Beware: Certain death is coming for you!

"And lo there was a man holding a paddle. His name was death and hell followed him."

Is there anything on this earth scarier than the sight of a wobbly stand-up paddler when you are pushing out into the lineup? Standing shakily on mid-sized yacht, furtively dipping his paddle into the sea. Wobbling. Looking this way and that for divine help but god forsook him long ago.

There, on the horizon, a set wave stands up. There it breaks and comes rushing. There it envelops him and his paddle flies out of his grip and his mid-sized tugboat comes racing for your head. There is no duck dive deep enough, no left or right far enough to escape its plan. It is coming for you.

Certain death!

Thankfully, the cursed SUP has been localized, more or less, to crummy rolling breaks that no surfer should want anyhow. Oh sure, the plague infects some good waves too but doesn’t spread.

Until today.

For I have stumbled upon a secret manuscript called SUP The Mag that the devils read as they plot our demise and it is encouraging them to move out. To conquer.

If you’re reading this right now, there’s a pretty good chance that you became hooked after that first wave. Perhaps you started going to your local break every chance you got. You learned where the best peaks were, how tides and swell direction affected the break, maybe you even got on the good side of the locals.

You felt like a real surfer.

Then you decided to paddle out at a break on the other side of town. You didn’t know anything about it, but what could go wrong? You’re a real surfer after all, you could handle anything.

One hour into your session, you’re asking yourself what the hell happened. It took 20 minutes to paddle out, 20 more to catch your first wave–which you promptly went over the falls on–and worst of all, the locals are all giving you dirty looks.

While it can be very tempting to retreat back to the comfort of your home break, paddling and surfing new spots is the most effective way to get better.

We can simply paddle up and down the coastline until we find a spot that suits our style.

Not only will you find empty breaks scattered all along the coast, but scouting becomes an adventure itself. You’re not just going SUP surfing anymore, you’re embarking on a mission to find a new wave, master that wave, and return home triumphant. Or even better yet, find multiple breaks to surf during one epic session.

It is like reading from Mein Kampf in the original German and now you have been warned and I would like to leave you with a poem in case you think taking no action is the best way forward.

First they came for Cardiff Reef, and I did not speak out—
Because I did not surf Cardiff Reef.

Then they came for Doheney, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not 85 years old.

Then they came for the Turtle Bay, and I did not speak out—
Because I like sheets that don’t smell like mildew.

Then they came for Punta Mita, and I did not speak out—
Because I was too busy drinking margaritas.

Then they came for Costa Rica, and I did not speak out—
Because I was playing with a monkey.

Then they came for Waikiki, and I did not speak out—
Because I was playing with a Japanese tourist.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Conner Coffin Leus towels
“If the circumstances are right, I’ll take a chance. I like to look into what I’m having a shot at and I try not to do stupid shit. And as far as this goes, I felt like this was a relatively small risk. It feels like something that could be… big. They wanted to launch it internationally, not just in California, so there’s movement worldwide. I like the buzz.” | Photo: A little hunk, sure, but stud just turned mogul hopeful… 

Conner Coffin Just Bought a Towel Biz!

A little hunk, sure, but stud just turned mogul hopeful… 

Eight days ago, the Santa Barbara surfer Conner Coffin was melted into the Backdoor reef, a collision that opened up a wound that was closed, loosely, with twelve stitches.

Conner, who is twenty-three, is using the down time to sharpen his involvement with the start-up brand, LEUS (pronounced: Loose). Conner was approached a year ago by LEUS to see if he’d be into partnering up.

Did he want to be the sponsored surfer for the company?

Conner said he’d prefer to take a slice of the company. No sponsorship deal, though he would use the product and put stickers on his board. And he’d even throw in a little of his own skin.

“I’ve always been into the idea of getting into a start-up,” says Conner.

But towels?

“Yeah, towels. A lot of people make towels but they don’t focus on ‘em. I felt like we could do a lot of fun stuff, some cool projects.”

What sorta cool projects?

“Throwing midnight pool parties,” says Conner.

It’s a sound biz ideal. Does Conner feel like he has the head for risk?

“If the circumstances are right, I’ll take a chance. I like to look into what I’m having a shot at and I try not to do stupid shit. And as far as LEUS goes, after seeing the business plan and strategy, I didn’t feel like it was a risk at all. It feels like something that could be… big. LEUS is launching internationally, not just in California, so there’s movement worldwide. I like the buzz.”

What makes this a good biz, what makes it unique?

“It’s not just about towels, we’ve started a brand that people want to be a part of, something that makes them feel good.  The big brands make towels and shove ‘em down at the bottom of the surf shop, under all the shit. LEUS has a rad product that looks good on the shop floor and ‘cause it’s priced fairly it’s almost an impulse buy.”

Conner’s so into his new thing, he did a road trip through Spain and Italy schlepping the towels. He says it gave him belief in the brand when shop owners threw open their doors, their arms, and wallets. The first run is already sold out and the company is three times bigger at launch than they figured in their biz plan.

