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Grom Abuse: Christian Fletcher Speaks!

Michael Ciaramella

by Michael Ciaramella

SoCal is hot right now!

After the whole London incident, there’s been heaps of chatter about grom abuse. What is acceptable, what isn’t, and why are these goddamn kids so disrespectful?

Most people over forty believe that the hardened, hierarchical surf culture of the seventies, eighties, and nineties bred fairness and respect. Today, they argue, the promotion of lineup equality has wreaked havoc on surf spots all around the world, most notably Salt Creek and Lowers.

I took a stance that doesn’t quite refute their overarching sentiment, but more or less scolds old men who think it’s cool to physically or emotionally assault a kid. Even if he’s being a shit-head.

However, one voice has stood out above the rest, and it’s not just because all his letters are big. The following has been attributed to Christian Fletcher and reposted onto FB from somewhere. Maybe the Stab comment section!

I FUCKING LOVE THIS!!
MY NAME IS CHRISTIAN FLETCHER AND SORRY ABOUT THE LANGUAGE AHEAD OF TIME BUT THIS HAS GONE ON TO LONG AND IF YOUR OFFENEDED BY IT GOOD YOU SHOULD BE CAUSE YOU ARE THE PROBLEM!!!
FUCK LONDON FUCK HIS MOM AND FUCK IAN CAIRNS THEY CAN ALL EAT A BAG OF DICKS.
IM SO TIRED OF THESE ENTITLED LITTLE LIMP WRISTED FUCKING PUSSIES THEY DROP IN ON ME CRASH INTO ME AND THEN TELL ME “FUCK YOU LEAVE” AND THEN I GO TO GRAB THEM AND THERE FRIEND START YELLING “FUCK YOU HE IS ONLY 17 “SO I SAY “FUCK YOU I DONT GIVE A FUCK” AND THIS HAPPENS KINDA REGULARLY TO ME AT MORE PLACES THAN JUST SALT CREEK
MY DAD HAS DROPPED IN ON ME AND RAN ME OVER MY WHOLE LIFE AND IF HE DIDNT RUN ME OVER ON THE WAVE HE WOULD RUN ME OVER WHILE I WAS PADDLING OUT AND I THANK HIM FOR THAT CAUSE HE TAUGHT ME HOW TO SURF WITH ANY CROWD
THEN GUYS LIKE Q -TIP WOULD BE YELLING BEAT IT GROM FROM THE WATER WHILE I WOULD BE WALKING DOWN THE SAND DUNES THEN DROP IN ON ME AND DING MY BRAND NEW BOARD AND YOU WHAT I DID ABOUT IT, I DIDNT DO SHIT CAUSE THATS THE WAY IT GOES I WAS A KID AND I LEARNED RESPECT AND THE KIDS NOW HAVE NONE SO FUCK THEM FUCK THIER PARENTS AND FUCK THE POLICE FOR WASTING OUR HARD EARNED TAX DOLLARS THE MOM AND KID SHOULD HAVE BEEN ARRESSTED FOR MAKING A FALSE CALL AND HAVE TO PAY RESTITUTION FOR FOR IT AND IAN HAS DONE NOTHING BUT HOLD SURFING BACK FOR THE LAST 30 YEARS ATLEAST HAHAHA HAVE YOU EVER SEEN HIM TRY TO SURF IN THOSE 30YEARS WHAT A JOKE BIGGEST KOOK IN THE WATER MY GRANDPA IS 85 AND STILL SURFS BETTER THAN IAN AND IAN IS YOUNGER THAN MY DAD!!!
SO IM SORRY BUT ABOUT THE LANGUAGE BUT BUT ITS THE ONLY WAY PEOPLE WILL UNDERSTAND HOW SERIOUS THIS PROBLEM IS, EVEN AT TRESTLES THERE IS PARENTS PUSHING THEIR 5YEAR OLD KIDS INTO WAVES IN FRONT OF PEOPLE WHEN I WAS YOUNG KIDS WERE NOT ALLOWED TO SURF TRESTLES JUST LIKE THEY SHOULD NOT PLAY KICKBALL ON THE FREEWAY
SO I SIT ON THE INSIDE AND DROP IN ON THEM SOMETIMES AS WELL BECAUSE THIER PARENTS ARE TEACHING THEM WRONG FROM THE START SO I FEEL INCLINED TO COUNTER ACT THAT BEHAVIOR RIGHT WHEN IT IS BEING LEARNED!!!! GOOD JOB DIVEL AND I JUST MIGHT NEED SOME OF THAT INSURANCE YOU WERE TALKING ABOUT CAUSE IM NOT PUTTING UP WITH IT AND JUST SO HAPPENS IANS KIDS FAVORITE SKATEBOARDER IS MY SON HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA THATS WHAT I CALL KARMA

