This was almost me. I spent days looking at forecasts and tickets, tickets and forecasts. I was anxious, barely sleeping, and my behaviors were those of a fiending addict. I’d built my whole year around visiting the jewel of west Africa, and this could very well be my chance.
At the last second, I pulled out. A combination of a dicey forecast (the swell jumps up and dies very quickly due to its proximity to the coast, and during the one day that it appears to be big enough and west enough to surf, it could potentially overload the joint) and relationship pressures (“You were just in Mexico” (…fair)) forced me to pull the plug.
Since that moment, I’ve been praying that the swell isn’t so great. That it’s too big or too small or too something, meaning that I made the right call by waiting for the next one.
Since then I’ve seen evidence of multiple pros headed that way. Anthony Walsh, Cory Lopez, Brett Barley, and Oliver Kurtz just to name a few. Their committal to the trip increased my FOMO exponentially, but a recent occurrence has changed my perspective.
Just this morning, Oliver Kurtz made a plea to his friends on Facebook.
And… holy shit! Doha, Qatar was the very place where my flight would have connected. In fact, Oliver had taken the same plane that I was planning to board. Now he’s stuck in the throes of a Middle Eastern brouhaha, something that should probably be scary but at the moment is likely more infuriating for the Floridian goofy-foot.
Oliver has (to my knowledge) never been to Skeleton Bay, meaning, much like with me, this trip was a longtime dream. To have it squandered by such a shitstorm would be utterly heartbreaking.
I can’t tell you how happy I am that I pulled out.
I’ve yet to see updates from the other surfers listed above, but considering they all left from different parts of the U.S., there’s a decent chance they avoided the Qatar kerfuffle with connections through other parts Africa or the Mid East.
Will Oliver (and perhaps many other surfers) find his way out of this stronghold? Who knows? But his most recent update is telling:
If anybody knows anything/anyone in the area that would be able to help Mr. Kurtz, please let us know in the comments! I’ll update as the story unfolds.
Outerknown is rolling out all the stops for its 2017 #OKFijiPro. There are fresh ads, hourly Instagram updates and now original web content!
Just this morning I stumbled across a slideshow on the Outerknown IG, featuring five drone-captured coastlines. I recognized two or three but the others remained a mystery. The caption poked at my curiosity with a big stick.
A post shared by Sustainability, Style, Travel (@outerknown) on
And my fingers have never moved so fast! Two clicks later and I was face-to-screen with a picturesque breach into Kelly Slater’s life and history. A snippet, here:
5. Jeffrey’s Bay, South Africa
Our last few times to J-Bay we’ve spent lay days at nature reserves. I’ve been part of an anti poaching initiative there that’s protecting Rhinos. The wildlife in South Africa is pretty insane in and out of the water. This past summer right after I lost my semi final heat to Mick Fanning he was hit by the shark during the finals, I had just reached the beach after having surfed right there for an hour. It’s probably the first final I was happy not to make as that could just as easily have been me in the encounter. It’s not the first attack at J-Bay there and it surely won’t be the last. The raw nature makes this part of he world so special and unpredictable.
4: Anglet, France
I stayed in Anglet and surfed Hossegor with Tom Curren when I was 17 (1989) and we were on the same team. He took me around to every good spot in the region for two weeks and showed me the ropes. Pretty cool to have your surfing hero take you into his home and share his secrets with you. In 1992 I won my first ASP event at Hossegor and because of that it’s always been a special place for me. You can’t compare the food in southwestern France to anywhere else in the world; I’ve definitely eaten the best meals of my life there.
And don’t you love these lessons on Kel’s past and present influences? The list goes on to divulge his three favorite places in the world, at least one of which may surprise you.
I clicked on this morning and got a nappy commercial. I think they are called Diapers in the US of A.
That was the first of many cognitive dissonances for the day. Cloudbreak was serving up another confusing mixed grill of over-cooked and under-cooked ingredients. Short-period waves that went nowhere, mid-period, west swell waves that closed out the lineup and the odd wide open one that steam-rolled the reef.
Not an easy read for anyone. The kind of surf that would see a boatload of aging alpha male dentists from Manhattan Beach back in the boat after one set to surf waist-high Restaurants. As a rec surfer you’d watch the boatmen deep-throat a few juicy peaches while copping donuts all day long.
Ace inexplicably dropped his bundle against the Italian Stallion, paddling around like a headless chook in the last ten minutes when he was well ahead. A series of blunders gave Fioravanti priority and he duly iced the heat for his first heat win of the year. It was a heat Ace should have won all day, every day.
