Objective: Your favorite surf brand!

Which one do you love more than all the rest?

Social media is an absolute hoot. Sometimes. When Twitter, Instagram etc. all first started cracking for the mags, a few years ago, I thought, “Amazing! Now the world will actually know how many people engage!” My computer skillz were such, and still are, that I didn’t know the numbers could be gamed. Derek’s were/are better. He can photoshop and edit li’l vids that the WSL threatens to sue us over. Neither of us are good enough to fudge follower numbers, though, (Hello barely 15k people on Facebook!) but whatever. We embrace reality! We stab artifice in its wandering eye!

In any case, objectively, which of our surf brands have the biggest following/are most popular? Do you have a  guess? The lovely boys over at EmpireAve.com did an amazingly exhaustive study looking specifically at Instagram numbers. Not just which is biggest (surprise!) but which has the greatest engagement, which posts the most, which posts get the most likes etc.

The piece is full of fun facts and a provide a small window into how the brands see themselves, what they project and how that projection is received by the people.

And your favorite brand based on likes?

Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 10.46.20 AM

Billabong! Followed by Quiksilver, Rip Curl, Volcom and those upstart Mad Hueys!

Quiksilver actually has the most followers but people around the world clicked Billabong’s little heart more than all the rest…12 million times even!

Dig in to the rest HERE and for fun plug your own account into the mix. How did you do? Will 2016 be better? Let’s hope!


P.S. Todd Kline (@toddokrine) had 90,520 likes.


Four Things Surfers Have Ruined

Can you guess four things surfers have screwed up? Wait, only four?

I know a lot of you are reading this stuff from outside my own country, and I’m never really sure how much US news makes it across borders.  Not much, I assume, since I know little to nothing about what’s going on in Australia, or New Zealand.

Which is where I think a large majority of our readers reside.

Anyway, in case you weren’t aware we’ve got a lovely bunch of right wing racist Christian terrorists occupying a federal building and rattling their sabers. A true blue bunch of nutjobs, one of their number, a PTSD addled vet, even posted a jihad-style martyr video.

Entertaining stuff, I figure they’re either going to get killed or locked up for a very long time. It’d be scary if I still lived on the mainland, place is infested with this type of lunatic. But I’m thousands of miles away, safe in the Pacific, resident of the state with the lowest gun ownership rate in the USA.

The only real effect it has on my life, outside of entertainment value, is that it finally changed my opinion on guns.  I’ve always liked guns. They’re cool, make a lot of noise, kill things.  Don’t own any, myself, because like Jim Jeffries said, “From time to time, we all get sad…”

So, yeah, for whatever reason, this is the straw that broke the camel’s back, and I’m in the no-more-guns camp. It sucks, group of idiots ruined it for everyone, but them’s the breaks.

I’ll happily sacrifice my theoretical right to own a firearm if it keeps them out of the hands of people like those dumb fucks in Oregon.

Which got me thinking about aspects of surfing that aren’t bad, in and of themselves, but are used in such a way that the world would be a better place without them.

Don’t we surfers love to fuck stuff up? A delusional horde of hedonistic narcissists who play at spirituality descend on a locale and kill in inside a decade. Pollution, poverty, addiction, carpet bagging cocksuckers joining the gold rush to buy up land and privatize access. We’re a nightmare, and we know it

Here are four…

Volume: Arguably, the most useless number you can assign a surfboard. Sure, coupled with length, width, rocker, a tiny bit of knowledge about bottom contour, and rail foil, it can help make a decision regarding board design. But on its own it only relates to buoyancy, and means nothing worth knowing. But it’s a single number, very easy to explain, great for selling boards. Perfect when slapping together a bullshit calculator that peddles boards to uninformed consumers.

Travel: Jeez, don’t we surfers love to fuck stuff up? A delusional horde of hedonistic narcissists who play at spirituality descend on a locale and kill in inside a decade. Pollution, poverty, addiction, carpet bagging cocksuckers joining the gold rush to buy up land and privatize access. We’re a nightmare, and we know it. Read about surfers screwing Bali here. 

