(Ancient) Blood Feud: Boogie Riders vs Stand-ups!

Who remembers the war years?

Earlier today, the former editor of Riptide Bodyboard magazine, Simon Ramsey (now a dick-swinging video game exec in NYC), posted a reminder of that oldest, and perhaps oddest, blood feud. The bodyboarder versus the stand-up surfer.

The handwritten letter to members of the Merewether Surfboard Club, and dated February 1987, grimly states:

“Another very important issue which was held in lengthy debate at our last club meeting was the ever growing influx of Morey Boogie (esky lid) riders. Now it’s common knowledge that almost every good rider at Merewether has started off on a surf mat, coolite or foam boogie board. The club realises that these surf craft are the initial stepping stone to advanced fibreglass surfboards. And in no way is the club trying to discourage young grammies (13 and under) from partaking in such an exciting sport. 

“What we don’t have at Merewether is any clearly identifiable group of young surfers (16 and under) blazing on fibreglass boards. Now, we are the top club in Newcastle and every other competitive club on the coast of Australia has a hoard of young up and coming Hot Rats. This is the first time anything like this has happened at the Bay. Whether or not the older boogie riders can realise to themselves that they are going to look pretty funny at 25 to 30 years of age flip flipping around in the lineup with absolutely not respect, Or not being able to get out the back on a nice eight-to-ten-foot day. That is clearly up to them. BUT, what the club would like its members to do is encourage any friend that is riding a boogie or surf mat to join the surfboard club and advance to a fibreglass surfboard.

“Fibreglass is Faster, M McMillan.”

Three years later, the respected, if theatrical, writer and photographer Paul Sargeant wrote the seminal Tracks piece, Will the Next Generation of Australian Surfers PLEASE STAND UP!

“There is little doubt that bodyboarding looms as the surfing issue of the nineties,” wrote Sarge.

As a call to arms it worked.

“Fuck off Lids” became a common graffiti at beaches.

It’s impossible, now, to overstate the animosity, the fights, the battles, the… anguish… between the clumsily named “stand-up surfer” and the boogie rider that last through most of the nineties.

But what it did do was cut the boogie rider so deep he became, almost to a man (and girl), obsessed with ledges and tubes that had been mostly ignored by other surfers.

As Luke Egan says in the excellent film Holding On, “Once you had guys riding these crazy waves it was… (voice dropping to a growl) sick… to watch.”

The feud lasted well into the nineties before the ass dropped out of the boogie market, leaving only a handful of the most expert tuberiders around guiding their little foam instruments through waves that would leave the rest of us gasping like fish.

Do you remember?

Do you still hate?

Or did you swing around?

Stab says, "In recent years, bigger waves have been discovered around the world, throwing a bit of shade on the once mythic Bay and Oahu’s myriad outer reefs. Places like Mavs, Nazare and Jaws have all eroded the North Shore’s reputation as the go-to spot for those looking to make a name for themselves."
Stab says, "In recent years, bigger waves have been discovered around the world, throwing a bit of shade on the once mythic Bay and Oahu’s myriad outer reefs. Places like Mavs, Nazare and Jaws have all eroded the North Shore’s reputation as the go-to spot for those looking to make a name for themselves."

Blood Feud: Stab vs North Shore locals!

Venice-adjacent magazine asks, "Where have all the hellmen gone?"

This morning Stab magazine, based near Venice, California, published a seething anti-North Shore polemic. The headline asked, semi-innocently, “Has Mainstream Surfing Outgrown the North Shore?” before writer, Mr. Jake Howard (last seen delivering a moralist takedown of a drunk father), dismantled the seven-mile miracle piece by piece. Beginning with the quality of sleeping conditions then eviscerating the quality of waves and then suggesting that “hellmen” no longer make their homes between Haleiwa and Sunset then saying the whole place is basically irrelevant but also too fancy now.

Let’s read the part about the locals?

And speaking of hellmen, where have they all gone? The characters that once made the North Shore such a rich tapestry of human eccentricity fade into the mists of time. Guys like Alec “Ace” Coole, Marvin Foster, Ronnie Burns, and of course, Todd Chesser, all added their own uniqueness to the local North Shore scene. Those are hard shoes to fill, even for cool cats like Mark Healey or Makua Rothman. The North Shore’s always been at its best when it’s been a crossroads of humanity.


Oh, I know the surf media has a fraught relationship with the North Shore and its population. I know the place is intimidating and often downright scary for visiting surf journalists and many would prefer not to go but claiming that there are no longer any bigger-than-life chargers calling the place home takes traditional complaints to the next level.

