Parker Coffin Japan
This is little Parker Coffin, the less cute, but maybe funnier, of the two brothers from Santa Babs, California. Parker recently attended the Ichinomiya Chiba Open in Japan, where he made it to round six. His QS rating rockets almost thirty places from 85 to 57! Guess who his master coach is? Brad Gerlach! | Photo: WSL

Gerr: What I learned watching a WQS!

Small waves reveal everything says master coach Brad Gerlach… 

Recently, the surf coach and former world number one (or two, depending on how you call such things), Brad Gerlach, attended a WQS event in Japan with Parker Coffin.

We’d been back and forthing on a few things (Gerlach appears in an upcoming episode of Like Bitchin!) and he mentioned that he was in Japan, with Parker Coffin, for the Ichinomiya Chiba Open. It was an enlightening experience, watching talented surfers forced to ride one foot waves, he said. It played into his hands, somewhat, since he will soon be releasing a book that reveals the surf coaching method he calls Wave Ki.

I can’t wait to inhale its mysterious perfume.

“My aim is to teach my students how to harness the power of the waves and surf without thinking.Ki means life force, energy. Conner and Parker have been doing Wave Ki for almost six years.”
From what well does Wave Ki spring?
“I studied a form of Kung Fu movement called inflex with Adrian Crook for 10 years,” says Gerlach. “That’s when I rode Cortes Bank. I tested out the movements in giant surf with boards that turn on a dime. Then I studied Aikido, tai chi, and movement with Laura McCormac for 10 years and am still working with her.”

Gerlach is even lovelier now than when he was at his professional surfing peak in the eighties and nineties. He wears fiery little hats in bottle green, spectacles that shave years off his biological age and his lean body betrays a carnal fluency.

Now let’s curl at his feet and listen…

BeachGrit: You’re there, right there in Japan, watching a zillion surfers trash away at tiny waves in a WQS event. What do you see?

Gerlach: The ASP tour came to Japan twice a year when I was on it and a lot of the events the waves were just like this one. I sucked in little waves and aside from Tommy (Curren) we all tried to figure out how to go fast, do big turns and look good. Well, maybe not all of us cared about looking good and that may be what I see here in Japan. Some of the guys who do the best small-wave surfing aren’t the most stylish.

The question is, does it matter?

I say yes it does and it’s impressive because it’s rarely seen! But that’s another conversation. I believe surfing well in small waves is the hardest thing to do in surfing. Often, it’s where even the best can struggle. I believe a surfer who rips in little waves could surf Mavs if he/she wants and with a lot of courage could surf it quite well. Not necessarily the other way around because little waves require perfect timing by generating speed from torque, twist and drive.

What I see here that impresses me is the… improvement. I have been watching a lot of these guys since they were juniors. Daveid Silva looked stronger with better timing, flare and confidence. I hadn’t seen that before with him. He impressed me, especially with his backside off the tops. I like seeing surfers improve. However, many haven’t improved noticeably and some are slower than before. Maybe they rode the wrong board or ate a bad bowl of ramen?

A lot of individual styles. Not everyone surfs the same. I think it’s cool and refreshing to watch. Some guys have a lot of drive and lift in their surfing. The South American guys are very impressive. They use up what the wave has to offer. Sometimes getting a bigger turn that I expect. I imagine it’s because quite often the waves are quick and small where they live and those are the conditions they have to compete in?

What do small waves amplify in a surfer?

Technique and timing or lack thereof and how much time they have spent surfing them. Are they riding the right board and fins for them and the conditions? Some surfers use a lot of aggression and movement and build speed quickly if their timing is good. I like to see this. It makes it fun for the spectators because we don’t know what is coming. Super hard to do when the waves are small and gutless. When this is done without good timing it looks ugly and forced. It tells me the the surfer has the drive to want to surf good but doesn’t have the talent, technique or time in the conditions to do it. Some people will just stand there and wait for the wave to steepen up but that may never happen, too.

You coach little Parker Coffin. How can he improve his play in small-waves?