Religion: I’m not religious, made no secret of that. But I don’t really have a problem with people who are, as long as they keep it to themselves.  Which most do. The average person is pretty decent, trying to foist your ethos on another person is fucked enough an act beyond the pale.

But religious surf organizations, almost exclusively Christian, never cease to get me riled.

Bunch of chicken hawk charlatans trying to recruit the weak and dumb, turn my favorite activity into a means of indoctrination. It’s not something of which I’ll ever be accepting, or even approaching polite.

Do you think they'll give shark jaw trophies in South Africa anymore?

Ex-pro surfer wins fantasy version!

It's a fantasy come true! Like Pete Rose!

Is it your dream to be on the World Surf League’s Championship Tour? To surf those waves in front of the hundreds online and maybe win it all? To be chaired up the beach on the shoulders of your best acquaintances and sip lukewarm Red Bull?

I can only imagine that was Blake Thornton’s. Who he? Oh ye of little memory! Blake stormed onto the CT in 2010 after winning Santa Cruz’s Coldwater Classic and competed for maybe the year before maybe falling off? Surf historian Matt Warshaw…I’m looking in your direction right now. That’s what happened, yeah? In my mind’s eye he had a beard and powerful cutback.

In any case, this year saw Blake riding a hot hand all the way to first place…of Fantasy Surfer! Yes, the Australian native won it all (six nights at the North Shore’s Turtle Bay plus two welcome drinks) and did it in such fashion that he didn’t even need Pipe. Adriano, are you reading? Mick, are you? Blake crushed his competition early and crushed them often and, thus, was allowed to play golf instead of being glued to those last heats. Surfer mag interviewed the champ after his victory. Let’s tuck in!

Do you feel like your professional career helped narrow your picks?

I would be lying if I said it didn’t help in a way. I think having surfed all the spots and knowing how they break on different swells and how certain guys perform at certain venues was definitely an advantage.

As we approached the last event, did you feel confident that you were going to win the whole thing?

I wasn’t too up to speed with the whole numbers breakdown, but my buddy—who actually got me into Fantasy Surfer initially—is an accountant and a real number-cruncher. He did the math and said it would be tough for someone to overtake me as I had a pretty low throwaway.

How did you find out that you won?

I just jumped online after Pipe had finished and I saw that I was still rated number one. Not long after I received the official email and was pretty much in shock. I was actually playing golf on the finals day. It was pretty hard to sit through some of the slow heats, so I was streaming it on my phone and tuning in to the highlights.

How did Fantasy Surfer begin for you?

I joined Fantasy Surfer two years ago and it started out as a way for me and my buddy to go head-to-head each event. In the beginning, I didn’t do much research. I just picked teams based on which surfer I thought had a good chance at the event and even picked a few guys who were friends. But it wasn’t until the Trestles comp that my mate informed me I was ranked fourth in the world. From there, I started to dig into it more and looking into the forecast. But I never studied heat draws or anything like that — just the surf forecast.

Any shockers this season? Looks like you killed it at Portugal and Tahiti, but Rio and Lowers were rough. 

Yeah, Rio and Lowers are tough ones to pick, particularly Rio, I guess. It’s a funky beach break and there are always a lot of scrappy heats. It’s a place where even the best surfers struggle and there are always upsets. Trestles is such a machine. Now that the judging has evened off a bit, it feels like it’s a venue that rewards both rail and air surfing equally. There’s no guarantee that real high-performance guy like Toledo can beat a real solid rail surfer like Ace out there. So that’s why it was a tricky one for me.

Do you have any advice that you’d want to to give other players?

My biggest advantage was that I had been there and done that. Paying attention to the history of the surfer at the event would be a good start. Swell forecasts are always a good trick, too, but I reckon the best way is to keep it fun and maybe start a club with a bunch of mates like I did. Who knows — you might find yourself on top at the end of the year.

If you are racist and/or xenophobic and are angry with surfing’s two Brazilian champs in a row embrace Blake and your problems be solved!


"It's like cutting through butter with a hot knife," says Mr Domke, of surfing big waves on a skim.

Tomoz: Brad Domke to Skim Big Jaws!

Florida skimboarder brings his 52-inch disc to Peahi… 

Does your heart do somersaults at the idea of a man skidding down a forty-foot Jaws wave on a little carbon-fibre areola?

