Craig Anderson
Of shooting Craig, the photographer Steve Wall says, “I was stoked to blend the calm aesthetic of empty waves with someone like Craig. He was so composed drawing those lines. I used to be a surf action guy. I don’t think I am now." | Photo: Steve Wall/@whereswalle

Sublime: Is this the perfect surf photo?

Have you ever seen Craig Anderson look so pretty?

There was a time, and it wasn’t long ago, maybe three years, when I lived in newsagencies. Every morning, every lunch, after work, I’d browse the racks, slouched over with my spine bent like a sapling, and pull down interesting magazines, one after the other.

The turnover of magazines back then was ferocious and every visit would yield something to inspire or maybe just to outrage, something like a graphic designer doing the post-modernism thing badly. I don’t do print so much anymore. If it ain’t online, I don’t see it.

Yesterday, however, I found the new edition of Australia’s Surfing World magazine on a table at a bakery. It was a beautiful magazine with a cover price of 12 dollars.

As pretty as it was, the magazine grabbed me mid-way with a handful of photos of the Australian surfer Craig Anderson. These were straight from the hairline. They weren’t shot by one of those arteriosclerotic bastards who loads up card after card while shooting from the back of a jetski. These were sculptural. The curved lines. The photos dazzled in a way that was chromatic.

I’m easily in thrall to anything featuring Craig Anderson but…this. I’d never seen anything so pretty.

All of the photos were shot from the water, a low-yield game in anyone’s eyes. Who’s got time for that kinda biz? Steve Wall does. He’s a lanky, hard-boned 23-year-old surfer and bodyboarder from Mona Vale, in Sydney.

This session, January 12, 2016, was a rarity in that there were only a few surfers (Craig, filmmaker Kai Neville and the shaper Hayden Cox) and no bodyboarders, it was a mix of southerly groundswell and north-east windswell and the wind had backed off before the expected summer onshore.

Normally, this joint is the most iconic bodyboard air-bowl-wedge on the NSW South Coast. Not so many surfers. But over the last couple of years, Craig, Chippa Wilson and Dion Agius have started to swarm.

Steve describes the wave as “chaotic” to shoot as wedges bounce everywhere. You could be twenty metres away from the action, he says, and not see a damn thing ‘cause of the cross waves. Steve knows he could get more photos shooting from a ski but, “I’d rather nail a nice shot from the water. The shallow depth of field is more my personal aesthetic.”

Of these photos, below, he says: “They were shot right near the summer solstice, about as bright and hectic as the sun gets. It’s only a little off-axis to looking directly at the sun. In winter, the wave looks darker. This was a bright summer morning with that nice blue wash.”

Of Craig, he says, “I was stoked to blend the calm aesthetic of empty waves with someone like Craig. He was so composed drawing those lines. I used to be a surf action guy. I don’t think I am now.”




Want to see Steve Wall’s showreel? Click! 

Best of: Words by Morgan Williamson!

Get into a freeform kinda groove...

I’ve been listening to a lot of jazz lately. What started as an accident has become a ’round the clock obsession. I read that rats given lots of cocaine prefer jazz over other types of music. Hmmm. In any case, here is a very jazzy remix of words by surfwear retailer Stab’s very own Morgan Williamson. All his. All the time, baby. Enjoy.

With coast comes crashing ocean, jagged cliffs, roads, surfers, seals and… sharks. With sharks come misunderstanding, innate fear, black eyes and a bite to be avoided. Injuries suck. Plain and simple. If it keeps you out of the water, you end up left with thoughts of ‘what the hell do I do now?’ Whatever your ailment, hearing you’ll be without physical activity for months is like having your fingernails peeled back. You can do what makes the most sense, which is sit around, drink beer, watch TV and twiddle your thumbs (assuming you still can). The more you drink the slower you heal; bad blood. The pain pills are nice. They’ll leave you confused about what day it is, who you are and what you’re doing in this little world. Ladies and Gentleman, Kelly Slater’s green. And not because of the price of Outerknown beanies, not that kind of green. The King’s new wave, you know that chocolate barrel that we all watched with our mouths on the rug is 100 percent solar powered.

