Baywatch: The Rebirth of Kelly Slater!

Take those broken wings and learn to fly again!

How did I not know that Baywatch was being remade as a film? As a buddy comedy? Starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnston and Zac Efron? With all of the original flare?

Someone is going to get fired. Fucking fired.

But before I fire, Baywatch is being remade as a film! A buddy comedy! Starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnston and Zac Efron! With all of the original flare!

And this right here. THIS is the answer to the great Kelly Slater question. The “what will he do next?”

Because let us be very honest. The King will never even sniff a world title. 11th in the world is his absolute ceiling. John John Florence is only getting started and Gabi Medina is only getting smoother (skin and game). His wave pool is busted. Outerknow, while brilliantly designed, is never really going to be major and surfboard manufacturing is a straight margins play.

What will he do next?

Enter Jimmy Slade!

James “Motherfucking” Slade!

And if his agent is not on the phone, daily, with the Baywatch production team first begging for a walk-on, then pleading for a line, then asking nicely for a few lines, then a scene then maybe two scenes then his agent should get fucking fired too!

Imagine Kelly someday winning an Academy Award. Imagine him onstage accepting his little golden man. He will be accepting it for all of us. For surfers everywhere.

He just told Occy or Stab (I couldn’t quite tell due Stab‘s ongoing refusal to list sources and love of plagarism) that he was suicidal during Baywatch‘s first go around:

1993 was a rough year for me. I barely requalified after winning my first world title in ’92. I had a girlfriend, we were engaged, and then we broke up. At the same time I was totally broke, in debt, and then balancing both surfing and Baywatch. Basically everything went south for me at that point, and in the beginning of 1994 I was depressed and suicidal for a few weeks.

But I think it is time for him to get back on the acting horse. For surfers everywhere.

Take those broken wings and learn to fly again!

Josh Kerr aerial
Josh Kerr can rebound off any surface! Here, at Pipeline. | Photo: WSL

How to: land that first damn air!

It's easier than you think! Y'just gotta try… 

Cutbacks and swishing back and forth on a wave is, generally, the funnest thing in the world. At least it is until you discover the relative simplicity and ultra-satisfaction of regularly landing aerials.

Have you ever tried? Have you ever consciously forced yourself to not just throw your board away above the lip, but stay over the deck, land and ride out?

Probably not. It continues to amaze me how few surfers even try to lance the boil of monotony by taking their surfing to a different dimension.

You only need one good pump before you hit the section. And you want to be accelerating, you want thrust, when you hit it. So many people race, race, race, then slow down, and lose their pop when they hit the lip.”

We know you want to. And, so to further the cause, we’ve asked Josh Kerr, the almost thirty-three-year-old Australian surfer living in Carlsbad, California, rated thirteenth in the world, and a one-time aerial world champ, to talk you the through the mechanics of stomping aerials. This how-to is for the average and slightly-above average surfer.

First tip? “Stay in the top half of the wave and stall until you see the section. You only need one good pump before you hit the section. And you want to be accelerating, you want thrust, when you hit it. So many people race, race, race, then slow down, and lose their pop when they hit the lip.”

The pop! Listen to air guys and it’s a common theme. “It’s crucial,” says Josh. “If you use the right part of the wave, one pump and you can go from 10 clicks to 15 in a blink.”

A common mistake Josh sees is “people kicking their board out in front of them. They’re not staying over the top of their board and they’re putting their board flat to the beach. You’ve got to be committed to stay over your board. Don’t fall back when you’re in the air.”

And air reverses? If you’re a snowboarding kinda guy or gal, you already know what Josh is going to say. If not, add the word huck to your lexicon.

“It’s all about the huck. The main technique is swinging your arms and shoulders. It’s like a golf swing. You need to have full commitment to the swing and the follow through. Twist your shoulders, twist your head and your lower body will catch up.”

As for the semi-mythical full rotator, it requires an extra, conscious, and quite a physical huck. “The foreign part is coiling your body to get that extra part of the rotation.”

Feeling it? Go! Try! Blow a thousand waves. But that first big air you stomp?

Tell me you won’t be in a fog of ecstasy.

Créme: Mason Being Mason

Alt-left Hawaiian demonstrates surfboard's versatility

There is no surfer more entertaining than Mason Ho. Everything he does is original, creative, skillful to the tenth degree. If surfing were politics, Mason would be the unequivocal leader of the alt-left. Ford Archbold weeps.

I get that Mason has a soft spot for competition. His uncle is a World Champ, his dad a Pipe Master, even his little sis has been on Tour for years. But that Mason continues to chase the QS brings sadness to my heart. Surf all the Hawaii events, win the Eddie or the Masters and have your name engraved into eternity, but do us a favor and skip the Aussie QS leg. Did you watch the Junior World Championships, Mase? Your star shines too bright to be doused by the hammering heels of Willian Cardoso or his likeness.

The QS is designed to mold talent into metronome, only those with the most monotonous rhythm being able to succeed. Up down up down tic tac toe, 8.5 and away you go! But your surfing is horizontal, diagonal, upside-down. No matter how hard you try, your crystalline structure will never fit into their perfect little parallelogram. Nor should you want it to.

