Yemen: The world’s greatest surf town!

Chapter 9: Forget Huntington Beach.

(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, Chapter 8)

(Part 1)

We dragged worn carcasses from the water, from the best wave in the entire world, after I don’t know how long. It was one of those surfs where time stops or rather ceases. We stood on mossy rocks and felt exhilarated. Tired. Happy. Genuinely happy. A few Yemenis had found perches in the cliff across the road and were chewing qat, watching us. Vaguely unimpressed.

We threw our boards into the Landcruiser jabbering about how happy Sam George would be with our discovery, wondering if it was a typical day or an out of the ordinary bump, asking our photographer if he captured any photos of our shredding? He lowered his Blue Blocker slightly and said, “Totally…” though clearly had no idea. He was not a surf photographer and new fangled digital cameras were not good enough for magazine quality yet so he was shooting film.

It was probably better that way. Visions of little jams danced in my head as we hit suburban Mukallah. The outskirts were typical Arab. Three story cement buildings. Wide streets. Mosques. Photos of president Al Abdullah Ali Saleh looking down from light posts. Qat. But there was a feeling in the air that was… otherworldly. Maybe it was the electricity of that surf slowly dissipating. Maybe it was the eons of history floating between Chinese motorcycles and Russian tractors. A Greek navigator commented about the nomads and fish eaters that had set up a trading post on the town to send frankincense to the far corners of of the known world which explained the Indian, Persian and central Asian architecture in city’s center.

It was a perfect set up, hugging a bay and facing the sun. Naked, towering hills proudly flanked the city. The water was surprisingly blue. We drove to the far end and found a perfect ancient hotel with giant bay windows that swung open to a square. We negotiated with the proprietor for a while and he seemed uninterested in renting us a room. A crowd of serious men began to gather and listen to our handicapped blend of Egyptian and scholarly Arabic. Suddenly Ghamdan elbowed us and said, “Let’s go.” We had stopped listening to him by now, more or less, but his urgency seemed out of character so decided to shuffle after him back to the Landcruiser. When we got there we asked what was up. He said, “Too many beards.” And didn’t elaborate further which was also out character. Ghamdan was always one to wink at perceived danger. He was not winking now. He was nervously fiddling with his Kalashnikov.

We agreed to move to a hotel a kilometer up the river that flows through town, just outside the old city. Annoyed because it didn’t have giant bay windows and was named Al-Khail. The Horse. A few years later we would end up staying at the ancient hotel and it was everything it should have been. A few years after that the city became the home of a revitalized Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the target of poorly guided Saudi bombs. Sickly and cruelly decimated.

But that day the sun was setting as the call to prayer began to filter and I knew that no better surf town existed on the face of the earth.

Kelly Slater
Kelly Slater, an unlikely symbol of local pride in Lemoore, California.

Win: Ticket(s) to Kelly Slater’s pool!

Entire pool. Yours. For a whole day.

Kelly Slater has just announced he willl gift two tickets to his (and the WSL’s) Surf Ranch to surfers who donate money to hurricane relief.

As you know, hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria have bombed the Americas this year. The waves have been fabulous but, oowee, it’s also real nice to have clean water and a roof over your head.

It’s a minimum ten bucks to be in the game, an emphatic but not ruinous donation, and this is what you’re up for.


Spend the day at the WSL Surf Ranch
Surf the man-made wave developed by Kelly Slater Wave Company (you’ll be filmed, so you’ll have footage to prove it!)
Be coached by Kelly and learn some techniques from the best there is
Unwind at a BBQ with Kelly and friends
Get flown out and put up in a sweet hotel 


Come to (near) Fresno for the surf experience of a lifetime!

Dig: you’ll have the pool, for a whole day, to yourself (and pal and KS of course). The engineer will even tweak it to a style you’d prefer. De-tune, upscale, whatever you’re feeling.

Other prizes include t-shirts and signed jerseys (including John John Florence, in frame).

Donate five gees and you’ll get “50,000” entries into the contest.

Can you imagine?

Little rich boys and girls all over California storming into daddy’s office and screaming, “I want to go to Kelly’s wave pool… now! Now! Oh daddy, how I hate you!”



Technology: Be the local big wave hero!

Quiksilver finally releases a vest for the rest of us!

When the buoys start bobbing up and down well out at sea and purple blobs appear on screens and the grizzled men at Starbucks speak in hushed towns about the upcoming “swell event” whilst gripping maple pecan lattes what happens to your heart?

Does it leap within your chest and do you think, “Yes! Time to break out the big dawg and surf ______ (fill in the blank with your biggest local wave)!” or does it grow cold and do you feel, “I’m going to be sick and go watch Blade Runner 2024 at _________ (fill in the blank with your local movie theater).” instead?

Well don’t worry if you are the later because Quiksilver has given you a spine and that spine is named The Highline Airlift powered by Aqualung. That’s right! An inflatable vest for the rest of us!

Before you are allowed to look you must click “I agree” after the following bit of text:

The Quiksilver Highline Airlift vest is designed for use by experienced adult surfers. Using it successfully requires strong swimming skills, ocean knowledge, collaboration with other surfers and lifeguards, and like the rest of your equipment — it must be cared for and used correctly. Proper use of the vest requires adherence to manufacturer’s instructions.

The Airlift vest is a safety tool, not a performance enhancer. Do not take greater risks while using this vest.

But we all know that risk is the game when cushioned by air. There’s no way anything can go wrong. Right? Tom Carroll uses one Pete Mel uses one Jamie Mitchell uses one and you use one, local hero.

Just think how fantastic you will feel on the beach in front of 6-8 foot Bolsa Chica or Grandview or El Porto or Emma Wood or Avila Beach waxing your gun, peering out to sea with a steely look in your eye. Poseidon’s rage bubbling like thunderclaps but let him rage. Let all the gods rage and you leash up and paddle as the tourists whisper, “That is the bravest man I have ever seen.”

The waves are almost touching the bottom of Huntington’s pier or, like, maybe six or seven feet from touching the bottom of Huntington’s pier but you are fearless. You are unbent. You are strong. And you paddle and you surf and all of the people eating at Ruby’s whisper, “Is that a god surfing out there?”

And if they could hear your voice shouting above the roaring din they would hear, “Nope. It’s just me in my Quiksilver Highline Airlift vest. Booya suckers!”

Buy here and get ready. Winter is coming.

P.S. I am going to use my vest surfing 4-6 foot Swamis and also in the lazy river at Legoland’s California Adventure.

P.P.S If you haven’t seen Blade Runner 2024 yet… I won’t spoil it for you but maybe bring something else to do while it is playing. A book or something.

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.