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)


Jordy Smith J-Bay
The funny thing about Jordy Smith. The waves always get so small during his heat. It's overhead all day, then he paddles out and it drops to shoulder high. Oops, wait. He's a normal-sized human man competing against a bunch of Oompa Loompas. It's a perspective thing. | Photo: WSL

J-Bay: “Mix up your turns, worm!”

I feel like I've seen it all before. Same guys, same turns. Maybe I'm jaded? Am I crazy?

There were three minutes left in Parko v. Banting when I realized I was bored. Is there something wrong with me? It’s flawless rippable J-Bay and I couldn’t care less.

I feel like I’ve seen it all before. Every year, over and over. Same guys, same turns. Maybe I’m jaded? Am I crazy?

It’s like every guy wants to win the same way. No one trying to draw a different line. Coach mentality. Win at any cost and the fans pay the price.

J-Bay’s so fast, so much opportunity to wind up for something huge. Throw some improv. Instead I’m watching high talent choreography. Everything pre-planned, nothing off the cuff.

Didn’t Callinan used to be some aerial wunderkind? Wasn’t Banting too? Did their injuries kill that part of their soul? Are they worried for their joints, thinking like men ten years older?

Maybe we can blame the Brazilians. When it came time for a new crew to storm onto the scene they grabbed the spot. Motivated contest machines from birth. Not something they grew into, ingrained in their psyches from the moment they took their first steps.

Maybe it’s because the old men held on so long this time. Mid-thirties, early-forties, still top of the game. Leading by example. But what they’re doing was new when they started. The young ones are just following suit.

John John’s different. Medina is when he needs the score. Filipe shows flashes. Coffin’s got potential.

Maybe I should blame the judges.

Ah, but it’s not that simple! They’re willing to give single maneuver waves big scores. They just aren’t willing to punish a semi-safe, tried and true, approach.

Dantas/Andre… real demonstration of skill, yes. Floater, backside bash, float. Any one of those turns would have made my year. But it’s so repetitive. There’s gotta be a way to encourage some variation.

You know what it might be? No skis! It’s a damn long paddle from halfway down. A mid wave fail has real consequences. Zip ’em back out right quick and they can risk their shit.

Melling and Coffin was a close heat, the old man took the win. And he deserved it. Mixed up his turns a tad. Coffin just kinda did the same thing over and over. He did it well, but he can do better. Maybe Gerr will give him a flogging. “Mix up your turns, worm!”

Flores beat himself. Let an underscore trigger a meltdown. Elbowed his board, bash bash bash. Used that anger to go hard on the end section. Great to watch. I love it. But you’ve gotta safety bonk for that extra point.

I don’t know why Pupo won, even so. But he did.

Conner Coffin’s got quite the chest pelt for someone his age. Maybe we should stop comparing him to Curren, start calling him Baby Pottz. Judges told him he lost because of lack of risk? Did I hear that right? That’s cool. I can understand his frustration, but he did do the same turn a bajillion times.

Kerr’s stalefish rev warmed my heart. Love how he surfs, even though Rusty’s marking guy pulled his upcoming ad campaign (and a testimonial in our media kit) when I wrote about his IV use at Snapper. I think I’d be justified to hold a grudge. They’re professional fucking athletes, I’m allowed to write about them.

BJ Penn got pulled from UFC 199 and handed a suspension for doing the exact same thing, while out of competiton.Kerrzy did it right before paddling out. It’s newsworthy, damnit.

This is how companies lean on surf media.

Dusty Payne ripped the shit out of one during his heat against Stu Kennedy. Remembered to play it safe at the end. If he’d tried to do something cool, then fell, he’d’ve got a six or something. End section maneuver makes it a 9.77.

I think that’s how it works.

The funny thing about Jordy Smith. The waves always get so small during his heat. It’s overhead all day, then he paddles out and it drops to shoulder high.

Oops, wait. He’s a normal-sized human man competing against a bunch of Oompa Loompas. It’s a perspective thing.

Smith handed Andino the younger his ass without too much difficulty. Kolohe looked out of rhythm. But he was trying to be different-ish, and I like that.

John John opened up his heat with some stylish groovitude that left my panties moist. Payne answered back with a beauty, put all that speed to good use at the end. Heaved a huge one toward the heavens but couldn’t stick it.

Which really highlights a problem with the judging. A boring turn at the end would’ve given him a bump. Might’ve been enough to grab the win. We keep seeing it happen, they get handed a reward for the “finishing maneuver.” But by trying hard he got punished, ended up losing the heat by point-nine.

Kerr manhandled Ferrari in conditions which looked difficult to surf on your backhand. Slightly lined up, crumbly lip. Makes for a target on your forehand.

A target at which Kerr aimed and soared.

Final heat of the day, GOAT v Buchan, saw the conditions continue to deteriorate. Ace was obviously struggling to deal with the semi-gutlessness. Mid face chop catching his rail, slowing him down.

Slater put his forehand advantage to good use. Didn’t really wow, but definitely won.

And that’s the end for now. Swell bump forecast for Saturday and Sunday. Hopefully it’ll add some zazz. Maybe it won’t. I don’t know.

