Poll: Surfing’s most principled stand?

It takes guts to stand, or sit, for what you believe in! But who is surfing's most conscientious soul?

Football season kicks off in America today which means summer is officially over. Goodbye beached days and mai tai nights. So long lazy afternoons and slow mornings. Arrivederci sun tans and sun block.

Hello Colin Kaepernick!


And have you kept up on the San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback? He has set the country on fire by refusing to stand for the national anthem! He says he will not stand until there is some improvement in race relations:

I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.

It sounds reasonable, no? Well, I was among the thugs in San Diego watching my most favorite Chargers a few days ago and the boos raining down upon Colin’s head were thunderous as he took his knee. He was called all sorts of nasty names with many “Fuck yous!” being thrown in for good measure.

Like it or not, approve or not, it takes guts to make a principled stand.

Which made me wonder… What was the biggest principled stand ever taken in our surf world?

Was it Bobby Martinez saying what he really thought about the professional surf tour?

Was it Mick Fanning refusing to refusing to speak with a certain surf reporter, before speaking to him, because he understood he worked for a magazine and that it had previously published articles which he believed were racist and anti-Semitic? By the way, he strongly objected to views, statements and comments of that nature…

Was it Dane Reynolds not surfing in contests and not making videos at the same exact time while getting paid lots of money?

Was it…

…Matt Warshaw? Are you there again? I need you!

Kelly Slater wavepool
"This is something I dreamt about as a kid," says Kelly. "Through rigorous science and technology, we’ve been able to design and build what some said was impossible, and many very understandably never thought would actually happen. I’m proud to say we took our time to get it right, and the first fully-working prototype of the wave now exists."

Opinion: “Wavepools Better than Ocean!”

In five fundamental ways! Let's count… 

Earlier today, this website posted a story with the title, Wavepools: “Investors Gonna Lose Their Asses!” It is an energetic piece that takes aim at a New York Times story on the on-again-off-again Wavegarden in Austin, Texas.

It’s author, the knuckle-duster-in-the-face Rory Parker, also recorded his doubts about the long-term viability of such operations.

I hear it. If you put a twenty-million dollar tank somewhere y’gonna need tens of thousands of pool jockeys, beginners, intermediates, studs, jamming this way and that, to cut any sort of profit.

A while back, I put the economic proposition of wavepools to Greg Webber, the shaper who’s been promising a pool that’ll shadow Kelly’s. And Greg says Wavegarden is doomed.

“They’re hamstrung by the dynamic of a low wave-rate, which makes it viable on a day-to-day basis,” he says. “An industry is on the cusp of happening. But it’s only going to happen if each of these pools makes a lot of money. Not just a little, tiny turnover. And that’s directly linked to the number of people going through the gates. One hundred and twenty waves an hour is 12 dudes getting 10 waves an hour. No one spends 30 million dollars or more building a pool on the hope that’s going to turn a profit. Because it can’t. You can’t change $10,000 per session. I wouldn’t go down that path, ever. And they’ll end up being redundant.”

So maybe Rory and Greg are right. Pools’ll appear and, eventually, crumble into their dirty brown water.

But what if, once we get a taste, we don’t want, or need, the ocean?

I’ve ridden a couple, one a piece of shit, and yeah if they were still like that, close the door. But the other was so sublime it still operates as a fulcrum for conversation between its participants. Therefore I believe that even a vaguely good pool is better than the ocean in five fundamental ways.

