The surf journalist (pictured) trying not to swear.
The surf journalist (pictured) trying not to swear. | Photo: Steve Sherman

Damn: Bad words not good for surf writing!

Also self-awareness is good for surf writing!

Yesterday late I was forwarded one of Kelly Slater’s Instagram stories wherein he is doing the “PETA Challenge” and becoming a vegan. I giggled all night thinking about the title for this morning’s offering. Either Shocking: Kelly Slater NOT already vegan! Or maybe Revealed: Kelly Slater once ate meat! This morning, however, I realized I had posted the same basic story underneath a dull headline and only just days ago.

Depression washed over me and stayed over me until I stumbled upon How to become a surf writer on the Portuguese website Surfer Today. It was a longer article completely lacking in annoying flourishes, just laying down the facts. Here is a snippet.

Surfing is a highly visual sport. And because it relies on an enigmatic symbiosis between human and nature, you rarely need words to describe what you see – a perfect solitary wave, a giant mountain of rolling water, a freak backwash wave exploding near the shore break. And on top of that, a man or woman riding it for the simple, yet addictive pleasure of doing so.

But precisely because it gets so visually attractive, surfing weaved its own web of connections. From its historical background and surfboard building techniques to its musical, cultural, scientific, and sociological diversities, surfing became the subject of a wide range of analysis.

Therefore, writing about surfing is a natural process, and something it should and will be done as long as there are waves to be ridden.

Oh how my life path felt validated if even only a moment and I hurried to where it promised me further guidance.

If your goal is to become a well-respected surf journalist, there are a few things you should know before submitting your work to potential publishers or employers. One of the first things you should take into consideration is that you need to make choices.

1. Are you someone who prefers quality over quantity or the other way around?

2. Build a surf media chart

3. Build personal awareness

4. Adopt a no-swearing policy


I continued reading.

While it can sound cool to younger audiences in some circumstances, bad and offensive language will immediately narrow down your chances of attracting mature readers and employers.

Shit. Well, there goes that moment of validation. I’m officially back to where I started with not a mature reader or employer on the horizon. Tomorrow morning, though, I debate Stab’s Ashton Goggans on air.

That will be fun.

Here's the old stud himself, Shane Beschen, forty five in a couple of weeks, vital as anything at the German wavepool City Wave.

3 Ways to Improve your Surfing Instantly!

Land an air, poke a turn, get released from the tube's claw!

Every day brings a deeper enchainment with the nineties surf pro Shane Beschen.

Born and shaped in San Clemente’s gilded surf ghetto, Shane scored the highest-ever heat total in 1996 with a perfect 30 (three 10s) at Kirra and, for a time, was the arch rival of Kelly Slater (In 1994, Beschen beat Slater at the US Open while surfing without a leash). After retiring, prematurely, from the tour in 2005, Shane has used his tour knowledge to improve the game of surfers Carissa Moore, Conner Coffin and Kolohe Andino. His two sons, Noah, sixteen, and Koda, who is twelve, carry his superior genetic code in their surf jams.

And if you, or me, want an instant fix to our surf woes, well, Beschen has answers.

1. How to land airs: Most of us have never really conquered the mechanics of airs. We race along a wave, bottom turn, throw ourselves into the lip and fall on our backs. Beschen says if you want to get better, if you want to improve today, the first thing you have to do is buy a board that’s fast and wide. And instead of bottom turning at the bottom of the wave, do your turn mid-face. “Honestly, the mid-face bottom turn is the most important thing,” says Beschen. “And, then, when you hit the lip, really pull up with your knees and throw back your shoulder to make sure you’re centred. And you want to land on the lip so you crush it down. It’s a cushion for your landings. A lot of the super gnarly guys land on the flats or in the trough, where the lip hits the bottom of the wave, but that’s the worst place you want to be. Injuries? You don’t want ’em.”

2. Shorten your board to improve your tube riding: This is a frontside trick to get you out of your tubes. “Move both feet forward, plain and simple,” he says. “You want your back foot above the Astrodeck (tail pad) and the front foot somewhere between six and 12 inches where you normally have it. That really shortens your board and it makes it easier to speed up and slow down.”

Backside is different, says Beschen. “You want to drop your back knee almost as if you were surfing drop-knee. And square your front shoulder. Look at John John, Slater or Bruce Irons for perfection of this art.”