Rosie spent most of the next heat between Kelly and Ethan Ewing bigging up Ewing, continually comparing him to AI. That hype eventually took on the dimensions of an entirely separate reality – Rosie’s World? – as Ewing surfed a heat I could’ve smashed him in. Kelly was just solid, without being amazing. It was a walk through for him. How did that idea that Ethan Ewing surfs like AI take hold?
And why did Volcom, flush with cash after the sale to Kering group, “let go” the Fiji comp after two of the most successful surf comps in history? Two thousand and twelve’s big-wave guerilla insurrection in twenty-foot tubes and Kellys 2013 masterclass back to back.
You’re flush with fashion cash and you let that go? Why?
Richard “Wooly” Woolcott, I spend the day trying to track you down without success. I know you are reading, so why did the Stone hit the eject button on Fiji?
Web journalism is a derelict little cubby hole to crawl down into. Web surf journalism might be the nadir of human creative endeavour. It could easily be. I feel like a turd for insinuating that Joey Turpel might shuffle off and be a coach and spare us the verbal treacle. And he did. But his absence got me thinking: about the lack of a distinct lexicon related to pro surfing. Joey was inventing that for us. For good or ill. The sled reset euphemism for shark attacks, the high-line wraps and other linguistic treats he laid down for us. For a sport supposedly rich with it’s own inpenetrable jargon the cupboard can seem bare for commentators supplying colour.
As Owen got obliterated on the shish-kebabs section going for broke on a final manoeuvre needing a nine, Rosie came up with this piece of gold. “There is a little poof of spit as he finds the doggy door.” No further comment.
But I’m overjoyed to report that Rosie Hodge has made an incredible contribution to the pro surfing dictionary of phrases. Sometime during the Ian Gouveia/O-Dog heat, a heat that supplied genuine drama as Owen got obliterated on the shish-kebabs section going for broke on a final manoeuvre needing a nine, Rosie came up with this piece of gold. “There is a little poof of spit as he finds the doggy door.” No further comment.
Excuse while I clean up this little poof of spit on my computer screen.
Ian Gouveia looked like Italo did a couple of years ago when he beat Kelly. Totally at ease, frothing. He beat Owen easily, really. Owen carried on the Aussie goofyfoot meltdown that Ace had started. He fell when he should have been standing and ended up pasted and bleeding. More cognitive dissonance.
It took the last couple heats of the day, with a few goofy foots led by Matt Wilko to really crack the day open. Wilko….sizzled.Then Italo stayed down the reef from Gabe Medina, destroying his tactical advantage and threading high tide shish-kebabs tubes all day.
Bye-Bye Gabby, Bye-Bye Owen. Weird though.
Barton asked Kelly about World Ocean Day, about what the ocean meant to him.
“Everything,” he said. But it didn’t ring true.
Not when you put Nick Carroll’s summation of the next moves for the WSL into the equation.
“This chunk of the main game is all about Kelly’s wave pool, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and the doors that the WSL board thinks will then open up to wave pools and associated events in both traditional and ‘new’ surf markets. By ‘new’ read places where there isn’t a surf culture yet – Korea, China and the like.”
So the ocean isn’t “everything” at all.
Even a day in Fiji at Cloudbreak now carries this haunting shadow with it.
What is the main game, if this ain’t it?
Outerknown Fiji Men’s Pro Remaining Round 2 Results:
Heat 2: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 10.66 def. Yago Dora (BRA) 10.33
Heat 3: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 18.43 def. Bino Lopes (BRA) 9.53
Heat 4: Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 12.26 def. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 11.87
Heat 5: Kelly Slater (USA) 12.90 def. Ethan Ewing (AUS) 4.27
Heat 6: Joan Duru (FRA) 13.00 def. Conner Coffin (USA) 10.30
Heat 7: Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 14.77 def. Jadson Andre (BRA) 12.27
Heat 8: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 17.57 def. Nat Young (USA) 11.10
Heat 9: Stuart Kennedy (AUS) 10.74 def. Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 9.10
Heat 10: Ian Gouveia (BRA) 15.10 def. Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 7.13
Heat 11: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 12.00 def. Jack Freestone (AUS) 9.23
Heat 12: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 13.10 def. Josh Kerr (AUS) 9.90
Outerknown Fiji Men’s Pro Round 3 Results:
Heat 1: Ian Gouveia (BRA) 15.66 def. Owen Wright (AUS) 15.26
Heat 2: Julian Wilson (AUS) 15.04 def. Frederico Morais (PRT) 10.20
Heat 3: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 16.84 def. Miguel Pupo (BRA) 5.67
Heat 4: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 15.83 def. Gabriel Medina (BRA) 15.47
Upcoming Outerknown Fiji Men’s Pro Round 3 Match-Ups:
Heat 5: Mick Fanning (AUS) vs. Michel Bourez (PYF)
Heat 6: John John Florence (HAW) vs. Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA)
Heat 7: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Joan Duru (FRA)
Heat 8: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Connor O’Leary (AUS)
Heat 9: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Jeremy Flores (FRA)
Heat 10: Kolohe Andino (USA) vs. Bede Durbidge (AUS)
Heat 11: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) vs. Wiggolly Dantas (BRA)
Heat 12: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. Stuart Kennedy (AUS
Surf historian Matt Warshaw replies to Reno Abellira's Instagram tirade!
