Gosh, says here I can buy a dang house in Nicaragua for a hundred k and have a pack of cleaners for ten bucks a day.

Surf tourism “Killing Central America”!

Soaring real estate prices; locals turned into cleaners, drivers, tour guides… 

Did you ever think that one day, surf tourism would be a thing? Many years ago, of course, surfers rejected the whole notion of tourism, where every whim, need, desire is taken care of by troupes of indigenous workers toiling for their western masters.

Hence adventures to the hitherto unknown islands of Bali, Java, Sumatra and so forth, surfers melting into local communities, learning the language, connecting. 

These days, surfers have been built towns in every crummy Third World joint from Indonesia to Mexico. These ghettos, filled with balayaged boys and girls, rely on two crucial factors: cheap labour and cheap land. The four-hundred k that doesn’t buy you even a piece of a studio apartment in New York gets you a palace by the beach in Nicaragua; the thirty bucks an hour you gotta pay for a nanny in Sydney gets you a fleet of industrious hands in Bali.

Good for the tourist; ruinous for the indigenous community. Real estate prices soar. Trades and traditional crafts lost as everyone becomes cleaners, drivers and tour guides.

In an essay on Pacific Standard, the fantastically named Cinnamon Janzer skewers surf tourism. Here’s a good lil excerpt:

“A 2009 study on global mobility found that ‘Sayulita has become transnationalized … by its real estate market, which is now mainly advertised for potential clients in the north. These marketing campaigns have [rendered] property ownership virtually inaccessible to the local population.’ Even in 2009, property prices started to reach into the millions of dollars in Sayulita, where average homes used to cost just a few thousand dollars.

Once tiny fishing villages like Sayulita and San Juan are touched by surf tourism, they begin to transform culturally. Nick Towner, a lecturer at the Auckland Institute of Studies in New Zealand whose doctoral work researched the isolated effects of surf tourism in the Mentawai Islands of Indonesia, explains that, ‘after a while, you start to see a shift in the community. They sell their nets and the younger people don’t fish anymore. Now they’re dependent on surf tourism, but that’s seasonal.’

Communities that once relied on their own skills for subsistence are now dependent on tourism, an outside force that naturally waxes and wanes. Towner’s work also found that younger generations begin to adopt both the appearance and behaviors of the tourists they see. He explains that they begin to wear board shorts and sometimes turn to activities like drug dealing to acquire iPhones that they can’t otherwise afford.

Surfers often head to exotic locales on vacation with the intention to relax and escape, often turning to drugs and alcohol in the process, a trend reflected in the popping up debauchery-fueled bar crawls like San Juan del Sur’s Sunday Funday. Local kids, however, don’t understand that the tourists’ vacations are just that—vacations. What younger generations of locals perceive as a lifestyle is really just a two-week break from what is likely a job that involves sitting in front of a computer hours on end and a dull commute to and from an office every day.”

Do you think, as I do, that eventually there’ll be uprisings everywhere and the surf colonialists will have their heads removed and placed on pikes as a warning to anyone else who might think it’s a good idea to stomp into foreign cultures and takeover?

Or will it be biz as usual, money talks etc, forever?

Read the rest here. 


Laird Hamilton: “Sleep is important!”

Surf's most prolific pitchman adds another company to his portfolio!

Laird Hamilton is the nearest thing our surf world has to Santa Claus. The ageless man surfs the earth™ (on a golfboard) while taking food to the extreme™ (with Laird SuperFood) while wearing clothing with a contemporary and multi-functional edge™ (in Laird apparel). And today, near Christmas, he has partnered with another company that promises to maximize your sleep. Let’s hear from him:

Sleep is a foundation to my training because it’s vital for muscle regeneration, mental recovery, and more importantly, long term health,” Hamilton said in a statement. “I’m able to chase the upper limits of my abilities by committing to a balance of exercise, diet and rest. As a brand ambassador for SleepScore Labs, I want to highlight the massive benefits of adequate rest and sleep, and the empowerment SleepScore technology gives me to maximize success.

Do you think Laird really speaks like this? “…the empowerment SleepScore technology gives me to maximize success” etc?

More importantly do you think sleep is important or a waste of time?

I’m of the mind that it is mostly a waste of time. If you want to buy the latest Laird craze though you can click here. The SleepScore technology promises…

Through patented technology from Resmed, the parent company of SleepScore that makes hardware for sleep apnea, SleepScore tracks a user’s sleep patterns with biosensing technology.

