Crème: Pipeline Catches Fire!

Who doesn't love the sight of spitting perfection?

As reported here and here, California is currently in a period of great swellular potency. I’m happy to announce that I found redemption from yesterday’s flail by self-sacrificing in oversized closeouts. Nothing a few NPAC-induced cartwheels can’t fix!

But where do these massive NPAC swells visit before completing their journey to California? Hawaii of course!

Swells have been spinning off Japan like Beyblades and pelting the North Shore with favorable angles (W-NW) and winds (E-SE). The result is days on days on days of pumping Pipeline, with no end in sight!

The video below highlights the best waves ridden at Pipe and Backdoor during the recent run of swell. Some of the standouts and their attributes include:

Russ Bierke (0:14): 18 years old, whiter than Colgate, one of the top ten chargers in the world right now.
Masatoshi Ohno (0:38): sits low like Curren, utilizes longer board efficiently.
JJF (1:21): Exponentially more relaxed than all others, doesn’t catch any great waves but rides his to perfection.
Anthony Walsh (2:04): couldn’t stand taller, no GoPro?
Two randoms (2:10): Backdoor guy looks legit, still surprised he made it. Pipe guy rolled into the most amazing, off-balance fluke I’ve seen.
Slater (2:30): sits too far back on his board for my liking, gets a way better tube than I ever will.
Koas Smith/Rothman (2:40): Backdoor, giant stance, thigh stall. Ugly but effective.
Last rider (3:32): impeccable pumping technique, agile foamball recovery.

Who’s your fav?

Oh, and a surprise treat!

XXL: California gets massive surf!

Many die.

And if you happen to be in California, where are you surfing this morning? Is your step-up big enough? Does it contain enough volume? Probably not! It’s Big Sunday!

Multiple people have died so far during this wild run of swell. Two Chinese nationals up near Pebble Beach. A paraglider who coasted into the sea and then got swamped. A man bodysurfing near Morro Rock.

But, and again, where are you surfing? Do you have your big wave spot dialed or do you go to your normal spot and smash against cascading white wash?

Do you watch the buoys like Shane Dorian and plan your attack or do you drive to a parking lot overlooking some whatever beachbreak, put your wetsuit half on and stand and watch for 2 hrs before going home and getting into the bath?

Do you like surfing bigger waves or do you just paddle out because that little voice in your head whispers, “Sissy…” if you don’t?

Dane Reynolds Sandspit
Dane Reynolds is very fond of the crystalline mass known as Sandspit.

Sandspit: Expectations vs Reality!

Surfer chases his Californian unicorn. Is crushed underfoot.

Have you ever been let down, completely? Ordered a pepperoni pie and received anchovy? Brought home a nine and woken up to a three? Built up a wave in your head for years only to surf it on what should be the day of the decade and it actually sucks?


Sandspit has always been my Californian unicorn. A sand-floored, reeling righthander where any doofus could find himself a six-second tube. With a massive WNW swell and wind combo running headlong into the American west, I thought there’d be no better opportunity to seek out this mythical creation. 

Here’s where I’ll break down the stark differences between expectations and reality. 

The first thing I noticed about Sandspit was that something was missing. Situated on the ocean-side of a harbor breakwall, the wave begins with a backwash and a barrel. One of the iconic symbols of this takeoff zone is Old Glory flying loud and proud atop the breakwall flagpole. But today that pillar stood without adornment. 

I wondered, was this a symbol of protest against our newly minted Salamander-in-Chief? A precautionary measure for the impending storm? One and the same?

Whatever the reason, I was optimistic. The last time that Donald Trump achieved a major feat (Election Day, November 8, 2016), the following day provided eleven hours of the best surf I’ve witnessed firsthand. I assumed today would be more of the same, as if the ocean were consciously kind enough to heal our wounds with brine and barrel. It turns out that idea was as stupid as it sounds. 

I won’t say the waves were bad, but they certainly weren’t close to what I was expecting. This swell is gargantuan by most accounts, but that didn’t translate to Sandspit. Head high was an average set, and good luck getting one of those. 

Even more frustrating than the size was the shape, which stunk more of Malibu than Kirra. For whatever reason the wave seemed to push sloppily down the line instead of focusing its energy on the bank, so my visions of a leg-burning cave sprint were left unabated. 

I’ve always believed that to paddle in without catching a wave was akin to extracting your balls and incinerating any remnants of perceived manhood, but I did this exact thing five times today.

And the paddling! Good scott, if you stopped your desperate flailing for more than a second, you were damn near in the harbor. Unless you’ve got the cojones and know-how to jump off the front of the breakwall and straight into the peak (similar to a Snapper Rocks jump-off), you have about five minutes to catch a wave before you’re out of the zone entirely. 

I’ve always believed that to paddle in without catching a wave was akin to extracting your balls and incinerating any remnants of perceived manhood, but I did this exact thing five times today. 

