Surf journalist pictured after finishing wonderful interview with Kai Otton.
Surf journalist pictured after finishing wonderful interview with Kai Otton.

Surf journalism: “An invincible summer!”

What did you want to be when you grew up?

Our dear Michael Ciaramella posted a recent bit where he exhorted us all to Watch: Our Competitor’s Film! I wondered, when I read the headline who our competitor was, clicked on and saw that it was What Youth. “But oh!” I thought to myself. “What Youth is not our competition. We’re fellow travelers! Just like Milo Yiannopoulos and the alt-right!”

And it is true. What Youth and The Surfer’s Journal bookend all that is good in surfing. The boys stitch together brilliant magazines, each and every one a treasure and sometimes I get to come and play too. The  below appears, in full, in What Youth issue 17 which feat. the beautiful Chippa Wilson on cover. It deals with career choices.

Buy the issue here! And read a little taste here!

I once dreamed of throwing off this empty yoke. Of finishing with surf and taking up only journalism and meaning something again. I went to Ukraine right after Kiev’s population burned the city center to the ground in protest of a government linked too closely to Russia. An angry mist hung in the air and angry Ukrainians manned make-shift bunkers, waiting to fight to the death for what they believed. It meant something. It meant life or death. It was important.

I chatted with Bernie Sander’s chief of staff as that movement was cranking to full volume last year. He spoke of the dreams, hopes, perils of America’s youth. He spoke of what could be done, politically, to create a bright future or at least a future the kids could be proud of. He spoke of fear, terror, health care, free university education, music, art, literature and it was important.

I interviewed with General David Petraeus on stage at a hedge fund conference in front of millionaires and billionaires waiting to invest trillions. He was once a general and once the director of the CIA and had a widely reported affair with a reporter. A journalist! And we went back and forth about China and Saudi Arabia and Osama bin Laden and ISIS and gas prices and security. The weight of the investing world hinged on our conversation. Whole markets ready to rise or fall. It was important.

And then I came back to surfing. To surfing journalism. I left Ukraine, I didn’t even write up the Bernie story and I laughed with David Petraeus. Why? To be honest I don’t really know. But what is knowledge? I gots none! I feel there is some magic in this absurd. In this surfing.

French Algerian author Albert Camus wrote so much about it. He was not a surf journalist but wrote the absurd is man’s great fight. That none of this means anything but it is our greatest struggle to make sense of it.
He wrote about pushing stones up hills that continue to roll down and we continue to push them back up. He wrote about the emptiness. The terrible feeling that nothing is actually important. He wrote, “At any street corner the feeling of absurdity can strike any man in the face.”

But do you know what he also wrote?

“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”

Now that’s what I’m talking about. Surf journalism. The invincible summer.


Victory: Slater Designs wins award!

Proving you WRONG is what he does!

Oh you love to get angry at Kelly Slater’s surfboards don’t you though? You say:

“Kelly’s equipment just looks wrong!”

“Its actually sad seeing the goat suck so badly!! Please john just lend slats a pyzel sled so he can bury a fucking rail!”

“PLEASE KELLY< get on a fucking different board!!! a SemiPro, or something.. his turns have hiccups in every front side delivery.. he is still a beast.. his barrels deep, his floaters and airs high.. PLEASE shape a semi pro and put an infinity sign on it or something.. god dam!!!”

And seeing as Kelly Slater has maybe not gotten the best results since he’s jumped from Channel Islands over to the new Slater Designs your complaints might seem to hold water.

But they don’t! Apparently you don’t know shit about surfboards because Slater Designs just won the Surf Industry Manufacturing Association’s Breakout Brand of the Year at last Thursday’s award’s ceremony at the Slater Design SCI-FI won Performance Shortboard of the Year!

Boooooya, haters!

Does this news make you rethink your ability to correctly judge a surfboard’s quality? Will you trade in your trusty “normal” surfboard by day’s end and upgrade to a Slater? Will you write Kelly an apology for the mean things you’ve written?

All three?

Good. That’s probably smart. And get ready to fall a lot and not really complete any moves. Sorry. I mean get ready to WIN!

Finale! Girl Goes Into Orbit!

Can Filipe Toledo teach Lakey Peterson how to nail a full-rotation air in four days? Watch!

If you’ve followed this four-part Girl Goes Into Orbit series you’ll know where we’ve been and what to expect in the final episode.

In case you’re new to the game, here’s the story: one month ago, BeachGrit, took the pro surfer Lakey Peterson to Mexico with one goal – to land a four-foot-above-the-lip full-rotation air.

Call it a 540 if you want. Call it an air 360 if that thrills too.

