Reno: “Snarling mess, spewing threats!”

Shaper Reno Abellira details his fight with another shaping great… 

Three days ago, we were gifted a fine blood feud between the master shaper Reno Abellira, and surf historian and former Surfer magazine editor, Matt Warshaw.

A combined age of one hundred twenty years! Walking frames at twenty paces etc.

Towards the end of that piece, I mentioned a little push-and-shoving that may’ve happened between Reno and another very well-known shaper in San Clemente.

Today, Reno responds in an exquisitely written open letter to BeachGrit. Note: the name of the other shaper has been removed because, oowee, we’ll be spending the next five years in court defending a defamation suit if we threw his name into the mix. (He was contacted but didn’t want to respond publicly .)

Let us have it, Reno.

Dear BeachGrit and Mr.D Rielly,

What is it about the Australian press that is still mired in muckraking sensationalist yellow journalism, only now it is an online less editable version of sports print and the venerably published (ASL an ASW) magazines of yore.

It is my firm impression that the only surf journalist of the whole lot of of current wannabes is still me ol china that wily codger Phil (the “Thrill”) Jarratt, God bless ‘im always.

As to the due diligence Warshaw lacked in his bio of me in EOS, was more than just the part regarding my Dad. To wit: my first surfing experience was as a toddler at two-and-a-half with my beloved uncle Kui Lee who was then an active Beachboy at Waikiki. Never forgot the sounds/vibrations of the chatter of the water under the board as he stroked out to the lineup at four-foot Canoes. He pulled me to my feet briefly the swung above his shoulder to make my simulate flight above him. That was the start not at four years old.

I was twelve when my mother insisted that my father buy my first board, a navy blue pigment paneled real Honolulu made Dale Velzy not 11 years old. I won $600.00 as Champ for the Hawaii nosedriding contest not a measly $200.00 as published in EOS.

Promptly bought a $300.00 round trip ticket to attend the ’66 World comp in San Diego as a Hawaii team alternate. My 5’7″ fish I brought to OZ as part of my six board quiver in ’75 and ’76 did not have keel fins (hated them and thought they tracked way too much) but had a template that had more of a normal pivot outline placed near the fluted wings in that design.

I don’t know what Warshaw means by saying I was “well removed from the surf scene by the “80’s” as I continued to actively compete in all of the pro events on the N.Shore. My last Duke event was in ’84 (if you count back from that one I had the honor of 12 previous invitations) 13 Duke trophies in total.

I was invited to all the Pipeline Master’s from it’s inception in’71 through ’83. I stopped traveling to compete in’80 with the arrival of my one and only child Reno Michael Abellira.

Unfortunately, less than a year later I went through a devastating separation/very public divorce on the N. Shore from my wife of 15 years when I promptly became a single parent for the duration of his childhood.

Once and for all I never “disappeared for several months fleeing Prosecution or the Authorities at all ever.” In ’92, I was indicted along with seven other men for three counts for the Federal crimes of racketeering (the RICO Act) specifically Possession with Intent to distribute of four kilos of Cocaine and over 27 pounds of marijuana that had been control delivered by the U.S Postal Service and D.E.A agents to an address in suburban Honolulu.

At that moment in time, I was living what one might consider a happy existence on upcountry Maui. The notice for my arraignment was pinned to my refrigerator in my Haiku cottage. It read “if you know what is good for you, you will be present in Honolulu Federal court by noon the following day” of which I did after hastily hiring a lawyer that afternoon.

Unfortunately again, the Honolulu Advertiser had a column that mentioned on page four the arrest and apprehension of the seven Oahu men. The last sentence of which said “still at large is former surfing champion, Reno Abellira.” Friends read me that column that afternoon and from there the rumor mill via the “Coconut Wireless” spewed like a scene Dante’s Inferno.

Apparently a dear friend laughingly mentioned to his inner circle of devotees that wouldn’t it be amusing if Reno got busted at the airport on the lam dressed as a woman with the kilos I was running with stuffed in my brassiere! Mahalo so much!

