Will Mick Fanning Retire?

Taylor Paul seeks a finite answer from the 3x champ!

Ever since Fanning’s fateful 2015, the surfing public has been left to wonder about the path of Mick’s professional career. Will he fuck off and travel the world, trading beers and tubes across the five oceans and seven seas, or will Lightning strike a fourth time?

Mick has relentlessly shirked this question for the past year and for good reason — he’s not sure himself. Well, at least he wasn’t at the time. But according to this wonderful article by ex-Surfing-editor Taylor Paul, Mick should have made up his mind by now! Here’s a snippet:

Right now, I’m interviewing Mick in our hotel, and he’s giving me the answers you’ve read above. He’s thoughtful and well-spoken in his responses, the consummate professional until — ping! — his phone announces a text message after I ask him whether he’s accomplished everything he wants to in surfing. He pulls out his phone to silence it, but looks at the screen first.

“It’s John,” he says. As in, recently-crowned world champ John John Florence. “I texted him yesterday and he just wrote me back.”

“What’d he say?” I ask.

“Umm…” Mick swipes his finger across the screen and reads quickly, almost bashful, “He said, ‘Thanks for the text. I’m so stoked. Couldn’t be happier. Thanks for inspiring me. I’ve learned a lot from watching you and can’t wait to learn more. Hope you’re scoring waves and enjoying the year.’”

“That’s awesome,” I say.

“Um…yeah…” Mick’s looking down, his wheels are turning. I don’t know what he’s thinking, but I know what I’m thinking — I wonder if John would have won if Mick had been there. After a few moments, he looks up at me, “What were we talking about again?”

Tonight we’ll see The Lumineers in concert. Tomorrow we’ll leave. Mick will go to London for a few days to rendezvous with Parko, Alain Riou and Ben Howard. Then he’ll go to Amsterdam for a week. By himself. He’ll work on a book project, he’ll wander the city, he’ll be invisible. Then he will go to Norway to surf beneath the northern lights. Two weeks later, I’ll bump into him in the Dubai airport on his way home, the place where he’s going to “sit with it” and make the right decision. He’s pale and unshaven. He buys me a coffee and we talk for while. He doesn’t mention the tour and I don’t ask. He just wants to know how I’m doing.

You can read it all here.

Soooo that was like three months ago. Which means Mick should probably have an answer by now, right?

Whilst we await his final decision, why don’t you take a few minutes to watch Mick’s triumphant return to his Irish homeland. It’s got good surfing, cinematography, insight, etc.

Noa Deane does a frontside air in Mex
Guns? Aren't they part of the Great American Dream too? Of course, says Noa Deane. "I like the away they look, though not the fact they can kill," says Noa. "It's a powerful fucking thing in your hands. It's a weird feeling. You've got a gun with a bullet that can kill someone. Is it sexy? Yeah." | Photo: Morgan Maassen

Noa Deane: “Is Derek Rielly a pussy?”

The beautiful honesty of Coolangatta grip mogul and gibber Noa Deane.

It is in my experience that a man with no vices has few virtues” – A Dead President

Lest I should have to remind you, this is BeachGrit. A place to loiter and talk shit about surfing. Call it “Ultra Hard Surf Candy”, say it’s “Anti Depressive”, but know that you are not alone for your obsession with waves and the words written about them. You’re not crazy even if explaining your love for this website strikes others as queer. Remind them that we are BeachGrit and we are proudly libertine.

We all keep coming back showering Chas and Derek with our clicks because all other surf journalists (except you Sabre Norris!) don’t quite scratch the itch. BeachGrit is the only place where our convoluted world revolving around surfing makes sense. It has become in a weird way, a home for me.

I’ve written some pieces that I’m proud of here.

And here. 



Here too! 

Despite the negativity that I’ve spawned in the comment section, I’ve taken the hits and kept coming back. Because this is BeachGrit, we air our grievances publicly. Sometimes it’s funny, and sometimes we lose Rory, but it wouldn’t be the same if we didn’t.

Today, I’m gonna attack Michael Ciaremella’s story on Noa Deane, a kid whose family helped me through the darkest time in my life.