I ended up with a total zero tubes and two decent rides. My arms are sore and I feel like I just got punched in teeth by the brass knuckles of disillusionment. 

Probably should have just marched today instead.

(Watch it here, when its aesthetic intensity is on full reveal. Video by the wonderful Surfing Magazine.)

I'm rich!
I'm rich!

Imperialism: The Zuck vs. Kauai!

Is the world's 6th richest man taking advantage of beleaguered Hawaiians?

Mark Zuckerberg is following the path of the “rich man” to a tee. Make a killing with a new innovation; fuck over a bunch of people on the way to fame and fortune; then flaunt that wealth with reckless abandon across the globe. Maybe the wealthiest people in the world (Zuckerberg is the 6th richest man on earth) have a “How to piss on the little guy” handbook and Mark just hit chapter 3 aptly titled “Destroy cultures for private houses and resorts.”

Mark’s new vacation home sits on land that is owned by locals, deceased people and a few individuals that have no knowledge of their ties to “1/4% to 1%” of the land. Mark has filed lawsuits against over 100 people to coerce the owners into selling the land so construction can continue. The owners of the land are descendants of farmers that were allowed to claim the land they lived on as their own back when the Kuleana Act of 1850 was established.

Can the locals get a break from imperialism already? First Captain Cook and white missionaries try to snuff out surfing all together. Then the influx of big surf brands buying up property on Kam highway. Dustin Barca and Eddie Rothman are still fighting Monsanto, DuPont Pioneer, and other GMO scientific research companies for conducting testing that is causing serious damage to the livelihood of future generations of Hawaiians. The theme is consistent with the overall story of the Hawaiian people. Outsiders coming in and taking what they want, with a general disregard or back handed “respect” for the locals. Business as usual.

Mark’s compound is on land parcels shared by locals in the area. When he arrived to build the house and compound, he dropped a measly $100 million on the land. The complaints mounted against the project from the obvious to the petty; including complaints that his private security detail were parked on the road, to the glaringly obvious that Hawaiians are tired of having money, status and power dismantle their culture because those in power have the means to do so.

Mark and his camp claim that they just want to pay everyone what they deserve for the land and that the lawsuit was filed to avoid a lawsuit coming their direction. To battle the negative press coming out, Mark took to his own Facebook to make a statement.

“We are working with a professor of native Hawaiian studies and long time member of this community, who is participating in this quiet title process with us… It is important to us that we respect Hawaiian history and traditions.”

Well Mark, the locals don’t care if you have one professor on your payroll to make sure you can build whatever you want, and to help circumvent any legal problems that may arise. The local’s want their land untarnished, their culture not trampled on, and to keep their Mana levels high. For a guy who is allegedly pretty smart, maybe he should read Chas’s book (he totally should!), watch the Eddie documentary that ESPN put out, or maybe just talk to the locals there so that drama like this doesn’t happen.

Zuckerberg and Facebook have had a rough year; the guy just wants to sip a Mai Tai while the trade winds roll over the island. The business blog 24/7 Wall St. reported on their annual “Most Hated Companies” list on January 10, 2017, and Mark’s baby was listed at 6th place. Data collection, privacy concerns, and Mark’s own reactions to dealing with “Fake News” have tarnished the social media empire. I won’t even begin to tackle that issue but nonetheless Facebook is rocking the boat. Personally I became fed up with the site and deleted mine entirely.

The people of Hawaii are justified to take issue with another rich asshole entitled and selfish enough to take more land away for vacation homes, resorts or GMO test facilities. Mark seems to have the same attitude that cost Captain Cook his life on the Big Island. Do not underestimate the strength of local Hawaiians. Money, power and condescending respect will get you a spear in your back as a beautiful Hawaiian sun sets. Mark if you have any questions about what it’s like when the locals bite back for your actions, give Graham Stapelberg a call on how it feels to get properly smacked by Fast Eddie.

Rick Rasmussen

Rasmussen: “Killed in the Ghetto!”

Matt Warshaw on the seventies surf god Rick Rasmussen…

Earlier today, the Encyclopedia of Surfing dropped one hell of a story. The life and death of seventies surf god Rick Rasmussen, killed in a New York drug deal. The story, called The Cadet and The Surfer, and reprinted from a 1982 issue of New York magazine, follows the parallels lives of a black kid in Harlem who ends up getting out of the ghetto and studying at West Point and a preternaturally talented surfer who chases drug cash into the ghetto and dies.