The North Shore, in my experience, teems with men and women that are unheralded but love exploring the wildest corners of their island simply for the sake of adventure. When I was there last some teacher, I think he was, had shaped his own gun and was paddling out at plus-sized Waimea. I never learned his name but that sort of thing seems a dime a dozen and that’s the rub. You have to be on the North Shore, buried as it were, in order to have a full account of what is really happening. The information that leaks back to the mainland is just dribs and drabs.

Or maybe I’m just a silly old romantic. In any case, an aggressive move from Stab to flash an adorned middle-finger from Venice-adjacent across the Pacific all the way to Ehukai.

Will North Shore locals respond? Let’s wait and see!

Very funny man at South African kook contest. (Yes, they exist!) | Photo: CXPress

Surf Quiz: Is surfing “Egalitarian”?

Do you believe in equal rights for kooks?

During yesterday’s ruckus concerning whether or not you’d ever quit surfing, there appeared one very good point, as posited by Dee Walker.

He, maybe she, wrote:

“With a lot of these Euros and South Americans in the line up there is this perceived belief in equal entitlement and egalitarianism in the surf. Even beginners think they have equal rights to long-time locals. When this belief becomes the norm at a surf-break chaos in the surf ensures. Look at Snapper, Manly, Bondi etc. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending upon your perception, surfing works best with a hierarchy.”

Very good, yes?

It had never occurred to me that the political system in a surfer’s home country could impact so much on how he viewed a lineup. I always wondered why the travelling European surfer, and especially those devoid of skills, could, with the cleanest of conscience, drop-in on very good long-time locals and then become indignant when they were swiftly baptised.

I did write about an extraordinary experience I had with a British man seven months ago when, after dropping in, falling off and wrapping me in his 7S Super Fish, he complained that I should’ve yelled louder. And, who then paddled off, dropped anchor ten metres outside the lineup and started shaking his head at me. And then, in a very big voice, reiterated his position that it is the surfer on the inside who takes all responsibility for a collision.

What’s your take?

Do kooks have equal rights?

Is the lineup a better, safer, and more satisfying place, if we all ride together as one, and that no matter how good you get your right to a set wave is equal to that of the absolute beginner?

As well, do you believe it’s true that the political system of a surfer’s home country determines how the hierarchy of a lineup is perceived?

Confession: I love the Triple Crown!

Welcome to Paradise!

It’s on right now, the first jewel, at Haleiwa on Oahu’s north shore and the surf is horrible but I don’t care because I love every second of the Triple Crown. I love the harbor weird of Haleiwa. I love the big weird of Sunset. I love the nail bite of Pipeline. You can keep your “world tour.” You can keep your Australia, Europe, Somewhere and Brazil. Gimme Hawaii. Gimme Cap’n Cook’s prize. And I think I rhapsodized the Trip five years ago to this very day in the award-nominated book Welcome to Paradise, Now Go to Hell.

Yes, it’s been five years since it came out and let’s read from it now.

On the North Shore, the Pipeline Masters is the only World Tour event, though the two events before, at Hale’iwa, which is a six star, and Sunset Beach, which is a Prime, are surfed by all. The surfer with the best scores in all three wins the Triple Crown and the Triple Crown is held in high regard. The Triple Crown is, in fact, held almost as high as the World Title. The surfer who can master Hale’iwa, Sunset, and Pipeline enters the North Shore folklore, even if he is from Australia. Even if he is from Florida. The Triple Crown always takes place during the holiday season. It brings Christmas cheer to an otherwise seasonless island.

I bump into Grenny. He is a surf agent. He has a small roster of surfers and he gets them deals from the brands and helps them with their travel and things of that nature. Grenny is in a bit of trouble, right now, because he is undercutting the other big agents in the game by charging a 10 percent fee instead of the customary 15 percent. But it is OK because his main competition, agent Blair Marlin, is in worse trouble for bringing Lindsay Lohan to the North Shore. Blair is a very kind man but makes decisions like a surfer, which is to say bad decisions. He claims that Lindsay wanted to see one of his stars, Julian Wilson, but in reality Blair spent all the time with Lindsay. The two of them were photographed making eyes at each other and an honest friend told me that he saw Lindsay leaving Blair’s room too early one morning looking like, well, looking like Lindsay Lohan. Her purse would later get stolen from her Jeep and $10,000 in cash would get stolen from her purse.

