Armless surfer raises the bar! Somehow!

The most inspiring story of the year! Even more than Bethany and Jimbo!

I will be the first to shout that Bethany Hamilton wows me each and every time she paddles out. Her dance is beyond impressive by any measure and maybe more so for me. My left arm, you see, comes out of its shoulder socket if I paddle four times for a wave. Three times it’s ok. Four it’s out. And so I’ve taken to half paddling and also surfing very bad.

I therefore watch Bethany in absolute awe, still not understanding how she does it. How does she do it? How does she surf waves so damned well let alone catch them? And I am certain I’ll watch world famous Jimbo Pellegrine in awe/horror when he surfs next. Mostly awe (horror) though since I wondered how he caught waves even before his brush with oncoming traffic.

But Jonas Letieri from Brazil does them both one better because he has no arms. Nunce! Let’s read about him in the Orange County Register!

At the 2014 Battle of the Paddle in Florianopolis, Brazil, world stand-up paddleboard champion Candice Appleby of San Clemente could hardly believe her eyes.

She watched a Brazilian stand-up paddler with no arms. He was riding waves on a racing board – something difficult even for top pros to do. And he was surfing like a pro.

“I was like, ‘What?’” Appleby said.

She excitedly contacted her coach, Anthony Vela, in California. One thing led to another, and this weekend, at the San Clemente Ocean Festival, Jonas Letieri is entering his first stand-up paddleboard surfing competition in the United States.

“I think everyone will have a pleasure of watching him surf and be amazed at his surfing,” Vela said, “but then be inspired by the way that he lives.”

Letieri, 31, has surfed since age 13. He embraced the surf lifestyle while pursuing a career in graphic design.

As a volunteer for his church, he designed, helped build and offered to install a church sign. During installation on Oct. 11, 2011, he didn’t notice an electrical wire. The sign came into contact with it.

Both of his arms had to be amputated at the elbow.

Letieri set out to learn new ways to cook, dress himself, clean his house and do everything – graphic design, too. His father helped him find a way to resume surfing. The two crafted a paddle attached to a steel ring that fit around Letieri’s stubbed arm. Over time, he learned to surf with it.

“That’s my life,” he said, “being in the ocean and surfing with my friends.”

As word spread about the talented survivor, Letieri was invited to compete at the Payette River Games in Cascade, Idaho. He drew a standing ovation when four rivals in an advanced heat all fell in the rapids and he prevailed.

Jim Terrell, owner of Orange County company Quickblade Paddles, met Letieri in Brazil and again in Idaho. He was inspired to help.

“I saw the paddle, two steel rings lashed to the paddle,” Terrell said.

“He said, ‘Let me look at your paddle’ and he went home,” Vela said. “He’s like, ‘I think I can make it a little better.’”

Terrell, of Newport Beach, shipped a new lightweight custom paddle to Letieri in Brazil, and when Letieri returned to California in January for a six-mile race in San Diego, Terrell made him an even better one.

“It changed my whole life, this paddle,” Letieri said. “My first paddle was made by steel rings. It was so heavy … much too heavy, with a lot of tape and stuff. Now I can stay for hours paddling and paddling and I don’t feel so much the weight and I don’t feel pain. We are still working. Every time we are talking, he comes with a new idea to do something better.”

Letieri is spending the summer in Orange County, working out with Performance Paddling Training Club of Dana Point to prepare for the Molokai to Oahu World Paddleboard Championships.

“He is living the life of a professional athlete,” Appleby said.

Letieri entered the water Monday at the pier to train, after having not surfed for weeks. A stiff south wind whipped up a washing machine water texture, so difficult that Appleby fell repeatedly and resorted to paddling through the surf lying on her board, using her arms.

Letieri had no such luxury. Falling again and again, he persisted until he made his way out. Riding just a 7-foot-by-8-inch SUP board built for high performance, he had to keep moving to avoid falling.

“The board won!” he grinned as he kept getting back up. Finding his groove, he was able to ride a handful of choppy, windblown waves, displaying his down-the-line prowess on several and his powerful cutback on one.

“I try to smile and surf the Earth,” Letieri said. “I love my life. I love to be alive. Being here is like a dream come true. I thought that I (had) some problems but I can see I have no problems. I think this is the best part of my life.”

He has shared that message with church groups in Brazil and in California.

In 2015, Letieri spoke to students at St. Margaret’s Episcopal School in San Juan Capistrano and showed how he makes the most of his mobility.