Tomorrow, in waves the excellent surf forecasting website Surfline, predicts will be “double-triple overhead” Wabasso’s Brad Domke will ride the joint, finless, towed in by his Italian-born, Maui-based pal Francisco Porcella.

A skimboarder in big waves ain’t as absurd as it sounds.

Two months ago, Domke rode Portugal’s Nazaré, describing it as an “ancient beast. There’s a monster in the water making the water move strangely and fast.”

And, Teahupoo, The Right and Puerto Escondido have all felt his dazzling grip-free surfing.

This is Brad at Teahupoo, Tahiti, in September, 2015.

And Puerto Escondido, Mexico,2014.

And a little tumble from The Right in Western Australia.

But, tomorrow? Big Jaws!

Your correspondent found Mr Domke, who’s as handsome as a male hairdresser and twice as dexterous, at Kahului airport on Maui, at the lost baggage counter.

“Oh my god, I thought about ten ways to do this. Honestly, without doing any tricks, I would say just towing-in super deep on the biggest one I can find out there and just seriously ride up into that west bowl and get blown out of a big barrel! If we could step it up, a manoeuvre before the barrel, any manoeuvre in general on the wave. But just to ride the wave is a blessing and an experience.”

No skims.

“They’re not here and that’s the ordeal right now,” he says. “But I have faith, I have faith.”

Why’s he chasing mountains at Jaws?

“It’s Jaws, it’s the biggest one, it’s the gnarliest one. It’s the… gauntlet.”

Did his Nazaré experience in November give him the taste for divinely big waves?

“Completely! That’s what got me on the bug. Nazaré was one of the most powerful big waves I’ve ever ridden, and I thought, wow, next level would be to come to Peahi… but the skim boards aren’t here and I’m pissed.”

Presuming they arrive, or you can steal a child’s Christmas toy, what would be the perfect ride at Jaws, for you?

“Oh my god, I thought about ten ways to do this. Honestly, without doing any tricks, I would say just towing-in super deep on the biggest one I can find out there and just seriously ride up into that west bowl and get blown out of a big barrel! If we could step it up, a manoeuvre before the barrel, any manoeuvre in general on the wave. But just to ride the wave is a blessing and an experience.”

Does Brad Domke ever hair-out?

“Every single time!”

Me too!

“But at the same time you get excitement from it. It’s the whole risk factor of life. Everyone has their risks they take and what gets ’em stoked, what gets ’em going. There’s always a fear factor. But you get that… joy, that satisfaction of just going for it. I’m always nervous and I wanna be safe and smart about the whole situation, but I also wanna get… stoked.”

Anastasia Ashley reads sensual poetry!

The surfer and Sports Illustrated Swimwear model reads the classic, Song for a Lady… 

I’m such a sucker, and maybe you are too, for a gal of better-than-average looks reading poetry, ideally in a backless canary yellow swimsuit.

Last year you’ll remember Ms Ashley socking us with Funeral Blues by WH Auden.  I haven’t cried so much since Anne Marie was cornered into surfing Pipeline (after a wipeout that nearly killed her) by her cruel ex-boyfriend Drew in Blue Crush.

Last month, Anastasia reprised her poetry jams with a recording of the feminist poem What Do Women Want by the American Kim Addonizio. The poem “explores the risk that women have of being stereotyped.”

Today, we present the far more subtle, but, then again, more sensual, poem Song for a Lady, written by the Pulitzer Prize-winning Anne Sexton in 1969. This poem comes from her collection Love Poems, described somewhere as “a celebration of touch… physical and emotional touch.”

Read along!

Song for a Lady by Anne Sexton (1969)

On the day of breasts and small hips
the window pocked with bad rain,
rain coming on like a minister,
we coupled, so sane and insane.
We lay like spoons while the sinister
rain dropped like flies on our lips
and our glad eyes and our small hips.

“The room is so cold with rain,” you said
and you, feminine you, with your flower
said novenas to my ankles and elbows.
You are a national product and power.
Oh my swan, my drudge, my dear wooly rose,
even a notary would notarize our bed
as you knead me and I rise like bread.