El Niño saw California’s drought and filled some buckets, it rained there… like a few times. People are ecstatic, the drought is over, the reservoirs have been replenished, the Sierra snow pack is saved. A few rains and California’s surely out of the woods… Will they ever again see the sun? Yes! February’s rolled around and the Golden State’s survived yet another harsh winter, it’s beach weather, rejoice. Meanwhile, the evangelicals in Texas are still praying for rain. Oh boy, it’s a big universe out there and you’re just a speck of matter. Space… man. We all get hurt, ’cause shit happens. For us, it’s an out of sight, out of mind thing, thoughts of sharks don’t enter our cerebrum when the surf’s pumping and we’re on the conveyor belt, paddling like madmen, tongues slacked out the sides of our cheeks like labradors. It’s funny, sharks by some are seen as an irrational fear: “You’ve got a better chance of getting struck by lightning than being attacked by a shark,” we’ve heard and said. The concept of no work just surf’s a dream. But not all grow up with a plethora of sponsorships and hype. Some have to work, or at least attempt. Surfing’s up there in the world’s hardest sport to make it in along with golf, tennis and baseball. And not to say that professional surfing’s not a ‘job’… It’s just a better ‘job’ than anyone of us have.

But if these guys worked full time your downtime would be filled with less surf porn and more porn porn. That is unless you were on the coast of Los Angeles last summer where a white shark was reeled into a group of long distance swimmers by a fisherman off the Manhattan Pier resulting in a hefty chomp early July, and by later July a few miles down the road, on the affluent coast of Marina Del Rey, lightning struck the beach leaving one dead and 13 injured… Hell, you can’t write reality. Surfing implements a junky mentality, and our types get hooked on the stoke and no 12-step program can get you off the stuff. The sharks can’t keep us out (with the exception of Brazil’s Recife where people straight-up don’t go in the water and bull sharks swarm empty lineups like an agitated hornet’s nest. Bottom turns aren’t given much thought or discussion. They tend to slide up the feed without a double tap, in search of more W O W. They’re surfing’s lay-up, everything else is the dunk. Without them, there’d be no manoeuvre. Surfing would be reduced to straight-line mundanity – perhaps a joy for some, but certainly not us. So, with an ominous crescendo of clashing white piano keys in mind, here’s 10 of the world’s sharkiest waves that when on, all us pathetic addicts couldn’t help but paddle out.

Now, acquaint yourself with The Sky Surf Park at SKYPLEX in Orlando, Florida. How suiting, why should the ‘theme park capitol of the world’ miss out on the artificial wave venture? The cool cats over at American Wave Machines thought about this and said, “fuck boys, let’s stick one of these puppies on a rooftop.” Well, actually if we are clueing in on some factual half-assed journalism, according to a press release something a bit more professional came from their mouths. Many things don’t coincide: the Kardashians having reason for fame, Kanye West and humility, Johnny Cash and white, Bill Cosby and safe drinking. So we can’t expect great waves to only be found in first world countries. And it’s better they aren’t. The possibility of untouched Malibus, Rincons, Snappers, Lowers, Pipes and Hossegors is what keeps us searching. Shooting down to Baja, getting shacked then indulging in cheap tacos, beer and maybe a sneaky trip to Bada Bing’s a good time, when it runs smooth. Occasionally as a traveling surfer things do go wrong and hopefully you have a grip of cash on you. Although that can also dig the hole you’re in a bit deeper. Honesty’s a cruel bitch.

Dazzling: WSL’s viewership numbers!

The number of professional surf fans no longer a mystery!

Maybe I am mistaken but didn’t the World Surf League used to host their videos on Vimeo and/or hide view numbers? I don’t think I am mistaken. I think they did and left fans everywhere wondering are the numbers in the high six figures or the low seven figures? Eight? Eight figures?

Well, now that they are on YouTube we know! The videos get high three figures to low four figures! If you take a look at the WSL YouTube channel and cruise through Snapper, Bells and Margaret’s (so far) you will find an average view count of 3,596. When star (JJF) are in the water the numbers shoot almost into the tens of thousands. The Snapper finals, feat. Wilko’s first win was watched over 40,000 times while his Bells win was not as well loved and seen by 24,000 souls.

So many potential jersey customers!