“The whole chapel just erupted with awe,” teacher Jennifer Cuda said. “His message was just be thankful for everything you have.”

An online video that tells Letieri’s story has inspired other amputees.

“Now I can see other guys – when they watch that video – (say) ‘Now I can paddle too, I can do something like that!’” Letieri said. “It is so amazing. We can help these guys.”

“Everywhere he goes, he inspires a lot of people,” Terrell said. “He exudes stoke. It makes you realize you don’t have anything to complain about.”

If you are not inspired then your are a heartless troll. A bastard of the highest order.

Inertia admits: “We’re embarrassing!”

While at the same time admitting, "We sneak lollipops to bed while mom's not looking and lick them under the covers!"

I can’t even begin to tell you the amount of pleasure surfing’s “definitive voice” gives me. Venice adjacent’s The Inertia pioneers never-before-seen realms of kookiness not seen since… since… since… ever. It would be difficult to come up with the amount of embarrassing content the website posts daily in an entire year.

There’s founder Zach Weisberg in the corner taking a bow! Oh wait, no, I’m sorry, he’s standing tall at 5’1″ but should be taking a bow because whew! Exhausting!

Let’s examine yesterday, for example. After posting a piece on the dangers of drugs and alcohol (?), The Inertia doubled down with a serious story about Pokemon.

Shall we read?

Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 10.23.54 AM

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past week, you’ve probably noticed. The Pokemon craze is sweeping the nation.Pokemon Go is the newest game in the Pokemon franchise of video games. But unlike past iterations, it can be played on your iPhone or Android, and utilizes your phone’s location services so that as you move in real life, you move in the game. In fact, that’s the point. The game is impossible to play stationary. One must constantly be moving to search for new Pokemon, battle other trainers at gyms, and do anything within the game.

With number of players exceeding the number of Twitter users in the United States, the game is taking over. It may not be long before we start seeing Pokemon out in the lineup.

Bravo! And there’s founder Zach Weisberg in the corner holding his mighty scepter! All hail the King of the Kooks! Oh wait, no, I’m sorry, his mighty scepter is an iPhone or Android and he’s utilizing his phone’s location services so that as he moves in real life, he moves in the lame.

I mean game.

Chas Smith

Just in: Chas Smith is a “spineless dick!”

A multi-pronged blood feud! The Inertia v Chas Smith, What Youth and Surfing!

What’s going on? I’ve been working on my podcast. Medium of the future!

I love how, now that everyone has access to the ability to produce high quality video content, we’re embracing old timey amateur radio. It’s like cell phones. We can do full on futuristic video chat but everyone just sends short, typo-laden, text messages.

Anyway, here’s two little stories for today. Funny stuff, put a smile on my face, for sure.

Chas Smith is a “spineless dick.” 

Shots fired! I love it! BLOOD FEUD!

Sarcastic delivery of “drugs are bad!” But they aren’t. They’re great! Gotta glorify ’em. How else will all the poor children who are taught to stay away learn how rad they really are?

So I’m not gonna take a shot at Jacob McCafferty. I defintely won’t point out that he looks like a jug-handled Mormon kid who drank his first beer last week then sucked off his best friend then decided to double down on the homophobia because he feels guilty about how much he enjoyed it.

I don’t like to go after other writers. Usually. I know how difficult this deal can be, that sometimes tone doesn’t work, jokes fall flat. This is the internet age, we’ve got hours to work on pieces that’d’ve been given weeks a decade ago.

So I’m not gonna take a shot at Jacob McCafferty. I defintely won’t point out that he looks like a jug-handled Mormon kid who drank his first beer last week then sucked off his best friend then decided to double down on the homophobia because he feels guilty about how much he enjoyed it.

Jacob McCafferty

The Lunada fort is coming down. 

Pure gold. Local residents chimed in:

The Bay Boys who congregate there are “not a gang. It is a club,” said resident Pat Stolz, who urged the city to preserve the structure. “We don’t want crowds. Think twice when someone comes in and tells you what to do.” 

Another resident, Stanton Hunton, said the Bay Boys “are very pleasant people” and told the council members, “don’t succumb to the Coastal Commission.” 

Yes! Keep out the scum.

But there’s a problem. A fatal flaw.

City attorneys said that permitting the structure would mean that the city would also need to maintain it and assume liability for anyone who is hurt there.

“The truth of the matter is that the city does not want to own a structure like this. We can’t afford to own a structure like this,” said Councilman James D Vandever.

