Paige Alms
Paige Alms, from Maui, the winner of the Pe'ahi Women's Challenge. | Photo: WSL

Parker: “Women don’t need empty praise!”

They need opportunities to prove themselves, improve themselves…

The first women’s Big Wave Tour event put an end to my dream of dual-sex heats. I truly believed it was a lack of trying, not ability. That a woman could sit deep and charge hard and comport herself as well as any man in the event. I still believe that could happen. I still believe it will happen. But I recognize that it did not. That it will not, in the near future.

It’s disappointing that no woman caught a set during the event. It got boring watching them hide on the shoulder, then chase in-betweeners deep and inside. But it was exciting watching them take the next set on the head. It was inspiring to watch the attempt. It was important that women got their shot.

During the first part of my day, when I was shoulder to shoulder with a crowd of strangers, trying to find a cell signal and assign names to jerseys, I was joined by a group of tan tiny soon-to-be women. A bevy of happy little girls, none taller than my chest. Chirping with joy each time a woman took a stroke. Gasping with fear when they pushed over the ledge. Crying out when the pack got caught inside, when Keala got mowed down and blew out her knee. High-pitched girlish exclamations when Emily Erickson blew an off balance airdrop and bodysurfed her way to oblivion.

I was struggling to pay attention. They were glued to the scene. My reaction barely matters. Theirs will shape the future.

It’s been nearly sixty years since the first documented session at Waimea Bay. The birth of true big wave surfing was an all male affair. Stayed that way, for the most part, ever since. There have been female outliers in the meantime. Linda Benson gave the Bay a shot. Rell Sunn was no coward at Makaha. Layne Beachley was whipped into bombs in the 90s. Sarah Gerhardt broke the gender barrier at Mavericks near the end of the last century. Rochelle Ballard made a name for herself in heavy barrels during the height of her career. Keala Kennelly has become a legend-in-her-own-time charger with little regard for her own safety.

On the other side, we have more than a half-century of male role models. Too many to name. A long established male lineage which young boys can look to, aspire to become. Elders examples for the up and coming to see and emulate and improve upon.

From a male perspective, it’s tough to see a problem. No one’s ever told me I can’t do something because of my sex. I’ve never doubted my ability due to supposedly inherent limitations. It’s all the rage these days to cry foul about the difficulties the modern white man faces, but to complain about unfairness in a system that places you on top does little but display your own cowardice and inability. I know I could surf Pe’ahi. No one has ever told me different. But I am too scared, too weak, totally unwilling to face the terror a large set marching in out of the North carries with it.

Not so for the women. They’ve heard it all. They are too weak, too fragile. Yes, everyone respects their desire, supposedly. But girls aren’t meant for these types of games. Better to don a tiny bikini and perch on a single fin. Hike a thong up your ass and use it to sell soft goods. Sit down, shut up, let the boys play.

I’m forced to applaud the WSL for running a proper female event, rather than a one-off exhibition heat. I’d also like to point out that it isn’t enough. Merely the first step towards what needs to be accomplished, which is growing the female end of the spectrum. Providing a platform from which women’s big-wave surfing can grow and flourish. The WSL exists to profit from surfing, its existence only palatable if they’re willing to give something back. Yes, Pe’ahi was a great first step, but only the first of many that remain to be taken.

The action in the water paled in comparison to the men. Pretending otherwise would be disingenuous, disrespectful to every athlete. The ladies don’t need to a pat on the head and empty praise. They need opportunities to prove themselves, improve themselves, serve as exemplars for the next generation.

When all is said and done, how well they surfed doesn’t matter. The injuries are inconsequential. The boring moments and missed opportunities merely dull spots on a day that points to a bright future.

What matters are those little girls on the cliff. The ones who in five years, maybe ten, will look back on the day and remember it as the one on which they thought, “I can do that too. I can do it better. I’m gonna be the best.”

Celebrate: Snowdonia a wild success!

The joke's on you! I mean me! Let's pop the bubbs and celebrate surfing's rebirth!

Who saw that one coming? Do you think the people of Wales saw it? Do you think when their government mixed in with various developers and told them an unbelievable economic boost was coming straight to their region courtesy of an inland wave park that the neighbors thought, “Yeah! Totally! We can’t wait!”

Do you think Kelly Slater saw it? Do you think he imagined a little but extremely fun little roller would earn lots more money than his peaky blinder?

Do you think the people of Texas saw/see it? Doug Coors standing over his broken down plow with maybe no hope of ever opening again but still seeing fame and fortune just behind that giant mural of Tom Jones?

I’ll be honest. I didn’t see it coming. I saw a trail of broken tears. I saw surf destroying an economy that didn’t need any more help getting destroyed. I saw a few laughs.

But I was wrong! Can we read from the fabulous Whitelines Magazine? But of course we can!

Despite a seemingly shaky start, according to newly released figures, Surf Snowdonia has enjoyed a throughly successful first year.

The stats revealed it has welcomed a massive 150,000 visitors over the course of the season, which is more than double what they had originally forecast.

The number includes 18,000 oversees visitors, ratifying the parks initial claims that it would draw international tourism to the region. Managing director Andy Ainscough said these figures regarding international visitors made him “smile for all sorts of reasons” adding that “The majority of visitors live within a two-hour-drive radius, with London and the South West also making up a significant part of our UK market.”

