Reckoning: “You’re all fucktards!”

Will the cultural reckoning ever reach surf?

I wanted to write about Pipeline this morning but it didn’t run again which left me perusing the news whilst nibbling a piece of avocado toast. I read about documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock outing himself as a possible rapist and philanderer. I read how Texan Republican representative Blake Farenthold abused his staff by calling them “fucktards.” He will now have to step down and probably enter some sort of program.

And I wondered if any actors, politicians, musicians, public personalities quietly frequent surf comment forums?

Like, “fucktard” doesn’t even get you in most doors. Maybe at The Inertia if anyone commented there but nowhere else. And I continued to wonder if the current cultural reckoning will ever come to surf or do you think it will run out of steam at, say, the National Hockey League?

Is our little world too nasty, too corrupt, to rude, demeaning, ugly for anyone to even start #metoo-ing? The fact that The Inertia hasn’t written a major expose on surf complicity is just shocking. Or maybe it’s not. Maybe they are also complicit. I couldn’t tell because when I tried to visit that website just now it wouldn’t load.

So long net neutrality!

(I read about that too and know lots of people are crying about it but can’t get out of my heat that if it’s bad for The Inertia then it’s good for me!)

Rumor: Quiksilver buys Billabong x RVCA!

Buy the t-shirt, take the ride!

Oh I know this rumor has been floating around for a few months, even finding seed at The Inertia and Stab now but my sources tell me it’s almost officially official. That Quiksilver has closed out purchase of Billabong which includes MMA brand RVCA. And not really Quiksilver but Oaktree capital. Shall we dig into this sordid affair? Let’s!

You recall that Australian surf giant Billabong was the first of the surf brands to really really really fall on hard times. Their untethered buying spree (Nixon, RadGnar, YoYo Beats, Icezzzcreamzzz, etc.) did not turn out as planned when cocaine fueled the days and cocaine fueled the nights. Thus, Billabong was left in a very precarious position. Their debt and mistakes were scooped up, in form of a loan, by investment group Oaktree Capital, leaving Billabong to limp along with brands RVCA, SupaFly, JZM and CNTMTHRFCKR.

Then you recall that Quiksilver went full on bankrupt with the same Oaktree Capital ushering the brand out of protected lack of money.

So. Oaktree Capital basically “owns” Quiksilver and Quiksilver is buying Billabong x etc. How’s that?

Do you remember when the fantastic Malibu brand Brothers’ Marshall did their QuikBongRip t-shirts and when they got taken down under threat of lawsuit?

Wait. Have I written this story already last year? Do you remember reading it? I vaguely remember writing it.

P.S. Real quick. I’ve wondered about this for years. Who in hell buys a Maserati? That photo is from Stab and so maybe Stab people dream in Maserati? I don’t get it. At all. Maserati. Very unfortunate.

"Sometimes your mind can tell you one thing and then you get on something and it can be the best board you’ve ridden. You have to feel it out without judgement." | Photo: Steve Sherman/@tsherms

Slater: “This is my fav hunk of foam!”

A very pretty, contest-winning five-ten from the champ’s eponymous label… 

Last September, Kelly Slater grabbed perhaps the final win of his three-decade career, combo-ing John John Florence in the final of the Tahiti Pro.

Kelly included a 9.77 and a 9.90 in his heat total of 19.67. It was Kelly’s fifty-fifth contest win.

And the surfboard he won the event on, which is called The Gamma, is Kelly’s “utility short board” design. It means he can ride ‘em in a variety of conditions. Kelly keeps a a quiver of Gammas in one-inch increments from 5’9” to 6’1”.

However, this version, a 5’10” x 18 3/8” x 2 5/16th, just shone from the batch. A touch shorter a little more beef for getting it over the ledge.

I ask Kelly, who is at the Slater Designs factory in Carlsbad, just north of San Diego, what specific pleasures it has given him?

A wave, a turn?

“I won Teahupoo and got a twenty-point heat on it. What else do you need?” he says.

Were you intimately involved in its design?

“I wasn’t in the shaping bay but I did verbally design the board and worked through a few renditions of it to get to this.”

Were you immediately thrilled, or were you displeased, by its appearance?

“Yeah, well, if you don’t like what a board looks like you don’t pick it up and ride it. So…yes! I’ve had the board for over a year now but I retired it after that contest because I was waiting to use it in similar waves again.”

Can you tell if a board is going to be good before you ride it?

“I feel like I can, but that said, I had a board recently that was an early version of the Gamma, one of the first iterations of it. And at the time I was putting a little more foam in my boards, more volume, and this one felt too fine so I didn’t touch it for two years. And then I rode it recently and it felt amazing. Sometimes your mind can tell you one thing and then you get on something and it can be the best board you’ve ridden. You have to feel it out without judgement.”

When you stood up on that first wave of Teahupoo on it, did it feel special?

