At four pm Craig sees a little nugget. A small wave with a lip that, he knows, will pitch fiercely. He strokes in, no problem, curls his back a touch, no problem and sees the lip pitch right over his head. But the section that pitches is too much. He has time to enjoy the inside of the tube before stepping off his board. One of a million closeout barrels in his life.
But somehow, underwater, in the turbulence, his board shoots at him like a missile. An out of control projectile. It shoots at him maliciously, intending to cause pain. Through the water. It hits Craig, hard, right in the rib. Right underneath his right pectoral and below-ish his arm pit. It hits him with such force that the wind is punched from his lung. Not content with just sticking his rib, the board cuts up toward his armpit and the gets carried, by water and air, in another direction.
Craig surfaces, gasping. He can’t catch his breath. He fears the worst. Maybe major internal damage. Maybe he’ll die. He tugs his board over and looks at it. From the way it hurt, the nose must have speared him. He quickly examines the nose but sees it still in tact. Thankfully no sets come in.
Ollie, Craig’s friend, sees that he is struggling and paddles over. “What’s the matter?” Craig can barely respond, “Hey?” And Ollie repeats. “My fucken board just tried to kill me. I think I’m really hurt.” Craig slides himself on board and tries to paddle. It hurts to badly to raise his right arm. He can’t even lift it much less paddle. Craig hoists himself, with left arm, into sitting position. He hunches over to the right. It hurts too much to sit straight. Ollie goes to have a look. He can see a small tear in the wetsuit. He shrugs.
Craig says again, “I think I am hurt badly.”
Ollie tells him it doesn’t look bad but also can’t really see. “What happened?” “I paddled for that little wedgy thing and it closed out. Somehow in the tube my board, like, speared me. I’m hurt.” Ollie shrugs again. A set appears and the first wave breaks far outside. Craig lays down and lets the whitewash take him into shore. As soon as he can he stands and limps the rest of the way to dry sand, dragging his board.
Matt, Craig’s filmer, can see something wrong immediately. Craig takes a while to resurface and then, Matt can see through his viewfinder, checks something on his board. Maybe he broke his board? But the way Craig dawdles, then gets up. The way Ollie comes over, Matt reckons Craig is hurt. Maybe ankle on the last air? He can see Craig making his way in so leaves his post and trots down the beach. Down toward where Craig is exiting the ocean. Thirty more minutes and the light would have been absolutely perfect. Absolutely.
When he is a few meters from Craig he calls out, “What’d you do? Tweak your ankle?” Craig is walking up the sand with a dazed look on his face. Less walking more stumbling. He is holding his board under his left arm, backwards, and brushing the hair out of his eyes, gingerly, with his left. He is hunched and keeps looking back toward the ocean. Toward whatever, maybe, hurt him.
He doesn’t hear Matt so responds with a sort of pained, breathy, “Hey?” Matt repeats. “Did you tweak your ankle?” A smile spreads across Craig’s face. “I’m happy to be alive. My board just fucken stabbed me.”
Matt asks. “Where?”
Chuckling a little bit. Craig points with his right arm to a place on the right side of his torso. “Here.” And laughs some more. “That really hurt, eh.”
Matt looks closely and sees a small tear in the wetsuit and a piece of flesh poking through. It looks a little scratched, bloody, but he can’t tell from such a small window if there is real damage. He asks, “Do you have a bruised rib?” Craig, looking back at the ocean, swaying back and forth, says, “Oyy. I don’t know. I’m lucky I have ribs. It would’ve stabbed m’ heart…”
He takes a deep breath in and exhales through pursed lips. “…I can’t even move m’ arm.” His face is shifting between amused smirk and genuine pain. Eh eh oooh. Matt asks, “Did it happen in that last barrel?” Craig answers, “Yeah that wasn’t fun. Yeah, like ah pulled into the closeout and then….” He pulls his lips tight and bobs his head a bit. His eyes are still only fixed on the surf. “…m’ board decided to stab me.”
Craig stares at the ocean longer. He is quiet. Then he says, “Ahhh action sports.” And, “Fuck you wettie.”
For the first time in forever, Slater enters all three Triple Crown events…
You ever wonder why Kelly Slater hasn’t had a real swing at the Hawaiian Triple Crown in close to twenty years?