If you didn’t catch it, the paragraph that threw me was this:

“It will be interesting to what comes of Noa, who is dripping with talent but has an apparent proclivity for substance abuse. We’ve seen what happened to Andy, to Bruce, and to tens of other world class surfers who were all but destroyed by their taste for the hooch or the crack or the smack”.

When I confronted Michael about this, he said by “substance abuse”, he meant alcohol and the “or” between vices was to infer that it could be any of those three things. I thought his words were built on whispers and not true.

Last I checked, Michael has never spent any time with Noa and to say that he has a substance abuse problem is to judge him for that one time he said “Fuck The WSL” at Surfer Poll awards or because he didn’t want to do that lame story idea for Stab.

Noa has slowed his roll when it comes to partying. At the Cluster premier, a red-carpet event held in the Ace theater, Noa who went with his proud father, Wayne, and spent the night sober so that he could soak it all in. His life had been a blur of surf trips and he wanted to remember it all.

Just because the guy enjoys a VB, a quarter-pounder with cheese and a cigarettepreferably in the same sitting, doesn’t mean he deserves to be vilified as a train wreck. A five hundred k contract with Volcom suggests something is working.

Yeah, he would surf better if he ate healthy, and he didn’t smoke or drink, but you could level the same charge at Dane Reynolds. And, last I checked, he was still free surfing’s king. If you think Noa’s personality is a contrived marketing technique, you’re wrong.

I called Noa to apologise for the story.

He said: “Stopped giving a fuck what was written about me a long time ago.”

I told him Derek was going to change the story from substance abuse to booze in order for people not to misinterpret that he wasn’t a crack-head or a junkie.

He said: “Isn’t Derek edgy? Why is he changing it… hahah… that’s pussy.

Aren’t characters like Noa exactly what surfing needs?

Don’t we want more people who aren’t afraid to be ’emselves and don’t treat riding waves like a sport to be taken one heat at a time but as an artful self expression to be done only at full speed?

Don’t we?

Or am I wrong?

slow death of wage worker
Freed from the shackles of a half-year job that had me deskside for the better portion of daylight, I began counting the trips I would take, the waves I would catch, the dog I would spend my whole days with in this liberated state. Life becomes significantly more bearable when you remove the impermeable prism of schedule, simply by the fact that spontaneity breeds positivity. Essentially I learned that I’m even lazier and more self-absorbed than previously thought. Any sane person would opt out of nine-to-five employment if it were that easy, and to think that I am somehow special enough to avoid it altogether would be a negative representation of myself, but also not untrue.

The Slow Death of the Wage Worker

Do you grind the nine to five? Are you happy?

Went to Mexico today. 

It’s exactly fifty-three minutes from my Welcome mat to the sand of Baja’s most consistent beachbreak. That’s if you don’t have to sneak into a Mexican alleyway to take a shit into a plastic bag first. So today it was closer to an hour.

The best thing about Mexico is not the waves (though they are great), nor the food (though it is best), but the fact that I learn something every time I go. This time I learned that I don’t want to work for a living — or at least not the average joe’s version of “working”.

Here’s how. And why.

I rode down with my friend Jeff. He turned his devotion to the environment into a lucrative profession, one that has him chasing honey-holes around San Diego county. And when he’s not getting barreled, he’s a bee removal expert! Specializing in safely extracting whole hives from private residences and transporting them to a bee conservation station.

“Spring and summer are really buzzy for me,” Jeff explained, “but the bees pretty much go dormant in the winter, which leaves me free to surf!” And so Jeff goes to Mexico on Wednesday mornings.

Oh, and did I mention that’s technically work too?

Because in his free time Jeff likes to tinker with cars and GoPros and shit. And one day he invented the MyGoMount GoPro mouth mount, the one with the clever respiration channel, the one that Anthony Walsh uses. In an effort to continually improve his product, Jeff puts in a lot of “R&D” time. Racing and Driving. He gets tubed and then indirectly paid for it.

And I am jealous.

Right now I have no real occupation because I got fired or laid off or whatever. I had what many would call a “dream job” – working for the illustrious Surfing Magazine as a writer/web editor.

