A precious brotherhood! | Photo: @tsherms

Letter from San Clemente: Lessons in love!

Who's worse? The older local or the teen wizard?

In between multiple sharks sightings, a potentially fatal attack and murder allegations, a much bigger story has rocked California’s surf community: Overzealous pre-teen dunked (or maybe stabbed) at Salt Creek by local.

While initial reactions take one side or the other or highlight the obviously ridiculous police response, each side represents the demographics of surfers that have been ruining lineups across California for years.

On one side, we have the middle-aged, failed-pro who sits way on the outside, reminisces about surf trips and has gained so much weight he rides a shortboard with more volume than a Laird paddleboard. He’s now a forklift-certified warehouse manager at one of his old sponsors, still takes surfing too competitively and hoots you off every set wave he catches.

Then, you have the grom. He has unusually blond hair, rides a brand new custom board and when you see him paddle out with two other friends, all smiles and hope, you curse under your breath again. The kids paddle back-and-forth, back-and-forth, across the peak you had all to yourself about 30 minutes ago. They catch an unreasonable amount of waves and are constantly yapping about how sick their last air was. All on a wave you didn’t even look at for a second. Thankfully, mom or dad appear on the beach with video cameras, tell them how spectacular they are, and reinforce ignorance to the fact they’re chasing a pipe dream.

And then there’s us (or just me), who enjoy surfing, but don’t do it as much as they’d like.

We surf sporadically, sometimes waiting a month for a good swell.

We remember how fun it is, and proceed to binge on surfing in the next week.

The cycle repeats.

We aren’t all that good, but we do it because of what surfing is, an inexplicably peaceful and unmatchable connection to nature’s energy. Just really damn cool. And fun.

When one or both of the parties described above are present, howevs, it kind of ruins it. It turns a relaxing time into a competition of who can be a bigger dick and backpaddle the furthest. Trading waves isn’t an option for them. They’re programmed to be competitive no matter the environment.

I wish I could offer some solution, but it’s just the result of living in a surf-industry populated area, a place where surfing was turned from a passion into a business.

But there’s still those days.

When Surfline messed up the forecast for a mid-sized swell met with unexpected offshores. And the assholes are one-upping each other elsewhere, still searching for that validation from their parents.

This is surfing!

Bloodfeud Update: Angry Locals Join In!

Is child abuse ever the answer?

Oh how quickly the internet moves! Just three hours ago I published a piece talking about the territory dispute between sharks and radioactive waste in Orange County, only to discover that there is a third party involved. They refer to themselves as “Aging Creek Rats” and reside, apparently, somewhere in the Dana Point region.

How did the Aging Creek Rats throw their hat in the ring? By dunking (and “stabbing”, if you ask the mom) an overzealous preteen at Salt Creek beach! I’ll let Ryan Divel, an Orange County local and ex industry big-wig, paint the picture:

While Divel has made his position clear, this remains a tricky subject. How does one deal with a child who, based on many accounts, has been disrespectful in the lineup? Is it the job an anonymous adult to not only scold, but use physical force to deter the kid’s misdeeds?

I think not.

People often moan about how kids were more respectful back in the day, how they “knew their place in the lineup”, which may very well be true. But is this not similar to how black people “knew their place” in the ’50s? We live in a time where it’s no longer acceptable to segregate based on race, to hit somebody’s kids.

I would’ve hoped that was a widely approved progression, but apparently not.

The overwhelming majority of commenters in Divel’s Facebook post are pro-hazing, anti-child-safety laws. This is concerning but also speaks to surfing’s unique and violent history. The ocean is one of the last places where Jungle Rules still apply, and it seems the mission of most Baby Boomers to keep it that way.

Some of the top comments include:

 I’m going to come out of retirement just to snake this kook.

Sorry I’m not a round to hold it down any more 👊

A snowflake mouths off, gets dealt with, and his mommie comes to the rescue with the entire o.c.sheriff squad ? So wrong on multiple levels.. LOCALS ONLY, BEAT IT GROM!

One could easily assume most of these overgrown children were Trump supporters, but using the term “snowflake” non-ironically is conclusive evidence. On the bright side, their mindset reminds me of a favorite quote from Czech-French author Milan Kundera:

In the sunset of dissolution, everything is illuminated by the aura of nostalgia, even the guillotine.

Isn’t that wonderful?

Now, while I do believe that adults, locals, and any combination of the two should be given reasonable deference in the lineup, in no way does the opposite justify a physical response against a child. Even if just a dunking.

If London is as disrespectful as Divel (and many of the commenters) make him out to be, then it’s time to speak with the parents. By physically harassing a kid and then shaming him on social media, you’re not only breaking the law, but you’re blaming the wrong person.

