Is Dibi's posit that FCS copied Astrodeck's pads simply the ravings of a woman gone mad with paranoia? Or can you see a little something of the original in Julian's FCS pads?

Astrodeck: “FCS Copied Our Pads!”

It's a traction pad blood feud!

Do you follow Julian Wilson on Instagram? It’s a very good account with six-hundred-and-sixty-thousand followers and features giveaways, surfing clips and personal moments with his fianceé, the model Ashley Osborne. Controversy is something the impeccable Mr Wilson never seeks.

Recently, however, a post that featured three surfboards equipped with FCS fins and traction drew the wrath of the Astrodeck matriarch, the wonderful Dibi Fletcher. 

Glad @fcs_surf knocked off my pads good enough that you’re satisfied, noticed your results seemed a bit better on Astrodeck, but what do I know???

@badboyryry_ stepped into pit lane today. My wheels of choice thanks to @fcs_surf

A photo posted by Julian Wilson (@julian_wilson) on

It reminded me of the conversation I had with Dibi one month ago when I called to talk about Kolohe Andino and John John Florence paying ten-dollars apiece for their signature pads. Dibi, who is almost seventy years old, wouldn’t comment about the arrangement except to say she’d known ’em “since they were kids.”

Making money, of course, isn’t exactly what the pioneering deck grip company is famous for. Good grips, sure. Profitability?

“If I was making money do you think I’d be sitting at this fucking desk?” said Dibi. “You think at my age I’d be out the back shipping pads? The reality is, it’s a very small, niche market. But I still feel that I make the best pads. I have the best surfers in the most critical positions. That’s what I’m interested in doing. Making the best pads. Everyone in my family surfs. Unlike most of the other pad companies, do you understand, they’ve got people in cubicles making different coloured pads. They knock me off. I don’t care about. I don’t give a shit!”

Dibi added, “That’s my story, honey, here I am! I make the best pads in the world, we’re the original pad maker (since 1976), we’ll always have market share as long as I stay authentic. Companies went too big, they have to make their quarterly earnings. If you want big, you have to go and push your brand all over the place. Pretty soon you have no story left because you whitewashed it to death to get your corporate earnings.”

The Astrodeck office, which is the best place to find Dibi, was shut when I saw the Julian Wilson post. Instead, I got on Instagram (@dibifletcher) and asked her to comment.

“Hahaha, pretty old news. Julian rode my pads and obviously loved them,” wrote Dibi. “His Brother Bart called to see if he could get some pads for the ‘last time’? And said while picking them up ‘got to get these because FCS hasn’t knocked you off completely yet.’ Really??? Gotta love intended honesty.”

I also asked for her comment now that John John had been officially signed to Dakine to develop “a signature series of surf leashes, traction pads and a travel board bag.” Would the Astrodeck John John pad be pulped? Dramatically reduced in price? And Kolohe, will he still be buying your pads?

“I don’t know anything about JJ and Dakine, what do you know? Kolohe loves his pad and I adore seeing Dino when he comes to pick them up. Astrodeck will always be the best traction and we’ll survive/thrive, whatever surfers decide, for their best interest, to go to other companies. I wish them all the well.”

May I ask, does it thrill you when your pads are copied or does it make you sad?

“What do you think?”



How boozed y'think Michel Bourez got post Pipe Masters?

Watch: #TourNotes does Pipe Masters!

Come watch the season finale! It's feel-good!

I’ll be the first to admit I love the cheap immediacy of #TourNotes, forgiving whatever technical flaws it might have. Gimme candour, a moment, a window into a life over the tedium of slow-motion RED footage any day.

Yeah, I know, it ain’t quite the same since it became a WSL-branded item. Maybe Peter King lost a little interest in the game. If he has, who can blame him? It ain’t easy to make a living sticking your iPhone into pro surfers’ faces, in which case the decline is forgivable.

Or has there been a deliberate change in the narrative arc from doing laughs to doing inspiration?

From the WSL:

Join us as we jump through a few Pipeline yard parties to celebrate the feel-good moments from the final event of the 2016 Championship Tour.

In this episode, which mostly follows Zeke Lau on the finals day at Pipe, we see Zeke’s happiness at qualifying for the WCT (“I’m going to buy Kanoa a kimono,” he says, cleverly evoking the little man’s Japanese heritage), there’s a small window where Michel Bourez has won the Pipe Masters, he’s walked back to his beachfront rental, beer is poured over his head and we get…what do we get? Michel looks into the camera and says his wife will kill him if he doesn’t get back to Tahiti soon.

