Oh dear, Billabong. What have you done?

Question: Is This Boardshort Racist?

On the bright side, it's not like Billabong's stock can drop much more

As you may or may not know, I graduated from the University of California San Diego with a degree in International Studies and Sociology. I can’t say I’ve used that quarter-million-dollar education to much success, but the investment has recently started to pay dividends.

What do I mean? Well, being a UCSD student grants certain access to otherwise impenetrable swaths of knowledge. No, I’m not talking bout professors, labs, or research databases. I’m talking about Facebook groups.

One such group is UCSD Free and For Sale 2.0, which is a subsidiary of the now deceased UCSD Free and For Sale (RIP). The group is exclusive to UCSD students and is used, primarily, to buy and sell calculators.

Every once in a while though, somebody breaks the code. They post something that is neither free nor for sale, but rather it holds such meaning to the individual that they feel compelled to share it with the entire UCSD populace.

Just recently, a young man posted a picture of an Asian woman with a flag hanging from her backpack. It was a white flag with a red circle and many rays of light sprouting from its center. Something like this:

And if you’re anything like me, your initial reaction is: Holy shit, that is one committed Andy Irons fan. She even went so far as to make a flag out of his signature “Rising Sun” Billabong boardshorts.

You know… the ones that all of the AI marketing is based around? The one from that iconic Pipeline bottom turn? The one from Brucey’s commemorative quiver!

But the man who posted the picture is apparently nothing like me. In fact, he had a completely different interpretation of this flag’s connotation – a very, very, negative one. He wrote:

The Japanese sun-rising-flag is the same thing known as the Nazi flag, which represents massive killings and catastrophe (like the rape of Nanking). She is insulting people form the countries who suffered from those unspeakable catastrophes. If we don’t stop her from showing this racist flag, even if it is as a symbol of pride as you say, how would the people think, even our next generation? That killing is right? Bringing disasters to the country is rightful?

Then later in the day, a new video of the woman emerged. There she stood, obviously disgruntled but still toting her Andy Irons flag, while being spoken to by a library cop (those exist!). Then, out of nowhere, she fled the scene.

According to the post, several students had informed the cop that the woman’s flag was offensive to their culture and asked him to speak with her. The woman wasn’t forced to leave, but it seemed as though she was unwelcome thanks to her flapping accessory.

This incident sparked a heated debate amongst UCSD students. Some of them, mainly the conservative “free-speechers” and Japanese-sympathizers, saw no problem with the woman’s so-called self-expression. Others, mainly the liberal “snowflakes” and Chinese-sympathizers, considered it akin to celebrating Nazi culture.

The debate rages on but some important questions remain:

– Did Andy Irons hate the Chinese?
– Is the Rising Sun issue truly comparable to Nazi Germany, or is such hyperbole simply the product of an exceedingly liberal campus and society?
– Does Billabong sell racist boardshorts? Like… even if we were to assume they’re racist in nature, does anyone buy them anyways?

I am wholly ignorant to recent Asian history so any insight on the matter would be appreciated!

That stray canary Yago Dora flutters past Gabriel Medina!

#TourNotes: Mediocrity begets Mediocrity!

It's a masterpiece of nothing!

Oh, Peter King what have you done? #TourNotes, as if I ever had to remind you, was the crude, but matter-of-fact mini-documentary series that gave the world tour events their sweetish perfume.

We watch the heats on the WSL; we get the story from #TourNotes.

Today’s episode of #TourNotes, final day of the Oi Rio Pro, is a lesson in what happens when caution unseats what was once a wonderful, yowling discharge. Access. Humour. Candour.

To be overly generous, the Brazil event was as much fun as dying of typhus in the Amazon. God bless Adriano and Ace, but you don’t stay awake all night to watch shamelessly risk-free top turns.

The highlight of the event? Filipe Toledo, who by rights should’ve won the damn thing with his legs crossed, expressing all sorts of threats to the judges after losing in round three on an interference.

But do we see in #TourNotes? Do we examine the elephant stomping through the “area”?

No, no.

Peter King, who is fifty years old but presents with all the honey dew of a vibrant little girl, has created a masterpiece of nothing.

Mick Fanning admits to being very bad at arranging his plate at buffets. We watch as a piece of vegetable lasagne almost slides off his paper plate.

We go freesurfing with Ace Buchan, who says, “I’m really impressed by the waves.”

A nice man offers to have Joel Parkinson’s Instagram account verified. Parko is pleased. Mick Fanning laughs.

Owen Wright comments upon the height of the scaffolding’s steps to Wilko.

Some sort of trainer explains the “dynamic activation” training of Kanoa Igarashi and Wilko.

And more.

Watch here.


Meet: Filipe Toledo’s Jet-Set Shaper!

If a surfboard shaper builds a global empire, does that make him a baby-blue-collar worker?

Wanna talk surfboards? Of course you do! Let me introduce you to my friend and world renowned shaper, Marcio Zouvi.

Born and bred on the not-so-poor side of Rio de Janeiro, Marcio was a studious little bugger with grand aspirations. So much so that, as a young man, he left his beloved homeland to attend university in America’s finest city — San Diego, California.

