Mick Fanning Chas Smith
And here, Mick Fanning, AO, and Chas Smith discuss the merits of a constitutional monarchy versus a republic before engaging in a lively debate on certain passages that appear in the Kabbalah. | Photo: Jeff Flindt

Mick Fanning’s Order of Australia medal!

Goodbye forever to Eugene! Hello Mick Fanning, AO!

Did you know Australia still toils under the yoke of the British monarchy, our necks under the jackboot of Queen Elizabeth II?

Does that strike you as odd? If you’re American, you might wonder why we cower under the gown of our American protectors, blooding our soldiers in futile wars in return, while still bowing to a hereditary ruler.

Of course, one bonus of our ties to England is the honours system: a series of awards doled out every January 26, Australia Day, to various politicians, sportsman, scientists and whomever else might’ve distinguished themselves in public life.

Of the 140 Officers of the Order of Australia (AO) awarded today, Mick Fanning stands in line, the third surfer, after Rabbit Bartholomew and Layne Beachley, to receive the handsome gold medal, which also comes with a stick pin version for daily use.


As the Gold Coast Bulletin reports:

MICK Fanning’s mother had the privilege of being the person to inform him he was going to be appointed an Officer of the order of Australia.

She also had the joy of telling the world champion surfer what it meant.

“He wasn’t sure and when I told him it was the second top (civilian honour), he was just speechless,” Liz Osborne said of the latest — and arguably greatest — honour to have been bestowed on her baby boy.

I said ‘Mick, you’re 35 years old, people wait a lifetime for this’ and he said ‘I can’t believe how honoured I am’ and I said ‘you know what, Mick? I’m honoured that you’re my son’.

“The AO is partly because he’s three-time world champion but it’s because he does so much for everybody else. It’s for distinguished service to surfing andfor his charity work. That’s really, really important and that’s what I’m proud of.”

Fanning, who plays an active role with charities including the Starlight Foundation, Wings for Life spinal cord research and Cure for Motor Neuron Disease, said receiving the Australia Day honour was on a par with his three world titles.

I couldn’t believe it really. I’m chuffed and very honoured,” he said of joining Layne Beachley as one of the few surfers to receive the honour.

While Fanning and his mum have known about the AO for several weeks ago, in recent days they’ve been able to share the news with a few other special people.

“I’m proud of all my children, they’ve all done so well, and the best thing is my children are so proud of Mick — and that includes Sean and Peter,” Liz said of the sons who died in 1998 and 2015.

“I spoke with (my son) Edward in Bali today and he was so thrilled for Mick and my daughter (Rachel) is here and she’s excited.

“When I told Mick the news, I also said ‘I know you’re not supposed to tell anybody but I’m sure your dad would love to know’ so he rang his dad and I think he cried because he was so proud.”

John Fanning separated from the mother of his five children when Mick was two. When Liz and the kids moved from western Sydney to Ballina and later the Gold Coast, he remained down south.

“John has always supported me as their mother but I can tell you we’ve been brought much closer together through the years because of the tragedies and everything that’s happened in the family,” she said.

“It’s really nice to think that once again after 30-odd years we can talk about our children and not get angry with each other (laughs). It’s beautiful.”

As is the story Fanning’s biographer told when asked to reflect on the surfer’s qualities out of the water.

“I remember being in South Africa and meeting the local lady Primrose and her son who helped when she was diagnosed with Aids,” surf writer Tim Baker recalled.

“He paid for her medical help to get her back to health and then for her training as a nurse so she could help other people.

“Most pro surfers staying in these luxurious beachfront homes at Jeffreys Bay probably didn’t even get to know the domestic help whereas she just about became family to him.

“Mick was a bit of a wild child at a young age like a lot of surfers but the way he’s matured is a real credit to him and his mum … he’s done more than almost anyone to bring surfing to mainstream attention and in a completely positive light.”

Dane Reynolds Rejects
Don't you just love Dane Reynolds at his most openly decorative, anxiety-free best? | Photo: Marine Layer

Watch: Dane Reynolds’ “Reject” Clips!

On his worst day, Dane still outshines most of the top 34...

Dane, Dane, Dane, Dane, Dane!