Would I have picked any job over it? Never. Was I happy there? I don’t think so.

And that’s crazy! Because in terms of a nine-to-five, there’s literally nothing I am more qualified (which speaks to my lack of practical knowledge and skills rather than any particular talent in this field) or willing to do. Every time I found myself bored or annoyed by the trivial task at hand, I’d tell myself that not only could it be worse, but it theoretically couldn’t be better. And that’s a little depressing.

But then I was let go and within four hours I was genuinely happy about it.

I learned that I’m even lazier and more self-absorbed than previously thought. Any sane person would opt out of nine-to-five employment if it were that easy, and to think that I am somehow special enough to avoid it altogether would be a negative representation of myself, but also not untrue.

Freed from the shackles of a half-year job that had me deskside for the better portion of daylight, I began counting the trips I would take, the waves I would catch, the dog I would spend my whole days with in this liberated state. Life becomes significantly more bearable when you remove the impermeable prism of schedule, simply by the fact that spontaneity breeds positivity. The prospect of something awesome happening at any given moment is truly alluring. And there’s nothing more joyful than dropping everything for the evening glass-off.

I learned that I’m even lazier and more self-absorbed than previously thought. Any sane person would opt out of nine-to-five employment if it were that easy, and to think that I am somehow special enough to avoid it altogether would be a negative representation of myself, but also not untrue.

So I’m gonna ride this chowder train until it runs out. If I discover a way to financially support my personal brand of egotism and aloofness, awesome. If not, I’ll hop back on the wage-worker wagon and die the same slow, painful death as many of you.

But I’m definitely never doing manual labor. Those fuckers die fast.

Flea, Vince, Ruffo
Flea, Vince, Ruffo | Photo: Playboy

How Meth Almost Sunk Big Wave Surfing!

Playboy magazine nails story on drugs and their role in the big-wave game… 

There was a time, late-sixties through the seventies, when Playboy was…the…magazine for writers. The magazine, which avoided graphic beaver but celebrated the ski-jump teat, was better than respectable. It was hip.

In the Christmas 1968 issue, there were contributions from Truman Capote, Lawrence Durrell, James T. Farrell, Allen Ginsberg, Le Roi Jones, Arthur Miller, Henry Miller, Norman Podhoretz, Georges Simenon, Isaac Bashevis Singer, William Styron and John Updike. You get the picture.

Of course, it ain’t much now. But, occasionally, it lights up.

Remember when Chas wrote Fast Eddie’s Last Stand? And, this year, writer Peter Simek nailed a comprehensive piece on Santa Cruz and its meth culture. Which, at first glance, might make your eyes glaze.

Like, meth in Santa Cruz? That’s still a story?

Simek’s piece, however, is a detailed run through the lives of Vince Collier, Flea Virotsko and Anthony Ruffo. The stories will make your toes curl.

Like this on Collier.

By the time he was a teenager, Collier had discovered that the Santa Cruz his dad envisioned as an idyllic childhood setting could actually be a violent arena. In the early 1970s a string of serial killers earned Santa Cruz the moniker “murder capital of the world.” There were stories of parks haunted by massacred Native Americans, of Victorian homes occupied by the ghosts of murdered brides. Perhaps it’s the fog or the silence of the redwood forests, but the town has long inspired horror, from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho to the 1987 vampire teen cult classic The Lost Boys.

From his bedroom, Collier could see the lighthouse that kept watch over Steamer Lane, a surf spot where locals hunted for waves in packs. Surfing the Lane required following a strict pecking order. Those who stepped out of line often found themselves the victims of violence. One day Collier rode a wave he wasn’t supposed to, and an older surfer tore his new wet suit. Collier hated being bullied on his home turf. He retrieved a baseball bat from his garage, and when the surfer came up from the water, Collier hurled the bat at his head, sending the man tumbling back down the cliff.