My ears are ringing but it’s imperative we analyze this masterpiece!

First of all, poor Ian Cairns. “You surf worse than my grandpa” is a pretty hard one to come back from. Maybe he just needs a coach? What do you guys think? We could crowdfund and get him surfing under Micro. They’ll be called Freak the Mighty and will take the WSA Super-Senior division by storm!

Then there’s this quote:

MY DAD HAS DROPPED IN ON ME AND RAN ME OVER MY WHOLE LIFE AND IF HE DIDNT RUN ME OVER ON THE WAVE HE WOULD RUN ME OVER WHILE I WAS PADDLING OUT AND I THANK HIM FOR THAT CAUSE HE TAUGHT ME HOW TO SURF WITH ANY CROWD

Having recently watched the greatest surf film, Surf’s Up, Christian’s anecdote couldn’t be more hilarious. If you haven’t seen (and you must), the movie’s antagonist is an impeccably skilled, exceptionally douchey surf-penguin named Tank “Shredder” Evans, and one of the movie’s best scenes has him pulling a “Herbie”! Please watch:

Then, maybe the best part of Christian’s whole spiel comes out:

EVEN AT TRESTLES THERE IS PARENTS PUSHING THEIR 5YEAR OLD KIDS INTO WAVES IN FRONT OF PEOPLE WHEN I WAS YOUNG KIDS WERE NOT ALLOWED TO SURF TRESTLES JUST LIKE THEY SHOULD NOT PLAY KICKBALL ON THE FREEWAY
SO I SIT ON THE INSIDE AND DROP IN ON THEM SOMETIMES AS WELL BECAUSE THIER PARENTS ARE TEACHING THEM WRONG FROM THE START SO I FEEL INCLINED TO COUNTER ACT THAT BEHAVIOR RIGHT WHEN IT IS BEING LEARNED!!!!

Is this not the greatest image your mind has endeavored to conceive? A forty-something Christian Fletcher — covered tip-to-tip in tattoos and riding a fluorescent dildo of a surfboard — purposefully sitting on the inside-third of a world class wave with the sole intention of snaking five-year-olds? Is there anything more Fletcher?

Now a word on Christian…

By legitimizing airs in the competitive spectrum, Christian Fletcher altered our sport’s trajectory both literally and metaphorically. In that sense, I appreciate what he’s done for surfing.

But does that mean I have to respect him as a person, or give credence to his middle-aged immaturity? Of course not!

If Christian believes that his abusively-depicted upbringing has led him to become a role model for groms then, holy shit, that’s actually fucking crazy. I can’t imagine someone I’d less like to share a lineup with, let alone influence my nonexistent children. Maybe Wardo. Maybe.

So while he’s right that kids are becoming less respectful in lineups, it’s important to consider the flip side. Many of the grumpiest, least tolerable people in lineups grew up in Christian’s dystopian/utopian era. So did it actually do them any good?

One of the most overlooked aspects here is first-child syndrome. Parents are typically extra-careful with their firstborn — something about the evolutionary drive to pass on their DNA to future generations — but by the time the Kid Two comes around, they usually realize he’ll be fine with a little less “parenting”. The end result is Kid Two gets to attend parties, watch rated-R films, and have more fun.