Reno Abellira is one of my surf heroes. Reno, Jock, BK, Hakman, Nuuhiwa – my Big Five, during the formative years. I have style inflections to this day that come straight from Reno. There’s a Peter French shot of Reno at Ala Moana that is the backside bottom to which every one of my backside bottom turns has aspired.
Reno and I met in person while I was at SURFER, probably in 1988. He is a chilled out motherfucker, intense and quiet-voiced and formidable, and I was so nervous just sitting across from him. But evidently I passed muster, as we worked together on two feature articles the following year: “Performance: the Hot Pursuit,” then “Whatever Happened to Hawaiian Style? The Rise and Fall of Surfing’s Aloha Spirit.” The second piece was especially good, with Reno lamenting the fact that modern Hawaiian pros seemed to be losing sight of their surfing roots. Read this, and see if it doesn’t move you the way it did me when it first came across my desk:
Someone forgot to pass the calabash. Others were no-shows at their own initiation. That scares and saddens the hell out of me, for within the calabash lie all the vital legacies and knowledge important to our great surf heritage. With a symbolic passing and receiving of the bowl from generation to generation, the connection stays alive—the connection which threads its way up from the days of the ancients—and with it, the meaning of Hawaiian Style.
Reno’s articles were clean, concise, delivered on time, easy to edit. He and I talked on the phone during the edit process, going over drafts. He was stoked on how they came out in print. We had plans to do some more pieces during the upcoming winter, but Reno dropped out of sight, or at least dropped off the media radar, and that was it as far as the two of us go. I left SURFER the following year, in 1990.
I tried no less than six times to get in touch with Reno in 2000 and 2001, while researching the print version of Encyclopedia of Surfing. I had a basic questionnaire that all the surfers in EOS filled out (all the living surfers): birth date and place, school, year started surfing, most notable accomplishment’s, etc. I couldn’t find with Reno. The number I had for him was disconnected, my emails got no reply. The fallback in such cases was to do research from sources at hand. For Reno, that meant about two-dozen magazine articles. I had a Duke Boyd profile on him from 1968, one from Drew Kampion in 1975, one from Phil Jarrett in 1979. Most of what’s in Reno’s Encyclopedia of Surfing page is taken from those three articles, including this bit from Kampion’s 1975 profile:
The year before , Reno’s father was shot and killed in a pool hall fight. “Being a boxer,’ [Abellira said], “he had underworld contacts. He used to strong-arm gambling games in the downtown Honolulu environs.”
I had no reason to question this part of Reno’s bio. It didn’t come up in any subsequent surf mag interviews or profiles, and Reno and Drew connected again for a chatty Surfing conversation in 1979.
Reno’s Encyclopedia page has been out there, in print or online, since 2003. This is the first I’ve heard that he was unhappy with it. Attacked by my childhood hero. I won’t pretend it doesn’t hurt.
This posting of my bio from the so called Encyclopedia of Surfing is still beyond annoying..but is now a personal affront to me …Matt Warshaw has for years touted himself as a surf historian but never made due diligence in his fact checking while compiling the book and instead left it to his inept minions to gather…the first duty of any encyclopedic work of any sort is to fact check not gather revised versions of former magazine articles and publish them as Truth…AUWE! (for shame) Matt Warshaw you made no real attempt at even the basic tenets of good journalism during your brief( thank Jehovah) tenure at Surfer Mag. and instead went into your literal diatribes of condemnation and the poorly disguised contempt you harbored for persons you profiled in pseudo hipster interviews..never a great surfer you chose to shoot them down willy nilly with Fascistic glee..still making royalties for published lies is disgusting and evil in my book…I am not the only one whose career and clear positive contributions to Surfing and the History you ruined or at the very least sullied with extreme prejudice….My father was never in a barroom fight in which he died..He was murdered in a downtown Honolulu pool room where he was employed by a faction of Korean gamblers as a stong arm…shot in the back with no witnesses to identify the shooter it is still an unsolved (as in cold case) murder on file…Stop hiding in your self-anointed ivory tower Warshaw and seek redemption for the sins of delusion you worship…
Reno’s IG pals joined in the head kicking.
sunrisesurfers: Fake News =The Encyclopedia of Surfing
mysticsurfboardseast: Reno- the “encyclopedia of surfing” is nothing more than a compendium of surf media bullshit, advertisements, and innuendo available in the last 50 years of surf print media, collated by a former surfer mag writer destined for literary glory. Parmenter @aleutianjuice flipped him off, very telling regarding authenticity. I.E.. If you weren’t there, you don’t need to know. I think Matts wife wants him to make a mortgage payment.
