Wavegarden sells “large stake” to Israeli billionaire!

WeWork tosses its keys into the wavepool bowl!

Let me ask you something. If you were a phenomenally rich surfer, a billionaire, say, and wave pools were starting to be a thing and you could buy any of ’em you wanted, where would you park your cash?

Surf Ranch?

It ain’t even a question.

I’d send my driver up to Lemoore in my Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud II, tell him to kick down the cedar gates, piss in the jacuzzi, toss the WSL a cheque, tell Raimana to stoke up the ski, kick the engine of that train over and get the foil moving and be done with it.

But, as revealed by the Wall Street Journal a few days ago, the company part-owned by the Israeli-born billionaire, and surfer, Adam Neumann, which is called WeWork and makes its cash by renting office space, gussying it all up and sub-letting it, bought a “large stake” in Wavegarden last year.

Wavegarden.

The brave little pool that showed the world it was possible to create an artificial wave that didn’t suck. But had to watch as an Associate Professor at the University of Southern California, Adam Fincham, and the greatest-surfer-ever, Kelly Slater, combined to build Surf Ranch.

This?

Or this?


Twice as good? Ten times?

How hard it is to judge such a thing.

As Matt Warshaw posited at the time of the Surf Ranch’s reveal, “The bit at the end of the vid where Kelly parks in the tube, all I could think of was, I’ve never seen anything like that except maybe Barra. And Barra is hot and sticky and crowded, and where’s my passport, and where do you stay, and who’s renting the car, while this wave . . . fuck! I don’t know. Do I want to surf it? I don’t know. Yes. Yes, of course I want to surf it.”

Now, the question here, of course, is whether Neumann bought the tank because of its commercial viability or because he got into the game too early?

And the Webber pool!

Surely, he’s heard of the mythical tank fermenting somewhere in Queensland.


New WSL Ambassador of Stoke and Leisure Mr. Zach Brown!
New WSL Ambassador of Stoke and Leisure Mr. Zach Brown!

The Inertia: “No more white males!”

Venice-adjacent's other online surf source ties itself into racist knots!

When it rains it sure does pour up near Venice, California. Yesterday, Stab magazine decided it was a good idea to claim that Oahu’s North Shore no longer has any “hellmen” and that the whole place is generally overrated. The piece was chased, a few hours later, by a celebration of “underground North Shore charging” on Instagram in hopes, I would imagine, that all would be forgotten. Oops!

And today neighbor The Inertia delivers an racially tinged response to the World Surf League officially choosing its Ambassador of Stoke and Leisure titled Opinion: I Wish a White, Male Wasn’t Chosen for Ambassador of Stoke and Leisure. Ooo-ee!

Let’s read the best bits!

But for the love of Zeus, I don’t think an ostensibly privileged white dude should have been handed the cushiest dream job imaginable in our already moneyed, white, male world. Or have been chosen as the new face gaining instant access to the WSL’s 6.5 million Facebook followers, 2.6 million Instagram followers, and Lord knows how many minutes of broadcast time when the waves get lully during the Triple Crown. (To be sure, this criticism comes from a white male, privileged enough to have been taught to write at fancy schools — though obviously, that’s no indicator of quality!)

But how badly do we need another guy who, though he’s from landlocked Tennessee (which in itself offers a form of diversity worth noting) looks like he was plucked straight from the shores of privileged, white Orange County? Or Sydney? A guy virtually indistinguishable from 10,000 other white guys within a quarter mile of Highway 1 as we speak?

Think of all the places that surfing touches in this magnificent world that aren’t California or Australia — Sri Lanka, Samoa, Namibia, Cape Verde, Peru. Think of the things we might learn from those surfers. Think of the people who’s lives have been touched by surfing — and whose life experience is nothing like Brown’s.

Brown and the WSL didn’t reply to requests for a comment on this article, so I’m not sure why Brown was chosen, or what kind of applicants the league received. To the WSL’s credit, there were eight finalists, and three of those were women. The other five were white guys. As someone who believes surf media would benefit immensely from a pulse of diversity, there were essentially only three correct choices of those remaining. While Zach is the (white) man, he’s the wrong option for a resource-rich media machine hoping to expand the appeal of surfing by speaking to new audiences.

I’m sure the new Ambassador of Stoke and Leisure will do a marvelous job, and I sincerely wish him the best. I just wish this clever opportunity was used to earnestly usher in a new wave of voices. Someday, hopefully, it will.

It is all very good, no? My favorite part is that the white Ambassador of Stoke and Leisure is named “Brown.” Or that the piece was written by a “white male, privileged enough to have been taught to write at fancy schools.” Or that Zach Brown (pictured above) looks like he has been “plucked straight from the shores of privileged, white Orange County? Or Sydney?” (take a good, long look at Zach. I think maybe The Inertia has never been to coastal Orange County or Sydney.) Or that he is “virtually indistinguishable from 10,000 other white guys.” Or that the WSL is a “resource-rich media machine.” Or…. I could go on all day but what about you? What’s your favorite part?

Also, do you love identity politics as much as The Inertia?

That was a trick question. Nobody, not even Huffington herself, loves identity politics as much as The Inertia.

Except maybe Stab which has taken to offering lots of longboarding videos on its site lately.


The North Shore (dressed in American flag pants) shames Stab magazine.
The North Shore (dressed in American flag pants) shames Stab magazine.

Breaking: Stab loses its nerve!

Stab's blood feud against North Shore "hellmen" comes to a sudden end!

This morning I read a story on Stab titled “Has Mainstream Surfing Outgrown the North Shore?” which was a very cruel takedown of everything that happens on Oahu’s upper half. It criticized the waves, accommodations, relevance and that was before lighting in to the North Shore locals and asking where the hell the tough men have all gone. Would you like read again? I do!

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.

Whoa for the second time!

A shot across the North Shore’s bow if I’ve ever seen one and very bold especially since it was launched from somewhere just outside Venice, California and very near, maybe inside the same office complex as The Inertia. Has Stab never heard of the Rothmans? The Florences? The Aaron Golds? Apparently not and what a blood feud!

Of course I wrote about it and illustrated my bewilderment on Instagram.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bbhp2UelknQ/?taken-by=reportsfromhell

Well, some seven hours later Stab posted the same exact clip in apparent complete capitulation. How embarrassing!

https://www.instagram.com/p/BbiWvJFgjdn/?taken-by=stab

It is one thing to take a stand but quite another thing to stay there. Stab apparently loves to drink some of partner The Inertia’s kombucha and then get all bold but when the 1.5% alcohol by volume buzz wears off and reality sinks in telling the North Shore that it has no worthy surfers doesn’t seem like such a good idea. Exactly like The Inertia! Apparently capitulation is du jour in Venice-adjacent (hereto known as Vajacent).

Never has a blood feud come to such a swift ending. And, quickly, what do you think Stab writers will be doing this year when/if they head to the rock?

Maybe… not surfing? Or do you think the instant bended knee will work?


Sarge-Tracks

(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.

Ouch!

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!