Mercedes-Benz: Sleep, train, surf!

Is jiu-jitsu a vital component of modern surfing?

Do you do jiu-jitsu? Make jiu-jitsu? Rolling? Is that what jiu-jitsu artists call it when they train? Like, do you call your jiu-jitsu artist buddy and say, “Hey bro, wanna do some rolling with me?” Am I getting the verbiage right?

Whatever the case, jiu-jitsu has become such a major component of surfing in the past few years. Even Kelly Slater goes into the dojo to do some rolling though King Dojo Joel Tudor completely disagrees with Slater’s belt color. And lashes out to let the world know.

Real quick, is the place where you do jiu-jitsu rolling called a dojo? A temple? A set? Is the costume called a costume? A kit? Gi? Ghee?

Oh I’m sorry that I keep getting caught up in the morphology. Forgive!

What I’m trying to get at is the close relationship between jiu-jitsu and surfing is so close that Mercedes-Benz can make a gorgeous commercial utilizing both, plus the new German flag and Nazaré and nobody blinks an eye.

It makes perfect sense to roll around on the floor, getting bent and contorted etc. for those surfing big waves. It must give incredible advantage whilst being near-drowned. But what about surfing small-ish waves? Does jiu-jitsu provide great tools for surfing them too? Should jiu-jitsu be as much a part of my routine as drinking booze and making fun of other surfers?


The Nickies: Surf Website Awards!

It's the greatest night of the year!

(Camera pans around a 1/4 full high school cafeteria. Men featuring varying degrees of decay sit uncomfortably on folding chairs. One wears a freshly pressed Micktory t-shirt. A handful sport AI Forever trucker hats. The host steps to a makeshift stage covered in LEUS towels wearing a Sharp Eye hat, Lost hoodie and Banks Brand trunks with the “Banks Brand” scribbled out with permanent marker. He takes the mic.)

And it that time of year, once again, for the Nickies with all their pomp and circumstance. Their soaring heights and crushing lows. This night we celebrate the best amongst us. This night we celebrate those with highest honor doled out to surf specific websites named after the greatest surf journalist to ever live, Nick Carroll.

(robust applause)

Where would we be without Nick Carroll?

(The host gestures to a muscle man in the audience wearing vintage Quiksilver and reading a brochure for a long distance paddle race. More robust applause as he mouths “thank you fucking cunts”)

So without further ado please turn your attention to the video screen for this year’s nominees…

(The host gestures to an old television being rolled in on a cart. After 20 minutes of fumbling with wires etc. the VHS deck whirs to life and a low-production presentation fills the screen set to a Pennywise soundtrack)

In the “Best Presentation of a Live Surf Contest” category we have:

The World Surf League’s phone app

The Bud Light Lime surf series from 2011 on YouTube

“Best Feature of Mom/Daughter Softcore Pore”


“Best Surf Website that is Venice-Adjacent”


The Inertia

“Best Surf Website with a Writer Dying by Cop”


“Best Surf Website to Never Get Read”

Surf Europe

ESPN surf

“Best Surf Scandal covered by a Surf Website”

Owen Wright’s FCS fin popping out of his board at Margaret River on Stab

Owen Wright’s FCS fin popping out of his board at Margaret River on The Inertia

Owen Wright’s FCS fin popping out of his board on Waves

Owen Wright’s FCS fin popping out of his board on Surfline

Owen Wright’s FCS fin popping out of his board on BeachGrit

Owen Wright’s FCS fin popping out of his board on FCS’s website

Owen Wright’s FCS fin popping out of his board on Surfer

Owen Wright’s FCS fin popping out of his board on Magic Seaweed

(The TV screen goes black. The host comes back up to the LEUS stage awkwardly this time wearing a Hurley shirt and Hurley Phantom trunks)

Technology. Am I right?

(Even more robust applause)

I forgot to save the rest of the categories before coming here today. That’s a WordPress joke…

(The most robust applause. Nick Carroll has even put down his brochure for a long distance paddling race and is cheering)

…so we’ll pick this up tomorrow. Goodnight and good luck.

(The surf journalists stumble out of the high school cafeteria depressed and frustrated. Nothing happened yesterday for them to write about. Nothing happened today save Kelly Slater buying a house on the North Shore and it has already been covered by Stab)


Hear me roar!

Just in: I Am Superman!

So easy a writer can do it!

