Long Read: When Huntington burned!

The most exciting surf contest in history? Yes!

The 1986 Op Pro riots in Surf City, California happened 30 years ago this week and what a wonderful time to be alive. Surfers went crazy! Surfers lost their minds! Or maybe not surfers. Maybe Inland Empirites. Maybe thick necked yokels. Who knows! Whoever they were, the OC Register has a brilliant re-telling written by Laylan Connelly. Pour a cup of Zima and enjoy.

On Aug. 31, 1986, Bill Richardson stood in the Huntington Beach lifeguard headquarters building, gripped a 9 mm handgun, and braced for the worst.

Rioters were surrounding the building, and a few were already inside. Looters seemed ready to destroy a place the lifeguard captain considered a second home.

Outside, police cars were being overturned and set on fire. And the mob was shaking other cars and chanting “one more, one more.” Glass bottles were being thrown; blood was flowing.

Officers temporarily retreated from that stretch of beach, near downtown. They advised the lifeguards to do the same.

But that day, 30 years ago this week, Richardson loaded a gun he’d only used in training.

Then, he came face-to-face with the rioters.

“They met someone crazier than they were,” Richardson recalled recently.

Now 72 and the Chaplin for the Huntington Beach Marine Safety Department, Richardson doesn’t recall being afraid during the biggest riot in the long history of riots near Huntington Pier.

He remembers a different emotion.

“I was pissed.”

BIG HAIR, SMALL BIKINIS

It was the mid 1980s and MTV was still playing music.

Neon was big. So was everybody’s hair. For women, Ocean Pacific ruled the beach with high-on-the-hip, skimpy bikinis.

For anyone who wanted to party hard, Huntington Beach was the place to be.

The Op Pro surf contest was a big deal, too. About 100,000 people turned out to watch the event in 1986.

Ian Cairns, a former pro surfer, ran the contest back then, as well as the series of contests leading up to the event in Huntington Beach. He said the crowds grew bigger that summer. And the parties got rowdier.

“They were bad guys,” Cairns recalled recently. “Like, rock-and-roll crazy, you know.”

What sparked the actual riot remains a point of debate. Some say women and girls in the crowd removed their bathing suit tops, around 2 p.m., and the mostly male crowd reacted. Others say some men were aggressors, attacking some women.

Whatever the cause, witnesses agree that the mob soon was out-of-control.

Cairns remembers standing on scaffolding built over the crowd, watching surfers in the contest out in the water. But as the unrest began, he looked behind him and saw black smoke billowing skyward.

“It just erupted,” Cairns said. “The … massive crowd was burning police cars and tearing doors off (police cars),” Cairns added.

“It was gnarly. It was mayhem.”

Meanwhile, the surf contest wasn’t done.

Surfers Mark Occhilupo and Glen Winton were in the water, finalists competing in the best of three heats. After two heats, Occhilupo should have taken the win, but with the unrest growing Cairns called both surfers to the scaffold to ask them for a favor.

“We have to protect the crowd in the bleachers, the surfers,” he told them. “What do you think about going back in the water?”

Cairns then declared a tie and directed the surfers back into the water for a third heat. He was hoping to buy some time, and that by the time the contest formally ended the rioting would be over.

It wasn’t.

Continue reading here!


Ooowee, he a good looking son of a bitch! Madonna ain't immune! Invited him straight to Japan after the shoot! | Photo: Herb Ritts/Rolling Stone

Gallery: When Madonna Loved Kaipo!

Step back into 1985 with the WSL's newest stud!

Did the sexy-as-a-wolf Kaipo Guerrero bolt you to your computer during the Tahiti Pro too? The former pro surfer (Hawaiian champ, NSSA open champ, three years top 16 Bud Pro Tour) has a rough-hewn danger that takes the imaginative viewer down a rabbit-hole of scenarios. Kaipo ain’t no twink!

Can you count the ways? Don’t it make you want to POV a PAWG gittin’ IR on that BHC? No? Yes?

But being in the spotlight ain’t new for this waterman who learned to surf at Waikiki and who has made four crossings of the Molokai channel in his little canoe.

Kaipo, who is 48 years old, has always carried the gun of ultra-handsome. Back in 1985, when he was eighteen years old, he was the star of a Herb Ritts shoot with the most popular singer in the world, Madonna. The gal loved that sugar so much she stole him away to Japan.

Thirty-one years later, Kaipo has returned to call the most prestigious events in surfing, including the now-legendary Tahiti Pro.

But that time, that era, when the world revolved around Madonna and Madonna revolved around a teenager from Oahu, oh man, it’s beautiful.

Relive here the Herb Ritts shoot.

Spread one: Madonna jams uke with Kaipo on her left, in pyjamas. In green suit, Kaipo grasps the New York crooner.

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Where’s Kaipo? Black shirt, grey jacket. Kelia Moniz’ daddy Tony is there having his foot grabbed by Madonna but y’know it’s the stud in the back who eating good.

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Kelly Slater: “Help me trash the ocean!”

Yesterday, Kelly Slater had the Wavegarden in his sights. Today, the ocean!

The greatest ever surfer made his last request known today. He wants his friends to pollute the ocean! Each and every one of them! Over and over again!

Kelly Slater took to Instagram at around 3 pm (Pacific Time Zone), imploring his loved ones in bold font:

When I die, line my friends up and have them toss bits of my ashes it tubes one after another.

