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!

Surfing Mag: An Insider’s Perspective

An obituary of sorts.

In June of 2015 I went on a study abroad trip to Bali where Matt George introduced me to creative surf journalism. In December of 2015 I started interning for Surfing Magazine as a writer and web editor. Over time the internship developed into a part-time job and by July of 2016, nary three weeks after graduating from college, I became a salaried employee.

It couldn’t have worked out any better.

Surfing Magazine’s tone was youthful, tongue-in-cheek, and overtly positive. So much so that whenever I proposed an idea that hinted at negativity (i.e. stating that American pro surfing is extremely weak at the moment, mentioning the possibility of terroristic attacks at the US Open, dubiously approaching surfing’s inclusion to the Olympics), I was kindly shut down or steered in a more merry direction. I think that was mostly a good thing.

I’m not sure if this had always been the case, but since I started there the ethos of the Surfing brand centered around progression. I was always encouraged to seek out undiscovered talent or test revolutionary products and accessories. Our biennial Peer Poll was unique in that it allowed for kids to pick the best kids around the world. This stands in stark contrast to more antiquated forms of production, like Surfer’s Hot 100, where teens are ranked presumably by company ad dollars and Todd Whodatovich. 

In that way, Surfing was great. In other ways, Surfing was a little bit… questionable.

I should preface this criticism by mentioning that I joined the team in a very precarious moment, wherein producing a fluid stream of income took precedence over all else. It seemed to me that we sacrificed certain production quality and moral standards in order to grow our numbers and become, in the eyes of The Enthusiast Network, not a liability. This led to atrocious practices like a wetsuit “Field Test” with only positive reviews (can’t upset the brands that buy into your projects!) and social media schemes that were intended to drive traffic through any means necessary (like following people so they’d follow us back, and then subsequently unfollowing them).

This isn’t what anybody wanted, but it’s what had to be done to preserve the brand and, most importantly, all of our jobs. Guys like Peter Taras (photographer, professional road-tripper and social media mastermind) and Chato Aganza (graphic designer, great-hair-haver and big-picture guy) have been with TEN for almost two decades apiece! I’m sure they’ll be fine, but the way the surf industry is looking, it’s unlikely they’ll soon capture another position in the game. Imagine working your whole life in a particular field, learning everything there is to know about the subject, and then being told the skills and knowledge you’ve acquired are no longer of any practical value. This is the ongoing struggle of priests and surf magazine employees everywhere. I pray the latter find a way to survive, myself included.

So how will Surfing Magazine be remembered? I’m honestly not sure. But I’d like to thank everyone there for the opportunity to share my voice and try my hand at this surf journalism gig.

I’d also like to thank them for laying me off in December, so I could watch today’s shipwreck from the relative safety of my little Beachgrit dinghy. Onwards and upward!

Here’s one for the nostalgic types.

A video posted by Zander Morton (@zandermorton) on

Axel Irons Koby Irons

Rivalry: Axel Irons v Koby Irons!

More revealing images from the North Shore reportage of NYC's Justin Jay… 

Don’t you just love a moment you know is going to be examined in ten, twenty years, every element peeled apart as if it’s going to reveal the secrets that’ll only form over the course of years, of events?

Justin Jay, the NYC shooter whose work on the North Shore we’re drip-feeding over the next few days, made this photograph at the sixth birthday of Axel Irons. Little Ax was born on December 8, 2010, the opening day of the Pipe Masters, a couple of months after Andy died.

Axel’s birthday has become something of a celebration of both Axel and Andy, who would’ve turned thirty-nine this year.

Bruce’s son reached over and began aggressively revving the engine at full throttle for five seconds at a time. Watching him hamming for the crowd and attempting to hijack the focus.

“For Axel’s birthday, Uncle Bruce and Lyndie gave him a motorcycle,” says Justin. “There was a huge luau at the Billabong house with a massive buffet, a snow cone truck, face-painting, games and virtually anything that the 50 or so kids present could ever want. When it was time to sing happy birthday, the family stood on the porch and covered Axel’s eyes. The bike was wheeled onto the lawn and the big reveal went down in front of the entire party. When Axel saw the bike, he stood motionless while his jaw dropped in awe for a comically long time.

“Eventually, all the kids gathered around in a supervised circle so the bike could be started. Axel, nervous at first, eventually began to revel in the roar of the motor and gave the bike several brief and cautious revs. Immediately sensing the attention that was at stake, Bruce’s son reached over and began aggressively revving the engine at full throttle for five seconds at a time. Watching him hamming for the crowd and attempting to hijack the focus, I was certainly not the only person to make the uncanny comparison of the fiercely-competitive behaviour between the two cousins and their respective dads.”

As for Lyndie, Andy’s gorgeous wife.

“Lyndie Irons is the the Jackie Onassis of the surf world,” says Justin. “She gorgeous, graceful and will always be inextricably linked to a larger-than-life deceased hero. I’m always thrilled to be welcomed into her orbit to shoot her.”

Just In: Surfing Closes Doors!

More than 50 years after its inception, Surfing Magazine is dead in the water!