I mean, how many times do you have to listen to surfers and commentators say the Triple Crown means as much as a world title to not be piqued by the thought: if it’s so important, where’s Slater? Isn’t his entire existence based around winning? Every record, he owns: youngest/oldest world champ, most contest wins, etc.
But, if you want to compare the thirty-two-year history of Triple Crown titles, well, examine this…
Sunny Garcia: 6
Derek Ho: 4
Andy Irons: 4
Joel Parkinson: 3
Mike Ho: 2
John John Florence: 2
Kelly Slater: 2
The greatest surfer has two Triple Crowns, the last one eighteen years ago? Equal fifth of all time? Doesn’t that smart just a little?
Yesterday, BeachGrit reader Matt Siemienski wrote:
Over the years I have tried to figure out why in the hell doesn’t Kelly compete in the Triple Crown. But first let me explain a little about myself and hopefully provide some context.
I was raised on the Gulf Coast of Florida. I’m 41, a big Slater fan, have been for many many years. I’m no hater. I’ve also lived on Oahu for the last 11 years.
Most of that time, I asked others why they think that the best and ultra competitive surfer hasn’t competed in the TC.
Nobody has ever provided an answer, or at least a juicy enough one. The best I’ve got was that he has already won it. Or that he sucks at Sunset. Needless to say, I don’t think that’s the answer. Slater has been very aware of his standing in our historic annuals. Why pass on something he would have been a favorite at most years. Especially in the years where the title was out of reach before coming to Oahu.
Somehow I think Sunny had something to do with it. Haha. J/K
I did read something about how weird it was for Slater to be hanging around JJF so much as he was being crowned the champ. I didn’t see it but the guy wrote something along the lines of Slater “not allowing JJF all the glory”. I’m keen enough to know that whatever that guy wrote, he may just be being a hater. Then again, why is Kelly finally getting around to commuting to the TC again?
Maybe it wasn’t Sunny, instead the Hui telling Slates to let some others have some glory. Fuck, I don’t know. What have you heard? Or think? Or even care?
It’s a good point.
And made sharper when Slater, who missed the cut-off for entries into the Hawaiian Pro and had to be gifted a wildcard, scratched his sword all over Haleiwa, looking better than anyone.
Of course, Kelly didn’t make much of a deal of it.
In a pre-heat interview, he kinda aw-shucked, said he was inspired by Dusty Payne and Julian Wilson’s performances last year, and that he hadn’t been around for years ’cause the last time he had to surf in dribbly lefts (in 2012).
Is Slater, who says he’ll retire after a final hit at the world title in 2017, throwing his weight around ’cause he wants to snatch the limelight, in much the same way he did last year with Adriano’s world title?
Or is it a longer game?
With the tour wrapped in 2017, Slater retires to Hawaii, with the aim of stealing seven Triple Crowns.
Obviously, I got crickets when I called Slater half-a-dozen times.
Bullying is predicated on the notion that the victim won't hit back.
Sweet lord jeebus, how terrible is Orange County?
How have I not seen this video before? Superb comic relief. HB shitbag shit-talker getting his ass handed to him at the US Open. It’s all there. Scraggly hair, terrible tattoos, male tramp stamp that reads, “Faith.”
Certain in his safety, his Republican bastion right to bully those around him. Utterly dumbfounded when it comes time to pay for his actions. Immediately, literally, pointing the finger at others. Blaming them for his own idiocy.
Talks tough, throws the first wild punch, can’t back his shit up. Ends up in cuffs because he wants to play Mr Heavy Local while his shitty beach break plays host to a million inland invaders.
A total product of his environment. Faux tough-guy demeanor, running his mouth at full speed. Certain in his safety, his Republican bastion right to bully those around him. Utterly dumbfounded when it comes time to pay for his actions. Immediately, literally, pointing the finger at others. Blaming them for his own idiocy.
We’re finally through our appalling election, the idiots who put an orange freak in power are reveling in their win. It seems they’ve already forgotten the rhetoric they employed, the utter destruction of basic decency they embraced in order to sell their nonsense taking points.
Just like this no doubt born-again off and on addict who picked a fight, they’re gonna be shocked when people stop playing nice. Bullying is predicated on the notion that the victim won’t hit back. Nothing will be more gratifying than the shocked expression on their faces when they learn that, not only is it no longer the case, their supposed protectors don’t give two shits about them.
