I saw professional surfer Alex Gray in the departure lounge of Emirates flight EK 215 in Dubai. He was coming from South Africa, I believe. I had already been three days in transit. He had been flying for eight hours at least. The non-stop flight we were both looking down the barrel of was sixteen hours.
And the glamour of an international life rots very quickly at 30,000 feet. I used to love travel more than most anything. At nineteen I went to Egypt for a six month study abroad program and had a thirty hour layover in New York City for some reason even though I was flying from LAX to JFK then JFK to CAI. My travel agent offered to rebook the ticket, giving me a normal layover. I told her no and not because I wanted to catch a cab into the city and dance the night away. I stayed at the airport for those thirty hours, soaking up the joys of travel. The highs and lows, the possibilities the promise, the dream of a jet set existence. I thought, as I moved from hard bench to hard bench to generic kiosk to hard bench, that someday I wanted to look the like the elite airline status businessmen utterly annoyed at everything and everyone. I wanted to have traveled so much that I too hated all associated with it.
And I have arrived. The thought of getting on a plane, right now, turns my stomach. Of taking my computer out of my carry on bag and placing it in the plastic tray and placing my shoes in another plastic tray with my phone. Of having the security mister tell me that I need to put my watch in the plastic tray too even though my watch has never set off a metal detector. Of waiting for my section to be called. Of wedging into a rough fabric seat. Of 2 Broke Girls or The Big Bang Theory.
I don’t frankly know how the pros do it. A good half of their lives are spent in the air if they are lucky. Two-thirds if they are luckier. How does a depressed pall not cover everything they gaze upon? Alex and I had a nice chat about what I was doing and where he surfed before heading to our respective cocoons. He may well be on another plane right now, heading for surf somewhere. I am getting on another one in two days heading for the grave.
Use Yakuza money, devil imagery, sado-masochism and a little nudity…
There are four pleasures in life impossible to better: sleep, television, casual sex and new tail pads.
Therefore I was pleased beyond measure when, on an unseasonaly warm Thursday afternoon last week, the brooding film director Luke Farquhar arrived at BeachGrit’s Bondi bureau with six tail-pads, a bottle of saki and two thousand dollars in cash.
He wanted, in obvious order, to get drunk, bribe one of the three gatekeepers to the site to run a story on his and pal Reiss Laurenson’s tail-pad and wax brand Necro, and buy two vertical banners for a period of ten days.
I protested that that he’d already given the story to another website (which you can read here) but money doesn’t talk so much as it shouts.
I also asked where he got this kind of money because directing doesn’t pay real good anymore, even though he’s relocating to Los Angeles very soon. Luke said a Japanese man whom he met in a Tokyo nightclub is funding the company. Luke and Reiss design the pads and nail the creative (Reiss is good on the keys, as well as in the air) while the Japanese man cuts the cheques or, in this case, provides the cash.
I needed the money and said, why don’t you explain the mechanics behind starting a tail-pad company?
Luke said, “It looks pretty simple, but really isn’t. These red fuckers are a custom five-piece, single square routed surface. There’s this… perfect… hardness in the kicker with soft pillow-like squares across the deck. This gives you more ease with foot movement when you need it.”
“I’ve noticed a trend in deck grips to use a corduroy design,” says Luke, “and for me I need to really feel something under my foot or I’m constantly readjusting before I go into speed-ball mode which can be frustrating when you’re getting ready t0 launch.”
Necro also makes these little skull-shaped, Alexander McQueen-esque blocks of wax. Luke describes those, and the grip, as like a “shampoo-conditioner combo.”
Coming soon, he says, is a two-piece grip, and a five-piece in black. The wax is sold out but you can buy stickers of a man in a devil costume spanking a naked woman.
Luke adds, “We sent Noa Deane some grips. He didn’t use them so…um… Noa, can you send ’em back? Cheers cunny. Also, we are 100 per cent all about the product. Feedback welcome, even if you just wanna call us cunts in the comments. We would love that. Maybe we can send you a grip for doing so? You’ll have to come out from your on-line name though, ya pussy!”
Last June, the vaguely cosmic surfer Cyrus Sutton threw his iconic surf van (195,000 well-travelled miles) for sale on eBay, eventually selling it for $10,100.
