Benson, who's been a wanted man since 2014, was pulled over by BI police after exceeding the speed limit on Alii Drive. They ran his name, got a hit, and he decided to make a run for it. Which might have worked, the Big Island is BIG, plenty of places to hide. Unfortunately for him, he got got. | Photo:

Ten Years Jail for Tonino Benson?

A wanted man since 2014, the Hawaiian WQS surfer Tonino Benson just got got.

The Big Island’s Tonino Benson is behind bars, and likely to stay there for a while, after a series of absolutely terrible decisions caught up with him this past week.

Benson, who’s been a wanted man since 2014, was pulled over by BI police after exceeding the speed limit on Alii Drive. They ran his name, got a hit, and he decided to make a run for it. Which might have worked, the Big Island is BIG, plenty of places to hide. Unfortunately for him, he got got.

The arresting officer claims he was nearly hit by Benson’s vehicle, which we can all safely assume to be a load of shit, since all cops are cowards. But that’s little help for Benson, because pigs love to tack on assault charges if someone so much as tugs their tail.

HOPE is a last chance program for those deemed likely to violate their probation, marked by intense supervision and immediate short term sentences for violations. But absconsion is grounds for revocation, and then the hammer comes down. In the words of BeachGrit‘s legal consultant, my wife, “You fuck up big on HOPE, you’re fucked.”

Benson’s initial 2014 arrest stemmed from a burglary in Kailua-Kona and landed him in Hawaii’s Opportunity Probation with Enforcement, more commonly known as HOPE.

HOPE is a last chance program for those deemed likely to violate their probation, marked by intense supervision and immediate short term sentences for violations. But absconsion is grounds for revocation, and then the hammer comes down. In the words of BeachGrit‘s legal consultant, my wife, “You fuck up big on HOPE, you’re fucked.”

His attorney has requested a mental health evaluation, not unreasonable considering the fact that Benson seems hell bent on destroying his life. But it’s unlikely to find success, as his “assault” on the officer in the course of his escape is the least of his troubles.

His initial offenses, for which he entered a deferred acceptance of no contest, meaning the case would have been dismissed had he finished his four-year probation, included charges of first-degree burglary, a Class B felony that carries a ten-year indeterminate sentence. Which means he goes away for ten years and hopes the parole board lets him out early. Which it probably will, but not any time soon.

In other Outer Island news, the Big Island Mayor, Billy Kenoi, has been indicted for felony theft, misdemeanor theft, tampering with a government record, and false swearing, and a warrant has been issued for his arrest.

Kenoi was caught red handed last year misusing his government issue credit cards, employing government funds to make purchases such as a stand-up paddle board. Most amusing, however, is the $892 tab he picked up at Club Evergreen,a Korean hostess establishment, colloquially referred to as “buy me drinkee” bars.

If you’re unfamiliar with the term, as I was prior to relocating to Hawaii, a buy me drinkee bar is basically a strip club, but the women don’t get naked.

Instead you pay grossly inflated rates for their company while you drink. Maybe they do sex work on the side, I don’t know. I’m not exactly keyed into the culture.

Kenoi maintains that, because he paid the money back, he doesn’t feel he’s done anything wrong.

Politics: Stab (RIP) and The Inertia agree!

The two surf publications unite in endorsing anyone but Trump and probably FCS!

Donald Trump is on a wild run through the Republican primaries and ooo-ee! Passion! Many enjoy his brand of tell-it-like-it-is bravado. Many others think he is a misogynistic racist evildoer. Well, count Stab (2004-2016) and The Inertia amongst the latter. Both waded into political waters today and opined the same!

Stab (RIP) wrote:

Just a stone’s throw from Trestles, chatter builds over a renewed fight over the toll road and the mess that is the shuttered San Onofre nuke plant remains unsolved, these women have gathered to discuss one-time Republican presidential contender Marco Rubio’s autobiography. But as Rubio knows all too well, the conversation quickly turns to Donald Trump.

After listening to their close-minded nonsense for long enough, I walk out with my faith in humanity reduced further, but wonder what Trump presidency would mean for surfing… the comb over, toll roads, nuke waste and all?

Before blasting Trump’s environmental record.

The Inertia first admitted to being pink:

I’d like to start this (probably long-winded) piece by saying that I am not the most learned political pundit. I think, at a base level, I am a socialist, to a point. The shitty thing about politics is that you have to pick–there’s no in between. Parts of capitalism are good. Parts of socialism are bad. But I think there’s more good in socialism than good in capitalism. You can disagree with me, and we can still be friends.

Before blasting Trump’s environmental record, international relations, trade strategy and environmental record again.

And do you breath easier knowing that the best political minds at Stab (RIP) and The Inertia have formulated a well-thought, watertight response, in unison, to the rise of an ever present danger? Will you take their weighty theses into consideration when you step into the voting booth (if you are an American) or at your next dinner party (if you are not)?

