Did Zoltan Torkos Just Win $20K?

You decide!

There’s something about persistence. That can-do attitude where no amount of insults or mockery can shake a man from his vision-quest.

Zoltan Torkos is one of those people. His story goes something like this…

On November 21, 2007, Volcom announced a $10,000 prize for the person who could complete the first-ever surfing kickflip. Their press release looked like this:

To date, no one has ever documented a cleanly landed kickflip on a surfboard. Volcom is giving away $10,000 to the first person that can land a “proper” kickflip while surfing! By proper we mean an “above the lip” kickflip where first you launch an air, use your front foot to flip the board, and then land on it and ride out cleanly. No backwash, no fingerflips, no grabs, no laybacks. Just a proper kickflip. We’re going to be strict on these following guidelines. The rules are all listed here, so get out there and put this trick in the history books. Good luck!

1. Your entry must be on video from the start of the trick through the ride out. No photos allowed.
2. This contest is open to everyone. The contest begins today November 21st, 2007, and will run until there’s a winner.
3. The kickflip must be a real air “above the lip” – No backwash, No chop hops, or anything in the flats or below the lip of the wave.
4. All waves must be self caught – You must paddle into the wave. This means NO tow-ats, step-offs, jetskis, boats, dinghys, winches, canoes, oars, helicopters, dolphins or assistance of any kind.
5. No grabs of any kind. Not before, not after, not during.
6. You must completely “ride out” of the kickflip. That means if you land on the back of the wave and fail to continue surfing the wave – it’s not a make!
7. No heelflips. Or else we’d have called it the Heelflip-Off.
8. No shoes. Who surfs in shoes anyway? Regular “made for surfing” booties are acceptable.
9. You must be riding a surfboard with at least one fin. No boogie boards, wakeboards, wakeskates, skimboards, kiteboards, trays etc.

Zoltan Torkos, a magician/surfer from the Santa Cruz area, perked up like a chilly nipple when he heard the news. He quickly grabbed his board and tried, tried, tried, but it was just so damn hard!

With sore feet and a failing mojo, Zoltan was given words of encouragement by longtime friend Carl Reimer. “You can do it,” Carl told him.

Later that day, Carl was gunned down for unknown reasons. Killed.

“After that, I made it my goal to do the kickflip on a surfboard for my friend, and to influence kids worldwide to pull tricks not triggers,” Zoltan told Wakesurfer Magazine, which somehow crumbled in 2015.

Zoltan went on to land the world’s first surfing kickflip in March of 2011, but the completion was met with controversy. As Rule 3 in the competition guidelines clearly states: The kickflip must be a real air “above the lip” – No backwash, No chop hops, or anything in the flats or below the lip of the wave. 

Let’s judge for ourselves.

Zoltan said yes, Volcom said no, chaos ensued. Long story short, Volcom conceded with a caveat. They’d give the man his ten gees, but they would offer another twenty thou for a “proper” kickflip, i.e. off a section/lip.

If you’ve paid attention to surfing over the past six years, you’ve seen many more of Zoltan’s chop-hop board-twirls. He’s quite good at them. The best, even.

But never do they breach the lip.

Until… now?

Just this morning BeachGrit received message from Mr. Torkos, stating: “Here is not often above the lip kickflip 20 Grandeur for sure.”

Once again let’s judge for ourselves!

Aaaaaand ok! I’ll give it to you Z, that was definitely off the lip. About the same height as my superman, if I’m being honest. But there is one small problem… me thinky you didn’t quite land it.

I’ve been around surfing for far too long, have tried to salvage waaaaay too many near-makes in my life, to believe that you rode away from this. At the last second of the clip, you lose your balance, if ever so slightly, and tip back to your heels. The fact that you cut the clip tells me you didn’t recover.

But this is just a cynic’s view. Maybe Volcom will be generous with their appraisal of your attempt. Then again, something tells me they aren’t exactly your biggest fan.