It’s been a pet project of mine to push women’s surfing beyond what is, mostly, a series of often stylish, often not, top turns and cutbacks. Why don’t girls do airs? Why should they? Only reason the men are doing ’em in competition is because of Gabriel, Filipe, Jordy, Julian, Josh Kerr and John John.

My theory is girls surf alongside boys until their early teens, and since it takes a fair bit of guts to get out there among the boys, the girls are usually among the best. Then, instead of improving alongside the boys as they get older, they plateau as they surf in girl-only competitions.

List the excuses you hear about girls and airs. They don’t have the physical strength. They don’t have the ability.

It’s all one big misconception.

Kids do ’em. Kooks can do ’em.

Why not girls?

My theory is girls surf alongside boys until their early teens, and since it takes a fair bit of guts to get out there among the boys, the girls are usually among the best. Then, instead of improving alongside the boys as they get older, they plateau as they surf in girl-only competitions.

And, since being a pro is such a thing, they train with coaches, but instead of growing into great surfers they turn into great competitors.

So let’s work on it.

To accelerate a process that John John says takes a couple of years, and compress it into four days Filipe Toledo and Brett Simpson joined Lakey as tutors. She’d surf. Come in. Swipe back and forth with the Hurley Surf Club app that gives a split-screen, side-by-side comparison with two surfers. In our case, Filipe’s airs and Lakey’s air attempts.

Cruel? Not as much as you’d think. Because Lakey can surf.

How’d it play out? Watch!

And, if you missed the other three episodes, watch those here.

This wasn't the wave but.. still, yowza!

Ouch: Dane Breaks Back at Pipe!

Rushing though...

As reported by Australia’s Surfing Life and witnessed in the video below, Dane Reynolds has apparently fractured a vertebrae after a fall at Backdoor. Please watch and wince with me!

Few things to discuss here.

1. What a beast! That wave was throatier than a sophomore cheerleader. The fact that Dane attempted, and nearly made, a wave of such grunt and gristle is commendable in and of itself.

2. Ow! Back injuries, as I’d imagine is true for most injuries, are no damn good. I fractured a vertebrae last year and despite only missing two months of surf, I still feel the effects today. My body is stiffer, slower, and more sore than it ever has been, like the whole ordeal set me forward ten years. Every fracture is different, so Dane’s could be better or much much worse. We shall wait and see.

3. Is anyone else sick of the Former editing style/song choice? Puts a real damper on their mediocre clothing line.

And just wondering, what’s the worst surf-related injury you’ve had? A dislocated shoulder in Durban? A filet-o-face at Deserts? Do tell!

Mark Healey should have followed me straight back to the channel!

True: Surfline Is Following Me!

BeachGritto before you go!

Have you ever felt like you were being followed? Downtown after bar close and the shadows haunt your every step? Being a mother duck in general?

Surfline is doing that to me, like, right now.

If you’ve been following along with my recent escapades, you’ll know that after a trip to Panama one month ago, I left for Australia and am now posted in Fiji. It’s a hard life but somebody has to do it.

And it turns out I’m not the only one!

An explanation: a few days into my Panama trip, I saw an IG post by none other than Luke Davis, in which he was surfing Bocas Del Toro’s premier wave. The caption read: (palm tree emoji) @surfline #ShadowCompany

This made me think that he, and Surfline, were headed my way for the peak of the swell. My suspicions were quickly confirmed when I heard through Hookers and Cocaine Wireless that not only Luke, but also Koa, Billy, and Nathan were headed to the islands.

I never saw the boys over there, as they had their sights set on a particularly hairy beast, but their presence was felt nonetheless.

Then, just two days into my Fiji trip, Koa Rothman posts this picture. Suspicious, but not surprising. Pros love Cloudbreak too.

Then the swell showed up early. Wasn’t supposed to be solid until the evening, but Tuesday morning provided some of the cleanest, most impeccable four-to-six footers anyone could ask for (more on that soon). Harry Bryant got a looney double-drainer that you’ll probably see soon.

Because it started pulsing earlier than expected, the morning was relatively uncrowded. I got three fun ones and called it a session as the tide was beginning to swamp. As I climbed aboard our boat, Tavarua II rolled in ten people deep. Luke Davis, Koa Rothman, Billy Kemper, Nathan Florence, Koa Smith, Alex Gray plus a few filmers.

Once everyone hopped in the water, I asked the Tavi photog, “Those boys here with Surfline?”

“Just kind of on their own trip, I think,” he told me. “But yeah the story and photos will probably go to Surfline.”

Oh those bastards! Do you think they read our site and picked their destinations off of it? And the only reason they didn’t come to Oz was the vagueness of my prose?

That would make BeachGrit the new forecast leader in surf! Who knew!