Seriously.

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It makes sense that he would want the ocean to look like the Ganges in India, choked with charred human corpses, because he has a competing technology, the World Surf League Wave Co. formerly known as the Kelly Slater Wave Co.

Who would ever go in the ocean again? Inland wave lake businesses would explode in popularity and Kelly’s relatives/WSL will own the only relevant model!

Yesterday he took out his remaining ocean alternative, the Wavegarden, through sheer public embarrassment.

And of course I kid (not about him taking out Wavegarden through sheer public embarrassment). It is a beautiful sentiment, some of the greatest surfers of all time burying their king in the tubes. Him being in his most natural spot forever and ever more. Etc.

When you go, where do you want your remains?

I read a story recently that suggested our fascination with cremation is robbing future generations of history. There will no longer be any graveyards for people to go read names, dates. etc.

When I die, dig a pit at the Hollywood Forever cemetery, toss my bones in and stick a big stone at the head end reading:

HERE LIES CHAS SMITH

ummmmm I haven’t come up with the rest yet.

I’ll leave it to you!


Ummmm yeah. We're just filling the Wavegarden. It might be a minute.

Finally: A dystopian wave pool!

All this damned short-sighted talk. One company is brave enough to peer into the future!

I’ve been reading some things (mostly comments on BeachGrit to be honest) about how climate change will destroy waves due to rising sea levels etc. and we’ll be bereft except for wave pools.

Our salvations!

Except how many dystopian movies do you watch? Waterworld is the only one I can think of that paints our future wet. All the others, Mad Max: The Road Warrior, Mad Max Fury Road, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, etc. paint it bone dry.

And so where are we going to get water to fill the Wavegarden and the @WSLWAVECO pools?

(frowny face)

Surf will be over.

But not if YouRiding Games has anything to say about it. They just released a surf simulator for your “ultimate virtual surf session!” Let’s read about it!

The Virtual Surf game constitutes the alliance of three avant-guarde technologies with the Oculus Rift, Microsoft Kinect and the YouRiding Games tech expertise – authentic specialists of surf video games since 2007. With these synergies, this 2.0 version gives the impression of being transported to the most beautiful surf breaks in the world.

The virtual waves have been barreling since last summer and over thirty thousand visitors to the surf museum in Biarritz (France) have shared the surf stoke… virtually.

Along with the amazing list of available waves, would-be surfers can know ride the hollowest reef wave on the planet… Teahupo’o in Tahiti. Plus, if long shreddable tubes are your cup of tea, then you would choose the long point break on Australia’s Gold Coast… Snapper Rocks.
Not to worry, all the epic waves from version 1.0 are still available (Côte des Basques, Belharra, Mundaka, La gravière, Lacanau).

Today, Virtual Surf gives the opportunity for everyone to “Get out of the barrel at Teahupo’o and follow the reflection of the sun in a glassy ocean… It is an incredible experience to live at least once, even without being a real surfer”, says Mike Jegat, founder of YouRiding Games. The team focuses deeply on the wave mechanics, the color of the ocean and the appearance in order to give the illusion that you are truly surfing real waves.

Taking full advantage of the current technologies, YouRiding is able to deliver beautiful graphics that put you directly in the surf. One of the coolest new features is implementing the position of the sun and it’s realistic reflection on the water’s surface. Your epic virtual sunset surf is waiting.

After taking off on the wave, the player can now start the wave with a Check Turn, slide into a ten second Barrel then exit the ever popular wave Claim. Follow that up with a Top turn, a Roller then a beautiful Cutback. Finally, regain speed in order to do an Air before the wave closes out. All that without having taken any risks or breaking a surfboard. This is the ultimate surfing experience!

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To continue to be honest with you, I don’t think I’ll be a “surfer” in our dystopian future. That last paragraph, and this picture, really killed it for me. I’m not good at fixing cars either so my run on Fury Road will be short. I’m a horrible aim so won’t be able to hunt people for sport…

…ummm. Shoot. Maybe I’ll be a bartender and make delicious Soylent Green cocktails?

That might be valuable.


Have you ever seen Kelly Slater, who turns 45 in February, so…loose? | Photo: Peter King

#TourNotes: Slater Releases Hounds!

Behind-the-scenes with Kelly Slater, final day, Tahiti Pro… 

As I’ve become fond of saying, is an event really over until Peter King has dropped his final #TourNotes?

Who can miss an episode? It’s disposable pop art that’s perfect for Generation Self; a yowling discharge of all those down days, all that… nothing but everything… that surrounds those two-week waiting periods at contests. It’s peculiar, it’s memorable, it’s a surface with slips but no adjustments.

In this episode, we’re on the boat with Kelly Slater on the final day of the Tahiti Pro. His girlfriend Kalani (hot! hot!) is there in her little Mikoh bikiniJohn John reveals a sense of humour normally reserved for close pals, Kelly does a very good impersonation of Hawaiian pidgin and we see Kolohe Andino, who says he wants Kelly Slater to win the event, rib the commentator Kaipo Guerrero for his one-time affair with the singer Madonna. 

It’s a subtler episode that most, subdued perhaps, because of the gloomy skies and the smallish, if good, waves, but it serves, as it always does, to remind us that the professional surfer is more human than the post-heat interviews reveal.

Watch!