Rumor: The future of the WSL!

The same money behind the World Surf League also funds Kelly Slater's wave pool!

We live in the information age, don’t we though, and this usually means Internet and blog and iPhone. Funny, though, that mouth and bar are still so wonderfully effective.

I was sitting, for example, just two days ago in a Dallas, Texas airport bar drinking vodka soda and fielding sneers for ordering such a thing in Dallas, Texas even though it was just an airport bar. The men next to me were talking. I was listening. And then we all started talking. It turned out that they allegedly knew the money behind your favorite surf league, and one thing led to another and guess what that money is also investing in?

Kelly Slater’s wave pool!

From what they knew, it seemed like all the money.

And everything snapped into perfect place.

The World Surf League will build wave pools across the world that develop not only a taste for surfing but a consistent place to contest events. I’d imagine the top tier would still take to the ocean but I’d also imagine that most juniors, QS and lots of specialty one-offs would pop in Des Moines, Dubuque, Denver and, yes, Dallas.

The taste, though, would be more important. The World Surf League Wave Centers would have stores that could sell Glenn Hall singlet (read here), teach the parents how safe and healthy and concussion free the shred is and create a hungering froth in thousands, millions, billions of inland children. They would go home after two hour barrel sessions, flip on the iPad and watch Glenn Hall get pitted while wearing his singlet.

Kelly Slater, of course, will make the only board that works for the pools, those hideous banana things, and surf will be the biggest thing on earth and all of CEO Paul Speaker’s gobbledygook will make perfect sense. Bigger than the NFL!

Those who cling to the ocean and think this model won’t work will be viewed the same as those who insisted that the Internet was just a fad. The future!

The only trouble I see with all this raddness is that CEO Paul Speaker don’t surf, literally, and might be missing a little something about how the addiction is actually built. Then again, I didn’t get online until basically yesterday.


Brock Little: “I’ve had a great life!”

A telephone call to the Hawaiian big-wave stud Brock Little on his cancer diagnosis… 

A couple of hours ago, I called the Hawaiian big-wave stud Brock Little. I was still reeling from his Instagram post from two days ago where he announced his cancer diagnosis, and wanted to hear his voice, to see how he was handling it all.

I mean, Brock Little? Not even forty-nine years old and hit by the Spanish Dancer? The same guy who laughed at Waimea while others grimaced?

Some of the questions might seem a little insensitive, what sort of cancer do you have, what existential thoughts do you have, but Brock is a man of war, fearless and skilled in battle. I knew he’d take ’em as they were meant, as the curiosity of a lifelong fan.

In the seven-minute call, Brock talks about his prognosis (not good), when he was diagnosed (one month ago), why he told the world via IG (“When you’re out there looking like shit, it’s pretty obvious you have fucking cancer”) and how he feels about it all (“I’m so stoked. I’ve had a great life and what I’ve lived through and what I’ve done in my life, crazy good times.”)…


Rage: Come visit crazy Lunada Bay!

"Localism is part of surfing culture and commonly found in places like Redondo Beach, Miami and the beaches of Hawaii."

Palos Verdes Estates’ Lunada Bay is home to expensive homes, stunning ocean views and the “Bay Boys,” a group of older locals who dislike outsiders and intruders and barneys, kooks, ho-dads, etc. You’ve read about them here and here but with all this El Nino action they made the Daily Breeze, Redondo Beach’s hometown newspaper and I, literally, can’t top it. So here it is unabridged:

High swells attracted the usual contingent of surfing locals to Lunada Bay in Palos Verdes Estates on Friday, but they had some company: four police officers, the city’s top administrator, the media and a few out-of-towners who wanted to share the waves.

It wasn’t exactly a party, though.

The Bay Boys, notorious for their harassment of outsiders who visit their surfing spot, weren’t fond of the attention that rained down on their patio hangout at the bottom of a cliff. Partially responsible for the crowd was one man’s attempt Friday to rally nonlocals to Lunada Bay, which seemed to have fizzled.

Jordan Wright, who has experienced the wrath of the Bay Boys before, had tried to mobilize a crowd on Facebook but only a couple of his friends showed up.

Still, about 20 people stood atop the bluffs to watch the at-times tense scene that revolved around the few out-of-towners looking to surf and the territorial hometown surfers, who have made the stone structure their stomping ground.

None of the surfers in the water claimed to be a Bay Boy, and none wanted to be identified. But they acknowledged having a problem with surfers in the water who aren’t local, accusing them of littering the shoreline and not being able to negotiate the current.

One claimed to be able to spot a nonlocal because he put on his wet suit at the top of the trail.

“Locals don’t wear their wet suits until (they are) down the trail because it ruins the trails,” he said.

