And then the lil fuckers get old enough to shred alongside daddy! How good is that!

Like to Surf? Don’t Have Kids!

Not quite a Rory Rant...

Most of our readers certainly don’t need to hear this from me, but for the 13% of you under the age twenty-six, hopefully this will connect.

I just spent seven days living in paradise with my Fijian family. The couple actually returned to the islands the same day as me, as they’d recently traveled back to the US to deliver and care for their firstborn. Eleven weeks later they brought their baby home to beautiful Viti Levu.

When reading this it’s good to keep in mind that I’m an only child (draw any assumptions you’d like from that) and have never co-existed with an infant, so this experience was all new to me. But the way the baby affected my friends’ daily routine was incredible.

Last year our days in Fiji were spent like this: we’d all go out on the boat, pre-dad would swim and shoot water photos while pre-mom would film from the boat. After they’d successfully nailed a few shots of the paying customers, the couple would grab their boards and surf alongside me. An enviable lifestyle indeed.

Now it’s more this: Wake up somewhere between 2-4 AM to feed the baby, go back to sleep for a couple hours, wake up at six to start the day, take turns handling the baby while the other uses the bathroom, makes breakfast, etc., decide which one of them will go on the boat today — if the dad, sweet, if the mom, pump enough milk for a five-hour absence – shoot photos of paying customers for twice as long, because you’ve lost your partner and therefore need to pick up the slack, plus you’ve gotta make extra money now to support the baby, jump in for a quick surf before we head back to the mainland, rush home because you feel guilty you were gone for so long, take the baby off your partner’s hands despite the fact you’re tired and sunburnt from being out on the boat all day, then settle in for the afternoon/evening and hit the sack at nine o’clock sharp.

Stressful!

My point is that having a baby changes everything. That’s no novel concept, but it’s hard to truly appreciate it until you’ve coexisted with a newborn and seen all the little things done throughout the day to maintain the kid’s health and happiness.

The simplest tasks are made difficult, the most basic pleasures induce painful amounts of guilt, and surfing — especially for people with nine-to-fives — is almost entirely out of the equation. Being a parent truly is a full-time job, and through this trip I’ve gained newfound respect for any child-rearing couple. I don’t know how single parents even survive, to be honest.

I wouldn’t say this experience has deterred me from wanting to reproduce; it just set my timeline back three-to-fifteen years. If I’m gonna surf and travel and experience this world in any sort of reckless fashion, it’s now or never. Once you have a kid, the world becomes a whole lot smaller and infinitely more dangerous.

Maybe Chas or Derek or some of our child-bearing readers will disagree, but this is my youthful, secondhand understanding of the child/surfer conundrum.


Question: Olympics smarter than WSL?

USA! USA! USA! USA! USA!

It was announced, just a handful of months ago, that our surfing was to be included in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. I think most of us maybe sneered. I sure did, publicly too in the National Magazine Award winning Daily Beast story, “The Olympics Made Surfing Lame, Somehow.” Pour yourself a single malt Scotch and really savor the intro…

Surfing is probably going to be in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which is stupid and everyone I know agrees.

The nod is a big coup for the International Surfing Association and its president, Fernando Aguirre.
“Surfing has incredible and growing global appeal, particularly amongst young people,” Aguirre said. “It embodies a cool, playful lifestyle that would add a completely new element to the program, helping the Games reach new fans through live action and stunning broadcast opportunities.”

Except the broadcast opportunities won’t be stunning because the action will be taking place in a chlorine bathtub.

Oops!

If you can believe it I was wrong! The action will not be taking place in a chlorine bathtub but in Japan’s glorious natural, God-made ocean!

Today it was revealed that there might be some nervousness re. no waves coming. Let us read in Japan Today:

The surfing competition will take place at Ichinomiya’s Tsurigasaki Beach instead of on artificial waves, leading to the fears that waves in the summer months may not be sufficient for the competition.

Aguerre, however, believes advanced weather forecasts will help the ISA organise the competition efficiently.

“We have a 10-year history of the place—the surfing direction, size, swirl, wind, everything, so we’re not surprised about how it’s going to be,” Aguerre told insidethegames.biz, a sports website focused on the Olympic Movement.

“The technology right now allows us 72 hours of forecast ahead of time of how the waves are going to be. We need two eight-hour days to run the competition so I think it’s very, very positive.”

Ok… just two quick question. If the surfing competition will take place at Ichinomiya’s Tsurigasaki Beach then what good will 72 hours of advanced forecast do? Will they move the site if no waves are coming to that area? Will they have the entire two week Olympic window to hold the event? Maybe that’s what he’s talking about. And my second question, have any of you ever surfed Ichinomiya’s Tsurigasaki Beach? Is it barrels or airs?

