John John Florence
Normally so buttoned-up, in this series we find the Hawaiian, John John Florence, suddenly revealing the colour of his undershorts. It's a hell of a short.

Movie: John John Florence’s Twelve!

Come on a narrative voyage that shows a man in rapier form.

Surfing, I believe, better fits a straight documentary style than the idolatrous worship of Super 8 cameras and nouvelle vague-style jump cuts and fragmented editing.

Don’t shroud a compelling story in the superficial gimmickry of what, right now, is believed to be hip. It amazes me how many web clips steal from the oeuvre of Kai Neville, whose own well-spring of inspiration was the aforementioned nouvelle vague. 

If there’s a story to tell, why not tell it?

I like this, the first in John John Florence’s seven-part series of twelve-minute clips (hence the name Twelve) where the filmmaker, Bill Ballard, takes the viewer on an actual narrative voyage. Oh, how easy it would be to assemble thirty of A-clips, wrap it up in static scenics, and spit it live.

In this series, however, we study John John’s WSL season, examining each event, his successes, his losses, with rare quotes from the famously taciturn John John.

Part one reveals The Eddie, Snapper, Bells, Margaret River.

Remember when John John won the Eddie? Craziest event, maybe ever. But unless you watched it live, you probably didn’t get to feel the electricity of the event. Here, John John looses his thoughts and motivations. The event is beautifully shot and masterfully edited.

The first three events of the 2016 season are equally sharp and abbreviated. Did you, like me, forget John John was drowned by Ciao Ibelli in two consecutive events?

I always had John John figured as someone who was bored with the tour, emerging from his Hawaiian cave long enough only to deliver a few fierce bites or a surly dab of his paw.

Twelve, part one, shows there’s more.

Watch here!

Kelly Slater Sherman

Kelly Slater: World’s worst pitch man!

Why doesn't Kelly Slater use any of his own products? Is it dumb or genius? Maybe genius!

What if you were set to launch a new product? It was yours all yours and its success depended on you talking about it, thinking about it but, most of all, using it. Of course you would toe the line right? Of course! Because the new product’s success would directly affect your own bottom line! And so you would dutifully strap on and enjoy the ride. That is what good pitch men do and their bank accounts swell because of it.

And yet look at the great mystery of Kelly Slater, the most recognizable and marketable creature surf has ever dreamed up. At 40-whatever he is dynamic, bronzed and handsome. Jettisoning from Quiksilver he is also launching so many new products!


Have you ever seen the man wear his own label OuterKnown? Maybe on the website, sure, but in life Kelly is more likely to be found in weird free Volcom things. Volcom’s parent company is also OuterKnown’s but weird right? Why isn’t Kelly Slater living the OK ideals? Why isn’t he pulling on an organic, sustainable, virgin wool hoodie knitted by Peruvian monks after every single surf, looking at the WSL camera and saying, “I don’t always like to get warm after I surf, but when I do I prefer OuterKnown. It’s sustainable.”

And in J-Bay. Kelly wins his first heat in grand fashion but is it on one of his eponymous boards shaped by Tomo or Greg Webber? No! It’s an old board shaped by and older Hawaiian. Great and a good story but in no way does Kelly see any kick from it. In fact, it directly cannibalizes his business.

Does Kelly drink Purps? Who knows? Not me because I don’t see him doing it and I don’t even see Purps stickers on his fresh, white non-KS Surfboards surfboard.

The whole business literally makes no sense. It’s like Kelly wants all of his businesses to fail. But why? Is he not a real belieber? Does he think marketing cheapens the OK/surfboard/Purps?


Is him not pushing his medicine on the masses actually brilliant marketing? In our oversaturated landscape is his silence the assured brushstroke of a genius?

Oh. Probably.

Where's the barrel?
Where's the barrel? | Photo: Michael Theis/ABJ

Wavegarden: Worst investment ever?

The newest Wavegarden park opening has been delayed in Austin, Texas. Because it sucks? Or because it is maybe set to amaze?

Wavegarden technology, like Adriano de Souza, had minutes to enjoy the spotlight before Kelly Slater swung his mighty sledgehammer and crushed both hopes and dreams. Do you remember Surf Snowdonia? Do you remember the slightly crumbly yet still dreamy manmade waves that inflated our sense of the the future? Do you remember the little Brazilian man lifting his arms in triumph on Pipeline’s sands?

Don’t worry. Neither does anyone else.

Anyone not named Doug Coors.