It was the same E-series Ford van that had delivered Cyrus to waves as far north as Washington and to Mexico in the opposite direction.
“It was my first home,” says Cyrus who describes himself thus, “I have a pretty dark European’s complexion. Brown hair, brown eyes and I tan easily.”
Just recently, Cyrus, who is thirty-four years old but could easily pass for twenty nine, launched his new surf van. It’s a magnificent vehicle that deserves close study and maybe imitation.
Study the new van here and, below, Cyrus presents an overly long, but nevertheless very helpful, step-by-step how-to on how to turn your van into something that will take you into the sunset, maybe forever.
My Sprinter was a dream to drive but the living quarters were a problem. Things were always sliding around and it was hard to keep anything organized. I started building a list of features I wanted to put into my van. As the list grew I realized that I needed to remove everything and start from scratch. I knew coming up with good design was key. I needed a well thought out space that served multiple functions and had built-in incentives for keeping my stuff orderly. I spent a lot of time prioritizing my needs and thinking about how to most simply address those needs.
Here’s my wish list of features (in no particular order)
1. Install a wood stove- you can’t beat the dry heat and pleasing aroma of a wood stove. Propane stoves are always a nightmare in my experience with fumes and wet heat that sinks to the ground. I bought a house with some land in Washington state earlier this year so I knew heating would become a concern, even in the deserts of Southern California this past winter the 20-something degree Fahrenheit nights became unbearable at times, a result of poor insulation and no heat source.
2. Insulate with eps foam and wood- eps insulation doesn’t breakdown with road vibrations and wood walls make it easy to accessories the walls with shelves and hooks to get stuff off the ground.
3. Make a functional kitchen- I never had a kitchen in my van and I really wanted to have a nice space I could store, clean, prep and cook food. Over the years I’d grown to cooking a lot as a way to save money, eat fresher and save my consumption of packaging waste.
4. Install a solar system- although the solar system I had in my Ford was nice for my electronics when the weather was fair, I wanted more power. As part of my kitchen I wanted a refrigerator to store perishables and not have to deal with always getting ice and emptying a smelly warm cooler after it all melted. I also wanted to connect the 12V fan and vent that came with the van.
5. Make a space I could walk through the whole way- it seemed like a shame that I couldn’t take advantage of all the height and floor space of my new van in the current design which had a huge and heavy wood rack separating the back from the main compartment.
6. Make an organized, easy to access place for my short surfboards and long board
7. Make a work desk so I can have a clean space to work on my projects
The first step was hiring an electrician to help me install my solar system. It is…
12 Renology 100w 12v solar panels with voltage regulator ($330)
2 100ah AGM marine batteries ($240)
Krieger 1500 watt inverter ($140)
8 outlet energy saving power strip ($35)
LED christmas and white copper wire fairy lights ($40 for both)
6. A Whynter 45 quart electric top loading compressor fridge ($445)
The electrician and I measured and drilled the holes for the solar panels on my roof. We used self-tapping screws and lots white caulk seal the screws to prevent rust and roof leakage. The screws fit into the mounting brackets on the underside of the panels and held them securely in place. He ran the cable down into the inside of the van from a hole he drilled and carefully sealed from the roof. The batteries were wired in parallel, meaning positive to positive and negative to negative which basically made them into one 200ah battery unit. He ran the leads from the panels through the voltage regulator and then into the batteries. The voltage regulator protects the batteries from over charging. We then connected the inventor which converts the direct 12v current from the batteries into AC watts. I connected the inverter to the positive and negative leads of one battery and mounted both the charge regulator and the inverter. Finally, I plugged the power strip into the inverter. The red and green light indicated my system was now charging and ready for use. With the solar system installed, I edited my film Island Earth for a couple weeks and coordinated a good time to come down to San Diego and meet Glen to build out the inside.
I met Glen at his place in San Diego at 7am just like I’d like we’d done three years before. I sketched out what I’d been thinking and showed it to Glen. We drove to the lumber yard for the first of many trips. I wanted an interior that smelled and looked great so we chose a mix of cedar and redwood tongue and groove to line the walls with. For insulation we chose 1 inch R-Tech brand EPS foam with a single sided reflective barrier. We also bought two large sheets of birch ply for the cabinets, two pieces of cheap composite plywood for the subfloor and an inch-thick piece of ply wood for the bed support. We also bought a bunch of 1 1/4 inch self tapping metal screws, two piano hinges, 6 door hinges, and a few 1”by 2” and 1” by 1” wood strips for supports. For the floor I bought solid bamboo wood flooring commonly used in homes.
