Rory Parker North Shore

Parker: “Day One on the North Shore!”

Small waves. Cute hitchhikers… 

I left Kauai under cloudy skies. The thirty-minute flight to Oahu didn’t improve things.

Always my favorite type of weather when I lived on the Gathering Place. Cloudy, steady drizzle, still pleasantly warm. It keeps the lesser element indoors. Tourists gathered around television sets in their hotel rooms. Only the hardiest venture out.

“I’ve been saving for years to take this trip. Rain be damned, we’re going to the fucking beach!”

But nothing stops the turtle traffic. Lolly-gagger halfwits cruising down Kam at five miles per hour. “Didja see the turtle, Sue? Wasn’t it big? Ya’ know, the Hawaiians call ’em hoh- news.”

Things don’t heat up until swell starts hammering in out of the North. When you can smell the salt in the air, feel the energy in your bones. When the sky is cloaked in a blanket of ocean spray.

Enough of that for a lifetime.

Not much swell, no way the Pipe trials are running yet. Not yesterday, not today, not tomorrow. Putting me at loose ends. Gotta find something to justify this trip.  Drinking myself into a stupor ain’t gonna cut it. We need zazz, zing! Gotta get those clicks and keep ’em coming.

Fuck me if I know how. Hawaii is, by nature, pretty sedate when there’s barely an swell in the water. Things don’t heat up until swell starts hammering in out of the North. When you can smell the salt in the air, feel the energy in your bones. When the sky is cloaked in a blanket of ocean spray.

But that ain’t today.

Making calls, sending emails, dropping in on old friends. Not as many out here as there once was. Everybody leaves. I did. As grand as Oahu may be, and it truly is a magnificent place, it ain’t hardly the best in the world.

If you want solitude you can find it other places. If you need money that’s doubly true.  Takes a ton of commitment to settle down on the Seven Mile Miracle and never leave.  I lack the fortitude.

But the surf is still fun. No heart-in-your-throat excitement, but plenty good times to be had. Took a drive down to Foodland yesterday. Checked the surf along the way.  Picked up two cute hitchikers out front of Malama Market.

“Now I know where you’re staying.”

Not a funny joke. At least, they didn’t think so.

Video: Malia Ward’s cute face dance!

It's better than Kelly's wave pool!

I regularly tell anyone who’ll listen, “If we could send but 10 BeachGrit commentators to Washington D.C. this damned country would be fixed up in no time!”  I sometimes tell anyone who’ll listen, “If we could send but 100 BeachGrit commentators to Jerusalem there’d certainly be peace in the Middle East!” I never tell anyone who’ll listen, “If we could send, like, 1000 BeachGrit commentators to Colombia, cocaine production would soon be eradicated and drug abuse would disappear as a societal blight.”

In any case, one BeachGrit commentator, Cmon Now, posted the below video of Malia Ward underneath an admittedly pedestrian story about Kelly’s wave pool with this helpful addition: “(Nothing to do with this story, but I’m bored with Kellyburg.)”

You may remember Malia Ward from pushing Gabi off a wave.

Or from starring in a strange Stab production alongside her mother.

Cmon Now’s video is a happy addition to her work. Watch and enjoy! It is much better than the Kelly story!

Rumor: Slater wave pool disappointing?

Is Kelly Slater's magnificent creation maybe not so magnificent?

Maxim magazine (do you recall the lad craze?) just published a wide ranging profile on our cherished treasure, Kelly Slater, and it might be worth your reading! Oh you’ll know most of the information already. Like:

At 18, Slater turned professional and quickly won his first pro contest, the Body Glove Surf Bout, at Lower Trestles in California. He signed a six-figure deal with Quiksilver. Two years later, he claimed his first World Championship, the youngest surfer in history to do so. Slater mania was born. He was a regular on Baywatch and dated celebrities like Pamela Anderson and Gisele Bündchen. He modeled underwear for Versace and opened for Pearl Jam with his own band, the Surfers.


For the past few years, however, the greatest surfer of all time has sought more than great waves. “He’s trying to do some good in the world,” says Pete Johnson, an Oahu, Hawaii, native who’s been friends with Slater for 30 years. “He’s passionate about other things and aspires to be a better man.” Slater is a voracious reader, whether the subject is business, nutrition, or cancer, the disease that took his father in 2002. He’s hands-on with the Kelly Slater Foundation, which has supported the fight against cystic fibrosis and melanoma. He’s become more conscientious, making sure to take time to call friends going through hard times. He’s expanding his horizons. Evolving. “I strive to be better and better in all aspects of my life and to learn as much as I can about the things that interest me,” Slater tells Maxim.

