Not true!
Not true! | Photo: WSL/Kelly Cestari

Revealed: Photos are the worst liars!

A picture is worth the thousand words it takes to clean it up.

I knew it. I just plain new it for all these years but it remained a gut feeling. An instinct that I couldn’t shake. My whole professional career, you see, I’ve had beef with photos. Damned photos. That’s what everyone wants. That’s what everyone craves. No one ever bought a surfing magazine to read the articles. And so the surf photographers got fat paychecks and fat heads. The old adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” emblazoned across their smug expressions.

But I knew it all along. I knew their photos were liars. That the surf photographer, with all his skill, could capture anyone in the most marvelous light. That what he shows us ain’t necessarily so. I knew it but had no proof.

Until today.

Oh yes I watched the first three heats of the Gums Masters and I watched the Italian Ferrari try the best he could by pitching some pretty… you know… air things. They looked alright, I suppose, but nothing… you know… epic.

But look above. How epic does that look? I’ll tell you, it looks almost iconic making it a total lie. Can we now start saying “a picture is worth the thousand words it takes to clean it up” as our adage?

Thank you.

Gerry Lopez tickling the crest while the green room opens behind him.
Gerry Lopez tickling the crest while the green room opens behind him.

Is Surf Ranch better than Pipeline?

Help me get on the right side of history!

There are four more days in the waiting period for the Pipeline Masters, many heats left to surf and an extremely poor forecast. Blame global warming, blame Kieren Perrow, blame God, blame Kane, Ku, Lono and Kanaloa, blame whomever you wish but thems the facts and the 2017 World Champ will be crowned in a whimper not a bang.

And it was with this reality looming that Derek Rielly texted me last evening. “Story for tomoz: Is surf Ranch better than Pipe? (Considering how crummy it is going to be for the title thing…)”

Oh how my heart revolted inside me as I pitched my phone aside, thrusting one finger into the air and shouting, “Never!”

Pipeline is our Jerusalem, Mecca and Rome. It is the greatest wave in the entire world and some piddly man-made thing in the middle of California’s stinky guts should not even be breathed in the same breath.

Pipeline is natural, it is glorious. The Surf Ranch some modern new-fangled contraption. Some electric…

But then I put my one finger down and thought, “Am I in the crowd at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965? Is Bob Dylan on stage? Did he just plug in his electric guitar? Am I booing Bob Dylan and progress?”

You are, of course, culturally astute and know the story. Dylan was one of the most popular figures in music, having ridden a gentle sound to the very top of the charts. He released an album that year that featured an electric track which was received with mixed feelings by the folk community. Later, at the Newport Festival, the promotors had denied another band that tried to go electric. Bob Dylan allegedly said, “Well, fuck them if they think they can keep electricity out of here, I’ll do it.” in response and half of the crowd booed him lustily for selling out.

Those boo birds were basically retarded because without electric Dylan we would never have had Mötley Crüe or Blink 182. Can you imagine that world? I can’t either and don’t want to be on the wrong side of history here so tell me.

Is Surf Ranch better than Pipeline?

Very bad time to be a black gal in America, says leader of Brown Girls Surf, Natasha Brown.

Quiz: Would the world be better if everyone surfed?

Do you imagine a world where love of surf unites the world?

Earlier today, a tear plopped onto my keyboard. I was moved by the simple beauty of a friend’s post on Facebook. He had shared a movie called Women of Color As a Powerful Form of Resistance.

The three-minute short revealed an organisation called Brown Girl Surf  “that teaches girls of color to surf.”

It is an important film because it shows “other women of color that surf is not a white man’s playground” and “that the water is a safe space for women of color because the water is honest.”

The group’s leader says it’s “definitely not a good time to be a woman of color in America” which I presume to be a fork in the eye of America’s 45th president.

Anyway, the friend, a polite and nice little kid who lives in San Francisco, had wrapped the shared post with the message, “The world would be a better place if everyone surfed.”

Which is a fine thing to say.

When I was a child I, too, imagined a world where world leaders wore golden locks from all their surfing, where the Russian president would horse around with his American counterpart, joined together by their love of the ocean.

Of course, I soon became aware that surf did shit for a person’s emotional IQ, that altruism didn’t blossom on the ocean’s seabeds, feeding osmosis-like, into anyone sitting on a surfboard.

But I have a lousy personality. I’m the kind of guy who won’t talk to anybody unless I want something off you.