The bat incident became Santa Cruz lore, marking the moment Vince Collier established himself as the alpha male of Steamer Lane. At the time, though, Collier was scared to death. He had nearly killed a man and didn’t know what kind of retribution that would bring. Collier sought out Joey Thomas, a respected surfer and surfboard shaper who, after arriving in Santa Cruz in the late 1960s, quickly realized he needed to learn martial arts. But Collier was going to need more than a friend with a black belt; if he really wanted protection, Thomas told him, he should go up the mountain to see a man who went by the name of Jeff Ayers.

Ayers was known around town as a biker, someone who operated on the periphery of the scene. The few surfers who knew Ayers describe him as a megalomaniacal charlatan, a chameleon with a closet full of interchangeable costumes—carpenter, fisherman, businessman—that fit his various purposes. He looked like a cross between Jack Lemmon and Jack Nicholson and had charisma that could “direct traffic.”

“Everybody feared Ayers,” says Anthony Ruffo, a former pro surfer who is a few years younger than Collier. “He was fucking crazy.”

Collier and Thomas went up the hill to meet Ayers at his ranch compound north of Capitola. As they approached, stepping through a cluster of cars and motorcycles, Ayers’s dog rushed Collier and bit his leg, drawing blood. Ayers laughed.

“I want you to go up to my house,” Ayers said.

Collier scowled.

“You better go up there,” Collier remembers Thomas telling him. “He’s going to help you out.”

In Ayers’s house, Collier found many things to impress an aggressive teenager’s fitful imagination: gym equipment, guns, drugs. Ayers gave Collier marijuana and hash to smoke and sell, and taught him how to fight, shoot guns and clean and assemble weapons blindfolded. In the middle of the night he took the teenage surfer out into the bay, where mysterious schooners emerged from the thick fog, swung their davits out over the deck and dropped 150- to 200-pound bales of Thai weed. Ayers and Collier packed the marijuana into ice chests and covered it with store-bought salmon.

The other surfers at the Lane grew to fear Collier. He could now surf any wave he wanted. With his square, bulky body, Collier wasn’t built like a surfer, but he attacked waves like a bull. Along with his unlikely best friend, Richard Schmidt, a quiet and mild-mannered surfer with a distinctive bushy blond mustache, Collier became known as one of the best surfers in Santa Cruz. His first sponsorship came in the form of a suitcase filled with $30,000 in cash, given to him by the owner of a west-side surf shop that was a front for a marijuana-growing operation. Collier traveled to competitions and eventually made the pro circuit. In Hawaii, Schmidt’s smooth style at Sunset Beach and Collier’s penchant for beating on Australians who tried to surf their spots endeared the Santa Cruz surfers to the North Shore locals. 

Back home, Ayers pulled Collier in deeper, taking him into the woods, where they tied indebted clients to trees and beat and branded them. Ayers would also tie up Collier, pour fish guts over his bare chest while laughing and then cut him loose, sending Collier into a rage. He found out Ayers was slipping him steroids and noticed he collected books about mind control.  

“I was like, Fuck, this guy is brainwashing me,” Collier says.  

Then one of Collier’s friends blew his brains out while high on cocaine—the same cocaine Collier sold. It was the final straw. Collier sent Ruffo up the hill with a message: He was done. For the next four years, Collier was sure Ayers was going to kill him. Collier kept a shotgun tucked under the driver’s seat of his truck and recoiled every time he heard a motorcycle engine. 

“I had guns all over the place,” Collier says. “I used to sit in my tub with a cigar and a shotgun. I thought I was Clint Eastwood.”

And Ruffo talking about the high:

Ruffo says meth’s appeal was that it offered so much more than a rush. When he smoked meth, he felt good about himself—he felt like he did when he won the 1985 O’Neill Coldwater Classic or when he opened a surf magazine and saw his image frozen on a wave, framed by a crescent of whitewater spray.  

“We’d call it ‘winning acid,’ or when you got a cover, we’d call it ‘cover acid’—those good, natural endorphins,” Ruffo says. “What meth does is give you that feeling.”

