How to: live the pro contest dream!

New app turns paltry little surf contests into dazzling high-tech events!

Lately, I’ve come to enjoy, very much, thrashing around in little surf contests. It’s a thrill to feel so aroused, so vital, in these fifteen-minute, six-man club heats.

Your heart beats perilously fast. You catch a wave and twitch and gesture to try and get your fives and sixes. For tiny parcels of time keen eyes study and judge your surfing. It’s alternately flattering and crushing.

Until recently, judges would write down scores on pieces of paper, hand ’em over to some sort of tabulator, who’d write ’em on a whiteboard and then work out who went through and so on.

All very bush league.

And, then, one day I walked down to an event and was surround by computer screens with live scoring, judges with tablets, live heat times, instant results, all through an app called LiveHeats. 

All very WSL.

Better than WSL.

Before the event, your invitation to enter comes via text.  Stab your fingers at your phone a couple of times and you’re registered. You know your heat time, and if there’s any delays the time is constantly adjusted, and who you’re surfing against.

I remember being in Israel with Oz Wright and Otis Carey  a year or so before and as part of their free trip they had to agree to compete in the country’s first WSL event there. Took ’em four hours on their phones to get their entry in.

How’d little surf clubs get so tech?

The Australian pro surfer Chris Friend, who has a biz degree (economics major) and his computer whiz pal Fernando, figured they could build a simple interface that would change the game. No MS-DOS with its local networks, clunky monitors and print-outs.

Just tablets and phones all linked through the one pretty, and seamless, interface. It’s like when you first played with an Apple computer after being tortured by PCs for years.

Why did it take so long to get so good?

Thirty-three clubs around Australia pay $99 a day to use it, as well as Surfing Victoria, Surfing Canada and SUP South Africa. LiveHeats has also administered a couple of hundred overseas events from Canada to Nicaragua.

And, soon, maybe the WSL might wet its beak.

“I think we can help create a seamless competitor experience for surfers on the QS and CT,” says Chris, who was rated #100 on the qualifiers a few years back. “Currently, the system for entering QS events isn’t connected to your comp experience so you’d have to go to the comp site to find out what heat you surf in and then use the spectator’s site to see your past results and rating. Surfers in LiveHeats-powered comps can login to their dashboard to enter and pay for events, see their upcoming heat time to the minute, see their jersey colour, as well as track all previous heat results and scores.”

Of course, it isn’t the most uplifting thing to see a year’s worth of thrashing distilled into a handful of threes and fours (best wave in an entire year of contests, a six-five), but what can I say?

Surfing ain’t that easy.

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!

Blood Feud: Stab vs. Surfline!

Stab magazine writer made livid by pre-roll advertisements!

Yesterday at roughly 2:30 in the afternoon Pacific Time I posted the 3000 story on BeachGrit. 3000! Oh sure some of them have been better than others and yesterday’s 3000 was a straight crib from the world’s most popular surf website Surfline about Koa Rothman getting cracked in the head by a board ditcher.

Four hours later Stab‘s Morgan Williamson, having just received his BeachGrit Google alert, posted the very same story, cribbed from the world’s most popular surf website Surfline, but added his own twist.

Passive-aggressive rage directed at Surfline itself!

Oh no, the handsome 20-year-old (whom I have never met) didn’t viciously attack Surfline‘s hairline, or the spouses of those who work in the Huntington Beach offices. He didn’t call any Surfline employees’ children “‘tarded to the max” or write anything belittling about employee wives.

What he did do was attack Surfline for running an advertisement before showing the video of Koa Rothman getting cracked. Without irony! Let’s read!

Someone contributing to Surfline filmed it from the channel, sent it to the premier surf forecasting site, who slapped on a 15-second ad promoting a game called “War Thunder”, which I’ve watched about 90 total seconds of while waiting to re-watch the video. And that’s fine, ads are money, money is time and families need to be fed (and it’s not like we’ve never thrown an ad on a clip). By now, it’s making it rounds across surf media. We all cover the same general news stories and aren’t worried about some missile in North Korea–although, the New York Times said we should–because this is surfing.

