Surfing California’s official sport!

Nothing represents the California Dream better than surfing...

I know many of you live here in California and have you ever been jealous of Australia? Oh not its love of public singing and liberal relationship with beer, though that too, but with the fact that surfing is the country’s official sport? I’ve never known exactly what that means but know more now after reading Maurice Cole’s masterpiece. All in all it seems to create wonderful dramas and scandals. Something surfing in California needs very much more of.

Which is why my heart leapt last evening when the great Matt Warshaw sent to me bill AB1972 being advanced through California’s congress by Rep. Al Muratsuchi from Torrance and Ian Calderon from Whittier that establishes surfing as the state’s official sport. Let’s read!

“Nothing represents the California Dream better than surfing — riding the waves and living in harmony with the beautiful beaches and ocean of our Golden State. Surfing in California has a rich history and culture. The surfing lifestyle attracts people from all around the world and generates over $6 billion in annual retail sales. Surfing is an iconic California sport and an important part of the multibillion dollar California coastal economy, particularly in the tourism and recreation industries. For these reasons, I am proud to introduce a bill that would make surfing California’s official sport,” said Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance).

“I’m proud to join Assemblymember Muratsuchi in designating surfing as our state sport,” stated Majority Leader Ian Calderon. “Growing up surfing not only had a significant impact on who I am as a person, but also taught me at a young age to appreciate and cherish our beautiful coastline that we are so fortunate to have here in California.”

Now, how thrilled are you that California Surfing™ is basically here? Gimme drama! Gimme scandal! Gimme Stormy Daniels!

Surfing Australia success story, Shane Holmes. Third at the 2015 ISA games in Nicaragua. | Photo: Surfing Australia

Opinion: “Bureaucracy killing Australian surfing!”

"If there’s not a massive change soon, Australian surfing is doomed," says surfer-shaper Maurice Cole.

A few months ago, Surfing Australia announced with much fanfare that it was going to demolish the old high-performance training facility in Casuarina in northern NSW and build a much grander version at a cost of $5.6 million.

The NSW state government threw in three mill, the federal government two and a half, and Surfing Australia a hundred grand.

A beautiful example of governments helping the kids, a, or money squandered on a failing system? I choose…b.

Explain to me this.

More and more money is being tipped into surfing in Australia and yet competitive surfing here is at its lowest ebb. How many surfers have we got coming through the WQS? How many have qualified?

Of eight new surfers on the WCT, five are Brazilians, two are Americans and there’s the single Australian, Wade Carmichael. (Side note: A few years ago, I spent a bit of time in Hawaii with Wade. He’s quiet but fuck can he surf. When I got back to Australia I showed Quiksilver footage of Wade. Said they could pick him up for fifty grand. They wanted to back Matt Banting instead. Good call that one.)

And that piece of shit ISA world titles in May? Australia finished twelfth, only a few hundred points clear of Germany. Round four was the best an Australian did in the blue-ribbon Open Men’s. A colossal failure.

At the world junior titles in Kiama, Australia didn’t get one surfer into the quarter-finals. In one-to-two-foot junk. Indonesians and Japanese finished higher than Australians at our home break. We should have the best one-to-three-foot specialists in the world. I see all these kids doing contests every weekend and we couldn’t crack even the minor finals.

And who won the world juniors? A Hawaiian kid. Finn McGill. In shit surf. A kid who can ride Teahupoo, Backdoor, Pipe, Waimea and Jaws. The complete competitor.

Australian surfing is really the tale of two surfers: Ethan Ewing and Jack Robinson. Is Trevor Robinson, Jack’s dad, a genius? Because Jack is twenty and he can win at big Pipe and match anyone at Teahupoo. He’s ready to go. The problem is, he can’t get out of a fucking heat in the WQS. But that’s easily fixed. Get a good coach. Jack should be on the WCT, easy, until he wants to retire.

But how long will it take Ethan to learn to surf big Pipe, big Backdoor, big Teahupoo? Who’s taking care of the surfers who come through the Surfing Australia system?

It’s a system that’s broken.

It’s not producing anything except salaries for the people at the top. They’re more interested in having shitty contests every weekend in every part of Australia.

But when do kids learn to surf? To really surf?

Meanwhile, the French kids, the Hawaiian kids, they’re out there charging. Killian Guerin just surfed Waimea. He’s fourteen. These kids can all surf top-to-bottom barrels no matter where. By the time they get to the WQS they’re ready to graduate to the WCT.

If there’s not a massive change soon, Australian surfing is doomed. It’s like Australian tennis. In the sixties there wasn’t a country in the world who could touch the Australia. Now, our best players, the prodigies Nick Kyrgios and Bernard Tomic, are spoiled brats. How did they get to that point? Why didn’t they straighten that shit out? What’s Tennis Australia doing?

