Filipe Toledo wins Oi Rio Pro
Is the Weisner penis clamp and PicoBong vibrating ass plug Filipe's secret weapon? Might that account for his terrific success there? | Photo: WSL/Cestari

Parker: Your Oi Rio Pro Survival Kit!

Includes Weisner penis clamp and a PicoBong vibrating butt plug!

We’re slightly less than a month out from Rio! Can you smell the excitement? Is that what excitement smells like? Sewage and poverty and rampant corruption? If only you could bottle it…

I love Brazilians. They get a bad rap. They might be loud, obnoxious, have terrible etiquette in the lineup, but no more so than your typical Californian. Maybe less. I’ve never heard one moaning about “racism” in Hawaii, bumps them up a few notches in my book.

The Oi Rio Pro will probably suck, which is too bad. Brazil deserves a world-class event. They love their sports, love to surf, are churning out contest talent at a breakneck pace.

An emerging market, kinda. Not sure how much money can be sucked out of a country that seems to suffer an economic collapse every ten minutes. But I guess it depends how you look at things. Trickle down nonsense helping everyone? Probably not. Economic disparity enriching a few at the cost of the majority? Okay, yeah, I can see that.

We know the water’s poison, we also know the WSL plays ball. ‘QS events failing to pay off competitors in a timely manner is shocking. Rule book requires the WSL receive the bread in advance. Nothing wrong with sweetheart deals in support of a struggling venue. Wave the sanctioning costs, subsidize entrance fees, that’d be great. Not cool to place the burden on athletes’ backs. Especially when the amount involved is a pittance.

But Brazil is Brazil. Bunch of rich assholes chase money while fucking everyone else. Sounds familiar.

Will the rumored competitor boycott happen? I doubt it.

Will someone get sick? Probably.

Will they be able to prove it was related to water quality?

I’d ask my lawyer, but I already know the answer. Fifteen minutes of hemming and hawing wrapped up with an, “It’s up to the courts to decide.”

With the difficulty inherent in pursuing a legal judgment against a US corporation operating on foreign soil, it’s up to the competitors to protect themselves. They could band together, stage a revolt, refuse to surf. But that’s unlikely to happen. Getting a bunch of independent contractor competitors to cooperate with each other is difficult. Especially since surfing was effectively union busted a couple years back.

Instead, better to look to personal protection. Since you can’t surf in a bio-hazard suit something needs to be assembled piecemeal.

Which is why I am introducing the BeachGrit approved Oi Rio Pro competitor kit. We’re not being paid to endorse any of the following product. Really. You can trust BeachGrit. We’d never stoop so low as to shill for a product we didn’t believe in.

Like, say, a leash with magnets in the cuff produced by a company with whom we’ve partnered to produce cinch-top “waterman” backpacks.

If you’re gonna stay healthy, you better seal up those head holes!


Speedo Vanquisher Optical Swim Goggles ()

Doc’s Pro Plugs 

Trygon V2 Freedive Noseclip

But don’t forget, your only openings aren’t the ones up top! If you want to protect yourself from all the creepy crawlies looking to worm their way into your insides you’ve gotta seal yourself up tighter than the North Korean border.

Weisner Penis Clamp

PicoBong Vibrating ButtplugProbably want to leave the batteries out during your heat, but you can do what you want. I’m not the boss of you.

Though I will recommend that the ladies each pick up a pair.

William Finnegan Barbarian Days
Bill Finnegan at G-Land in the seventies. The waves "looked incredible – long, long, long, fast, empty lefts, six feet on the smaller days, eight-feet plus when the swell pulsed… " | Photo: William Finnegan/Barbarian Days: a Surfing Life.

Just in: Surf Writer Wins Pulitzer Prize!

William Finnegan wins most prestigious prize in journalism for his book Barbarian Days…

One year ago, the New Yorker staffer William Finnegan loosed his two-decades-in-the-making surf memoir Barbarian Days.

At the time, I expected a genteel read, a not particularly rigorous examination of a part-time surfer, a big-city fucker who dared to assume that he could reveal the mysteries of the game.

Instead, I was thrown under the bus of a two-day obsessive read. As I wrote at the time, I’d only penetrated three chapters into the book when we suddenly camping on Maui waiting for Honolua Bay to break and, shortly after, camping on the empty beach at Tavarua for a week and surfing a new discovery called Restaurants.

Soon, Grajagan in 1979, Africa and, later, among the big-wave surfers of Ocean Beach, San Francisco, and, then, spending long vacations on Madeira, waiting for Jardim Do Mar’s heavy deep-water right to break.

Photos scattered through the pages showed the author to have visible obliques, was long-haired and tanned. Finnegan was, is, a… stud?

I wasn’t the only one in thrall to Finnegan.