While studying to become a computer engineer, Marcio couldn’t fight the pangs of nostalgia for his childhood passion. His heart lied in surfing, his hands in foam dust.

You see, as a young boy, Marcio would not only surf but also salvage dilapidated longboards. He’d strip their glass and grab a hacksaw and create art!

“Those boards were rough,” Marcio admitted. “They were so hard to shape because the foam was bad and I didn’t have the right tools, but that’s how I started building boards. I was just a kid.”

While attending university, Marcio picked up side jobs as a sander, glasser, and ding repair guy. It helped pay the bills and, more importantly, it was better than pushing punch cards.

“Back then, we were using those stupid punch sheets to run computer programs.” Marcio explained. “At that point I didn’t know how far or how fast computers would develop. If I did, maybe I would have stayed in school. But here I am.”

Just two years into his degree, Marcio called it quits to start building surfboards full-time. Sharp Eye Surfboards was founded in 1992, and in just about a quarter-century, Marcio has built a small empire.

“We’re not one of the top surfboard sellers,” Marcio said. “But we do have significant global recognition.”

As of now, Sharp eye is licensed in Australia, Brazil, Spain and Peru. Including the American factory, that’s four different continents with Sharp Eye production teams. Marcio said these licensees help him design superior surfboards.

“I develop all the models, but oftentimes guys from different regions will tweak them slightly to suit their local conditions. This happened recently with some of our Australian shapers. They changed a certain aspect of one of our models and it had such a positive impact that we now make all the boards in that fashion.”

With some of the most performance-minded boards in the sport, it makes sense that Filipe Toledo would fly under the Sharp Eye banner. Widely regarded as the best aerialist and small-wave surfer in the world, Filipe came to Marcio with lofty aspirations.

“Filipe is so innately good at airs,” Marcio said. “It’s just very natural for him. We built the Holy Toledo model with airs in mind, but learned pretty quickly that it wasn’t helping him win heats. Most CT events are held in pretty good surf, so this flatter, wider outline was impeding his ability to get the board on rail. Once he rode that OK to victory at Snapper in 2015, everything changed.

The OK model, designed for fellow team rider Oliver Kurtz, has a slim figure and with plenty of curve. It’s designed to fit turns in the pocket of steep, punchy surf. Filipe quickly fell in love.

“The way he could bury the rail was amazing. If you look back two, three years ago, Filipe was like a whole different surfer. Granted, he’s put in a lot of hard work over that time to improve his strength and technique, but the board change has helped his rail game immensely,” Marcio stated.

Then there’s Filipe’s newest model, #77  — the name of which derives from Toledo’s WSL jersey number.

“The 77 is basically a mix between the Holy Toledo and OK,” Marcio explained. “It seems to be the perfect combination for his style of surfing. It’s got plenty of rocker.”

“But what about the average surfer?” I asked. “Would most guys even be able to ride one of these things, or would they just sink?”

“Well, the stock dimensions are definitely not the same as Filipe’s,” Marcio told me. “Typically we sell beefier versions to the general public, because most people wouldn’t have much fun on a board as chippy as Fil’s. That said, people seem lost when it comes to buying a surfboard nowadays. Oftentimes they ask, ‘can I get an epoxy with 30 liters?’, and I’m just like…  ’30 liters in what model? What about the width, the thickness?’ People get caught up on trivial aspects of board design.”

Marcio continued:

“Board construction is a perfect example. Construction is important, yes, but design comes first. You hear guys talking like ‘Oh my god, this epoxy stringerless blah blah blah’ — it doesn’t matter. You design a board and then choose the construction. We can do epoxy or anything but that’s not what makes the board go. People need to understand that design is primary.”

But mainstream surfboard misconceptions isn’t the only concept Marcio grapples with. As a fan of surfing, Marcio loves to see passion and progression toward the future of the sport. Unfortunately, he believes there’s been a major decline in American youth surfing.

“Kids don’t want to surf today, not competitively at least. Even my son, you know, he likes to surf, but he likes soccer better. Most kids around here just want to surf for fun, which means fishes and longboards. That’s cool, don’t get me wrong, but it’s completely different from progressive or competitive surfing. I think we’re a bit unbalanced nowadays between surfing as a sport and a hobby/lifestyle. In order for surfing to thrive, those things need to be balanced.”

“Why do you think that is?” I asked.

“Well, I think it’s because nobody is coming in with exciting design ideas,” Marcio replied. “I want to see more young shapers trying to reinvent high performance surfboards, but nobody seems to do that, at least not around here. Maybe it’s because America is such a bad place to be a shaper, economically speaking. All the restrictions in California make it nearly impossible to compete with foreign manufacturers.”

So yeah, Marcio’s got some gripes, but it’s important to take his cynicism with a grain of salt. When you get down to it, Marcio’s disappointment comes from a place of love — love for surfing, love for shaping, and the hope that both will continue to progress long after his last hacksaw swipe.

Until then, well, at least he’s got Filipe.

Fred Compagnon
Delivered here via SUP.

Metamorphosis: SUP to Alaia!