Jack Robinson’s dad didn’t let him go into the Surfing Australia system. Trevor might be hard to deal with, and maybe he’s only liked by the lunatic fringe like me, but what we’re dealing with is a surfer who has no mediocrity in him, except going into a heat.

Surfing Australia, I feel, is a mediocre bureaucracy that produces mediocrity. We have some of the best free surfers in the world, Ando, Creed, Noa and we have that in bucketloads, but for the competitive kid, all they get prepared for is years and years on the QS.

Look at Jack Freestone. Two-times world junior champ. Came through the Surfing Australia system. For the amount of talent that he’s got, his mediocre results are a failure of the system. He never learned to surf Teahupoo, Pipe or even Fiji. Jack Robinson, meanwhile, had the passion to learn to surf those places.

Right now is the lowest Australian competitive surfing has ever been and the Olympics are coming up. God knows how we’ll go. Normally, I’d say Australia is odds-on for a medal but I fucking doubt it. We don’t have the depth of surfers. But we have all the infrastructure, all the academies, the six-million-dollar high-performance centre, all the bureaucracies.

What do we want to produce? World champions. Australia loves world champions. Nat Young’s still walking around with his hand in the air saying, “World Champ!” No one remembers second. You could have twenty-five seconds in a row and no one would remember. Being a world champion sets you up for life.

We used to be a nation of mongrels. We were that strong, we were that dominant. We’d go to Hawaii and fucking surf and fucking party and fucking headbutt each other, knock each other out and then buy each other a beer. We were raw. We were passionate. But loaded with ability.

And then came Surfing Australia. More money than ever. Worst results ever.

Right now is the lowest Australian competitive surfing has ever been and the Olympics are coming up. God knows how we’ll go. Normally, I’d say Australia is odds-on for a medal but I fucking doubt it. We don’t have the depth of surfers. But we have all the infrastructure, all the academies, the six-million-dollar high-performance centre, all the bureaucracies.

Why has Brazil produced all these amazing, hungry surfers? Not because they have more talent. They do a few local contests, do the ISA, world pro juniors then they’re straight onto the WQS. We dick around for another two years, hold onto ‘em until they’re twenty. Meanwhile, teenage Brazilians are spending their winters in Hawaii.

What are the Key Performance Indicators for Surfing Australia? All this money has been given by the state and federal governments, supposedly with KPIs attached, but where is the success?

My question to Surfing Australia is this: do you believe your system is a success and can you show us the how you reached that conclusion? Are we teaching kids to get out of heats or to become competitive? What are we actually doing?

As for me, why am I qualified to ask these questions? I’ve been competing sine I was thirteen. I became a shaper as well as a pro surfer and I was on the advisory board of the ASP for twenty-plus fucking years. It’s part of my culture and I’ve been mentored by the best since I was a kid. My networking is second to none. I can call any owner or CEO of any major surf company. In my forty-five years of surfing I’ve seen the cycles come and go. That’s who I am and what I am.

The Great “Anonymous Troll” Lie!

Stab magazine is a piece of shit!*

Even though this nugget has been mined from a vein of which you are no doubt tired, I think it is important to discuss. At some point, near the end of our conversation, Stab magazine’s Ashton Goggans claimed that the editorial staff decide to turn comments off on certain stories to protect individuals/brands from “anonymous trolls” spewing vile garbage. I checked him at the time but should have maybe choked him out for emphasis.

I don’t believe the “anonymous troll” exists anymore, you see, or at least not where the platform Disqus is used. Sure the avatars and handles may not be a one-to-one reflection of the owner but neither are they altogether detached. Everyone’s comments, I feel, are a rough proximation of what he or she feels in real life. The more one comments, the more the comments reflect reality. The bar for entry is relatively high (having or creating a working email account etc.) and even though many of Stab twelve full-time employees on two continents created one-time only Disqus accounts to support Ashton Goggans post-debate, this phenomenon is entirely rare.

Tossing out the “anonymous troll” line feels to me like using cliches that are neither true nor relevant. Like “money can’t buy happiness” or “the early bird gets the worm.” It also feels completely demeaning and paternalistic.

But maybe I’m wrong.

How much do your comments here, or there, reflect the way you really feel? How much of what you write would you say in person?

*I wrote it. I believe it.

Trump: “I want all sharks to die!”

"I would never donate to any charity that helps sharks."