But worth your reading because there might be some hidden nugget, some clue as to the actual quality of Kelly Slater’s wonderful wave. You remember him releasing that video of it 20 minutes after Adriano de Souza accomplished his life goal and hoisted the WSL cup as high as those tiny arms could?

It seemed a fantasy! Too good to be true! Wait. Was it too good to be true? Theories rumbled around about how it would take 4 hours between waves for the water to clean up. Or was it 30 minutes? About how there was no actual trough on the wave. About how the barrel was only an illusion when shot from certain angles.

Since the video’s release a good number of people have surfed it though the fog of misinformation still hovers, leaving the rest of us to parse reactions. And there is an interesting one in the Maxim story!

Pete Johnson, Slater’s friend for 30 years, recently surfed it and said:

“It didn’t disappoint but Kelly’s always seeking to improve it.”

Whoa! Does that mean it kind of did disappoint? What do you think?

Kelly Slater with hair
To avoid ruination, experts say the surf industry should "hitch their brands to the wellness trend." An atrocity, yes? Like Kelly Slater with hair! | Photo: @kelly_slater_with_hair

How yoga pants can save surf!

Why the surf industry should forget surf and get into wellness, say experts.

The surf industry, like skate and snow, rides the boom-bust cycle with precise timing. One year it’s up, the next it’s down. Up, down, up down. It’s a roller-coaster. Always has been, always will.

Wanna know why? Because it’s a sport.

And some years the kids are riding scooters, sometimes it’s skateboards, sometimes it’s a surfboard. But there’s a base level of surfers, millions of us, enough to keep the meters ticking, the tills buzzing, the websites clicking. It’s only when companies go public, and they become beholden to the mantra of perpetual profitability, and they suck and suck onto a rapidly withering teat, that panic buttons are pushed. Non-surf CEOs hired; entire boards sacked.

You know the stories:

Quiksilver, six hundred mill and debt and thrown into Chapter 11. 

Billabong, saved from the brink. 

Surf Stitch, worst performing company on the Australian Stock Exchange. Sued by the very people trying to buy it. 

The need to feed shareholders’ expectations and dumb acquisitions brought ’em all to the point of ruin.

Anyway,  retail analysts interviewed by The Sydney Morning Herald in a story called How the Surf Brands Missed the Wellness Wave say all the misery of sackings and restructuring could’ve been avoided if they’d just started punching out yoga pants. One point five bill a year in “wellness” biz in Australia alone.

Let’s examine etc.

Retail analyst Steve Kulmar said the proliferation of the major surf brands ultimately undermined the integrity of the labels and robbed them of their unique value but he said they also missed the chance to hitch their brands to the wellness trend.

This created a chance for the active wear sector and he said this slice of the apparel market was growing exponentially.

“All the growth in apparel is in active wear; it’s trans-seasonal and people are prepared to pay for it” Mr Kulmar said.

He said wellness had been identified as one of the key growth areas in retail and this was in stark contrast to the “macho, extreme sports profiles” of the big surf brands.

“It’s just another chapter in the pretty sad state that the surf industry is in at the moment,” one analyst said.

Meanwhile, the wellness titan and bullishly expansionist Lululemon has moved into surf. 

What’s the greater atrocity? Lululemon Surf or Billabong/Quik Yoga?

Olympics: Surfing site just announced!

Get ready for Kelly Slater, John John Florence, Mick Fanning etc. to rock some hot beach break!

Remember when surfing was officially included in Tokyo’s 2020 Olympic Games? I do like it was yesterday! Tears of joy streamed down my cheeks as I furiously dialed World Surf League CEO Paul Speaker so we could share the moment together.

He didn’t answer and I’ve been so hurt ever since.

I mean, not hurt. I’m totally over him now. Like, whatever right? There are plenty of CEOs in the sea. Yeah?

Whatever. And today the International Olympic Committee officially announced the surfing venue!

Kujukuri Beach in Chiba prefecture some 100 km east of Tokyo!

And not Kelly Slater’s Ranch 10000 km east of Tokyo!

Have you been there? Have you surfed?

Here’s a video posted by Olympic hopefuls so you can start training.