Asked if they wanted to share their side of the story, the locals declined to give their names, saying more media attention “would just make things worse.”

Others said localism is part of surfing culture and commonly found in places like Redondo Beach, Miami and the beaches of Hawaii. 

“It’s all getting blown out of proportion,” one said.

“When we go out and try to apply for jobs, they Google us and see where we’re from,” another said. “And when they see (localism) going on, they’re not going to want to hire us.” 

Detective Aaron Belda denied that Lunada Bay was getting any special attention Friday, saying police regularly patrol the area, especially during high swells. Even City Manager Tony Dahlerbruch showed up, saying he often visits the popular surf area and makes a point to stop by during optimal surfing conditions.

Officials have not yet determined whether to remove the unpermitted patio, which is just one of dozens of illegal encroachments in the city. As a coastal city, Palos Verdes Estates has an obligation to provide equal access to the beach.

However, it’s unclear if the cliffside structure directly contributes to territorial behavior in Lunada Bay. And because the issue of localism is behavioral, city officials said they are working to determine if the patio itself makes the shoreline exclusive to only a certain group of surfers.

Jordan Wright and Chris Taloa were among the few out-of-towners who tried to rally friends to surf the area Friday. Taloa, who organized a protest against localism in Lunada Bay in 2014, said the hostile environment hadn’t changed. 

While Wright was prepping his surfboard at the top of the bluffs, he said a man driving past yelled “kooks!” Wright said he immediately called police and filed a report.

It wasn’t his first encounter with localism either. Wright recalls visiting Lunada Bay as a 15-year-old with his father and being confronted by Bay Boys who wouldn’t stop verbally harassing them until they left.

“I just want to go and surf,” Wright said. “I’ve tried to get people to go and, if I do, I’ll go — otherwise I’ll go somewhere else. I’ve already made up my mind that I’m not going to surf by myself.”

Just past noon Friday, the crowd began to dwindle when Wright and his friend, Diana Reed, began their trek down the hill. Four watchful police officers edged closer to the ledge.

Wright said he and Reed were yelled and cursed at by a local as he approached the patio.

“At that point, cops heard him because they were by the patio,” Wright said. “Police walked toward us and cops patted him down and detained him.”

Wright said they were offered the opportunity to make a citizen’s arrest or file a report. While he initially decided to file a citizen’s arrest, Wright said he didn’t want to complicate the situation.

“Everyone saw it, everyone saw my face,” Wright said. “I don’t want any problems. I just wanted to surf.

“We need cops involved, we need surfers taking (localism) head on and reporters drawing attention to this. At the end of the day, maybe someday we’ll change the story down there and people can look freely and surf.”

My favorite sentences, in order of how much I love, are:

1) Others said localism is part of surfing culture and commonly found in places like Redondo Beach, Miami and the beaches of Hawaii. 

2) “Locals don’t wear their wet suits until (they are) down the trail because it ruins the trails,” he said.

3) “When we go out and try to apply for jobs, they Google us and see where we’re from,” another said. “And when they see (localism) going on, they’re not going to want to hire us.” 

4) Jordan Wright, who has experienced the wrath of the Bay Boys before, had tried to mobilize a crowd on Facebook but only a couple of his friends showed up.

5) While Wright was prepping his surfboard at the top of the bluffs, he said a man driving past yelled “kooks!” Wright said he immediately called police and filed a report.

I mean, have you ever read anything grander? Me neither!

 


Dave Wassel: “Pipe is ninety-nine feet!”

Pipe regular Dave Wassel on Hawaii's monster swells, the big wave tour and Shane Doz… 

I’m sure you’ve seen all the footage coming out of Hawaii the last few days. Pure insanity, closed out Waimea, people falling from the sky at Pe’ahi. Today I girded my loins, waxed up my board, and had an amazing session…

On my 9’0″ at a well-sheltered spot in two-to-three-foot windswell. Which is a totally wuss move, but I’m not in nearly good enough shape to tackle this shit, and discretion is the better part of valor. (Plus my wife said I’m not allowed to and I’ll happily take that excuse.)

So fun, but so shameful, I figured I should call a real man and see how things are going. So I hit up Dave Wassel, who was on his way to pick up the kids from school, having just finished wrapping up his Volcom Pipe Pro responsibilities, where he’ll be both competing and commentating.

He didn’t paddle out today, I feel a little better about myself.

BeachGrit: How’s the surf looking right now?

Wassel: Right now it’s twelve, fifteen, Hawaiian scale, Phantom’s still has thirty-foot faces. It’s dropped from this morning, there’s actually guys surfing Pipeline. There’s five guys out, it looks like crap but they’re out there. We called the contest off because, it wasn’t quite 100 feet, but it was ninety nine feet.