That mushroomed and bloomed to dark truth for most of the surfing world where the surf mags (notably Surfing who had an intern send an APB for my capture immediately) I say once and for all, I was never ever dressed as a woman running from the law.

The Honolulu news anchor Tina Shelton immediately made me the kingpin of the drug ring for the sake of color on the news. Inside Halawa prison high-security pod (where all FederaI detainees were housed for the lack of a Fed prison in Hawaii at all at the time) watched myself dropping in at the Bay and in front of the court building in a suit with my attorney for weeks.

Bottom line? I was acquitted (found innocent) of all three counts of the indictment nine-and-a-half months later at trial (the jury did however find me guilty of simple possession) as I did admit in open court testimony to drug use during the time period. It is no excuse, but who of the surfing crowd did not party in the eighties I ask?

On the day of my acquittal I was released a free man yet the only other indictee was found guilty on his counts and sent to lockup for 14 years. Nothing in the paper or the news of the acquittal itself. Rumors swirled on that I had turned snitch to get out yet everything that happened is a matter of legal and public record.

My clothing royalty agreement lasted six years from ’75 to ’81. Short-lived does not describe appropriately my venture there. How long was Warshaw’s editor job at Surfer I ask? Two maybe three years? That is perfectly short lived compared to Paul Holmes who did nine or ten years at the helm of surfing’s Bible.

I found him in wet snoring mess in the middle of the day in an overheated Kombi bus. Slapped him on the butt which awoke this snarling mess of swinging arms and spewing threats of “I almost knocked my wife out for doing the same by waking me like that!! You fucker!”

Is Brutus one of your sources for the supposed shoving match between the unnamed other master shaper Derek? It is in fact (censored) whose poor bi-polar and violent behavior goes unmedicated and unchecked with doses of wine filled snap outs to this old friend who showed concern when I found him in wet snoring mess in the middle of the day in an overheated Kombi bus. Slapped him on the butt which awoke this snarling mess of swinging arms and spewing threats of “I almost knocked my wife out for doing the same by waking me like that!! You fucker!”

Slams the door and nearly crushes my fingers in the doing, climbs spastically into the driver seat and spins out of the parking lot. The day before this I had been giving him a lomi-lomi percussion massage in his borrowed office from another master shaper who is truly that and more. We had shared dinner the very evening previous.

Two days later I went to check in on him and growled and sneered at me that I had told certain people I work with to fuck off. A total and complete fabrication from his dementia but that he nonetheless forwarded as true. So yes we argued in private in his borrowed shaping room from said master shaper and it came to a head when I asked for an apology as a man and and old dear friend. He screamed at me to fuck off repeatedly as he shook his fists in my face at close range and told him yes he had better think twice about coming to Hawaii

I turned to leave and here is the kicker. He elbowed me in the back full force I am about 135 pounds and (censored) has now at least 50 pounds above that. I was thrown forward but did not hit the floor or stumble with him at my back still screaming to fuck off.

(Censored) is not a well puppy and truth be said he is no master shaper at all. He cannot shape a decent gun from a blank if you paid him. They are all program files he has someone else do for him.

Brutus you spineless wimp, print a real picture of yourself instead of the shadow figure you have going on. Either that or stop hiding behind (Censored)’s skirt unless that is where you really belong ?

Waves of Truth, Reno Abellira.


Wild? Yes. Ginger? Yes. But put this man near a tube and watch the fuck out!

Watch: Mick Campbell Still a Legend!

If there is one thing I love more than a fat-man shredder it is an old-man shredder.

Just today, Stab released footage from a Restaurants super session featuring not one but TWO legends of our sport (and commentary team) surfing much better than I. Barton Lynch, 53, and Martin Potter, 51, were tearing the left-hander to shreds. Tubes, pocket jams, even fin drifts could be seen and all of it with style and grace.

Even if it pokes at my insecurities, I fucking love it when an old guy rips a wave to pieces. Not only is it badass, but it give me hope for a future of eternal shredding.