You captured my heart with Chapter 11, kinda lost me with the release of Former, but like Shaq in his prime you rebounded your wild free-throw and dunked it into my soul with this clip, Rejects!

So… maybe the lesson is just stick to surfing/editing?

Either way, my heart is yours once more. Nineteen minutes of witty and unique surfing the likes of which is only otherwise found in a pint-sized Hawaiian.

We know Dane’s got all the fancy moves — spins, jumps, that nose-dive layback thing — but what impressed me most were the unfamiliar lines drawn on waves we’re quite accustomed to seeing. This could be attributed to the myriad of board designs he used in the making of this film, but I believe surfing of this nature comes from nothing more than boredom with the status quo.

Dane’s always been seen as the misunderstood-artist-type. He’s introverted, avoids trends like The Plague, and seems to seek out all things weird and quirky in life. This contrarian mindset has allowed Dane to apply brush to canvas in ways never seen before. He goes up when he should go sideways, backwards when he should kick out, and somehow it all makes sense.

Oh, and all of these are B clips.

Prepared to be humorously amazed.

rejects from Marine Layer on Vimeo.

Florence and Walsh Trade Blows at Spot X!

Railwork theory inside!

I could say where this is, but I won’t.

That’s a dual reference to the wave that John Florence and Ian Walsh are surfing (below) and Sean Doherty’s book, MP (on my nightstand). Michael Peterson was many things, but a rat wasn’t one of ’em. At least not yet… I’m only halfway through the book.

To tell you guys where this wave is located would be a pointless endeavor. It may give you a slight sense of relief, but ultimately you’d never end up going there. It’s too fickle, too far away, and likely too expensive for any of us industry insiders. So I’ll just keep it here on my list of incredible, secret waves I know everything about but will never see firsthand. I suppose it’s something of a power trip.

John’s surfing in this video reminded me of a conversation I once had with Surfing Mag‘s gifted ex-video producer, Sean Benik (who I believe edited this piece). He claimed that while certain surfers tend to surf on top of the water (Adriano) and others surf through the water (Jordy), it likely had more to do with the board they’re riding than their ability or technique.

At first I didn’t believe him. I was convinced that top-of-the-water surfers were just inherently worse, or that they lacked a certain X-factor to pierce through walls like the Micks and Joels of the world. But that doesn’t make much sense.

Take Gabriel Medina for example. Easily one of the top five surfers in the world, but he floats across the surface as if riding a Michelin tire or worse, a Firewire. He still does amazing turns, sure, but he isn’t able to slice through walls in the same manner as JJF. On steep sections, Gabriel’s board will flatten or skip out while John’s board will remain on edge through the entirety of the turn.

In my mind, and this is a mind that knows very little of surfboard construction, the biggest factors involved would be rails and volume. A thinner, sharper rail can cut through water more easily, and less overall volume allows the board to ride lower in the water and become buried with less force. By riding boards that vary in rail shape and volume, two similar size and skill surfers (John and Gabby) can appear to be surfing very differently, despite performing the same maneuvers.

There are also obvious variations in technique, but in terms of how the surfer appears to cut through or ride atop the water, the board itself is mostly to blame.

So why would Gab want to ride a board that makes him surf worse? Because anytime the wave goes flat, he has the distinct advantage of maintaining speed and flow, whereas John will flounder. Gabby rides the anti-Banana to ensure consistency, AKA heat wins. This comes back to another theory of mine, in which a country’s socio-economic status can be directly linked to their surfers’ “styles”. But that’s for another day.

For now, sit back and enjoy this aptly titled video, “Ian Walsh Surfs Perfect Barrels with World Champ, John John Florence”. And you guys think I suck at writing!

Joel Tudor: “Why Surfing Mag Failed!”

No logs! Of course!

Oh, the Gram is awash today with tributes for the late Surfing Magazine. All sincere and heartfelt except for one by Joel Tudor whom, if you recall, has long feuded with the 53-year-old publication for not including longboarding.

Cue, eye roll.

But wait! Maybe Joel is on to something!

Let’s examine.

