Dumb: I took my girl to the Volcom House!

…and never saw her again… 

Every winter season for five years now a buddy and I make the pilgrimage to the North Shore. We have yet to be false cracked, but there were some close calls. Like when we entered the Foodland parking lot through the exit, when an ice head paddled out at V-land and dunked the poor surfer beside me, and a few others. One that sticks out above the rest is tearing apart a couch in the Volcom Pipe House at  four am.

Let me backtrack…

The annual trip never takes place in December or even January for similar reasons. Too big. Too crowded. Too macho. I’m not going for the glory just some cool waves, tasty poke, and strong mai tai’s. Spring, comparatively, is Haole friendly. The crowds are lighter, locals are in a good mood after a full season, and the waves a little more user friendly, but still with that Hawaiian kick.

To add some spice to this recipe the trip is booked to overlap with Wanderlust – self-described as a 4-day yoga festival of mindful living. While days consist of the mostly female attendees going OM on the mats, listening to meditation inspiration, and surfing with Gerry Lopez, the nights see them going HAM in Turtle Bay trying to undo all the good. Yoga girls in paradise are not timid.

So we’re in Surfer, The Bar for the closing party as are the boys. It’s a well-known feeding frenzy. I look to my right and see a lone surfer dude approach Eddie Rothman and crew. His body language is sheepish as if he’s trying to apologize for something. Mid-sentence, one of Eddie’s pals haymakes him straight in the face ending the one-sided conversation. Unfazed, Eddie grabs a very pretty girl and hits the dance floor. It’s one thing to read about the North Shore violence and another to witness. Its very existence is almost satisfying providing you’re not on the receiving end.

I took a sip of my umbrella’d drink – something too sweet involving Ciroc coconut – look to my left and lock eyes with the striking L.A actress I spent a night with this very weekend 12-months ago. We embrace and both give half-ass reasons why we hadn’t been in contact all year. But that was the mainland and we were back in wonderland. Her equally wild wing women hugged hello as a Brazilian surfer snaked his tongue down her ear. He looked like a young Christian Fletcher: tattooed to the jawbone and tough as fuck. Recognizing that I could be the one to entertain his third wheel we bonded immediately. After a long winter this was his time on the North Shore and he was going to get this girl. More drinks were drunk and it was time to move the party past the lobby.

I glanced into the rearview mirror to see how my new Brazzo homeboy was making out. He had the wing women bent over the hood of a car with her skirt pulled up around her waist. Her head was howling back in pleasure and he was furiously eating her ass from behind.

The four of us walked into the breezy parking lot. The actress and I got into a parked car. A few minutes later I glanced into the rearview mirror to see how my new Brazzo homeboy was making out. He had the wing women bent over the hood of a car with her skirt pulled up around her waist. Her head was howling back in pleasure and he was furiously eating her ass from behind.

Parking lots are not where the magic happens so someone drove southwest on Kam highway because the Brazzo knew a place. Pulling into a dark oceanfront driveway somewhere very close to Pipe he slide the private gate open. Our feet slipped in mud before entering the garage and immediately I knew where we were. The walls were lined with hundreds of surfboards all with a distinctive sticker of a black-and-white stone placed right on the nose. We were entering the infamous Volcom pipe house. Not the Gerry digs, but the B-team next door.

Images of beat downs entered my head. The girls were screaming drunk and strolled into the main room with their muddy slippahs on. A #1 no-no! I knew better, but still feared a slap for their lack of respect. It was three am and everyone was asleep save for a lone Brazilian smoking weed and playing video games. Hearing loud female voices woke the crew like coyotes to a carcass. Within minutes there were seven guys in the room all with identical accents.

“Where are you from?” I asked.

“South America.” That’s what they all answered.

“Are you from Brazil?”

“We are from South America.”

“What part of South America?” I’d press.

“We are from South America.”

My mind began to grind. Were they not admitting their Brazilian nationality because they were self-aware of stereotypes or does Volcom only give them leftover access to the B-house in the late season after all the A-team has vanished and then instruct them not to tell a soul where they are from? This was before the glory runs of Medina and ADS keep in mind, so it could be a conspiracy based on fact.