But what I really wanted to say is if the Olympics can run the entire damn show in two eight hour days, i.e. almost one swell event, then it is smarter than the World Surf League.

Am I right or am I right?


Sutton makes no appearance in this film but... isn't he lovely nonetheless?

Film: Cyrus Sutton’s ‘Island Earth’!

Do you love Hawaii? Do you only eat organic?

Are you friend or foe of GMO? I’ve never formed a concrete opinion on account of my ignorance of the matter. I’d heard that they cause cancer, that they help feed more people, so it’s like a coin-toss, right?

Well I just watched Cyrus Sutton’s new film Island Earth, and it helped answer many of my questions. You’ll remember Cyrus from his van escapades and effortless flow at a certain Peruvian lefthander, but this time the San Diego native has branched out beyond the realm of surf and into health and politics.

The film focuses on the GMO industry that has embedded itself in the Hawaiian island chain. Many locals are upset that the companies have taken vast swaths of land, sickened the local people with pesticides, and above all else they’re mad because the food these companies produce isn’t even used for consumption. Hawaii is essentially a giant laboratory for novel GMO testing.

A main character in the film is Cliff Kapono, a Hawaiian native who, aside from being a phenomenal surfer, has spent the last few years working on a PhD at UC San Diego. Cliff’s goal has always been to return to Hawaii with enough knowledge to help local communities thrive independently from outside industries. He initially believed GMOs were a smart pathway to minimizing the amount of pesticides used for agricultural growth, but once he gained an insider’s perspective, Cliff realized that like most things, the agricultural industry is entirely corrupt.

The film also visits Dustin Barca, an ex-CTer who decided to fight the GMO companies by becoming mayor of Kauai, but ultimately fell short.

If nothing else, the documentary gives wonderful insight to the frustrations of Hawaiian communities. Regardless of your beliefs on GMOs, it’s inarguable that they’re getting the raw end of this deal.

For anyone who cares, I came out of this film conflicted. It seems as though GMOs could be exponentially useful to the human food crisis, but because of the greedy bastards running the whole thing, it’s destined to harm us in the long run. GMO companies function like the pharmaceutical industry — they have no interest in finding a forever-cure, they just want to keep treating the symptoms with a pill you take every day for the rest of your life. Assured profits are king.

If you live on the US or Canadian west coast and seek to see the film for yourself, click here for a full list of premiere dates and locations. If you don’t live in this highly specific geographical region, watch this bit of irony while you wait for it to come out online!


Here, the new version of Wavegarden, a joint where even middle-aged men can swing into a wave every fifty-five seconds

Wavegarden gets lease for Perth pool!

Local council says yes! Build a tank!

A few days ago,Wavegarden released a photo of their rebooted tank called The Cove. The tightly cropped image features a man bent double and squished into a one-foot tube.

“This surfer is Spaniard Hodei Collazo – he’s six foot tall / 180cm just to put the barrel into context!” reads the press release.

wavegarden the cove
Let’s be honest. It ain’t about tubes. We’ll get into tanks to sharpen our air repertoire,

If the photo was meant to make us all drunk on visions of their new pool and gently threaten the superiority of the as yet critically unexamined Slater tank it failed.

An email-interview with Andrew Ross, the Australian investor who has a noble plan to seed his home country with ten Wavegardens was further comedy.

“I had 65 waves in about an hour with a few other guys – was hard to walk afterwards,” Ross told Surfing Life. “One of the wave types includes a true barrelling wave, with a trough and a concave shape, that means the wave wraps back at you like a point break. This is different to the current wave foil tech where the wave is somewhat convex shaped, in that it bends back away from you as it breaks. I surfed the new full-scale ‘Cove’ in December, and it is awesome!”

But what Wavegarden has got that the Slater and the as-yet-to-be-built Webber pools don’t (although expect a large-ish announcement in a fortnight, Webber tells me), is real-life testing. In Wales and in Texas.

Of course, the results haven’t been entirely pretty. Wales closed for a one-million-and-a-half dollar reboot and Texas has been shuttered for more than six months.

It’d be churlish to be too hard on the technology, I think. At least it’s out there. It’s happening. And who doesn’t want a pool to shred on?

And, now, it appears the Wavegarden in the Perth suburb of Melville is a step closer after the local council approved a ground lease for a slice of Tompkins Park.

Whatever you think of pools, this’ll add a little something to a park that butts up against a shallow slice of the Swan River and, right now, has a lawn bowls club and a couple of shitty houses on it.