J-Bay Open Round 2 Results:
Heat 1: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 8.47 def. Steven Sawyer (ZAF) 7.93
Heat 2: John John Florence (HAW) 17.27 def. Alex Ribeiro (BRA) 11.77
Heat 3: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 16.54 def. Kai Otton (AUS) 14.34
Heat 4: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 10.50 def. Keanu Asing (HAW) 3.87
Heat 5: Michel Bourez (PYF) 16.07 def. Ryan Callinan (AUS) 12.90
Heat 6: Alejo Muniz (BRA) 14.27 def. Nat Young (USA) 12.93
Heat 7: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 15.17 def. Matt Banting (AUS) 12.17
Heat 8: Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 18.27 def. Jadson Andre (BRA) 17.13
Heat 9: Adam Melling (AUS) 14.86 def. Conner Coffin (USA) 14.67
Heat 10: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 15.67 def Jeremy Flores (FRA) 13.44
Heat 11: Josh Kerr (AUS) 18.06 def. Jack Freestone (AUS) 15.26
Heat 12: Dusty Payne (HAW) 17.47 def. Stuart Kennedy (AUS) 11.44

J-Bay Open Round 3 Results:
Heat 1: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 18.20 def. Kolohe Andino (USA) 10.10
Heat 2: John John Florence (HAW) 14.83 def. Dusty Payne (HAW) 13.93
Heat 3: Josh Kerr (AUS) 16.40 def. Italo Ferreira (BRA) 14.20
Heat 4: Kelly Slater (USA) 11.73 def. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 5.20

J-Bay Open Upcoming Round 3 Match-Ups:
Heat 5: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) vs. Michel Bourez (PYF)
Heat 6: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) vs. Alejo Muniz (BRA)
Heat 7: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. Adam Melling (AUS)
Heat 8: Julian Wilson (AUS) vs. Joel Parkinson (AUS)
Heat 9: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Miguel Pupo (BRA)
Heat 10: Mick Fanning (AUS) vs. Kanoa Igarashi (USA)
Heat 11: Caio Ibelli (BRA) vs. Wiggolly Dantas (BRA)
Heat 12: Adriano De Souza (BRA) vs. Davey Cathels (AUS)

Serially dissatisfied!
Serially dissatisfied!

Ugly truth: We are whoremongers!

Malcontents! Belly-achers!

It is time to admit a hard truth. A fact and uncomfortable flaw. As surfers, we are incorrigible sluts. We are serial polygamists. We are never satisfied with one true love but rather always want something more, something different.

We get a surfboard, a gorgeous, new 6’2 squash tail and we paddle out on a mushy day and look over at the man riding a new 5’0 fish with lust in our eyes and lust in our hearts and want what is under him. We get a 5’7 chubby thing and paddle out on a day that is perfect and hollow and look over at the man riding a 6’2 pintail and look at him in the barrel and want what is under him.

And so we build quivers. Our garages are stacked, floor to rafter, with varied and different surfboards. We gather our fishes and our squash tails and our square tails and our pintails and even some goofy fun ones, like our longboards but we are never satisfied. We always lust for more.

And it is time to stop. We are addicts and the hole in our heart will never be filled by another surfboard. It is time to find the one. To cherish the one. To travel with the one. To lay the one to rest, when it is dinged and yellowed and never surf it again. But what one? Ahhhh that is for each man to decide himself.

Maybe the one is a fish even when it is big and hollow. Maybe the one is a super high performance pintail even when it is two foot and bad. Or maybe, just maybe, the surfboard shapers are already producing the perfect board that kills the pathological need for any other. Maybe they are producing our Stepford Wife.

I submit, for discussion, Matt Biolos’s Short Round. Matt Biolos is one of our great heroes. He makes a board like no other and while many of his shapes are beautiful, his Short Round is beautiful and functional in so many different kinds of waves. She has the cutest little rounded squash behind and is fuller through her midsection. She is to be ridden shorter, and I ride my own as a 5’9”. She loves to play. She loves to jive and shake in everything from junk to overhead perfection. And she makes me feel like a man, an accomplished man.

When I am on her, I rarely look to see what others are riding, but I feel their longing gazes looking at my Short Round. “Coveting is a sin!” I shout and they turn away, disgusted with themselves. The Short Round is a one.

And I know you. I know your eyes are wandering now to the sidebar now and to the clocks up above and you are thinking, “Sellout! Sellout! Lost is paying you to say this!” I respond, in my mind, “Oh ye of little faith. Have you learned nothing from your time here? Nothing at all? We only speak the truth! Or, like, the rumor! But it is really and truly what I ride every single day and every single where!”

In finding a one, travel becomes easier. All a one needs is a simple bag. She is less expensive to check and she is less difficult to tote and, most importantly, when sitting in a hotel room, preparing to paddle out at some exotic break, there is no internal debate. There is only one.

In finding a one, living becomes easier. When the no-goods come asking to borrow a surfboard they can be vibed, heavily, and told to fuck off. There are no extras to go around. There is no orgy. There is monogamy and love and the no-goods can fuck off. Gross derelicts.

In finding a one, love becomes easier. Sweet sweet love. There is no distraction. There is only one. Or to quote a man far wiser than me, “Is it getting better, or do you feel the same? Will it make it easier on you now, you got someone to blame? You say, ‘One love, one life, when it’s one need in the night. One love, we get to share it. Leaves you, baby, if you don’t care for it.’”