Podcast: “Surf media smashes the WSL!”

Would Pottz or Chas Smith win in a surf contest? Wrong(ish)!

It is time again for your close to biweekly podcast featuring the professional David Lee Scales and me. And let me be very frank up front. I thought we had a lot of surf things to chew over but once seated in front of the mic I couldn’t remember many. Or any. David Lee did an admirable job keeping the ship moving but… I feel I let him down.

I feel I let you down.

This episode features gun control, guitar hero, capitalism, libertarianism, O’Neill’s disastrous marketing arm, the futility of local wildcards, Kelly Slater’s love of shaming other wave pool technologies, the idiocy of content, O’Neill’s super weird surf team, LuluLemon’s cult, Nick GoPro making a billboard of himself, Pottz’s inability to surf in the modern era because he has a boring voice, why the WSL commentators would get smashed by basically anyone in the surf media (excluding yours truly), asymmetry, technobutter, microbeads, x, ex, xcel, carbon fiber, carbon fibre, thermoflex, thumping beach barrels, Filipe Toledo and you.

Never mind. Everything here pretty much rules.

Listen now!

Breaking: The Eddie called off for year!

World's most famous big wave event is shelved due to "disagreement!"

If you have ever personally witnessed The Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau at Waimea Bay then you know that it is truly a wonderful spectacle. Not to sound overly sentimental but being on those cliffs when The Eddie is on changes a man. Everything from the towering waves to the hooting amphitheater to the invite-only surfers practicing their brave dance to the energy hanging all the way to Honolulu like thick vog creeps inside the heart and softens the hardest crust.

I have no doubt that if Kim Jong Un and Donald J. Trump could but stand on those cliffs, shoulder to shoulder, and watch Ross Clarke-Jones make one drop that peace would be established on the Korean peninsula.

And this makes it even sadder that The Eddie is likely shelved for the year and not due lack of giant surf but due… I don’t know. Let’s read Hawaii News Now!

The chances are slim that the iconic big wave surfing competition known as “The Eddie” will run this year after new developments in an ongoing struggle to find a sponsor.

Quicksilver, Red Bull and the Aikau family previously agreed to sponsorship terms for the world-famous event until Saturday, when the Aikau family introduced new terms that the company could not agree to.

In a statement, a Quicksilver representative said:

“Quiksilver has decided that it has run out of time to sponsor the ‘Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau’ big wave surf event for 2017-2018.

Quiksilver has been honored to celebrate the life of champion big wave surfer and Waimea Bay lifeguard Eddie Aikau. Quiksilver is proud of the tradition of the event which underlines its respect for Eddie Aikau, the Hawaiian people and the community at large, and Quiksilver greatly appreciates more than 30 years of partnership with the Aikau family.”

Earlier this year, the World Surfing League reportedly withdrew financial support of the event. Quicksilver and the Aikau family previously had differences in terms in previous months.

“After a long, hard negotiations with the Aikaus, there just wasn’t enough time to put on a proper contest,” Glen Moncata of Quicksilver said. “There’s a lot of preparations involved, and with the passing of time, we don’t think we can put together a proper contest.”

“Even though the parties were unable to reach an agreement, Quiksilver remains open to continuing discussions for a 2018-2019 event and beyond so that all parties can better prepare for the event,” Quicksilver added.

The Aikau family says status of the contest going forward is unknown. They did not provide any additional details.

I have heard from multiple sources that the Aikau family is notoriously difficult. Maybe notoriously difficult in order to protect the legacy of the great Eddie. Maybe notoriously difficult because enough is never enough. Whatever the case it is a real shame and now we may have nuclear war in the Pacific.

Dirk (far right) and Harv (next to him) with Paul Speaker (inexplicably wearing a cream jacket with blue jeans and a blue shirt) during happier times.
Dirk (far right) and Harv (next to him) with Paul Speaker (inexplicably wearing a cream jacket with blue jeans and a blue shirt) during happier times.

Scandal: WSL owner resigns in protest!

Dirk Ziff quits Harvey Weinstein's company over Harvey's alleged sexual misconduct!

Do you or do you not love a principled stand? For my money principled stands are the greatest sort and very little beats them for shear cinema. A woman or man, having taken enough, standing up in the boardroom, perspiration beading a furrowed brow, thrusting a tired but firm finger in the air and saying, “No more sirs! Not I!”

And guess who just took a principled stand against sexual misconduct? Our very own Dirk Ziff! That’s right. The owner of the World Surf League and also billionaire Dirk Edward Ziff!

But let us now turn our attention to Hollywood inside digest The Wrap for more.

