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Beach Grit

Surfer mag: I call total bullshit!

Chas Smith

by Chas Smith

Surfer magazine Editor-in-Chief spins a wild yarn!

For all of surf media’s many many many many many many many mandy (sorry) many many many many failures, I think one of its grand strengths is accurate descriptions of what happens in the water. Surf stories are not like fishing stories. Wave heights are either described accurately or slightly under-reported. Outside the WSL booth, surf action is detailed in generally subdued terms. The weather, crowd, people in the lineup, etc. specified exactly. Or as exact as can be.

Enter Surfer’s Editor and Chief Todd Marinovich.

In the latest magazine, dubbed The Community Issue, Todd opens with this tale:

The midweek crowd at Ala Moana Bowls on the south shore of Oahu was light despite the dreamy shoulder-high left-handers consistently peeling along the reef. But even with plenty of waves to go around, the small local crew fell into an exclusive rotation, taking turns picking off the best set waves while outsiders were mostly left with scraps.

I couldn’t have cared less about being relegated to second-tier waves; after all, as a visiting San Diegan, what was my alternative? The locals likely surfed that break every day, had intimate knowledge of every piece of coral on the reef and therefore had earned the right to the best sets, so sayeth surfing’s unwritten code of wave worthiness. But not everyone in the lineup shared my perspective.

A slightly overweight, sunscreen-caked, rashguard-wearing tourist seemed a bit perturbed by the pecking order. He seethed as one of the locals — a tall, tan fellow with rippling muscles and traditional Polynesian tattoos on his face — paddled right past us and back to the peak after
getting a long, almond-shaped barrel through to the inside.

“Unbelievable,” the tourist said, shaking his head as he started edging deeper. On the very next set wave, the same tattooed local stood up, tickling the lip as a green cylinder formed around him. The tourist had had enough; he scratched into the shoulder and locked into a stink-bug crouch while a series of expletives echoed from the tube behind him. In that moment, I hoped the tourist was thoroughly enjoying the ride, because it seemed that his day would only go downhill from there.

Unsurprisingly, a sense of shared culture and community was the furthest thing from anyone’s mind in the lineup that day at Ala Moana as the local paddled full speed toward the tourist who had burned him.

“BRA, WHAT THE F–K YOU DOING?!” he shouted mere inches from the tourist’s face.

“Well,” the tourist started, chin up with a misplaced sense of confidence, “I noticed that you kept taking all of the good waves for yourself, and I’d like to have some good waves too, you know.”

There was a pregnant pause as the local looked the tourist over, trying to discern if he had any idea of the numerous bylaws he’d broken and the potential consequences. Suddenly, the local craned his head back and let out the kind of cackling, coming-apart-at-the seams laugh typically reserved for the single funniest thing you’ve ever heard. The tourist stared at him, awestruck as the local turned and started paddling back to the peak, struggling to catch his breath.

Perhaps that facially tattooed local had figured out something that eludes many surfers: Sure, the surf community may be inherently conflicted, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a sense of humor about it.

And that right there is some egregious bullshit. There is absolutely no way in the world this actually happened.

Zero way.

But how do you think Mr. Todd Marinovich came to it? Did he:

a) Get high and think it really happened.

b) Watch 50 First Dates too many times.

c) Accidentally listen to A Prairie Home Companion before writing.

d) Accidentally listen to What the World Needs Now is Love (the Glee version) while writing.

e) Get his twelve-year-old emo sister to write it.

f) All of the above.

Has Todd every actually been to Hawaii?