Is learning to snake and not-be-snaked a mark of your experience and skill level or just a reflection of how greedy and self entitled you are?  

Surf Quiz: Is it ever okay to snake?

At what point do you tell a local to fuck off, for instance?

The other week I wrote an article about Surf Europe magazine hating Spain.

When I realised no one had understood it, I began to wonder: am I too smart for BeachGrit or does my writing suck?

Anyway, this morning I was out at a Spanish beachbreak, feeling self-conscious about my fanboy-red Reynolds-shortarm steamer (since I snapped my ACL I no longer surf at the level such a wetsuit requires).

This embarrassment, plus the fact that I’m not a local, meant that when a bald man paddled aggressively past me to catch the best wave of the set I kept my mouth shut and let him have it.

Despite the cuckold, I accepted my status as a flamboyant nobody.

To take my mind off the sudden injustice, I turned my thoughts to BeachGrit, becaming so engrossed with Storm Boy’s constructive criticism of my writing debut —“Fuck me dead you cunts will publish just about anything”— that I almost missed the snake paddling back out and settling down next to me, without acknowledgment.

For the next twenty minutes, with every wave Señor caught, my resentment grew. Tired of picking up scraps, I returned to the outside peak to wait my turn, an immovable red object against a backdrop of onshore three-footers and bemused Spaniards.

Finally, finally, it was my turn to go a semi-decent righthander.

Señor had other plans, and tried to snake me again at the last minute. He wasn’t getting away with it this time though, and we both ended up paddling out to meet the wave. As if noticing my presence for the first time, he snarled and swung around, thrashing over the tail of my board to get to the inside.

Kicking up a bunch of water in my face, I decided to grab his leg rope.We both missed the wave and he began waving his arms.

“Que haces?”  I asked.

“What am I doing? What am I doing!? What the fuck are you doing?!!” he screamed in Spanish.

“You paddled straight across me”.

I gestured at the mangled tail of my board.

“Bullshit! You were staring out at sea! I paddled first!”

He spat.

“I was in the perfect spot, waiting for the wave to come to me. I had priority”.

Was it worth trying to reason with someone like this?

“Prioridad? Hah! Prioridad en tu casa…”

Priority? he laughed — priority in your house.

I refrained from pointing out there wasn’t a house in sight and went home shaking. Never have I got such a kick out of surfing mediocre waves.

Tell me your thoughts.

  1. If you show respect but get none in return, does that warrant a revenge snake/drop in/leash pull?
  1. Is a subtle snake any better than a blatant snake?
  2. Is learning to snake and not-be-snaked a mark of your experience and skill level or a reflection of how greedy and self-entitled you are?

Good forecast: Ecstasy or paralysis?

What sort of person are you when the surf turns on?

What happens to your heart when you know that better than good, maybe even epic, surf is headed your way? Does it soar into unspeakable ecstasy because you know exactly where you are going to go and at what time and with what board? Or does stutter into paroxysms of dislocation because should you go here or there? Should you go at this time or that? Should you ride one board or the other and whom should you invite?

When the surf is poor I feel we are all equal experts but when it has the chance to be good then we are separated by chasms. What is your “good surf is here” modus operandi? Are you…

…the sort that paddles out at the most well-known spot in the morning?

…the sort that sits with your map, tide booklet, while online looking at winds, pinpointing the place and moments you will surf?

…the sort that calls your bro who knows?

…the sort who heads out the front even though the swell is totally going to miss out the front?

…the sort who drives up and down the coast up and down the coast up and down the coast fearing that whichever spot you choose will not be the best of the best of the best?

…the sort that sits at home because it is going to be so fucking crowded everywhere and screw it?

…the sort heads toward the spot that the swell is missing on purpose because bigger waves scare?

…the sort that wishes “swell events” stopped happening because decisions are difficult?

…the sort that lives for this?

I am the sort that stalks Damien Hobgood and paddles out where I think he is on an inappropriately short surfboard.

Not too cool but also better than drive up and down the coast bro.

Steph or Rasta? The world may never know! Oh wait... it's Steph.
Steph or Rasta? The world may never know! Oh wait... it's Steph. | Photo: Morgan Maassen

Sex: Rasta, Steph reverse gender norms!

Vanity Fair calls it "a surprising moment of political self-awareness!"