Naturally, this causes jealousy in Kid One. “Why can Tommy go to concerts? He’s only fifteen! I had to wait until I was seventeen!” he can be heard shouting from community college.

Maybe old guys are just jealous they couldn’t catch set waves when they were fifteen?

Dear Australia: Please help us!

Chas Smith

by Chas Smith

Southern California needs you, oh Lucky Country, to navigate this brave new world!

And oh my goodness. Southern California is not used to this sort of shark activity. First a lady gets her leg ripped off at Church, then a bunch of whites frolic at Lowers and now a shark has chased the Seaside, in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, lineup straight to the parking lot. Seaside! The only shark Seaside usually has is the elusive tan shark (Rob Machado).

Australia, please help! You have massive shark populations both east and west. You know how to work it.

I think we especially need help with the aesthetics here. I think they’re called “optics” in politispeak. What are the proper optics around a shark invasion? What are we supposed to do in order to be safe and cool? I’ll list my questions succinctly.

  1. When a shark comes into the lineup do you yell “shark” in a low voice, a high voice or not at all?
  2. When paddling in do you make funny jokes about getting chomped or keep a somber quiet tone or do you not paddle in?
  3. Is it uncool to say, “I hope a shark eats you” to a person that just snaked or burned?
  4. If a shark swims close but doesn’t show its teeth is it ok to pet?
  5. If a shark’s tail is between its legs does it mean it is afraid and you can tell it to shoo?
  6. If a good wave is coming in but you are not in position is it ok to yell “shark” in order to get position?
  7. If you are hazing a grom by holding his head under water and a shark bites it off are you liable or does this sort of thing just fall under the “grom had no respect” rule?
  8. If you are in position and a bomb is coming but a shark is ready to shoulder hop do you hoot it off or just let it take the wave?
  9. If you see a shark heading straight for a SUP do you say anything?
  10. When on the beach, or parking lot, after getting chased in by a shark is it cool to leave your wetsuit on all the way or better to strip it down to waist?
  11. When chased in by the elusive tan shark (Rob Machado) is it cool to get a tattoo commemorating the event?

That’s all for now but I’m sure I’ll have more after a few drinks.

And thanks, Australia.

KIT

BFF

XOXOX

Rip Current Rory: “I’ll never surf again!”

Chas Smith

by Chas Smith

Scottish man survives 32 hours floating in the Irish Sea then quits!

Do you recall the thrilling tale of the Scottish surfer who survived a mid-morning session at his local Scottish break and then got in a rip and sucked all the way to Ireland? 32 hours bobbing and paddling and thinking he was going to die.

But he didn’t die!

He was saved and it is truly a beautiful story. Let’s read from the BBC:

The 23-year-old told BBC Scotland’s Jackie Bird how it had started as “just a normal day”.

He said he had driven to Westport car park in the Kintyre peninsula on Sunday morning, waxed his surfboard then gone into the sea about 11:00 to catch some waves. The day soon turned into a nightmare and he began to panic as tides and winds carried him out to sea.

“The wind and water was just relentless,” he said.

At one point he got back to within about a mile of land, only for the tide to change direction.

“It got to the point where my paddling was ineffective, but I was doing it to keep myself warm.”

If he had been surfing he said he might have stayed in the water for about four hours, but now the sun was setting and he was carried further out to sea. He described how deep fear set in when night fell. “It was incredibly lonely and quiet because there was just nothing – just waves,” he said. “I hadn’t seen any helicopters.

“I was thinking I was going to die – I was almost convinced. “I didn’t think I would see sunrise.”

Mr Bryce said he then saw ships, and since he was well out of the coastguard search area, he decided to try and get into a shipping lane in the hope someone might see him.

He continued to paddle towards the ships through the night.By daylight he was starting to pass out and fall off his board.He continued to drift through the day and as night approached again he said he was resigned for death.

“I knew I wasn’t going to make another night, so I was watching the sunset,” he said. “Then a helicopter flew over me.”

