Mark Healey: “I can’t save you!”

An excerpt from a Surfer's Journal masterpiece!

Any of y’all familiar with post-accomplishment depression? Like, you achieve a goal and just fucking hate yourself afterwards? Because now you’ve gotta figure out what to do next, and it’s gotta be better, and you don’t really know how to go about it.

So this month’s Surfer’s Journal, issue 25.1, has a piece in it by yours truly, about Dave Wassel, and you really need to rush out and drop $16 on a copy. Right now! Go do it!

Writing about Wassel is pretty much a gift. The guy is intelligent, eloquent, interesting, funny. And a total man’s man. If I didn’t prefer women our interactions would have gotten pretty uncomfortable. For him. Dude’s just amazing, total personal hero, loved by everyone. I mean, how the hell do you make it to adulthood without making any enemies?

Writing for Surfer’s Journal is a dream come true for a wanna-be surf writer like me. I know I should play it cool, no big deal, but it’s been a long time since I’ve seen my words actual print, and for it to be a beautiful glossy work of art like this… my goodness. Pretty sweet.

They asked for three thousand words, I delivered seven thousand, which was then cut down to five by Alex Wilson. Kind of a kick in the nuts, but only because his edit was way better than my final draft. It’s both a blessing and a curse, getting edited hard and seeing a better result.

Here’s an excerpt from what I sent in, Mark Healey talking about a day with Wassel at an Oahu outer reef.

It was probably the craziest day I’ve ever surfed, and it was just me and him at the outer reefs. No inflation vests, no jet skis, just board shorts and surfboards. He showed up with this, like, huge 10’8 board that looked like a total piece of shit to me. But we’re out there and the waves are getting really, really big. It was crazy. I’d imagine, there’s no photos of the day, but just comparing to days I’ve been out and it’s been huge, it was all of sixty feet, and like, top to bottom freakin’ triple spit barreling, with just us out in the evening. And it was doing this underground, almost Teahupoo-esque, how it kind of drops and you can actually see the reef contour. This is way outside, like the actual reef ledge it’s breaking on is maybe forty feet deep, dropping off to about seventy. So for that amount of water to be moving and to be able to see the contour on a forty foot shelf is pretty incredible.

Dave, he turned on this wave that was like twenty five feet and absolutely scooping up and I’m losing my mind because it looked like the wave was gonna barrel over his head on the takeoff.

I remember it being a similar view to the one Andy got at Teahupoo, that amazing huge wave, where I was like, ‘Oh my god, it just broke right over him.’

The last thing I told him, I was yelling at him and the first thing that came to my mind was ‘I can’t save you!’ I had to get that off my chest, that, like, I couldn’t do anything at all. I hope he’s not doing this thinking I can help him. Because we could both die out here.

I watched this wave just unload, spit sooooo hard, go into another section, spit soooo hard, and then he pops out the back just screaming. And then gets sucked over the falls. I still can’t believe he made it that far. Clearly, the only way that he made it, he must have packed the barrel, like grabbed rail and got the fucking craziest 25 foot double spit underground barrel. And he got sucked back over, just screaming, ‘YEAH!’

Back then we chewed tobacco a lot, and that was our competition. We’d go out on those big outer reef days and see how long you could keep your dip in. And so, he got that wave and when he was punching though I could see, from like a hundred yards away, he’s all, ‘YEAH!’ and as he’s getting sucked back over the falls he pulls the dip out of his lip and holds it in the air claiming it, then puts it back in his lip and just disappears.

It was quite possibly one of the most heroic things I’ve ever seen.

Then his leash breaks, and we’re almost mile out at sea, and he’s still just screaming, ‘YEAH!YEAH!YEAH!’ and then starts swimming in. And it’s a sketchy swim.

So he just swam in and I was thinking, ‘I hope he made it to shore.’ We were so far away, it’s not like I was going inside there. I saw him later, on the beach at dark. I stayed out by myself until then, I didn’t have much of a choice.

Bruce Irons

Documentary: Bruce Irons at Volcom!

Home sweet home.

