Kelly Slater wave pool
You curse the apparel brands, airlines, and travel boards that would have you believe in surf travel. You curse your parents for indulging you in such a masochistic activity as a child. Ultimately though, the fault is yours. How foolish you were to not consider the same factors that curse home breaks: the winds, the tides, the swell, the sands of time. Extrapolating, you realize that the chance of scoring enough good waves in a one-week period to actually improve is impossible in the natural world. | Photo: Webber wavepools

Opinion: “Pools better than surf travel!”

The chance of scoring enough waves on vacation to improve is impossible in the natural world.

Wavepools have gotten a lot of grief in your little rag (website, whatever) as of late. I find this very insensitive – dare I say ‘triggering’.

It’s all a numbers game. How many days in a year is your home break ridable?

One Hundred? Two hundred?

How many days per annum is your region truly good, that is to say, how many sessions in a year provide the mere opportunity for a memorable ride? Five? Twenty?

I agree with Rory’s born in darkness’ argument. There will always be a difference between those raised in a pool vs. those raised in the sea – but why can’t one master both?

Let’s explore the appeal of a pool using the second-person ‘hypothetical’ structure that your publication frequently employs:

It feels like economic and oceanic opportunities have become mutually exclusive for you. Your limbo (New England) is only ridable 30-40 days per year and that’s only if you’re willing to ride a longboard for 20 of them. The waves are objectively good for about six hours every decade.

You’re 23 years old which means you only have a few years left before you grow a gut and knock someone up – which will spell the end of your seagoing days. A new ‘real job’ is off to an auspicious start, but working nine-to-five means that you get to surf exactly never.

Even if a decent swell rolled through on a weekend, during daytime, with good wind, and good tides, and well-formed sandbars, when you had nothing important to do, your arms would be atrophied from doing nothing but picking up phones and pints of microbrew for months. They would struggle to pull on your five mil. Duck-diving your 35 liter board (which you need when paddling through heavy cream) will feel like benching 250 lbs while being water boarded with liquid nitrogen. Not that you know where to paddle out anyway, you have never seen the bars break like this – because they never have.

Even when the stars align and mercury is in perfect retrograde you flub a paddle, or your back foot is three inches too far forward. It seems like never again will a wave live up to the one from V-Land that you relive every night before you fall asleep.

Maybe the problem is you just aren’t good enough. Some solid practice, even one week’s worth, could go a long way toward solving the problem. Thankfully your job differs from indentured servitude in one small, but significant, way: vacation!

It’s just a question of where to go.

Hawaii? Twenty-four hours sure seems like a lot of time to spend sitting on a plane when you only have one week off.

Indonesia/South Pacific? See above, plus you’ve gotten GI parasites before and have vowed to never get them again.

Central America? Been there. Done that. You’re tired of hassling drug dealer/gigolo/surf-instructor beach boys for picturesque but unmakable runners.

Puerto Rico? Too swarmed with dads from New Jersey and their hotshot sons. Sure its only four hours away, but that shit’s still America and you’ve got something more exotic on your mind.

North Africa? A little too exotic, so much so that the only reasonable places to stay are ‘surf camps’. Being chauffeured around in a Land Rover and eating on a schedule feels an awful lot like itinerary; if you wanted that you would take a cruise.

Europe? You like the idea, but still a long way to go. It’s also a big place and you haven’t the faintest idea where to look for waves.

In your research you discover that the Azores are only four hours away. Sure the flight is a little pricey but boards on their wacky airline fly free. The water’s a bit chilly to be sure but that keeps the crowds at bay, and is a damn sight warmer than what you’re used to. Plus you saw a video of Jack Freestone get barreled there during a QS event- it looked dreamy. There’s an Airbnb for $30 a night right next to the beach where that barrel happened.

The scorpion crawls onto your back as soon as you book your ticket.

You’ve made an enormous tactical error by gambling your precious vacation time on the whims of the springtime Atlantic. You spend a week watching enormous storm surges crash into rocky shores in a strange land. This island also carries mutated superbugs and an unfamiliar strain of flu puts you on your ass for three days. At night, the wind howls and shakes the house as you lay on a hard cot and dream of that North Shore wall hitting the west bowl just so.

Thankfully the beer is cheap and the pastries are fantastic. You came to surf but now justify airfare by drinking espresso, lurking in 400-year-old town squares, and sharing geothermal hot baths with middle-aged Germans.

You return from your trip with a better understanding of Portugal’s golden age and the woes of the Eurozone, but have softer shoulders than when you left, and have learned nothing about foot placement.

You curse the apparel brands, airlines, and travel boards that would have you believe in surf travel. You curse your parents for indulging you in such a masochistic activity as a child.