The Wall Street Journal called it “gorgeously written and intensely felt… dare I say that we all need Mr Finnegan… as a role model for a life, thrillingly, lived.”

The LA Times said, “It’s also about a writer’s life and, even more generally, a quester’s life, more carefully observed and precisely rendered than any I’ve read in a long time.”

And, announced only thirty minutes ago at Columbia University, Barbarian Days has won the Pulitzer Prize for biography. The prize committee praised it as, “A finely crafted memoir of a youthful obsession that has propelled the author through a distinguished writing career.”

The Pulitzer Prize, of course, is America’s most prestigious award in journalism. It also includes ten thousand dollars in prize money to each category winner.

Last year, when I asked Finnegan if he thought surfing was elevating or just another pointless pursuit he wrote, “It’s supremely useless, I think, and not at all ennobling. Which is not to say that a great many people, starting with you and me, don’t get a great deal out of it – even a reason to live. It just does nothing, obviously, for anybody else. It’s the ultimate selfish pursuit. You could argue that it teaches its devotees a few things about self-reliance and the grandeur of Nature – maybe even a little humility – and I guess I wouldn’t argue with that. But in the end surfing, in my opinion, does little or nothing to build or improve character. As we all know, a lot of assholes surf, and some of them surf well.”

On the plus side, “a lot of my best friends surf, and it can be a great deep thing to share with people you really like,” he wrote. “Non-surfers are certainly never going to understand it.”

Read about Barbarian Days, here. 

Adventure: Back to the Middle East!

"Anyhow, life would be pretty dreary if we always acted reasonably; it does one good to be a little mad at times."

Thirteen years ago I set off for a three month run through Yemen with three other stout souls. Nobody had ever surfed the mainland, as far as any of us knew, and adventure beckoned. The way the coast bent it had to have waves but more importantly was exotic, dangerous, untamed.

I reached out to Sam George at Surfer magazine and told them our idea. First ever in Yemen. They were in and for a few thousand dollars up front. I reached out to totally disgraced surf brand Ocean Pacific and told them we were doing a story about being the first ever in Yemen for Surfer magazine. They were in for a few thousand dollars. The other friend started emailing randoms in Yemen and accidentally connected with the ex-Prime Minister’s son. He told us we would have anything we needed for this exploration from Land Cruisers to bodyguards to visas.

And we did it. We spent three months traveling from Sana’a to Aden where we got chased by terrorists through the streets then up into the hills near ‘Ataq where Al-Qaeda might have come to try and get us only to be beaten back by a company of battle-hardened Yemeni troops then Mukallah where we surfed an amazing right hander and weren’t allowed to stay in the old city because it was deemed unsafe. Too many beards. Too much religious fervor. Then Sayhut, Qishn, Nishtun where a firefight happened between townspeople and pirates, Al Ghayda where the rusty hull of a beached ship leaked oil into the waves, Hawf, where the Arabian peninsula becomes a rain forest before heading out to the island of Soqotra, a place where the trees bleed and the wind sings.

Thirteen years ago is a long time. My path meandered from Middle Eastern adventure into surf and I thought I would maybe never return to Arabic lands. It has gotten weirder over there. Ugly. And so I buried those travels to Yemen and Lebanon and Syria, Oman, Egypt, UAE, etc. into the footnotes of my life.

Except for some reason I need it again. For some reason that I feel deeply yet can’t quite explain I need to taste that very particular sun, to breathe that specific air and exactly as fate would have it, the same crew from thirteen years ago have somehow gotten their hands on a sailboat in civil war torn Aden. We will sail it through the Bab al Mandab, past Yemen, Eritrea, Sudan and up to Egypt. Past pirates, wars and sensibility.

What’s the point? Again, I don’t know but it is something. Something for my beloved wife and gorgeous daughter but I can’t put my finger on exactly what. Or not yet. The great French adventurer Henri de Monfreid wrote, “Anyhow, life would be pretty dreary if we always acted reasonably; it does one good to be a little mad at times.”

See you all in two weeks.

P.S. If anything should happen please book WSL CEO Paul Speaker for the eulogy.

Ozzie Wright Otis Carey Israel

Movie: Ozzie Wright, Otis Carey in Israel!

Let yourself be swallowed by a magical middle eastern adventure!

Earlier this year, the Australian surfers Ozzie Wright and Otis Carey were invited to compete in the Seat Netanya Pro, Israel’s first WSL event. This excited the two surfers very much as neither had been to this magical middle eastern democracy before. The trip presented one small-ish problem, however.

Neither surfer did contests. 

Nothing personal, of course. Both surfers appreciate the skills and focus needed to excel at the highest levels of surfing competition, but, well, why put yourself under that kind of pressure when you can paint, sing and surf (Oz) or paint, model and surf (Otis)?

