Film Review: Distance Between Dreams!

Honesty ain't always brutal

Last night was the much-too-late SoCal premiere of Distance Between Dreams, a Red Bull film about the trials and tribulations of big wave surfing ft. Ian Walsh and co. Despite the movie’s releases in November, December, and January, I had never seen it. Below is an honest review.

When I was working for Surfing, I’d written that DBD could be the surf movie that surpasses Step into Liquid in terms of mass appeal. That concept was ill-conceived as it failed to recognize how alienating the movie would be, in the sense that it gives no hope to the average land-lubber. Instead of uplifting stories about the Dale Websters of the world, DBD focuses on waves that most of us would never fake a paddle at. Plus, this film lacks the one key component to any true surf blockbuster: Laird!

I asked my girlfriend, a decent surfer but more of a lay-person than not, her opinion of the film. She said she enjoyed but that big waves aren’t really her thing, as it gets a little old watching guys take the same drop over and over. “It’s probably the biggest adrenaline rush in the world,” she explained, “but watching Jaws second-hand gets monotonous.” Her favorite part of DBD was John threading South Pacific tubes and delivering hacks meaner than a drunk, machete-wielding, scorned Mexican lover.

But the Beach Grit community don’t pay no mind to the masses. We are the bourgeoisie of the surf world… not financially of course but in terms of self-importance! And in that spirit I, your humble servant, deliver this report on the actual quality of Ian Walsh’s film: it was pretty good (probably much better at La Paloma than it would be in your cubicles of cynicism) but I’ll likely never watch it again.

The movie is impressive in its production quality, but I’m not a fan of the whole Redbull aesthetic (over-dramatization of peak moments, complete with added wave-crashing audio and the like). Ian Walsh was a wonderful protagonist, being that he is intelligent (high school valedictorian!), handsome, driven and an exceptional talent. The accompanying cast includes a laundry list of the best big wave surfers in the world, Ian’s affable flock of brothers, and John Florence. On paper it’s an easy success, but I do side with my girlfriend in that there’s only so much Peahi a person can take.

This is no criticism of Ian or Shane or Greg’s ability and drive. These guys are genuine role models in and out of the water, and I have a surplus of respect for everything they do. But while the movie is well-made and their surfing very brave, that stink-bug stance really drags you down after a while.

After the film I escaped through a side door and found Ian in conversation with a faceless Redbull teamer. I shook Ian’s hand and told him “good job” because he deserved it. In return I received a firm grip and a heartfelt, eye-contacted “thank you”. Despite having the world wrapped around his finger and Red Bull dollars coming out of his ears, Ian appears to be a good guy with valiant intentions. Although it wasn’t my favorite film, Distance Between Dreams brings useful insight to two wonderful surf families: the genetically-bound Walshes and the bloodless but nonetheless impermeable big wave brothers.

It’s worth a watch, if only once.

Here’s the trailer!

Barra de la Cruz
Oh, don't get all hot on this photo of Barra de la Cruz, 2006-ish. The local council shifted the course of the river to stop erosion of a beachfront cabana and screwed the sand flow. | Photo: Scott Aichner/@scottaichner

Gone: When The Search came to Barra!

Every single wave exposed on film becomes a surf ghetto. True or true?

How about this absolute truth? Every single wave revealed for the first time on film has become a surf ghetto. Don’t matter how good you hide where it is. No exceptions.

Count ’em: Bali. The Mentawais. Namibia. Hossegor. Morocco. Fiji. Puerto Escondido. Overrun with sonsofbitches in their so-called “camps” with nothing else to talk about except waves ridden, how many seconds behind the curtin they’re logging and where their next tubefest is going to be.

You show a good wave. People are gonna find it.

So any sort of concern that Mick’s empty sandbottom point, which blew up three days ago, might get exposed is a dazzling naivety.

Of course it will.

Just as Rip Curl’s beautifully produced Search films in the nineties brought the world to the Ments, and all those P-Pass photos and clips had us chasing a difficult-to-get-to reef in Micronesia, Mick’s clip has just opened a new gate.

First, the explorers will come. Then, the tour guides. Then, you and me.