No party? No boozy Michel? No midnight jiujitsu?

Oh Peter what have you done to #TourNotes?

Watch it here. 

Self-sabotage: the WSL clamps down!

Busted for trying to actually create interest!

Yesterday morning I woke early, as is my pattern, and jumped on the machine in order to serve you piping hot Nazare news. Jamie Mitchell had just won and bravo and very brave etc. I had missed most of the event and was too early even for the World Surf League to have a recap on its own website but Speaker and co. had a small video on Instagram which I used on my own personal account to drive traffic to the story.

It took maybe an hour for my little post to be ripped down, replaced by a nasty letter from the social media site.

We’ve removed or disabled access to the following content you posted on Instagram because we received a notice from a third party that the content infringes their copyright(s)…

And I became genuinely frustrated! What in hell is wrong with our World Surf League?

I don’t imagine the Big Wave World Tour a giant money maker. I know it doesn’t get millions and millions of views. It is a fringe corner of a fringe activity and you would think, I would think, that building the audience is of prime importance.

But no.

WSL CEO Paul Speaker has enough time on his hands to, and would rather, scroll through Instagram feeds and then call the Instagram police and tattle.

Which is my general and overall problem with the bastard. He seems to regularly choose to be petty rather than great or even good.

Fuck that guy.


Warshaw: “Where’s surf’s sex + glam?

Meet the last surfer to really steal the world's breath!

Professional surfing is an oddly asexual pursuit. Hairless. Unthreatening. Not a man among the 44 who would cause you any mental grief if your girl fell onto their twinkling little sword.

Was surf always so wan?

I wondered, was there ever a surfer who made men possessively clutch their girlfriends, wives and daughters? Whose outrageous sexuality could seize a woman and make her fall onto her knees?

Let’s ask Matt Warshaw, curator of everything surf! 

BeachGrit: I couldn’t have been more thrilled by the Pipeline contest yesterday, but did you feel…something… was missing? And I don’t mean six-to-eight-feet of straight west.

Warshaw: I felt zero thrills yesterday. Except Bourez won, which is great.

But the part that’s gone missing. I didn’t feel that electricity…

Well, nothing really was on the line. Apart from the back seed business between Zeke and Nat Young, and you have to be a way bigger WSL fan than me to invest any emotion there, we’re all just watching Pipe yesterday out of habit. John could’ve turned it into a coronation, but no. Some people took vicious pleasure in watching Flores go down—complaining all the way, as usual. But nothing much there yesterday to get your claws into. Everything felt safe, scripted, predictable. Every guy wearing the same stupid hat after their heat. I perked up just once, when Kanoa got the score to beat Kelly, which was bullshit. Otherwise it was a just another day at the office.

Oh, Matt where did the glamour go? Who was the last surfer to really steal the world’s breath? 

Slater steals my breath still, now and then. He glammed the hell out of Interview magazine once or twice. But he was always kind of a boy toy in that respect. Deep, champagne-bleeding glamour, Kelly was never that guy. Arnaud de Rosnay glammed so hard, maybe the rest of the surfing world gave up. You heard of him?

French cat? World-class photographer and swordsman? 

Yes and yes, and an excellent surfer as well. Goofyfooter, great style, ruled La Barre in the mid-‘60s. Won the first big skateboard contest in Paris, too.

Arnaud de Rosnay and Bardot
The surfer, skater, photographer Arnaud de Rosnay and Brigitte Bardot.

Paris! J’adore etc. 

Sixty-four, I think. Arnaud would have been maybe 17. I don’t know anything about the comp except it was in Paris. I love those kind of fish-out-of-water stories. Sometime I will judge a surfer by wondering how he or she would do if dropped off, alone, in the 6th Arrondissement, or the East Village, or Mission Street. De Rosnay, I get the feeling, had Paris on lock. His big brother Joel still does. Pasteur Institute kingpin. Most elegant man to ever set foot on fiberglass.

Forget Joel. Tell me about Arnaud’s underage girl. She was the cutest!

John Severson’s daughter. Just 17 when the Frenchman made his move.

Arnaud Jenna de Rosnay
The older stud Arnaud de Rosnay and his teeny lover Jenna. The pair got married on Jenna’s eighteenth birthday.

Was Severson driven mad by the thought of his little girl getting impaled by such a Gallic stud? 

How could you not be? I think John was good friends with Joel, and Arnaud actually was the first Euro photog to score a SURFER cover, in 1966, just before he went big with Vogue. So I don’t know, maybe John’s thinking, Yeah this guy is 34 and has fucked his way through the Ford Models roster, but I’ve known him since he was a kid, and he has impeccable manners and a ton of money, so . . .