We started by ripping out the existing interior. It must have been built with scraps from a large industrial building project. The pieces of wood they used were heavy and huge. They used 3 screws where they could have used one and it took us most of the first day to remove it all.. It was a good bet that when we finished our build out it would be many hundreds of pounds lighter. The last step was to rip out the imitation wood floor which covered a cesspool of mold. Apparently it experienced a massive flood (probably during it’s former days as pet grooming mobile in Portland). Instead of cleaning it up the builders simply laid new flooring over the top of the wet ground. The amount of mold I’d must have inhaled unknowingly over the past year made my skin crawl.
After cleaning out the mess we cut out the composite plywood to match the floor space. We then drilled it down with self tapping screws, Glen took out his table saw and began to masterfully cut the interlocking bamboo floor panels to fit the floor.
Here’s a list of tools used to build out my van. I’ll spare you a detailed materials list because every build is different and listing the lumber and hardware we bought without a complete set of blueprints would do more harm than good. Just use common sense, make a plan and calculate what you need.
1. Circular saw- for cutting clean, straight and long cuts
2. Jig saw- for cutting rounded edges
3. Table/angle saw- for making short, precise cuts that need to be a specific angle (often used to make cuts that will be joined together)
4. Cordless drill- for drilling and screwing
5. Drill bit and screw bit set
6. Tape Measure and chalk line for marking cuts
7. Angle measure- to check angles and mark for cutting
8. Clamps for holding wood together for drilling
9. Vise grips
11. Ear and eye protection
12. Right angle
After finishing the floor we lined the walls with insulation as well as cedar and redwood tongue and groove. This was challenging and definitely a two person job because many of the pieces of wood were not completely straight. Glen created various wedges to keep each section in place while I pushed with all my strength prior to locking their grooves in with screws.
With the floor and walls skinned we broke out the tape measure and had an in depth conversation about the features I wanted and exactly how they would best fit together. Glen’s experience and spacial awareness no doubt saved the project from multiple mishaps at this stage. He quickly and skillfully assembled the wood cases outside of the van and placed them inside multiple times to check their fit. His construction was light weight and strong. It centered around the framing up everything with 1 by 1 inch and 1 by 2 inch strips which he used to drill the plywood into to form right angles. And the strength and structure of the 1 by 2’s allowed him to use thinner 3/8” inch thick pieces of plywood for the cabinets.
The bed used a 7 foot long piano hinge and caught a sturdy and solidly supported 2” by 2” piece of redwood on the opposite side of the kitchen cabinet. The main storage compartment along the wall under the bed also used a 7 foot piano hinge. All of the hinges for the cabinet doors were small door hinges. Glen had a trick of drilling the hinges in before he cut out the doors. He then removed the hinges and cut the doors with a jig so the doors and hinges fit perfectly.
Here’s a few other things I noticed that Glen does all the time and makes his work so clean..
1. He always measures twice or three times before making a cut.
2. He creates templates out of cheap and found materials like cardboard or thin/cheap wood to test and refine his measurements
3. He always pre drills holes with bits slightly smaller than the screw size before screwing
4. He often counter sinks this holes as well to sink the screw heads and avoid splitting the wood
5. Whenever he’s making an important cut with his circular saw, jig saw or table saw he’ll often cut the wood upside down to avoid frayed edges caused by the saw blade.
My idea for the inside was to make the space was as open and simple as possible while still being able to store all of my stuff. All of the supports were hollow and served as storage compartments. Top loading compartments were implemented wherever possible. I wanted to be able to transform the space from a bedroom to a living room/kitchen with the dropping of a bed that could easily latch to the wall when needed.
To finish the wood I wanted to avoid harsh chemicals so I didn’t have to breathe in their VOC’s for weeks or months. I also didn’t want to mask the smell of the raw wood so I looked up natural wood sealing options and found a recipe that used 2 parts olive oil, 1 part lemon juice and a few drops of essential oils. I mixed them all before applying and the results were awesome. The only place I used conventional spar varnish was for my counter top where I needed extra protection from wear.
