Long read: The Aloha State Debate!

Should Hawaii be a separate country and other such things!

Hawaii is our Shangri-la. The stuff our dreams are made of. Have you been? Have you walked that sacred soil? Been baptized in that holy water? It’s place in surf culture/history is undeniable. Let’s chat about it’s competitive landscape, shall we?

I sat down recently with Surfing Magazine’s Beau Flemister and we discussed many things as it relates to the WSL, Olympics etc. Fascinating? Certainly. Read here!

Scene opens at Starbucks…

Beau: Hi Chas, have a seat. You want a coffee?

Chas: Aloha aina, Beau! From here? Hell no!

B: [laughs] Mine’s delicious. Kona coffee, obviously. Best stuff in the world. Speaking of which, let’s get into it: I believe Hawaii should stay its own sovereign surfing nation. The HAW abbreviation should stay.

C: Of course you’re on the side of Hawaii. You’re Hawaiian, right? Flemister…that’s the ancient Hawaiian term for…lost Flemish tribe of Niihau. Just kidding, so on what basis?

B: The original reasoning behind the “HAW” distinction stems from the Makaha International Surfing Championships, the first surfing world championship, so to speak. And the first Makaha contest ran in 1954, before Hawaii was an official state of the Union, so Hawaiians classified themselves as such — a different entity than the Mainland — and then it just carried over to now.

C: So, is that really true, though? Is that really a fact?

B: Absolutely, it is. You disagree with the oracle and sage Matt Warshaw and his sacred electronic text, The Encyclopedia of Surfing…dot com?

C: Well, I think that the HAW is how Rabbit Bartholomew first delineated it. I think that he gave Hawaii its own slot in the contest and it was just accepted. That’s what I heard. But you or Matt Warshaw could be right.

B: So you don’t buy the “before it was a state” theory? You think that Rabbit just did it to kiss up to Hawaiians?

C: Yes, to appease them. I think that Rabbit had a little Stockholm syndrome. I honestly think that he came to love the oppressor [Hawaiians] after taking so much shit for so long. When I say shit, I mean almost getting killed by Da Hui like in Bustin’ Down the Door. But I also think Rabbit’s relationship with Hawaii is too tangled to ever really know what’s going on or how he feels or why the HAW delineation happened. I’m sure that he loves Hawaii but there’s probably a fine line between what’s appeasement and what’s respect. But I would say that it’s appeasement.

B: Well, despite the dubious origin story, I’d say that Hawaii has and always has had enough good surfers to sustain itself as a separated surfing superpower. Hawaiians created the damn sport and were practicing it for centuries before it was spread globally. One could maybe say that surfing existed in Hawaii before the United States was even a country. But I’d have to consult with Matt Warshaw on that.

C: Let’s look at it this way: If Hawaii wanted to secede and become a sovereign nation, they’d have good reason to, what with the overthrow of their monarchy and the division of land by missionary families, but as long as they’re a state, then Hawaii is a part of America as far as I’m concerned. I think the surf world’s artificial respect for their “nation” is silly. Especially when Hawaii’s current guys on tour were mostly Caucasian. John John, Dusty Payne, Seabass. It’s not like giving Hawaii its own delineation is helping actual Hawaiians or guys with Hawaiian blood to get on tour. If anyone is prospering it’s just the haoles from that artificial delineation. Like, I could see how if a Duke Kahanamoku-type surfer got on tour again, Hawaii would want to claim him as a figure. Or, some Hawaiian with a Hawaiian name and Hawaiian blood. But to see the Hawaiian flag next to John John Florence’s face…does that make actual Hawaiians proud?

Revealed: Surf agent has kink for Bieber!

Surf super agent Blair Marlin seen in the crowd of Justin Bieber concert.

Justin Bieber played San Diego last night and you could hear the screams from miles away. Teenaged girls danced to the world’s biggest heartthrob while their parents stood by maybe secretly enjoying, maybe counting the minutes until they could flee the madness. There hasn’t been this much energy around a young man since Elvis Presley.

It was a sold out house, of course, and if one would have studied the crowd, teenaged girls and their parents would have made up the majority. If one would have looked a bit closer, though, there would have been a handful of older women with girlfriends relieving the first time they saw Michael Jackson or Justin Timberlake. Closer still, one would have seen an adult man without a child. Zooming all the way it, it would have been revealed that that man was surf super agent Blair Marlin!

Mr. Marlin has the most envied roster in the game by far. Stars such as Dane Reynolds, Craig Anderson, Julian Wilson, etc. etc. grace his lineup. It is like a fantasy team of talent. But do you know what he doesn’t have? A teenaged daughter. Why then was at the concert? His Instagram merely says, “Pretty amazing to see this dudes powers in real life…”

Does Justin Bieber maybe surf really really good? Is Mr. Marlin thinking about signing him?

Or is there something darker at work? Slightly more kinky?

More as this story develops.


Surf Quiz: What Would You Do?

A shaper spits in your face. How do you respond?

You’re in the market for a new board, and even though you’ve got a guy who’s been working for years, you decide to try out a new kid you’ve been seeing all over your local Craigslist. Really low prices, $200 below your usual shaper, because he hasn’t been around long and is working cheap to build a client base.

You ask around, get decent reviews, and decide to pull the trigger on a custom job. Nothing fancy, just a funky little low rocker small wave sled. The type of board that’s damn hard to fuck up.

Roll by the factory one day after work, put down your deposit, drop off your dims, and get the standard, “See you in four to six weeks.”

Six weeks come and go, you call him up to see what’s going on.

“Yeah, sorry, our glasser went on a bender again, we’re a little backed up. It’ll be done in a week.”