More importantly, will the two esteemed voices of reason join forces on other significant matters of the day? Will Stab (RIP) x The Inertia be seen lobbying congress for equal access to education? A single-payer healthcare system? Might they form one perfect union in order to sell FCS fins to all across multiple content platforms?

FCS for President 2016!

“Beating people is the craziest feeling!”

Could Kanoa Igarashi win more titles than Kelly Slater?

What did you think about Kanoa Igarashi’s Snapper run? He beat Keanu Asing and Jeremy Flores before losing to John John and Disco Stu in round 4 and Ace Buchan in round 5. What did you think of his first heat at Bells? He beat Dusty Payne and Italo Ferraira and has not lost yet. Is he a future world champ? Do you feel the burn?

Rory Parker has, often and accurately, described this as the Dead Ball Era of surfing. A historical epoch where a very conservative approach combined with a fluency in safe airs/safe barrel equals a champion. Rory wrote of last year:

The top two surfers on the tour, De Souza and Fanning, figured out the rules, knew what it took to win. Unfortunately for us, the viewers, what it took to win was technically perfect, totally uninspired surfing. Outside of a heat I think it’s an easy statement to claim that Fanning is the superior wave slider, but once the horn sounds they step into the same role. Link the turns together, don’t fall, bonk it at the end. Tens may win heats, but consistent sevens win titles.

So true and, you know, Kanoa seems like a surfer built for 7s. He seems like the perfect creation for the time. Certainly on bigger wave’d stops he will be tested and found wanting but does it really matter anymore? If he can do well or very well at Bells, Rio, J-Bay, Trestles, France, Portugal does he even really need Tahiti, Fiji, Pipe which assumes that those waves all go big? I’ve seen Kanoa surf Teahupo’o with my own eyes. He maybe should skip if it does go big.

A question mark could potentially be young Igarashi’s competitive drive but, by all accounts, he seems very competitive, having chewed through the WQS quickly and hopping on tour right away. Safe plus competitive could really and truly lead to so many multiple crowns in the current climate.

Do you think the World Surf League is licking its parched lips at the prospect of a handsome Asian-American? He is a star in Japan because of a reality show and also Korea and parts of China, you know. Or do you think the powers that be will change the judging criteria and force tour surfers to really put on a show? Does it even matter? Like, let’s be honest, you and I are going to kind of watch no matter what and the Koreans and the Chinese won’t know good surfing if it bit them on their asses.

Will Kanoa Igarashi win more titles than Kelly Slater?

$250 mill resort at “world’s best wave”!

And the developer is movie icon Robert De Niro!

Do you remember three years ago when it felt like everyone was poised to fly to the Caribbean to surf the “world’s best wave”?

A warm-water, sand-bottom, natural-footer’s version of Skeleton Bay that yielded, in one year, two covers from two trips for the former WCT pro Ben Bourgeois. (Editor’s note: below is a cover of Dylan Graves on another trip. Surfing magazine’s cover archives are poorly maintained unlike its more polished sister magazine across the hallway.)


Dylan Graves, June Surfer
Dylan Graves on the cover of Surfer magazine, June 2013, at the very same hunk of rock and sand, De Niro is going to build a quarter of a billion dollar resort.

Wait! This photo of Ben Bourgeois sums it up!

Ben Bourgeois, Caribbean.
Have you ever seen a wave quite so dazzling or photogenic? This is the North Carolina surfer Ben Bourgeois there in 2013, the year when he scooped two covers from two trips. Photo by the brilliant Chris Burkard.

I remember being so hot for the joint (a wave of zero consequence running down the flank of an empty beach) that I canvassed message boards, threw myself into Google Earth (clue: the island is famous for a pink beach) and, eventually, had my suspicions confirmed of its location when I asked the photographer Ryan Miller about his (insert name of island) surf shots with Dane Reynolds and co.

Only thing is, if you want to surf it requires a monster north swell, the waves only hang around for a day or two, and because the little planes that service the island don’t like carrying boards, it can be a helluva biz just getting there with your your sticks.

Anyway, it transpires that the movie icon Robert De Niro and the Australian billionaire James Packer  will soon be building a “a 391-acre mega-resort at Princess Diana’s favourite Caribbean hideaway,” reports the UK’s Guardian newspaper.

“A year ago, the Antigua and XXXX prime minister Gaston Browne hailed De Niro as “a visionary” for his work in hotel development, including a Macau casino project with fellow Hollywood big-hitters Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese. He named the actor a “special economic envoy” in the hope of attracting more celebrity investment to the country.

“But progress has been slow since, and a referendum on the island in March that approved the project by a narrow majority is facing a legal challenge by the XXXXXXX People’s Movement (XPM), which claims the result was illegitimate because non-XXXXXXXXwere allowed to vote.”

Am I clown, or a naive idealist, for voiding all references to the island’s name?

Does it matter?

Would you still bother throwing the thousands of dollars necessary chasing the wave down?

Does anyone still think of the joint anymore now it’s out of vogue?

Here’s a little something to refresh your memory, from Chris Burkard.