Surfing is the damndest dance. We each of us love it so and also each of us mostly want to do it alone. Oh how crowds in the water rankle! It’s a good thing we don’t run tourist boards/state economies etc. because everyone would go broke. Giant signs would be plastered outside of phenomenal breaks with the words “Go Home!”
Thankfully for its state’s coffers, the Hawaiian Tourism Authority don’t care ’bout nuthin’ but greenbacks/yen and are set to ride surfing’s inclusion into the Olympics toward riches! Let’s read about in the the Star-Advertiser!
Hawaii is trying to bring in more tourists by taking advantage of surfing’s elevation to Olympic sport status.
The Hawaii Tourism Authority usually spends most of its $9.1 million sports budget on land-based events, but will start to focus on surfing and water sports as the games approach, according to Leslie Dance, the agency’s vice president for marketing and product development.
The agency is working with New York-based Ascendent Sports Group to develop sports marketing for 2017-2018. Ascendent has a $200,000 contract with HTA.
HTA’s marketing contractor, Hawaii Tourism Japan, will also ask Japan’s Olympic Committee to allow surfing to be highlighted in the opening ceremony.
“It would be a great honor to bring all the surfers from all the teams together to celebrate the first time that surfing has been involved in the Olympics,” said Eric Takahata, managing director for HTJ. “We also want the members of the U.S. team, whoever they may be, to carry the message that surfing was born in Hawaii. We don’t know who will be on the U.S. surfing team, but we’re hoping that it will have a Hawaii presence either through the coach or a team member.”
HTA wanted Hawaii to host the Olympic surfing trials, but the team members might be selected by a point system instead, Dance said.
And wait just a second… does that last line…
“We also want the members of the U.S. team, whoever they may be, to carry the message that surfing was born in Hawaii. We don’t know who will be on the U.S. surfing team, but we’re hoping that it will have a Hawaii presence either through the coach or a team member.”
…sound a little like a threat? Or a lot like a threat? If there is no Hawaiian surfer on team USA will there be a broken face somewhere?
So how much do you know about the aesthetically sexy, if misunderstood, design? I rode one of ’em for years, a six-ish foot, six-channel bottom from Allan Byrne, the most famous from the school of deep channels. Used it for a year, and nothing else, while living on a beach in France. Two foot, six foot. Whatever. I liked it. Fast. A feeling of security and grip and power in turns, sturdy as a sailor in the tube. Maybe it was the shape, maybe it was the channels. Real hard to decipher unless you’re making identical boards, one with a flat bottom, the other channelled.
Recently, the San Clemente-based shaper Matt “Mayhem” Biolos brought out a line of channel bottoms, a gorgeous little Baby Buggy with curved channels. I figure he knows enough about the game, about what is faddish, and what works, to explain, and maybe demystify, the ancient design.
BeachGrit: How about explaining, for a lot of surfers who grew up riding concaves, what a channel bottom actually is?
Biolos: Well, first, I’m gonna refrain from the knockdown, dragged-out history of channel bottoms. This is no encyclopedic nor overly technical hydrodynamic/aerodynamic explanation.
I’m gonna keep it simple.
Channels are a design tool to cut paths for water and air to pass quickly, with forced direction, though the bottom curves of a surfboard. Similar to concaves, of course, but more dramatic and usually more focused. On a macro level, there tends to be be two styles of channels. Belly channels, which don’t exit the tail and are usually set forward of the fin cluster and tail channels which start just forward of the fins and run the length of the tail, usually, but not always, exiting though the tail of the board. Let me explain, one by one.
1. Belly channels were popular in the eighties, before boards transitioned to using concave hulls from vee bottoms. These boards tended to sit lower in the water and the vee could drag in small surf so, looking for lift and planing in lacklustre surf, shapers started cutting channels through hull the board, between the feet, to help direct the flow of water, and air, through the rocker and vee of the board.
These belly channels were cut into boards in myriad of ways and sort of died out with the popularity of full concave bottoms in surfboards during the early nineties. Why? The concave cut through the rocker in a much more radical and effective way. Very recently, and with no really noticeable, recent precedence, DHD went and started cutting belly channels into some boards for Mick Fanning. I assume they were trying to allow Mick to keep a lot of central curve in small wave rockers and get a bit at once speed and squirt through them. It seemed to work, as he won J-Bay on one.