“You’re trying to create an imbalance. Your back leg bends while the front leg remains straight. Those beautiful arcs like Mick? He’s really compressing the back leg and straightening the front leg.

3. Poke your turns: You want to carve like Mick Fanning? “I’ve been explaining this lately as ‘poking’ turns,” says Beschen. “You’re trying to create an imbalance. Your back leg bends while the front leg remains straight. Those beautiful arcs like Mick? He’s really compressing the back leg and straightening the front leg. You see a lot of kids with an even stance, both legs are bent. This is creates a block and so they’re not able to wrap their turns.”

Now go get ’em!

Surf photographer: “Whoa chill out!”

An amateur British surf photographer has a message for rage-filled locals!

On my many travels I have been to Scotland’s Edinburgh, North Ireland’s Belfast, Wales’ Cardiff but I have never been to England’s Cornwall. Its beating surf heart. I should certainly rectify this and yesterday’s dust between a photographer and angry locals made me want to move my trip right up. I love angry locals! And would you like to a recap from CornwallLive?

We all know Cornwall has its fair share of secret surf spots. Waves that may break just a few times a year and that only the locals are supposed to ride.
And we all know how angry surfers can get when their favourite surf spots are revealed.

But now an amateur photographer has landed himself in hot water across the Tamar after taking pictures of rare waves in Plymouth Sound and he’s hit back. Surfer Ben Landricome said that he has received a number of threats since he snapped pictures of the secret surf spot on Saturday, January 6.

He said: “I just wanted to share my pictures. I had no idea the trouble it would cause with the local surfers.” The 36-year-old said that angry surfers having been sending him threats ever since the photos went online.

Ben, from Plymstock, said that some of them had sent him private messages to tell him off for revealing the secret spot.

He explained: “They said they were going to beat me up. I thought ‘woah chill out’. “They’re acting like they own the ocean.”

Jake Yates said: “This should be taken down now. For years it’s been a secret and now one post like this could just go and spoil it for everyone else that has known about it for years.”

Luke Daniel Smith said: “You have got to surf to understand it’s like life out there now there is a chance little scum bags will ruin it for others.”

Cohen Grayling said: “Took us local surfers years of travelling around looking at surf spots at different tides and on different size swells for out advantage. Then one picture and it’s all over.”

Dave C Jones said: “Now everybody will be down there. Thanks Herald.”

But Ben added that he would never encourage anyone to try out the spot – as it is very difficult and dangerous to surf there. He said: “I think it is the most dangerous wave in England. You’ve got to know what you’re doing.” Speaking of the waves themselves, he said: “It is super rare, it probably only happens about three times a year. “There are usually about four or five guys out there when it does happen.

“It’s a shallow reef so one wrong decision and you could crack your head open.

“Some sets of waves were about 4 foot, but it’s hitting on reef so that means deep water hitting shallow reef to produce the wave – way more powerful than a beach wave.”

Old Ben from Plymstock is my new favourite British surf personality (sorry Rip Current Rory). His nonplussed approach to online abuse/continued helpful explanation about the “secret wave” is exactly what the world needs more of. Don’t you agree? I mean, lets be honest. The video of the photographer cowering while spitting high-pitched lawsuit threats was the very bottom of that barrel. Ben from Plymstock sets a new standard in decorum.

(Video on loan from Stab’s permanent collection)

I fooking told you and I swear on the painful death of our children: I did not buy that 600 pound GSI Hypto in the garage! Or the snowboard I'm too afraid to open.

Femdom: “I hide surfboards from my wife!”

Secret surfboards help my relationships flourish!

 It’s true. I do hide surfboards from my fiancé. New boards live in the van or the shed, places she has no business in.

Recently, late at night and under cover of darkness, I found myself on my knees on the living room rug, surreptitiously stroking a new board. I caressed the foil and froze like a frightened young hind whenever I heard movement from other rooms.

A new snowboard cowers in the corner of my shed, still shrink-wrapped after more than a month. I persevere with an old board for show: “Look, darling, look how knackered this old board is! Aren’t I good for not getting a new one this season?”

Does this make me a bad person, less of a man? Should I be ashamed of this behaviour? I think not. An economy of truth is necessary in a healthy relationship.

