Revealed: Jordy Smith gets manicures!

What is your position on male pampering?

Stab’s Stab in the Dark feature is a very exciting event, don’t you think so? The concept is simple. Eleven shapers shape anonymously for one professional surfer who then rides the boards and chooses his favorite and that shaper wins… applause. And if the surfer accidentally chooses a different shaper than the one he normally rides then the surfer wins… shitty boards for the next year.

This year’s event was shot in Indonesia and the surfer was supposed to be a secret but highly paid sleuths guessed it was one Jordy Smith from South Africa. Current world number 1.

I, anyhow, read this morning’s piece and looked at the pictures and one thing stood out to me above all others.

Jordy Smith definitely gets manicures.

Look at those nail beds, look at the uniformity of trim, look at the glisten on the surface. Most certainly buffed by loving Vietnamese hands.

And what is your position on male manicures? The only I’ve ever had were from my four-year-old daughter so don’t really know if they are amazing or not but, I’ll admit, generally look down on men with shiny nails unless they are rappers or ladies’ shoes salesmen.

Am I wrong to look down? Should I begin to get?

Extravagant: Surf with your chef!

A top-tier experience you have to see to believe!

I often read about things that wealthy people do and think “Hmmmm.” Like they get massages and their golf bags Fedexed by their secretaries and stuff. And I think “If I wasn’t a man of the people would I do these things?” The answer is usually no. I don’t like massages because my arm pops out of socket and Michael Ciaramella used to be my secretary but went to work for Stab and so even if I wanted to Fedex my golf bag somewhere, which I don’t because I don’t have one, I no longer have someone who can do for me.

Being the people is basically a full time job and it is difficult.

Sometimes though, I read things that wealthy people do and think, “I would pay good, hard-earned money not to do that.” Like surfing with the man who just prepared my breakfast. Let us read about this extravagance in the Los Angeles Times.

Go surfing with the chef at Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, Golf Club & Spa in Carlsbad, Calif. The resort offers a three-day outing that takes guests from the kitchen to the beach as Pierre Albaladejo, the hotel’s executive chef, shares his two biggest passions: cooking and surfing.

The program, called Surfing With the Chef, begins with a morning in the kitchen with Albaladejo, who’s from the village of Dax in southwestern France. The chef will prepare a personalized breakfast before giving you surf lessons at a Carlsbad beach.

The day concludes with dinner prepared by the chef and served toes-in-the-sand-style on the beach.

The next day, participants visit San Clemente to tour legendary surfer Greg Noll’s Surfboard Workshop, where they’ll collaborate with designers on a customized board. Noll’s boards, new and vintage, are considered the best around.

The cost is $3,500 per person, including a two-night stay, surf lessons with Albaladejo and your own Noll Surfboard to take home.

I’m sure Greg Noll surfboards are very fine but I would pay $300 not to do any of this. What about you? How much would you pay to not do this? And do you think they will offer this service at Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch when it opens to the “public?”

Will they keep the ranch theme and serve t-bone steak and bourbon mashed taters?

Yemen: The most perfect wave ever!

Chapter 8: Or how Al-Qaeda smashes Kelly Slater.

(I am writing a series about Yemen because what is currently happening there is terrible beyond. My inaction disgusts me and so I am going to introduce you to to the country because… the place, people, culture all deserve to be saved. Catch up, if you wish, on the links right here… (Prologue, Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6, Chapter 7)

And so we left the mountains and its Al-Qaeda in order to return to the coastline and its unexplored potential. And its Al-Qaeda too. It took half a day to wind from Ataq down to Bir Ali. I remember watching the countryside pass by the open window. The homes engineered throughout the centuries to keep men away from women. Towers that hid secret stairways and doorways. Goats out front chewing scrub. Bower Horse sold in random side road kiosk.

Bir Ali was the first place on the map that looked like it would have surf. By “looked” I don’t mean a careful bathymetrical plumbing or any accounting of swell direction. No. I mean it was the first place up the coast from Aden where there was any variation in the coastline on our giant foldable map. Bays and spits etc. Coastal variation, to my mostly Oregonian mind, meant surf. When the land stuck out like a tongue or formed a cove then waves would appear.

We arrived into the wall of sweltering coastal humidity with my anticipation at an all time high. Bir Ali. It sounded good, sounded exotic, and would also look good on the page next to my feathering barrel. Bir Ali. Barrel Ali.

Yet there was nothing. Not even ankle slappers. We drove up and down the coast, into the bays, out on the spits. We climbed a large hill that might have been the buried remnants of an ancient fort and peered to the northeast and nothing and peered to the southwest and nothing. Major Ghamdan entertained himself by shooting his Kalashnikov at two young men on the beach. I remember them rushing away and Ghamdan’s laugh.


We rented a boat from a regal looking fisherman and he took us to the places we couldn’t see and nothing. I was almost devastated. If nothing in Bir Ali and waist high Aden was our best find how angry would Sam George be? Son of a bitch. He would be angry.