He says it was the most beautiful sight he had ever seen and I can just imagine! His mother was, of course, beyond thrilled. She told the BBC that discussions had already started within her family as to who would go identify the body when the call finally came. When it did come, and it was revealed her boy was alive, she was overcome with the most wonderful emotion.

He also told his mother, when she came to visit his Belfast hospital room, that he would never surf again. Do you think that’s just the hypothermia talking? It is rare in these sorts of surfing survival stories to hear the victim claim that they’re giving up the Sport of Kings. I mean… what would it take for you to stop surfing? I’ve been thinking about this lately and I can’t really imagine a thing. Oh, I don’t write this to point out my superiority over dear Matt Bryce. If anything it is a major problem for me and you too.

We are rotten addicts and we act like it.

The thing I wonder most, though, is what wetsuit he was wearing. It wins BeachGrit Wetsuit of the Year even if it’s Rip Curl! The brand could start a new line called Rip Current for those most likely to get sucked out to sea!

Warshaw: “This surf film changed my life!”

Derek Rielly

by Derek Rielly

Wipe everything but Riding Giants off my hard-drive says king of surf history!

A word about Matt Warshaw. He don’t exaggerate. So when the former Z-Boys skater-surfer and mag editor turned surf historian says a surf movie changed his life and the movie is Stacey Peralta’s 2004 mainstream documentary, Riding Giants, well, don’t it just make you distend your nostrils.

A call here, a call there, emails back and forth.

Now let’s reveal Warshaw’s reasons why Riding Giants is his perennnial candy.

BeachGrit: Tell me: how did the most unappealing member of the otherwise cock-swinging Zephyr skate team, stringy haired Stacey Peralta, become the king of surf documentaries?

Warshaw: Stacy and I weren’t quite the Z-Boy charity cases, but almost. Like we had maybe half the talent and one-quarter the charisma of Jay Adams and Tony Alva. Those guys looked fast and stylish in any situation, cool as fuck just walking into the kitchen to make a sandwich. Me and Stacy, it was pretty much down to our awesome long hair, and the fact that we tried harder, surfed longer, practised more, until we were at least not embarrassing ourself around our betters. To be close to greatness, but not great yourself, and to know that you’re not great, and hate that terrible fact — is exactly what you want for long-term success. Stacy is fucking relentless. His work ethic is off the chart. He surrounds himself with the best people. He backdoored his way to greatness, and I say that with the utmost respect, cause I know how much effort it took.

BeachGrit: Y’think Riding Giants matters?
Warshaw: Endless Summer, Riding Giants and Surfwise. Wipe every surf movie off my hard drive, but leave those three.

Stacy is fucking relentless. His work ethic is off the chart. He surrounds himself with the best people. He backdoored his way to greatness, and I say that with the utmost respect, cause I know how much effort it took.

BeachGrit: Riding Giants serves, to me, as a textbook to remind us how Laird and Darrick and the rest of the “Strapped Boys” opened the door to Jaws and so forth. Paint a little picture, for me, of the effect tow had on surfing in the late nineties…
Warshaw: Big-wave surfing never changed. Ever. For so many years. Which in a way was fine, because it was so knife-edge, so simple. Just the huge wall, and all you’re trying to do is track it down, catch it, get to your feet, and make it to the bottom. That was the whole deal, from the early ‘50s to the early ‘90s, and it was so hard to do, and there was a limit to how big you could go. Like, 25 feet, 30 feet, whatever you want to call it. But you know, it was also kind of boring too. The rest of surfing advanced by leaps and bounds, while the big-wave deal is pretty much the same year after year, decade after decade. Tow surfing, and Laird especially, as soon they ditched the Zodiac and went with skis, and made the boards tiny — I mean, “next level” doesn’t even begin to describe it. It look animated. It looked fake. And it happened so fast, two years, maybe three, and not only are they riding waves half again bigger than anything ever ridden, but Laird was carving Jaws like it was six-foot Honolua. It made you dizzy to watch. It made me insanely jealous in a way that traditional big-wave surfing never did, because they were surfing, not just surviving. I do think something was lost in that it was so easy to catch waves, and because suddenly they were riding a hundred big waves for every one big wave ridden in the ‘80s. But for a couple years there we were all just kind of stunned.