This might be extra info but “coach” isn’t how I would label what I do. I don’t stand there with a whistle, yell and wave my hands around. Ha! However, we have thought of a few skits that we might just have to do one day. That’s just how people are defining it.

I’d say I am a teacher/mentor, but whatever. Anyway, I have been helping Parker since he was 13 so I know him well. He was little then, not so much anymore. What I did with him this week was show him how to go fast, using Wave ki, watching others that were ripping and talking with him on wave positioning and finishing turns. We did a lot of Wave Ki that was custom-made for him and the conditions. Then he would go surfing and I watched. I would call him in when I saw something I liked or if I saw something that could help him be more fluid, more vertical or not lose any speed. Sometimes, I saw that he was thinking too much and or trying too hard, so I called him in and helped him by talking about getting back into a rhythmic state. Sounds cosmic? Well, it is man! But who cares if you are flying around in gutless surf?

Parker’s timing improved a ton because he started using his whole body, not just body parts. His confidence improved with the timing, which makes me think he improved 25-30 percent in little waves this week. He looked to me like he had the goods to win.

Alejo Muniz’s brother Santiago has the best hair of any the other guys. It all goes forward, like he jumps on one of those taxi bikes and rides around the block backwards to style it.

Those WQS events are so…jock! Is that what you see too?

No, I don’t see the jock thing as much now that I went to the event. I feel like a lot of these guys have different styles and approach it uniquely. I was happy about that. We stayed with a group of South Americans and they were really cool guys. Seemed like they were enjoying themselves, open to sharing about boards, waves, conditions…There was a large range of ages on tour, some guys in their thirties, some teenagers. Sponsors are pretty scarce these days too. Hardcore group of surfers. Still a rad job nevertheless.

Tell me about Wiggolly and Alejo’s bro’s!
Wesley Dantas is a big kid and he was going super fast on nothing waves. He had a lot of energy from the moment he stood up. He doesn’t exactly have the greatest style but he is still young. It seems like he doesn’t give a shit, which I think is cool too. What he has is flare, power and control. I loved watching him in the gutless waves and down the beach from the comp when it got a little bigger. Huge turns. Impressive.

I have only watched Santiago a bit and liked what I saw. Just the energy and his drivey approach. This week was the most I got to see him surf and I really like it. He kind of over surfs a lot of waves and falls because he tries too hard but… man… he has a lot of potential. His raw approach makes him spontaneous and I dig that. I have only seen him surf in two-to-three-foot waves. He has the best hair of any the other guys. It all goes forward, like he jumps on one of those taxi bikes and rides around the block backwards to style it.

Santiago Muniz
“Santiago Muniz has the best hair of any the other guys,” says Gerlach. “It all goes forward, like he jumps on one of those taxi bikes and rides around the block backwards to style it.”

You’re excited about the Australian Conner O’Leary. Why does he excite you so? Because he’s a Eurasian stud?
Ha! Take it easy sailor! No… he surfs really good and looked like he was riding the right board. He was aggressive, smooth, has a ton of power. He goes for it. He looks like he will qualify for sure. His back knee sticks out a bit and that isn’t my favorite but other than that he looks great. And yeah, his Mom was on the tour back in the day and I think that is rad. I can’t imagine how cool or annoying that would be to have my mom paddle out and surf better than me when I was a kid.

Conner Leary
“Conner Leary was aggressive, smooth, has a ton of power. He goes for it,” says Gerlach. “He looks like he will qualify for sure. His back knee sticks out a bit and that isn’t my favorite but other than that he looks great.”

Position of hips, tell me how that relates to small-wave surfing.

They have to move, that is how you get “squirt”… you should know that by now I trust. It’s  how they move that is the trick. The surfers that rip in small waves are moving them back and forth to create drive and keep control. It is quite complex. I teach this with Wave Ki. I call it pendulum glide.

For most of us, the semi-competents, what are the three things we could that would improve our relationship with small waves… now?

Mmmmm… get a wider board that is an inch to two inches smaller than your everyday board. I like to ride one with a wider tail block too. In beachbreaks I mostly ride a three-fin with a smaller back fin. Play around with a quad if the waves are running or you are on a point. Quads do great cutbacks, carves, floaters, straight airs. Three fins are good for wind-swell, if you go left then right then left again. Also good for vertical surfing.

