Jon Pyzel, left, is the man whose strong hands can build Risky Biz Casual, for the average man, or High Risk Danger for the very special man like John John. | Photo: Steve Sherman/@tsherms

Surfboards: I like “Risky Business Casual!”

Seven important truths about your weapon!

What sort of surfboard turns your screws? Are you a rider of stumpy little thing with a wide tail and fins like the forward flippers of the sea cow or do you like to order boards of the sort favoured by the professional surfer: the continuous curve, the lithe outline, curves so subtle even the shaper can’t find ‘em?

Lately, I’ve gone for something I call Risky Business Casual™. I like the idea of piloting High Risk Danger™ boards but when I consider the waves I ride, and my ability, I need something looser on the hams and fuller on the waist. An elastic waist as opposed to buttons and clips.

More Stubby Bastard than Ghost. 

It’s the finest line to walk because no one likes to be caught riding those blunt instruments called Fun Boards. And, so, because I fell into the surf writing game so many years ago, and because the fundamentals of surfboard design fascinate me, I spend much of my interview time with a microphone under shapers’ chins. Biolos. Pyzel. Cole, Webber and so on, each thirty minutes or one hour conversation a masterclass.

And, it’s interesting to talk to these men, because for all the great leaps forward in materials or some revolutionary curve-rocker combo, the fundamentals are still the, yeah, fundamentals.

Therefore, in the spirit of Christmas, I’d like to list seven important truths about your surfboard. Learn ‘em, and know ‘em, because, at some point, you’ll find yourself in some shop, under the spell of a salesman, and you gotta know what works, what really works, or else you’re going to climb down the same old holes.

  1. Thin surfboards are a vanity project. They feel very nice to hold under your arm, and are good things to show your friends. “This feels insane,” they’ll say, sliding the twig under their armpit. Do this experiment for me. Go to a board store. Examine the racks. Without looking at any dimensions, grab the board you think would be perfect for you. Now look at the numbers on the stringer. It’ll be undercooked by three litres. Which is revealing. Because what looks good, what feels good, ain’t necessarily what’s going to hold and push you. Look at Jordy. Big cat, yeah, but he runs on thirty-six litres. Don’t be afraid to go fat. (Note: it’s why the custom board you ordered and called a pig is so thick. Your shaper knows. Trust him.)
  2. You can’t beat hydrodynamics. If you need a stable board, ride low rockers. If you can keep a board in the pocket, find a curve you like. Most surfers ride horizontally. Flat rocker. If you want to chance your arm, climb into something with a little curve and a little concave. But only a little. Ferraris don’t work on the street. And know that while you can ride a flat-rockered board in anything except the most outrageous barrels, a curved slipper will sink in anything but bowls and tubes.
  3. Look at the outline of your board. Straight lines go fast. Curved lines turn. Simple.
  4. Balance in a surfboard is everything. Shapers walk a tightrope every time they build you a custom board. Wildly experimental is fun to read about and celebrate and so forth; ain’t so great to spend a thousand bucks on.
  5. Ultra-light epoxy boards have their moments but their great crime, and it’s a crime committed by the Fish too, is they make a man feel like he’s surfing thirty percent better than he really is. Right now, PU boards have the edge on drive and momentum.
  6. Tails don’t matter so much. They just don’t.
  7. Once you get stuck on wide-nose boards there ain’t no going back. At least not without a lot of mental anguish and embarrassment.

You know what else? It don’t matter if it’s new or if it’s ancient. The only requirement of a surfboard is that it has to go.

Just go. 

Gross: Kelly Slater’s nasty foot!

Featuring Gabriel Medina's beefy thighs!

I am still catching my breath after yesterday’s day of Pipeline action. Does it get any better? But does it really? The waves were inconsistent in the best way possible. Each heat had a handful of very fabulous gems but it was the little inside runners that provided drama after drama. The stand-outs surfed well, Jeremy Flores beat the number one and number two surfers back to back. Gabriel cemented his role as surfing’s greatest villain by dropping onto Kelly Slater’s head and Kelly Slater surfed with a disfigured foot.

A disgusting foot.

You recall that it was broken whilst driving through a closeout barrel in J-Bay and broken badly. Kelly described as being “folded in half” if I recall correctly.

Well, Kelly surfed Pipeline anyhow and while he didn’t exactly look himself he still made it near the quarters which is very fine by any accounting and then the World Surf League posted a picture of his foot.

Ooo-ee! Did you see? Black and blue and very gross. It was a wonder he was even walking much less near the quarters. Does the fact that Kelly is both old and crippled make Gabriel’s offense worse?

Do you like Gabriel Medina’s thighs?

Would you like another angle?

Jeremy Flores wins the Pipeline Masters, his second, with a buzzer beating wave. Commentator Barton Lynch says moment so charged he wept!

Jeremy Flores: “I hate doing this!”

Wins Pipe Masters. Dirties John Florence's dream of a world title/Pipe Masters combo… 

Ten minutes ago, the Reunion Island-born surfer Jeremy Flores dirtied up John John’s perfect day when he beat the Hawaiian in the final of the Pipeline Masters.