“Sad to see Leroy Granni’s baby/surfing illustrated ( later becoming @surfing mag) close its doors. Had a subscription as a grom and frequently purchased issues during air travel. I feel for the staff that lost jobs and wish them luck on new opportunities. As I wish them well and thanks for the 53 years, y’all may of had a better chance of surviving if you had taken a more open view of our tribe. I tried to warn you guys many times but you never wanted to hear it! Aloha and mahalo”. 

Now, nobody likes a “I told you so” but Joeljitsu has a point.

In the comment section he responds to a comment by Astrodeck matriarch Dibi Fletcher saying, “I hate online. Make houses look like libraries again. The value of looking at print is something that can’t disappear”.

But it is Joel! Magazine subscriptions are at an all-time low and advertising dollars are being re-routed from print towards sponsored online posts.

 “I hate online. Make houses look like libraries again. The value of looking at print is something that can’t disappear.” Joel Tudor.

As a former staff writer for Surfing Mag, I can tell you that Joel is right when it comes to his qualms about the mag’s fragmented view on surfing. Where Surfer had a broad scope of the surf media landscape,  including all sorts of wave riding and stories past and present, their adversary focused purely on progression, the here and the now.

Strangely, this difference in view created tension in the TransWorld building like you wouldn’t believe! Dildos would fly across the office at random! Fake announcements of a Todd Prodd art show were posted unabashedly in the break room.

Speaking of Surfer‘s Editor In Chief.

I interviewed with Todd before I got the job at Surfing and he told me some insight that I still hold dear to this day.

Stab is for gossip,
What Youth for the trendy, and those who don’t do surf contest news,
BeachGrit for the surf industry insiders,
Surfing had the next generation covered,
The Inertia the clueless kook,
but Surfer, their goal was to appeal to everybody.”

Why Surfing failed is also what made it great.

The magazine was made by those whose passion burned for the evolution of wave riding.

To grace the pages, you had to not only be ripping but actively seeking a new precedence for the sport of kings. Peter Taras and Jimi Wilson didn’t want to see Joel Tudor surfing eloquently straight, they wanted Yago Dora combos at Lakey Peak.

And while it made for dazzling imagery, there is only so many air reverses a person can take.

Surfer magazine’s brave new future!

She is alone and it is time to make her great again!

So I was vaguely aware that Surfing was, for all intensive purposes, finished a few weeks ago right? But I figured the death announcement would be quickly chased by a birth announcement. Something like, “Print is dead, long live the net!” and then everything would push to some sparkly new Surfing website feat. the best clips, amazing images, maybe a store. Maybe a softcore porn subsection. Girl in a Skirt. Etc.

The fact that the death got leaked and then… crickets confused me greatly. A leaked death then crickets then Surfing employees posting heartfelt eulogies on Instagram as the sun set while the website remained frozen on yesterday’s Pipeline summary.

There was no joy. No “Get ready for what’s next!” Only sadness.

Which leaves Surfer alone. And The Surfer’s Journal but the Journal is something wholly different, I think. The Journal is something quality and wonderfully good. Each issue like a curated book. Like an experience.

Surfer is not a book. It is a magazine and now alone with nothing left to cannibalize it and this should be a happy day for lovers of surf media. Right? One proud magazine where all the talent can congregate and contribute. Where Nick Carroll and Matt Warshaw and Derek Rielly and Derek Hynd and Steve Shearer and Lew Samuels and Ben Marcus… all the greats and all the great photographers come together and there is no more fear but only bravery. Only straight backs and clear visions. Right?

I so hope this happens but for this dream to become a reality Surfer would need a visionary editor-in-chief. A brave man not afraid to push out a unique vision. Not afraid to ruffle feathers. Not afraid to tell real stories but also fun stories. Not afraid to loose his writers and photographers onto the world and fight tooth and nail for them. Not afraid to present a glorious monthly (or bi-monthly or whatever it is now) picture of what surfing was, what it is, what it should be.

Not Todd Prodanovich. He is a clucking chicken with an inspirational palette as blandly vanilla as his skin. With an impotent temper as red hot as his hair. With a backbone made out of stroganoff noodles.

No…now that she is alone it is time to make Surfer great again and if we have learned anything over the past year it is that strongmen are in fashion. Who wants to be editor-in-chief? Matt? Nick? Steve?

Come on. Uncle Severson Wants You!