Ian Cairns delivered his two cents, here:

Maybe promoting #snakelondon is not the correct way to de-escalate the problem. Maybe hazing groms is not acceptable anymore. Maybe accepting the long-time practice of ‘locals’ owning a surf spot is a little archaic. Yeah, sure London needs to chill a little, but he’s no different than thousands of other groms,” responded Cairns on the thread. “What if an ‘elder’ was proposing a worldwide vendetta on your kid? And it was being acted out in front of your eyes? Is it right? London and his family are good people. And maybe they are here to help us re-evaluate the hierarchal structure that condones this kind of bullying. But be certain, they are not going away, they will be calling the cops on anyone that lays hands on their kids and it will bring a public spotlight on petty localism in CA. Are you willing to step up and be an agent of positive change?

This, to me, is the most rationale response. Show the kid how he can improve, urge the parents to instill better values, but Jesus, don’t resort to child abuse or online bullying.

This should end terribly!

Bloodfeud: Sharks Vs. Nuclear Waste!

The battle for San Clemente rages on!

While San Clemente locals appear unfazed by recent happenings in the shark world, they remain deeply concerned about another threat to their ocean and community.

“Better to be active today than radioactive tomorrow,” is how Gary Headrick opened a recent newsletter to members of San Clemente Green, a local environmental initiative.

Headrick is referring to the issue of 3.6 million pound of nuclear waste (from the titular power plant just south of Trestles) set to be buried yards from the San Clemente shoreline. This, Headrick fears, is a major risk to the local environment and society.

According to the WSL, the group has five goals:

1) Stop the work in progress.

2) Get an independent panel of nuclear experts to advise on the best way forward.

3) Take the necessary steps to make us as safe as possible while the waste is here.

4) Make sure that waste can be safely transported and stored at a suitable location.

5) Get it the heck out of here as soon and as safely as possible.

Local surfer Tanner Gudauskas has joined this crusade by taking a stand on his Instagram.

TRESTLES NEEDS YOUR HELP AGAIN!!! 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 APRIL 14th San Diego’s central courthouse at 2:00 pm there will be a hearing to possibly rescind the permit issued to store nuclear waste at the shuttered san onofre generating station in san clemente. This is our time to voice our opinions and not let 3.6 MILLION pounds of nuclear waste be stored a stones throw from lowers and Sano. I’m going to put a link in my bio please feel free to read and get in the know. Tag a friend who can come to the hearing or just to spread the word. So many of us surfers enjoy trestles and san onofre as our sanctuary it is our duty to create awareness that they are going to bury nuclear waste on our beaches. 👂🏻👂🏻👂🏻🗣🗣🙌🏻

A post shared by Tanner gudauskas (@tannergud) on

And the prospect of facing a hometown Fukushima is truly terrifying.  But you know what’s maybe scarier than a nuclear disaster, at least on a session-to-session basis? Sharks!

And uh, San Clem is teeming.


You know your shark problem is serious when the Floridians are worried! Especially EG — that guy lives in the shark bite capital of the world and is basically a fish whisperer.

This apparent bloodfeud begs the question: with sharks and radiation vying for the apex predator position, but who will command San Clemente’s seas? Radiation has a momentary advantage but another attack may just turn the scale. Stay tuned for updates!

Kevin Reed pictured soaring.
Kevin Reed pictured soaring.

Breaking: Surf icon accused of murder!

The first man to do an air on a surfboard is awaiting trail in Santa Cruz.

Who is the first man to ever take to the sky on a surfboard? Michael Ciaramella? Martin Potter? Christian Fletcher? Larry Bertlemann?


All wonderful surfers, each a pioneer, but the first man to regularly and purposefully launch is named Kevin Reed and he lives in Santa Cruz. One of his punts can be seen gracing a 1975 issue of Surfing magazine (above) and can you imagine how difficult it would be to do on a weird heavy mid-1970s single fin?

Kevin, it appears, fell from the scene, changed his name to Kevin Callaghan and was living on the beach in Santa Cruz where he has just been convicted of murder. Let’s read in San Jose’s Mercury News.

Kevin Callahan, 58, known for most of his life as Kevin Reed, was arrested early Sunday morning, not far from the body of Steven Lee, 52. The two men had both been living near the seawall along Beach Avenue, according to police reports.

The allegations against Callahan came as a blow to friend and local surf legend Bob Pearson, owner of Pearson Arrow Surfboards on Mission. Pearson said that he still considers his friend Kevin “one of the most famous guys in the world.”

“He was the first guy to do the aerials. That’s a fact, and he did it five years before anybody else,” Pearson said Monday. He acknowledged that he had heard the murder allegations against his friend and hoped that they proved incorrect.