Read the rest here and dance up and down! Surf is a wonderful commodity! The depressive clouds stand no chance against a bright and shining Welsh sun!

Flume wavepool
Here we see Harley Streton aka Flume at the Slater Surf Ranch in Lemoore California. Don't you love the randomness of visitors to the mysterious pool?

Movie: Flumes Rides Slater Surf Ranch!

Electronic musician Harley Streton installs himself at Slater's world-famous tank!

Don’t you love the randomness of visitors to the Kelly Slater-WSL wave tank in Lemoore, California, the sight of which is enough to give an adult an attack of dizziness?

Recently, the Australian electronic musician, Harley Streton aka Flume, was invited to install himself at the fabled wave. And Streton, who is twenty five and grew up on Sydney’s northern beaches, isn’t the kook you’d imagine.

His main game is bodyboarding, sure, an el-rollo to the flats confirms his pleasures there, but Streton’s ride on a surfboard tells much to the observant eye.

First, it doesn’t appear difficult at all to detect where the milk is watered and the sugar is scattered. In other words, it’s a pool that ain’t that hard to ride. A little back foot pressure here and there, or a cut-down if you’re so equipped, will keep you in the pocket.

Also appearing in this four-minute short is the iridescent Stephanie Gilmore, whose appearance awakens a perverse alertness.

Is your interest in the musician piqued? Listen to Flume here.


Herr CEO: “That fucking BeachGrit!”

The three most beautiful words in the world!

Do you wonder what President D. J. Trump will do to the press that tried valiantly yet vainly tried to bring him low? By all reports he is a vengeful man. As President almighty do you think he will smash The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, etc.?

That pitched battle will be fun to watch!

On a related note, I heard wonderful news this week. A friend of a friend of a friend of a friend happened to be having a meeting with the World Surf League brass even including Mister CEO Paul Speaker himself. During the meeting one of BeachGrit’s now classic Speaker chronicles was apparently unleashed (maybe it was this one. Or this one. Or this one. Who knows! Who could even begin to guess!) into the world. Mister CEO Paul Speaker, this friend of a friend told a friend of a friend told me, allegedly looked down at his phone, shook his head and uttered a single phrase.

“That fucking BeachGrit.”

Never has my heart soared so high.

Brock Little by Buzzy Kerbox
Brock Little at The Eddie in 1990. Wouldn't it be fitting if the event became The Brock? | Photo: Buzzy Kerbox

The Quik: In Memory of Brock Little?

Quiksilver considers new name for world's most prestigious big-wave event!

Two weeks ago, it was revealed, here, that a dispute between the Aikau family and Quiksilver had evaporated the famous partnership and big-wave event The Quiksilver: In Memory of Eddie Aikau.

And, now, Quiksilver, which holds the permits for the event, is considering keeping it alive, as is, but the shifting names. Instead of The Quiksilver: In Memory of Eddie Aikau, it could be Brock Little, Todd Chesser, Mark Foo, maybe even Jose Angel, another underground big-wave stud. 

So how did such a fruitful relationship, which includes the lucrative sale of Eddie Aikau-Quiksilver merchandise, wind up in the gravel, pecking for worms?

Here’s the background: the previous ten-year deal was expiring in the spring of 2016 and Quiksilver and the Aikau family began negotiating a new deal. The Aikau family were advised that a potentially better deal might be out there if they shopped it around a little, howevs. Red Bull was in the mix, initially, (read about that here), but apparently, Red Bull and the WSL couldn’t couldn’t find a way to play nice so they pulled out at the last minute, leaving the Aikaus with no deal.

BeachGrit believes Quiksilver has submitted multiple offers to the Aikaus, all with increased revenue sharing opportunities but all have been rejected. There are still negotiations underway between Quik the the family as of this past week.

You’ll remember how The Eddie peaked in February this year when John John Florence won the contest, which has run only nine times in the past thirty-two years, in the best conditions ever.

Wouldn’t it be a fine way to say aloha to The Eddie and slip in The Brock?

Yeah, and no. Quiksilver, we believe, sees the point about this year’s event being a good way to sign off, but, this is biz, right? And they sell a ton of Eddie product even in the off years. Quiksilver’s master, Oaktree Capital Management, therefore, is pushing for a new deal with the Aikaus.

And the name?

My money, for what that’s worth given my recent performance with Billabong shares, is the name will fall on Brock Little.

How could it not?

Brock finished fourth in the Eddie when he was nineteen; second in 1990, and in thirty-foot surf, including the wipeout pictured that he took with unflinching calm. Brock faced death with a similar calm. A month or two before he died of liver cancer earlier this year, I called and we talked about bout his prognosis (not good), why he told the world via IG (“When you’re out there looking like shit, it’s pretty obvious you have fucking cancer”) and how he feels about it all (“I’m so stoked. I’ve had a great life and what I’ve lived through and what I’ve done in my life, crazy good times.”).

The Brock. Don’t it sound good…

Brock Little, 1967-2016 from ENCYCLOPEDIA of SURFING videos on Vimeo.