Regardless the air was being filled with passionate testosterone. I saw what was brewing and wasn’t prepared to fight it. The Brazilian crew was working the girls hard and nosebags were being chopped. I left with no tender goodbyes, my place only a quick walk down the bike path.

The Volcom house depicted in the recent Red Bull documentary shows spoiled groms sweeping sand and learning life duties with the warm paradisiacal sunshine beating down. At nighttime the house is a much darker place where unspeakable things happen.

Arriving home I reached into my pocket for the house key. There was nothing. Shit. Did it fall out in the couch? I wasn’t about to sleep in the wet front yard or wake up my gracious North Shore host, so I weighed my options. Barge back into the Volcom house uninvited and hope it’s there or…. fuck, that was my only option. At this point I was too tired to care about the repercussions.

So back I walked with years of Pipe house horror stories running through my head. The Volcom house depicted in the recent Red Bull documentary shows spoiled groms sweeping sand and learning life duties with the warm paradisiacal sunshine beating down. At nighttime the house is a much darker place where unspeakable things happen. What type of twisted scene was I about to walk in on? I let myself through the gate (Note: do not ever attempt this), crept past the quiver-lined garage to the backdoor and re-emerged. Everyone starred dilated daggers at me.

“Uhh, hey guys. I may have dropped my keys mind if I take a look?”

Not waiting for an answer I uprooted four dudes from the couch and tore through the cushions. Finding nothing, but noticing the room was short one actress. I stormed out not looking forward to a lonely night sleeping on the porch.

Walking home listening to Pipe roar in the background, I started to relax. Knowing I had navigated through an iconic structure of surfing, breathed in its inspiration, and made it out unscathed. Surf history really is a violent and beautiful thing. As my feet hit the driveway something metallic on the ground reflected a streetlight and caught my eye.

It was the key. I was home, baby.

(Andrew Sayer is the editor of Later magazine, a very good surf lifestyle title from Canada.)

The best heat of the 2015 season was… Bede v Ace?

Yike: I just watched every WSL heat in 2015

And discovered the best heat of the year! Can you guess?

Had enough of retrospective 2015 write-ups? I haven’t!

Over the New Year period, I decided to flag the festivities, my family and friends and spent five solid days devouring every WSL heat from last year to find the very best heat of the season.

I came to a few conclusions about 2015 worth sharing first…

Round two will not be remembered favourably in the annals of surf history. There is little worse than watching the swell window being sucked up by a loser from the first round battling another loser. For a more than likely chance that the better of the two losers will lose again in the next round.

Airs are overscored. No matter how good a turn the old-school can do a single air can oust them from the contest. Mostly, this works. The recklessness of youth raising the middle finger to the tour’s harvest year surfers. Other times it doesn’t sit well. A desperate gesture to the judging panel forcing their hands to scribble down an excellent score. Progression is an important part of the criteria but so is combining major manoeuvres.  A revamped criteria? Jordy hitting form? Something or someone is missing and the bar is to low.

For all the WSL commentary teams faults, they’re doing their best to hold onto their jobs. They all remember how quickly Brodie Carr was shown the back door when he had his calculator’s decimal point settings wrong. These guys will understandably ride the gravy train for as long as possible.  So until the powers that be let them speak their minds or a regular, live, entertaining pirate broadcast pops up, I’m going to give them bit of leeway and just enjoy the subtle digs they dish out on occasion.

The J-Bay final should’ve happened. Not making Mick and Julian paddle straight back out took from us, and them, the most exciting final in surfing’s history.

Adrenalin and fear mixed with RedBull would have sent the boys’ endorphins levels to unprecedented levels.  The line in the sand moment of credibility that the WSL so desperately needs. A melting pot of progression, emotion and raw animal proformance surfing.  Six 10-point rides would have been surfed. Who would’ve dared fall off?

Julian would have won on a countback and continued his run to his maiden world title. Parko, Slater and Taj would have joined CJ and Freddy on the golf course. The Brazilian New World Order would have to wait. Safety be damned. I demand entertainment and John Lydon’s famous quote “Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?” was ringing true.