I’m inclined to believe that, when this competition came to life, Volcom had visions of John John or at least Ozzie Wright landing the first kickflip — not some magician from Santa Cruz. How does one market a magician from Santa Cruz?

Volcom hates your persistence, Zoltan. Keep fighting.

Kai Barger is a man whose panache we squeeze tight to our souls!

Watch: Fiji Is for Friends!

Deleted scenes etc.!

Did you know that Albee Layer and his band of Maui brethren are making a new film? It’s called Nervous Laughter and will be coming out soon, if not very soon.

The film succeeds their 2014 masterpiece, Attractive Distractions, which infamously did not receive a Surfer Poll Award. Albee did, however, win Best Performance for his role in the movie.

The Maui-based film lost to Joe G’s Strange Rumblings in Shangri La, which, whether or not you think deserved the Movie of the Year award, led to one of the most historic moments in the history of surf history.

Fuck the WSL

Still, Albee and filmmaker Dan Norkunas were not happy. AD was a wonderful film that maybe deserved to win the war against Noa Deane and his band of deplorables. But like our good friend Pottz oft reminds us: You can’t just beat the champ, you have to destroy him. If it’s close, the judges will always give it to the veteran.

Albee and Norkunas maybe fell victim to the legacy of Joe G.

But now they are no longer rookies. They’ve paid their dues, mended their wounds, and come back twice nay thrice as strong! Their new film, Nervous Laughter, will surely place them in the prestigious Surfer Poll victory circle.

How do I know? Well, the below section didn’t even make the cut. Seven minutes of pumping Fiji was deemed not quite good enough for this film.

Methinks Albee should start working on a divisive catch phrase for the acceptance speech.

Equality: Give women own tour!

Fiji proves it! The women need to be set free!

Yesterday afternoon I spent a very enjoyable few hours watching the women’s Fiji Outerknown Pro. Oh sure, the waves weren’t spectacular but the surfing certainly was and it made me realize how much the women need their own tour. How the World Surf League is not only robbing them but robbing us of a better time.

When sandwiched between men’s heats, or men’s days, on the men’s tour the women automatically become an afterthought. It is all about the men no matter what the WSL tries to sell. No matter how much they tell Ron Blakey to amp his voice excitement. “Up next it’s the WOMEN.”

But when they are on their own program it is a thing of art. The women have as much skill, as much subtlety, as much nuance as the men. The way they approach the waves is a thing to behold. The storylines and built in rivalries sing.

The singing, though, gets lost in the noise of the men’s tour.

I think, if on their own program, the women’s tour viewership would grow exponentially. New sponsor opportunities, new markets, new everything. I would certainly watch much more. I would also bet on it, like real money through a bookie and stuff.

So come on WSL. Let the caged bird free! Let me win money!

And now lets watch Tati-Weston Webb demolish Steph Gilmore.

Occy and a picture of a wave on a computer!

Occy Joins Wave Pool Gold Rush!

Surf Lakes promises six-foot tubes! Building proto at "secret location"!

Soon, and by soon I mean maybe, possibly, within the next two years, Australia will have its first commercial wave pool.

The first tank will be a litmus test of whether or not spending twenty million dollars on a wave park is a brave, or very dumb, biz decision. I’ve seen the fiscal projections for one of ’em, claims of five thousand or so surfers a day, and they do appear, to my eyes, wildly optimistic. But maybe I’m jaundiced after launching a string of failed businesses (note to readers: don’t buy into boats).

Am I wrong? Plenty of bankers and so forth think so.

Because it’s a wave pool gold rush out there. First Wavegarden got its tanks in Texas and Wales, to limited success, then Kelly stunned the world and then Wavegarden Mach II rebooted and turned its little burgers into a little tube.

Rounding it all out are American Wave Pools and the German City Wave.

Today, a Queensland company called Surf Lakes announced it had hired the 1999 world camp Mark Occhilupo to be the face of their tank. The company says they’re building a prototype at a “secret location”.