In any event, the pair dutifully joined the WSL, mowing through all the banalities of contest administration forms and erasing nearly one thousand dollars each on their credit cards in the process.

The level of surfing in the contest was higher than any of us thought (I’d even considered a cameo until I saw Pedro Henrique tag a two-footer a dozen times to the beach), surfers arriving from Portugal, Tahiti and beyond. Still, Ozzie looked like the happiest man on earth as he soared through two heats while Otis, whose talent and youth is stark, made a succession of heats and was only stopped in the quarter finals.

But the trip to Israel was never going to just be about a contest.

Ozzie is treated as a god in this part of the world and wherever he went, crowds of curious onlookers gathered around him.

“He’s more influential than Kelly Slater,” three different surfers, at three different beaches, told me.

The shaper and pro surfer Didu Biton, who owns the company Seadny surfboards, and who operates from a shaping bay behind a beachfront mosque, built Oz a surfboard (Buddha model) that proved a phenomenon in the wind swells.

The noted Israeli filmmaker responsible for the movie, here, Yakir Avrahami, explained that Ozzie was the first surfer to demonstrate how surfing could be more than contests, that it could lead to a fulfilling life, creatively.

It’s why Yakir, fresh from three years in the army, took to directing.

It’s why his graphic designer pal who cornered Ozzie at one of the dazzling bars in Tel Aviv brought a laptop – to show Oz the deep influence he’d had on his work.

At a party presented by the mayor of Netanya, the beach town north of Tel Aviv where the contest was being held, a surfer of no more than eighteen years stopped Oz and told him that 156 Tricks was the best movie of all time and his girlfriend called Oz the “best aerialist in the world.”

This movie, Love and Peace from the Middle East, will require a small leap of faith and I do beg your patience. It isn’t Under a Blue Moon, it isn’t Cluster. The waves are small and onshore. The action, therefore, limited.

It was made by a commercial director determined to give surfers, worldwide, an angle on his country that isn’t coloured by the sensationalist reporting of, say, CNN or The Guardian. 

It is nine-and-a-half minutes long, longer than most surf shorts you’ll watch, although this does include Oz’s own two-minute credits, cut to the song he wrote in Israel, King of the Jews. 

ozzie wright & otis carey // love and peace from the middle east from yakir avrahami on Vimeo.

Bankruptcy: Is the WSL next?

WSL CEO Paul Speaker is basically selling the PacSun model. Oops.

As anti-depressive as our wonderful BeachGrit is, sometimes hard truth must be looked in the eye. And a hard truth is that the surf industry is in deep and abiding depression. The appetite for surf apparel etc. has, more or less, completely dried up after a few decades of rolling good times. Kids in Kansas City don’t want Rip Curl t-shirts anymore. They don’t want to step foot in a PacSun.

The reasons are many and varied. We have a small video presentation on the horizon featuring the wonderful Michael Tomson addressing systemic failure. A major component, though, is that those who don’t surf just don’t care. And while the numbers of actual surfers is growing at a normal-ish rate, it doesn’t grow enough to legitimize massive businesses. And so Quiksilver files for bankruptcy. Then PacSun. Sport Chalet filed yesterday and they carry lots of Hurley, Billabong, etc. Dark-ish days.

And over to the World Surf League. The whole Speaker model is based off non-surfers embracing the action, right? Of non-surfers tuning in because they like the game just like non-baseball players tune in to Major League Baseball or non-football players tune in to the National Football League. Yeah? That’s where his millions upon millions of viewer projections come from. Motherfucking jerseys etc.

CEO Paul Speaker doesn’t surf. You know that, of course, and that is totally fine. The problem, though, is that only surfers consume the product the WSL is peddling. And surfers are the only group they take entirely for granted. I’ve been begging insiders for an interview with CEO Paul Speaker since the inception of your third favorite surf gossip website (BeachGrit). I never hear back and never will hear back even though we are, for better or worse, his market. It would be like NBA commissioner Adam Silver or NFL commissioner Rog Goodell refusing to look at ESPN. Of course we are not ESPN but has Speaker spoken with Surfline, Surfing or Australia’s Surfing Life? No. Because he thinks he has bigger fish to fry. Unfortunately those bigger fish are watching soccer or something.

Ziff money can only take massive losses for five years (I think) before the venture becomes a “hobby” and no longer gets to suck money. Let’s say there are three more years worth of minimal tourist board sponsorship dollars before Ziff tanks the thing. Will we miss it? Will we miss the dream tour?

Unfortunately, and to add to the depression, yes. Or at least I will.

P.S. Mr. WSL CEO Paul Speaker…If you are reading, and I know you are because you definitely have Google Alerts and BeachGrit stories about you account for a full 4/4 of those…I still promise to stop joking about you for one interview. One. Only one. 1. And I won’t even ask about your love of skiing backwards.