Watch: A Rhythmic Dance at Deserts!

Perfect waves ain't always easy!

Do you have a dream wave?

I did. It was called Desert Point and it resided on the northwestern tip of Indonesian island Lombok. I dreamed of meeting its tapered walls and spinning tubes with a practiced pig-dog attack. At such a wave, I would finally be able to unleash the potential of my abilities.

Then I went to Indonesia. Completely by accident, the first days of my trip coincided with Indo’s historic 2015 swell. Swell of the decade, swell of the century depending who you asked. I decided it was time to meet my dream wave.

We arrived the morning of the swell and it was roughly twenty-five feet on the face. Giant blue walls peeled down the point for a party of zero. There was not a single surfer in the water, and only ten or twelve in the beachside warung.

I learned that a swell of this size was considered “too big” for Deserts, which, at twenty feet, overloaded the reef and mostly failed to barrel. The infamous Grower section was at least thirty feet and looked like an oversized Pipeline. I searched for seashells with my lady friend.

Later on, the tide started to rise and, miraculously, the waves became somewhat  manageable. My friend had just motor-biked three hours from the other side of the island and had no interest in my excuses. We were going out.

Alongside a frothing Aussie, my friend and I were the first ones to enter the water today. It was roughly 1 PM and the waves were still twenty feet. We reached the lineup with dry hair but that would be my only success of the day.

As a backsider, I found Deserts exceptionally difficult to navigate. The waves were bending out to sea, which made it impossible to peer over my shoulder and around the corner. I had no way of knowing when the wave would slow down or speed up, which led to a series of pocket-rides and foamball detonations. I think I made one short barrel throughout the entire affair.

Yan Daberkow, a Brazilian whose name rings zero bells, had a much better experience at my dream wave. See below:

So Yan’s got a couple things going for him. Firstly, when he surfed Deserts it was normal-human sized. Second, he’s a goofy and third a much better surfer than myself. I actually love Yan’s style, the way he rides up on his board and threads the liquid coffers in a rhythmic dancing motion.

His mini-tube at 2:36 impresses me most. To ride that deep in a two-footer is truly an art form.

Why don’t they make rights like this?

Even though the Stab writer Morgan Williamson (pictured) is flashing a peace sign, he is on the path war!
Even though the Stab writer Morgan Williamson (pictured) is flashing a peace sign, he is on the path war!

Breaking: Stab goes nuclear!

"See veteran surf writer and professional receding hairline, Charlie Smith."

I was minding my own business this evening, walking my four-year-old daughter who was walking her chihuahua when our Michael Ciaramella texted me, “You have been struck! I’m so proud of Morgan.” I clicked on the screen grab of the picture he included and read from surfing’s poet laureate in a new work titled Inciting Racial Hatred – A New Low For Stab:

So why get off on the digital shock of the web? Where does this need to draw cocks come from? Even veteran surf writers use similar platforms to incite negativity.

See veteran surf writer and professional receding hairline, Charlie Smith. His vision of surf media is one-sided warfare (ever played Battleship alone?), lobbing grenades and inviting the return. But, what’s the point? It’s a silly game with no reward. One I may be currently playing into, that clever fuck, but Satan help me if I hit my forties and am living off my wife’s salary and taking shots at surf writers I’ve never met in person, who happen to be half my age and twice as handsome.

The point is, what lives on the internet is meaningful. Cyberbullying is powerful enough to drive kids to suicide yet somehow, on the surface, there’s no personal consequence for one’s online words.

Honey, welcome to the age of keyboard decadence.

Oh Morgan, my dear special Morgan, I hope you feel good that your harsh words about me in an article that was supposed to be decrying our degraded modern polemic, bizarre grammar and all, just drove my four-year-old daughter to suicide.

Just kidding! She doesn’t even read!

Truly, I’m proud of you for trying to engage but may I give you a few pointers? Next time hit me on a specific, not some multi-tiered solo Battleship/grenade metaphor. Like, what specifically enraged you? When I remixed your words into a sort of freeform jazz? Or when I called you racist? Specifics soar.

Also, don’t tease with some 20-year-old handsome surf writer I’ve never met in person. Who is he?

Also, it would be professional with a receding hairline, I think. A person, no matter how professional, can’t be a receding hairline.

Also, I am author of PEN Award nominated Welcome to Paradise, Now….. Oh I can’t help it! All I want to do is remix your words into more freeform jazz! Ladies and Gents, without further ado I give you… Morgan Williamson….

“I think the Internet is broken,”

An era of life behind avatars, screen names and the anonymous.

inciting racial hatred.

a dick measuring affair.

Where does this need to draw cocks come from?

professional receding hairline.

professional receding hairline.

professional receding hairline.

Cyberbullying is powerful enough to drive kids to suicide.


Julian Wilson: “This mad bloke!”

A true hero set to win it all!

The World Surf League’s J-Bay competition is on the boil, presented by Corona, and do you think Corona will try to Mexicanize South Africa? Burritos in the competitor’s tent? Sombreros on the beach?

Oh I hope so. It would be the grandest surf competition since Barra de las Cruz. Professional surfing really does need to return to mainland Mexico but in the meantime, how good is rum?

The alcohol is made from sugarcane byproducts and distilled in oak barrels and adds the essential kick to cocktails from the daiquiri to the piña colada.

