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!"
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?


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.
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!

Robb: “Let’s stoke the sharks out!”

Kalani Robb and pals feed San Clemente's sharks with drone!

Southern California’s new shark population is causing consternation in many young San Clemente hearts but Kalani Robb don’t care because he is an islander! (Isn’t he?) Last week, as reported by Grind TV, the world’s favorite happy Hawaiian waiter decided he should feed the sharks a big ol’ fish by using a drone. Let’s watch the KTLA news report!

Kalani said he has surfed all around the world but never seen such a high concentration of sharks. Is hyperbole? It sounds hyperbole. He also said he wanted to feed sharks a fish with a drone to highlight how many sharks there are in the water for those who are planning on hitting the beach this summer. Is good idea? Is great! Valley stay home!

The lifeguards said baiting sharks “goes against our mission of keeping the beaches safe.”


And a scientist told Grind TV, “I’m a little worried about all the crazy things people are doing with these sharks – chumming off public beaches to lure them to boats for viewing, intentionally trying to catch them and attaching floats to them as marker, dragging seal targets around to get them to strike, and now feeding them from drones off public beaches. All these activities change the sharks’ behavior and may increase the chances of someone in the area getting hurt.”


BeachGrit says, “Everyone stay out of the water! Sharks everywhere! EVERYWHERE!”

Shrill and on point.

Fred Pawle

Definitive: Scientists to Count Great Whites!

Are Great Whites in abundance or clinging to survival? New study plans to find out!

Are you as perplexed by the surge of Great Whites in the surf, and the arguments for and against solving the problem, as me?

Nets and dangling hooks are terrible things (they kill so many friendly animals), but they work. Compare and contrast attacks in Ballina with the Gold Coast. (Zero on the GC.)

The ocean is the shark’s environment, but it’s a pleasant place for humans to frolic in, too.

The Great White is endangered various scientific bodies say, but attacks are more relevant than ever before in human history.

For me, the argument has to boil down to this. If the Great White is endangered, y’can’t kill ’em. We live (and die) with it until stocks are replenished. Then we ice a few to restore the balance.

But if they’re not endangered.


Git the ropes out boys! 

So we gotta count ’em, right? Put the issue to bed once and for all.

A few days ago, the Australian government announced it had given its scientific body CSIRO the task of counting Whites in their east coast nurseries (Newcastle to Seal Rocks) and to use that data to estimate the population on the west coast.

Even though the Great White has been protected in Australia since 1999, experts concede they don’t know how many of the animals live in Australian waters.

I wonder, are we imagining ourselves sick about the Great White or is there a current oversupply of the animal?

The study will be complete by December.