In my mind, this project was going to be a true test of character. There’d be copious amounts of blood, sweat, and tears alongside broken boards and lacerated ankles. The path would be difficult, but victory so, so sweet.

I wish I could say this without sounding like a total douche, but I landed a superman on my second try. I know I said they were easy, but I honestly didn’t expect this result. Let me explain how it happened.

I paddled out to my local reef around eight AM. Due to a blustery south wind, which is considered “devil wind” by Morgan Dunn and Inertia co. but “air wind” to the rest of us, the lineup was empty. A mid-period northwest had graced our shores overnight resulting in wedgy right-handers that sprinted into the oncoming gales. In other words, a perfect aerial storm.

My first attempt was on a smaller wave. I got the pop, grab, and a little bit of extension, but by the time I tried to throw it back under me I had already descended past the point of possibility. I landed butt-first on my board and bounced around in the whitewash for a few seconds.

A failure, yes, but I did note how simple it had been to extract and replace the board underneath me. The wind helped tremendously as it kept the board close without much effort on my end. I figured if I could just get a little higher, there was a decent chance I’d be able to pull it off.

A few waves later I locked into a chunky double-up. It had that second-wave-of-the-set texture and girth, with a big side-wedge forming down the line. I’d estimate about head-high on takeoff.

It took only two pumps before I reached the ramp and was soaring (no more than two feet but certainly no less than one) above the lip with feet (slightly) disconnected from my board. I don’t have any photographic evidence, but for a realistic depiction, imagine a man using a grab bar to support himself whilst hovering over a toilet.

At that point I started my descent and threw the board haphazardly beneath my feet. Just before impact I released the grab and landed squarely atop the lip. Out of fear I leaned back slightly, but the explosion pushed me back over my board and within two seconds I had ridden past the whitewater.

This superman was more of a Clark Kent but dammit it was a make, even by WSL standards.

After landing I went straight for a few seconds, scouting my surroundings for any witnesses, but the old lady on the stairs looked entirely disinterested. I laughed to myself and paddled back out.

Believe me, I feel like the biggest piece of shit for even telling this story, but what am I gonna do, pretend it didn’t happen? On the bright side, this event has inspired me to try other new shit, because why not!

I think I’ll go for a Passion Pop next and then maybe cocaine. Will anyone here ‘fess up to the merits of prostate stimulation? I’m open to anything!

SUP: The worst ever surf derivative?

If I had to either SUP or not surf again I would not surf again.

The first time I ever saw a stand-up paddleboard was on the North Shore of Hawaii back in the winter of 2006. I was staying in a home just down the road from Waimea and there was some wave far out the back. It looked maybe fun but also far. Next to the home was a monstrous looking flat boat, maybe fifteen feet and five inches thick, with full deck traction and only one paddle.

I asked the owner, “What sort of boat is this and why does it only have one paddle?”

He said, “It is not a boat it’s a surfboard. A stand-up paddleboard. You stand up and paddle.”

I asked if I could stand up and paddle to the wave breaking on a reef out the back and he said, “Sure.”

A few minutes later I was dragging one of the heaviest things I had ever lifted down to the beach. An hour after that, sweaty and sore (sorry for the “soar.” What a blunder!), I was standing up and paddling out to sea. It wasn’t so difficult, just slightly awkward and not very fun but I was committed and soon reached the wave. It was a hollow little thing breaking over very shallow reef. I paddled into position and took off. I kind of bottom turned, mowed down the line then got too high and dropped onto the rocks.


Worse, the thing was attached to my leg and weighed more than me so continued to drag me across the shoal. When I finally collected myself and took inventory I discovered bloody hip, top of foot and elbow plus a half broken fin on the vessel. It was at that moment that I understood the stand-up paddleboard to be the worst ever derivative of the surfboard and have glared at every one that passes me on either road or out at sea.

The SUP has been around now for a while and continues evolving. From SUP yoga to The Inertia to a SUP rowboat. It has finally found its other paddle.

But am I wrong? Do you think there is a worse derivation of surfing?

Maybe high performance longboarding?

Which is worse, the SUP or high performance longboarding?

Is #VanLife for you? A new lineup every day? Returning to a giant bed to de-salt with a lavish of tongues? | Photo: Jeff Minton/The New Yorker

#VanLife sexy in The New Yorker!

Who knew surfers doin' the #VanLife thing could be this elevating!