Wave positioning is key: Most intermediates surf/pump in the middle of the wave. All the power and speed is in the very top of the wave, the steepest part. I know the wave might be one-and-a-half foot but still try to pump up there and only go down to the flatter part of the wave when you want to come back up. This was huge for me when I learned to grovel.

Take off and get your feet in the right spot so your body is positioned to turn up to the top of the wave. This is shown in my up coming Wave Ki book.

Play around with changing your stance. If your stance is too narrow it will be hard to get speed.
If your stance is too wide it will be hard to turn. I run a little narrower stance backside in little waves.

I am always talking with my students about their stance for the conditions.

Kelly Slater and the burden of being!

Isn't being hypocritical what makes us human?

We all live our lives by various woven together standards, be they religious, philosophical, metaphysical, conservative, libertine.

Me? I’m as Christian as Beth Hamilton. More heavily Calvinistic less evangelical but these differences are merely academic. I wander far from the path, egregiously, but that’s what makes being human very fun.


Kelly Slater, fourteen time World Champ, is also not shy about broadcasting much of his belief structure. Pro healthy foods, clean living, yoga with various touches of conspiracy thrown in for flavor.

One of his primary stances is environmentalism. He loves Mother Earth very much and is not shy about lending a hand, or his name, to different planet first causes.

OuterKnown, his clothing label, makes a specific point of producing in a sustainable way. Buzzy but very admirable. He says:

I created Outerknown to smash the formula. To lift the lid on the traditional supply chain and prove that you can actually produce great looking menswear in a sustainable way…the last two years have been a huge eye-opener for me. It’s clear now just how challenging it is for any brand to put sustainability at the forefront of their business and I’m proud that we’re one of the few taking the lead.

Manufacturing creates massive waste and pollution and so to cut, where possible, helps but do you know what pollutes more grossly?

Air travel!

Nothing befouls like airplanes. They pump more CO2 into the air than almost anything. The New York Times called air travel our “biggest carbon sin” and added, “Every time you fly you trash the planet.”

And so you can imagine Kelly Slater’s dilemma as he flew around the world in a private jet belonging to OuterKnown’s parent company Kering to check on his OK supply chain.

Flying private is far worse than flying commercial as it adds an almost unnecessary layer of pollutants on top of already critical levels. The Wall Street Journal reported that a passenger flying private contributes five times as much carbon-dioxide as a passenger flying commercial.

A friend of a friend of a friend of a friend was on this private jet with Kelly and said that he could not stop wringing his hands, fully aware of his gross duplicity. He told his friend who told a friend who told a friend who told me that Kelly spent all of his time trying to come to terms with what he was doing.

His wave pool, also, is a complete and utter ecological nightmare. The amount of power it takes to run that thing, no matter how it is sold to the public, is massive and serious. Rory Parker did a wonderful job of pointing out the inherent falsehoods in the fact that it is advertised as being 100% solar powered.

Still, I would like to ease Kelly’s emotional burden. It is so much better to have ideals and break them into a million little pieces then to be hopelessly pessimistic and droll. He should stop worrying about his casuistry and celebrate being all too human at least for a few moments in elevated life.

Don’t you think?

Ben Gerring
The Western Australian surfer Ben Gerring, attacked by a shark today at Falcon Beach, Mandurah. | Photo: Facebook

Just in: Surfer loses leg in Shark Attack!

"He's still on the beach now... they've been doing CPR to him."

Earlier today, a Western Australian surfer was attacked by a shark at Gearies Beach, an hour-and-a-half south of Perth.

Ben Gerring, who is 29, lost part of his leg and, according to news reports, is “fighting for his life.”

From PerthNow,

Falcon Bay Beach Cafe worker Shaimous Wright said two men came rushing in after 4pm asking for ice, telling him someone’s leg had been bitten off.

“We gave it to them for free, apparently his leg got bitten off,” he told PerthNow.