2. The tail channels were really popular in the late eighties and early nineties. “Deep Six” channels cut up to 1/2” deep and exiting the tail, with radical wings cut into the outline in their wake. In our corner of the world, southern Californi, they were a huge fad, popularized by the local hero of heroes, Matt Archbold. He came home from Australia with some of these boards shaped by, I think, Terry “Richo” Richardson. The late Al Byrne gets a lot of credit for his work shaping, and his personal surfing performance on these types of boards, but in San Clemente, it was all about Archy, and Timmy Patterson, who made an art of shaping them. We all followed suit with vigour.
I was in my first few years of shaping and did hundreds of them. Took a full quiver of poorly shaped ones for myself to Hawaii in Fall of eighty-nine!
Anyways, for me at least, it’s easy to explain that the tail channels really took off as a way to cut through the recent advent of hyper-extended tail rockers. With the advent of concave bottoms, it was now much easier to use a new found amount of really kicked tail rocker in surfboards.
The true modern surfboard, with guys like Kelly, Archy, Herring etc, were using these extreme tail rockers to fit into new parts of waves. By cutting the channels deeply though the tail curve, you could really “channel” the water and, for better or for worse, air through the tail. The back foot feels like a gas pedal. The harder you push, the more is pushes back. Even with radical amounts of tail lift, the boards shoot forward with bursts of almost sketchy speed, rather than bog or sink or turn under the rear-foot pressure. In hollow, glassy waves the effect is the best. The clean, smooth water sucking up the wave face grips and attaches itself, gripping to the edges and surfaces of the channel forcing all the pressure and directing it directly out the back of the board.
Like any radical design in almost any genre, the more extreme it is, the less circumstances it will excel in. Choppy surfaces tend to make it difficult to keep the water attached to the channels , letting air in and causing all sorts of unexpected lift and unsettled feeling under the rear foot. When cut into a board, they also tend to remove a lot of foam and floation, and unless really pre-planned, which makes for tails that can sink or drag in small gutless surf. Wide tails and thicker pre-shaped foils can alleviate this.
A couple of years ago, while shaping in Bali, I stumbled upon some of Al Byrne’s amazing six-channels at the factory we work in and decided to design a simpler, less radical four-channel version. Using a slightly wider tail template than a typical hollow wave step-up, we began building and testing them with surfers around Indo. The response was good. We gave ours the name “Trouble Shooter”. Lots of tail rocker, a fairly relaxed entry and forward outline, made for an easy riding, but radical feeling , board in typical Indo surf. We put in in our line of boards, but with little to no fanfare, and almost zero sales.
A third, and almost uniquely different, genre of tail channel has sprung to prominence recently. I am taking some liberty here, but the designs of Dan Thompson, popularised by the surfing of Stu Kennedy (and Dan himself for that matter) are almost a design unto itself. It seems to me that Danny is using his channels to add an exhaust/release valve to his fast and flattish tail rockers. He’s pretty technical, with all sorts of engineering and time/space theories in his design explanations, but broken down simply, that’s what it looks like to me. A lot of shapers have done it over the years, but no one to the extreme focus and success of Tomo. He really worked on those things for a long time. I call them “release valve channels” and we had a model, The “Scorch-It” about six years ago, using them. The model tanked, but it was actually really good. A spin off of our Stealth model, which was selling great at the time. No one had an interest in channels, and it fell on deaf ears.
Whatever his concept is behind these designs, I was inspired to go back and play around with flat tail rockers, for speed and drive, and steeply angled channels just in the rear bit of the tail to allow water to release in turns. The idea was to allow a flat-rocker board to easily surf vertical and in the pocket (square peg fitting and a round hole). They also add a bit of grip.
Tomo’s boards must be the most popular channel bottoms in the world right now. And from my point-of-view are almost the opposite theory of the more classic channels described in #1 and #2 above. He also uses extreme narrow concaves as if they were channels, which is something that has floated around, design-wise, since the Bonzer, even before.
We have been inspired to mix the two concepts and start our “Radiating 4” (R4) tail channels further back in the tail, with a steeper, angle, up and out of the tail. The idea is to cut through the rocker – and then release the water flow in a shorter arc for every-day waves where quicker turns are required.