For the sake of clarity in this little blood feud, and just this once, however, here’s the Reno bio on the EOS.
Stylish, enigmatic regularfooter from Honolulu, Hawaii; world-ranked #4 in 1977, and a central figure throughout the first decade of shortboard surfing. Abellira was born (1950) and raised in Honolulu, the son of a middleweight boxer who was shot and killed in a barroom fight. Abellira began surfing at age four in Waikiki, but didn’t get his first board until 11. He won the juniors division of the Makaha International in 1966 and 1967, and earned $200 for winning the 1966 Hawaiian Noseriding Contest, the state’s first professional surfing event.
Abellira was Hawaii’s juniors division champion in 1968, and made his international debut later that year in the World Surfing Championships, held in Puerto Rico. Although he placed sixth, many observers thought the small-framed (5′ 7″, 135 pounds) 18-year-old was the event’s most exciting surfer, as he consistently rode just beneath the curl on a stiletto-like purple surfboard. “It was a skateboard,” California surf publisher Dick Graham wrote, marveling at Abellira’s radical new equipment, “and he rode it like a god, because he is one.”
Abellira’s style continued to develop over the next three years. He rode in a low crouch, chin tucked into his left shoulder, arms extended, wrists cocked, each part of his body precisely arranged. Whether or not the streamlined stance added speed to Abellira’s surfing is impossible to say, but nobody in the ’70s—except for Australia’s Terry Fitzgerald—looked faster on a surfboard. Abellira also proved to be one of the sport’s most mysterious figures: he kept to himself for the most part, rarely smiled, and countered the scruffy surfer image with Italian-made leather loafers, pressed linen pants, and neatly coiffed hair. “He’s a bit of a dandy,” Australian surf journalist Phil Jarratt wrote of the dark-eyed Hawaiian, “and could teach most surfers a thing or two about color coordination.”
Abellira competed regularly throughout the ’70s, winning state titles in 1970 and 1972, placing fourth in the ’70 World Championships, second in the 1973 Duke Kahanamoku Classic, and making the finals in more than a dozen professional events on the North Shore of Oahu. He was also an Expression Session invitee in 1970 and 1971. In what many still regard as surfing’s most thrilling big-wave contest, Abellira beat fellow Hawaiian Jeff Hakman by a fraction of a point to win the 1974 Smirnoff Pro, held in cataclysmic 30-foot surf at Waimea Bay. Among the first Hawaiians to set out on the pro circuit, Abellira was world-ranked #4 in 1977, #8 in 1978, and #13 in 1979.
Abellira was also a first-rate surfboard shaper, learning the craft from boardmaking guru Dick Brewer in the late ’60s and early ’70s, then going on to work for the Lightning Bolt label; Abellira and Brewer together experimented with an early version of the tri-fin design in 1970 and 1971. Mark Richards of Australia later became an international surf hero while riding Abellira-shaped boards, and it was Abellira’s stubby double-keeled fish that inspired Richards to produce in 1977 the twin-fin design that swept through the surf world in the late ’70s and early ’80s.
While Abellira was for the most part removed from the surf scene beginning in the early ’80s, over the decades he has occasionally produced thoughtful and eloquent articles for the American surf press. Abellira made headlines himself in 1993 when he disappeared for several months after being indicted on cocaine distribution charges; he was later convicted and spent several months in prison.
Abellira appeared in more than 15 surf movies, including Hot Generation(1968), Sea of Joy (1971), Going Surfin’ (1973), and Tales of the Seven Seas (1981). In the late ’70s, Abellira lent his name to a short-lived surfwear company called Reno Hawaii. He competed in the 1990 Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau big-wave contest at Waimea Bay at age 40, finishing 24th in a field of 33.
Meanwhile, BeachGrit sources say Reno and another master shaper (yeah, there are a few of ’em) got into a little pushing game in San Clemente recently and Reno may have (or may not, we weren’t there) called a very influential pal on the North Shore to ensure the other shaper could never safely visit Oahu again.
So much beautiful passion. It keeps the testosterone surging! The elixir of youth etc.