To be close to greatness, but not great yourself, and to know that you’re not great, and hate that terrible fact — is exactly what you want for long-term success.

BeachGrit: Speaking of Laird, isn’t it a mark of how far big-waving has come when his famous millennial wave at Teahupoo looks almost… easy.
Warshaw: It’s like Phil Edwards’ first wave at Pipe, which was the millennial wave of it’s time, and you watch it now and it’s really just a nice easy chip-in six-footer.

Tow surfing? I mean, “next level” doesn’t even begin to describe it. It look animated. It looked fake. And it happened so fast, two years, maybe three, and not only are they riding waves half again bigger than anything ever ridden, but Laird was carving Jaws like it was six-foot Honolua. It made you dizzy to watch. It made me insanely jealous in a way that traditional big-wave surfing never did

BeachGrit: And isn’t Laird fabulous in front of the camera, the way he sits, silent, after the wave, soaked in his cosmic awesomeness.
Warshaw: I entertain the same little fantasy with Laird as I do with Kelly, which is, How cool would it have been to just hang it up right there, right at the very fucking top?

BeachGrit:What’s with the fantasy of quitting at the top of your game? Isn’t it better to go down in flames of shame long past your use-by date? And tell, when is Kelly’s use-by date? Has it arrived, when did it happen, or is it still to come?
Warshaw: Mark Richards won his fourth title, leaned into the mic at the awards banquet and said he was “done busting down doors,” waved goodbye, flew home to marry his girlfriend and start a family and get on with his life That level of classiness imprinted on me in a big way. I once wrote that Kelly should have quit after number 10, then felt stupid cause he got number 11. But lately I’m thinking, yeah, he should have pulled an MR after 10. A nice round number.

BeachGrit: Do you have a favourite quote within? Mine is Greg Noll’s, you have a fifty-fifty chance of dying, when you surf big waves. Was Greg always the crown prince of hyperbole?

Warshaw: Untouchable. The first section of Riding Giants, Greg’s section, to me is so much better than Jeff Clark’s section and Laird’s section. Some little part of me is laughing at how high Noll’s ratio of bullshit is, but mostly I’m just grateful to be along for the ride. I remember interviewing him in the ‘80s about that famous big day at Makaha and he’s telling me about how he’s sitting in the lineup, all alone, and the waves grinding down the coast from Keana Point towards him, so huge that the water droplets on his board were dancing. I mean, he’s gone full Jurassic Park, years before Jurassic Park. Greg Noll is a huge blowhard, and I love him to death.

BeachGrit: Tell me: any historical inaccuracies?
Warshaw: Yeah, but not worth listing. Stacy made the choice to not include like 97% of all big-wave riders. It was pretty much just Greg, Jeff, and Laird. But that’s partly why the film worked so well, by focusing in on just three surfers.

BeachGrit: Riding Giants was made in 2004. Also tell me, the most significant moments in big-wave since.
Warshaw: All the slab insanity. The huge Cloudbreak Day, during the CT contest, a few years back. And then of course eight or ten Shane Dorian waves, which together are my favorite big-wave thing of the past 10 years, probably because Dorian’s approach is old and new at the same time. Take Greg Noll plus Brock plus Slater – that’s Shane Dorian.

Real Gear Guide: Best surf beers!

Chas Smith

by Chas Smith

Tired of milquetoast reviews? Get ready for the truth!

You have, through the course of your surfing life, read tens of gear guides. Maybe even hundreds. Wetsuits, trunks, fins, boards, leashes, wax, sunscreen, surf camp, surf charter, etc. And magically each wetsuit, trunk, fin, board, leash, wax sunscreen, surf camp, surf charter, etc. are exemplary.

Glowing reviews for all!

And it is very clearly bullshit.