The heat. The heat and the dust. And depression began to set in. We had been on the road for maybe two weeks at this point and had two and a half months to go. Two and a half months for waist high Aden. Middle eastern travel, especially when the roads turn to dust and the heat is inescapable and Arab music videos can’t be found challenges even the stoutest disposition. Did you ever watch the film Jarhead? I am not generally a Jake Gyllenhaal fan but he captured its essence perfectly in that movie. Perfectly. Maybe it is the 5000 extra years of history bearing down. Maybe it is the lack of alcohol. Maybe it is the way the sun hits the dust then hits the soul. All I know is when depression hits in the middle east it hits. And hits hard.

I went to bed that night in some hot room depressed and woke up the next morning depressed. J. and N. wanted to explore further. I wanted to leave and continue toward the next town, Mukallah and must have bitched to the point of forcing the issue because we left Barrel Ali in our rearview and we left its semi-combed over potential.

Depressed. I remember feeling depressed then, staring out the window at the flat coastline as it passed by. We curved inland for a minute, ate lunch, probably bought qat, then back to the coastline.

And waves.


They were unrideable, messy, slamming into small rock cliffs but waves. Waves. Magic. Waves. We were all craning our necks, driving stupidly slow, holding our breaths and then rounded one more corner. 10 kilometers outside Mukallah there was a wave breaking that had a left and a right.

And fuck.

We pulled over immediately, ripped the coffin from the Landcruiser’s roof, pulled boards out and trunks on and stepped down huge rocks into the water. Waves.

We paddled shoulder to shoulder not knowing how deep it was or anything else. The water was thick and murky. And warm. We made it outside. Sat. And then a wave stood up. I paddled, caught, dropped in, popped up and ecstasy. Pure unbridled ecstasy.

Photographic evidence shows I was wearing a long-sleeved rashguard and that the wave was generously head high but it was a wave. A proper wave. And we surfed that thing for five hours that day, until the sun set all the way. I couldn’t believe it at the time and the emotions of that day have been so branded onto my heart that it is impossible to write about it objectively.

It was the best wave in the entire world. A right and a left. Head high and ridiculously fun. Uncrowded because we were the first people to ever surf it. It had gone unridden for 5000 years. A wave. An honest to goodness wave dead smack in the middle of Yemen. I was so in love that I begged to name it after my wife, the one I am thankfully divorced from today and hate. That wave is still the highlight of my surfing life.

That wave is probably why I hate Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch so much. His inland atrocity is the opposite of adventure. It is guarantee. And it is in my ex-wife’s backyard. Fuck them both. Long live uncertainty. Long adventure.

Long live Yemen.

Stephanie Gilmore
"I'm not trying to be adorable. I'm trying to be ferocious."

Visit: Steph Gilmore’s Port Dume Rental!

The bleak hopelessness of Tweed Heads swapped for Malibu!

Yesterday, the video channel Nowness, which is owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, posted a lovely three-minute short of Stephanie Gilmore at her Point Dume beach house.

Stephanie shares the modest, although one uses the term modest in relative terms for the area is an enclave of the wealthy, with her sister-manager Whitney and, without being too cruel, is so superior, so vastly different, to her old hometown in Tweed Heads that it must feel, sometimes, as she’s living on a different planet.

Malibu/Dume: dazzled by wealth and stars. Leo DiCaprio, Jack Nicholson, Ellen DeGeneres and so on.

Tweed Heads: homelessness, drug abuse, poverty. Seven years ago, Stephanie was belted with an iron bar by a homeless stalker, busting her wrist and cutting open her head, her attacker jailed for four years.

These sorts of edits, where the celebrity peels back the curtain of their living quarters, where they eat, dance, make love, cry, laugh, plot, succeed and fail, are compelling voyeurism.

Of course, Stephanie Gilmore isn’t the only famous surfer living in Point Dume.

Come visit the Man with the Attack Dog Tits here. 

And watch Stephanie at home, here.

The dreamiest years!
The dreamiest years!

Economics: Is the “Dream Tour” dead?

Time to embrace the dystopia!

Do you remember when the World Surf League, then called the Association of Surfing Professionals, shifted focus from hosting contests in population centers to having the “world’s best surfers on the world’s best waves?”

What a novel idea! What a boon to surf fans everywhere! Now instead of watching the Huntington Hop we would get gifted iconic locations, generally good conditions and all for free. It truly was a wild fantasy.

Times change, though, and people change and I wonder if the “dream tour” model is now officially dead in the water, as it were.

The events are expensive, costing some 2 -3 million per. Online traffic is stable but not seeing stratospheric growth. Blue-chip sponsors are not knocking down the door trying to get a piece of the market. The rumors that first appeared on BeachGrit wrapped in irony then Stab in a more appropriately serious tone do make sense. The field will likely be trimmed and the locations might be trimmed too.

And now we have the official announcement that the WSL will host its first proper event at Surf Ranch in May 2018 (coincidentally the same time the highly anticipated Cocaine + Surfing: A Love Story! is set to release).

I am seeing a future where Pipe, Teahupo’o, J-Bay and Rio are sprinkled in to five different pool competitions and that is the tour. Not exactly a dream but… I don’t know. Beggars can’t be choosers.