As far as goals, end points, Conner says he’d always wanted to go to college but didn’t have the time ‘cause he was dirtying his rails. This, he says, is his version of a biz college.

“I get to learn my degree in real life,” he says. “If it’s super successful that’s awesome and I feel like we’re in a good position to do that. Our goal is to start in surf and build the brand through that. And then grow in other categories.  This ain’t just surf. Especially right now. You probably heard but the surf industry ain’t doing so hot.”

How important is it, in your opinion, as an athlete, to think about life beyond contest heats?

“They’re little moments of time. I try to put a lot of importance on everything going on outside of a jersey. Contests don’t last forever and I’d be bored if I didn’t do something afterwards.”

(Editor’s note: If it didn’t strike you in the face already, this story came out of a meeting with Conner and the guys from LEUS, who’ll be on the side banners on the site for the next week, each day alternating with a new print from the debut range. I get a buzz from LEUS, as I did from Stance years ago, that these guys will own towels.)

Watch: Surfing Mag’s E. Geiselman!

Not your average sibling rivalry…

We can all agree that Surfing Mag produced high-quality cinematic content. From monthly super-session edits to the best drone-work in the biz to feature films on Jack Freestone and the Geiselman brothers, Surfing thrived in moving picture. That is mostly due to their progressive outlook and the artistic vision of ex-staff-filmmaker Sean Benik (currently accepting offers, surf brands!).

Just before, or maybe just after Surfing was killed dead, they produced their final piece — E. Geiseilman (There are two) — about brothers Eric and Evan Geiselman. Aged twenty-eight (Eric) and twenty-three (Evan), the Floridians have forever existed in the spotlight thanks to their immense talent and model good-looks. While Eric veered from competition to pursue more whimsical modes of waveriding, Evan has kept his nose to the grindzone in an attempt to prove himself worthy of the top thirty-four. He narrowly missed the cut in 2016 despite winning two events.

E. Gesielman seeks to highlight the vastly divergent, occasionally combatant personalities of two talented siblings. There’s Eric: the artsy, care-free string bean of natural ability and Evan: the driven, fearless golf enthusiast who once unsuccessfully drowned at the Banzai Pipeline. That debacle, plus an abundance of top-tier progressive surfing can be found inside. I particularly enjoyed the Central America section (4:50), as Ev’s unhinged approach is serenely juxtaposed by his style and ability in the tube. Plus those waves… hubba hubba!

Come revel in Surfing Mag‘s last great film!

Uncanny: What your beach says about you!

Are you a closet masochist or a great philanthropist? Come find out!

We live in a wonderful mobile age, no longer bound by family or work. The internet has freed us from both! Each of us can live anywhere our heart desires! Whichever beach we choose! And so where we live speaks to our personality, to our hopes, to our dreams, to our life’s style. And what do these beaches say?

San Clemente: The surfer who chooses San Clemente as home is outwardly progressive and inwardly reactionary. He loves the latest in board design, the latest in rotational grab but also hates change. This conundrum totally blew his circuits and now he seems human, perhaps even a beautiful model, on the outside but inside is a big ball of hot, sparking, disconnected wires. (See Luke Davis.)

Venice: And I’m not talking Venice-adjacent here, I’m talking Venice proper. The surfer who lays in head in Venice hates surfing. He hates waves and is happy to spend millions and millions of dollars so he doesn’t have to live by them. (See the man who works at Google)

Bondi: The Bondi surfer is a closet masochist. On the outside he loves fine weather, beautiful nature and wholesome food cooked out of the freshest organic ingredients. On the inside he lives to watch sections close out on each side of him time and time and time again. He doesn’t want for an open racing wall, an open tube. He wants for frustration. (See a muscular German)

Rio: The Rio surfer believes in a good time but doesn’t believe in tomorrow. Pollution? Who cares! Massive inflation? Who cares! Corruption? Who cares! Those are tomorrow’s problems and tomorrow doesn’t exist! (See the Buddha)

Long Beach, NY: The New York surfer grew up playing the puzzle game Tetris and has chosen to live in a Tetris world. He loves to take his board onto subways and trains and figure out how to fit it between the overweight Puerto Rican, the very thin Hasidic Jew and the boy breakdancing for change. This gives him more joy than actually surfing since actually surfing means sitting in a pool of frozen slush. (See Will Shortz)

Puerto Escondido: There was a movement right when leg ropes, or leashes, were invented where certain surfers rebelled against them and called them “kook cords.” These rebels now live in Puerto Escondido. Their leash hatred so cemented to their souls that the possibility of regular death is a better option. (See your angry uncle)

Superbank: The Superbank surfer might, at first glance, appear aggressive, angry shallow and mean. Selfish too. But if one peels just one layer back, he will discover a surfer who loves other people so much that he wants to sit shoulder to shoulder every single time in the water. He wants his fellow surfer to fall out of the sky and onto his head. He wants his fellow surfer to enjoy his tube with him. He is a lover! A great philanthropist! (See Sir Mick Fanning)

Tyrone Swan Pascale Honore
Remember the joy of duct-tape surfing? Rewatch it.