Therefore, I ask: would the world be a better place if everyone surfed? If the seas were filled with joyous wave dancers? Where colour, religion and so forth were left on the shoreline like your pretty new Leus towel?

An earthy paradise or living hell?

(Watch the colourful girl’s movie here.)


Dane: “The best boards are enablers!”

The one-time fourth-highest rated surfer in the world on what works, what don't… 

A brief exploration of Dane Reynolds’ thoughts as they pertain to surfboard and surfboard design. Helpful, perhaps, as Christmas comes closer and gifts must be suggested and sought.

DR: I know you know boards. So tell me about the board you’re riding at the moment. Who shaped it, dimensions, volume, rail shape, rocker, bottom curve etc. What characteristics do you like, and do you not like, about this board?
Dane: It’s a Channel Islands Black and White shaped by Britt Merrick. The dimensions are, 6’0″ by 19 1/8″ by 2 7/16″. It was a really good board. I’ve had a couple other memorable clips on it. Pretty much most of the footage I’ve shot in the past three years was on four boards, all Black and Whites. Somehow I’ve had really good luck with them. I probably get quarter of the boards I used to but have a way higher ratio of good ones. They’re pretty basic boards: low entry, actually mellow overall rocker, hips, good foil, nothing fancy but just feel like they’re enablers. They get you there. Good balance of drive, rail-to-rail transition, pick up, hold, just neutral and familiar feeling.

You’ve always been hands on with Al and Britt. What gives you a kick about making boards?
Dane: Riding them! Making boards that allow you to surf the way you want to ride a wave.

“Drawing out the outline is fun, trying to blend curves and stuff. Then I grab the saw and all of that’s pretty much out the door, as I’m really shit at sawing. I find that to be the hardest part of the whole process. Then I hack at it with a planer, which I’m also shit at, then try and pick up the pieces after that.” Photo: Morgan Maassen.

What’s the first thing you do when you get a blank and you chuck it on the shaping stand?
Dane: Me personally? Drawing out the outline is fun, trying to blend curves and stuff. Then I grab the saw and all of that’s pretty much out the door, as I’m really shit at sawing. I find that to be the hardest part of the whole process. Then I hack at it with a planer, which I’m also shit at, then try and pick up the pieces after that and see where you’re at and reassess the situation.


They’re pretty basic boards: low entry, actually mellow overall rocker, hips, good foil, nothing fancy but just feel like they’re enablers. They get you there. Good balance of drive, rail-to-rail transition, pick up, hold, just neutral and familiar feeling.


What blanks do you use, which particular models?
Dane: If I’m making a normal shortboard for myself, the 6’4″ EA from US Blanks.

How often do you ride boards you’ve shaped?
Dane: Not so much. I was making a lot more boards before I had a kid and started a company.

Describe the best board you’ve shaped.
Dane: I have one from 2014 I still ride a lot. I’d say it’s the best board I’ve ever shaped. Just a really good shortboard.

Describe the worst board you’ve shaped.
Dane: I’ve made lot’s of shitty boards. When I first started I thought it was so cool to shape ’em without templates or dimensions or plans, just kinda hack away. I was, like, “Look at my foot! It’s not symmetrical! Look at the way i stand on a board! It’s not symmetrical! Why do I need symmetry!” Some of them were really good boards, though. I’d say the worst is when you try to make a high-performance shortboard and get it wrong. There’s a narrow margin for error on a high-performance board and if you get it wrong it’s really shit.

What do you like about riding your own boards?
Dane: It’s a fun process, building it and then trying it.

What don’t you like?
Dane: When they go shit.

What’s your level of sensitivity in regards to riding boards? Can you feel single design elements in your boards? Can you feel a slightly deeper concave or a touch more rocker in the tail?
Dane: I’d say I’m pretty sensitive to the way a board rides but can’t really attribute it to one design quality. Like, two boards that look identical, pretty much never ride the same And it could be anything, the foam, glassing, sanding, stringer, twist in the blank, slight differences in edge, tuck, concave, who knows. It’s better not to analyse too much and move on.

In the sixties and seventies there were a ton of surfer, shapers: MP, Simon, MR etc. Not so much now. You got a theory why?
Dane: Because it’s hard! And time consuming. Back then, those dudes would probably make a few boards a year for themselves and they weren’t exactly fine tuned. There was a way bigger margin for error, they weren’t very refined. Now guys are getting 26 boards before a contest and picking the top six and the guys shaping for ’em are so good! Of course, computers help with replication. It was just a different time, too many reasons to name, really. When you shape a board it gives you a lot of respect for the guys who do it well. It’s not easy to make a good shortboard and, especially, to do it consistently.