The events that comprise the Triple Crown are held in a waiting period of either one week or ten days, depending on the spot. Surfing is dictated by nature. She has to provide the waves and if there are no waves then the surfing itself becomes an act of frustration. Of slopping around in gutless little ankle slappers in front of cheering Chinese. Or Northern Irish. Frustrating. And so contest organizers have either one week or ten days in which to hold the event. They will watch the swell forecasts. They will use science and try to determine the best time to start the contest and aim for a firecracker finish.

I push between two tourists from Canada who can’t believe they are on the North Shore and can’t believe they get to see the event. They are both in their midforties, male, and wearing maple leaf baseball hats and sports sandals. They clutch small GoPro cameras in their sweaty hands and take little video clips of everything. The people walking. The island scrub. The houses. Their own sport sandals. Sport sandals are the worst things ever, equal to Crocs and Vibrams in the record books of hideous fashion. But their Canadian excitement is heartwarming so I forgive them their fashion blunder.

Surfers are judged, in the events, on a scale of one to ten by six judges. The judging criteria will shift depending on what a particular wave offers. The Quiksilver Pro on the Gold Coast, for example, will provide good scores for airs and good scores for barrels, because the wave at Snapper Rock provides both. The Hurley Pro at Trestles will provide great scores for airs because that is what Trestles is known for. And on the North Shore, barrels are the only real things judged. If a surfer paddles out at Pipeline and tears the wave apart—really carves and hits the lip and gouges and even throws a little slob, or some other skateboard-named air in, but doesn’t slip into a barrel—he will be judged poorly and those on the beach will hoot in derision at his stupidity. Pipeline is a barrel. A gaping barrel. The best, most critical barrel in surfing.

I am finally close to the event and see Neil Ridgway out on the Ke Nui making a call. He looks over at me and says, very sarcastically, “Chas Smith.” I say, “Hi Neil!” while throwing a loose shaka and then he goes back to his call. He is wearing the most clownish sunglasses that I have ever seen. They don’t fit his face well but they are far better than his European red beret.

In all the other events around the globe, surfers paddle out against each other in man-on-man heats. They can catch as many waves as they want and their two best are scored and the surfer with the best two-wave total moves on and on and on until he wins the finals and gets chaired up the beach and gets champagne sprayed in his face by the second place surfer. Getting chaired up the beach is one of the most embarrassing things in surfing. The victor’s friends, usually countrymen, will meet him at the shoreline after his victory and they will prop him on their shoulders and move through the crowd to the podium. Two men carrying one man. And it might look OK except surf events never draw hundreds of thousands of people. They draw hundreds and sometimes thousands. It would look good if a surfer was being carried through an overflowing crowd of adoring fans, throwing roses and blowing kisses and uncontrollably weeping. But at surf events, when a surfer is getting chaired up the beach, sitting on his friends’ shoulders, through spread-far-apart beach gawkers, it looks embarrassing. It looks like Christian rock ’n’ roll.

I turn into the Ehukai Beach Park, throw another shaka at Dave Prodan, and hear him say, awkwardly, “G’day, Chas” with his Austral-American accent. Dave was half raised in Newport Beach, California, and half raised in Australia and so his accent is a mess. He is now the marketing director for the ASP. Not an enviable position here. And I check the heat draw posted on the large Billabong Presents the Pipe Masters in Memory of Andy Irons scaffolding.

Want more? Of course you do! A delicate weaving of Lindsay Lohan and Neil Ridgway and real talk.

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Watch: Surfwear making a comeback!

You've been patient!

I think I’ve written this story twice before since the birth of BeachGrit and each time I’m more hopeful than the time before. That surfwear is making a comeback. Because don’t you want it to in your heart of hearts? Don’t you want to break out your favorite Maui n Sons tee and rip around town? Don’t you?

Well, today’s version of surfwear making a comeback is ripped from hip blog highsnobiety which writes:

In the early ’00s it was totally okay to wear head-to-toe surfer brands, even if you had never set foot on a beach. You could wear Quiksilver with a wooden beaded necklace, maybe some Mambo cargo shorts and still be valid, cool, even. The goal was to look like a surfer, not actually be one. It speaks a lot about the inauthenticity of fashion trends but that’s another story for another time.

And then goes on to discuss how cool Stüssy was and is again.

The BEST part, though, is all the new brands that are coming up and engaging your surf lust. Like Surf is Dead, Token Surfboards, Palm Angels etc. And look at the above example from Ex Infinitas. Wetsuit pant and vest combos. Very surf. Very chic.

Are you ready not just to be ironically retro but progressively now?

Well, are you punk?