Ultimately though, the fault is yours. How foolish you were to not consider the same factors that curse home breaks: the winds, the tides, the swell, the sands of time. Extrapolating, you realize that the chance of scoring enough good waves in a one-week period to actually improve is impossible in the natural world.

You make up your mind. Your next vacation will be to Nland Surf Park in Texas. It opens soon, you know because you are on the mailing list.

(Editor’s note: Patrick Brewster is a surfer from Boston, Massachusetts. This is his first story for BeachGrit.)

Rumor: Dane x Craig brand dead!

The supergroup allegedly falls apart for the last time!

Some rumors, when they float across my horizon, bring such joy. Others, though, bring tears. Do you recall when Dane Reynolds x Craig Anderson had theoretically joined forces to craft a surf brand aimed at sullen millennials? It maybe was to be named Destroyr or Destroyer and maybe was to feature poorly drawn middle fingers and beer cans.

We reported six months ago that it might be dead but I have received new information this morning from a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend of Craig’s that suggests we will not be seeing it in our lifetime.

Allegedly Craig said, “We just wanted different things…” which makes me wonder. Did Craig want plunging necklines and did Dane want Beefy-T chokers? Did Dane want scribbled Tecate cans and did Craig want scribbled Melbourne Bitter bottles? Did Craig want knit beanies and did Dane want wool beanies? Did Dane want more and did Craig want less?

I suppose we’ll never know….but I’ll ask my friend of a friend of a friend of a friend of Craig’s just in case. And this news does make me very sad. No matter what you think, Dane and Craig were two of the most exciting surfers to come along since…since…since Kai Otton. Seeing them launch a label reflective of their arts would have been well-received. I still have hope beyond hope that they will get over their differences and recognize that they are stronger together.

Also, though, I wonder if Quiksilver seems so much better now in the rearview? If it glows with the ethereal warmth of nostalgia? I wonder if Craig goes to sleep in one of his old Quik t-shirts, lovingly pulling it close, smelling its seams, caressing the mountain and the wave? If Dane finds himself in his garage late at night affixing then tearing off, affixing then tearing off, Quiksilver team stickers?

I do both of these things and Quiksilver never even sponsored me.

Kelly Slater Wave Pool

Is the WSL creating a wavepool monopoly?

If I worked for those poor Wavegarden guys I'd be sending out resumes as fast as I can…

Three days ago, someone poisoned me. Don’t know who. I’ve got enemies. Could’ve been the wife, finally grown sick of my shit.

Could’ve been the secret Zionist cabal that controls the world. Been too long since we ran a pro-Israel piece. My dog’s been actin’ real worried and shook up, he’s the only one I trust at this point.

Unless that’s some sort of ruse…

Went out for sushi in Poipu the night before I fell ill. One of those hotels that looks really nice but is identical to a thousand around the world. Are we in the Bahamas? Palm Springs? Cancun? Kauai? Who the fucks knows. Does it even matter?

Suspect I picked up a bug from one of my million fellow aloha shirt haole twang colonizers. Or caught the end result of unhygienic cook staff forced to labor in the sushi mines so their home can better serve as an outsiders’ playground. Might be some sort of karmic retribution going on here. If I believed in that kind of stuff. Which I don’t, unless it suits my purpose.

The upshot is two days of fever delirium, body wracking aches, and the ever lovely situation wherein you sprint to the toilet and realize it’s coming out both ends simultaneously. Bathroom waste bin doubles as a bucket!

Feeling like a wrung-out rag. Dehydrated, weak. Probably ten pounds lighter. But more or less mentally here. And it’s killing me I missed the wavepool news. Because I’ve got opinions. Ever so many!

I’m sure y’all are tired of pool coverage by this point. I’m almost there myself. Not too worried about the ramifications for our lovely sport as a whole. A pool won’t ever be “real” surfing. No matter how good some rich kid gets on the thing he still won’t know how to paddle, or read the ocean, or position himself in the lineup, or deal with the ravenous hordes of us old-timey “naturals.”

We’ll get to see them try. Rock up to the beach on a full Rick Kane trip and get their asses handed to them. And that’ll be amusing.

But we all know the hardest part of surfing ain’t riding a wave, it’s putting yourself in the situation to do so repeatedly. Hell, just making it into the lineup will be challenge enough to deter the majority of chlorine neophytes. Why struggle so hard if you can afford the ersatz variety?

Real ramifications for wave pools as an industry, though. Stunning act of vertical integration. Own the waves, own the tour. Sell the wave, rent the tour. Great selling point right there.

“When you build a KSWC/WSL/Ziff brand pool you’re not just buying the wave. No siree, Bob! You’re also buying perpetual WSL event sanctioning. Something no other wave pool company can provide.”

Real kick in the nuts right there for Webber. Hard to compete with that. Draw built right in. Toss a ‘QS event into each contract, let the biggest money bid on the bigger show.