How do these stellar numbers compare to the NBA? Most of their videos are in the mid 500,000 with big plays etc. into the tens of millions. What about the NFL? Generally well over a million to, like, 600,000,000. That fucking tennis tour? Hundreds of thousands. The WNBA? More than the WSL.

Do you think maybe that WSL CEO Paul Speaker should engineer a stunning move back to hidden numbers before returning to the TV news circuit and talking about the twenty four millions who regularly tune in to professional surfing? Maybe? Or have more shark attacks mid heat? Yeah?


First Look: Hector Santamaria in CA!

Hector Santamaria is my favorite surfer in the world. Is he yours too?

Would you like me to tell you a secret? My favorite surfer on earth is Hector Santamaria. He is from Puerto Rico and positively sparkles.

I heard a story from Surfing Magazine’s famous Brendan Buckley about Hectorch once. He said he paddled out one completely crowded perfect Trestles day and as he paddled he heard a loud siren coming from the lineup. As he got closer he heard people yelling at the siren, “HEY! SHUT THE FUCK UP!” but the siren didn’t shut up. And then he saw Hector Santamaria sitting on the peak, waving his arms in circles, head to the sky, screaming out a siren sound.

What does he think when people yell him to shut the fuck up? I asked him and he answered, “I don’t care. I don’t care. I’m just giving it my best. I’m not trying to kill anyone. When they yell, ‘HEY! SCHUT UP!’ I yell back, “You don’t pay my bills!’ Hahahahhahaha! And then I say, ‘Chi power. Chi power. No chi suckers!’”

What is not to love about that? It is the most anti-depressive! And just watch the way he surfs. Watch his body movement and the way he flips his board. Watch the way he draws different lines. Watch the way he has fun. Ain’t that the most important?

Hector Santamaria – California from EYE SYMMETRY on Vimeo.

Parker: What I love about surfing!

The smell of girls. Warm-water wax. Hooting interlopers into destruction…

I’ve got a ton of cleaning work ahead of me today. Visitors coming, gotta scrub the house top to bottom. Can’t let anyone see the squalor. Don’t like doing it, no sir, not one bit.

Makes me angry at my wife. How dare she leave my spearfishing stuff strewn about? Why can’t she convince me to stop tracking in ten pounds of sand each time I return from the beach? Laundry would be a hell of a lot easier if she’d stop leaving bits of wax in all my pockets.

I’m cranky, but I don’t want to be. And after this morning I don’t really feel like writing. But I gotta.

So let’s keep it light and breezy.

Women surfers always smell good: Is it conditioner? Lotion? Why does every surfer girl smell heavenly in the water?

I was at Costco a while back, smelled something heavenly. Sweet and delicious, wafting through the warehouse. Followed my nose to the back, found a giant pile of ripe pineapples. Had to buy two. Go home, chop ’em up. Ate until my mouth was shredded.

I love watching people learn to surf: It’s so amusing. Boards flying, spectacular carnage. I’ll often spend an easy hour sipping ice water from my magically insulated mug, enjoying the pain and hardship. I’m not laughing at them. Only with them, I swear. We’ve all been there, the entrance fee is stiff. Years of trying before you’re proficient. A lifetime of struggle to actually be good.

I will often hoot annoying interlopers into destruction, and that doesn’t come from a good place. But the best comedy has its roots in pain, right?

Wax down, fins forward: There’s only one right way to tie a board to your roof. Why does it seem like only a few people know that?

I don’t like tropical wax: Warm works better. Nice and sticky. Good grip, not too much. But the only shop in town only stocks Sticky Bumps Tropical. So frustrating. They’re got their own brand of wax, don’t know where it’s made. Stuff work great, best I’ve ever used. One dollar a bar! When’s the last time you got wax for a buck? I once let a friend borrow a board, he smeared that Fu Wax shit all over it. Terrible, terrible. Had to scrape it down and reapply. Which I hate doing, unless it’s a brand new ride. Then it’s a loving application, bordering on obsessive.

My car looks like shit: Wax covering the upholstery, stinking of mold because I never remember to roll up the windows. Finally put a spare tire in the thing. Waited ’til a flat left me stranded. But it’s a calculated move.

Who’s gonna bother pulling the smash and grab on a ride that looks like it belong to a homeless chronic? Worked well so far. Plenty of broken glass beachfront, my tattered ride’ still untouched.