“We don’t know if they knew him, all we know is that they were just trying to help.”

He said customers and staff were in a state of shock over the incident.

Jodie Hough, a Halls Head local, said the man was still conscious when he was brought up the stairs from the beach.

She said he had no right leg from the knee down and believed a couple of people had dragged him from the water.

A reporter from the Mandurah Mail, Nathan Hondrostold the ABC:

“The gentleman was on the beach by the time we got down here,” he said. “Ambulance crews were trying to resuscitate him by the looks of it. RAC rescue chopper came in yeah, so it was just quite desperate and heart wrenching scenes. He had lost a leg from what looked like above the knee, so it was quite a savage attack by the looks of it. We had a talk to some of the surfers who were out there in the water with him, but look, they weren’t in the mood to talk while their mate is in serious trouble,” he said.

Earlier in the day, a 10-foot great white had been spotted nearby. Beach is closed etc.

Mason Ho The Eddie 2016
Episode three of License to Chill is a sparkling document of February's big-wave contest The Eddie, in which Mason Ho, the star of this six-minute short, finished eighth. | Photo: WSL

Just in: Episode 3, License To Chill!

Come see Mason Ho slay Waimea Bay in his sparkling weekly video series…

The new Mason Ho web series License To Chill, I’ll posit and debate, is better than anything I, or you, could’ve imagined. He’s such a handsome and smooth pebble!

Kolohe Andino says, “The way his brain works is a lot different than any of my other friends. It’s refreshing to hang out with him, and get him talking about something. It’s like he’s a complete innocent.”

Do you remember episode one, when Mason threw himself against the cliffs of Uluwatu and shared a boogie board with the three-time world champion Tom Curren?

Or episode two, with its tour of the Oahu coastline, traversing north to west? The rock-hopping? The V-Land roll ins?

And, just then, episode three arrived on the Lost Surfboards blog. Ep 3 follows Mason at this year’s Eddie contest, where he finished eighth. See Mason pull into Waimea lefts, see Mason slay the shorebreak, see Mason do this, that, and appear as a droplet of golden sunshine on the often dark North Shore.

“With who his family is, he could’ve been a fucking prick,” says Bruce Irons. “But his Dad would never let Mason be a kid like that. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

Episode three, Waimea Bay, isn’t available for us to embed yet (Surfline has the exclusive-for-48-hours deal) but you can watch just by clicking this button, here! 

Johanne Defay wins Fiji Pro 2016
The owner of the most adorable accent in surfing wins the Fiji Pro! | Photo: WSL

Just in: Johanne Defay wins Fiji Pro!

What a day! Hooray for Defay!

Finals day at the fair sex Fiji Pro. Why no title sponsor? Men or women, WSL can’t lock that shit down. Why not? One of the stops everyone looks forward to. Potential for magic.

Volcom had it, right? Split when ZoSea took over. Smart decision on their part, probably. But you’d think the WSL’d be able to find someone to kick down a bit of dough. Maybe there are reasons.

Hamilton started things off playing the one armed bandit, stealing title points from tour members. Hell of a lot of wildcard spoilers going down this year. No matter how Bethany finishes she’ll be the mainstream media darling over the next few days. Rest of the ladies can go to hell.

It’s really too bad she’s so religious. Obviously an amazing human, overcome adversity, positive mindset, blah blah blah. But I just can’t get behind anyone who uses the spotlight to push their faith. Which she does. Has her own bible thumper non-profit, uses surf to steal minds. Fuck that noise.

I’m sure that opinion won’t make me any friends. Whatever. She gets to push her agenda, I get to push mine.

Johanne Defay’s accent is absolutely fucking adorable.

Moore/Enever was pretty crazy. Gotta love C-Mo’s barrels, how she pushes through her turns. One of the shortfalls on the female end. Maybe it’s a lack of size, strength, but when it gets a little bigger a lot of the ladies back off towards the end of their turns. Enever was doing it pretty bad. Lip checks instead of top turns. On guys it’s a full fear move. Section starts to suck, run for the shoulder instead of bomb to the bottom. But the ladies are tiny, might just be difficult to bury a rail at full speed. They manage pretty well on the smaller ones.