Have you seen Taylor Steele’s latest, and maybe last, surf film Proximity? I have not and would have continued to not if I hadn’t read a little nugget in the most recent Vanity Fair. Steele along with Rob Machado were in Montauk at the famous Surf Lodge screening the film and mingling with Rose McGowan who screened a short film too.

Do you remember Rose McGowan? She was in Scream and married, briefly, to Marilyn Manson. Or maybe they just dated. Whichever the case she is now a filmmaker and Vanity Fair described her short as, “Confident, poetic, and bathed in saturated reds and greens…”

Nice, no?

Even nicer, though, was the review given to Taylor Steele’s offering. Let’s read…

McGowan’s film screened directly before Proximity, a 55-minute cinematic surf-dream directed by Taylor Steele, featuring a seasoned, Buddha-like Kelly Slater and the ultra-slick Rob Machado. In one particular scene, pro surfers Dave Rastovich and Stephanie Gilmore—a female surfer who, earlier in the film, compliments Rastovich on his occasionally feminine surfing sensibilities, effectively reversing gender norms in a surprising moment of political self-awareness—catch a seemingly perfect wave together. In one long, glorious shot, the pair dance, carve, and intertwine like two exotic birds in a wild double-helix courting ritual. It was pure instinctual magic.

Buddha-like Kelly Slater? Ultra-slick Rob Machado? Gender bending Steph and Rasta surprising in a moment of political self-awareness?

Yes, I think I will see Proximity and I think you will too.

Or do you hate the idea of genderless bathrooms? Or does this sort of Libtard talk fill you with uncontrollable rage?

Podcast: Forced marriage, Wilko’s hair etc!

Chas Smith and broadcaster David Scales tackle the big issues!

Recently, Chas Smith had his bi-weekly frolic with the podcaster David Scales on his show Surf Splendor. Usually, I find podcasts an ordeal, a torture likely to put me in bed for a week or longer.

Does anyone know how to cut the dead air? The gags that don’t work? The eternal diversions that stretch the things beyond an hour?

Mr Scales, however, is a passionate broadcaster, and pedant, whose fury when the rules of grammar are broken is something worth listening to. Last week, Albee Layer had his neck wrung; today it’s Martin Potter for using the world literally instead of figuratively.

(Will someone point out to Mr Scales about his own grammar crimes, such as the unstoppable onslaught of the word, like, as a filler word, the Californian semi-colon.)

Chas, meanwhile, talks about Wilko’s hair, why forced marriage is a good thing, the ideal body shape for surfers, front-foot deck grip, soft surfboards and so forth.

It’s light but it ain’t indolent.



Paul Snow, Dixon Park.

Wow: When Pipe comes to town!

Newcastle's Dixon Park turns into Pipe for one beautiful day!

Newcastle is a funny lil metropolis two hours drive north of Sydney. It ain’t quite rural but, despite its size, it ain’t quite city.

And so you have a swinging hipster scene, the sort that spawned Craig Anderson, contrasting with ferocious Australiana, best personified by the former CTer Matt Hoy.

What unifies Newcastle is an occasionally remarkable series of beaches. With the right swell, oowee, you could be at any world-class reef.

This photo of Dixon Park, which was taken two days ago by the Newcastle photographer Peter Boskovic, shows just how good.

“Eight-footers, no problem with that, way overhead,” says Bosko. It was a session populated by a squad (squad in the military rather than pop culture sense, as in eight to twenty four men) of less than a dozen surfers.

The usual crew says Bosko. Ryan Callinan, Chad Edser, Ryhs Smith, Travis Lynch, even sixty-six-year-old local schoolteacher Tim Laurie.

Bosko describes a wave during the session pictured where Laurie, “who absolutely fucking charges”, took off sideways into the barrel and was “absolutely imploded. Sixty-six years old, mate,” says Bosko.

The surfer inside this cabana is Paul Snow, who got barrelled so far down the line Bosko has no idea if he came out of it.

I’ve seen a lot of photos of Newcastle, Luke Egan, Hoy, Ando and so forth thrusting themselves sideways and upwards, but this image electrifies me.

It touches on that dream you have as a kid when, once, just once, your local beach turns into Pipe. And, you, having grown up surfing it, are the king for one day.

Does this photo affect you in a similar way?