What? Now you want me to wrestle with evil?

NY Times: “Surfers must wrestle evil!”

So much existential guilt!

Do you wrestle with evil? No, no, you do, or at least you must, says The New York Times.

In an opening gambit before the review of various ocean-related books, recently, and wrapped in the headline What’s Bad News for Coastlines Can Be Good News for Surfers, we learned:

“Surfers, like theologians, must wrestle with the problem of evil. For the theologian, the question is how to reconcile the malevolence and suffering of the world with the existence of an all-good, all-powerful god. For the surfer, the problem is slightly less profound: How do you justify the enjoyment of perfect waves when they are generated by destructive storms hundreds of miles away? In September, Hurricane Irma and Maria posed this question with some vividness, producing the best run of swell seen in years along the East Coast while unleashing chaos and devastation down in the Caribbean. Surfers, to judge from the throngs who gleefully paddled out from Florida to New England, make for unreflective scholars of the divine.”

For the surfer, the problem is slightly less profound: How do you justify the enjoyment of perfect waves when they are generated by destructive storms hundreds of miles away?

Has it occurred to you to feel guilty?

To  justify yourself for kicking around in hurricane or cyclone swells while thousands of miles away wretched souls are cowering in cellars or bear-hugging coconut trees lest they be stolen by away by the wind?

And the guilt don’t stop there, says The Times.

“The combination of rising sea levels and some form of increased storm intensity ‘spells doom’ for the world’s coastal regions. For surfers, rooting for hurricane swell may be increasingly difficult to rationalize. Along with the moral questions of climate change, the surfer may have to confront the political issue of cultural appropriation.”

And, here, we learn of an essay by ‘cultural studies scholar’ Colleen McGloin in The Critical Surf Studies Reader (which was edited by the BeachGrit commenter Dexter Zavalza Hough-Snee if you wanna know).

Even though no one knows whether or not Australian’s indigenous people surfed, McGloid writes that it’s “reasonable to assume”. And that indigenous surfing is a “form of resistance” to the legacy of colonialism.

So many moral questions!

Guilt over hurricanes.

Guilt over climate change.

Guilt you’re white (unless you’re not).

Are you suddenly overwhelmed?

Crowdsource: What do you want from Stab?

A once in a lifetime opportunity!

And tomorrow I meet, face to face, with Mar Vista’s very own Stab (no longer a) magazine’s very own editor Ashton Goggans. We will be debating, like Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, like Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, the various truths surrounding surf media with Surf Splendor’s David Lee Scales acting as moderator. Which is website is better, for example? Which is worse? Should Stab pull the plug and admit that it is a not very good catalogue? Tomorrow all will be revealed.

But quickly before tomorrow I come to you hat in hand wondering, is there anything specific you would like to know from Ashton Goggans? Any salient points or deep questions?

Negatron wonders, “I have suffered some mild paranoia as the only BeachGrit staffer that was not approached for a STAB job. I fit the team player, company man STAB ethos so why not me Ashton?”

Julian’s Postie asks, “How low can badvertorial go?”

Chazz Michael Michaels enquires, “What’s with the cunty little hats?”

But what about you? Anything you would like to know?

The episode will air tomorrow, in any case, and I have one suggestion for you. If you live within Santa Monica’s city jurisdiction, as opposed to some far flung inner neighborhood like Stab, I suggest you pair the episode with free marijuana from Pot Valet. All you have to do is click the sidebar ads and there you go!

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)