Dirk Ziff, a board member of the Weinstein Company, has resigned following a bombshell New York Times expose detailing at least eight settlements for sexual misconduct by co-CEO Harvey Weinstein, an individual with knowledge of the matter told TheWrap.

On Thursday, the nine-person board, minus Ziff, had a heated discussion about Weinstein’s fate at the company. By Friday morning, his fate was still in limbo, but a decision is expected on Friday.

The individual with knowledge said Ziff was not on the board call last night, indicating that he was already separating from the company. Ziff is managing partner at Ziff Capital Partners, the owner of World Surf League and also serves on the board of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

So let’s not dwell on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame bit yet. Let’s first update you to the fact that Harvey Weinstein was indeed fired from his company for brutish behavior against women. What is with these sixty plus year old men? Have they lost all sense of dignity? Of decorum? Whatever your politics Mr. Weinstein and Mr. Trump are difficult to look at (i.e. hideous trolls) and should not foist their genetics upon potential sexual partners.

And maybe this is precisely why Mr. Ziff resigned. He appears… genteel. And now back to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Bombshell city!

Will it somehow be wrapped into a Kelly Slater Surf Ranch experience? Oh don’t worry. I’ll get to the bottom of this tomorrow.

Until then, to principled stands!

The late, great haole Pipe king Ronnie Burns, the iconic image captured by Brian Bielmann, still alive, still beautiful. | Photo: @brianbielmann

Warshaw on: “Last white man to surf like a Hawaiian!”

Surf historian reflects on the too-brief career of the late Ronnie Burns.

If you were around in the late eighties you might’ve thrilled to a tall, blond, white guy lashing Pipeline alongside Derek Ho and Johnny-Boy.

Billabong paid him to decorate his board in their stickers and feature in their Jack McCoy movies. And then, somewhat mysteriously, after a motorbike crash in the hills behind the North Shore he was found dead, aged twenty seven.

According to Matt Warshaw, the man singlehandedly cataloguing surfing’s history and whom you should support with his three-bucks-a-month subscriber deal, Ronnie is a man who deserves a re-issue.

Come and be reborn in the eighties.

BeachGrit: I saw on your fabulous EOS a post on Ronnie Burns, the late, great haole Pipe surfer. Real hard to believe but it’s been almost thirty years since he died in a moto crash. He was quite a name wasn’t he, in the eighties?

Warshaw: At the end of 1989, right before I left SURFER and maybe six months before Ronnie Burns died, I asked all the hot Pipe surfers to give me a list of their top 10 Pipe riders. Added all the numbers up. Derek Ho came out on top, Ronnie next, then Tom Carroll, Gerry Lopez, and Johnny-Boy Gomes. Gentlemen can quibble, but nobody’s going to gainsay that list. Ronnie is thought of today, if he’s thought of at all, as a Pipeline guy, but what I remember best about him is that was the most complete North Shore surfer. Him and Derek. Ronnie killed it at Waimea, for example. Did airs at Rocky Point. Sunset, the only backsider who who had his number was Tom Carroll.

Six months before Ronnie Burns died, I asked all the hot Pipe surfers to give me a list of their top 10 Pipe riders. Derek Ho came out on top, Ronnie next, then Tom Carroll, Gerry Lopez, and Johnny-Boy Gomes. Gentlemen can quibble, but nobody’s going to gainsay that list.

Oweee, and how about that bow-legged style!

I posted a shot of Ronnie on Instagram and somebody remarked that Ronnie was the last white guy to surf like a Hawaiian, which is so true.

Billabong threw a bit of cash at him, took him on surf movie trips with Jack McCoy. Where did he fit in the surf star themes of the time?

He didn’t fit in at all. Or more like, he didn’t bother. Ronnie wasn’t anti-anything, he just did not give a shit about trade shows, or winning contests, or getting the cover.

Y’ever meet him? 

Just the one time, when I interviewed him. Big guy, 6’ 2” or something, nice, kinda bland — or bland when talking to a magazine geek he just met a few minutes ago. Jack McCoy was telling me last week that Ronnie was really funny when you got to know him. My impression was that he was super confident in his abilities, but not at all cocky. Confident in his surfing, and in his choice to not run after the spotlight.

He was quite the anomaly at Pipe. Tall, white, as opposed to, say, Derek Ho, small, beautiful honey skin. Was that a prob for Ron, the white bit? Or was this a belle epoch when skin didn’t matter so much?