“That’s the secret to a good board is that feels like it jumps on you,” says Kelly. “It feels like it moves where you want to so you don’t really have to think about it. I haven’t ridden that board since Teahupoo last year, I might’ve ridden it in France briefly, but yeah, I got on it and it was one of those surfboards that went wherever I thought and I was able to make a lot of waves that for whatever reason I didn’t think I was going to make, busting through the foam or whatever.”

Tell me some of the specifics of the design.

“It’s a steady rocker. A continuous rocker. It has a single concave so that flattens the rocker in the centre. It’s a standardised board for what people are doing but the trick is in the rocker and working out, over time,  the concave so you don’t get too much lift in the tail. It’s about finding balance in the curve and the lift.”

You treat this board real good? In cotton wool?

“It’s a weird thing,” says Kelly. “You win a contest on a board and you want to keep that thing on ice but at the same time if you’re not riding it consistently then you don’t know all the little intricacies that made it so good. So you gotta beat up a board to be in tune with it. That’s the Good Surfboard  Dilemma for us.”

I got a little cash. How much to buy?

“How much you got,” says Kelly. “You gotta start negotiating sonewhere. How much you got?”

Not much! I gave it all to Matt Warshaw!

(Editor’s note: This story first appeared in Surfing Life’s surfboard issue, number 338. Buy it or subscribe here.)

Derek Rielly (left) and Bob Hawke share a laugh. | Photo: Richard Freeman for Wentworth Courier

Literary: BG founder writes smash hit!

Derek Rielly is the talk of the literary town!

Derek Rielly has always been, and will always be, the love of my professional life. Our paths first crossed well over a decade ago. He was an Australian surf stalwart having edited Surfing Life and Waves magazines, being the founding editor of Surf Europe and then co-founding Stab. I was but a small nothing, having traveled to some Middle Eastern/East African countries and writing about the adventures for Vice. Derek read, we got in touch, and I started writing for Stab.

I loved everything about it. The stories, the font, the pictures, the style. I would write and send Derek my embarrassingly juvenile work then wait patiently by the mailbox until the physical issues were printed, bound and flown across the Pacific to my Los Angeles home. All I wanted to do was be in Stab but realized, right when Derek left, that the only person I wanted to write for was Derek. He was the magazine’s beating heart. He was the reason it made my heart pound.

Three-ish years ago now he told me about BeachGrit and, even though I thought I was exiting this surf world, would never tell him no. And that’s where we are now.

Derek is as brilliant as he is quietly humble. He never rings his own bell which is why you may not know that he has just published a book in Australia that is a total smash. Wednesdays with Bob features Derek going to chat with Australia’s most loved ex-PM over the course of a year. It is about love, loss, struggle, cigars and sculling beers. And it is an outright hit.

The Australian writes:

Wednesdays with Bob is a unique book that finds no precedent in Australian politician writing. It is, as Rielly tells us, based on Mitch Albom’s bestseller Tuesdays with Morrie, which chronicled visits to his former college professor to talk about life as he was nearing death.

Rielly traverses Hawke’s life with eye-for-detail prose and extracts comments on turning points, regrets and achievements. There are times when Hawke is brusque, trails off-topic or lets his interlocutor know the questions need to improve. It makes for a lively portrait of an unforgettable prime minister.

Booktopia says:

The result is an extraordinary portrait of a beloved Australian – a strange, funny, uniquely personal study of Bob Hawke ruminating on his (and our) past, present and future.

And I’ll say it is a work of genius which also happens to be a runaway best-seller in Australia. Would you have guessed that your little old BeachGrit was home to a literary lion?

Well there you go.

Buy here!

Welcome to the BeachGrit... we've got fun and games!

Poll: Choose our aged rock star!

It's easy! And basically free!

Haven’t you been the most inspired by the surf world’s complete and robust embrace of aged rock star Iggy Pop? The ex-Stooges frontman has not done anything culturally meaningful for 30 years but look how he collaborates on a boardshort with Billabong and look how Billabong flies him to the North Shore for a photoshoot and look how he plays a set at the Billabong House and look how every professional surfer, surf photographer, surf brand employee acts as if George Harrison, Roy Orbison and Tom Petty came down from heaven, gathering Jeff Lynne and Bobby Dylan along the way, and jammed a full Traveling Wilburys set right next to Off the Wall.

The best thing they ever saw! Miraculous even!

Oh of course it is not odd for the surf world to lose its shit, entirely, when any non-endemic personality pays even one whit of attention (see the fawning over Eddie Vedder, Ben Stiller, etc.) which is endearing.


And in this endearing, anti-depressive vein I think it is time for BeachGrit to choose an aged rock star in order to represent us and bring maniacal levels of joy. The only question is who should we pick? You decide from the following list of finalists.

-Axel Rose (see above)

-Grace Slick

-Steve Tyler

-John Rotten

-David Lee Roth