The resilience of America and its citizens never fails to elevate. Where else but, say, Bangladesh or Romania, can a man work fifty hours a week and not earn enough to provide a roof over the head of his family?

Hence America’s living-in-car culture.

Some of my best friends, gainfully employed, have taken, at various points, to habitat in their little Japanese saloons and hatches. If America has the highest rate of incarceration in the world it can also claim to have the highest rate of in-car-ceration.

Get it? Yeah.

Anyway, a spin-off of the Car Dream is #VanLife where surfers, mostly, deck out a Ford Sprinter or VW Vanagon and live the nomadic dream of moving from beach to beach. Each day a new lineup, a new scene, a new angle on the swell, the sun.

What thrills me, and I suppose I’m not alone, is surfing your ass off and then returning to what is, effectively, a giant bed and licking the salt off your lover’s thighs while you do a switcharoo and flop the old hoagie in her face. Oh, that might be life’s greatest pleasure.

In the April 24 issue of The New Yorker Rachel Monroe has a cut a piece out of the life-of-the-road dream. The story is called #VanLife, The Bohemian Media Movement. Like all stories in The New Yorker it is written in the most compelling and authoritative manner.

Let’s excerpt a little:

Emily King and Corey Smith had been dating for five months when they took a trip to Central America, in February, 2012. At a surf resort in Nicaragua, Smith helped a lanky American named Foster Huntington repair the dings in his board. When the waves were choppy, the three congregated in the resort’s hammock zone, where the Wi-Fi signal was strongest. One afternoon, Huntington listened to the couple have a small argument. Something about their fond irritation made him think that they’d be suited to spending long periods of time together in a confined space. “You guys would be great in a van,” he told them.

The year before, Huntington had given up his apartment in New York and his job as a designer at Ralph Lauren, and moved into a 1987 Volkswagen Syncro. He spent his days surfing, exploring, and taking pictures of his van parked in picturesque locations along the California coast. It was the early days of Instagram, and, over time, Huntington accumulated more than a million followers. He represented a new kind of social-media celebrity, someone famous not for starring in movies or recording hit songs but for documenting an enviable life. “My inspiration,” went a typical comment on one of his posts. “God I wish my life was that free and easy and amazing.” Huntington tagged his posts with phrases like #homeiswhereyouparkit and #livesimply, but the tag he used most often was #vanlife.

 King and Smith left Nicaragua for Costa Rica, but the idea of the van stuck with them. King, a telegenic former business student, had quit her job at a Sotheby’s branch when she realized that she was unhappy. Smith, a competitive mountain biker and the manager of a kayak store, had never had a traditional office job. They figured they could live cheaply in a van while placing what they loved—travelling, surfing, mountain biking—at the center of their lives. When King found out that she’d been hired for a Web-development job that didn’t require her presence in an office, it suddenly seemed feasible.

King and Smith, who are thirty-two and thirty-one, respectively, had grown up watching “Saturday Night Live” sketches in which a sweaty, frantic Chris Farley character ranted, “I am thirty-five years old, I am divorced, and I live in a van down by the river!” But, the way Huntington described it, living in a vehicle sounded not pathetic but romantic. “I remember coming home and telling my mom, ‘I have something to tell you,’ ” King said. “She thought I was going to say we were getting married or having a baby. But I said, ‘We’re going to live in a van.’ ”

Is #VanLife really the dream it’s painted to be on Instagram?

Ken Ilgunas spent most of two years living in a van when he was a graduate student at Duke University in order to avoid racking up debt, an experience he chronicled in a book called “Walden on Wheels,” published in 2013. Living in a van makes you thriftier and more self-reliant, Ilgunas told me. You learn to live with discomfort, a quality that he doesn’t see in the Instagram version of vanlife. “My van never looked like anything out of a Wes Anderson film,” he said. “It was difficult for me to wash my cooking pots. For a couple of weeks, I had mice living in my ceiling upholstery. There were times the van got so hot I thought I would die if I took a nap. And it was lonely. Just knowing that I would have to tell women where I lived deterred even the thought of dating.” In contrast, the vans on Instagram look like “aesthetically pleasing jewelry boxes,” Ilgunas said. “Usually with one or two good-looking people sprawled out in bed in front of a California beach.”

Read the rest and the in-between bits here! 

And learn how to build your own van, the brain spawn of the lovely Cyrus Sutton!

(Click here.)