No problem. Boscoe Burns, his dad, was a famous glasser, worked for Hobie and Phil Edwards, everbody loved and respected Boscoe. The Burns family landed in Hawaii when Ronnie was just four, so he grew up there, lots of Hawaiian uncles and such. Ronnie was tight with the Ho brothers, so no worries.

Are there any single waves of Ronnie’s that are remembered?

No single wave, but Ronnie was famous for being the guy who sat furthest out and deepest, especially at Pipe. He was incredibly patient, which I think is such an odd trait for a guy in teens and early 20s. The total opposite of somebody like Tom Carroll, who would ride 20 waves an hour to Ronnie’s three waves.

Ronnie was famous for being the guy who sat furthest out and deepest, especially at Pipe. He was incredibly patient, which I think is such an odd trait for a guy in teens and early 20s.

What were the circumstances surrounding his death? A moto crash? Got lost and died of hypothermia? 

A couple months after Ronnie died, Boscoe and Judy Burns, Ronnie’s parents, wrote a letter to Surfing magazine explaining that it wasn’t the motorcycle crash itself that killed him, but heat stroke. He was riding a valley trail, I think it was above Kawela Bay, by himself, on his way to meet Derek Ho. This was in July. The medical examiner told Burns’ family that Ronnie had fallen, couldn’t get his bike re-started, then started walking down a dry creek bed and died of heat stroke. It was originally reported that Ronnie had first fallen off his bike, then fell off a cliff. Boscoe and Judy wanted people to know that wasn’t the case.

Was there a big paddle-out for Ronnie?

Not sure how big it was. But I recall that Boscoe had saved Ronnie’s first board, an old longboard, and he used it to paddle his son’s ashes out to Pipeline. He wanted Ronnie’s first and last ride to be on the same board.

Anyone still talk about Ronnie apart from you, us? Or have the tides of time washed his memory away?

Right after the original hardcover of Encyclopedia of Surfing was published, in 2003, somebody pointed out that Ronnie didn’t have an entry. I was mortified. I’d spent months working out this master list, checking and re-checking it to make sure I didn’t forget anybody, and I fucking forgot Ronnie Burns. Just blew it. The reason the paperback version came out so quickly after the hardcover was so I could get Burns in there.

Confession: I’m in love with a monster!

Should you be on an asymmetrical board? Should we all be?

Swell arrived in southern California yesterday for the first time in 1037 days and crowds descended upon my local breaks like a rabid horde. Men drooling and jabbering while forgetting how to parallel park. Women decapitating each other with 9 foot longboards. It was madness. Out of control. But I had a job to do and neither cockamamie Jeep Patriot nor fiberglass guillotine could stop me.

I had to properly gauge the value of asymmetrical surfboards for all of humanity.

Around a month ago, maybe even more, David Lee Scales of SurfSplendor fame and I met in San Clemente at Album Surf for our regular chat. Album was one of the finer surf shops/shaping arenas that I have ever seen. Very well appointed and worth your stopping by.

In any case, Album does many asymmetrical boards and had never quite understood the concept thinking the boards were meant to go right or go left. Matt, Album’s owner/operator gently set me straight. You can listen here or let me quickly summarize. Asymmetrical boards are shaped around the idea that surfers don’t surf the same frontside as they do backside. Frontside has toes facing the wave. Backside has heels. I am a regular footed man so the right rail is longer and the right side also has one giant twin fin. The left rail is shorter and the left side has a mini quad set up.

Very interesting but would it work?

I surfed it very often in tiny waves, having much fun but not being able to gauge it properly. It felt both looser (going right) and stiffer (going left) and I thought I might really like it… maybe.

And then 1239 days later swell hit and I risked life and limb for an accurate assessment.

I paddled around loosened funboards, careening though the whitewash like dumb bombs. I sat in a pack of 346 hungry souls. And I somehow got a wave. And here is what I think. The way the asymmetrical board is built makes it virtually impossible to not have your back foot right in the sweetspot over the fins. I didn’t fully realize how much this matters until I was wrap-around carving like I’ve never wrap-around carved before. The board… responded. And responded beyond my ability. Going backside it felt like it locked in the pocket without even a stray pump. Just sliding down and straight in and fast.

It was almost too much fun and now I am confused. Are these feelings I’m having wrong? These emotions impure? No one but no one had an asymmetrical board but me and none of us were surfing pumping Snapper. We were surfing a high tide bogged long interval swell. Perfect for racing and bobbing and weaving. No?

Tell me I’m wrong. Tell me I’m a dirty dirty bad boy.

In the meantime, I am getting another asymmetrical to try out because it feels like the key to me getting on the WQS as a 40-year-old man. The feel-good story of the decade!

More to come.