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.

Buy here!

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?

As all Americans know, the commercial world is a battlefield. It's fuck or be fucked!

Pro: Get sponsored by porn giant!

Pornhub is looking for exxxtreme athletes. Do you fit the bill?

I must give credit where credit is due for this fantastic story. The Inertia! The sometime sport walking website first reported that the world’s largest pornography website, Pornhub, is looking to sponsor extreme sport athletes including surfers. And how fantastic is that? I sprinted directly to Pornhub when made aware because a) I am a professional surfer and b) was curious how “sponsorship” looks?

Was Pornhub casting for a sexy new film? A new category to sit alongside “furries?”

But it appears no! The landing page was taken Straight Outta Red Bull and, minus “exxxtreme” the copy was even standard.

Let’s read!

Are you an amazing athlete that just needs that extra push to break it big?

Are you a part of a killer team that would be proud to sport the Pornhub colors?

Then we want to hear from you because Pornhub is on the search to sponsor the most xxxtreme athletes under the sun! In the past, we’ve backed everything from an awesome Australian women’s field hockey team to the incredible Scandinavian base jumpers in the video below, and we’re looking to add YOU to our roster.

The winning team will be sponsored by Pornhub for a full year, including new Pornhub branded uniforms for the whole team.

Think you’ve got what it takes?

Now, I have many questions but will only bore you with three.

1) Is the surfer in the photo Dusty Payne? It can’t be, right? But who is it?

2) What kind of porn is most popular in The Inertia’s offices? Chia porn? Passive-aggressive apology porn feat. Kelly Slater lookalikes?

3) How much would it take for you to “sport the Pornhub colors?”

Apply here!

Have you ever thought about quitting? If so, was it a bad heat, a bad board or an aggregation of shitty events? | Photo: Steve Sherman/@tsherms

Quiz: Would you ever give up surfing?

What would it take?

Three days ago, I asked the horrifying question, Will You Be An Intermediate Surfer Forever? Being…okay… at something you love more than anything is a barren and mediocre terrain, a bleak horizon to ponder.

And yet we persist with surfing despite never getting better until we hit oldish age and start going backwards.

But what happens when you think, fuck this, and you quit surfing?

Throughout my life I’ve marvelled at people, some who’d once been very good surfers, giving up surfing in entirety.

Boards gone. Beach vacations swapped for examinations of the cultural history of eastern European cities; weekends spent decamped at cafes and art galleries, or parked in front of the television “binge watching” docu-soaps. Hair yellow to brown. Body type triangle to pear.

Have you ever thought about quitting?

I thought about it once when I persisted with a surfboard shaper, who despite universally adoring press, delivered custom surfboard after custom surfboard that made me turn pale every time I went surfing. Oh they were treacherous! I didn’t just want to quit surfing, I wanted to quit life.

I didn’t, of course. I’m happy enough as is, a naive optimist.

But those who do drop the microphone, so to speak?

Do you think it’s a sudden event: a bad surf, a bad heat?

Or is it the aggregation of a thousand things: the bile of an argument, a surfboard that refuses to work, a wide stance that won’t narrow, a long spell of uninspiring waves, a surf trip that goes to the dogs, a wife or husband that stares daggers when you go for a surf and leave ‘em with the screeching kid?

And what would it take for you to give the game away, for good?

Tareq Kamleh
From surfer to boiling soldier of Allah!

Careers: Surfer turns soldier of Allah!

What bad career choices have you made?

Recently, I had a surprise argument with a good friend over the sensitivity, or not, of celebrating Christmas. The friend, who was planning the December window display of his store, remarked, in such an off-hand manner that it chilled me to the bone, that he was having difficulty finding a “Happy Holidays” sign in Sydney.

Christmas, he said, causes terrible offence to our non-Christian brothers and sisters and therefore all references to the birth of Jesus must be evaporated.

I pitched camp on the side that once you remove all vestiges of the host culture a vacuum is created, which is henceforth filled, by another that doesn’t cringe at its own traditions.

We back and forthed, both making up facts and including anecdotes that didn’t happen, until I stormed off (briefly).

I ain’t one for believing in omnipotent gods, but Christmas, in my experience, is a rewarding time of the year, even if television programming suffers. To cast it aside is the first step in the crumbling of what is, mostly, a kind and just society, and least in comparison to many others around the world.

But young men know only lions get respect. If I was twenty, I might’ve heard the call to become a hero of the caliphate too.

Therefore, it doesn’t surprise me when I hear of young men taking up, with romantic zeal, the cudgel for ISIS, that dynamic offshoot of Al-Qaeda.

Let’s catalogue the  benefits of an ISIS membership: you get to shoot machine guns with real bullets at real people. You’re encouraged to take multiple wives. You may take a battery of sex slaves, by force if necessary, if you’re the sort whose cock could drill holes in concrete. Every thought, meanwhile, is taken care of via an ultra-orthodox interpretation of the Koran.

Two years ago, the Australian doctor Tareq Kamleh, who trades under the Jihad name Abu Youssef al-Australi, whistled into Syria to join ISIS.

“It was a decision I was very, very happy I made,” he said at the time. Tareq also said any muslim who didn’t take up arms had “no self-respect.”

Yesterday, it was reported that the former surfer’s diary had been found by a former currency trader, who uses the pseudonym Macer Gifford, and who’d fought for the Kurds against ISIS.

As reported by Fairfax newspapers,

“(Kamleh) had an ‘obsession with vitamin pills’ and had many bottles for various purposes. Mr Gifford concluded the doctor was ‘an American Psycho-type man’, referring to the preening, charismatic but psychopathic book and film character.

“Former colleagues and acquaintances of Dr Kamleh’s have previously described him as charming but manipulative and sexually predatory.

“There was a meticulousness, an obsession with his health … He had a workout schedule of how many press-ups he was going to do. Just a neat, intelligent but slightly psychopathic character is what came across in his possessions.”

‘I don’t think he was a particularly happy character … He didn’t seem to be getting on with people there very much,’ Mr Gifford said.

Odd, but not surprising, story, yes?

Mystical worship and deep, fathomless submission only gets you so far.

Reality bites.

Now: what bad career choices have you made?

Let me start. I once spent two hundred thousand dollars on a water taxi business.

When that sank, not literally, but close when a ferry belted into the side, I poured fifty into an online surfing website.