There’s no hidden agenda. Unfortunately for a few of our more edgy commentators, there is no conspiracy to push certain surfers though heats. When only six guys are responsible for the outcome of two surfers and the expectations of hundreds of thousands rest of these results, some questionable decisions will arise.

The tour needs more world-class reef breaks on the schedule. It’s painfully obvious in such a subjective sport that to decide a winner we need perfect reeling waves that offer surfers an even platform.  Shifty, random peak locations that specialise in semi close-outs or slow waves (Margarets, Bells) are not doing the sport any favours.

Adriano deserved his title. He won the Pipe Masters, too.

Right! And the best heat of 2015?

Without any further delay, 2015’s best heat was full of buckets of spray, six of the same turns on the same wave and incomplete aerial attempts. It was devoid of progression but it had me on the edge of my seat, fists clenched screaming at the monitor.

The commentary team mentioned “wrap-around cutbacks” more than once and Pottz spoke of of one wave as “maybe a little bit repetitive” Claims were thrown about like a quarter-final in the Brazilian national championships.

It was one of those heats where watching it later on the heat analyzer would have been a massive injustice to the waves surfed in between the four scoring waves.

But there was no doubt those shifty French tides turned to “ON” for the Quicksilver Pro round three clash of our tour veterans Ace Buchan and Bede Durbidge!

The previous heat was a slow, low-scoring affair bar Italo manhanding a wave for a 8.33 so expectations were low for our blue-collar battlers. Both had stellar first round wins. Bede was on my Fantasy surf team so I was rooting for him.

Ace’s first wave was a blistering 9.23 and with his second a fine, fine seven-point ride. Ace was on a tear, going well beyond vert, spray to the heavens, gaining speed from every turn. It was the best I had ever seen him surf.

Bede looked cumbersome and slow on his first wave. The day was looking like Ace’s.

Durbidge then muscled a scorching right to for a 9.20! Then another for 9.17!  Ace was left chasing a 9.14. A set approached. He caught it! A 8.17 for Ace and he was out!

If my “play by play” was grating, watch here!


Kita Alexander
Kita Alexander, captured in frame grab from her video, Like You Want To. Such infallible flair!

Meet: Owen Wright’s Rock Star Girlfriend!

It’s a glory hole of love!

Every Sunday afternoon, I like to descend to the bottom of the inexhaustible mine of Instagram. It’s a dignified pursuit, a high-water mark of my week, even if it does make my contempt for humanity grow fiercer.

Such stupidity, such contempt for literature and art and everything I hold dear.

But, then, all those glistening flanks, the quivering bosoms, the heaving bellies and tossing thighs! It give me some of the keenest torments I’ve ever had to endure!

And, look hard enough, and you’ll find…love.

Just then I strolled into Owen Wright’s business with the teenage rock star Kita Alexander, whose songs have the good temper of a warm summer’s day.

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Kita Alexander, on stage. She sings with the exuberance of a southerner!

Owen, as you know, suffered a terrible concussion in Hawaii and had to withdraw from the Pipeline Masters and the world title race.

Did you ever wonder who the angel was who nursed him back to heath?

Examine these Instagram posts, first from Owen.

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And, from Ms Alexander.

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Can you remember the first time you first felt such a love? When the world around you seemed to vanish and all of that dull cynicism you’d carried for years was washed away by hours of kissing and tomfoolery? That twinge of desire in the pit of your stomach. Kisses so hard you can’t breathe. Drinking spit as if it was sixty-dollar champagne.

It’s a previous thing to behold, love. It’s as precious as a ruby but as fragile and as easily ruined as a silk shirt.

Now let’s watch Kita, this teen with her distinctive personality and that little extra something, that extra tang, that heady savour, sing!

Is it worth your eight minutes? Yes!

Volcom House
The three-storey beachfront house Gerry Lopez built in the seventies, bought by Volcom in 2007 for $4.3 million dollars. | Photo: Dave Prodan

Speculation: WSL furious about fun?

Is the WSL responsible for Red Bull's "technical difficulties?"