Once again proving that the only thing rich people hate more than sharing public resources is paying to maintain them.

Everything is always terrible podcast

Podcast: “Everything is Always Terrible!”

Episode two from intensely prudish broadcaster Rory Parker!

Episode two of Everything is Always Terrible is in the can and I’m damned pleased with it.

The second installment brings us Brandon Campbell, better known to the world as Laserwolf. He’s a rare breed: a high-talent surfer who built a thriving surf photography career in an astonishingly short period of time.

Laserwolf lives year-round on the Seven Mile Miracle. He plays with classic cars, charges huge waves, lives a life the likes of which most can only dream. We chatted about growing up in Florida, being a single father, his rather speedy rise to success, the importance of the hustle, good branding, the necessity of a strong social media presence, North Shore cults, French Bulldogs, politics, and loads of other fascinating things.

You can find us on Stitcher here.

iTunes here. 

Or press play on the SoundCloud panel below.

Give it a listen. Leave your angry comments below.

Who needs full disclosure when you've got boardshorts!
Who needs full disclosure when you've got boardshorts!

Surfing’s Great Veil of Secrecy (Stupidity)!

Billabong settles class action lawsuit! But doesn't admit to wrongdoing! The rare win-win!

The surf industry is a very strange nightclub’s backroom, roped off from the main party and dancing to its own strange DJ named Cutsnake. Few people enter. Nobody leaves. Conversations mutate while the records spin and paranoia descends like smoke from the smoke machine. Or, wait. Maybe that is smoke from the smoke machine? Does it smell the same? Musty? I think so.

In any case, it is an eddy near the shoreline of a rushing river where water stagnates and refuses to travel toward the sea. No water in. No water out. Or, wait. Is that how eddies work? Do they actually stagnate? Water has to come in right? But if water is coming in and not leaving then wouldn’t that part of the river overflow its bank? Is that what happens?

In any case, it is ridiculously cloistered and it can be because so few people are watching, listening or care. And so, in the surf industry you will see higher ups peddling straight bizarre lies (Hello, WSL CEO Paul Speaker! How much does Kelly Slater earn, per year, again? How deep is Cloudbreak?) and you won’t see any repercussions. Because so few people are watching, listening or care!

But apparently, courts and lawyers in Australia bent their ear for a few moments last week and slapped Billabong with a 45 million dollar bill for “allegedly misleading and deceiving shareholders” with its earnings forecast. Let’s read about it in the Gold Coast Bulletin!

GOLD Coast-based surfwear group Billabong will pay a total of $45 million, inclusive of legal costs, to settle the claims of a class action.

The class action began in 2015 and was pursued by law firm Slater and Gordon on behalf of about 730 institutional and retail investors who acquired Billabong securities between February 18, 2011 and December 19, 2011 and also registered to participate in the class action.

Proceedings were launched in the Victorian Federal Court, accusing Billabong of engaging in misleading and deceptive conduct over a series of earnings updates almost four years ago.

It sought unspecified losses and damages for a Melbourne retail investor, Newstart 123, trustee of the Malone Family Superannuation Fund, which lead the claim and whose $30,000 investment in Billabong was slashed in value by more than 50 per cent.

The action accused Billabong of failing to comply with its continuous disclosure obligations. It said the fund would have acquired Billabong shares at a lower price, or bought shares ‘in another listed entity instead’’ if the surfwear giant had not allegedly misled or deceived shareholders with its earnings forecasts.

Slater and Gordon Class Action Lawyer Odette McDonald said the proposed settlement was a ‘fantastic result and class action participants will no doubt welcome the news’.

“This is an excellent outcome for group members and, based on our assessment of their losses, investors will receive a strong return if the settlement is approved,” Ms McDonald said.

“Slater and Gordon’s class action was supported by a large group of current and former shareholders, ranging from small retail investors to prominent institutional investors”.

The lead plaintiff in the action was Newstart 123 Pty Ltd, trustee for the Malone Family Superannuation Fund.

The proposed settlement will be put before the Federal Court for approval, and class members will receive details of the proposed settlement shortly. Billabong makes no admission of liability under the terms of the settlement agreement.

And ain’t that great? I like making no admission of liability for 45 million dollars.

But really, if investors want to pour money into surf and expect rigorous, detailed truths they should maybe watch some World Surf League events first and listen to the upcoming EPIC conditions that are guaranteed to thrill JUST around the corner! Then wait for it…wait for it…oops! 2 ft onshore slop!

Hello again, WSL CEO Paul Speaker!