Cuba is very famous for rum, though they call it ron. Australia is, inexplicably, famous for it too. And let’s watch a spot from Bundaberg Rum as they immortalize the J-Bay competition from two years ago. The grandest surf competition since Barra de la Cruz.

Mexican beer, rum, ron, whatever. I can’t wait for J-Bay. And is this the year that Julian Wilson, currently hovering at world number 8, wins it all?

Clip: Jared Mell in Costa Rica!

The Californian retro-ish stud glitters at a Central American righthander.

For obvious reasons, I’ve never courted professional surfers as pals. I’ve seen it up close and it ain’t real pretty.

The rules of engagement include an absence of criticism, always walking a step or two behind lest you shadow the star, watching as pretty girls totally bypass you for your otherwise unattractive famous pal, compulsory airport pickups, having to drop all work and personal commitments when pal has an en-route to South Africa/LA/Fiji or wherever layover and so forth.

I think there was a time when Andy Irons fluttered, briefly, through my life, but his inherent insecurity gave him a lovability I haven’t seen or noticed since.

The surfer in this clip, Jared Mell, who divides time between Los Angeles and Bali,  I first met in Bali.

This was some years ago and I’d been employed by Insight to drive a jetski and whip Jared (and Kai Otton and Warren Smith) into waves for a clever advertising campaign. On his way from California, however, Jared had become gravely ill from a virus he’d picked up in Central America and throughout the entire week couldn’t speak or he could speak, but in a mangled drawl.

A pro surfer who couldn’t complete a cohesive sentence was hardly news to me. I just thought he was another retard.

It wasn’t until the following year that I discovered he is a boy who is bright as a button and as funny as a lark. And his surfing, riding surfboards first designed in the nineteen seventies, I’ve always found attractive.

Today, his masters at Banks sent me this three-minute clip of Jared surfing in Costa Rica. I don’t believe it will change the world.

But as surfing in waves we can all relate to, or would like to relate to, it works.

Jared Mell Volume 5 from BANKS JOURNAL on Vimeo.


Podcast: “Chas is that little creature!”

"...who is just antagonizing the FUCK out of everyone!"

We live in the golden age of surf journalism, and I certainly don’t need to remind you, but we live in the golden age of surf radio too. It is totally true and where would we be without the glorious podcast? We’d be sad is where. Especially Occy. He’d be sad and sitting alone in his closet with an unplugged microphone and list of anecdotes that no one would ever hear.

But we do have many podcasts and we know Occy’s stories and the world is right.

One of my favorites is Ain’t That Swell with Jed Smith and Vaughn Dead. The two have been at it as long as anyone and have a wonderfully light rapport, easy-listening yet still bawdy voices and a command over the subject matter.

In their latest episode, featuring guest Danny Johnson from Surfing World, there was a segment called Under or Over wherein the three discussed if certain topics were under performing or over performing.

Surf journos turning on each other was brought up and Vaughn declared it “under performing” saying, “Who fucking cares, mate? Arrrrgh!”

Jed added, “This is the thing. This is what makes it worth ripping into other surf journalist because at the same time who fucking cares?”

Then Vaughn said, “Let’s rattle off a few examples of what we’re talking about.”

Jed picked up the thread and declared, “Alright so we had Charlie Smith vs. The Inertia, Charlie Smith vs. Stab magazine…”

Vaughn interjected, “He’s on a fucking roll!”

While Jed continued, “Charlie Smith vs. Mick Fanning, who admittedly isn’t a journalist. Who else has Chas taken on?”

And then either Vaughn or guest Danny Johnson (forgive me… the lack of visuals is the downside of a podcast) yelled, “Everyone! Well he did an episode of Surf Splendor during the week but uh he just seems like he is that little creature who is just antagonizing the FUCK out of everyone just desperate for a response and when he gets it it’s a little victory to Chas but I think everyone else just seems to be terrified of him. That’s how it feels. People just have their fingers crossed, please don’t talk about me, please don’t have a go at me, I don’t want to get involved in this shit and… I don’t know. I don’t know whether people are intentionally flagging him because they can’t be fucked or whether they’re too scared or what’s going on but, yeah he’s going after everyone, man and… I guess he said it best himself. He’s lobbing grenades and he’s not getting any thrown back at him because either a) they’re scared or b) they don’t give one flying fuck but I have a feeling it’s a bit of both.”

Such a wonderful exchange but if I may add my two cents. The general tone of the discussion (listen below around the 28 minute mark) is that surf journalism is absurd and that throwing stones, or grenades as it were, is pointless and dumb. I whole-heartedly agree with one caveat. Having dabbled in war journalism, political journalism and fashion journalism enough I can say that those are utterly absurd too. No more and no less absurd than surf journalism.

Which is why I do what I do. Surf journalism, as absurd and pointless as it is, is also much more fun. The stories are fun, the the excesses are fun, the rumors are fun and the “fights” are fun.

We really do have differences of opinions. I think The Inertia is a giant piece of shit. I think Stab is embarrassingly derivative. And I write about these two, any anyone else in my way, because it’s fun. Why are they too chicken to respond? Vaughn/Danny thinks they’re either scared or don’t give a flying fuck.

I know they’re scared and that is why I’ll continue to lob my grenades.

We’re all yellow journalists, after all. I’m just Hearst looking for my Pulitzer.