Later in the day, I stumbled upon the video below. It features Indonesia’s giant lefthander, Kandui, on its best day of the season. Portuguese prince Nic Von Rupp threads a few, some randoms get their clocks cleaned, but then… oh dear, just watch!

And did you see him? The bald and bearded man deep inside a four-section tube? That’s Aussie surf star Mick Campbell!

Let’s reminisce with thanks to the Encyclopedia of Surfing:

Fiery, well-freckled from New South Wales, Australia; world-ranked #2 in 1998. Campbell was born (1974) and raised in Port Macquaire, began surfing at age nine, placed fifth in the 1993 Pro Junior contest, and in 1997 was the world pro circuit’s rookie of the year. Campbell and good friend Danny Wills were the most physically fit surfers of the late ’90s, as both were trained by Sydney rugby drillmaster Rob Rowland-Smith; Campbell used fitness, consistency and determination, rather than inborn surfing genius, to, as surf journalist Derek Hynd put it, “rip every pro off the ladder, one by one.”

Campbell led the world tour ratings going into the 1998 Pipeline Masters, the final contest of the season, but faltered badly in the second round, scoring a total of 1.9 points and allowing reigning world champion Kelly Slater to pass him for the title. Slater’s margin of victory over Campbell—a mere 38 points after an entire season’s worth of competition—remains the smallest on record.

You can read the rest of his entry here (including a fight scene with the late, great AI!) for a minimal fee of three dollars. Three dollars! Don’t be a tight ass.

Considering he’s younger than Slater, I suppose I can’t really call Mick old. But since I haven’t seen anything from the man in almost a decade, the fact that he remains the best surfer at a premier wave on a premier swell was a genuine surprise.

Mick’s low-but-not-squatty stance, his read on the wave, his minute body movements — you can’t teach that, and apparently you can’t forget it either. I hope one day to get a barrel like his last, but I wouldn’t bet any significant sum on it. Mick Campbell is still a legend.

Which got me thinking, readers, who’s your favorite old-ish man shredder (40 and up)? Do they stoke you?


Independent Surf Co's sub-three hundred dollar suits.

Welcome: the cut-price wetsuit era!

Never pay more than three hundred shekels for a new wetsuit again!

You might’ve noticed BeachGrit was enveloped by ads for the Independent Surf Co, an online-only wetsuit and accessories manufacturer, last week.

Indy is the newest player in the cut-price wetsuit game, alongside Need Essentials and to a lesser degree, the sub-four hundred dollar zipperless suits of NCHE.

The common thread among the three companies is that all the founders came staggering out of the Stalingrad-esque ruins of Big Surf Industry: Need‘s Ryan Scanlon a former senior VP of Global Products for Quiksilver, NCHE‘s Simon Barrett and Jarrad Howse from Billabong and O’Neill, and Independent Surf Co‘s founders Vin Ryan and Royce Leu from Billabong.

A caveat: Royce is an old pal of mine. He worked at Surfing Life with me back when I was sorting mail etc. Love the guy. Surf to the core etc.

So when I heard he was involved in a wetsuit start-up, well, you help a guy. I try the two mil, short-sleeved steamer. It works. Two hundred and fifty Australian dollars or thereabouts (prices are listed as ex-tax).

Ain’t it a good time to be alive.

Just as the big surf co’s complete their transition from surfer-owned companies to assets in a VC’s portfolio there arrives a raft of companies operating in bedrooms, front rooms and little boats (Ryan, Need) .

I threw a line out to Vin from Independent yesterday ’cause I wanted to find out how a little guy, without much capital, can create an accessories company.

His story goes like this:

Vin started at Billabong, or more precisely its accessories arm Thin Air, when he was a kid. This was back when Billabong made their suits in Australia. He’d graduated to the cutting room and was making the suits when the company went public and, shortly after, the manufacture of suits moved to China.