Watching the lights flash all over that empty point reminded me of another wave The Search illuminated. Do you remember when The Rip Curl Search Pro went to Barra de la Cruz or, as it was coyly named, “La Jolla”, in 2006?

It was the surf contest that affirmed everything good about the game. An impossibly perfect sandbottom point most people had no idea existed. Professionals who’d been everywhere calling it the best wave they’d ever surfed, the best contest ever. Best-evers dripping through the floor. Andy Irons, who won the event, nailing the biggest frontside air in competition. The longest tubes seen in an event since Kirra was a thing.

The world watched the live webcast with mouths agape.

The contest rewrote the expectation of what a perfect wave might look like. It’s doubtful there was a regular footer on earth who didn’t make kind of vague plan to ride the joint before they expired.

And, soon, the crowds arrive at the little town mid-way between Puerto Escondido and Salina Cruz. The council built a cabana and bathrooms on the beach for the influx of visitors. The coastal road was gated and an entry fee levied.

Tourism. Jobs. Money. Who could argue with the capitalist ideal of the free market bringing wealth to the poor?

And then it went to shit.


As Surfer Magazine’s Kimball Taylor wrote in 2015,

Citizens were becoming proud of their little town. The beach cabaña evolved into a symbol of their new economy. So when not long after the contest the historically wild river mouth that emptied near the point began to threaten the cabaña with erosion, Barra’s council decided to move the entire river to the east. According to a local surfer named Cesar, this is when sand began to disappear from the break. The river, Cesar indicated in hindsight, was the source of the wave’s magic. Without a periodic infusion of river sand, a hole soon began to develop in the sandbar. A tropical cyclone exacerbated the situation, and by 2010 the most phenomenal sand point the pro tour had ever seen was a shadow of its former self.

The town council, meanwhile, citing the prohibitive expense of the cabaña, refused to return the river to its original course.

Visiting surfers would show up, take a look at the wounded pointbreak, and head down to the newest surf-world hotspot: Salina Cruz.

Tourism business disappeared as steadily as the sand.

A wave found. A wave celebrated. A wave ruined.

Where to, you think, for Mick’s Point?


Mick Fanning wave

George: “Fanning didn’t discover shit!”

Lost legend Sam George returns to the ring!

Mick Fanning’s gorgeous wave has been my favorite surf development of the week. Maybe even my favorite surf development of the month. Not only was the video dreamy, not only did it spark such wonderful visions in such generally pessimistic times, not only did it create some fine debate but it also midwifed some wonderful surf writing!

First Matt Warshaw spoke beautifully about it, as he always does…

Every time this happens, I think, “That has to be the last one.” At this point, with surfers everywhere and Google Maps and cameras in every pocket, I can’t believe this waves keep turning up. How many more? I guess, like you say, if they’re ephemeral, then unlimited. Best wave in the world today, closeout next month. And vice versa.

…but then Sam George. THE Sam George came out of the woodwork and threw down! He punched Matt Warshaw right in the mouth! Let’s read from Surfline!

Now what does this tale of cinematic license have to do with the estimable Matt Warshaw’s very transparent case of head-high, sand-bottom tube envy? Simply this: Fanning’s “discovery” is no discovery at all. As in virtually every single case of surf spot outing, no contracted film crew accompanied by a professional surfer has ever discovered an epic new wave.

George then goes on to slap down every other claim of a film crew + surfer discovering a wave from Endless Summer to Surfing’s Google Earth Challenge. Slap slap slap!

And when Matt Warshaw pulls himself off the ropes and swings back do you know what we’ll have?

A Blood Feud. A real life Blood Feud.

Son of a bitch it’s good to be alive…

Craig Anderson Dane Reynolds
Refined moodiness, a thug silhouette. Former has everything y'little studs need!

Ace: “I was Former’s first customer!”

Guess who got the hottest shirt from the hottest brand? went live this morning with a cryptic image that you have seen on their equally cryptic @luxury29.99 Instagram profile. Except it wasn’t really live. The website designer apparently did not know how to put the thing damned thing behind a wall and so it was there for everyone to see except accidentally. Very much not like the couple humping in the Standard New York’s window on purpose. Very much like a geriatric man that forgot he had curtains and stood in front of his bay window nude.

