The author applies the basic technique of Getting Spastic to get the (passably okay) shot, arms in the air, maybe screaming.

Democracy: Fake surf shots like a pro!

You ain't real good? It don't matter!

I’ll be the first to admit I ain’t the surfer I usually think I am. On a little runner, with easy-to-read shoulders, you might think, yeah, there’s something there.

But there ain’t.

Started too late, found solace in being too cool to try when I was on the cusp of being okay, didn’t join a boardriders club at an early-enough age, and the result is a sad lil man standing on a very crowded  wharf, the ship of good style and instinctive surfing long sailed.

One thing I do know, and this is something I learned from staring at thousands of photos as a magazine editor, is that you can fake a good surf shot.

Never had a good surf photo of yourself surfing?

Let me show you how.

Spastic isn’t a dirty word. On one hand, I’m glad we washed our hands of this epithet for anyone with cerebral palsy. How many kids did we torture with it at school? On the other hand, you’re not going to get a good surf shot if you think style means barely moving on a wave. The surf photos that work are the result of aggression and bold directional changes. Get spastic! Get your ass low to your board, coil up, throw your arms in the turn, scream if you have to. I know a guy who might be, and this is an extremely competitive division yes, the ugliest surfer in the world. I think he’s Swiss, maybe. Beautiful man, body like an Olympian. But the way he bounces on his board and throws himself at the lip makes for… photos. I watch him surf, spellbound sometimes, snapping the shots in my head, knowing, he could take some of these home and be on the cover of a magazine.

You’re not in the pocket and you’re nowhere near the lip. What a sad thing it is to see video of yourself on a wave for the first time. All those times you ragged on Alejo Muniz for not surfing critical enough? Oh god, look at this: you’re three pumps out on the face before you even started looking upward at the lip. Here’s the thing. If you think you should be stalling for the tube, that’s where you need to be doing your turns.

Airs go toward the beach not off the back. Running down the line and throwing yourself off the back of the wave won’t look like an air however fast your photographer hits the shutter button. If you want a flying kick-out shot to show your pals in Cleveland , sure, keep doing what you’re doing. If you want something approximating an air that’ll fool your pals at the beach, huck it towards the sand.

Think, one turn only: you’re not being scored on the wave, only the photo. Waste the entire wave if you have to. Murder five sections. Gather your speed and deliver.

Go retro-fab: Soul arches are the easiest damn thing in the world. Throw your back out, hands by your side, and collect your very 2009 photo at the door.

Young Japanese girl pictured surfing a tsunami.
Young Japanese girl pictured surfing a tsunami.

Nature: Tsunami alarm for west coast!

A wild scene from Alaska to San Francisco!

When I was a younger boy I dreamed of one day riding a tsunami. I grew up on the Oregon coast and there were signs on the main road to the beach that instructed what to do should a tsunami happen to come. I read their clarion calls to run for high ground but I always thought, “Hell no. I will run home, grab my rainbow Hawaiian Island Creation and surf that thing into the record books.”

Then one day an earthquake struck off the coast of Japan and the news reported that a tsunami was on its way. I was overjoyed and begged my father to drive to Sunset Beach so I could surf into the record books. He agreed and soon there we were, on the sand, with a handful of other tsunami watchers. I waited patiently for the monster to appear on the horizon. My plan was simple, as soon as I saw it I would run into the water with Hawaiian Island Creation, spin quickly, catch it and surf into downtown Coos Bay and there would be parades in my honor from Portland all the way down to Ashland after I succeeded.

We sat for a long time until someone declared that the tsunami had washed up already and measured six inches.

I was devastated. My shattered dreams mixing amongst the crabs and seashells.

Today, another tsunami was supposed to hit California from a 7.9 magnitude earthquake originating off Alaska. AOL reported:

Tsunami alerts were lifted on Tuesday for the U.S. West Coast and western Canada after a magnitude-7.9 earthquake struck in the Gulf of Alaska, sending the state’s coastal residents inland to seek shelter from possible tidal waves.

In Alaska, people packed into high schools and other evacuation centers after the quake hit shortly after midnight local time (0900 GMT).

Officials had warned residents as far south as San Francisco to be ready to evacuate coastal areas but by 5:15 a.m. PST (1315 GMT) the U.S. National Weather Service had lifted all tsunami advisories, watches and warnings for California, Oregon Washington and Alaska. Canadian officials lifted one for coastal British Colombia.

Can you believe AOL still exists? Me neither.

Matt (right): Did we just become friends? Jon: You're not a shaper! You're a big fat curly-headed fuck.

Pyzel-Mayhem collab: “Best shortboard ever!”

Koa Rothman refuses to return Pyzel-Mayhem collab after sensational debut session.

Last September, maybe a little before, I engaged two of the best shapers in the world in a novelty collaborative project. I took the man who creates the masterpieces that allow John John Florence to flourish, Mr Jon Pyzel, and another who designs Ferraris for Mason Ho, Kolohe Andino and the world champs Carissa Moore and Tyler Wright, Matt Biolos, and sold ’em on the idea of designing a board together.

Jon was into the charge, Matt less so.

At times it felt like a Harvey Weinstein-like character pressuring the pretty girl into something that didn’t feel ideal but perhaps it might, at a pinch, help her career.

