Gliding on the breakers!
Gliding on the breakers!

Best: Ever surf review by non-surfer!

A novice tells you everything you need to know about Austin's NLand wave park!

I was dubious when my very handsome instructor told me that I’d be gliding on the breakers by day’s end. I have trouble balancing on the treadmill at my local gym. How in the world was I going to stand on the crest of the sea’s tumblers like some neoprene-clad Venus? But somehow he was right! As that first swell propelled me toward the shore I knew that surfing the curl was in my blood…

On a July Saturday in Rockaway Beach, a surf instructor pushed me into my first wave. He had already shown me how to paddle, arch my back and pop up, but I wasn’t thinking about any of that. I’d stopped thinking about anything. I did what my body wanted to do and then I was up and moving, swept forward by the great hand of the sea. My body already knew how to soften into it and ride. I was amazed at the ocean and my own inborn connection to it.

Ok first a little pop quiz… which one of those paragraphs is pulled from our The Inertia?

And how many descriptions of surfing have you read by novices? Oh they always crackle with passion but the mechanics, verbiage, etc. generally churn into a fun but nonsensical stew. Imagine, say, that you only had a novice’s description of a wave you had never surfed or seen. It would be impossible to pull any useful information out right?


This morning I read a novice’s description of Austin, Texas’s NLand wave park on ESPNW and know everything I need to know about those breakers!

The writer, Alyssa Roenigk describes herself, and surfing experience, thusly:

Since my mid-20s when I first learned to surf, I’ve had a fickle relationship with surfing. I hold it in reverence as the hardest sport in the world to learn, respect the enormous number of hours it requires to become even passingly proficient and want more than anything to be good at it. Yet for many reasons — cold water, wetsuits, a distaste for surfing by myself, rarely being near the ocean when waves are breaking, wetsuits — I have never put in the time. “I should do this more often,” is the most common sentence I utter each time I suit up to go surfing with friends.

A perfect recipe for disaster. But then she paddles out…

I spent my session surfing the inside wave, which NLand’s website describes, quite accurately, as “knee- to waist-high waves” with “challenging, open-face sections.” My friends and I called it the Waikiki wave. The mechanism creating the wave moves north to south, and then south to north, creating a left-hand and right-hand wave every 2 minutes, 10 seconds. Watching from the beach, that felt like an endlessly long lull between waves. But in the water, they come fast, especially if you catch a wave and ride it to the end of the pool and have to paddle back into position before the next wave fires. That becomes tricky when the pool is packed, so my advice is to steer clear of midday weekend visits and start with a midweek session.

The reef wave was booked up, so I can’t say I’ve tried it myself, although several of my friends spent their hour figuring it out. The consensus: Once you master the unnatural drop-that’s-not-a-drop-but-more-of-a-super-fast-sideways-takeoff, which generally takes one to two sessions, the 35-second ride is worth the effort. Just like scoring one great wave after two hours of paddling in the ocean or launching a perfect tee shot on the 18th hole, that one wave is enough to make you come back for more.

NLand is perfect for new surfers or anyone with fears of learning in the ocean. It’s also great for experienced surfers who want to work on turns or maneuvers that require reps. In one one-hour session at NLand, I surfed about 20 waves, which allowed me to make mistakes, fix those mistakes, work on my technique, and challenge the heck out of my paddling muscles. The experience did not feel like ocean surfing, but it made me even more excited to get back into the Pacific with the belief that I’ll be a little better when I do. If you find yourself in Austin, catching endless party waves is a great way to spend an afternoon with friends — especially once the brewery opens.

It doesn’t get any more informative, any more helpful than this. With these three paragraphs I feel perfectly armed to tackle Austin and I must say thank you Alyssa Roenigk. Thank you for breaking through this surf journalist’s jaded crust and allowing him to face the world anew. Like some neoprene-clad Venus.

A man who can eat a habanero is a man who can survive a little bone marrow cancer!

Breaking: We Maybe Saved a Life!

Let's bask in our very own stench of glory!

Last week BeachGrit was successful in drawing Stab — particularly Stab‘s noted author Morgan Williamson — from its FCS-2-reinforced bunker. A wonderful victory indeed, but still not on par with today’s existential triumph.

Yesterday I wrote about a Spanish-Mexican man who went to Bali only to find out he had cancer. The man, Cristian Bosco, was stuck in Bali without proper medical care because his insurance wouldn’t cover the exorbitant airlift fee of $140,000.

So the world had a dilemma: help cover the costs of Cristian’s medevac, or let him die of a (hopefully) treatable disease in an ill-equipped hospital.

Thanks to support from surfers around the world, Cristian got his trip covered. Just a few hours ago I received an email update from Cristian’s crowdfunding site, saying (translated from Spanish):

Thank you all for showing that there are still people with generosity and human quality!! Cristian is already on his way to Spain, they had to put him in the business class section of a commercial plane, and they are using the entire section for his transfer; accompanied by a medical group as well as the medical devices needed to cope with the journey.

We hope he will arrive soon and receive treatment. For the trust you have placed in this case, we want to inform you that at the moment we will not need any more donations, as we are evaluating the expenses incurred to have Cristian back. Thank you very much again and we will soon communicate the progress of the case.