  1. You’ll never be dropped-in on again: You pay your five or ten bucks, and that wave is yours to destroy or to butcher. There’s no one to paddle up the face as you take aim at a lip. No one swinging around on the inside. You sit. You hear the whomp. The show’s yours.
  2. The concept of practice is real: We ran a little interview with our pals at What Youth a few weeks ago and there was a disappointment expressed at the lack of any sorta of surf-performance progression, at least in line with skate or snow. But, goddamn. How long does it take to get a cutback just right, or learn even the most basic process of an air? It’s such a battle to catch a wave and veer around the crowd to find that one inviting section, that most of the time we stick to what we know. Imagine a season pass at a pool, Wavegarden, American Wave Machines, KSWaveCo, whatever. Your world would…open.
  3. Disappointment isn’t even an option: In this big nasty world, we all gotta work. So most of us can only sling a few hours a week at the ocean. And if we get there and the tide’s wrong or Jesus ain’t delivering a promised swell? There’s not  a damn thing you can do. Unless a pool breaks, and yeah they do (but you’ll know about breakdowns before you get into your car), you’re gonna get waves. You’re gonna surf not matter what.
  4. You’ll actually enjoy a pal’s surfing: Every bomb set your pal gets in the ocean is a wave you missed out on, especially if you’re sitting side-by-side in the lineup. And, so, it’s natural to harbour a little hatred in the darker side of your soul for your surf buddy. At a pool? Equal shares. It’s the bright side of communism mixed with the perfection of free enterprise.
  5. It sifts the mystical bullshit from surf: What is surfing but a game of balance and identification of shapes, mixed with a sort of elevated swimming cardio? There ain’t no mystery to it. Cancer isn’t being cured. Unicorns aren’t being ridden across the sky. Do you think we really commune with nature on our petrochemical boards? Pools show up surfing for what it actually is – a frustrating as hell, but boundlessly satisfying… sport. A sport.


Wavepools: “Investors will lose their asses!”

Are you optimistic about the future of wavepools too?

Fucking wave pool hype. Such bullshit. So sick of it.

Today the New York Times released the latest poorly informed yet fawning piece about the future of wave sliding for landlocked goobers.

It focuses on beer baron Doug Coors soon to fail endeavor in Austin, Texas. Coors jumped in early, licensed WaveGarden tech. Built a giant hole in the ground without bothering to get proper permits. Why would a stagnant pond soon to be filled with people pissing, and occassionally shitting, need to be filtered? It’s just like a manmade lake! And those don’t need no filterin’! )

Of course this is America!, so Coors is embracing the angle of regulation run amok. Public safety playing second banana to that good ol’ American entrepreneurial spirit.

True gems in this particular poorly sourced attempt at journalism.

Some who have surfed NLand say it feels just like natural waves but with more frequent and longer rides — up to 35 seconds — that give novices more time to properly position themselves and advanced practitioners the opportunity for more maneuvers. 

Right? Because Snowdonia has been getting rave reviews for its cold water choppy mush.

Nothing to do but sit back and enjoy watching these fuckers fail. From an engineering stand point, yeah, wavepools are pretty damn neat. True examples of clever humans building awesome contraptions.

But surfing is too difficult to learn. Too much falling, too much flailing. Will a pool make it slightly easier? Maybe. But knowing each wipeout cost you twenty bucks hardly reduces the sting.

NLand will be abandoned within three years. Investors will lose their asses. But not before a handful of wavepool devotees drown while trying to play Rick Kane one fine Oahu December.

So long, Dooma! Stab mostly sucks now!

The world's second favorite South African grabs the mic and flows!

And have you been listening to Dave Prodan’s podcast Kill the Messenger? It is a garden of aural delight! Dave knows his pro surfing like few others and brings such a thoughtful approach to the mic. Not shrill. Not gossipy. Easy like Thursday morning and a happy addition to the surf podcast space (feat. such gorgeous stars like Down the Line, Kooks of Komedy and our very own Rory Parker’s Everything is Always Terrible.

But back to Dave Prodan. His guest on his latest episode is one of my very favorite characters in all of surf. Damien “Dooma” Fahrenfort! The handsome South African with a face like Val Kilmer and a voice like fresh-off-the-grill boerewors.

I love him!

Do you remember when he busted onto the scene? When he got busted alongside Jake “The Snake” Paterson for spitting truths?

Such fun!