To top off the basic design, I ordered a bunch of small things on Amazon. Here’s my shopping cart:
Compact teak nautical shelves ($150)
Fruit basket ($23)
Fold down teak wall seat ($120)
Linen hanging clothing and shoe organizer ($19)
Stainless steel cocktail sink basin ($100) that connects to a 5 gallon bucket
Chrome pump faucet ($25)
that connects to a glass 5 gallon water bottle ($47)
Stainless steel propane stove ($120)
Here’s a list of features the van has now:
Vertical racks at the rear for shortboards, tripod, beach umbrella, fishing rods and yoga mat
2. Raised bamboo grate, solar shower and shower curtain that spans the two back doors to create an outside but private shower area.
3. Sink and pump faucet
4. Propane stove with propane container mounted on outside of van
5. Clothing storage and hanging rack
6. Top loading compressor fridge (energy efficient)
7. Food storage
8. Glass water jugs with pumps- padded and secured
9. Clothing and backpack hooks
10. Fold up third seat
11. Ventiline vent with 12v high power fan
12. Fold up bed- underside is a white board and cork board for storyboarding, planning and note taking
13. Hammock mount and hammock desk- my most proud invention (game changer when working)
14. Longboard sling on inner roof
15. First aid kit
16. Kitchen towel and paper towel rack
17. 2 sets of 32’ LED Christmas fairy lights
18. Compact wood stove 8” x 8” x 14” (yet to be installed)
19. Rear exterior mounted propane cylinder and diesel gas can
In total the build cost me around $8,000 for solar, lumber, hardware, accessories and my friend Glen’s time. This wasn’t the most complicated build out but I used high quality materials and wanted to get it done quickly. The entire conversion would have taken nine solid days start to finish with two people. I took a few breaks during the finishing of the wood and installing the remaining features so it’s taken two and a half weeks. You could save a lot of money by doing it all yourself, using cheaper wood (only using plywood for the walls), and not having full-on solar system. I hope this was useful, here are a few links to help give you ideas and more specific build information.
I was expecting to see the thing get rocked and toppled, some unlucky soul torn to shreds by a maddened crowd. At the very least we’d have witnessed a pro get brained by a flying beer bottle.
Instead we’re gonna see a riot. The question is where, and when.
Packing a bajillion people into one place, feeding them beer, and expecting them to behave when they get bored is a recipe for disaster. I’d be terrified to attend. Too much chance for a crush, or series of fistfights that turn into shooting wars.
“While shuttle busses [sic] will be available to take hardcore fans to the pristine park, Postinho, with its easy access to public transportation, will still be where the bustling party crowd will be enjoying music, two huge screens streaming the live action, and the popular Corona-hosted beach bar.”
An offsite venue with huge screens displaying action seems like a decent idea. Until you remember that surf contests are pretty damn boring. Too much downtime. A couple slow heats can drag on for an eternity.
Packing a bajillion people into one place, feeding them beer, and expecting them to behave when they get bored is a recipe for disaster. I’d be terrified to attend. Too much chance for a crush, or series of fistfights that turn into shooting wars. Brazilian infrastructure’s far too slapdash for me to believe they’ve taken truly effective safety precautions.
And there’s no way they’ll have enough shuttles. Moving thousands of people to and from the contest site each day will be a logistical nightmare. I can’t believe they’ve hired the massive fleet required to pull it off successfully. More likely they’re counting on most people staying put, partying off-site, while only a small number of “hardcore” fans bother with the ride. And that’ll go terribly wrong.
Either they’ll end up with people waiting for hours to catch a ride to Grumari, in which case we’ll see a bus tipped by an impatient mob.
Or people will end up stranded late into the night as drivers struggle to empty the beach. Traffic will gridlock. The crowd will turn ugly and destroy every structure.
Whichever the case there’ll be a few deaths, a bunch of injuries, and the WSL will be left scratching its proverbial head pondering, “Where did we go wrong?”