And Flea’s descent:

Perhaps no one was more publicly ravaged by meth than Flea. It got to where he took so many beatings at Mavericks, his friends feared every wave would be his last. At the 2008 Mavericks competition, Flea showed up late for his heat, took two disastrous wipeouts, landed the biggest wave of the day and then disappeared for the remainder of the tournament. Later that same year, exhausted and dehydrated, he fell backward off a cliff at Davenport, north of Santa Cruz. He was airlifted to a hospital in Santa Clara. When he was released, he headed up the coast to find Vince Collier.

Flea’s body was too broken to surf. He didn’t know how long it would be until he could feel Mavericks again. At Collier’s place in northern California, all Flea could do was lie around. Why hadn’t he died when he fell off the cliff? It seemed as though everyone else around him died. His uncle, whom he idolized, had recently passed away. The day he won his first Mavericks competition, his friend died of a brain aneurysm. Another friend died of cancer the following year. When Peter Davi died, Flea had to break the news to Davi’s son. And yet there he was, broken and bruised but not dead. He could think of a dozen times when he should have been killed. Once, his leash got stuck in the rocky reef at Mavericks and he took wave after wave on the head. That day, it felt like the only way he wouldn’t drown was if he found the strength to do a sit-up with a mountain pressing on his chest. And yet, his leash broke. He didn’t die.

Holed up at Collier’s, all Flea could think about was drinking and smoking meth. When he was finally able to surf again, he didn’t. Instead, he combed the beaches of Santa Cruz and bought cases of spray paint at hardware stores. Flea’s sunken, scabby face haunted the town. He was a pariah, a cautionary tale. His house, once the surf scene’s social center, became a hoarder’s den and a flophouse for meth-heads. Uncashed sponsors’ checks lay buried beneath piles of spray-painted driftwood.

Compelling, yeah?

Read the whole story here. 

Chappelli bike
Return to the beautiful age of pedal power!

Buy: Chappelli x BeachGrit Bike!

Oowee, we got wheels!

Oh the glorious days of being a kid, flying everywhere on a bike. Jumping footpaths, squeezing past grid-locked cars, down alleyways, balancing a sled under your arm.

There was a beautiful summer in my late teens when, three times a week, I’d pack a bag with roast chicken sandwiches and a litre of apple juice, shove my brother’s old ten-speed on a ferry to Rottnest Island and cycle a dozen clicks to ride empty mid-week waves. I’d concoct so many potential futures on these long rides: maybe I’d make surf movies, magazines, books, maybe I’d learn to fly planes or front a band. The cool afternoon offshore in my face. Ears plugged into garage punk. Complete freedom.

Anyway, a few months ago, I figured I’d get back in the bike game. The topography in my part of Bondi is flat enough to make it an easy run to the beach. To stores. I did a little research, and found a company called Chappelli. Simple, classic bikes that weren’t overtly hipster.

The owner is an English guy called Pablo Chappelli, whose dad used to compete in the Tour de France. Pabs grew up assembling bikes. Figured that was his future. But en route to creating the eponymous Chappelli bikes in 2009, he was an industrial designer for Dyson and, later, headed the innovation team at Breville.

I bought a matte black ride with Louis Vuitton-style leather seat and grips.

Me and Pabs got talking over the cash register. Turned out my ol pal Jim Parry did all the graphics. Pabs said he liked BeachGrit, liked our monochrome aesthetic, and said, how about we do a collaboration?

It took a while. But this is it. The Urban 29er, also know as Fat Tony.

It’s a wild sonofabitch.

Pabs tells me it’s “got all the best gear including best of breed Avid BB7 cable disc brakes, sliding drop-outs, Sturmey Archer 3 Speed internal hub and 29 inch wheels for steam rolling your local hood. All teamed with a CrMo frame.”

What’s that mean? There’s a throttle-style gear selector under your right hand. It’s a three-speed but with the ratios of six. So you gonna eat up hills. The fat tyres bounce you over kerbs. And it ain’t gonna rust.

Pabs says he can ship it anywhere in the world.

Note: If you go to the site you won’t see an option of matte black or for BeachGrit. Punch BeachGrit into the discount code pane at checkout and you’ll get an eighty-buck lock (which you gonna need) for free and Pabs knows you want the BeachGrit version.

Buy here!