And now he is a mogul. Part owner of a Venice skate/surf store called General Admission that is causing Supreme-like meltdowns on California streets. Part head of Stab magazine’s United States operation.

Except he has recently pulled away from Stab, telling Dave, “I don’t know… ever since BeachGrit came around Stab just doesn’t feel… I don’t know… good anymore. Bruh.”

Just kidding!

He says, “About three years ago, and this is where I’ve learned everything after pro surfing, was Stab magazine. I came on and launched it here in the U.S. And since Sam McIntosh has moved to the States and since I’ve got other things going on full-time I’ve kind of stepped back from it a little bit…”

A world without Dooma is cold, grey. And a Stab with less of him definitely kinda sucks.

Listen to the rest of the podcast right here!

And keep Damien Fahrenfort in business by shopping here!

Clickbait: “My vacay threesome hell!”

What really happened in Nicaragua. Rory's wife tells all!

(Editor’s note: This story was written by the wife of the noted Rory Parker, who recently took a trip to Nicaragua with a goal to date, and sex, a woman other than his wife. All italics are by Rory Parker.)

A lot of you have been wondering what happened on our Nicaragua trip. Rory had a goal to relive our youth by having a threesome. It was all for me. Put some joie de vivre back in my life. I used to be wild, happy, adventurous, fun loving. I was down for anything and jumped head first with my eyes closed.

(That was never the goal. I missed the thrill of dating. That damp palm, butterfly stomach feeling that comes with putting yourself out there while trying to lure another person into your life. Group gropes are fun, but they’re also a ton of work. And I won’t kid myself and pretend I can satisfy a number of women. One at a time, if I’m on my game.)

I’ll give you a snap shot of what I used to be like. Ten years ago, I planned a trip to Nicaragua. I loved to travel. Didn’t matter when, where, or how. We were “poor” at the time. Or so I thought. Not real poor, but the rich kid in college poor. My rent was paid, always had money for crappy food and more importantly drugs, alcohol, and cheap vacations.

(Not much has changed, from my perspective.)

I thought things were rough, but now I look back on them with a fondness beyond words. During our 2006 trip to Nicaragua, we stayed in the cheapest hostels we could find. We “roughed” it in the same way upper class, first world backpacker kids have been doing for decades. On a budget, but with the luxury of calling daddy if thing get too bad. So not roughing it at all really. But damn did we live it up.

On our first night we met a very lovely Australian couple. He was a doctor, she was a writer. It was glaringly obvious they wanted us as companions. Rory tried making me write a travel diary, which I followed through with for exactly one night. We both had the same entry that night: “I think they want to fuck us.”

(They did want to fuck us. Not a surprise. Both me and the wife were at the height of our youthful sexiness.)

Don’t get me wrong, we were into the idea. Rory and I have always had an open relationship. We met when we were children. He was twenty, I was eighteen. There was no way our relationship was going to be monogamous. We agreed on that from the beginning.

(Which is one of many reasons why we’ve lasted roughly fifteen years together.)

When our companion couple invited us to Ometepe, an island in the middle of lake Nicaragua, we hopped on a ferry. Why not?

While drinking copious amount of Flor de Caña, I spied four lonely Québécoise. We didn’t want to be rude, and I’ve always found a ratio of 3:1 perfect. As Rory likes to say, it was kismet. Next thing we know, well, I’m sure you can use your imagination. And yes, I do have pictures. And no, I won’t be sharing. I respect the privacy of those open to explore. I do not and will not share my private collection with anyone but Rory.

( I have no such qualms. However I can’t find the external hard drive that contains said photos, and the missus is being less than helpful. No huge loss. Poorly lit debauchery featuring two couples and a handful of overweight Canadians is better imagined than experienced. I’ll add that one of them was a squirter. The first and only time I’ve encountered one. It was messy, and more than a little gross.)

The only weird thing about the night was the hostel staff kept asking us if we needed more towels or water. What the fuck, we’re obviously engaged in some hardcore hedonism. No we don’t need fucking towels, but water is great, gracias!

