Crème: Julian Drops Best Edit of 2017!

Including the two of the best airs you've seen in ages!

Not two hours ago, noted surf writer Chris Smith penned these very words:

Former has been live, now, for almost a week and have you watched Craig Anderson’s Luxury29.99? Is it not the surf edit of the year? It totally is! Near perfect!

Little did Chris Smith know, Julian Wilson was about to drop the true edit of the year (below)! An absolute masterclass in technically sound, totally radical waveriding. Craig’s clip can’t hold a candle to Jules’ blitzkrieg attack.

In fact, Wilson felt so confident in his ability to dissect the praying mantis that he brought Craig on a surf trip to Cloudbreak, a left, and completely embarrassed the goofyfoot! Talk about cruel and unusual.

Anyways, Chris Smith kinda saved his ass with a piece from just yesterday, where he wrote:

I have called Julian Wilson to win the title for three years running, I think. Oh he has it all… Fearless in bigger waves, still above average air game, experience, the last threads of youth, style, etc. All the markings of a potential champion and yet the grand prize has eluded him. Could this be the year?

And does the clip below, Wayward, not prove Chris’ stance to a T? The scene begins at pumping Cloudy, where Julian fearlessly charges bigger waves. It then heads to Bali and the Goldy, where Julian flaunts his still (very) above average air game. The experience, youth and style bleed through the entire clip.

However the answer to Smith’s concluding query is no. Julian will not win the title this year. I think…

Dane and Craig Former
I think, just the right amount of insouciance and daring.

Help: We were bullied by skate mags!

Dane and Craig's Former knocked around by Thrasher!

Former has been live, now, for almost a week and have you watched Craig Anderson’s Luxury29.99? Is it not the surf edit of the year? It totally is! Near perfect! Oh the clothes themselves may be a touch uninspired/uninspiring but early days and let’s hope it is smooth sailing from on out. Let’s hope no more bullying from the nasty surf media.

But wait. What’s that I hear? Is that the skate media piling on? Oh drat. And this news just came in from our wonderful reader Cap’n Haddock.

Thrasher magazine, extreme sport’s only thriving media property thanks to Justin Bieber etc. loving the Thrasher look, gave Former a knock on their news show Skateline. You can watch the host twist those nipples here or just read the transcript:

Shakas up high give it a wiggle, go head touch it. Wiggle it, yeah. Austyn Gillette starts a brand called Former with some surfers. And I know you’ve got surfer buddies but they got you here looking like a douche, my nigga. Embarrassing us n shit. No more of this! Look how ridiculous you (Austyn) looks in this photo. I’ve never laughed at your face before!

Dane and Craig have both shifted heavily toward the skate look over the years, embracing the hard + cool urban vibe and so I wonder if this unkind bullying from a magazine respected by Ryan Gosling etc. hurts twice as much?

I hope not. I hope they feel comfortably superior in their hearts knowing that surfers have always been better and always will be better.

Elio Canestri
The teenage surfer Elio Canestri, killed by a shark on Reunion Island.

Relax: It’s ok to kill bull sharks!

Surfing banned on Reunion because of non-threatened fish. Absurd?

The bull shark is a real son of a bitch. Eats anything. Dogs. People. Turtles. Dolphins. Other bull sharks. Won’t let go either. You can belt it in the snout, jam your fingers into its eyes, rip at its gills, but it ain’t gonna release those jaws. The bull, or zambezi or whatever you want to call it, is indestructible. Lives anywhere, freshwater, saltwater, ocean, river, shallow, deep.

Endangered? Threatened? Not even close.

On a scale of one to seven, with seven being extinct, the bull shark comes in at the second-lowest rung, Not Threatened, just above Least Concern.

Oh you’ll find them everywhere. Up the Mississippi, in the Gold Coast waterways, Sydney Harbour, in the Amazon, Maryland etc, and, pointedly, as masters of the marine reserve in Reunion Island.

Reunion is a pretty volcanic island of almost one million people off the east coast of Africa. Lives off sugar exports, mostly, as well as the benevolent hand of the largely socialist French state. Richest island in the Indian Ocean.

A decade ago, a twenty-kilometre marine reserve was created along Reunion’s west coast. Preserve the environment? A no-brainer, right? Except like a lot of well-intentioned government policies, this one loosed a hell of a problem.

As Jeremy Flores told me a couple of years back after a rash of fatal shark attacks.

