Parker Cohn Seal Beach
Parker Cohn, SB. This concrete overhang overwhelms the eye!

Watch: Seal Beach Takes No Prisoners!

Few will survive...

Have I told you about my one and only Seal Beach experience? Of course I have!

But here’s a free recap:
– Catch two waves
– Both bad
– Set comes through
– Probably a closeout
– I go
– Definitely a closeout
– Also backwash
– Pin drop
– Penetrate
– Not enough
– Sucked over
– Land on feet
– Dry sand
– Back compressed
– Accordion
– Ow
– “Karma”

Two plus months out of the water, all of it during California’s unprecedented ’15/’16 El Niño. I was miserable.

I’m technically back to 100% but feel as though I’ve aged fifteen years. After a full day of surfing, I’m sore. Old man sore. Small-guy-in-prison sore.

Seal Beach did a number on me, but something about that place makes me want more. I was sour to discover that yesterday was blitzkrieg in North OC while I was gliding into lumpy burgers at Swamis. The video below details my regret.

Part of me is glad that I missed it, as no three-foot tube is worth two months out of commission, or worse. Still another part of me has unyielding FOMO.

I’d be remiss not to congratulate Parker Cohn for nabbing the heaviest beachbreak wave I’ve seen. That thing is fucked up.

Now dig in and go sideways… quick!

Kelly Slater Justin Jay
"I watched Kelly amble around his house in a perpetual state of motion like a shark that would die if it stopped moving." | Photo: Justin Jay/@justinjayphoto

Series: Kelly Slater at his North Shore home!

See Kelly wear a funny outfit, feel the intense pitch of his ultra-competitiveness!

All this week, we’ve drip-fed the North Shore location work of NYC shooter Justin Jay. With the notable exception of Steve Sherman, there ain’t a soul who records the North Shore’s casual narrative as comprehensively or expertly as Justin.

Today, we peel open the curtain to the world of Kelly Slater, 11-timer etc.

(As revealed by Mr Justin Jay.)

“Kelly Slater’s living room is, basically, the backstage of the North Shore. Nestled behind a nondescript gate is his comfortably-appointed hangout for surfing’s elite. It was a rainy contest lay day and I had dropped by to give Kelly a gift print. While the other guests relaxed, exchanged stories and laughed, I watched Kelly amble around his house in a perpetual state of motion like a shark that would die if it stopped moving. Kelly disappeared into the other room for a few minutes and then returned wearing a ridiculously futuristic apparatus strapped to his shoulder, which turned out to be some sort of a high-tech muscle stimulator.

“In most scenarios, anyone entering a room wearing this contraption would be subject to ridicule. But it was painfully obvious that I didn’t have the proper status to comment about Kelly’s bizarre accessory and, clearly, it would be an act of hubris on my part to do so. Not sure how to react, I averted my eyes the floor. Benji Weatherly however, is Kelly’s peer and close friend. He also happens to be a world-class wisecracker. He couldn’t pass up the opportunity to lob some friendly barbs toward the 11-time world champion. Kelly appeared to brush off the remarks, but he did leave the room shortly after and returned wearing a plush Baja striped-blanket hoodie reminiscent of the one Jeff Spicoli wore in Fast Times, albeit perfectly fitted, and obviously quite expensive.
“Meanwhile, I eavesdropped while Kai Lenny described how his windsurfing skills came in handy while pulling airs on a 40-foot wave at Jaws. Shane Dorian lounged on the couch while his son Jackson taught Benji the fundamentals of chess. Jackson’s primer on game strategy and the significance of the King and Queen contained a few flawed interpretations. Benji was willing to keep his kid gloves on for the 10 year old and simply play along, but upon hearing the conversation, Kelly’s competitive gene kicked in. Perhaps he sensed blood in the water. He pried himself away from making his organic pancakes and strolled over to correct the young contestant and give his input on what Benji’s next move should be.”

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!