Once posted on BeachGrit, a technically brilliant commenter, aptly named Extreme Nonchalance, discovered a link to the store hidden in the nethers. For a short amount of time anyone could go ahead and purchase a new shirt, sweater, or beanie to support their new favorite brand!

As the morning unfolded, I decided to follow the link to the store and see what Dane, Austin, Craig, and the rest of Former had been working on for the last few months. Right away the theme of the brand became clear. As my friend Maggie aptly put it, “the vagueness is so interesting.”


My wardrobe consists of mostly black and white so their digs will fit right in between the Sketchy Tank and plain black tees from Footlocker. Win, win. Hurrah for minimalism.

I’m a slave to posting my happenings to Instagram, which I promptly did, of course tagging @luxury29.99 that my purchase had gone through. Hooray! One of their first customers! Welcome Former!

About forty minutes later, I received a message from @luxury29.99. It stated the following.

“Haha. Hey this was a mistake. We’re not meant to live yet. We can’t ship this just yet but we will. If you don’t mind please don’t post anything else if that’s cool. How the hell did you find it? We’ll send you some extra goodies for the love. Thanks dude.”

I promptly responded, in a flurry of excitement, enlightening the Former lads that Extreme Nonchalance had found the link and posted it in the comment section. Naturally since I’m a fan of all involved and wanted to support small brands, I took down my post, even when they said I didn’t have to.

Am I Former’s first lucky hook up? It would appear so! After Derek broke the next development about the store being taken down, I began to reflect on how endearing the entire experience was. I don’t know who was on the other end of the Instagram messages, but I imagine Dane sitting in Carpentaria with Sammy on his lap, sipping a coffee and writing me back. Maybe it was Craig? Maybe Austin just finished heel flipping a six stair and saw the notification?

Who knows! I asked but haven’t gotten a response.

Most brands today have very little rapport with their fans, and the Former guys could have easily overreacted to my purchase. Alas, they didn’t. Instead responding with endearment, respect and class. How would Quiksilver or Vissla handle a similar ordeal? There aren’t corporate lawyers or social media teams overseeing the entire operation. It’s just a few friends that wanted to make their own honest brand that hopefully will resonate with fans and be a refreshing change in an industry dominated by brands outdoing each other with wacky prints and graphics on their products.

And don’t that make you smile?

Long live Former! The future is yours!

Nicollo Porcello

The Porcella Bros Should Be Dead!

These Ferraris are built Ford tough!

Nicollo and Francisco Porcella, two Italian-born, Hawaiian raised brothers and big wave surfers should be dead. Over the past few years, they’ve relegated themselves to more beatings in monster surf than any man should be able to sustain.

The following video will give you a sense of what I’m talking about. Please excuse the nauseating soundtrack.

Surely you remember Niccolo’s historic Teahupo’o tumble, the one that garnered him the 2016 XXL Wipeout of the Year Award, but how bout that kite-surfing jump into the lip at Jaws? It was gruesome and horrific and wonderful all at the same time.

Then there’s the screw-foot brother, Francisco, who’s had equally terrific if slightly less dramatic whomps at Peahi, Nazaré, and Albee’s slab from a couple weeks ago. I actually spent some time with Franny last year in Fiji, as we happen to have the same local connection. Ended up learning a few things about he and his brother.

First of all, they come from a windsurfing background. You know those guys in the nineties who had giant fluorescent sails mounted to their boards, many of them incredibly adept at wave riding and aerial maneuvers? The Porcellas used to be really into that, were sponsored and the whole shebang, but more or less left it behind to test their paddling abilities in massive surf.

Franny greatly impressed me when he arrived in Fiji the morning of the 2016 Cloudbreak mega-swell, found a local boatman to take him out after missing the morning shuttle, jumped straight into a hairy, windy lineup after no sleep and a granola bar, then surfed six hours straight, catching more waves than anyone over the course of the day.

Fran and Nico aren’t the most talented big wave surfers, but they try harder than most — hence the clip above.