Shane Dorian is one hundred percent the world’s best big wave surfer. If you can’t acknowledge that you’re high. Like, give me twice as much as you’re smoking, because you are high.

On the big wave paddle-in explosion…

I’ve seen lots of gnarly things go down, the very best of it is that people are still breathing.

I have to say that there’s sort of a false sense of security. If you look at some of these waves that people are trying to approach, places like Pe’ahi and some of the outer reefs, just because you have a life jacket on doesn’t mean you can’t break your neck or get in serious trouble. Look at DK Walsh. He runs water safety for the Skullbase team and that guy almost literally tore his head off his shoulders during the last swell at Pe’ahi. It’s real, people. It’s serious.

It’s super crowded, and if you look at the interval yesterday, it wasn’t approachable. All the people that I talked to, the best five guys at Pe’ahi, all of them said it was a tow day. It wasn’t a wind issue, Mother Nature was just straight up pissed off. It wasn’t bigger than the last swell, just the interval was long and the waves were moving way too fast. Look at all the wipeouts that went down. I mean, how many waves were successfully ridden yesterday? Three? Four?

It’s horrifying, I don’t know if people know what they’re getting themselves into.

Tom Dosland’s ocean bungee attempt…

He literally looks like a human yo-yo. You can see the string attached to his foot. He went around the world and kissed his own ass.

New faces in the water…

That’s that false sense of security. There are a lot of new faces. I think that they’re really gonna get worse before they get better. And when I say worse, you know, that’s not a good thing. Something really serious is gonna happen here.

And it could happen to the very best guy. Don’t get me wrong. Mark Mathews is very talented and he sent it on a sixty footer and he’s lucky he still has his arm attached to his shoulder, really.

Costs of competing on the Big Wave World Tour… 

You can’t just bring one board to an event, so you’re incurring at least $100 a board. If you’re gonna go all the way to Mavericks you’re gonna take at least four boards, so $400 each way, $800 round trip. You get that $1000 check at the end of the day you look at it and go, “Really? That’s what my life is worth?” If you’re not placing in the top, like, two, you’re losing money. You’re doing it for love.

Where it is right now, it’s grown leaps and bounds from last year, but it still has a long way to go. At least it’s moving forwards, not backwards. I think the amount of viewers they got from the Pe’ahi Challenge, that’ll help encourage sponsors to get behind it.

These guys, yes, they’re making money off us, but I think at the same time, we’re just opening doors. This big wave surfing thing is still in an infantile stage, at least it’s being shown to the general public. When I started doing this nobody cared, nobody saw anything. You’d get a fifty-foot barrel, nobody saw it. Now you can’t go in the water without the whole world seeing it. You can’t go out there and pull a Tom Dosland without going viral. So, it’s both good and bad, but maybe the world will take notice and hopefully sponsorship dollars will follow. But right now you’re paying out of your own pocket.

I don’t do the entire big-wave tour, it’s a personal choice. All the events, it’s just too expensive to go and do all of them. I don’t know guys like Healey are doing it. I have no idea. You fly halfway around the world and get a semi final… I don’t know. Unless you’re number one you’re nothing. If you’re not first you’re last. Can you name off the top of your head five world champions of the Big Wave World Tour?

Maybe it’s a step in the right direction. [Last year] I think Makua did a great job. I’m glad they didn’t hold all the events in terrible waves. The ones that they did hold weren’t really that vital. Peru was pretty big, but susceptible to fog and a mile out so you can barely see it. And then they went to Spain and that was straight onshore and half the guys’ boards didn’t even show up. They were just using borrowed equipment.

I’m not knocking it, but I’d way rather stick to my guns and surf good surf, bottom line.

I really wish they would have held off on that Pe’ahi event, on that windy day, because the next swell was at least the same size, if not bigger, all day long.

For me it’s kind of trying to get the best waves on the best days, and you know, yeah, it’s a feather in your cap to get invited to these things, but you think they would hold it in good conditions.

Lifeguard work during maxed out swell…

Right now it’s getting worse, because it’s at that in-between stage where people are like, “Ahhhh, I think I can kinda sorta do it.” And the news has been hyping it up so much that every tourist has been getting dropped off and is trying to get their feet wet. You also get the guys who are trying to paddle out and get in a little deeper than they should be, getting in over their heads. But everyday is busy out here, from two feet to a hundred, don’t kid yourself.

King Dorian…

Shane Dorian is one hundred percent the world’s best big wave surfer. If you can’t acknowledge that you’re high. Like, give me twice as much as you’re smoking, because you are high. The guy has shown his poise in giant surf and other than that… Billy’s the world champion right now, yeah, but, on a day to day basis he’s… Billy’s coming on strong, I think Koa Rothman is coming on strong, but Shane Dorian has this thing in a chokehold. He’s the man, there’s no way around it.