Instead, focus on this. The videos. The finding cool waves. The pushing of limits that most of us didn’t even know existed. Hang with your friends, smoke a little weed, stay happy. Take the Rip Curl wildcards when they come and tear Parko a new one. Kidnap Turpell and commentate the final alongside Martin Potter. Just be you!

Bethany: Better Than You!

What's not to love about Beth's technique, charisma?

If you don’t appreciate Bethany Hamilton, you are anti-anti-depressive and should probably leave right now. The shark attack survivor/mother/world class surfer personifies class in a sport defined by egotism and insouciance.

I once watched Matt George cry while reading, aloud, his profile on Bethany Hamilton. Dramatic, yes, but it is a wonderful piece that one would only benefit from reading. For instance, did you know that Uncle Laird put a price on the assailant’s head, leading to the culling of a fourteen-foot tiger shark whose jaws matched the markings on her board within two micrometers? Derek would be so proud.

This year I had the fortune of sharing a few sessions with Bethany while she was warming up for the Fiji Pro. Her athletic frame cruised the Cloudbreak lineup with just the right combination of force and attitude. People cheered her into waves as if she needed the extra boost. She didn’t.

Bethany has invented a crafty technique for wave catching, wherein she positions herself to the meet the wave at its near-breaking point, pulls the nose of her board back into the lurching wall, and uses the board’s buoyancy and wave’s momentum to sling herself over the ledge. If unable to position herself for that maneuver, she’s still able to out-paddle most of her peers — dare I say out-surf them, too.

This video features Bethany cauterizing the unsuspecting walls of Pasta Point in the Maldives. Is it her best surfing? The most stunning piece of film? Nay. But it forces me to remember and appreciate everything she’s done for surfing and those living with disabilities. Bethany Hamilton has singlehandedly changed our game for the better.

Mark Healey Great White
You want to know what drove the smallest kid in the entire seventh grade at Kahuku High School to one day ride giant waves and to mount the majestic Great White? Listen to this excellent podcast by the journalist (and pick-up artist) Neil Strauss and pro volleyballer and wife of Laird Hamilton, Gabby Reece. | Photo: @healeywaterops

Healey: “I experienced real racism!”

Big-waver Mark Healey reveals wild childhood on podcast, The Truth Barrel… 

The Hawaiian Mark Healy is someone you can safely refer to as a “waterman” without conjuring up scenes of noise and braggadocio.

Without fanfare, the thirty five year old from Wahiawa, has won the WSL biggest-paddle in award (2014), the Todos Santos big-wave event (2010), the XXL Monster Tube Award (2009), the Surfer Poll worst wipeout (2008), and in the same year he won the World Cup of Spearfishing in La Pax, Mexico. Outside magazine called Healey the “greatest athlete you’ve never heard of.” Mark likes to dive with the fabulous Great White, too.

Recently, Mark was a guest on The Truth Barrel, a podcast that takes place in a heated sauna and is hosted by the journalist and one-time pick-up artist Neil Strauss and pro volleyballer and wife of Laird Hamilton, Gabby Reece.

“There’s no fluff around Mark Healey,” says Reece, who posits that it wasn’t just Mark’s exposure to the ocean that turned him into the beast he is today, but growing up a small, white kid in a tough, local Hawaiian school.

In this episode, Mark speaks movingly of being the smallest kid of 200 in his grade at Kahuku High, girls included. The only kid who approached his diminutiveness was a boy with cancer.

“I didn’t break one hundred pounds until I was seventeen,” says Mark.

Small, white, no connections.

“I experienced real racism,” he says. “But then again it’s complex issues. A lot of white people did a lot of bad stuff over there. I didn’t. I wasn’t coming from land barons. My parents were just as poor and hard-working as anybody else, probably a lot more poorer than the local families. It’s human nature (to bully, exclude). You deal with a lot of stuff. Racism is obviously an issue and bullying is obviously an issue today but…

“Come on people, if they experienced the skin of stuff I experienced growing up. I’d be twelve years old, and small for twelve years old, and have a senior come by and give me his best shot. Straight down the pipe. Blow my face out. You were constantly on edge. You’d get in altercations twice a week. You learned to be either a doormat or stick up for yourself. Not a lot of kids stick up for themselves. You kinda snap every now and then.

“The crappy thing is,” says Mark, “you get forced into a situation where you have to react and if you lose, you lose. If you win, then you have their entire family looking for you.”

And don’t go expecting the other small white kids to help. They’re “shaking in a corner with PTS,” laughs Mark.

Thing is, he says, the fights, the racism helped him become who he is.

“I was dealing with an environment where I was, a, a minority and it was a little rough, b, being the smallest guy, c, being poor… I always tell kids this. If there’s anything that’s really served me, it’s this. I learned at an early age that sometimes you have to work twice as hard to get the same results as the person next to you. Life’s not fair. Do you want it or not? Do what it takes to get it.”

Listen here.