Some men and women hate children or find them a tremendous bother. On the surface, it stands to reason. Children require constant attention, get sick, cost money, take away most daylight hours, take away most nighttime hours as well, suck energy, put jam on everything, stomp dry-docked surfboards, get slivers, cry because they don’t want their sliver taken out, cry because their sliver is still embedded, need to get driven from school to soccer to slumber parties until 16-ish, etc. How can be there time to surf or sex with such demands? In reality, though, only the unimaginative father and/or abuse mother will ever let the cost of child rearing detract from the benefit.
Biological narcissism: Young Narcissus, in Greek mythology, became so enamored with his own reflection as it bounced off of a river that he stuck his whole head in and drowned. A parent, staring at his or her own offspring will experience similar awe. The genes, as they re-order themselves in another sentient being, are wondrous to behold. It does not matter if parent is physically lacking or ugly…the offspring, as reflection, inspires. And there is no danger of drowning in a river while starring at this reflection. Only the danger of getting jam smeared somewhere permanent and annoying.
Pride: It is a good thing to do something well and, likewise, get praised for doing it well. Compliments, though, are a minefield for the grown up. When people tell me they like my writing, for example, I never take this statement as fact. I think to myself, “Yeah? Well of course you are going to say that to my face…” or “Hmmmmm. Really?” But when people tell me my child is beautiful I know that it is so and think, “Damn straight.” A child allows for pure, undiluted acceptance of adulation. Especially if she is as beautiful as mine.
Strength: “Dad strength” gets spoken of and I knew what it was, because my dad could probably still smoke me even though he is old, but never knew how to get it. In retrospect it is obvious. Become a dad. I am stronger than I have ever been in my life and it is a thick, brutal strength. A rough dumb strength. I think it comes from carrying a little baby every single day. The little baby starts somewhere near ten pounds and then grows, slowly, to twenty then thirty then forty then fifty etc. It is so slow and the dad carries always and so his muscles slowly grow too. It is like the parable of a frog getting killed in a pot when the temperature slowly raises to boiling. Such incremental build is not noticeable in the moment but after time the frog is dead and boiled. And the dad is a strange muscleman.
Rage: Rage is a fine thing to have and especially when combined with strength. Of course it can get out of control. It can be a fire that burns helpless innocents to the ground or looks very silly when poured out upon a late night barista who happens to use soy instead of whole milk. But it can also be glorious. Since becoming a father, I have roared more people off waves than I can even count. The wave is always twice as satisfying afterward. I know a father who roared once in the surf because someone was in the way and it was accidentally a Bra Boy. At the moment he felt so strong and brave. Later he feared for his life and maybe still fears for it today. Rage makes a man or woman feel alive. And children are the root cause of rage because they make a parent excessively tired thus short-circuiting the parental brain and also create an evolutionary craving to protect them. When cars drive too fast down my street I lose my very mind and slam their hoods, curse their drivers etc. Recently, I tried to strangle a driver but was pulled off by another dad who lived nearby. He said he was only protecting me because, once, he threw a chainsaw at a car that sped by and almost went to jail.
Passion: When children come along it is sometimes more difficult to surf or skate or snow or do any sort of pastime. It would maybe be a downer except when a free thirty minutes comes along and I can paddle out it is a glorious thirty minutes. First, it feels very nice. Second, with the strength and the rage, I catch many waves and try to surf each like Sunny Garcia. I try and throw buckets of spray and bury my rails deep and arrrrrgh. I am passionate, now, like Sunny Garcia when I surf and that is very much better than surfing like Michael Dunphy.
Riches: I am trying very hard to get rich but there are setbacks from time to time and frustrations. But a child brings riches near. Of course they cost money themselves and in that way, they make a man or woman work and work hard. My head has never been further down, my stronger-every-day shoulder pressing the wheel. I won’t fail. But if I do, my daughter is very beautiful and she can be a model or an actress or a singer and I can be Billy Ray Cyrus. Proud. And rich.
Satisfaction: At the end of the day, though, nothing but nothing is as satisfying as an offspring’s smile. It makes up for all the missed surfs, skates, snows, sexes whatever. Because that smile is very beautiful. Only a parent knows that unless the father is unimaginative, the mother abusive. A finely executed, perfectly timed cutback on a head high wave comes close. But the child’s smile is better 8 times out of 10.