Some wetsuits ain’t worth the $99 sale rack they’re hanging on. Some trunks are very lame. Some fins pop out when you are trying to win the Drug Aware Pro, some leashes snap, some wax freezes up + melts, some sunscreen leaves you looking whiteface, some surf camps have mosquitos, some surf charters sink with the captain fleeing by jetski. Etc.

It is well past time for an honest review of the things we use most. Which is best but more importantly which is worst.

And let’s start with beer! Michelob Ultra just signed on to the World Surf League so it seems a very appropriate place to begin don’t you think? I do and got to drankin. Here in all drunken honesty is the truth:

(Note. We will be using the WSL’s judging scale.)

St. Archer Blonde Ale: St. Archer began a full on movement of surfers investing in or starting beer companies. Just ask Mick, Joel and Mick and Bede and is Mick even invested in Balter? It don’t matter because it is a rip off of St. Archer that doesn’t get sent to the United States. But back to St. Archer. Many surfers are/were invested including Taylor Knox, Nate Yeomans and a shopping cart full of others. I selected the Blonde Ale because it is the closest the company makes to a “normal” beer. But it ain’t normal. It is heavy, thick, delicious, heavy, thick. I drank a sip and then drank another and then drank a whole big bottle, smacking my lips the entire time but then felt full and thick and heavy. St. Archer should stop pretending to be a fancy microbrew and start pretending to be easy. It should stop trying. 5.57

Michelob Ultra: I wanted to hate it. I wanted to taste and have to spit because of disgusting yuck in my mouth but the newest addition to the World Surf League’s stellar sponsorship roster actually tasted great if it was water. I’m serious! It tastes way better than San Diego’s tap water and pretty much the same as Dasani. Easy to drink, clean and tasteless. If you hate beer but like to drink lots of water and get slightly buzzed this is the beer for you! 8.94 (as water) 5.32 (as beer)

Corona: This Mexican beer has probably spent more time trying to associate itself with the “surf lifestyle” than almost any other. Luke Stedman might have been a pitch man at one point and for sure that handsome Jarrad Howse. It is, or at least used to be, a massive thing in Australia which always confused me greatly. Australia has James Boag! Why bother with the worst of the Mexican beers? But tasting it with an open mind for this guide I understood its appeal. It honestly tastes like sunshine. Cold, easy, sunshine. It is still the worst of the Mexican beers and the lime should be kept out. But a limeless Coronita is almost in the surf beer excellent range. 7.75

Heineken: Hawaii’s favorite beer! It should be Primo but it’s not. It’s Da Green Ones and how do Da Green Ones taste? Unfortunately like an Amsterdam youth hostel. Fun at first. A little off in the middle. Downright bummer at the end. But maybe that’s because I’ve actually been to an Amsterdam youth hostel (I was very youth). There’s a lot happening inside a Heineken. It wants you to know it is real but also wants you to sip easy. This dichotomy almost works. It is the Kolohe Andino of beer. 6.39

Bud Light Lime: Bud Light Lime sponsored a surf series or two back in the day. The powers in St. Louis, I’m assuming, thought it was the lime that gave Corona its kick and tasked their scientists with developing a carcinogenic “lime flavor” in order to snag the elusive surf market. They were wrong. There is no such thing as the surf market and lime actually ruins Corona and Bud Light Lime is gross. 2.45

Balter: I have no idea. It ain’t sold in America but since they copied St. Archer 5.56

James Boag: Why the hell isn’t the entire world drinking James Boag? Dion Agius? Are you? Both are from Tasmania! Flavorful yet crisp. Boozy yet non-filling. James Boag is a John John Florence air that puts the final nail in Joel Parkinson’s coffin. (Is Joel Parkinson an investor in Balter?) James Boag for the yellow jersey. 8.93

To recap, James Boag rings the bell. Corona gets its face painted by an Aborigine too and gets a mini bell.

Shhhhhhh it's a Hinano not a James Boag but Kelly Slater would never know the difference...

Shhhhhhh it’s a Hinano not a James Boag but Kelly Slater would never know the difference…