Morgan Williamson’s impotent lividity at the “15-second ad promoting a game called “War Thunder” is the most delicious thing I’ve read all month. It’s like he has never once actually visited or that he knows it was purchased by near bankrupt Australian online retailer Surfstitch with bald-faced advertorial being pumped through daily.

And do you think this might be true? Do you think Morgan Williamson thinks he writes for some not-for-profit surf website?

Do you think that he thinks he writes for BeachGrit?

I wonder what other mysteries are buried within Morgan Williamson’s heart? I will spend hundreds of hours this year exploring because, as they all say, money is time!

Spanish boy seen ripping Cadiz in open mockery of Surf Europe.
Spanish boy seen ripping Cadiz in open mockery of Surf Europe.

Alleged: Surf Europe hates Spain!

Does Cornwall's favorite surf magazine really have beef with La Furia Roja?

“He who controls Surf Europe controls the world” (George Orwell, 1984).

As telescreen smartphone data strips nation-states of their power, multinationals like Amazon and Surf Europe Magazine are laughing all the way to the bank.

Or are they?

Evidence has surfaced, showing that despite what Surf Europe Mag has said of Spain’s ‘Costa de la Luz’, the place (occasionally) pumps.

Which begs the question: what’s in it for them?

The love-child of Honolua Bay and Lower Trestles, perhaps?

Let’s delve into this shit.

Like most European surf destinations, throughout summer Cadiz is as crook as Ando’s back leg. But come October the beach breaks are firing, and if you stick around long enough to need a 4/3 (and some form of gainful employment) you’ll be able to sample the point-breaks that enable tourist-hungry surf shops and cheesy postcard writers alike to call it “Cadizfornia”.

However, it seems Surf Europe (and The Inertia!) are—uncharacteristically—keeping this all under wraps.

“The Kingdom of Spain is denied an appreciable west coast by its neighbour Portugal. Thus coastal Spain is either the north-facing Biscay coast in the north, or the Med coasts of the east and south, or the surf battered lava strewn coasts of the Canary Islands, down near the tropics off NW Africa” (Surf Europe Mag).

Not even a mention of Cadizfornia. And all this from an article lamenting the lack of surf in the less terminally depressing parts of Spain:

“While most of the rest of the world thinks of Spain as a hot place where flamenco dancers and bull fighters drink sangria in ancient plazas flanked by ancient churches built in the Moorish style, for most surfers, huddled in campers vans watching the sets break in a tidal grey sea between the action of the windscreen wipers, the north coast reality is a much different affair.”

But sunny ol’ Cadiz is about as Spanish as you can get! From the week-long ferias of Jerez and Seville—where you can drink endless rebujitos and dance yourself into a blissful oblivion that restless guitars and wailing flamenco lets you construe as something life-enriching—to La Noche de San Juan, a fiesta that sees all the beaches in the region alight with millions of misplaced deliveries of Moroccan marijuana (and bonfires).

So what’s Surf Europe’s deal?

While it’s true that Portugal casts a swell shadow, when a big NW swell comes rolling outta the Atlantic—maxing out Hossegor, pulverising San Sebastian and rendering Mundaka and Coxos questionable for anyone that doesn’t have cojones of steel, Gaditanos (Cadizfornians) are suddenly the object of envy of their Superbock drinking, consistent-swell receiving neighbours.

And as the rest of the world book one-way tickets to Morocco, the staff at Surf Europe are off to the land of la siesta, to score sparsely-populated mid-arvo barrels.

Illuminati! Doublethink! Conspiracy!

If anyone ever tells you that “paddling out at a lacklustre yet accommodating beachie” in the north of Spain is the best you can ever hope for, then it’s time to go Alex Jones on their ass.

Let’s be honest: the best you can ever hope for from a ‘cultural’ surf trip is to catch the staff of Surf Europe sipping sangria and laughing evilly cliff-side at a pumping right-hander.


Koa Rothman: “Just happy I’m not worse!”