“From generation to generation there were always fishermen and then people from overseas, environmentalists, came and they stopped fishing in a 10-kilometre area where all the shark attacks are now happening… By the time they stopped fishing the sharks didn’t have anything to fear anymore so they started coming and now it’s dead territory. They ate everything. There is no more life. There is no more turtles. There is no more fish. No more nothing. No more reef sharks. Because the bull sharks have eaten everything. And now, because there’s nothing left to eat, it’s the surfers”

The movie Jaws? It was based on a two-week period on the Jersey Shore in 1916 when it was most likely bull sharks (or maybe Whites) fatally attacked four swimmers.

The situation on the ground in Reunion is loony. Surfing is banned on all but two netted beaches. Swim or surf outside of the nets and there’s a good chance you’ll die.

The teenage kids of some pals of mine have RIP this and RIP that scrawled in texta all over their schoolbags. It took me a while to realise they weren’t saying their pals were shredders but had been killed by sharks.

You heard, read, the hysteria after Kelly Slater gently suggested it wouldn’t be the end of the world to fish bull sharks after Reunion’s twentieth shark attack since 2011, eight of ‘em fatal.

“I won’t be popular for saying this, but there needs to be a serious cull on Réunion and it should happen every day,” said Slater. “There is a clear imbalance happening in the ocean there. If the whole world had these rates of attack nobody would use the ocean and millions of people would be dying like this. The French government needs to figure this out ASAP.”

When Elio Canestri was killed in 2014, I called Jeremy again.

“All these sharks, bro, fuck, it’s the real deal,” said the Reunion-born WSL surfer. “Perfect waves. Sunny day. Eight kids in the water and the shark attacked in the middle of everyone. Can you imagine that? Can you imagine how those kids feel?”

Jeremy’s mom phoned him an hour after the attack. Her friend lives in front of the break. Saw everything.

I can’t tell you how many times I surfed that place by myself,” said Jeremy. “When I heard it was a young kid, thirteen years old, I started shaking. I could picture myself at the same age, frothing with all my friends, just trying to get a surf. On Reunion, it’s a small surfing community, everyone knows each other, and I’ve lost some really close brothers to shark attacks, but this time, to be a thirteen-year-old, one of the best surfers on the island, with all his life in front of him. To die like that, so young, is terrible.”

The following year, Jeremy flew to Reunion for two weeks to see old pals and family. The surf pumped. And he didn’t touch his surfboard.

“It wasn’t worth it to take the risk. It took a long time for people to realise how bad the situation is. People thought it was like everywhere in the world. But, right now, we have the world record for attack.

Jeremy ain’t down for environmental slaughter, he loves the ocean, and said he’s “aware that sharks are everywhere and that I could get attacked. But on Reunion Island, “it’s a 50-50 proposition.”

From a local.

“There are so many sharks in the water, it is traumatic,” said Gilbert Pouzet, 55, who has surfed in Réunion for 30 years, told the IB Times. “Sometimes, I go down to the waves and I am not sure whether to go in the water or not; 80 percent of the time I go back home. Most of the time they strike from the side and take your hip and leg. They sever the femoral artery so you bleed to death in two minutes. The tiger shark will sometimes take an arm or a piece of leg and go away. But the bull shark becomes mad and finishes you off. When the bull sharks attack, they come to kill.”

Of course, in a world where everyone signals their virtue on Facebook and whatever else, Slater’s balanced, and intelligent, response, was twisted to mean he demanded the worldwide eradication of sharks.

He didn’t. No one does.

But on Reunion where a non-threatened fish has the population standing terrified on the shoreline, and grommets killed when they sneak off for a surf, the greatest absurdity is it’s even an issue to fish bull sharks in the marine reserve.

They’re fished everywhere else. Australia. The US. Africa. Everywhere. Killed. No tears. No snowflakes weeping over their status updates on Facebook.

Even better,  the bull shark tastes good, as long as you skin ‘em quick before the ammonia is released. Cook in garlic butter and ginger, wrap in alfoil, serve with a crisp Margaret River white.

Kalani David
"It’s been a pretty crazy ride. For a while I was on all this medicine that was making me act without thinking. That was a weird time, but it’s over now. Done." | Photo: Vans

Kalani David found in Panama Jungle!

Surf and skate prodigy back surfing, post-heart surgery, in Bocas del Toro!