New York model and socialite Marisa Berenson, Arnaud de Rosnay’s long-time girlfriend and muse.

And the way he died? Mysterious!

That part of de Rosnay’s story I don’t think is so glam. He’s kind of stunt-sailing at that point, doing these nation-to-nation ocean crossings in the name of world peace or whatnot. Jenna’s home with their nine-month-old daughter and Arnaud’s out there trying to sail the Taiwan Strait. Ran way out ahead of his escort boat, which is dumb.

arnaud de rosnay

Is it possible that de Rosnay is the most glamorous surfer that ever lived? If I’m going to be honest, I don’t really buy the Bunker Spreckels narrative. Mean old junkie with buckets of cash buys friends. Real glamour is more than fur coats and Mercedes Benzes. 

If Arnaud had even a portion of brother Joel’s charm and intelligence, and he no doubt did, and you mix that with his crazy good looks and fashion sense and ambition and your basic French-birthright style, then yeah you’re looking at a monstrously glamorous surfer. If he’d quit chasing open-ocean thrills at 37 instead of 38, we could’ve have had a three-way Skype call with him and stammered out our admiration. He’d be 70 years old now, Christ.

If you had to crown a current professional surfer as #1 Glam, who would you choose? And you…have… to choose. 

Glamour in surfing these days is all on the women’s side. Steph Gilmore can turn it on. I can’t tell if Tatiana Weston-Webb is glamorous for real or merely super good-looking. Maybe best not to know. Mystery is glamour’s handmaiden, after all.

"Desperate to check the morning surf as the sunrise streams through your huge, eastward-facing window? No need to even get out of the king-size bed: you can see both beach and reef without rising from the pillow."

Twenty-two luxury villas for Keramas!

It's the supreme experience!

The wheels of progress move fast in Bali. The Australian Financial Review revealed today that Kommune, the resort at Keramas on Bali’s east coast made infamous with its shoey-sculling Mad Huey’s WQS event, was adding twenty-two fabulous new villas.

How fabulous? Let’s read.

Essentially Komune was pitched at hard-core surfers. This was most obvious when it came to the original 56 rooms. They’re pleasant enough, but tucked away from the beach and the pool – designed for people anxious to spend every hour they can in the surf.

However, this summer Komune has been transformed with the unveiling of 22 luxurious ocean-view suites perched discretely on a steep artificial hill and each with a breathtaking panorama through a fringe of coconut trees across the Lombok strait.

Desperate to check the morning surf as the sunrise streams through your huge, eastward-facing window? No need to even get out of the king-size bed: you can see both beach and reef without rising from the pillow.

Want a little quiet time away from the other guests? Each suite has a large sundeck with its own section of refreshing splash pool – perfect for reading a book or sipping a sundowner.

These handsome, spacious suites add immeasurably to Komune’s wider appeal. But the new “Health Hub”, a secluded adults-only enclave hidden behind a lush curtain of tropical plants, is an equally important part of the resort’s reinvention.

room at Kommune
The supreme experience of the urban man… on the beach.

Shall we examine the speed of change?

Eleven years ago the photographer Dustin Humphrey had to draw a map for me and my pal Sam to find the east coast righthander we’d heard about.

Humphrey, then a star photographer and not Bali’s Imperial King of Motorcycles, which he is now, drew a pencil diagram of the rice paddies we had to find and the exact rock track we had to turn down to get to the beach. We left at five am one cool morning and it took us almost six hours to find the wave that had suddenly started appearing in editorials and advertising shoots.

There were a few other surfers kicking around, a little warung on the beach, and black sand that absorbed so much heat even the fifty metres from water to warung was too much to bear. When the dry-season trades kicked in around midday, the few surfers left. We didn’t mind the light onshore and cooked ourselves for five hours surfing the joint by ourselves.

And then!

That anonymity ended in 2007 when a surfing magazine published helicopter shots of this “secret”, world-class surf break. Australian developer and keen surfer Tony Cannon read the article, flew to Bali, saw Keramas for himself, and dared to dream.

From the beginning, Cannon and de Leede realised Komune needed other facilities to keep non-surfers content while their partners were in the ocean. Apart from the elegant Beach Club restaurant and horizon pool, they arranged some yoga classes, massage facilities and horse-riding on the beach.

Want a villa? Book here. 

Want to try an eight-foot oop? This is the place.