You can only pick one element of board design, (ie rocker, planshape, concaves, rails, tail etc) which is the most critical?
Dane: Material.

Have you delved much into much retro or experimental boards? (ie singles/ twins, asymmetrical.) Do these sorts of designs excite you or do you find them limiting?
Dane: When I first started, most of the boards I’d make were, I wouldn’t say retro or experimental, but more like fun shapes. They’re really a lot more fun to shape and ride because pretty much whatever you do they’re still fun to ride, where as a shortboard, like I said, if you get it slightly wrong it’s not a fun ride.

How have you boards changed from what you ride today, from when you were on the Tour?
Dane: When I was on tour it was mostly Rookies and Protons which are really curvy. My shortboards are quite a bit mellower rocker-wise these days.

I have dreams where I’m trying to make it to my heat and I’m stuck in traffic or people keep stalling me out or keeping me places while I know my heat’s coming up. Or I’m in a heat and my legs won’t move and I need a score or I’m getting chased by a shark and also trying to surf a heat.

What do most average surfers get wrong with their boards?
Dane: Shit no idea. Most people I know or see at the beach take what they can get.

What is more likely to keep you awake at night, thoughts about shaping or surfing?
Dane: I still have dreams where I’m trying to make it to my heat and I’m stuck in traffic or people keep stalling me out or keeping me places while I know my heat’s coming up. Or I’m in a heat and can’t surf, like my legs won’t move and I need a score or I’m getting chased by a shark and also trying to surf a heat.

There’s the old Terry Fitz piece of advice that until you’re a a very good surfer, you should build your style around your boards, not your boards around your style. Should an average cat worry about his boards or just get something that sorta fits and work it?
Dane: I’d say, consider the waves you surf when choosing a board. Point breaks you want something that glides. If you live in Hawaii you want something that harnesses speed. If you live in Florida you want something that generates speed. Then have your friend or girlfriend film you and if it’s shocking or embarrassing, reassess your equipment and approach. Ha!

(Editor’s note: A longer version of this story first appeared in Surfing Life‘s surfboard issue, number 338. Buy it or subscribe here.)

Fashion: “I like women’s butts too!”

"I’m a feminist, bisexual, hippy, traveler."

This is the giving season and ain’t that grand? One moment of the year when we think of our loved ones before we think of ourselves. And what did you buy for your loved one? Some jewels? Chocolate? Did you ever think about buying her a bikini that promises not to come off in heavy water? I stumbled across the Surf Worthy campaign a month ago now and it make me click because the company promised a revolution in the surf bikini. Then I emailed owner George Pixie (who is a woman) because I was curious.

And you may think this is outside of BeachGrit‘s typical piece but wait until you get to the end and George thanks God for BeachGrit. Then you’ll feel all anti-depressive and buy a bikini. Win-win!

What is wrong with women’s swimsuits?

I fully got into my surfing when I lived in Indo for 7 years, working as a Dive Instructor. The challenge of the Indo waves really pushed me to be a better surfer. But back in 2004, even with all the major surf brands in Bali, the only bikini I could find for surfing was an itty-bitty string pieces of cloth, that ripped off your boobs or exposed your arse on the first duck dive or wipe out.

Here I was trying to face big, heavy waves as a new surfer, I had enough challenges without needing to fu*king re-dress myself every 5 minutes. It was enough frustration to make me source out a factory and give them patterns for my idea of the best stay-on bikini. 

What did you do right?

After wearing this sample my first surf session it was a total game changer. I no longer had to think about what I was wearing and could just concentrate on the waves. Then to wear it on the live-aboard diving boats under my wetsuit, I would dive 4 times a day, ripping off the suit every time I got back on the boat. Mine was the only bikini staying in place. It made changing and drying and much quicker experience, as well as the comfort of it not shifting under my suit. Then I realized it was an all seasons bikini.

I was receiving as much attention from women dive colleagues and guests, as I was from women surfers. They wanted to know where they could buy the stay put bikini I was wearing! It was this point that I thought, OK there is a real need for this, maybe I should make a business.

Unfortunately, money wise, I hadn’t a pot to piss in at this point, and it took me 7 years work and travel to raise enough funds to make my first collection.

