Come surf Snake River, Wyoming, with Dylan Graves, Wade Goodall and pals…
I’m not a fan of fresh water. Too much weird shit going on beneath the murky surface. Logs, boulders, slippery eels. No sir, I do not like it.
River surfing ain’t for me.
Take Waimea River mouth. Standing wave looks super fun.
But what the videos don’t show is how disgusting the water is. Had plenty of opportunities to give it a try, was happy to sit on the sand and watch others frolic in a frothy leptospirosis ag run-off cocktail.
Google says the Snake River is among the cleanest in the US, though. Probably cleaner than SoCal ocean and I spent most of my life playing in that poison. But it’s an irrational thing anyway. I’m uncomfortable with the idea of catfish swimming around looking to suck on my toes. Must be some traumatic experience from childhood I’ve repressed.
One random bit of knowledge I possess, down river traffic has the right of way. Whitewater rafts will blast straight through kayakers when they don’t get out of the way.
Do you remember being a youth and needing surf accoutrement? I do.
I remember walking into a surf shop, smelling the wax, seeing the pink Astrodeck, the Mountain and the Wave, the fluoro Shark watches, the checkered Vans, the Op shorts, the Gotcha Fishman and thinking they were the only thing that mattered in life besides actually surfing.
The product, the image, was, in my juvenile mind, synonymous with the activity.
Oh how I wanted it all! My parents could afford very little/nothing so I was left mostly on the outside looking in/with Wahlboard t-shirts from Pismo Beach but still. I dreamed.
And I wonder about kids today. They don’t lust for product, do they. They don’t walk in to surf shops with eyes wider than Matt Biolos’s pant legs. They don’t need anything to belong. There are no more signifiers and thus the industry has been in a decade long death throe.
Whose fault is it?
Maybe the Australian Surf Industry Awards!
I read this morning about them on the industry blog Shop-Eat-Surf. Let’s tuck in!
The Australian Surf and Boardsports Association held its annual awards in Sydney on Thursday May 26, celebrating the high achievers of the Australia’s multi-million dollar surf industry. Held at the Crowne Plaza in Coogee, the night attracted over 200 retailers and brand representatives from all over Australia.
Both retailers and brands were recognised with 30 awards presented across a number of retail, product and marketing categories.
On the brand side, relative newcomer Vissla has announced its arrival as a significant player when it was awarded the Breakthrough Brand of the year. Rip Curl’s attention to technical details was well rewarded when it took out product of the year in the boardshort, wetsuit and surf accessories categories. The Otis Youngblood won sunglass of the year while Reef was the number one footwear brand.
It was also a big night for Billabong, taking out swimwear brand of the year and the men’s and women’s brand of the year. To cap things off Billabong also won the men’s and women’s marketing campaigns of the year.
It was another big night and SBIA president Anthony Wilson was delighted with its success:
“It’s nights like tonight that really sets our industry apart, it really did have it all,” “Wilson said.
And what the goddamn hell?
There are too many wrong things happening here to fully digest but the Crowne Plaza in Coogee?
Attracted “200” people?
Billabong swimwear “brand” of the year and marketing “campaign” of the year?
Arbitrary award shows are, in and of themselves, embarrassing. This embarrassing one launched in 2011, smack in the middle of complete and utter surf market meltdown. In the five years since things have gotten steadily worse.
Not that we shouldn’t fiddle while Rome burns (welcome to BeachGrit!) but celebrating and awarding our mediocrity/squandering of an entire movement/at the Coogee Grand Plaza just seems….lame. And if I was a kid today I would want nothing to do with any of it.
Fisheries hook Great White of 10-to-15-feet near yesterday's attack…
Yesterday, the surfer Ben Gerring was attacked by a suspected Great White shark an hour or so south of Perth. His leg was severed above the knee and the twenty nine year old remains in a critical condition in a Perth hospital.
As local surfer Paul Collier told ABC news,
“I was in fairly wide…Ben was in on the tighter section of Gearies, and the shark came up and attacked him, and I saw a big splash and a big pointed thing which was, I’m not sure, the shark launching.
“We dragged him up on the beach. Of course his leg was ripped off real bad, it was ripped off at the thigh.
“I’m just in absolute shock with the whole thing… [I’ve been] gathering support from other surfers and being with my surfer mates and talking it through.”
This morning, in response, the department of fisheries set three drum lines at the beach and, a few hours ago, confirmed they’d hooked a Great White of between ten and fifteen feet. It’ll either drown on the drum line or be pulled in and killed.
How do you kill a Great White?
I once posed that question to a shark fisherman. All you need, he said, is a rope lasso.
Let the fish swim through the noose and when the rope passes those iconic, collectable, priceless jaws and just before it reaches the dorsal fin, pull tight.
Four, maybe five minutes, and the White is dead. Hanged.
“Get ’em on the hook and they go neanderthal,” he said. “Use a powerhead and if you hit the wrong spot the spot the shark’s going to take off with half its face blown off. Of course, the lasso method ain’t perfect, either. Use the wrong people and they can get dragged over the side.”
Looks like Bobby's let his shit go. Surfing loose, maybe better than ever.
I don’t think about Bobby Martinez often. Not surprising, guy more or less dropped off the planet when he retired from tour. Though retired’s not really the right word for a “fuck you I quit” moment.
It was lovely!
Telling a dickhead boss to go fuck himself feels great. I’ve done it a bunch of times. Never so publicly, only at the type of menial jobs for which I’m qualified, but still… I know how good it feels. Especially when you’ve got something better lined up.
You’re not supposed to burn bridges, but I’ve never really understood why. Why maintain a working relationship with someone you think is a total piece of shit?
I worked for a largish surfboard manufacturer for a few years. Absolutely hated the place. Caught the owner shaving wages multiple times. Dealt with his insane mood swings on a daily basis.. The day I changed all the passwords and peaced out was one of the best of my life.
I’m kind of amused by the way younger kids have started getting into the 80’s revival deal. I lived through that decade as a child, it was pretty dumb. Kind of want to write it their trip, but I suspect that’s colored by my unhappy childhood.
And I remember thinking the 70’s were campy and funny while I was in high school. This is really just more of that.
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.
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.
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.