French stud uses SUP and manservant to whip into stand-up tubes on his homemade alaia!

The things that occur to people! Most of my surfing times are spent remembering to crouch (ass to board not ass to mouth, as one famous surf coach told me), shimmy my front foot off the back third of the board and, simultaneously, swinging hips, dutifully bobbing up and down and waving arms and so forth.

I never, ever, think to express my bona fides with outrageous behaviour.

Unlike Fred Compagnon, whom we’ve seen before being towed into waves on what appeared to be a snowboard. Here, in this short, we see the full metamorphosis, from SUP, which is handily collected by Fred’s manservant Remi Arauzo, to wooden alaia to high-style tube.

“Two of us are on it,” Fred told GrindTV (What, I’m going to eat up international minutes on filler?). “The one on the back is lying down paddling and kicking with flippers, the one on the front is standing up and already strapped into the alai, paddling with the paddle. This gives you have a lot of speed and you can get into the wave really early. This is crucial because it gives you different options to start your line, optimizing all the benefits of the board to surf the waves.”

Fred, who is forty years old but as agile as an eight year old child bride, learned to shape the alaias eight years ago when the Australian aficionado David Rastovich, visited France.

And, now, with SUP, and straps, he can conquer very good Hossegor. There are several waves contained within the video that give me pangs of genuine pleasure.

And doesn’t Mr Campagon look tremendously pleased with his contraptions!

Here’s what it looks like from the camera stick.


And here’s the little board. “I build board for barrel,” says Fred.


Fred Pawle

Soon: Great Whites off the protected list?

"It’s time for the dithering to stop and human lives to be put first.”

If you in south-west Australia and you find surfing a little too stressful there what with all the Great Whites swishing around, here’s something that might give you a thrill.

Western Australia’s state Liberal Council, among whose number include a couple of ministers in the Federal Government, have “called on the Commonwealth to protect ocean users by removing white sharks as a protected species.”

In today’s The Australian, and in a story not reported by Fred “Quint” Pawle, April’s fatal attack on a teenage girl surfer by a Great White has prompted the state’s Liberal Party to push for a change in the animal’s protection status.

Now, the Libs don’t fuck around.

“As the Commonwealth Environment Minister, I would give full and prompt consideration of any such proposal. It’s time for the dithering to stop and human lives to be put first.”

The issue’s going to be debated at the Libs’ fed council in June. If it gets the numbers, federal Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg could change the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act to allow for sharks to be killed without the states having to seek special exemptions from the Commonwealth.

And Frydenberg ain’t one for sentiment.

“As the Commonwealth Environment Minister, I would give full and prompt consideration of any such proposal. It’s time for the dithering to stop and human lives to be put first.”

Now let’s dunk our heads in the story.

In the WA town of Albany, veteran shark fisherman Graeme Sell said yesterday he would welcome any moves to make it easier for white sharks to be killed, including by removing their status as a protected species.

“There was no way in the world they were ever endangered,” Mr Sell said. “We see more pointers now than we’ve ever seen. Our divers used to see one every five years, but now they are seeing probably seven or eight a year. And they’re big buggers too. There definitely needs to be a change.”

The push for tougher action on sharks comes amid fresh evidence that the installation of SMART drumlines in northern NSW last year had succeeded in catching white sharks, while also boosting local businesses. Ballina Chamber of Commerce board member Ray Karam said the town had enjoyed an influx of visitors since the drumlines were installed six months ago.

“We noticed a lot of people coming into Ballina over the summer period to visit the beaches,” he said. “We had a lot of businesses telling us they had a good holiday trade and even now, in winter, we’re seeing a good influx of people into the community.”

A NSW Department of Primary Industries spokeswoman said SMART drumline figures from the north coast recorded 29 target sharks caught, with 24 great whites, three tiger sharks and two bull sharks. Two grey nurse sharks were also caught and released in the trial period.

“The SMART drumlines on the north coast of NSW are proving very effective in catching white, bull and tiger sharks with minimal bycatch,” the spokeswoman said.

The technology intercepts sharks along the coast, sending an alert to contractors who remove the shark from the line and relocate it.

The spokeswoman said 35 SMART drumlines would be ­deployed daily along the coast from next month, bringing the total number in NSW to 100.

However, Ballina Fishermen’s Co-operative’s chief executive Phil Hilliard said the drumline trial had caught fewer sharks than he expected.

“The last six months have been a very quiet period for the number of sharks, and that’s not because of the drumlines,” Mr Hilliard said. “The drumlines have been good for the Department of ­Fisheries to tag and monitor the sharks coming too close to the beach but they haven’t taken huge amounts away from the area.”

Mr Hilliard said the shark population had grown exponentially in the past three years, ­affecting local fishers’ ability to do their jobs.

Mr Frydenberg said yesterday the act did not need to be amended for the new WA Labor government — which refused to set drumlines or cull sharks after the attack on Laeticia — to take effective action to save lives.

“What the West Australian government should do right now is commit to putting in shark nets and SMART drumlines like Queensland and NSW and, if necessary, undertake a culling program,” Mr Frydenberg said.