The enemy of my enemy is my friend, as the saying goes, and today Donald J. Trump became a friend to surfers everywhere. Pillow talk between the 45th President of the United States and his alleged adult actress lover, Stormy Daniels aka Stephanie Clifford, was revealed just moments ago and let’s not waste any more time gabbing. Let’s get straight to one-time magazine Newsweek’s accounting.

President Donald Trump is ‘terrified’ of sharks and hopes they all die, according to adult film actress, Stormy Daniels.

Daniels discussed Trump’s odd fascination with sharks in an InTouch interview conducted in 2011 and released in full on Friday. Daniels has claimed that she had an affair with Trump in 2006.

In the interview, the porn star claimed that during one of her dinners with him at his Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles in July 2006, the TV in the background was playing an episode from the popular television event, Shark Week.

“You could see the television from the little dining room table and he was watching Shark Week and he was watching a special about the U.S.S. something and it sank and it was like the worst shark attack in history. He is obsessed with sharks. Terrified of sharks,” said Daniels.

The adult film actress added that Trump was “riveted” and “obsessed” with the show, despite his fear of them.

“He was like, ‘I donate to all these charities and I would never donate to any charity that helps sharks. I hope all the sharks die.’ He was like riveted. He was like obsessed. It’s so strange, I know,” she said.

But is it really so strange? I don’t think so. I think Donald J. Trump is, as of today, an honorary surfer. All 329 pounds of him.

10 (More) Things I’ll teach My Kid About Surf

Love old men. Fall off waves. Worship at Andy Irons' throne.

A couple of years back I threw a ten-pack of advice on what to teach your kids about surf. The usual stuff, why the death penalty shouldn’t be applied to longboarders no matter how sensible it would be, and so on.

You got kids? Here’s another ten things to tell ‘em.

1. Lay off the fish: You’ll get lazy at some point, kiddo, or there’ll be a run of bad waves for a month and you’ll want a surfboard that picks up a ripple and eats sections. Something wider. Flatter. Thicker. Don’t. You might never come back. Oh, you’ll feel… fabulous… surfing has never been this easy. But when has anything good come without the blood, sweat and pus of trying until you want to puke?

2. Download that GoPro footage: There’s gotta be a thousand years of unclaimed footage sitting around on kids’ GoPros. Get into the habit of downloading it, cutting the clips and sending ’em off somewhere like the Hurley Surf Club. In an act of benevolence from an industry owned, mostly, by French luxury brands and investment bankers, Hurley’ll get your clips, rate ‘em, offer suggestions on how to get better and do it all for free. (And no, that wasn’t native advertising.)

3. You’ll never a man like Kelly Slater in your lifetime: Oh, I know… I know… to you he seems like a silly old man, the way he bites back to nobodies on his Instagram. Throw a line out there, say his clothing isn’t organic or suggest that the earth is a pancake and you’ll haul him in. But, listen: that same screen jockey…made… pro surfing. And for twenty years there wasn’t a man who could touch him.

Oh, wait, there was. Andy Irons.

4. There’ll never be another Andy Irons either. In the great Andy v Kelly rivalry at the turn of the century picking who the good and bad guys were was impossible. Superficially, Kelly was the modest hero. Statues were build of him in his hometown. Magazines competed to see how often they could use the word modest in their profiles. Andy was the trainwreck who’d celebrate a contest win, and a loss if you want to know, by throwing his beak onto the grindstone. A closer examination of their motivations, however, would reveal Kelly as Machiavellian, Andy as terrifyingly honest. The performance level of both surfers, in the sort of waves that matter, is only now, almost twenty years on, being scratched by John John.

5. Learn to skate. Nail ollies, grinds, shuv-its and spins and apply to your surf. And then quit before you break and distort your limbs. Forty-year-old skaters are scarecrow horror shows.

6. Join a club. Local competition sharpens your game and it does it in a way where you don’t feel like you’re going to faint from the pressure. Maybe you’ll like being told to perform in fifteen-minute bursts, maybe it’ll repel you. Whatever happens, you’ll surf better.

7. It’s cool to try: I love watching a kid try the same move over and over for weeks. Blows wave after wave. The frustration kills him. And then one day he lands a monster air-rev or whatever. And suddenly he’s better than most of the guys in the lineup.

8. You can’t fight a SUP: You’re not going to out-paddle one and you’re not going to win a collision with a clown erect on his boat. So move down the beach if you think you’ll lose your mind watching him catch and blow every set.

9. Respect the better older surfers: Hoot ‘em. Tell ‘em if you enjoyed the line they took into a roundhouse. It never happens so you’ll be repaid in waves, in advice, protection, whatever you want.

10. Be kind to kooks: Nothing is more repellant than a pampered jock surf kid railing at beginners as if he was born with a frontside wrap and backside reverse.