Its hardware, which is about the size of a tissue box, can monitor respiration and body movement without touching the user from a few feet away. It can track how long it took them to fall asleep and how much time they spent in each sleep cycle.

Taking into account a person’s surrounding environment by measuring factors such as room temperature, light and noise level, it can provide suggestions on how to improve sleep quality by doing things such as turning down the temperature in the room or using earplugs to cut out excess noise.

That sounds fucking stupid.

Donnie Frankenreiter, Ben Stiller and Andy Irons cameo in the Taj Burrow biopic Fair Bits.

Holiday repeat: 5 Rules for the Golden Age of Surf Writing!

Rule five: hold grudges!

This is the Golden Age of Surf writing. Chas Smith said it here, so it must be true.

But also, objectively, it is true.

At one end of the spectrum, you have the wise old men of the establishment like Nick Carroll and Shaun Doherty laying down smooth grooves. So trustworthy! So objective!
And, at the other end newer hands with different voices. You like a bit of tropical fruit in your daily word salad? Dell Rielly is your man.

Even fruitier, with impeccable Somalian/Yemeni surf cred and a Tom Wolfian penchant to suffer for style? Chas Smith will delight and infuriate with equal elan.

“Wild” Bill Finnegan has got the coolest, most detached New Yorker prose going anywhere outside New York City, even when his gal takes up with a Cuban revolutionary and he discovered Tavarua. Impeccable cool cat! All tastes accounted for!

Surf writing is taking over the world. We are all surf writers now. As we speak university courses are being rolled out in Slovakia, Borneo, Hamburg, Minnesota and many other places including Pakistan. Community colleges in Humboldt County California are struggling to find tutors to keep up with the demand. Everyone wants to luxuriate in the warm international bath of surf writer-hood and why not? Plenty of room for everyone. But please newbie surf writers, let’s try and advance the art form whilst we all enjoy the fruits of the Golden Age.

Here are some simple rules to follow.

Say Something

So simple. So often neglected. Before you sit down to write you have to have something to say, an idea, a premise, a point of view. Facts won’t do. Facts without a narrative are meaningless. This is Kurt Vonneguts first rule of writing in effect: use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time is wasted. The concept of a premise is sometimes easier to understand in the negative. These are examples of non-ideas: a college graduate intern at The Inertia writing a thousand words on a subject of their choice for free, wanting to help your friend by writing an encouraging review of their film/music/writing, re-printing a WSL press release without context, wanting to surf Macaronis with pros and writing about the trip, writing about a pros first day on the CT.
Nothing to say? No problemo hombre. Put the pen down and hit the bricks pal. Go about in the big wide world and do some living.

Tip: Failure is more interesting than success. And easier to access.

Don’t write to a word count

Nothing can rescue a shit premise or non-idea, nothing. So don’t compound the error by padding it and making it even it an even more miserable waste of time for the poor sap reading it. Don’t say in a thousand words what you can say in 500 or 50. If your idea is good, strip it naked and send it into the sunlight to dance. If it needs twelve thousand words then defend that to the death against ignoramus editors.

Don’t be a comment coward

Is there anything lamer than someone who can punch in the co-ordinates but can’t deliver the ordnance in the comments section? Answer: Nein, non, nyet. Surf writer, you ain’t Moses strolling down from Mount Sinai delivering the Ten Commandments on stone tablets. So wipe that smug grin of your face. Everything you say is contestable and maybe completely wrong. The article is just the entrée, foreplay and nothing else.

It’s in the comments where the surf writer has to show up, get down and turn it loose. If you can’t defend your ideas in the comments then they were probably shit to begin with. Like a major, you drive for show, putt for dough. That is to say, the short game, via social, via the comments, is where the shit goes down. The ancient conceit amongst the old print surf writers is that they are smarter than their audience. For the USA, wrong. For Australian readers, maybe. A safer place to start is the assumption that the commenters are smarter than you and you better get ready to hustle. If you can’t make boogie-woogie in the comments then GTFO.

You got your nose bloodied in the comments surf writer? Get over it, you had it coming!

Make the call

Art is long, life is short and success is very far off, said excellent Polish surf writer Joseph Conrad. Except, for the surf writer there is no success. It’s not a career, it’s a calling, an affliction. To rip off Hunter Thompson: a cheap catch-all for fuckoffs and misfits — a false doorway to the backside of life, a filthy piss-ridden little hole nailed off by the building inspector, but just deep enough for a wino to curl up from the sidewalk and masturbate like a chimp in a zoo-cage.