Wife says it smacks of monopoly. Film industry got popped for similar antitrust practices back in the day. Owned the theaters, only screened their own films.

An interesting idea, for sure.

And, you know, let’s not forget that a few of pro surfing’s non-surfing overlords come from a background that knows a lot about running a successful monopoly. NFL lost an antitrust suit back in the 80s. Cost them a whopping $3.76 in fines. No missing zeros in that previous sentence.

But that’s a potential problem for the future. In the now, if I were a member of the KSWC sales team, I’d be licking my chops.

But if I worked for those poor Wavegarden guys I’d be sending out resumes as fast as I can. First one addressed to Lemoore, CA.

Or wherever KSWC offices are.

Maybe Santa Monica?

Scary: New Hollywood shark film!

Beautiful girl stuck on rock, bleeding, scared!

There is a new Hollywood shark film named The Shallows debuting right before the WSL’s J-Bay Open. Apparently it is about a girl (Blake Lively) stuck on a rock in what may or may not be Western Australia.

There are two trailers out. Here is the first one:

And here is the second:

I like the minimalism of the first better. It seems like it could even be good. Very moody. Quiet with moments of panic. The second suggests strange Hollywood variations on our dear surf. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a surfer wear a GoPro like a Teletubby. Have you?

It’s fun, in any case, that sharks are having a horror renaissance. They deserve it after all the work they’ve put in this year. But what is the scariest shark film ever? What is the scariest horror film for that matter? When I saw The Ring it really undid me. Is that embarrassing? I suppose it is.

Yikes: World surf population explodes!

Not even counting a surf rabid India!

The number of people surf, worldwide, is maybe unknowable. What does “surf” mean for instance? Does it mean skim, boogie, body? Joel Tudor wants you to know that it sure as hell means longboarding, Surfing magazine be damned. And how many times must a person go to be considered a “surfer?” Once a year? Once a week? And must the “surfer” be in the ocean? Does it count if he wake surfs or river surfs or spends his days in Lemoore, California riding the trough-less wonder? All very imprecise.

Nick Carroll wrote a wonderful piece for Australia’s Surfing World two years ago titled Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics wherein he discussed the kicked about numbers. At the time he quoted the International Surfing Association’s claim that there are 23 million surfers in the world, 3.5 million of which live in Australia before quickly poking it with his fork.

You don’t have to think very hard about it to realise that the figure is a fantasy. I mean, just do a flat-line comparison. Three and a half million people is 15% of the entire population of Australia. Extrapolate that to Sydney with its 4-million-odd population and you’re talking about 600,000 surfers in that city alone, or about 15,000 surfers per beach. Yeah, we know Bondi gets crowded, but come on.

The rest of the bit is very good and he basically concludes that in Australia, which I would imagine to be the case in America as well, participation is decreasing while the age of participants is increasing. But maybe Nick Carrol should have gone to India!

The first ever India Open of Surfing is set to kick off so the World Surf League sent its Austral-asian manager for a peek. Mr. Stephen Robinson was very impressed, telling a reporter from the Times of India that along with the Philippines, Taiwan and Jordan, India is ready to go explode!

Wait, Jordan? Like, the country Jordan? With about 3 kilometers of beach at the very very tip of the waveless Gulf of Aqaba? That Jordan? I once caught amoebic dysentery in Aqaba and spent a long week hooked up to tubes in the hospital. In feverish episodes I dreamed I was T.E. Lawrence having crossed the Sun’s Anvil in order to take the city from the rear thus thwarting the great canons pointed outward. To protect their amazing surf, I now suppose.

In any case, Mr. Robinson warned India’s burgeoning surf class that surf fever comes with a few problems. “The situation (in Australia) can be such that surfers get in to verbal altercations over parking their vehicles.” But cheered everyone up by saying, “I have no doubt that there will be more youth (in India doing this sport) in future events,” adding against an estimated worldwide community of surfers of 30 million. “India will add the numbers (of surfers) in the days ahead, just as The Philippines and Taiwan did over the course of time that I have visited these countries on surfing duties.”

30 million surfers worldwide is a solid 7 million more than the most outlandish figure I’ve ever seen. And this does not include India and its ready-to-be-surf crazed 1.25 billion.

Do you think WSL CEO Paul Speaker sends ridiculous fun facts to his global managers every morning? Like, “Aloha gang! Hang ten and HOWZIT! Today’s fun fact…4000000000000 babies were born yesterday each named Robert Kelly Slater in honor of our new business plan. 80000000000000000 surfers paddled out at Snapper for evening gass off and another 9800000000000000000000 paddled at Trestles for Dorn Patrol. Killer Dana!”

Nick Carroll, would you like to go on a balloon popping mission to India?