The big-wave stud and Hollywood stuntman Brock Little, right, announces his cancer diagnosis.

Brock Little: “I Have Cancer. It Sucks.”

Son of a bitch…

The noted Hawaiian big-wave surfer and Hollywood stuntman Brock Little took to Instagram yesterday to announce his cancer diagnosis.

“To My instagram friends, if u didn’t know already- I don’t look at my instagram or run it, but that changes today, my brother @clarklittle set up the account & my good friend @420_north (jess) did me a great favor & showed the instagram world I’m alive & having fun ! I’m not sure how interested I’ll be in instagram but from now on everything u see posted will come from me. Love Brock.”

Today, he wrote: “I have cancer. It sucks, but I taking chemo. You do what you can. Can’t believe the person in that picture is me. I look in the mirror and I feel like it’s not me.”

Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 5.42.56 pm

Who doensn’t love the classy, handsome, and fantastically humorous Hawaiian?

Let’s examine Brock’s career, as chronicled by Matt Warsaw’s Encyclopedia of Surfing. 

“Unflinching big-wave surfer and world traveler from Haleiwa, Hawaii; runner-up in the 1990 Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau contest at Waimea Bay. Little was born (1967) in Napa, California, moved with his family to Hawaii at age three, and began surfing at age seven. He was a finalist in the menehune division of the 1980 United States Surfing Championships; just over six years later the 145-pound pencil-legged rookie pro placed fourth in the 1986 Quiksilver event, held in ragged 20-foot surf at Waimea. Little was 19; Clyde Aikau, Mark Foo, and Ken Bradshaw, the three surfers who placed ahead of him, were 37, 28, and 34, respectively.

“Although Little was runner-up to Hawaiian surfer Keone Downing in the 1990 Quiksilver contest, held in spectacular 25 to 30-foot Waimea surf, he stole the show with a gladiatorial wipeout on the biggest wave of the day, and followed up by pulling into the tube on a 20-footer—a rarity in big-wave surfing at the time—and nearly making it out. Little’s relaxed, loose-armed style made his big-wave bravado seem all the cooler. Along with fellow Hawaiian Darrick Doerner, Little was named as the best Waimea riders in peer polls conducted in 1990 and 1993. Little went on to place highly in most of the big-wave events over the next few years.

Brock was the informal mentor to a slightly younger generation of Hawaiian big-wave surfers, including Todd Chesser and Shane Dorian, and was the most vocal proponent of the idea that big-wave riding, rather than being a spiritual exercise or a test of character, was just hugely fun.

“Little authored nearly 30 articles for Surfer and Surfing magazines between 1989 to 1997, mainly travel stories and big-wave features. He was the informal mentor to a slightly younger generation of Hawaiian big-wave surfers, including Todd Chesser and Shane Dorian, and was the most vocal proponent of the idea that big-wave riding, rather than being a spiritual exercise or a test of character, was just hugely fun.

“Little and fellow Hawaiian big-wave rider Mark Foo both rode Maverick’s for the first time on December 23, 1994. Around noon, Foo wiped out on a 15- foot wave while dropping in; Little and California big-wave rider Mike Parsons wiped out on the wave following and were washed into a nearshore rock out-cropping, where they both struggled mightily to get free and make it ashore. Foo had meanwhile been pushed to the bottom and drowned.

“People think that would be one of the worst ways to die, but it isn’t. I was held underwater so long one time last year that after a while everything went black and these red dots were going off in the blackness. Then I went from fighting — I never panic, I fight; there’s a big difference — to just relaxing. And after a while I just swam up. So I realized that if I die underwater, I’ll die relaxed. I’m not worried about it that much. If I die surfing, people shouldn’t feel bad.”

“Working regularly as a Hollywood stuntman since 1999, Little has appeared in over 20 films, including Pearl Harbor (2001), Live Free or Die Hard (2007) and Tropic Thunder (2008).  He was a Screen Actors Guild Award nominee for his work in 2009’s Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.”

Once asked by Matt Warshaw if he ever feared drowning, Brock said: “People think that would be one of the worst ways to die, but it isn’t. I was held underwater so long one time last year that after a while everything went black and these red dots were going off in the blackness. Then I went from fighting — I never panic, I fight; there’s a big difference — to just relaxing. And after a while I just swam up. So I realized that if I die underwater, I’ll die relaxed. I’m not worried about it that much. If I die surfing, people shouldn’t feel bad.”

Warshaw also asked if he had some kind of death wish.
“No, not at all. It’s just that if I get myself into a radical experience—getting in a fight, or driving fast, or riding a huge wave—and live through it, I’m totally stoked. I don’t mind bleeding. I don’t mind getting held underwater. I’ve walked away from everything that’s happened so far and been better off every time.”