Surf writers are loathed by their fellow surfers, scorned in polite company, destined to always mumble out of the corner of their mouths when asked what they do: “surf writer”. Not real writers. Bush league batters left to die on the diamond. Parasites, low lifes, gutter dwellers according to Miki Dora via Maurice Cole.

What to do then? Make the call. If you saw it, call it as you saw it. As you see it. Don’t lose courage at the critical moment surf writer. All that is required, said Lester Bangs, is to be honest…and…unmerciful. Those people you’re writing about, they ain’t your friends. If you want to write to make them look good then you’re in the wrong neighbourhood. You need the one over there marked PR, with all the fancy homes and good looking girls.

Be like the Godfather of surf writing Freddy Nietzsche, he who “handles his language like a supple blade and feels from his arms down to his toes the perilous delight of the quivering, over sharp steel that wants to bite, hiss, cut.”

The best surf writer is the one having the most fun in hiding from the most people.

Hold a grudge

Weird thing: surfing is mostly nothing but a frivolous pastime undertaken by privileged white people but to write about it it has to feel like the most important thing in the world, with high stakes where nothing else matters. To you. That means you take every slight personally, not thanks very much for the feedback like a college circle jerk, but fuck you very much and everyone that you love. You don’t roll over like a cocker spaniel waiting to get it’s tummy tickled when someone slights you.

No writer worth anything a damn hasn’t held a grudge. Norman Mailer punched Gore Vidal in the head after Vidal wrote a negative review of Mailer’s (shitty) book Prisoner of Sex. Vidals’ response: “Once again, words fail Norman Mailer”.

Who was the better writer? Mailer wrote better novels, Gore was the superior essayist. In the end, after more than twenty years, they called a truce. If criticism doesn’t stab you in the heart and make you want to commit bloody homicide then you ain’t no surf writer. Above all though, if it isn’t fun you ain’t doing it right.

To put the cherry on the cake here is the definitive list of the Top 5 Surf Writers of all time.

1. Derek Hynd
2. Louie Samuels
3. Blasphemy Rottmouth
4. John Millius (for Apocalypse Now script, Big Wednesday, not so much.)
5. Andrew Kidman
OK, Top Ten, to quell dissent
6. Miklos Dora
7. Dave Parmenter (despite the appalling error of judgement over SUPS).
8. Chas Smith
9. Cori Schumacher
10. Michel Houllebecq (for Lanzarote, funniest book about German lesbians on a surf island ever).

(Editor’s note: This story first appeared on BeachGrit in October, 2015. Reprinted here for a couple of reasons. It’s real good, for one, and, second, it’s hot as hell and if I don’t baptise myself, soon, mind will be lost etc.)

And here we see the just-crowned world champion of professional surfing examining the shot glass of best friend Koa Rothman for any sleight of hand that might've turned booze into water.

True: Booze is your best friend this xmas!

And any other time!

No matter which hemisphere you call home, Christmas is a time for drinking.

Drinking fruity warm weather cocktails in summery Australia. Drinking thick cold weather cocktails in wintery America. Drinking caipirinha in Brazil.

You have, likely, been to at least one Christmas party so far this year, unless you happen to be a Jehovah’s Witness, and will likely attend a New Year’s party, unless you happen to be Chinese.

And how do you perform? Do you have a system for your drinking or do you throw caution to the wind, drinking like a sorority pledge?

Well, not to put too fine a point on it but you shouldn’t drink like a sorority pledge. Neither should you not drink. So what are the rules? Oh, let me tell you.

Drink what is being offered.

If the host has muddled some gin, cranberry, ginger beer thing and garnished it with a rosemary twig you must take, drink and smile. You don’t have to drink more than one but you have to drink one even if gin isn’t your thing or rosemary gives you a tickly throat. Transition soon thereafter to something and soda.Whisky or vodka but compliment the host’s creation.

Drink only one of what is being offered.

If the host has gone traditional, and delicious, with a sweet sangria (Australia) or a buttery egg nog (America) or a caipirinha (Brazil) and it is your favorite thing ever still only drink one. Two or more sangria will leave you with a splitting headache. Two or more egg nog will make you instantly rotund. Two or more caipirinha will have you double-hand claiming very average things for the rest of the night.

Do shots, if shots are being done.

The man who “doesn’t do shots” thinks of himself in a positive light but he is the only one because really he is a sissy. If someone, anyone gets the idea that what the party needs is shots then don’t cheer like a moron but also don’t smugly inform everyone that you “don’t do shots.” Take your shot, shoot it. Very simple. (See Koa Rothman below doing what needs be done without doctoring.)


Don’t be the one to suggest shots.

