Kelly Slater J-Bay
After 25 years of orbiting the tour, y'think Slater has plane travel down? Says it took him 28 hours to get to J-Bay, "as fast as you can get here from California without flying in a private plane. I was…flying…man!" Biz or coach? "That would be painful in economy. This is one y'gotta figure out how to get yourself into business to get here." | Photo: Peter King

#TourNotes: How to Get to J-Bay!

Who flies biz class? Who don't? Who saves a few shekels flying via London?

It’s easy to paint the professional surfer’s life as a hyper-sexed club interspersed by the glamour of international travel.

But is it, really?

Hyper-sex, yes. Buttocks crushed, necks bitten, the hot ecstasy of convulsing into the hot deep sweetness of ports previously unknown. Multiples. Multiples of multiples. And it never gets old.

The travel part really sucks, however, and acts as a counterbalance to everything else.

This short, by Peter King, who let’s be generous, is the king of this sort of iPhone-shot pop art, reveals the circuitous route our fav surfers take to get to J-Bay. It’s a typical Peter King short: fast, well-edited, disposable. I once asked him the secret to his success to which he replied:

“I’m not some 26 year old shucking and jiving my way up the marketing chain. I’m not trying to be anyone’s agent, I’m not trying to be a host of the webcast, I’m not trying to make 15 dollars on a Surfline photo. There’s no jealousy. It’s just me.”

Interestingly, Ross Williams has the worst route to J-Bay: a four-day journey via Los Angeles and London; Filipe Toledo the best, LA-NYC-JNB.

Watch here.

Gabriel crying after coming second to Julian Wilson at Portugal Rip Curl Pro

Dear Rory: “Surfing’s lost its magic!”

What does a man do when his great passion deserts him?

Dear Rory,

I am 42 years old with 30 odd years of surfing behind me and feel like I have reached a cross roads and would like some advice to move forward or backward or whatever.

Since I got my first surfboard I had been surf mad, it was all I cared about, kind of built an identity around it as embarrassing as that sounds.  I got to a reasonable level of competence, not pro level but I could surf alright, even now I still have my moments mixed in with a bit of middle aged fumbling.

At the moment I feel stale, I’m disinterested for the first time in my life.  I always said I would surf until I died but will I really?  I’ve ridden pretty standard equipment most of my life but have always dabbled with shorter fatter sort of boards even before they were accepted and actually surfed them alright, anyway peer pressure or something always kept me close to whatever everyone else was riding, even today my boards wouldn’t be too out of place at a contest at Trestles.

So I feel like I need something new, I like the idea of alternative boards but it sounds so lame, will people think I’m trying to be a hipster especially because I have a bit of a beard going on?  What style of board will relight the fire?  Any advice is appreciated.


Seaman Staines

Dear Rory says: I had another few really shit sessions recently. Bad ones. Where you’re constantly out of position, and your timing is slightly off and it’s like your body just completely forgot what it’s supposed to do.

Soul crushing shit. Like, come on already!

I deal with it by bodysurfing. That’s always fun. Great exercise. Damn hard to have a bad bodysurf.

I was out essentially swimming laps and pretending I’m a dolphin when this little kid paddles out and starts working on his shuv-its.

Little fucker had them close to wired. Over and over and over. Pop and catch, then fall. Stuck two or three, came close a million times.

Which is what high performance surfing is for normal high talent humans. Failing ten millions times in exchange for one moment of brilliance. I don’t have that patience anymore.

But there’s a big problem with moving onto alternative stuff. It’s damn hard to go back. Being used to a design that holds your hand means unforgiving boards will seem hellish. And at a certain point you’ve become that old guy who surfs really well, considering the fact that he’s all old and gross and rides a weird fun shape thing.

The whole scene reinforced an ugly creeping notion I’ve been playing with for a while. What’s the point of riding cutting edge equipment if your surfing isn’t cutting edge? You’re just making things more difficult.

So why not just hop onto something that’s enjoyable and, god forbid, easy to ride? The best surfer is not the one having the most fun, but there’s a nice side to getting old. Who the fuck cares about being the best surfer? Leave that to the amped and agile boiling cauldrons of testosterone with decades of crushing defeats in front of them.

But there’s a big problem with moving onto alternative stuff. It’s damn hard to go back. Being used to a design that holds your hand means unforgiving boards will seem hellish. And at a certain point you’ve become that old guy who surfs really well, considering the fact that he’s all old and gross and rides a weird fun shape thing.

But, again, who really cares?

I say do it. Doesn’t really matter what you go for. Mini simmons, hiperf log, retro plank, modern fish… whatever. In the end it’s all the same. You’ll have a blast and feel like you’re ripping and not look anywhere near as good as you feel.

Just in: The Man smashes Wavegarden!

The truth behind the Austin, Texas Wavegarden opening delay revealed!

You know the Man, don’t you? He’s the one always, like, telling you what to do and where to go and with who and when to be home. He’s the one throwing salt into your game and harshing your vibe, looking over your shoulder, nitpicking and laying down obstacle after obstacle. Traffic lights and bullshit. The Man ain’t no one’s friend. He is a bad time.