Another week passes, still no word. So you swing by again on your way home from work. Figure you can get things moving a little quicker by putting in an appearance. No one’s home, so you try again a few days later.

“Just finished shaping it,” he says, pointing to a random board in the middle of a pile of finished blanks. “They’re all getting glassed tomorrow. Be ready in a couple days.”

Kind of annoying, but still pretty standard. Few people make a career of building boards because they’re hard workers. Skilled craftsmen, sure. Nose to the grindstone types, not exactly. You’re not even bummed he lied and blamed the glasser. That’s what they’re there for.

Another two weeks pass and you get a text. “Your board’s ready, come by whenever.”

Life happens and you can’t make it down for a few more days. But it doesn’t matter, because the surf is shit and the weather is terrible. And since your board was over a month late you aren’t feeling a huge obligation to pay the man.

On day two the texts begin.

“Hey, board’s ready.”

“What’s up? Come get your board.”

“Not a storage locker, you need to come by.”

“We need the space, please come tomorrow.”

Okay, whatever. Fucking shapers, am I right? You text him back, say you’ll swing by on your day off. 10am, cash in hand, you’re there. He’s not. Your calls go straight to voicemail, don’t hear back for another week.

“Sorry, something came up. I’ll def be in tomorrow.”

You swing by on your lunch hour, glory of glories, he’s there! Tells you to wait a moment, goes and grabs your board.

What the hell is this? Two inches longer than you ordered, half an inch narrower. A domed deck with super pinched rails, early 90’s elf shoe flip in the nose. FCS2 thruster setup, rather than the Futures five fin you wanted.

“Hey, I, uh, think you got the wrong board.”

“Nope, this one’s yours.” Points to your name on the stringer.

“This isn’t what I ordered, I…”

“Yeah, I know. This is better.”

Whatever, fuck it. This is what you get for being a cheap bastard. And, who knows, maybe it’ll work. The FCS2 thing sucks, since all you own are Futures, but you’ll make do with the plastics. Even if you hate it, you should be able to flip it online to someone without eating too much of a loss.

You whip out your wad of cash and hand it over. He quickly counts it out and says, “Oh, shit, didn’t I tell you? We had to raise our prices.”

He wants $150 over what you were quoted.

“Oh, and the fins will be $40 more,” he says, pointedly glancing at a hand written sign taped to the wall.

No refunds on deposits under any circumstances.

What would you do?

Just in: Shark Bites Surfer!

Surfer saves pal in attack at Bombo Beach on Australia's east coast… 

It feels like forever since Australia’s been whipped into a shark frenzy. Do you remember, and you will because it’s only a year or two ago, when Western Australia appeared to’ve become unsurfable, such were the numbers of great whites?

And then it was the stretch of coast between Ballina and Byron Bay on Australia’s east coast that became ground zero for great whites. Quiet there now, too, despite warnings earlier this year that further attacks were imminent. 

Maybe it’s ’cause everyone surfs in packs, avoids dawn and dusk, and maybe it’s ’cause of all those shark spotting apps that puts the fear of god into everyone, dramatically reducing numbers.

Anyway, 22-year-old surfer Brett Connellan just lost “three quarters of his thigh” in an attack last night at Bombo Beach, a couple of hours south of Sydney.

According to news.com.au,

“A young surfer was lucky to survive a horrific shark ­attack last night after his left thigh was ripped off at Bombo Beach near Kiama on the south coast.

“It was only the heroic and quick-thinking actions of a fellow boardrider — who dragged his mate to shore and stemmed the gushing blood flow — that saved the 22-year-old’s life.

“As the victim lay barely conscious on the sand with deep puncture wounds, his friend used the leg rope of his surfboard to stop the bleeding.

“He was in a critical condition and his blood pressure was dangerously low,” ambulance Inspector Geoff Senior said. “The actions of his surfing companion kept him alive until our paramedics were able to perform a blood transfusion.”

“The victim, who last night was in a stable condition in St George Hospital, was surfing about 100m out to sea on the northern end of the beach — not far from recent sightings of large white pointers — when he was attacked about 7pm.”

Read more here. 

Suddenly discovered an interest shark repellants? Click here! 

Confession: I’m Mick Fanning!

The new WSL jersey spot inspires!

World Surf League – Mick Fanning from Tristan Houghton on Vimeo.

Can I be honest with you for one moment? Can I share a burden that weighs heavily on my heart? A dark secret? I’m a fan of the World Surf League’s jersey advertisement! I am really and not ironically! Look at how the sun shines on this beautiful mise en scene. Look at the happy, ethnically diverse faces. Look at the age range, from young to very old! Look at how enthusiastically Mick embraces them all at the end, with a warm, endearing smile. He’s an actor! A natural! If I was a casting agent and looking for the next rom-com or musical star I would look no further. He is the roguish chap with a heart of gold. A prankster who knows when it is time to hug.

Of course some religious groups might be underrepresented and also females but rude of me to even bring up because the piece is basically perfect. It represents a universe where professional surfers are bright lights. Where everyday people cheer for them like they do baseball, football or rugby teams and where that adoration is humbly returned.

Of course the jersey itself looks like abomination. A thick, lycra hideously draping piece of garbage that will only serve to gum up landfills and clog back pores but rude of me to even mention because the piece is an award-winner.

But, real quick, how is it supposed to be worn exactly? In the water? With jeans? Shorts?

But rude of me. I’m sorry. It really is an almost perfect advertisement for our Internet age. Digestible, sharable, understandable and bravos must be given where bravos are due. So bravo WSL! Bravo!

And what do you think? Are you inspired like me? Would you gladly trade in your jaded worldview for the one represented here?