Pearson went on to say:

“You drive by homeless, you hear it a bunch of times: Don’t judge the people, you don’t know who he is, who she is, where they’re from, what happened to them and what’s going on in their life,” Pearson said. “I’m sure he has been judged wrong by a lot, a lot of people. It’s unfortunate, some people just fall through the cracks.”

And ain’t that the truth.

Is this you? Poor soul... | Photo: Brian Caissie/Getty Images

(It Sucks) To Suck at Surfing

Ability is relative, but sometimes not.

I like to believe that 90% of BeachGrit readers can complete a roundhouse cutback, have been tubed, are not virgins of (attempted) flight. How could one be enthralled by our blend of sado-masochism without having put in the necessary hours?

My logic? The stages of surfing!

Stage 1: It begins with the pre-engaged sentiment of: Surfing is a pointless endeavor, championed by hippies, derelicts!

Stage 2: These are the rose-tinted years of progression, wherein the prevailing majority screams: Surfing is the best! So beautiful, enlightening, sexy! Fuck me Laird!

Stage 3: Once plateauing/having kids/brain bleeding most of us arrive at the realization that surfing is, in fact, quite pointless. Fun, but pointless. Also we are often derelicts.

Occam’s razor cuts deep.

So, assuming BeachGrit has stage three locked down, and knowing that Surfline and the Inertia have an ongoing custody war for stage two, what do stage one-ers like to read? Maybe the New York Times!

I was recently sent a piece (thanks, Mom) in the Times about our derelict sport. The story is called (It’s Great to) Suck at Something and in it the author, Karen Rinaldi, revels in her kookdom! She writes:

Over the past 15 years, surfing has become a kind of obsession for me. I surf eight months a year. I travel to surf destinations for family vacations and seek (forgiving) waves in the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans. I have spent thousands of dollars on boards of all sizes and shapes.

And yet — I suck at it. In the sport of (Hawaiian) kings, I’m a jester. In surfing parlance, a “kook.” I fall and flail. I get hit on the head by my own board. I run out of breath when held down by a four-foot wave. I wimp out when the waves get overhead and I paddle back to shore. When I do catch a wave, I’m rarely graceful. On those rare occasions when I manage a decent drop, turn and trim, I usually blow it by celebrating with a fist pump or a hoot.

Once, I actually cried tears of joy over what any observer would have thought a so-so performance on a so-so wave. Yes, I was moved to tears by mediocrity.

So why continue? Why pursue something I’ll never be good at?

Because it’s great to suck at something.

I was surprised to find Rinaldi’s writing incredibly stage-twoish in nature. How on earth could she, an adult woman, suffer such indignity with a smile on her face? She goes on to explain:

When I do catch a wave and feel the glide, I’ll hold onto that feeling for hours, days or even weeks. I’m hooked on the pursuit of those moments, however elusive they may be. But it’s not the momentary high that has sustained me. In the process of trying to attain a few moments of bliss, I experience something else: patience and humility, definitely, but also freedom. Freedom to pursue the futile. And the freedom to suck without caring is revelatory.

Think about how focused you become when you’re presented with something totally new to accomplish. Now, what happens when that task is no longer new but still taps into intense focus because we haven’t yet mastered it? You’re a novice, an amateur, a kook. You suck at it. Some might think your persistence moronic. I like to think of it as meditative and full of promise. In the words of the Zen teacher Shunryu Suzuki, “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities; in the expert’s mind, there are few.” When I surf, I live in the possibility.

Oh how I love Mitsubishi’s quote. It is so very true for multiple facets of life. Just this weekend I went to a dressage competition and after watching for ten minutes thought to myself, They could be doing such cooler maneuvers on these horses. Chop hops, fin blows etc. 

Yet when I brought this up with my dressage-savvy compadres, they scoffed at the concept. “Horses can’t do that. Horses don’t even have fins,” they snootily informed.

But the joke is on them! These folks have been around dressage for so long, have had certain practices ingrained in their minds for enough years that they’ve become incapable of peering outside the blinders. The world is not black and white but a million shades of gray! And horses do have fins, if you just believe.

But then I would never try my hand at dressage, because sucking at something sucks. You might think you’re having fun, but the world, it laughs!

I’m not sure about barn culture, but in my neck of the sea, rookies are treated with more disrespect than Kmart coupon-books. They are considered for one, maybe two seconds before being hurled in the metaphorical bin. Their offense? Paddling for waves. Getting in the way. Smiling.

Rinaldi’s failure to state this fact is grossly negligent and, in my opinion, deserving of one-hundred drop-ins, stink-eyes and paddle-arounds. Though that was probably coming regardless.