And if Wavegarden’s newest location, NLand Surf Park in Austin, Texas, didn’t already have enough problems on its plate with the Kelly Slater Wave Co. the motherfucking Man just heaped a ladleful of red tape right on top of the lack of barrel, weak crumbly mush, broken Welsh machinery and lukewarm reviews.


The surf park was supposed to open in spring of this year but has been delayed. I wondered, just days ago, if the reason was because, maybe, owner and beer magnate Doug Coors was dialing it up in order to whoop Kelly’s minibarrel. Were they working out a top-secret Teahupo’o setting? A racy J-Bay wall?

I hoped but no. The reason for the delay, as revealed by the Austin American Statesman newspaper, is a fight over the bureaucratic definition of “pool.” Let’s read!

Travis County is on the verge of a court fight with a massive, unopened surf park over a disagreement about whether the park just east of Austin needs a swimming pool permit.

The Commissioners Court last week authorized lawyers to sue the operators ofNLand Surf Park, saying the park is being built without conforming to county and state health and safety codes. The suit has not yet been filed.

“Such legal action is essential to protecting Travis County and its citizens,” County Judge Sarah Eckhardt said.

NLand Surf Park, which developers boast will be the first inland surfing facility of its kind in North America, is under construction near Texas 71, east of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. Contractors are building a lagoon the size of nine football fields that will include artificial waves for 11 surfing areas, according to NLand’s website.

The project is the brainchild of Doug Coors, a member of Colorado’s famous brewing family. Its opening date is unclear.

Attorneys for NLand and Travis County have been negotiating for months over whether the lagoon counts as a public swimming pool and, thus, requires a permit. NLand believes it does not, arguing that the rainwater-fed lagoon is more similar to a lake.

The park’s attorney, Richard Suttle, said the American-Statesman’s call was the first he had heard of Tuesday’s vote and said he was “completely blindsided” that the county would file a lawsuit before the park opened.

“This is a one-of-a-kind in the world (facility), and we are still working the logistics out on water quality,” he said.

State law defines a swimming pool as any “artificial body of water, including a spa, maintained expressly for public recreational purposes.” It requires pools to administer chlorine to keep bacteria from exceeding safe limits and meet other sanitary requirements.

NLand will treat its water with chlorine and has a water quality monitoring system to make sure the water is safe and does not exceed state bacterial standards, Suttle said. But the lagoon is too large to comply with other requirements of a pool, such as refiltering water every six hours, he said.

At least two wakeboardparks exist within Travis County, and neither has a pool permit from the city of Austin, which handles all pool permits in the city and unincorporated areas of the county. Suttle said he tried to raise that point with county officials.

“Their explanation to me was: ‘Just because someone else is speeding down I-35 and we don’t give them a ticket doesn’t mean we shouldn’t give you a ticket,’ ” he said.

Though NLand’s Facebook page continues to insist it will be open in “early summer,” Suttle said the park is months, not weeks, away from opening. A wastewater treatment plant built specifically for the site is set to be online in a few weeks, and that will make it possible to start bringing personnel to the site, he said.

The facility’s website shows job openings for a director of facilities, cafe cook, beer brewer, surf shop clerk, guest ambassador, cashier, bartender and dishwasher, as well as several surf coaches.

Travis County Commissioner Margaret Gómez, whose precinct includes the park site, declined to say what caused the move to legal action now. She called NLand an interesting project.

“They still have a lot of things to complete, but if they get it together and it’s well-run, kids love that stuff,” she said.

Fucken Margaret Gomez is such the Man. “Kids love that stuff?” Lame. But in other news, how much would someone have to pay you, per hour, to be a surf coach at NLand Surf Park? 13 dollars an hour plus unlimited crumble rides? 20 dollars an hour plus free wax and Coors Banquet beer? How much?

Desperately seeking surf coach. Will pay in both Coors and Coors Light.
Desperately seeking surf coach. Will pay in both Coors and Coors Light.

Jordy Smith J Bay
Divide the points, says Rory Parker. But too late for Jordy Smith. He got strewn in the J-Bay Pro's one-heat day. | Photo: WSL

J-Bay Pro: Jordy Smith is terribly sad!

Because John John Florence just smoked him on a dull-dramatic one-heat day…

The South African Jordy Smith, I’m convinced, believed he would not have much difficulty regaining possession of the J-Bay Pro titles he won in 2010 and 2011.

Even against the current best surfer in the world, the Hawaiian John John Florence, in his quarter-final heat, there was a vibration, a haughtiness in his manner, that didn’t just suggest, it screamed, that he would have no serious difficulty about it.

But isn’t the magic in surfing, the drama of throwing the best heat of the contest into three-foot high-tide burgers? Waves that were ultimately of such diminished quality, only one heat would run?

Nothing happened for ten minutes. Restart.

Eventually, Jordy, with his full broad forehead covered by not very thick brown hair, bounces along a wave with a series of floaters. Six and a piece.

As a retort, John John throws an air reverse. Seven and a piece.