Eddie Rothman's middle son almost decapitated by a board ditcher!

Surfline is a fine online publication and today its esteemed editor, Marcus Sanders, posted a piece today about Koa Rothman, Eddie’s middle son, getting his head taken off by what appears to be a kook in the southern hemisphere somewhere.

Marcus writes, “Thing is, it’s kind of amazing this is the first serious injury of the year. Rothman and his Shadow Company brethren Nathan Florence, Luke Davis and Billy Kemper (and others) have been on an absolute tube-bender so far this spring/summer.”

I was, first, very surprised to know that Koa Rothman, Nathan Florence, Luke Davis and Billy Kemper had a squad called Shadow Company. Further digging into Surfline‘s archive describes them thusly.

There are the SOLDIERS IN UNIFORM — the GUYS IN JERSEYS, walking in lockstep, following the rules and the contests — and then there are the SELECT FEW guys behind the guys.

Very chic. Like Noa Deane minus an alcohol induced “Fuck the WSL” and now you know about them too. Like the A-Team minus Howling Mad Murdock.

But, more to the point, the kook and Koa Rothman’s near death experience. You can watch the video here and it is deeply disturbing. A clearly not very savvy surfer ditching his board, unnecessarily (doesn’t it totally look like he would have made it over that shoulder?), which proceeds to smash Koa in the head. The young man tells Marcus, “I don’t who he was. I remember he was saying ‘sorry,’ but he had a helmet and booties, so I didn’t really see his face. I’m not mad, I’m just happy I’m not worse. Like blind or dead or something.”

Marcus then asks, “Any lessons from this?” to which Koa answers, “I think there’s so much that everyone can learn,” Rothman says. “You could tell he wasn’t comfortable. And when you’re not comfortable surfing somewhere, you’re probably not only endangering yourself, but absolutely everyone. I’m just surprised it doesn’t happen more often.”

Oh if you are like me then your blood will boil when you watch. Is there any sort of good mob justice surfers can deliver when this sort of thing happens? An act which will scare board ditchers from the water forevermore?

Should board ditchers have to surf with scarlet BDs hanging from their necks? I think this would be appropriate but what do you think?

Surfing makes us all cry at one time or another!
Surfing makes us all cry at one time or another!

Ouch: Man loses $100,000 while surfing!

And what is the most expensive thing surfing has taken from you?

Not just any “man” but hot rapper Slim Jxmmi and not just any $100,000 but a customized, diamond encrusted $100,000 chain and not just any surfing but crowd surfing.

Let’s read about it on a rap website!

Slim Jxmmi of Rae Sremmurd might go down in the Guinness Book of World Records for taking the most expensive crowd surf ever. Yesterday (July 3), the recent Billboard award winners were performing in Paris, when Slim decided to turn up and catch a wave in the crowd. Unfortunately, his newly purchased, diamond-flooded Slim Jxmmi chain was lost during the process.

In footage that has surfaced from the event, you can see the group pleading with fans to return the jewelry. “Who got the chain? We bringing you on tour right now, bring the chain up here,” Swae Lee tries to bargain with whoever pocketed the piece.

“Damn, I shouldn’t have jumped in there like that,” Slim admits.

After no one fesses up. Swae ups the ante by offering 5,000 euros to whoever brings the bling to the stage. Then, he quickly adds to the pot, offering 50,000 euros, to no avail. Slim reportedly filed a police compliant about the lost chain.

Surprisingly, Slim doesn’t seem to upset by the missing link. “Yes I hit a 100k crowd surf,” he posted on Twitter earlier today (July 4). When questioned by a fan about how he really felt about the whole situation, he responded, “indifferent.”

Oh I know this story is only connected to our kind of surfing by the thinnest strand but it did make me wonder… what is the most you’ve ever lost surfing? Like, we’ve all lost a surfboard, right? And that is expensive but not that expensive.

Have any of you lost a very expensive watch? Car keys? The love of a beautiful woman?

What is the most expensive thing surfing has taken from you?