Chas: “I’m in Hakuba with Mick Fanning!”

Your fifth favourite surf writer snowbound with ol pal Mick!

So I’m in Japan exploring what our Olympian surfers should do when they come for the 2020 games and they should do EVERYTHING!

They should go to Harajuku and buy rainbow cotton candies and to Comme de Garçon’s flagship and to a Shinto shrine. One thing they won’t be able to do is snowboard (since surfing is part of the summer games instead of the winter ones) but they should come here and do it in the offseason like me and Mick Fanning.

We are both at the same resort, right, like, this very minute!


Can you believe that? Can you even believe it? Of all the gin joints in all the towns in the world!

I am not actually staying at this resort and, if his Instagram ain’t lying, neither is he but this is where we both are today.

I want to see him. To give him a hug and ask to be friends. I also don’t want to wreck his vacation. We’ll see how it all shakes out I suppose.

I don’t know how Mick got here but I drove a van because I’m the only one in my group with an international driver’s license.

Ken Block, one of the most famous drivers in the world, left his international driver’s license at home but is in my group and, this morning, in then van behind me.

Have you ever watched his gymkhana videos? Of course you have along with 20 billion others. He has elevated driving to a high art.

Anyhow, Ken is in the van behind. I am leading. Driving over the snow but no big deal until I take my first left, slide off the road, and high center on a ditch.

Totally stuck.

Spinning tires etc.

Everyone piles out of the van. Ken comes to my window and explains so kindly how I can get out.

His advice worked! He is the patron saint of driving. A gift from God to us dumb bastards!

And now I am at the same resort as Mick Fanning. Can you believe that? Can you even believe it?

If I see him I’m going to hug him and ask to be friends!

Blood Feud: Mick Fanning vs. Airs

Never too old to learn!

I once said that Mick Fanning was the best-ever turner of a surfboard, but Surfing‘s photo editor Jimmy Wilson was quick to correct me. “Mick doesn’t do the most impressive individual turns,” Jim explained. “He’s just the best at linking them together.”

And he’s right!

Rarely if ever has Mick produced the type of grunting, growling, explosion of nose-pickery that we’ve come to expect from say… Dane Reynolds. For instance, many regard Dane’s upside-down, no-grab, under-the-lip-nose-pick at Haleiwa to be the best turn ever done on a surfboard. And Mick ain’t got none o’ dat! Airs neither!

Until now.

Mick has spent his retirement experimenting with aerial progression. Why not? Slater is almost sixty and he’s still jumping off shit. No reason why Fanning, a ripe thirty-five, can’t play catch up. But it makes you wonder, how did one of our most talented athletes completely disregard a major aspect of modern-day surfing for oh so long? The answer lies in the analytics!

I can’t quite remember where he said it, but I’m a hunnit that a sentence of this nature once escaped Mick’s Vertra-coated lips: “Every time I do airs in heats, I end up getting scored lower than if I were just to do turns. So I figured, why bother?”

Is this not a direct example of how the WSL compromises talent for… negative profits? Yeah, it doesn’t make sense to me either. Unless… maybe the WSL was designed to destroy surfing as a whole. Maybe Paul Speaker once had a love interest pilfered by someone groovier, tanner, with just the perfect hint of sun in his shaggy locks. Maybe this is revenge.

At this point our only hope lies in Mick. Keep jumping homie. Maybe you’ll save surfing in the process.

Créme: Nias Spills its Guts

Is there a wave more serenely tubular?

Diego Santos is living the endless winter. He splits his year between archipelagos Hawaiian and Indonesian, clocking the majority of his water time between two unlike breaks: Off the Wall and Lagundri Bay.

Off the Wall is a brutally straight reef that forces a surfer to commit heinous maneuvers like the “doggy-door” to escape from its greedy clutches. The prize for a completed ride is 20 waves on the head and the opportunity to introduce yourself to a few rogue lava rocks. For every person that returns smiling from a session poor-man’s Backdoor, Beachgrit makes a dollar. Need I say more?

Lagundri is the anti-Off-the-Wall. The bigger, the souther, and the longer period the swell, the more uniform Lagundri becomes. When it’s on, every wave offers a clean entry and exit. There’s a channel. A real live channel where you are entirely safe from death and destruction. The crowd can be dense but does not elicit the chilling fear of bloodlines Rothman, Alexander. It’s also a cheap place to go.

Of course I’ve never actually been to Nias, so it could just be tube-is-always-greener syndrome.

Still, we can agree that Diego is one lucky motherfucker. His main sponsor is FreeSurf, a corny Brazilian beachwear brand that apparently rakes in enough real$ to keep his ass tubed 365.

Which begs the question: is corny Brazilian beachwear the surfing industry’s secret to revival? Will Diego Santos lead us back to the days of luxuriant prosperity by way of multinational sea-spelunking?

Probs not, but here’s a nice video.

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.