Super mismatched heat. Not that Enever don’t surf real good, but Moore’s on another level. Surfs like a man. Which is an absurdly sexist way of praising a top level female athlete, I know. Sorry.

Hamilton and Defay got real lucky they didn’t draw her in the semis. Now they’ve each got a 50/50 chance for a finals finish. ‘Cuz Carissa’s on a tear and I’m calling a win for her while watching the quarters.

I’m increasingly impressed with Ms. Buitendag. Tons of power behind her turns, great style despite her lanky frame. She’s getting better too! Put Conlogue to sleep pretty effortlessly, but faces Moore in the next round. Gonna be pretty shocked if she makes it through that one.

Defay rips her first wave of the heat to shreds, things don’t look so good for Hamilton. 9.2, backs it up with a solid 7. Seven minutes in and Bethany’s combo’ed. Not that it matters. This ain’t her full time job, performance so far’s sure to earn her some more talk show appearances.

Man, type about the tiny weak little ladies backing off turns then Defay comes and puts the idea straight to bed. Absolutely hammers her third wave, snags an 8. Follows up with an even better one. Digs Hamilton a hole so deep she can’t see sunlight.

Sweet jeebus, Carissa is killing it this comp. Like, especially so. 9.77 on her first wave, just straight bashing the lip, snagging some cover. Repeating last round. Buitendag is surfing well but she just can’t touch Moore at her best.

Still though, Bianca is laying down some big swooping carves. Putting her size to good use. She’ll go down fighting. Her last post-heat interview was… odd.

Put some duct tape on her board, give it an “African fix.” Awful close to saying “nigger rig it.” I don’t think it’s unfair to suspect a South African of casual racism. Because of, you know, history.

Heat’s turned into a real back and forth battle. Might’ve written Buitendag off a bit too soon. Could be a shocker.

I’ve said it before, I’m saying it again. The WSL needs to stop running women’s heats when it ain’t good enough for the men. Give the ladies their own show, quality surf, they shine, sparkle.

Poor Bianca. Judges just handed the lead to Moore with a gross overscore. With the way these women are ripping a snap to hung up top turn shouldn’t be a 7.27. They can do better. Buitendag’s forehand carves are magic!

Moore did better. Has it in the bag with five minutes left. Blasted the fins out the back for her second 9+.

Ha! I forgot Hamilton rides for Rip Curl. Remember when they used slaves to make jackets? Remember how they just swept it under the rug?

Defay/Moore in the final. Nice end to a day of ripping.

The little French girl is on fire today, but so is the bubbly Hawaiian. Wish they’d just head into the next heat. I’ve got shit to do. Rather not wait around for them to get to business. I understand the reason for the break, but it’s slightly inconvenient for me.

Final starts on a lull. Weak exchange of single turn waves. Set swings wide and catches them out of position. So typical. Whole day on fire, final is a total anticlimax. No way of controlling it, no fix. Just cruel reality.

At just under fifteen minutes in Defay gets a decent one. 8.4. At the rate the ocean is delivering the goods it might be enough to hand her the win.

If Rosy Hodge agreed to play “would you rather” with me I’d come up with something way better.

But really I’d just stammer, trail off, and go hide in a corner somewhere.

Damn, disappointment. Really thought we were gonna get something special here. But the ocean doesn’t want to cooperate.

Seven minutes left and we start to see some energy. Moore on firing, links a huge bash into a finner. Comes unstuck and Defay is right behind her. Dismantles it all the way to the inside.

6.67 for Moore. Pretty high for a single turn. But it was an amazing smash. Defay earns an 8.7 though, so Carissa is in a deep combo and no matter what Pottz says she doesn’t have much of a chance.

Two minutes left and Carissa Moore needs 17.11. Show’s over.

What a day! Hooray for Defay!

Sucks that things ended on a slow note, but we got an entire day of top notch action.

If you don’t watch the women, and I know a lot of people don’t, go hit the heat analyzer. You won’t regret it.