Jeremy, who is twenty nine years old, stole a wave in the final seconds, needing an 8.2-ish, scoring an 8.3-ish. The final scoreline, 16.23 to 16.16.

Seven years ago, Jeremy won the Pipe Masters against Kieren Perrow in similar circumstances.

The moment was so emotionally charged the commentator Barton Lynch trembled and wept.

When I beat  Gabriel I felt so bad. To see the emotion on his face… I hate doing this… Surfing is not supposed to do stuff like that. Supposed to be pure good vibes!

“Winning the Pipe Masters against John John Florence in perfect Backdoor, in the last seconds? I couldn’t think of a better way to win,” said Jeremy. “Don’t count me out. I never let go. I see everyone with their (Hawaiian) flags.”

En route to stomping on John John’s dream of a first Pipe Masters win, Jeremy squashed Gabriel’s dream of a second world title.

“To be honest, I don’t like to be that guy to decide the title,” said Jeremy. “It should be a showdown between John and Gabriel. When I beat  Gabriel I felt so bad. To see the emotion on his face… I hate doing this… Surfing is not supposed to do stuff like that. Supposed to be pure good vibes! It was good for John, though, so I was stoked to make it happen… a second time. He owes me a few waves at Pipe when it’s actually pumping!”

Watch the final here!

Just in: God hates Gab, John wins crown!

And we have a 2017 World Champion!

God is an ever-present figure in sports, from the National Football League all the way to the World Surf League. He helps teams win, players score and surfers title. Yesterday, after winning his heat, Brazil’s Gabriel Medina was supremely confident that God was firmly cheering for a Gabriel Media championship, telling South Africa’s Rose Hodge, “I feel great, I feel good, I feel God is on my side. Now is just to trust, believe and go for it.”

Well, things started a little dicey for Medina during his Round Four heat against Jeremy Flores and someone else. Jeremy jumped into a quick lead while someone else paddled around the lineup lost. Gabriel sat, waiting, before pouncing on a backdoor tube that looked ok and was judged a stellar 8 +. J-Flo was furious, kicking the water, screaming French obscenities, not because Gabriel caught a wave but because Gabriel had effectively blocked him on the three best waves of the day. Interference was not called and “WSL is playing favorites again…” would have become the refrain except Jeremy snagged a little runner at the end of the heat and was rewarded an even more stellar 8 +.

Off went Gabriel to Round Five where he faced the World’s Greatest Surfer and ’88 Pipeline Master Kelly Slater.

(Just kidding about the ’88 Pipeline Master. That was Barton Lynch.)

Kelly Slater is, I think, agnostic at best. Maybe he believes in a “higher power” but definitely not God. Would God push Gab through?

It started looking good. Kelly paddled for the first wave of the heat, a gorgeous Backdoor thing, and inexplicably couldn’t get to his feet. Or maybe explicably? Maybe the Corner Man Upstairs? Yes, I don’t think it could be argued any other wave, because a turtle swam though the lineup and knocked Kelly Slater off his board.

Kelly locked into another sneaky one but then here comes God! Gabriel got a small one which turned into an 8.9 then another weird one that turned into a 9.07! God sitting in the judges booth, locking in scores! God proving Gabriel Medina right.

Kelly took off on another bomb but God positioned Gabriel just so and he dropped in on Kelly’s head, destroying the wave’s “scoring potential” as they say. Barton Lynch won the 1988 Pipeline Masters.

And then he won. Gabriel Medina and God. But won the heat, not the Title or not yet.

And let us fast forward through John John and Julian’s quarterfinal heat wherein John John won handily.

And let us fast forward through Gabriel Medina and Julian Wilson’s quarterfinal heat wherein Medina was crushed by the Frenchman.

John John wins the World Championship Trophy! The day’s true chosen one!

Heck yes! | Photo: @worldsurflols

Gamble: Win (Lose) on Pipe Masters!

Ready to put your money where your large mouth is?

Let’s be frank. We all like to throw a little cash into the wind, now and then.

Gambling separates us from the beasts, gives a spark of passion (or a galaxy of nausea) as we grind away and grind away at jobs, working like billy goats until eternity etc.

“Gambling is colourful and dramatic and theatrical,” Vegas hotelier (Bellagio, Wynn etc) Steve Wynn said.

Recently, BeachGrit and the Australian betting house PalmerBet held hands, one greasing the other.

We’d offer a gambling-on-surfing service to readers (Australia only unless you circumvent your country’s geo-blocking law via a VPN) and for every bet you make, BeachGrit gets a little piece.

If you lose, think of it as a donation; if you win we’re thrilled for you.


Pipe Masters. If you’re quick, you can bet on John John v Julian onwards.

Sign up on that little banner on the side and BeachGrit/PalmerBet will match your first bet, up to $250.

Early in the new year, odds will drop for the 2018 World Title.

Start winning or losing by clicking here!