In those years, a lot of new women’s brands hit the scene with more durable surf bikinis, but still none as good as ours. Our tops have thicker straps and a wide under-breast support band, they are still the sleekest and most secure I have ever seen. We recently had our design tested by big wave surfer, Brittany Gomulka in Waimea Bay, who said our bikini “stayed on like no other”.
And no-one is producing anything as secure as our bikini shorts, that tie tightly, fully around the waist, and have a proper crotch lining that doesn’t reveal the anatomy of your vagina to the world, ( no camel toe).

Maybe I’m getting old, but a lot of our loyal ambassadors and customers around the world are the kind of women who surf every day, or as much as they can. When you’re surfing that much, you want to feel comfy and have flexibility with your clothing to move. Not every woman wants to wear a g-string bikini pant.

It’s hard enough as a woman to be taken seriously out in the line-up, I paddle out on the defensive sometimes feeling a need to prove myself, especially in crowds. So in that frame of mind, I don’t want to be feeling that way with half my ass in a dude’s face. But these are 90% of the pictures you see on social media, surf women’s butts. It’s fine, I like looking at women’s butts too. Those bikinis are just not my style. Plus – butt cheek board rash? No thanks.

I’m not a prude, I love surfing naked when I get the rare opportunity, (and not at risk from being arrested). But that’s the difference between naturism and voyeurism. I’m more naturist.

How tough is it to be in the women’s surf business? To deal with the hideous surf media?

If I was a guy launching this new cut of boardies for men to wear, maybe we would have seen my design on Magic Seaweed by now, or someone would have picked up on it. (We wrote to everyone including MSW.)

But that’s the challenge, the surf media is still very much run by men who want to write about men.

It has been hard enough to get our company off the ground with virtually no cash. Then you’re bringing out a bikini not deemed as sexy as others, because we won’t compromise over functionality. So I think even women surfers can be hesitant as image consciousness is such a big deal. But they are flattering, and just the best feeling to surf in. The problem is getting women in them in the first place, to see how good they feel. And that means publicity.

I thought, OK, we have a collection of earth-conscious, sustainable bikinis, featuring art by women surf artists in our community. And a new design of boardies never-seen-before. We’re trying some new stuff, we’re taking it back to grassroots, our designs are made durable to last 1000s of bashings and not fall apart after one season, the designs are rad. Getting a few women’s surf mags to write about them would be the easy bit! Hahahahahaha.

Absolutely no solidarity coming from the women surf magazine world. I’ve become bitter about it. As every one of them has just ignored us. Not even a reply e-mail saying, “no, sorry, it’s not really our thing”, just nothing!

Are we that much of a threat to the advertising sponsorship they get from the big brands?! Is it because we talk publicly about fair wages? Fuck knows, they won’t tell us.

Maybe soul surfers are a dying breed? Maybe surfers today no longer fit my ideal, that we are – separating ourselves from the bullshit big corps and dumb patriots that fuck the world up.

It’s getting harder to see this kind of human out in the line-up.

For me, surfing is about respecting other people out there, a tribe of non-conformists who want to feel the power of mother-nature, as raw, spiritual energy. It’s no boarders.

I look at surfing as an artform. I’m inspired to create something worthy of real female surfers, something they can be proud of wearing, and that works properly to rip it up in the waves. That’s why we’re Surf Worthy.

But I’m not seeing any of that in the women’s surf media world. Surf media seems to be driven by world ranking numbers and sponsorship deals. Not real life surfers.
I look at a recent women’s surf magazine online, one of the big ones, I find a feature.. “how to make a sea shell mirror”.

I’m a feminist, bisexual, hippy, traveler who’s hustled my way around the world doing every immigrant, badly paid job going, anything I could find to keep surfing. Pot-washing in France, farm work in Oz, cleaning houses in Cali, anything to keep travelling and surfing. What the fuck do I want to do with a seashell mirror?

I’m lucky enough to have had a mattress to sleep on the last 15 years!

Not to mention that taking shells from the beach is ruining coastlines, and fucking up the status quo of the food chain in the ocean. It’s like they are trying to pretend they are still a bit hippy, but they haven’t got a fu*king clue.

So yes, the surf media doesn’t appear to relate to all kinds of surfers, especially non-wealthy ones. If they can’t see what we’re trying to do for the world and for women surfers, is worth a few measly lines, then fine! Fuck them. At least BeachGrit gave us a chance, thank God you guys are alternative.

Thank God is right. Wanna buy for a loved one? Link here!