Recently I took a cab, boarded a plane, took a cab, then boarded another plane to the Caribbean archipelago of Bocas del Toro, Panama. The trip was designed for the sake of surf and to earn another big, red pin on my proverbial world map. I spent my first day, yesterday, finding a place to stay and dealing with a quirky if slightly disconcerting hostel owner/roommate. The following week should be interesting.

This morning was my first session at Bocas’ most notorious break, Playa Bluff, a wave that would send me home with a broken board and a disproportionate sand-to-orifice ratio. But before that, in fact just before the noted splintering of my sled, something amazing happened. While performing my twice-minutely scan of the beach (bags seem to walk away when left unattended in Central Am.), I saw a young man running down the beach.

His on-land presence was telling. Fast, focused, committed.My instincts screamed “good surfer”.

No one runs into a four-foot shorebreak like that unless they know what they’re doing, and how they’re gonna do it.

When he gained the lineup, maybe fifty meters from me, the guy turned on the first wave that came his way. It was a chunky, ugly closeout. No way he goes. He went. Finally emerging from the brine, he gathered his board and did it again, and again. I inched towards him.

Who is this lunatic? Closer and closer I crept until – Aha!

Kalani freaking David! Surfing a lonely, awful-looking Panamanian peak well past the groomed morning hours! What are the odds?

On top of being surprising, the Hawaiian’s presence was, to me, strangely coincidental. I’ve been trying to get a hold of Kalani since his heart surgery back in January.

Aside from that debacle, he’s recently launched a new website, lost his sponsor of eleven years, and his Instagram has raised some personal questions that I’ve been dying to ask.

I am oh-so-positive that Kalani has an interesting story to tell, and this chance encounter was my best opportunity to make it happen. A cursory chat in the lineup fortified my beliefs.

I’m still at risk of having seizures – I actually had one on the plane ride over here. So surfing is yeah… a little sketchy I guess.

What are you doing here?!  

I just drove down from Costa Rica. I was visiting my family there, and my sister and I decided to come over here for the swell. 

How’s the whole heart situation?

It’s been a pretty crazy ride. For a while I was on all this medicine that was making me act without thinking. That was a weird time, but it’s over now. Done. 

(Kalani catches another shitty wave and returns)

Sorry, I haven’t surfed much lately so I’m all wired. 

Are you fully cured? Like, is it safe for you to be surfing?

I mean it’s definitley better, but I’m still at risk of having seizures – I actually had one on the plane ride over here. So surfing is yeah… a little sketchy I guess. 

After promising me an interview over the next few days, Kalani took one more closeout and snapped his spanking-new Lee Stacey. At the rate he was going, it was inevitable.

Kalani David from Chad Christensen on Vimeo.

Wilson: “You could put rails in there!”

Julian Wilson discusses winning it all and also maybe losing it all!

I have called Julian Wilson to win the title for three years running, I think. Oh he has it all… Fearless in bigger waves, still above average air game, experience, the last threads of youth, style, etc. All the markings of a potential champion and yet the grand prize has eluded him

Could this be the year?

He gave a nice interview to Australia’s Yahoo7 news about maybe. Let’s read!

I am past just ‘taking it as it comes.’ I feel like I have had some really good years on tour and I have learnt a lot and I just really want to go for that world title now. It is really what motivates me, I know it is achievable and I just want to apply myself as much as possible to get that goal.

I feel like for myself (the world title) is more achievable than ever. That’s the main thing, if I believe in it and I can see it happening, that’s when you get closer to it and I have that feeling now more than ever. It’s very much about consistency. I think I have had five finals in the last two years without a win. Obviously getting a win is a great goal to have but it is all about that consistency.

I feel like I am comfortable enough at all the stops on the tour to be making heats and beating those guys and giving myself a really good opportunity of getting that No.1 goal.

And that sounds like a winner talking, don’t it? Sounds like he’s got his head screwed on tight. There was only one little part of the interview at the end that left me wondering. When asked about Kelly Slater still being on Tour he segued into the pool in Tulare County.

Obviously the whole world has seen the quality of that wave, it would be a great addition to the tour. WSL has gone and bought the rights from Kelly so they are looking at it and planning for it and I would love to compete on a platform that was consistent. You could put rails in there and do rail slides and airs. There is so much exciting stuff that could be done there.

And haven’t we learned anything from Chris Coté and his patented Rail of Death? Are we doomed to repeat our ghastliest errors? Our gravest mistakes?

Or wait. I can’t remember. Was the ROD fun and awesome? More on this developing story as it breaks.