Now, how many of you received this email today? Three? Maybe five? Probably closer to three but we turned the scales regardless!

It simply cannot be a coincidence that Cristian’s transfer happened one day after BeachGrit spread the word. We are lifesavers, and not like those drunk Aussie-types!

Let’s hope those Spanish docs can pull through on their end of the bargain.

Listen: “Surf fashion laughs at you!”

Existential questions answered by Chas Smith on the podcast Surf Splendor.

Earlier today, Chas Smith, from BeachGrit, made his weekly appearance on the San Clemente-based podcast Surf Splendor.

Prior to the interview, Surf Splendor‘s David Lee Scales sent a document of topics to be discussed, which you can examine here.

Grit! June 29, 2017

The discussion is a good one despite “Chas being woefully underprepared. He hardly even skimmed the show outline,” David said afterwards.

It’s the first podcast I’ve ever listened to from start to finish. When I read “podcast” I think, unedited interview, a torturous spool of directionless back and forthing.

David is a marvellous host, however, who keeps the show tight. He has opinion but rarely sears it with bitterness. There are no persecution complex, no hot-potato, knee-jerk reactions.

The highlights: surf fashion as applied to the newish labels Former and Outerknown, a little something on why Rory Parker and BeachGrit stopped being pals, the either very good or very bad music on Albee Layer’s new short and whether or not Albee might be dumb (Chas, who has a degree in linguistics, promises to call and find out), some sorta blood feud and a few other not-so-solemn topics.

Listen here.


Eight foot White dances in front of Kelly Slater. Champ stays out, catches two waves. Nothing but contempt for these frisky animals!

Great White (Doesn’t) Spook Slater at Lowers!

Great White breaches in front of champ. He keeps surfing.

It’s been almost a while since our last shark fright in SoCal.

For a minute there, it felt like we might have a legitimate issue on our hands. Like we were gonna be the next Ballina or Reunion or lesser-known-but-equally-as-potent sharkbite hub, Maui. Luckily our whites are small and seem mostly non-aggressive, unless you’re a bather who decides to dance with a blood-spurting seal. (Is that really what happened, or are the fine people of San Clemente just victim-shaming?) Anyways.

According to recent reports, the sharks are still around, so any sense of surf-zone confidence is nothing more than ignorance disguised as bliss. None know this better than Robert Kelly Slater, who spent last evening frolicking close to a prehistoric beast. He said:

Do you think it was necessary, though, to add, “There were six people out and I think four of us saw it jump. Caught a couple more waves” *shaka*? Or was that a bit much?

Not one to claim his dick without swinging it, Slater dove deep into Lower’s camera rewind to find this blurry splashing out the back (This should be a video, but there’s no way (to my knowledge) to link an Instagram story. Imagine a small portion of the blue screen turning white for a brief moment, and you have the essence of the clip.)

Proof? Sure. But did you really doubt him in the first place? Did anyone? Kelly seems a little paranoid about his public persona, but maybe that’s a natural response to surf sites and their overzealous commenters psychoanalyzing his every move.

So, does this recent shark sighting make you feel anything? Has the fear risen from your toes, taken a quick pitstop to constrict the testicles, before continuing to erect every follicle across your hide? Or do you not give a fuck whatsoever?

I’m leaving for Costa tomorrow so leaning toward the latter.

Search: Rip Curl want “best dressed!”

Australian surf company seeks to raise sartorial bar!

The Rip Curl Cup in Padang Padang, Indonesia has been a historically wonderful event. Didn’t Jamie O’Brien win it once? I think he did. And didn’t a boat once shipwreck on the reef there and spill tons of oil into the water but Rip Curl ran, like, the next day anyhow? All foggy but I think true. And while I may have general beef with Rip Curl for being overly conservative and super afraid of hard-hitting surf journalism, we can totally agree on Padang Padang.

The upcoming contest, which has a waiting period from July 10th to August 1oth, is set to feature some of the most exciting surfers alive. The lineup of international surfers includes:

1) Tom Curren

2) Mason Ho

3) Damo Hobgood

4) Bruce Irons

5) Kai Otton

6) Bruno Santos

7) Clay Marzo

8) Jack Robinson

9) Jacob Wilcox

10) Ryan Burch

“Of these ten international surfers…” Rip Curl notes in the rules “…only eight will receive a spot in the event. Entry granted on a first-come, best-dressed basis.”

First-come, best-dressed?


Now before you send me over to Stab magazine’s Morgan Williamson’s house for an asymmetrical tongue lashing (I’m worried that he’ll call my young child mentally and physically retarded or write that my parents should be euthanized for being “dumb fucks”) I know that the phrase first-come, best-dressed is Australia’s equivalent to America’s first-come, first-served.

But let’s pretend for a minute that it is literal. Wouldn’t that be more fun? And which of the ten listed surfers is the best dressed?

Tom Curren?

Clay Marzo?

Damo Hobgood?

I’m pulling for Damien and, Damien if you are reading please feel free to stop by my house for a suit.

But who are you pulling for? Which of these ten is best-dressed in your mind?