The pool, if it gets built, and the ifs are plenty, you’ll be able to surf against the backdrop of a setting sun and the surprisingly muscular Perth skyline.

And Perth, which is in the shadow of offshore islands and never gets waves of any real value, needs a tank. If it barrels, nice, if it don’t, it doesn’t matter.

I grew up in the joint. I know.

The poor bastards are dying for this.


Oh how I wish I charged like this wahine!

The Pains of Chasing a Swell!

Physical pain is excruciating, but it's the emotional wounds that truly break a man!

Sometimes you track a swell quarter-way ‘round the world and everything goes right. The waves produce, the winds are light, the sun is out and you put on the performance of a lifetime. Then a filmer captures your best ride of the trip and you manage to seduce a local temptress, only to put on the second-best performance of your life. This is what we all dream of, no?

Well that’s never happened to me. Oftentimes one or two or maybe three of the criteria persist, but to expect a perfect sweep would be delusional. In reality, most of us are lucky to get one or two memorable waves on these ventures, as the terrifying and perplexing realities of foreign surf travel are enough to throw even some pros for a loop.

For two-and-a-half days the waves were absolutely flawless in Fiji. Long period, immaculately angled swell was met with soft offshores, the results of which were the most imacculate waves I’ve seen. The best of the bunch were trading their time between getting one exceptionally long barrel, or two-to-three medium length barrels per wave. The mediocre guys settled for a few stand-tall sections and fire-hose spits.

I was happy with my performance on day one. I got five waves that were better than anything I’d caught in California this season, and one of them was a proper bomb. I even have some (blurry) photographic evidence, which will be cool to show my grandkids someday. It’s amazing how, in a historical context, a photo can change someone’s legend from from pussy to pirate, just like that.

Like, what if Eddie Aikau only caught one big wave in his life? What if the Tiananmen protester just had to go back and pick up his wallet real quick? What if Trump didn’t have the most widely-attended inauguration of all time? Photographic folk-lore is powerful.

Day two was big — that in-between big where Cloudbreak isn’t quite on the outer reef, but it isn’t really on the first reef either. You can either sit way out the back and stroke into a rolly one, or sit on the ledge and hope to nab an insider before getting the sets on your head. Cat and mouse, as they say.

For the pros, especially the Hawaiians, this was no big deal. These guys handle poundings at Jaws, so a few second-reefers at Thundercloud probably doesn’t scare them much. As I watched from the boat, these boys (along with a few equally brave boatmen) consistently nabbed long, running, double-up tubes from takeoff to kickout. It was beautiful and terrifying.

Eventually I worked up the courage to paddle out. Upon entering the lineup, a medium one swung wide and came right to me. I was deep, and late, but I had chance. I swung around and started grinding toward the tower until I saw the line stretch out and felt my tail begin to lift. At this point I made the biggest mistake of my day — I pulled back.

Now, granted, according to people who were watching this from the shoulder, there’s almost no chance I would have made it. But had I gone, I have a feeling the rest of my session would have played out differently. Had I just taken that initial pounding, I would have been freed from the fear and able to enjoy myself from there on out.

The rest of my session was spent getting paddled around (another unfortunate result of pulling back), wearing wash-throughs on the head, and misreading the two very good waves I caught. I’ve learned that Cloudbreak is a difficult wave to understand for any newcomer, but on your backhand it’s another level. I returned to the boat three hours later exhausted and ashamed.

On the last day the swell had died considerably, though there were still a few gems to be had. I made a conscious decision to paddle to the top of the point, wait my turn, and get at least one screamer to wash away yesterday’s disappointment (classic Slater move).

On my best two waves, I was burnt to a crisp by a couple of the visiting pros. I guess some of them were on ‘shrooms and just fucking around in the relatively playful surf. Though playful for them can be world-class to the rest of us.

The swell is now gone, so I’ve decided to sit the day out and address my wounds — both physical and emotional. I’ve got New-Skin for the reef cuts and this article for my aching heart.

But please don’t mistake this tale as a general complaint. First of all, I understand I’m unjustifiably fortunate to even have this opportunity. Second, I’m actually glad I’ve yet to have the ‘perfect’ trip. Because where do you go from there? I never want to score so hard that I end up thinking, the forecast looks fun, but how could it live up to Pohnpei in 2015?

No, I’d rather continue on my path of half-successful ventures with maximum levels of froth, rather than having already hit my apex moment. Much like with food and sex, the anticipation of sterling surf is often, if not always, greater than reality. If you kill the possibility of improvement, you’re stripping yourself of the most exciting part.