The beer empire heir caught the Wavegarden pitch and 160 acres in Austin, Texas. His surf park, NLand Surf Park, was set to bring Texas-sized smiles to the southern United States starting in Spring 2016. It is now deep summer and the park is not open and the parking lot is not finished. Let’s read from the Austin Business Journal:

Plans for the park were first revealed in 2015. Developers originally hoped to open the park by spring 2016 but that date has been pushed back. Coors said in a statement to surfing news website Surfline that the park would not open until “early summer.” In a brief statement July 7, NLand Surf Park spokesperson Chris Jones said there was not much to report on the opening date.

“We haven’t shared any specific information about the park opening yet,” Jones wrote.

In aerial photos taken July 7 by Austin Business Journal, the lagoon appears nearly finished. However, other aspects of the park such as the parking lot are still incomplete.

The rectangular lagoon is bisected by a boardwalk that stretches its length. The wave generating equipment is housed underneath this boardwalk. The park will use Wavegarden Inc. equipment to generate its waves. The equipment creates waves by drawing a hydrofoil through the water at speed. While we were flying overhead Thursday, the park’s operators appeared to be testing the wave generating equipment, with a line of waves emanating outward from the boardwalk, its long crest traveling down the lagoon.

And what do you imagine has stalled construction? Could it be they are trying to figure out how to swap out Wavegarden technology for Kelly Slater’s? Maybe?

But I also had another thought. What if Wavegarden is actually better than Kelly’s pool? What if they are dialing Austin up, working out the kinks, crafting a wave that is actually bigger than a normal sized man? What if they are attempting to VHS the Kelly Slater Wave Company?

The videotape format wars of the 1980s were so great! Two technologies, VHS and Betamax, smashed into each other. VHS eventually won even though it was worse than Beta. Or was it? Who cares! The consumer was the victor. Maybe.

In any case, Doug Coors and his Austin waterbaby will have five minutes to steal the spotlight back from Kelly Slater when they open. If the pool churns out what we saw in Wales it will be game over. But if the wave surprises us with its size and power…if it actually has a trough…then game on!

Kelly Slater Gabriel Medina

Discover: Slater’s (new) J-Bay Board!

Shaped by sixty-two-year-old Hawaiian Keone Downing!

Were you surprised, like me, when Kelly Slater beat a sun-ripened Filipe Toledo in three-foot rights two nights ago?

Although riding, as previously written “at a jerky trot”, the one element that did appear to favour Kelly was a heavier than usual surfboard.

And, this wasn’t a surfboard from some boyish wunderkind, Tomo or whomever, but the sixty-two-year Hawaiian Keone Downing who, and let’s give credit where it’s due, won The Eddie in 1990 and who has been shaping since 1976.

A figure of some importance you’d say.

A brief history from the Encyclopedia of Surfing:

“In the 1990 Quiksilver/Aikau event, still considered by many to be the most exciting big-wave contest ever seen, (Keone) Downing was regarded as a longshot contender. But he selected waves perfectly, went through the one-day event without so much as a slip or bobble, and led from start to finish. He rode a board shaped by his father. Downing’s $55,000 winner’s check was the sport’s biggest-ever cash prize at the time.In 2013, the 59-year-old Downing was on the alternate list for the Quiksilver/Aikau event. He also owned and operated Downing Hawaii, the surfboard shop his father launched in 1968.”

It says a lot, to me, about Kelly’s appreciation of the craft of surfboard making that he would approach Keone, in the first place. As it transpires, Keone built Kelly two boards for last year’s J-Bay contest, one a five-ten, one a five-eleven,

Keone didn’t hear anything for a year until, two nights ago, he woke up to a text from Kelly telling him he’d ridden the five-ten and that he might want to check the heat analyser to examine its performance.

The board in question Keone calls the M2K, because of the influence of two shapers, Maurice Cole and Martial Crumand his own first initial.

Keone had traded boards with the 1988 world champ Barton Lynch, whom he knows well and who was riding a Maurice Cole, and was fascinated by the performance of the deep single concave.

Around the same time, his pal Martial Crum was working on a “booster pocket” or deep concave in the tail section of the board. Keone moved the single concave back between the legs (“This is where the drive is going to come from,” says Keone), threw in a little booster pocket, made it to Kelly’s dimensions (5’10” x 18 3/16″ x 2 1/4″) and glassed it with four-ounce both sides with a four-ounce stomp pad 13 one third up the board. This ain’t no hyper-light epoxy.