It comes down to the final two waves.

Jordy’s is plainly furnished with turns and is correctly given a four-ish.

John John stitches a floater together with a closeout-turn that is barely ridden out of. Correctly, a three and a piece. He needs a 3.17, gets it, and then some.

Jordy is very sad. In his post-heat interview he gives the result a frank assessment.

Watch here.

And watch a slightly abbreviated version of their heat here.

J-Bay Open Quarterfinal Results:

QF 1: John John Florence (HAW) 10.70 def. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 10.50

J-Bay Open Remaining Quarterfinal Match-Ups:
QF 2: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Josh Kerr (AUS)
QF 3: Julian Wilson (AUS) vs. Gabriel Medina (BRA)
QF 4: Mick Fanning (AUS) vs. Filipe Toledo (BRA)

Spring Breakers

Bali’s Date-Rape Drug Problem!

Or what it feels like when your cocktail is loaded with Rohypnol…

(Editor’s note: A few days ago, the Santa Cruz surfer turned Bali transplant, Mara Wolford, lit up on Facebook after she nearly died when her cocktail was spiked with Rohypnol. It’s a rough read and, when you dig a little deeper, you learn that drink spiking in Bali isn’t exactly an isolated event. So far, Mara’s story has been shared by 13,000 people, 138 of ’em moved to comment. It’s an interesting story, I think, because it illustrates the paradoxical nature of Bali, an island superficially perfect but with a dark undercurrent.

“I am pretty lucky to be alive,” Mara says, “and since I posted that, I’ve received around 40 long mails from women who lived through the same thing, not understanding what had happened. The first time this happened a few years ago, I was with Gerlach, Budgey and Mick Curley. They understood someone had dosed me and got me outta there, kept me safe. But it’s scary shit. Over it. I’m going back to Santa Cruz. But not before I go get some sick barrels on Nias…”

Read Mara’s account of what happens when your cocktail is loaded with Rohypnol below…)

Goodbye, Bali and Fuck You Whilst You’re at It #39. So, Tues. night was eventful. I went to visit  My friend MJ over in Echo Beach. We visited for a few hours, MJ was tired. Her guest, Emilio, an elder Spanish gentleman, suggests we go to the beach and grab a bite.

We do, then we head up the road for a drink. He orders us two mojitos.

The bartender makes them behind the bar out of my view. I don’t worry about this, I’m chatting with the bar guys in bahasa and they’re cool. I leave the drink on the bar and go to the bathroom. All of these acts, ordering mixed drinks, not watching them being made and leaving a drink unattended, are fatal errors in Bali, but this evening, I wasn’t too concerned. I have not been out for a drink since Gerhard died six months ago and the fun in Bali stopped.

Half-way through the second mojito (also poured out of view), the Rohypnol kicked in with fury. I knew what it was because this happened three years ago and it was terrifying. From the speed in which this was happening, it felt like multiple doses.

Today is G’s birthday and I know we all miss him more than he could ever know.

Half-way through the second mojito (also poured out of view), the Rohypnol kicked in with fury. I knew what it was because this happened three years ago and it was terrifying. From the speed in which this was happening, it felt like multiple doses.

I have no way to know and or prove who did it, but I grabbed a photo of the bar guy who made the drinks. Asked him for a photo of the tattoo on his face because it’s so cute. Righto. I then subtly tell three women in the bar whom I don’t know what has happened, to be very careful, and to not let anyone follow me out of the place when I leave as I don’t know who did it or who will try to follow me, to create a diversion. I only have 200 metres to walk home safe.

I exit the bar, turn down the road, walk maybe 20 metres and fall flat on my face, out cold. A motorbike passes, circles back around and stops. I can remember no detail about the driver other than he was Caucasian. My face is split open. I told him to take me back to MJ’s and he seemed to know where it was. He was trying to clean my face up, and I remember telling him it was fine. I know what is going to happen next and I don’t want him to witness it.

Emilio comes home, worried about my disappearance, and the motorcycle guy explains what has happened, that I’ve been drugged. I am now nearly paralyzed and can barely talk. And what happens next is, between projectile vomiting and loss of all bodily function, I nearly go into organ failure.

I can feel my body shutting down. MJ runs into the bedroom, throws the guys out of the mess (we didn’t get to thank the guardian angel, but thank you, whoever you are) and deals with this catastrophe. Dunno how to thank you, either, MJ.

She gets me washed off and into bed. She sleeps next to me because she is really worried. My breathing is superficial and interrupted, a symptom of Rohypnol overdose. She doesn’t sleep much that night. She saved my life.

I know it may sound weird that we wouldn’t go straight to the hospital, but the hospitals here wouldn’t know what to do either, in the case of severe benzodiazepine poisoning, and my stomach and bowels had already been purged: my body was fighting hard to save itself.

I come to late yesterday feeling like I was run over by a truck. I really don’t know who would think it was funny or a good idea to slip a 51-kilo woman enough Flunitrazepam as to nearly kill her, but it reconfirms for me that they aren’t the type of people I want around me.

Bye, Bali and Fuck you, as well.