Vin evolved. He liaised with suppliers in China. Gave ’em the specs. Negotiated prices.

Then after 24 years with Billabong/Thin Air, as Billabong moved designers and managers to the US, Vin got the tap of the shoulder. Redundant.

Vin was paid the minimum, legal redundancy. A quarter of a century of loyalty don’t count for much on balance sheets.

“That’s big business,” says Vin.

So he starts Independent Surf Co. Wetsuits. Tail pads. Legropes. Three hundred, Thirty and Thirty dollars apiece.

His angle is making suits with features that you’d find on the big co’s six hundred and seven hundred dollar suits: mesh panels, S-seals, a thermal lining, those little tech details you don’t notice but you feel. 

Vin, who is paying the bills working as a waterproofer on a building site, says being on a construction site has sharpened his sense of offering value to surfers.

“You see how hard the average guys work for their dollars, to be able to go away and afford all these high-priced items, wetsuits up to seven hundred dollars,” says Vin. “Instead we offer ’em for 270 bucks.”

Regarding his old masters Vin says,

“The thing that disappointed me when I was working at Billabong was a lot of these people running the show are focussed on these products that make more money, which is fair enough. But when you’re making a core product for surfers, that a surfer really needs, they don’t put the effort they should, for the price they charge. That’s where guys like us, who’ve been in it for so long, are prepared to give surfers a quality suit at half the price.”

I’ll give an honest appraisal.

I’ve never had a suit better than the Rip Curl Flash Bomb my hams currently inflate. But I got a little discount. Not free. Enough to make it a choice between what works best. And y’gotta give it to Rip Curl. They make a fine wetsuit.

But if you had to make a choice between paying three hundred or seven hundred?

Is the difference big enough?

 


You after Stab calls and says, "You're hired!"

Dream Job: Stab editor-in-Chief!

Stab magazine is hiring! Do you have what it takes?

Have you ever wanted to travel the world on limited notice? Be a gatekeeper? Handy with a keyboard? Evolve filmmakers? Upload stories? Brilliant medium director? Inspire a meme?

Well son of a bitch. Your dream job just became available.

Stab magazine says…

Rory, are you there? (The Rip Current one from Scotland)

Michael Ciaramella… what about you?

Nick Carroll?

Huma’s Tears?

Doobalchy?

Come on. One of you sons of bitches should apply.

Michael Kocher? You there? You need some money?


The British shark (smooth hound?) is marked by its crooked teeth and confused bearing.

Horror: Shark attack in England!

A bloody terror boils on Devonshire's pristine shore!

They’re everywhere. EVERYWHERE and don’t you wish global governments were unified in trying to stop shark attacks instead of Islamic terror?

I wish they were.

ISIS can go suck a fat one. They are just about to lose their homemade capital city in Iraq and  but sharks AYE AYE AYE! Sharks are on the move and grabbing stronghold after stronghold.

Kalani Robb is feeding them with drones while, halfway around the world, one is attacking a nice British teacher. The BBC reports:

A surfer said he fought with a “small shark” after being bitten off Bantham beach in south Devon.

Teacher Rich Thomson, 30, was left with a bruised leg and cuts to his hands after he hit it on the head.

No other incident of this type has happened to surfers in UK waters, according to experts who said the shark could have been a smooth hound.

Mr Thomson said the shark, estimated at about 1m (3ft) long, “grabbed me on the leg”.

“I turned round and saw this little shark was on my thigh and wriggling its head side to side,” said the seasoned surfer.

“I hit it on the head and it swam off.

“My hand was cut to pieces.”

“I went home and told my wife I was late because I had been bitten by a shark,” he said.

“She said ‘I’ve heard that one before’, but it was true.”

But wait. The shark could have been a smooth hound? Like, what kind of smooth hound? Like, an English Foxhound?

Mr. Rich Thomson could have gotten bit by his dog whilst going surfing? In either case his telling his wife that he was late because he was bit and his wife telling him, “I’ve heard that one before…” is my fav anecdote of the week.

So British!