Shots are generally in poor taste.

Beer doesn’t count.

Wandering around nursing a Bud Light or a Cascade Premium Light all evening is the same as wandering around with a full glass of water. Every party has a pooper and that’s why they invited you.

Pace yourself.

Smashing it out early then turning into a bumbling fool late will get you nowhere but puking in the bushes. Drink your host cocktail then your own whiskey/vodka soda then a second whiskey/vodka soda then a third but not in 30 mins. That’s a good hour and a half of drinking right there.

Don’t pace yourself.

It is the Christmas season. Don’t be the sort of person who always has to be in control.

And that is how you achieve enlightenment.

Want a tour with sixteen studs filching each other for one long, beautiful, thrilling day? Or do you enjoy the ancient three-day format?

Solution: How to Monetise the WCT!

Sixteen surfers, one-day events, pay-to-view… 

Do you worry about the future of the WCT? Of the fabulously handsome Dirk Ziff’s, so far, thirty mill investment?

It keeps me up at night!

If the WCT wants to kick itself into the black, here are the tough decisions.

First, kill those babies.

The biggest issue for the CT is the current field of 36 competitors per event. You need 26 hours of heats to run the event. Without any interruptions and running full time that’s around three days. And this is over a waiting period of around 12 days per event. Who’s that good for? The surfers? The fans? Nobody.

The sales side of this is a nightmare. Live sport is one of the last pillars of the traditional TV broadcast. Live sport, along with news, might actually survive this new digital age. And what do live sports broadcasts rely on?


What sports broadcaster wants to buy a product that may run intermittently for a three-day period over a 12-day stretch?

What’s the solution? Cut the tour to 16 surfers. Round one, round two, quarter-finals ,semi-finals, finals. Run a contest in one day. Waiting periods would still apply but forecasting for optimal conditions would be so much easier.

Wh’d be in the this top 16? Let’s examine the ratings: JJF, Gabs, Julian, Jordy, Wilko, Owen, Kolohe, Adriano, Joel, Filipe, Seabass, Mick, Connor, Frederico, Jeremy, Ace. The Top 12 at the end of the year requalify and the other 4 are pulled from the ‘QS Prime Tour’. It’s a sellable product, jammed with potential super-stars, that doesn’t require test-cricket like attention spans from the audience.

The biggest argument coming from the pundits that want 34 touring surfers is to allow for ‘development’. Stage two of the solution would address this and at the same time bring much-needed public attention to the QS.

Currently, the only viewers of the QS are the athlete’s parents and their sponsors. The ‘QS Prime’ circuit would become a tour for the next best 64 surfers and consists of the QS6000+ events that are currently in production. Any QS6000+ event comes with the public circus and funding of a CT event anyway so why not make it more of a spectator sport? The current prime tour would read Australia x 2, Japan, Sri Lanka, South Africa, USA, Spain, Portugal, Brazil, Hawaii x 2.

The third tier would consist of the QS1000, 1500, and 3000 events. This is the ‘public tour’ where surfers can join to get enough points to qualify for the Prime Tour.

What we get is a framework that is structured and isn’t muddied by athletes competing across weight-divisions. It can also be explained to a non-surfer without the use of calculus. Schedule it right and you could have an event worth viewing (CT or Prime) every two weeks. The elite tour would create household names while the prime tour would shine a light on the best up-and-coming talent.

Having this new structure also allows for greater revenue opportunities. The UFC is a great yardstick as they produce much content in-house, in a similar model to what the WSL is trying to do. The UFC broadcasts its lower-tier fights for free, to garner attention. But they switch to a PPV (pay-per-view) model when it comes to the elite fights. In the short term, I don’t see the WSL being able to attract the ESPN’s and FOX’s of the world to live broadcast events. The online broadcast is going to be the bread and butter.

But a UFC-esque model would work for the WSL. Free online broadcast of the QS Prime and ‘qualification’ tours, and then switch to a pay-per-event or annual subscription model for the CT. A subscription service could/should follow the NBA or NFL Game Pass model, where you have access to a huge range of online replays/camera angles/insights etc. through your paid online portal.

For the QS Prime events it’s not too much of a change. You have already got big-name sponsors lined up. You could also argue that the quality of surfer would improve. However, the sponsors would have the cherry dangled that these Prime events would attract a larger audience via the only ‘free’ broadcast. The CT now opens up a range of new revenue opportunities: tickets, subscriptions and bigger sponsorships.

Firstly, tickets. Currently, the WSL faces a tricky task selling tickets due to the sporadic running of the events over a 12-day period. With a one0-day event and modern day forecasting you could almost pinpoint the day the event will run a couple of weeks out.