When Rick and the cabdriver returned to the street, they were still arguing. Rick apparently decided that he was about to be robbed. Jacquie had given Rick a gold Rolex for his birthday, and now she heard him say to the cabdriver, “Don’t take my watch.” Then she heard Rick lower his voice and say to her, “Lock the door.” Rick ran around to the other side of the Mercedes. A figure circled around the rear of the car. Jacquie remembers that Rick raised his arm and said, “Just don’t shoot my girl.” Hearing a shot, Jacquie dived to the floor of the car. She looked up and saw a gun pointed at her. She put her hands over her face, waiting for a second shot. She heard a voice say, “Get the girl.” Then she heard a second voice say, “No, let’s just get out of here.” After the cab drove away, Jacquie got out of the Mercedes. Rick was lying on the pavement with a three-inch hole next to his left eye. 

Rick Rasmussen. Best surfer from New York ever? That’s the legend. And who else to ask to ratify such a legend than Matt Warshaw? Let’s rap.

BeachGrit: So Rick, Ricky, the Raz. One of a kind surfer? Or is the legend a little gilded?
Warshaw: Hot, hot, hot. West Coast surfers, and a lot of East Coasters too, at the time, were really into being soulful and smooth, people riding pintails at their local beachbreak, feet together, dumb stuff like that. Rasmussen was aggro, stylish and aggro both, pushed his turns, went square off the top, and charged big Pipe as soon as he got to Hawaii. And like all the other dead surfers we’ve been talking about lately, had the charisma set on stun. Perfect surfer-blond hair, big Paul Newman smile, money in pocket, good taste in cars. I’d have to look it up, but I’m sure Rick was among the Top 10 most-laid surfers of the mid-70s.

BeachGrit: You would’ve been a kid in his prime, what was the vibe like?
Warshaw: When Rick won the 1974 US Titles, I was 14. Super-bummed cause I didn’t make the West Coast squad in boys division. Mark Levy, the guy who ended up winning juniors, went to my high school. Incredible surfer, like Rick, maybe even better—got a 3rd or a 5th in one of the first IPS contests, then quit and went to college instead. So the vibe that year — in South Bay we had this incredible surfer, Mark Levy, plus Mike Purpus, and here’s Rasmussen coming on strong from the other side of the country, and Bertlemann is going full Rubberman in Hawaii, plus we’ve seen MP in a surf movie or two, so it was like . . . we don’t have to ride pintails any more! Let’s surf like the kids we are! It was liberating. It was a turning point.

Like all the other dead surfers we’ve been talking about lately, had the charisma set on stun. Perfect surfer-blond hair, big Paul Newman smile, money in pocket, good taste in cars. I’d have to look it up, but I’m sure Rick was among the Top 10 most-laid surfers of the mid-70s.

BeachGrit: What was Ricky’s signature on a wave?
Warshaw: The picture that kind of made him famous, shot during the ’74 Titles, he’s coming out of a nice fast Cape Hatteras tube while hanging five. It’s more a style shot. Shows his versatility, but doesn’t really capture the way he attacked. Rick’s signature move was a forehand off the lip. Difficult on a block-railed single-fin, but he managed. He rode better over the next couple of years, after Jack Shipley loaded him up with free Lightning Bolts.

BeachGrit: He went to G-Land with Lopez and co, yeah? How did he compare to that crowd?
Warshaw: Not sure if he went with Lopez, but was one of the early guys there, yes. So he had a bit more zing off the top then Gerry, but was never going to snatch the pebble from the masters hand in terms of tuberiding. Lopez probably did his very best surfing at G-land in those early years. Raz couldn’t touch him. Nobody could.

BeachGrit: Handsome motherfucker, too. Talk to me about his glamour. The looks, the Merc, the Rolex.
Warshaw: I don’t know what the deal was in terms of family money. Some there, I think. But in ’74, when Rick was champ, he was scruffy-cool. Shirtless, trunks, beat to shit board. The board he won the contest on must have a year old, it had big brown patches on the bottom, looked like something you’d buy at a garage sale. Three or four years later, he’s cashed-up in a big way, dressing like Jagger, fine cars, all of it. And that’s just straight-up drug money.

BeachGrit: In that story about Raz and the West Point kid, sounds like his gal liked dick. Y’read that bit where she invites the black stud to Long Beach? Is that what you read into that passage, too?
Warshaw: The ‘70s and early ‘80s. Everybody was fucking everybody. Herpes couldn’t stop us. HIV did.

BeachGrit: How did the surf gang react when he was shot? Do you remember hearing about it?
Warshaw: The surf mags covered it only in passing. The surf media was so bad at stuff like that back then. A couple years before Rick was shot, Butch Van Artsdalen died from complete internal shutdown due to long-term alcoholism, and the mags didn’t even mention the cause of death. Guy was 38 years old. Full-page article, and no mention of how or why he died. The reason I posted that New York magazine piece is that it’s the only full treatment I could fine on Rick’s life and death.

BeachGrit: Rasmussen got a legacy?
Warshaw: Charisma kills? Between him and Bunker and Jay Adams, it’s like, if you’re the most radical guy in town, with a great smile, and you got the world on a string at 18, you’re doomed.