Two days ago, Red Bull TV launched a charming enough new video series online called In House: Road to the Volcom Pipe Pro.

The accompanying press release read:

In it we take you inside the two most infamous fortresses on the North Shore, the Volcom houses, which serve as base camp for the company’s team of surfers as they navigate the most intense period of the year, the Hawaiian winter. Looming on the horizon is the Volcom Pipe Pro and an opportunity, for some, to qualify for next year’s Pipe Masters, while others look to kickstart their 2016 campaign with a emphatic, signature performance at the best wave in the world.

In the opening episode, we’re introduced to the two legendary Pipe houses by their caretakers Tai Vandyke and Kaimana Henry. Carlos Munoz takes us to the Dungeon, Dusty Payne looks to defend his title at the Hawaiian Pro at Haleiwa, and a ceremonial paddleout for a fallen friend provides perspective for the winter ahead.

Fun! Cute! Innocuous! Derek Rielly wrote, “It will cost you roughly eighteen-and-a-half minutes, unlocking none of the secrets but revealing much of their mysterious charm.”

The next day it was quickly vanished. An ensuing email blamed “technical difficulties” and my imagination whirred to life.

Technical difficulties? What could “technical difficulties” possibly be a euphemism for? Who was slighted? Who threatened physical retribution? Is it possible that Red Bull TV producers and cameramen did not take their shoes off before trudging over the doorstep?

The video was promptly returned to the airwaves two days later but I hadn’t watched the first closely enough to see what had been changed.


And then a possible scenario danced on my prefrontal area. That dastardly WSL was to blame! Hear me out. The Pipeline Masters just wrapped up in very much less than stellar conditions with a champion who proves troublesome for the League. Such grit and wonderful determination sewn into Adriano de Souza’s strong brown body but also maybe a lack of global appeal? The fans were not the most happy, it seems, but equally not the most happy about having to watch professional surfing’s Super Bowl end in ugly dribble with the announcers lost for words when the little plumber hopped to victory.


The Backdoor Shootout, following quickly on the Pipeline Master’s heels, just wrapped to outstanding reviews. The banter from very funny commentators! The SUP, longboard and body surf divisions! The fun! Surfing was fun again and, in direct comparison, the WSL’s product looked positively tame.

And the Pipeline Pro, which the video series marches toward, also promises to be fun with, very probably, excellent El Nino surf. It is a ‘QS event, placing it under the purview of the WSL, but only a 3000 series one. Small potatoes compared to the big show. The WSL powers must certainly anticipate another unfavorable comparison, no? And that must be very difficult to stomach. It would be like a single A baseball game outshining game 7 of the world series.

Did the WSL, thus, throw salt into Red Bull’s game? Did big Santa Monica lawyers find petty nothings and grind the gears? Remember, Monster was once (and maybe still is? Who knows!) the official energy drink of professional surfing. And the WSL does everything they can to cut Red Bull hats from pictures they post. Are they furious that fun has shown its ugly face in the door, if even for a moment?


Do you have a  better idea? Tell us!

Revealed: Slater Wavepool secrets!

New and exclusive pictures! What do they mean?

Has Kelly Slater’s wavepool in quaint Lemoore, California kept you awake at night? Dreams of milk chocolate barrels running all day? God’s majestical handiwork transferred to the world’s most handsome bald man?

There are still so many more questions than answers. Kelly has kept quiet about the whole business after launching that incredible video before the champagne had dried on poor Adriano de Souza’s cheeks. The result of an ancient blood feud perhaps? Maybe.

But here! A hard-working detective, a man with both grit and brawn, has uncovered mysterious pictures. Like, those that beamed back from the Mars Rover! What lurks beneath all that farm run-off/water? Apparently this!


What does it mean? I have no idea. My engineering skills are suspect, at best. But you might know! Tell us what’s happening here!

Also, apparently Kelly has begun inviting people to come and surf his creation. Who is first on the list? Oh no. Not your friends from BeachGrit but rather, allegedly, the son of Kelly’s old boss’s (the wonderful Bob McKnight) son Robbie! Robbie McKnight! Getting his shred on!

So there you are.