The next morning we woke up, still drunk, and went to breakfast. We noticed some very dirty looks from the Nicas. The proprietor of the establishment approached us and told us in no uncertain terms to get the fuck out of his hostel Turns out our wild debauchery was not late into the evening, but rather right after sunset. After reviewing my pictures (they’re art!) from the night before, it also turns out our patio, where a lot of the fun took place, was in full view of everything and everyone. Needless to say, we took the first boat off the Island.

What’s the point of this story? To titillate, to brag? (Yes!) Not at all. To provide context to our recent trip, exactly ten years later. (Liar.) See, I’ve always been, for lack of a better word, the instigator in our relationship. Rory was a good boy when I met him. Model UN, tons of extracurriculars, didn’t do drugs, barely smoked weed, lost his virginity to his longtime high school girlfriend on senior prom night. Me, I was a horrid slut and wild child. From the time I was twelve I was every parent’s nightmare.

(This is a relatively honest description of us in our youth. I was a struggling try-hard who couldn’t push past the finger-bang barrier. My wife had a well deserved reputation as a voracious little slut.)

We had a wild youth, but it was always me at the helm. I picked the places, I picked the girls, I picked everything. When Rory wanted to return to Nicaragua with me, he pointed this out. He wanted to plan the trip. It wasn’t fair that I always got to do everything. After countless hours of fighting, I gave in. Go along to get along right? So the trip planning begins. Rory wrote a highly one-sided and what I’d characterize as less than truthful account here.

(More lies. I am always totally objective in my descriptions of our relationship.)

Never one to contradict my husband, (Ha!) I’ll move on to our current situation. We live on a small conservative Island. Sexual degenerates not welcome. Don’t shit where you eat. I’m sure Rory will criticize my overuse of clichés, but fuck him. He’s the writer not me.

(Yes, fuck me. I’ll refrain from pointing out that a lawyer’s job is 90% writing. The type that pays orders of magnitude more than the pseudo-creative bullshit I pump out on a daily basis. The only real difference is that it’s unlikely someone will call you a faggot in court.)

He has had this idea in his head for a while now of asking a woman out on a date with us. Not going out to dinner, but “my wife and I want to date you.” I thought it was absurd, (It’s meant to be) and still do, but a happy husband makes a happy wife. (When, exactly, did this become policy?)

Out of all the shit I put up with (Fuck that. I’m nice as pie, and twice as sweet), this was so minor it wasn’t worth my energy to argue about. I did explain there was no way he was going to pull a sweet something his way. Too awkward. More importantly, you don’t develop a relationship with the target. It’s all about spontaneity. Since this was his chance to be in control, fuck it, we’ll try it his way. Even though it was obviously going to fail.

(It was never truly meant to succeed. The last thing I want is a second woman in my life. Polyamory is for lunatics. Maintaining a healthy lifelong relationship between two people is so difficult as to be nearly impossible. Tossing a third in the mix ends with gunshots and bloodshed.)

He wrote about us going to the terrible clusterfuck entitled “Sunday Funday.” I tried my damnedest to do it his way and got a couple yeses, but then he’d swoop in, make it super creepy. “You know this is sexual, right?” and they’d flee. Fuck, so would I.

(That is an accurate depiction of the night.)

On our last night in San Juan Del Sur, I saw a chance to make Rory’s “date night” come true. To be honest, I’ve turned into a miserable human being. Any joy left in my life comes from making Rory happy. I spoil him. Or try to. Some may call it enabling (Everyone calls it enabling), but fuck it, it’s what I do. Sometimes that means taking control regardless of prior agreements. (Sometimes?) Any person in a long-term relationship knows this truth.