Mirage of the Caribbean from SURFER Magazine on Vimeo.

John John Florence
Like JJF here, Rory Parker is "a Futures boy through and through. Strong as fuck, spider webbed many a box on shallow reef, never actually torn one out. I'm the first to say that brand loyalty is for idiots, but I'm gay for Futures. I'd happily suck their collective dick in a truck stop shitter." | Photo: Courtesy John John Florence

Dear Rory: Why are fins so expensive?

And does swapping up the foil, flex, cant, base, rake make a difference?

Dear Rory,

You strike me as someone with good knowledge of the surf biz. One thing I find myself asking is why the hell are fins so expensive? Molded plastic going over $100 seems crazy. Are sponsorships eating away profits or are these guys just making money hand over fist? What kind of mark-up do retailers get? Why isn’t some cut rate outfit making a $20 knockoff? Are the plugs patented? What about proprietary foil, flex, or dimensions? How badly are we being raked over the coals? I need to know!

Fins Out and Fancy Free

Dear Rory says:

So many questions!

Fins HAVE gotten ridiculously expensive in the last few years, and there’s a very simple reason. People are willing to pay that much. Fins are rocking the keystone markup, and serve as an awesome up sell item.

Ever work in a surf shop? Then you’ve dealt with the type of moron who comes in to buy their first board, and insists on a sparkling white hiperf rip stick. They usually know how to ride a snowboard or a wakeboard, or something like that, and are convinced that they’ll be able to shred it up in no time.

No, they don’t want a longboard or even a big fishy plank. It’s gotta be small, thin, and expensive. So, great. You give them what they want. But they probably need a bag too. And multiple leashes. And a bunch of different sets of fins for various conditions. You can turn seven hundred bucks into a grand lickety-split. Nothing wrong with parting a chump from his money, it’s his own hubris ripping him off.

Of course, there are the unscrupulous dicks who use fins as a bait and switch. “Oh, fins aren’t included.”

Well, they were included in the wholesale cost and the board won’t work without them. It’s like selling a car but the price doesn’t include tires. You can always haggle your way into having them thrown in, but why bother? Go somewhere else, leave them to their kook swindling.

As far as sponsorships eating away profits, it’s hard to say. Easy to point out that FCStitch is tossing money at nearly everyone on tour, while the Futures team is pretty sparse, and runs a fraction of the advertising.

Which isn’t surprising, Futures makes an awesome product. I’m a Futures boy through and through. Strong as fuck, spider webbed many a box on shallow reef, never actually torn one out. I’m the first to say that brand loyalty is for idiots, but I’m gay for Futures. I’d happily suck their collective dick in a truck stop shitter.

FCS… sucks. I’ve broken fins, and plugs, doing turns. Totally unacceptable. They were on the right track with the Fusions, adding a layer of glass to keep the plugs from popping out (which Futures had been doing since the beginning), but then they ruined it with the FCS2 fuckery. Titanium rods? Upgrade kits to make them backward compatible? Total bullshit.

Did you know that Surf Hardware sued SurfCo Hawaii for patent infringement over the Pro Teck line? They did, they lost, and they opened the door for off brand competitors. You can find them online, check Alibaba Express. Super inexpensive, though they cut corners like mad and you run the risk of picking up a poorly foiled hummingbird.

Now, does fin shape really matter? Will swapping up your foil, flex, cant, base, rake, make a difference? Yes and no. If you’re in the top ten percent, ability wise, of people who consider themselves surfers, then yes. Once you know how to engage your fins, use them to drive through turns, off the bottom, whatever, they can make or break a section. My oafish ass is totally devoted to stiff carbon numbers. When you’re over two hundred pounds anything else just feels like mush, especially if the surf has some juice. But for everyone else, the huge unjazzed mass of barneys standing knock kneed, bent waist, trimming awkwardly toward the shoulder on a shortboard they don’t know how to ride? There’s no difference, beyond the well-documented fact that if you think you’re ripping you may as well be. And like a kick ass airbrush, neat looking fins will make you think you surf at least five percent better.

I’ve got, literally, a few dozen sets of fins I’ve accumulated over the years. But I’m always on my Techflex Merricks. I love ’em, so much so that I’ll swap in some second-tier jobs if it’s particularly shallow. I don’t know if I can still wrangle a deal on them, and I don’t relish the idea of peeling off that much dough for a replacement set. Small, low-tide Rocky Rights? I’m running plastics so I don’t break my heart, and my wallet.

In the end, whether we’re talking fins specs, or board design, there’s no right answer. Everything comes down to your personal preference, whatever suits your own particular approach to wave sliding. Some people will swear that glass-ons are the end-all-be-all, and even though they’re a nightmare to ship, and they take up too much space on the rack, if that’s what floats your boat, right on.

But, for me, it comes down to rugged durability. What’s gonna let me keep surfing without paying out the ass for a constant stream of replacement fins? The only correct answer is Futures.

Send your life questions to [email protected]

Due to the volume of mail, Dear Rory can’t answer letters personally etc…