From Business Insider. 

Surf Lakes hopes to license the technology around the world to theme parks and resorts and property developers. If all goes to plan, a full-scale recreational surf park will open in Queensland by the end of 2017, complete with eight different waves.

One of them, a barrelling left-hander that will be 2.4 metres face height and run for about 60 metres, will be called “Occy’s Peak”

The demo facility will have the same water volume of approximately 20 Olympic swimming pools, Surf Lakes founder and CEO Aaron Trevis said, with the ultimate goal of the concept to make surfing more accessible, especially for those who don’t have access to the ocean or waves.

“99.5 per cent of the world’s population have never surfed, which is why we believe there is a significant opportunity for the Surf Lakes technology,” Trevis said.

Do you like statistics? Oh I do. If 0.5 per cent of the world’s population surfs, that means there’s 35 million surfers out there.

Ooowee, do you think investors will believe it? Or will they do a little Google and come up with a figure more like two-and-a-half mill? 

Whatever, tanks are the sort of businesses that appeal to bankers who’ve made their money already, dig to surf, are entranced by the magic of wave pools (and they are magic, god yes, wonderful things, even the worst of ’em) and want to combine it all into the one fabulous lifestyle business.

Two years ago, Wave Park Group CEO Andrew Ross revealed his 10-year plan to dot Australia with 10 Wavegardens. Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, all on the drawing board and so close to realisation you can smell the chlorine, he says.

Oh it’s Bearish!

(Here’s a GIPHY of the Surf Lakes proto. Multiple that into a six-footer and I doubt any of us will be getting to our feet before being shovelled into the vinyl reef.)


Give Former a chance!

Corruption: Surf industry pay to play!

Is the surf industry shackled by payola?

Surf industry award season is now finished in both The United States and Australian and what a thrill. What an absolute thrill. In case you are some sort of dipshit and NOT glued to your computer screen to catch all the star-studded surf industry action you can catch up on the SIMA awards (US) here and the SBIA awards (Aus) here.

Rip Curl did very well on both continents as did RVCA, Billabong, Oakley. Old wonderful standards of the surf industry game but you may wonder about newer brands like Rolling Death Maui, Necro, Octopus… Why no awards for them?

The truth may shock.

Both SIMA and SBIA make brands pay into the associations in order to be considered for the prestige of winning Manufacturer of the Year or Customer Service Department of the Year.

And don’t this just smack of payola?

From the turn of the century to the 1950s, the big record labels would pay radio stations to play their music. The practice essentially squished newcomer dreams while creating an impenetrable monopoly for the top players. An awful thing that was, thankfully, outlawed in the early 1960s.

And shame SHAME on the SIMAs and the SBIAs for holding the little guy down. For not allowing him even the CHANCE to lift a plexiglass trophy above his head and shout, “My short pants are winners!”


Yet I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our surf industry.

Five score years ago, a great American named Neil Ridgway, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of North Korean Rip Curl slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But a couple years later, the smaller surf brand still is not free. A couple years later, the life of the smaller surf brand is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. A couple years years later, the smaller surf brand lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. A couple years later later, the smaller surf brand is still languished in the corners of American and Australian society and finds himself in exile in his own land. And so we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we’ve come to BeachGrit to cash a check. When the architects of our surf industry wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every surf brand was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, small as well as Billabong, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of plexiglass trophies. It is obvious today that America and Australia has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her smaller surf brands are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America and Australia have given the smaller surf brands a bad check, a check which has come back marked insufficient funds.

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this surf industry. And so we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and good placement in surf shops and the security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America and Australia of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of surf industry democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of financial justice. Now is the time to lift our industry from the quicksands of brand injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make surf brand justice a reality for all of God’s children.

I have a dream that one day this surf industry will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all brands are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the white sands of Snapper Rocks, the sons of Former and the sons of Quiksilver will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the city of Torquay, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream.