This clip, featuring Seabass, Brent Dorrington, Sheldon Simkus and friends, is the best Mentawai boat trip I’ve seen since September Sessions.
Do you remember the famous Jack Johnson film, featuring Momentum Gen’s hottest commodities stuck together on a rickety ship? Feel free to reminisce here; it’s a true classic.
Anyways, I feel the idyllic Indonesian boat trips, while widely propagated in my youth, have become significantly less enticing in recent years.
In the early 2000s, I remember watching endless six-foot perfection in every Ments-based clip. Nowadays it’s either chest-high with devil(air) wind or eight foot Greenbush (terrifying). Where’d all the thin-lipped, oil-glass perfection go?
Was ten-year-old me just more ignorant? Less jaded? Have I been caught in the web of Araneae Nostalgiania? Or has the quality of Mentawai boat trips truly diminished with time?
Well, I’m happy to announce that Seabass and co. have unlocked the perfection of yester-decade. Say hello to Happily Stoked Ep. 3, the rebirth of Mentawai!
There are very few surf extravaganzas left on the face of this earth. The Australian and U.S. Opens of Surfing, the Hurley Pro at Trestles in San Clemente, Oahu’s North Shore during the month of December and Agenda in both Long Beach and Las Vegas.
Agenda, for the less than completely tuned in, is the few times a yearly trade-show that features old favorites and fresh upstarts alike. Salty Crew, Billabong, Nixon, Quiksilver (?) Papercuts and Stab.
I was as surprised as you! I saw their booth, a totally blue thing with Stab in the Dark surfboards mounted to the wall, on my first lap. A lone boy sat crosslegged in the middle of the floor and lent a sense of… depression to the affair.
After a quick handshake lap I returned to photo this lonely boy and fun make Stab right here but he was no longer there. Instead the great Morgan Williamson stood tall and almost proud.
Wait, Morgan Williamson?
Yes, Morgan Williamson!
I stormed up, he stuck out a hand and I demanded a hug. A full-bodied, deep, passionate hug. I could feel him pulling away. I could feel him wanting to be angry, wanting to not reward my slings and arrows, but I couldn’t let go. He was soft in the best way possible.
Morgan Williamson and I spent the better part of ten minutes talking before he was called away on business (?) but then he came back and I demanded a drink. A full-bodied, rich, vodka drink. He demurred at first put was pressured into it. As we sauntered to the back patio he told me all they served was beer. Bummer. But good enough for me and Morgan!
And it was over this beer that I grilled Morgan Williamson, surfing’s poet laureate, Stab‘s U.S. online editor. I wanted to know what made the man tick.
So much! Unlike Zach Weisberg from The Inertia, Morgan was visibly wary of me as he should have been. There was no game. No trying to defuse tension by gleefully playing along. No passive-aggression. Morgan Williamson wore his heart on his sleeve and do you want to know why? Because he is an honest to goodness poet! For reals! I have started calling him the poet laureate of surfing, lately, but he really truly is, possessing a degree in poetry from a prestigious San Francisco university. This is a wonderful turn in the Morgan saga and can’t believe he doesn’t advertise it. His words really do dance, nonsensically. He is clearly not parroting others with his voice and that’s because he is an honest to goodness poet! I wish I was a poet instead of a linguist.
Morgan is also dynamically handsome. He doesn’t grow beard hair properly and so looks a little AIDsy but doesn’t care. His head hair is also between lengths, neither long nor short, but he should totally go long. He has the je ne sais quois to pull it off.
Morgan is a damned millennial. Passive about his future. Going along by getting along. Well-educated but still waiting for the right thing to come along. Hmmmmm yeah it’s cool but… etc. Society has conditioned the mid-20-year-old into believing he is still young. He is not. He is almost past his prime. Morgan is classically this. Sitting back on his heels, not really knowing if surf writing is his bag, not really wanting to leave. He should seize the day for pity’s sake! Those damned younger but not really young men and their infernal wishy-washiness.
And my take away? I still want to box Morgan (for charity of course) but he doesn’t want to box. So what? What feat of physical strength can me and Morgan engage in (for charity of course)? Should we run a marathon? Eat hot dogs? Shoot BBs? Have a tattoo-off? Have a handsome-off?
It will be the greatest BeachGrit x Stab collab ever.
Do you read the news and become depressed? Read about cholera spreading through Yemen and mass civilian casualties in Raqqa and Antartica falling apart? Global warming maybe leading to a mass extinction event in our lifetime? The breakdown of democratic institutions?
Oh I know that BeachGrit promises to be anti-depressive and we, each of us, try our best every day to put smiles on your faces but so many many times we fail. So many times I fail, falling into a hole of cheap name calling and mean-spirited gossip-mongering.
Well, when BeachGrit fails to put a smile on your face you’ll always have the World Surf League. Professional surfing’s premier band refuses to see life through anything but the rosiest of lenses!
I went to the WSL website again this morning just gagging for professional surfing. Any professional surfing. Even, like, qualifying heats. But nothing. But silence. And you’d think this would depress the League to no end. After four and a half years you’d think the League would want to get this party started. But hush.
Still, the website featured what fun the pros are having (Mick Fanning going to see wild animals, Julian Wilson playing golf etc.) under the byline:
An Instagram rundown of how the pros kill time while they wait for J-Bay to start pumping (well, pumping a little more).
After reading this I dug deep into my memory, trying to uncover a time when anyone associated with the WSL ever called the surf bad anywhere.
And I could not come up with one time. Can you? I bet you a lightly used Summer Teeth beach towel that you cannot.
It is truly a wonder. The power of positivity! The swell is either pumping or pumping a little more. Don’t you wish you lived, permanently, in the World Surf League?
What sort of magical vessels will The Champ ride at J-Bay? Let's ask Jon Pyzel.
Mr Jon Pyzel is the forty-something shaper for the world surfing champion John John Florence. He is, therefore, old enough not to be stolen away by fads and unridable flights of fancy, but young enough that his mind is able to accept alien concepts. His North Shore-based factory means he builds boards that work, tested in the world’s best waves and so forth, and not to give you epilepsy when it’s two foot.
Pyzel made John John his first surfboard almost twenty years ago, when his mother Alex brought the boys to see him at his old bay at Sunset Beach and gave him two-hundred dollars for materials to build John a board. The yellow four-six with a halo of orange rails is “hideous to look at” but now exists as a memorial of sorts to a boy destined for greatness.
Earlier today, I asked what Jon made for John John for Jeffreys Bay, which may or may not a little later today.
BeachGrit: First, what the hell has he got in his bag for J-Bay?
How do his boards differ, if at all, for J-Bay compared to, say, Margaret River? Margs is a very specific wave; J-Bay will forgive many crimes.
Actually, this year WA was a few different waves, and even Main Break can have many different faces to it, so I always try to cover a lot of territory when building a WA quiver. J-Bay doesn’t vary that much, except when it is really small and weak (not super common long term, but seems to happen at least one day out of every year there). I feel like J-Bay boards need to be designed to carry speed over long distances, yet turn on a dime when you need to. You need to make the high-line speed sections and then capitalise on the slower sections to throw all that speed into a huge manoeuvre while always maintaining down-the-line momentum.
Did your beautiful teamrider make any specific requests for J-Bay?
John John has really been fired up on the Ghost model I’ve been making, but mostly 6’2”s (Margaret’s winner, Bells super oop) so he asked for a few 6’0”s and after Fiji he sounded like he was really starting to like the feel of those shorter ones too. I made a few for Michel Bourez (through Firewire) as well so I’m a little curious to see if MB likes the feel of them too.
What are the important elements of a board for J-Bay?
Pretty much straight out of the WSL handbook – Speed. Power. Flow. Gotta be able to be pushed hard at top speed and not give. You want some thickness in the centre to keep up the speed, but I try to keep them thinner through the rails to give them bite without having to back off the gas. Fitting into the pocket while still providing high-line projection is also crucial.
That damn wind, oowee. You make ‘em a little heavier?
Nothing out of the ordinary. It’s really windy where we live even if it doesn’t really appear that way in pictures so JJ is pretty used to that feeling. Plus he is a pretty solid kid so he can force his way through it alright.
How long’s it take you to shape one of them sonsofbitches?
Ever board is a little different, time-wise, just depending on how I’m feeling and how I like the feel and look of the pre-shape off the machine. I try not to overthink it, but I sometimes spend a long time on the little details. It doesn’t make the board better because I take a long time to shape it. Sometimes the best boards are the ones that I shape without stopping to over analyse.
Is the glassing process highly-scientific, blanks weighed and so forth like Kolohe, or do you just sling ’em through the glass shop?
I send all of John’s board to a wizard not a scientist! The guy who glasses all his boards is the biggest, over-analysing, all-time most classic, ex-Manhattan ad agency writer, horse-betting, ultra-neurotic, artistically gifted mad man, a Hawaiian-born haole and the actual guy they hired to train Turtle from the movie North Shore on how to talk pidgin. Brian King! His shop is called Bra Bra Resin and he can pick the best boards out of the batch when he gives them back to me. You could do an amazing piece on that fucker. Oh, yeah, he writes screenplays too.
How many boards y’made for JJ this year?
I’m not positive, around fifty or sixty. The first few events we usually build a bunch of different boards, but as the year progresses JJ gets them narrowed down to the best of the batches and it turns more into just filling in the gaps or replacing broken boards here and there.
Do you worry your little champ will die in the jaws of a big fish, his blood a fatal stain in the Indian?
South Africa's Dale Staples gives John John concern!
Last week found me in a Santa Monica eatery later in the evening drinking a nice Sancerre and chatting with an extremely attractive woman whose attention seemed to flag right when I was delivering a particularly delightful surf journalism anecdote involving Matt Warshaw and Nick Carroll.
“Hmmmmm…” I thought. “…strange.”
I tried again, dipping into another very humorous reminiscence about that one time on the North Shore but still her eyes were still foggy, hovering somewhere over my shoulder.
Puzzled, I turned around. Sitting not four feet away was Tom Brady.
THE Tom Brady.
Quarterback of the New England Patriots. Husband of Gisele Bundchen.
And I’ll be damned if he wasn’t even more handsome in person than he is on TV. Perfect bone structure, a wonderful head of hair, blue blood jocky. An undeniable gravitas.
I instantly forgave my date and began to wonder why surfing didn’t have its own Tom Brady.
John John is so talented but… not handsome. Adriano is cute like a troll. Jordy has issues that extend beyond nipple-gate. Owen is a professional receding hairline. Wilko is less talented than John John and… way not handsome. Etc.
We must travel all the way down to Parko to find handsome but Parko is now handsome the way your grandfather is. Like, old and stately. Julian Wilson, next on the list is a total dreamboat but boy band dreamboat.
Well hell yes that face is most definitely John John’s cause for concern! But maybe I was seeing things? Maybe the body attached was round or something. Like Mick Lowe or something. I quickly clicked on the link and was delivered here.
And look at that Dale Staples! Not round at all with a hairline so fierce, a jaw so strong that it has cast poor Matt Wilkinson (maroon sweater) into existential despair!