called, okay. Again at 2:30, then three minutes. At two minutes and thirty seconds I began to have diaphragm spasms, light convulsions which are to be expected and aren’t so bad once you’re accustomed to them. At three minutes time is called every fifteen seconds. 3:15, 3:30, 3:45… I’m getting very close to my personal best.
At 3:30 I began to have very bad contractions, wracking my body and pulling my knees towards my chest with each one. Stay calm, ride it, you’ll be fine. I felt the blood shift begin, when the blood vessels in your extremities contract, forcing blood into your torso where it feeds your organs. Hands and feet tingle like finding warmth on a cold day.
At 3:45 the time was called. Tap, tap on my back, lift a finger. Tap again, lift again. Tap,tap tap, more urgently. Somewhere in the depths of my mind I knew my wife was panicking. I lifted a hand above the water and touched forefinger to thumb, “okay.”
Tap, tap, tap.
Within a minute I realized what I’d been feeling. It was the last endorphin rush you get before death, your mind getting you high to make the end bearable. I was dying. And I made her watch. I took my partner of fifteen years, the person I love more than anyone else on Earth and forced her to stand idly by as I tried to kill myself.
I felt her fingers wrap themselves into my wetsuit top as she struggled to pull me from the water.
Which is how I found myself battering at her arms, straining to keep my face submersed, desperate to breathe, but too focused on my goals to give in. My last coherent memory is watching bubbles stream past my mask, wondering why I was exhaling. I need that air, it belongs in my body.
I went limp and she won, twenty seconds after our struggle began. I’d burned what little resources I had in the fight, eventually succumbing to a total loss of motor control. While I had not truly blacked out I was in the final throes of consciousness, moments from drowning in waist deep water.
Hypoxia euphoria is a very real thing, and for a few moments I was high as a kite, unable to focus my eyes or articulate my thoughts.
Thought which were, “What the fuck? I’m fine.”
What came out was, “Uh buh, uh buh, buh buh buh.”
Four minutes and five seconds. Six seconds from my personal best.
It’s shameful to admit, but my first reaction was fury. How dare she rob me of my chance to push myself? If hadn’t had to fight her for the last twenty seconds, if I’d stayed calm, I could’ve lasted.
I am such a fucking asshole.
Thankfully that feeling passed, and quickly. So quickly, in fact, I never got the chance to open my mouth and make a fool of myself. Within a minute I realized what I’d been feeling. It was the last endorphin rush you get before death, your mind getting you high to make the end bearable. I was dying. And I made her watch. I took my partner of fifteen years, the person I love more than anyone else on Earth and forced her to stand idly by as I tried to kill myself.
If what I’d gone through was bad, what I’d just forced her to do, to stand and watch me taunt death from an arm’s length, was worse.We were laughing about it by the time we were in our car, on the way home.
Later, we drank a few beers, Pacifico for me and whatever terrible microbrew she currently loves for her, and talked it over. She says she knows I’m nuts, and she’s sorry for fucking up the attempt. For my part, I feel terrible, I had no right to ask her to spot me. I hadn’t realized it before that day, but you shouldn’t have a partner who can’t watch you die. It’s a crazy thing to say, but when you walk that edge you need someone who cares, but not too much.
The next two days went swimmingly (stupid pun totally intended.) She hit a personal best of 62 feet after overcoming a mental block I can only blame on my own close call. I managed to bottom out at 100 feet over a dozen times, proving, once and for all, that my new ear drum is sound and can make it to two hundred. And that’s the goal, for now.