Have you seen the movie Interstellar? Let me introduce an insightful dialogue between the main character (Cooper) and his artificially intelligent robot companion (TARS):

Cooper: Hey TARS, what’s your honesty parameter?
TARS: 90 percent.
Cooper: 90 percent?
TARS: Absolute honesty isn’t always the most diplomatic nor the safest form of communication with emotional beings.

Are not women the very definition of “emotional beings”?

There is no reasoning, there is only the path of least resistance.

But not everyone gets this. On that podcast Afternoons with Chas and Dave or whatever it’s called, David Scales (a divorced man in his late thirties, interested in wine) lambasted me for a comment I made on this very site, a comment about hiding board purchases from my significant other.

And while I can’t remember the exact jist (or perhaps jiss) of his comment, it was something along the lines of this being a bad omen for my relationship, lack of communication etc.

Spoken like a divorced man in his late thirties, interested in wine.

My relationship is great. Without going full Rory Parker on you, my fiancé is wonderful. Attractive, funny, compassionate, incredible mother, all of that.

But I’m sure all of that would become untenable if she knew just how much fucking time I waste thinking about my universally, globally useless obsessions. Much less spending the modest amounts of money we have on them in lieu of a new kitchen, a family holiday or plain old “savings”.

Does my significant other hate surfing? No. Does she hate that I love surfing? Not at all.

Is she dead right that new boards will not make me surf better/more often? Yes.

Is she rightly concerned that a man in his thirties with a child and a mortgage and a dog and soon to be another child should prioritise any one of these things over his own selfish agendas? Absolutely yes.

But as much as I love my family, some things need to remain just mine and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

We’re not one of these happy-clappy wanky couples who enjoy wonderful shared passions. We have shared interests, but I’m bloody glad they’re not the things I really love. I can’t imagine anything fucking worse than having to take her surfing.

I know couples who work together, play together, socialise together, all of that. They call each other “best friend”, despite seeming constantly on the verge of spousal rage killing. I love my future wife dearly, but she sure isn’t my bloody best mate.

Call me old fashioned, but I’ve got best mates for that. And I don’t shag them or cry in front of them either.

In relationships and in life, some things are best compartmentalised or kept to yourself entirely.

For me, surfing is one of those things.

Day 5: Stab keeps lips sealed!

Still nothing about the greatest story of the year!

And the great Stab magazine, which rumor tells me is no longer a “magazine”, from Lawndale, California continues its silence on the greatest matter of our year. The merger of Quiksilver and Billabong. We are rounding the bend toward a week, one whole week, since the news broke and yet Stab maintains its silence. Why? Is it because two of its writers are employed by Quiksilver? Is it because Billabong’s Iggy Pop appears on its homepage every single day?

I don’t know but like any good and true surf journalist I have come under fire for continuing to beat this drum. A great friend told me what I am doing is akin to masturbation. Here is a transcript of our conversation.

Friend: It looks to me like you are masturbating. Nobody is involved in this thing but you.

Chas: No. I’m involving Stab everyday and I think masturbation is bad.

Friend: In relation to heterosexual fulfillment?

Chas: In relation to everything — orgasm, heterosexuality, to style, to be able to fight the good fight. I think masturbation cripples people. It doesn’t cripple them altogether, but it turns them askew, it sets up a bad and often enduring tension.

Friend: Is it possible that you have a totalitarian attitude against it?

Chas: I wouldn’t say all people who masturbate are evil, probably I would say even some of the best people in the world masturbate. But I’m saying it’s a miserable activity.

Friend: Well now we’re getting into this notion of absolutes.

Chas: To what end? Who benefits? Masturbation is bombing. It’s bombing oneself.

Friend: I think you are assuming masturbation involves violence to oneself. Why is it not pleasure to oneself?

Chas: Well, if one masturbates, all that happens is, everything that’s beautiful and good in one, goes up the hand, goes into the air, is lost. Now what the hell is there to absorb? One hasn’t tested oneself. You see, in a way, the heterosexual act lays questions to rest and makes one able to build on a few answers. Whereas if one masturbates, the ability to contemplate one’s experience is disturbed.

Friend: So you are not masturbating on Stab?

Chas: No. It’s called bukkake and it is different altogether.