Matt eventually relented for part one, the design, and you can read that here, but disappeared when it came to building the board for the reveal to see if it actually worked. What got spat out of Pyzel’s machine, however, was his outline meets Mayhem’s rocker and deck-line profile.

A pretty, if unusual, combination.

“It sure has the Mayhem nose,” said Pyzel, “That extra curve in the last few inches up there. I have a nose fetish when it come to surfboards.”

Did it work?

Pyzel, whose factory is in the little North Shore town of Waialua, cooked and baked a five-ten version that he figured would work for him.

“It looked good, not what I am used to my boards looking like, but sexy,” said Pyzel.  “The main things that stood out to me were the last few inches of nose rocker and the thickness flow through the last 18” in the tail. Both looked quite a bit different from one of my boards, but it wasn’t so far off from them. Pretty weird to create a board like this and have it come out so nice.”

And the response from his team?

“Well, I made it for myself to test first but then I talked to  Koa Rothman and since the waves had been smaller he was telling me he had been having amazing sessions on his new Voyager 1 and that it was his new favourite shortboard. I figured that it was a good frame of mind to be in to test a new board and since he lives three houses away and rides the same size boards as me, I told him to come over and grab the collab board and take it for a surf. He texted me the next morning  ‘Man, I’m sorry but I don’t think I can give it back. It’s one of the best short boards I’ve ridden.’”

Mayhem had been on a non-stop shaping tour around the world, Europe, South America, east coast USA, and so forth, and the collab board languished somewhere on the production line. But he said that despite an initial reticenc he enjoyed the collaborative experience because it forced him to re-imagine and rethink elements of his shaping that might’ve been operating on auto-pilot.

“It shined a light into the shadows,” said Mayhem.

(Note: a version of this story appears in the current issue of Surfing Life, which is on sale here.)

Correction: Ashton G. “anonymous troll!”

Welcome to hard-hitting journalism!

Toward the end of last week, with interesting stories at an absolute premium, I opted to wonder about the State of Commenting on the Internet ’18. What could have easily been seen as an empty space killer was actually an honest to goodness attempt at understanding how people consume/participate in this surf conversation. The whole business got started, for me, when Stab’s editor Ashton Goggans claimed that his website turned comments off underneath certain pieces in order to protect brands/individuals from the dreaded “anonymous troll.”

And I wondered, does the anonymous troll even really exist* anymore? Sure, I know that avatars/handles don’t often match identity/name exactly but isn’t it all a semi-honest representation of how each of us really feel?

Well, since the bit was posted many comments from first time participants started flowing in on all sorts of stories. Hurtful comments like from Adjunct Professor who wrote underneath a story about Donald Trump hating sharks, “why. what is the purpose of this artice ….. hard hitting journalism chas!”

The truth of it stung. It was not hard hitting journalism if I must be honest, merely a cut and paste from the New York Post of all places. Hurt was followed by shame and I decided it was high time that I get serious about my craft so I rolled up my sleeves, put on my fedora with its handwritten “press” card tucked into the band and opened an email from dear Negatron who informed me that Adjunct Professor shares the same exact IP address as Ashton Goggans himself.

Keeping my sleeves rolled up and not knowing, really, what an IP address is I googled “IP address” and read on Wikipedia it is, “the numerical label assigned to each device connected to a computer network that uses the Internet Protocol for communication.”

I sat back in my chair, lit my pipe and said out loud, “Blimey. So Adjunct Professor and Ashton Goggans share a computer and apartment.”

How’s that for hard hitting journalism?

*Where Disqus or other platforms utilizing a working email address are used.

Kev at Gnaraloo, back when he was in his breezy sixities. | Photo: Kevin Merifield/

Quiz: How long will you surf for?

What's going to be your sign-off age? Or will you ride this thing into the grave?

You ever wonder what’s going to be your sign-off age? The day when surfing gets too hard physically, when the bones ache too much or your seized hips ruin any mobility?

What’s it it going to be? Sixty? Seventy? Eighty?

No matter how you play it, your days are numbered. I know a few old coots, most in their sixties, one a little over seventy, still dragging ’emselves into the water. The impressive thing is, none of ’em ride longboards even if it would mean more waves and a better experience. Instead, they persist with twin-fins and slightly thicker seven-o’s. It’s an impressive middle-finger jammed in the face of the whole surf-is-youth notion.

Recently, the Australian Broadcasting Commission profiled the just-turned-eighty-year-old Kevin Merifield, a pal of Taj Burrow.

“Surfing at 80 has to be every surfer’s goal,” Taj told the ABC. “Kev is a legend and he’s right — it’s all about getting out there, getting wet and talking shit with your boys.

Despite having to ride prone due to a loss of equilibrium brought on by an ear injury, Merifield ain’t afraid to hit decent-sized Margaret River for a three-hour session.

“That view is part of the reason that’s kept me going for so long,” Merifield said in a story by the fabulous sometime BeachGrit writer Anthony Pancia. “You come around the corner on a day like today and catch your first glimpse of those magnificent lines of waves. Your heart just starts racing. There’s nothing quite like it.”

How do you keep backing it up, even at such an advanced age?

“Obviously, you’ve also got to try and look after the old body and keep it moving,” he said.


How long are you going to persist? What will it take for you to hang up the boots? What’s the deal breaker?

Or are you going to ride this thing into the grave?