We’re at a bar and I spy a single, adorable hapa girl (yes, I know this means mixed Haole/Hawaiian, but it’s colloquially used to refer to Asian/Haole as well). I tell Rory to let me handle this. (She actually sent me to pick up a dress that was being altered by a local seamstress. I was not consulted regarding the following.) I invite our hapa to have a beer. She agrees and seems to like us. I invite her on a date. Make it clear my husband and I are interested in her and want to take her out to a romantic dinner. Everything went just as he wanted. A bit awkward, but exciting. He got that feeling he was looking for. Does she like me, my heart is beating faster, should I hold her hand, am I in junior high again?

(Turns out those feelings suck. It’s taken me thirty six years to build a wall of baseless self confidence. Chipping away at it was a total fucking chump move.)

We all get along great. Dinner is amazing, we even take her to the park for ice cream afterwards. I invite her back to our room, to let Rory do his thing. After all, this is his chance, his time to shine. I’m the evil wife who always controls everything and he’s going to change that.

(Yes, and that “lack” of control took the form of constant whispered advice, meaningful looks, and outright scorn at bumbled attempts to woo.)

He makes no move on her whatsoever. None. I thought maybe he needed more time. Maybe he wasn’t feelin’ it that night. This was his first go at it and she was exactly what he said he wanted. I thought I’d give him a second chance. We were leaving for Playa Gigante the next day. I invited her to join us. He told me that was stupid. Got kind of angry with me. Said no way will she show up to put herself in the clutches of the weird old couple.

Next morning she shows up at our hotel, while we’re eating breakfast, with an adorable smile on her face asking if she’s still welcome. “Of course, darling.”

You only know Rory through his writing. In person, he’s quite charming and witty. (Nope.) No negativity, no anger (with people other than his wife) (Wrong). The little hapa is eating it up. She thinks Rory is the coolest person she’s ever met. They develop a relationship. A weird, paternal relationship. He talks to her about her future (she wants to go to med school), warns her of the dangers of men like him, chases away all the horny scumbag surfers fighting over her like starved dogs.

(This was a truly unforeseen development. She was amazingly attractive, but the more I got to know her the more she felt like a younger sister. Or maybe a cousin. The one you’ve, shamefully, jerked it to a handful of times, but would never dream of actually fucking.)

As our time in Gigante winds down, with our little hapa doing sexy dances for him every night in our hostel, clearly waiting for him to make the move that never arrives, I become perplexed. What the fuck Rory, are you going to close the deal or not? The answer was no. We get in a huge fight about it.

“This is what you wanted and I dropped her in your lap.”

“No, I wanted you to have a good time, you always think you know what I want and you don’t.”

“If this was about me, why the fuck are we in this shithole? I wanted to sip mojitos while getting massages from sexy Latin boys. I wanted luxury. I wanted… not this!”

Then I feel fucking terrible (You should). Because this trip really was meant to be about me (It was). He wanted to recreate the magic of our last soiree (I did). Bring me out of my funk. (I failed.)

I had no interest in our hapa and turns out neither did he.

When I was younger, experimenting with the inexperienced was fun, great, new, loved it. Now, I don’t want to train little girls. I’ve had way too many nights with inexperienced girls giving me terrible head.

My taste in women has changed. Give me a nice big gay woman with decades of experience any day. Make me cum like gangbusters. None of this awkward, fumbling, learning. Slightly intimidated, but intrigued bullshit. I thought sexy little girls might still work for Rory. Turns out they make him feel like an old creeper (They do). The guy he never wanted to be (But am). We used to laugh at the weird old couple at the hostel, hanging with the kids, swore that would never be us (or feared it would be).

Well, it turns out none of it mattered anyway. I got sick before we left Gigante. Not the normal upset stomach, but felt like someone was stabbing my gut sick. Couldn’t have pulled the threesome even my life had depended on it.

(In the end, the experiment was a success. I wanted to feel the young again. Re-experience the thrill of courting. The nerves and fear. The lack of confidence and awkward attempts to connect. The soul crushing sensation of utter failure.

I got all of that. And I hated it. Never again.

All thanks to the imaginary sky man that I am not single. I pity you poor fuckers forced to live this shit on a daily basis.)