“You’ve got to give credit to who inspires you,” says Keone. “We’re all artists, we’re all inspired by something. There’s something that triggers our inspiration that makes you want to go out and create. I always appreciate those people.”

Watch Keone’s board under Kelly’s feet here.

And, if you want to talk with Keone about a custom board, hit here. 

Dear Editor: I hate Chas Smith!

But come inside for a real mathematical look at WSL judging!

(I lurv u beechgirt readers. I reely do an its not jes the vodka typing. I meanitis butt i also do. Like, reed this ledder her. Woh wood tak this mulch time? Only u! Becuz u rooool and can do maths. I cant. At all. Bet jes lookit this! It goooood. Suriously. From Parick Brewster who I enven luv mor then u becuz…becuz… Well. just reed hiz maths!)

Add me to the club. I hate Chas Smith. I hate the man for two reasons.

Reason 1: An electric version of his book is $14.99 (ridiculous) (2 b honess that sux. U shudd hav bot the paperbak from austrltia becuz my pichur is on the new one (COMING AUGUST 1!))

Reason 2: For what he has forced me to do with my spare time for the past several weeks.

After reading the article “Revolution: Let’s dump the judges” I (idiotically) took it upon myself to see if “a system of speed, torque, amount of time in the air, number of spins in the air, amount of time in the barrel” was possible, or, better yet, if it already existed – if only in the ether.

I took on this moronic and thankless project because I am of the firm belief that competitive surfing needs an element of objectivity if it is to become respected. As it stands, the knower of all things (Wikipedia) defines surfing as “a surface water sport in which the wave rider, referred to as a surfer, rides on the forward or deep face of a moving wave, which is usually carrying the surfer towards the shore.”

This is a stark contrast to something like basketball which “is a sport, generally played by two teams of five players on a rectangular court. The objective is to shoot a ball through a hoop 18 inches (46 cm) in diameter and 10 feet (3.048 m) high mounted to a backboard at each end.”

Such objectivity! Such order, justice, and beauty!

It irritates me to no end that there is no true definition of surfing. The feeling I get when someone who floundered on a soft-top claims to have ‘surfed’ is similar to one I had couple years ago:

(Bare with me, I promise it will come full circle.)

I was in my final semester of college wrapping up an, all to easy in retrospect, degree in economics at my overpriced private alma mater. The school had recently been accused of ‘rigging’ the college rankings in large part by accepting rich foreign students who paid full-freight but whose grades and test scores, which were often sub-par, did not factor into the ranking equation.

I was settling down in front of one of the library’s computers, hoping that its stats program would be able to find some correlation robust enough for me to write a 20-page paper and graduate. Naturally, the stats program I was working on crashed and failed to reopen.

I moved to the adjacent computer and began work there. After a few minutes, a tall, skinny, Chinese guy who I recognized from my final class sat down next to me. When I leaned over and told him that the program was broken on that computer he looked back at me blankly.  “The math program is broken on that computer,” I said again.

“English?” he replied, with a confounded expression.

I slowly reiterated, “The pro-gram for the MAAATH is bro-ken,” before deciding to let him figure it out on his own.

As far as I know, him and me earned the same piece paper. Just as a person on an 8’ soft-top hopelessly flapping while being sucked out to sea is also ‘surfing’.

I never would have imagined that I would return to the same library, to the same computer, two years later to answer Chas’s call. (Fuk thatguy!)

The process began by going through each wave of finals day of the Fiji pro and logging some objective aspects of the each wave (# of turns, tube time, etc.) along with the score. In reality it took maybe two hours tops, but between cursing Chas’s name (Its dumb! Who call himself CHAD CHAS? Fukin retard!) and beer breaks it felt eternal. Spreadsheet in proverbial hand, I plugged the numbers into a stats program and voilà, a hideous, premature, wave-scoring model is born.

Without further ado, I present to you with the equation for finals day of the Fiji pro:

1.08516362*(# of top turns) + 1.057755641*(Seconds of tube time)+ 2.259198138(if completed) – .63

In words: each top turn added 1.08 points to a wave score. Each second (measured in the very scientific ‘one thousand’ system) of tube time added 1.06 points. Add 2.26 for completing a wave. Then subtract .63.

Using just 3 variables (#of top turns, tube time, and completion) we can explain 70% of the score (69.6258% to be precise) which is pretty damn good. With enough time and beer, someone could log wave size, airtime, etc., and the model could get much, much better. Maybe good enough for a robot judge. We could name it Chas.



(Parrtick Bruwstur)