We have added these “R4” channels to our Baby Buggy and a new, re-designed, Stealth, based off of our V3_Rocketand our original “Stealth” model. It’s a lot of fun. I have also been working for the last six months on an updated Puddle Jumper, which has a very low tail-rocker, and added a half-moon cut out and release valve channel to the tail. The results in small, gutlees trestles have been incredible, at least for my personal, domesticated surfing.
BeachGrit: Why would you get a channel bottom instead of the usual single through to a double concave?
Biolos: For fun mainly, but in good clean powerful surf that lack of concave in the rear third of the board feels much more positive. If you keep the extreme tail rocker, with a lack of concave it may tend to slow down the board, and keep it from projecting under rear-foot pressure, mainly opting to sit in the bowl and surf critical. By adding some channels through the curve, you can re-gain the thrust and directional force without the skitzy lift of typical double or a deep single concave. The rail-to-rail concaves don’t direct the water flow so much as add lift.
BeachGrit: Can you describe the…feeling? Can you compare the feeling to a concave? ‘Cause, theoretically, they’re not world’s apart, right?
Biolos: Didn’t I just do that? Jesus. The channels really give direction to the thrust. The concaves, and I’m generalising here, are more for lift.
BeachGrit: Hell of a thing to shape and glass, historically. Maybe not shape anymore ‘cause you got the machine. But are your glassers and sanders suicidal? When did you break the news to ‘em that you were launching a channel bottom? Did you do it over tequila?
Biolos: Even with most machines, shaping is just as tedious as sanding. I try to pump my shapers/sanders up with two points… 1. It’s a premium product. And we are paying a premium up-charge to the shapers/sander, with is designed to keep their hourly/daily income the same, or better, when shaping or sanding a bunch of channel bottoms. 2. It’s a less repetitive day of work. Meaning less boring. If a sander spends six hours sanding ten standard surfboard – that repeating the same thing 10 times in a day, day after day, boring. But if you’re shaping (or sanding) six or seven channel bottoms in that same day, and making at least the same amount, or more money, then you now have a much less repetitious day, and you;re now creating a more visually and mentally stimulating product, which makes for a less boring work day.
BeachGrit:Speaking of, how much extra work goes into the channel bottoms you make and what kinda premium do they have price-wise?
Biolos: I would say that one of our typical Radiating 4 channels takes half again as long as the finished shape itself. So the labor of shaping is about 50% more. The same goes for the sanding. the lamination is probably a 25% time-added expense, as well. The costs we upcharge tend to only cover my added expenses and I pretty much sub-margin these things, making even less percentage of profit on these than typical boards.
BeachGrit: Do the WSL guys ride ‘em? Brother, Carissa? They going to use ‘em in big contests?
Biolos: Brother just ordered some for freesurfing between seasons, after Pipe, up til Snapper, but I would not expect to see him ride them in contests. Carissa? Damn, now I wish I made her a couple for Honolua Bay. They would go incredible out there. You could use sooo much curve and not lose drive. With the pressure of the world title gone, she would probably do it. I blew it! But like I said above, Mason Ho just won the WSL 3000 at solid Sunset Beach on a 6’7” channel bottom. I would guess that makes him the second surfer, after MF at J-Bay, to win a legit WSL event on a channel bottom in a long long time.
BeachGrit: Tell me about your channels, specifically. Why not the shallow four, or the deep six etc.
Biolos: I think, the four (instead of six) makes for less specific conditions needed for the board to excel. By leaving a flat planing surface where the front fins are, it gives a more conservative feel under foot in sub-par waves, while still cutting through the curve of the tail. Also, my four channels all radiate in towards the nose a bit. The outer channels run parallel with the front fins and the inner channels use half that amount of toe towards the nose, matching what a quad fin would have, whether it has quads or not.
I simply feel that this set up makes for a more turning friendly board. It may not be as radically fast in projecting, as parallel channels, but like the whole thruster concept, they lock in and work best when one of the rails/fins is committed. They’re more forgiving and work better in turns. They also feel less stiff in small or sluggish surf and work with the quick pumping motion that most of us surf with in the modern era. Thats not to say that straight channels at G-land, J-Bay or any fast, down the line wave don’t work incredible.