Red Bull’s series detailing life inside the most famous Pipeline houses continues, this time with a peek into the preparation for Vans World Cup of Surfing and also how the boys surf it. Bruce Irons, pops up and gives an interview on Pipeline, his relationship to the wave, and how he still visualizes himself hoisting a trophy at an event here. Plus a little bit of Balaram Stack. Remember how awesome it almost was that he was dating Christie Brinkley? He texted me, after the story went live, that they were just friends but it was too late to do anything. A boy can dream, no?


Technology: Be the surfboard!

WaveWrecker promises to be a massive breakthrough! Which surfer will first ride one on tour?

Surfboards are one of the greatest things about surfing. They are very seductive, smooth and curvy. Gorgeous, sensual even. How many times have you picked one up and caressed its rails so tenderly? Do you wish someone would caress you that way? Well your dreams are about to come true!

There is a new thing being Kickstarted called WaveWrecker! Let’s read about it!

WaveWrecker is a form of wearable technology that’s designed to make your body streamlined and able to glide through the water and ride waves with marine mammal-like ease. It also has built-in buoyancy that allows wave riders to stay in the water longer, catch and grip waves with control, and exceed the limits of bodysurfing alone.

Experienced wave surfers love using it to push the limits of traditional bodysurfing by catching more waves and performing tricks, like spin moves and windmills. WaveWrecker is also loved by less experienced riders. It shortens the bodysurfing curve for beginners, and its buoyancy helps parents feel more confident about their children’s safety in the water.

Does that inspire? Would you like to climb into one? I think you need to give some money first. Go here!



Quiksilver: “Empathy doesn’t exist!”

But who needs empathy? Only the lazy/untalented/communists!

I was talking to my dad this morning, he’s up in NorCal doing whatever it is people do up there. Look at otters, marvel at the solitary lunatic who’s always, inexplicably, trying to surf freezing cold onshore terribleness.

Towards the end of our conversation his phones started cutting in and out, I barely understood a garbled OC Weekly and Quiksilver before he was disconnected.

Enough to Google, turns out that the OC Weekly posted an interesting article on the rise and fall of Quiksilver titled How Quiksilver Lost its Soul and Ended Up in Bankruptcy Court

The Quiksilver machine hummed noiselessly and made handsome profits for McKnight and others—he cracked $1 million in base salary in 2007, two years after McKnight had engineered a $560 million acquisition of ski brand Rossignol and a part share in Cleveland Golf in an effort to branch out. By then, Quiksilver was producing movies, TV shows and books. The company was flying Slater to remote breaks using branded seaplanes. Corporate parties got more and more lavish, and McKnight became a staple of Orange County’s society pages. But the execs didn’t let much profits trickle down. Of several dozen posts at, an online discussion site for workers, almost all employees complained about Quiksilver’s crappy pay. “One of the most hostile environments I’ve ever experienced,” a former design professional wrote in 2013. “Empathy doesn’t exist.”

It’s an interesting read, certainly worth your click, with a gorgeous amount of dirt you won’t find in the surf media.

Ozzie Wright 156 Tricks

The best surf movie soundtrack…ever?

Can you guess?

Does it amaze you, as it does me, the power of song to elevate a surf film? The opening piano chords of Life on Mars for Creed McTaggart’s section in Cluster acts on my brain like a narcotic every time I hear it.

Other times, songs can feel like wedges being hammered into your neck.

And so I wondered, what is the best surf movie soundtrack, ever?

A Kai Neville film? Maybe something further down the timeline, a Jack McCoy movie?

Taylor Steele’s punk lite scores?

What songs have stayed in my head the longest? What songs accompany my own jams on a wave?

In the very distant turn of the century there was a Volcom movie, made by Australia’s Ozzie Wright, that became the template for almost every surf movie, and for every hipster, since: the super eight footage, the static landscape shots, street painting, goofy tricks.

Do you remember 156 Tricks?

With a soundtrack populated by Sonic Youth and Iggy Pop, among others? And pivoting the movie around a punk ska track called Arsehole?

It’s a ridiculous, trivial soundtrack, absurdly insignificant, that works better than anything before or since.

Here, taste.

(Oh, and there’s a song by a band called The Line in there that lives in my head, too. Goddamn, if I could find it. Anyone help?)

(The section with Arsehole, by Snuff)

And this is what Snuff look like. So not surf!

A little Sonic Youth

Yuh, yodelling…

The closing hit.