This little nugget popped into my inbox this morning from the great artist Jack English whom you certainly know from his photographic masterpiece “The Crying Jordy.”

“Surfing magazine no more. If you do a piece please credit Jack English.”

And of course!

Surfing shuts doors brought to you by Jack English!

In truth, though, I’ve known this reality for a few weeks now. What? Just because I’ve been in Japan you think my finger strays from surfing’s pulse?


It’s just that I take no joy in dancing on Surfing’s grave. Plus I’ve been very busy dancing on ex-WSL CEO Paul Speaker’s. His grave is like a wonderful disco where revelers are given mostly pure MDMA and two roses each. Steve Aoiki is the DJ and he mixes in newer beats with older favorites. Noa Deane is here and so is Brodie Carr who has been asked by management to tone it down slightly three times so far and there is a rumor floating around that if they have to ask him again he’ll also be asked to leave. Oh. He just took his baby blue ASP polo shirt off and is spinning it above his head.

But what were we talking about? Surfing? Oh yes. Surfing.

The Enthusiast Network will put a brave face on the new reality. “When God closes a door he opens a window!” Etc. But in truth it’s all over for the brave little magazine.

Someone should write a proper eulogy. Maybe we all should. Nick Carroll? Travis Ferre? Taylor Paul? Should we all collab under the Surfing banner one last time?

Revealed: Laird’s secret unlocked!

"Live a maximum life whatever that means..."

The Kennedy family is an American institution. The closest thing this country has to royalty with those magnificent, broad east coast accents, consolidated power and heart-wrenching tragedies. They can do whatever they want and apparently one of them wanted to make a very serious documentary about Laird Hamilton that premiers at the Sundance Film Festival!

Rory Kennedy is the daughter of Robert, an activist and documentarian. She has won primetime Emmys etc. But Laird! Who wouldn’t be turned on by Laird! Let’s read about this affair of the heart/mind in the Salt Lake Tribune!

At 52, Laird Hamilton has more than earned the right to reflect after a life full of risks taken and enormous waves surfed.

But to do so would betray his very nature as an innovator and big-wave riding legend — still pushing the bar as far as it will go on the water and in his life on dry land.

“Sometimes I just shake my head when I think about when I was young and reckless, now I’m just older,” he says with a deep laugh.

Hamilton, the subject of the Sundance documentary “Take Every Wave: The Life of Laird Hamilton,” has had his life well-chronicled by surf films to this point, but director Rory Kennedy took a new approach.

“The surfing aspect was something I wanted to embrace, but ultimately, I was less interested in making a film about surfing. I’m only so interested in it, frankly,” Kennedy said. “What I am interested in is the character and what are the qualities in Laird — whether you’re interested in politics or business or sports — just being the best in whatever your pursuit is, what’s the difference?”

Hamilton has eschewed surfing competitions his whole life in favor of seeking his own thrills and fulfillment, but has pushed the sport forward by popularizing tow-in surfing, standup paddleboard surfing and foil boarding to take on much larger waves farther from the shore.

“I think you’d be hard pressed to find someone else who has changed the sport so significantly in the last 50 years,” Kennedy said.

The director admits Hamilton was confused by her approach at first — questioning why she asked him to sit down and answer interview questions over a 12-hour period rather than film him on the water like everyone else — but that he came around and threw his whole support behind the project.

“There’s an opportunity to tell a bigger story and it’s not a surf film. A lot of what I’ve been able to do transcends surfing and is more about life,” Hamilton said. “I feel this is a larger representation of that message and that concept.”

Hamilton’s biggest risk and biggest contribution to surfing lore came simultaneously on Aug. 17, 2000 — his now-legendary ride of the “Millennium Wave” off the coast of Teahupoo, Tahiti.

But with nearly 17 years of hindsight, he says the wave serves as a reference point and a formula for what comes next rather than standing as a crowning achievement.

“It was the unknown, the thing that you’d only thought was in cartoons and then it was real and it happened. It reminds you that it can happen again and that’s really the exciting and interesting part,” Hamilton says. “I use that situation as a reference for other situations since then and others that haven’t come yet.”

That’s the benefit of telling Hamilton’s story now, Kennedy says, in a pursuit of “bigger and better” that simultaneously seems never-ending, but with plenty of past narrative punch — from a rough childhood to vilification from the surfing community to his success and varied interests today.

“He is somebody who lives in the present, is very forward-thinking and continuing to try and push himself and the sport in new and innovative ways,” Kennedy said. “So, sitting back and looking at your life isn’t really where his energy is. I think that speaks to part of why he is the person he is.”

The director hopes audiences grasp Hamilton as a “flawed hero,” while the self-described “Waterman” said he hopes it’ll encourage viewers to always push forward, embrace vulnerability and never “let memories be bigger than dreams.”

“It’s meant to inspire people to do as the film title is to catch every wave. That kind of sums it up in a way, to catch every opportunity, every moment,” Hamilton said.

“Live a maximum life whatever that means to you given what your surroundings and your circumstances are.”

Are you inspired?

Tow, SUP and foil 4 life!