Perspective: Your Life Doesn’t Suck!

Need a little context on what you might call your "problems"?

You hardly need me to remind you that life swings up, it swings down, back and forth and then you die. We make good decisions, we make bad decisions, love is found and love is lost. Sometimes we walk around with pain so heavy it catches in your throat and compresses your chest. Other times we dance and float.

But, nothing, no love affair gone awry, or job lost, no betrayal or game thrown away in extra-time is existential. You take it on the chin. You move on.

And, yet, sometimes it is bad. Sometimes there isn’t a motivational speech in the world that can alter your perspective.

One year ago, Burleigh Heads surfer Rob Croll was paralysed when he fell headfirst into the sand bottom at Kirra.

“The wave was one of the waves you put hamsters on or guinea pigs. It was tiny, you know,” he told the GC Bulletin at the time. “I was face down in the water — it was clear blue — and I could see my arms waving around. I tried to move and I could move my arms. I couldn’t move my legs. Then I couldn’t roll over. This is happening second by second… It was peaceful, hey. You know how they talk about it being peaceful. It was about 30 seconds where I was doing that drowning. After that it’s just blank. Clear blue water, you could just see what was going on.”

An off-duty paramedic pulled him out of the water and Rob knew he was going to be a quadriplegic.

“I cried like a baby for a month,” he said.

Two days ago, a regional Australian newspaper reported on Rob’s rehabilitation. Mostly these sorta stories talk about how the subject soars above his disability, inspiring others, launching books, movies. 

This ain’t one of ’em.

(From the South Burnett Times)

Rob Croll knows the story you’d love to read, the one about the young father adjusting to life as a quadriplegic with boundless positivity and a constant smile on his dial.

The only catch is Rob’s too honest to tell that tale.

“I’m not embarrassed to admit I struggle mentally,” the 35-year-old said a year since he was paralysed in a surfing accident at Kirra.

“I’ve actually sought help, which I’m fine with you publishing as it may raise awareness about people seeking help with their mental health. I sometimes feel I’m a burden to my family because I’ve changed their entire life for the rest of my life.”

Twelve months ago Rob was living his dream at Burleigh Heads. A plumber by trade, he had a good job, a vibrant social life, a beautiful wife and two gorgeous little boys.

Then came Kirra and after eight months in the spinal ward of Brisbane’s Princess Alexandra Hospital, he now finds himself living a new reality on the Sunshine Coast.

“My grandfather had an empty house and with Mum and Dad up here too, we felt it was the right move,” Rob explained.

“It’s eased the financial burden and the family network has been instrumental in us adjusting to life with an injury like this, but we now think it might be more of a temporary move.

“It’s been particularly hard for (my wife) Katie because she had quite a buzzing social life down the Coast.”

Rob met Czech-born Katie while living in London a decade ago and, as he puts it: “She fell victim to my clutches.”

Now, more than ever, she’s also his rock.

“I always knew she was solid but I can’t believe how great she’s been,” he said. “We have a carer come every morning to help me get going but otherwise she helps me through the day and puts me to bed. I couldn’t have got through this without her.”

The couple has two sons – Rafe, 5, and Bowie, 3 – and Rob doesn’t hold back when asked to reflect on them.

“Through everything I’ve lost, the thing that upsets me the most is that connection with my kids,” he said. “At their age, that connection with fathers is typically a physical thing more than a spoken one. They need to be shown how to do things rather than told and I get frustrated because I have to try to tell my eldest boy how to do things instead of show him.”

In a bid to ease that burden, Rob has undergone revolutionary surgery in recent months that he hopes will provide him with greater use of his hands.

“It was a big decision because some people I spoke to were dead against it and some people were all for it,” he said of the procedure that saw nerves and tendons in his arm used to “rewire” his hands.

“It was a bit of a cruel trick (after the accident) that I was able to use my arms but not my hands … (but) we’ve seen the first signs of improvement. I’ve now got some movement in my right fingers, which helps with picking things up.

“The goal is to be able to grab a stubby with one hand instead of two – among other things, of course.”

As for returning to the water he loved so much, that box has already been ticked.

“It was mixed emotions,” Rob said of trialling – and ultimately ordering – a beach wheelchair.

“That feeling of going under a wave and popping out the other side is nearly indescribable and while it was nice to be back in the water, the mediocrity of being in a wheelchair as opposed to what I used to do was bittersweet.”

Read more here. 

(And if you want to help Rob and his fam out, click here for his mycause page. They’re thirty-five k in towards a 100k target.)

And, now, it might be time to rewatch Tyrone Swan and Pascale Honore and their magical, wonderful creation of duct-tape surfing.