Also, fans are more likely to pay for entry if they know that they will be able to go for one day and see a full competition back-to-back. I’m not suggesting the WSL ropes off the whole beach area and make it an entirely ticketed event. It’d be free to stand on the beach but there’d be ticketed premium areas with seating/bars/lounges. You could charge for sponsorship suites. All this comes to life with a one-day competition.

Of course, some locations will be bigger revenue spinners, such as Australia, Europe and USA. But the extra revenue from theses would help cover the budget hole for beautiful, and necessary, stops for the dream tour like Fiji and Tahiti.

The new selective CT would also naturally create superstar names. And superstars bring large followings and big sponsorship dollars.

Here’s how it looks:

CT – 16 Competitors

Top 12 quality of the next year

Bottom 4 relegated to the Prime Tour

Contest Structure

Round 1 – 4 surfers – 1 advances to QF, 2 to round 2, 1 eliminated

Round 2 – 2 surfers – 1 advances, 1 eliminated




*15 heats in total for the competition.

Prime Tour – 64 competitors

Top 4 promoted to CT

Next 40 stay on Prime Tour

Bottom 20 relegated to Qualification Tour

Contest Structure

Same as current format, except seeding into higher rounds for the top 16 on tour

Qualifying Tour

Top 20 advance to Prime Tour

Open numbers

If the WSL switched to this format, here’s who’d be where.


  1. John John Florence
  2. Gabriel Medina
  3. Julian Wilson
  4. Jordy Smith
  5. Matt Wilkinson
  6. Owen Wright
  7. Kolohe Andino
  8. Adriano de Souza
  9. Joel Parkinson
  10. Filipe Toledo
  11. Sebastian Zietz
  12. Mick Fanning
  13. Griffin Colapinto
  14. Jesse Mendes
  15. Wade Carmichael
  16. Tomas Hermes


  1. Connor O’Leary
  2. Frederico Morais
  3. Jeremy Flores
  4. Adrian Buchan
  5. Kanoa Igarashi
  6. Caio Ibelli
  7. Michel Bourez
  8. Conner Coffin
  9. Joan Duru
  10. Italo Ferreira
  11. Ian Gouveia
  12. Miguel Pupo
  13. Wiggoly Dantas
  14. Leonardo Fioravanti
  15. Kelly Slater
  16. Ezekiel Lau
  17. Jack Freestone
  18. Nat Young
  19. Jadson Andre
  20. Ethan Ewing
  21. Stuart Kennedy
  22. Yago Dora
  23. William Cardoso
  24. Keanu Asing
  25. Michael Rodrigues
  26. Patrick Gudauskas
  27. Michael Frebruary
  28. Jordann Couzinet
  29. Alejo Muniz
  30. Bino Lopes
  31. Hiroto Ohhara
  32. Ricardo Christie
  33. Vasco Ribeiro
  34. Alex Ribeiro
  35. Joshua Moniz
  36. Deivid Silva
  37. Mikey Wright
  38. Flavio Nakagima
  39. Carlos Munoz
  40. Dion Atkinson
  41. Maxime Huscenot
  42. Cooper Chapman
  43. Davey Cathels
  44. Ramzi Boukhiam
  45. Adam Melling
  46. Kiron Jabour
  47. Miguel Tudela
  48. Peterson Crisanto
  49. Mitch Coleborn
  50. Ryan Callinan
  51. Soli Bailey
  52. Lucas Silveira
  53. Aritz Aranburu
  54. Evan Geiselman
  55. Marco Giorgi
  56. Thiago Camarao
  57. Victor Bernardo
  58. Noe Mar McGonagle
  59. Barron Mamiya
  60. Ian Crane
  61. Gony Zubizarreta
  62. David Van Zyl
  63. Marc Lacomare
  64. Cam Richards

Qualifying Top 20 to advance

  1. Heitor Alves
  2. Tanner Gudauskas
  3. Benji Brand
  4. Dusty Payne
  5. Rafael Teixeira
  6. Hizunome Bettero
  7. Brett Simpson
  8. Charly Martin
  9. Hiroto Arai
  10. Luel Felipe
  11. Oney Anwar
  12. Marco Fernandez
  13. Imaikalani Devault
  14. Mitch Crews
  15. Tanner Hendrickson
  16. Krystian Kymerson
  17. Beyrick De Vries
  18. Seth Moniz
  19. Koa Smith
  20. Kalani Ball

Tell me this wouldn’t work.