If you have a shred of decency, self-respect and pride in your skill set, then the Ghost is worth the effort to figure  out. You can do the best surfing in your life on it. Big call, but true. If you've given up or were never there then walk on by. This board has nothing for you, and that's no judgement on your worth as a human being. | Photo: WSL

Board review: Longtom on the Pyzel Ghost!

It's not a motherfucking fun board and it's not a crutch.

On November 18, 2017, I took possession of a Pyzel Ghost from TC glasshouse Ourimbah Drive Tweed Heads. Six feet one inches, stock dims.

It was the long awaited denouement of a complex cash and scrip deal hammered out via text message and electronic mail with BeachGrit principal Derek Rielly, part payment for coverage of the Grand Slam leg of the WSL championship Tour, honoured in it’s entirety in August. A deal a lot of people seem to think is tantamount to receiving a free board.

To wit: last week driving a bus down the main drag of Byron Bay a little car tried to nose in front of me. I put the window down.

“Where the fuck do you think you’re going mate ?”

The driver put his window down. It was my derro mate Sticko talking in his derro drawl, “Shep, heard you got a free Ghost you sick cunt, how fucking sick is that? Sick!”

I stopped the bus in heavy traffic opposite the Great Northern hotel and got out, hugged it out with Sticko who resembles Nick Nolte on a three-day coke binge but with a leonine mane, no body fat and a proper air game.

“Now Sticko,” I said, “the truth of that matter is that I worked my arse off for that board, it owes me nothing nor I it. Comprende?”

You don’t have derros in America. They are a particular species of Australian surf animal. Entrepreneurial by nature, not averse to corner cutting,  bent schemes, Third World cash-only payments etc. By and large critics and outcasts of consumer capitalism by temperament and desire.

My people.

I only offer the preamble in the interests of full transparency. While Jon Pyzel seems like good  people, he doesn’t know me from a bar of soap. And I wouldn’t even know where to buy a Ghost, let alone spruik a link.

Like me, you covet a Ghost for the simple fact of JJF at Margaret River last year and what he did there on that board. From that followed the completely natural question: “Could there be something in that for me?”

I shall tell you how it goes for a recreational surfer of competent but wholly unremarkable skill set. You can draw an honest conclusion about whether it should be part of your future.

First thoughts. The board is a clean-curved widepoint forwards round pin. Nothing special there. Wide-point forward boards have been back in vogue since Kelly’s Deep Six victory at Pipeline. If you have a skerrick of historical appreciation for the single fin line, or any muscle memory of one, then widepoint forward feels better than sex on the bottom turn. You put the front foot down and lean and you feel the ride. The rails are foiled, the thickness is hidden. All this you can see from the photos.

If you can’t come to grips with that rocker curve, you can’t surf this board. That sounds harsh to modern ears tuned to inclusive language but it’s true.

What you can’t see is the rocker curve. Which is the special sauce.

You feel it as soon as you put it under your arm. The rocker curve cuts hard into the forward outline in a very distinctive way just in front of the chest. A recognisably Hawaiian curve, with a long sloping rocker curve out the aft end. If you can’t come to grips with that rocker curve, you can’t surf this board. That sounds harsh to modern ears tuned to inclusive language but it’s true.

It says on the website the board is a daily driver. It ain’t a daily driver (with exceptions). It’s a board for good waves. A Grit commenter who left after the Adjunct Professor IP reveal fiasco, Ghost of Super Jnr, said a “Man’s reach should exceed his grasp” and that applies perfectly to the Ghost. You reach for it at the limit of your skill set. It’s not a motherfucking fun board, it’s not a crutch.That rocker curve and area reduction in the outline curve needs a lot of board speed to get loaded up. I got it for good point surf and in the weeks after I took possession good point surf came my way.

You reach for it at the limit of your skill set. It’s not a motherfucking fun board, it’s not a crutch.That rocker curve and area reduction in the outline curve needs a lot of board speed to get loaded up. I got it for good point surf and in the weeks after I took possession good Point surf came my way.

It took some time to calm down and learn to ride the board properly. You can’t surf it off the fins, outline or rails. You have to relax into the rocker curve. Every turn. When you get that right, it feels like a 12-inch bubba blade slicing through the shoulder of a hundred pound yellowfin. A sense of ease and power and mass shifting.

I’ve always worked with fish, catching or processing. I’m not some pissant 2 per center. I’ve done my time. Salmon and halibut in Alaska, some crabs. Trawlers in the Gulf, wetliners out of Kalbarri, deep dropping on the shelf. It’s hard, bloody work but you can get paid without a visa. Mostly cash. I cut and humped tuna and marlin in Guam. A warehouse full of frozen carcasses, truckloads coming in off the longliners and purse seiners. Complete rape and pillage of the Ocean. Boss was a sadistic Serb whose favourite game was to get you to help him in the midday sun while he angle grinded metal and cover you in burning hot metal shards. Sacked me when  I cooked his truck full of tuna. I went back the next day to collect my pay and he stood there with his angle grinder and told me to turn around and run before he ground my legs off and threw me in the deep freeze.

It feels like a 12-inch bubba blade slicing through the shoulder of a hundred pound yellowfin. A sense of ease and power and mass shifting.

I backed it up to a safe distance, flipped him the bird, turned on my heels and jogged home. Didn’t need the fucken money anyhow. My gal was a Femme Nous dancer bringing home shopping bags full of greenbacks stripping for US Marines. I went back to sitting on the rooftop drinking sixers of San Miguel and smoking Gudam Gurangs. Corrodes the soul, comrades. But, it works.

Point of the digression: you cut that tuna the right way or the wrong way. There is no in-between. And it’s the same with the Ghost. It’s an easy enough board to ride, but it’s a hard board to ride right. It demands precision. Flub the turn and it saps the confidence. You need to go in soft and come out hard.

Early days were bedevilled by flubbed turns on the Ghost. At times to the point of despair.

“What the fuck is going on here!” I have cried out, more than once.

But I have learnt to relax and let the rocker do the work, then add the extra foam in the split once the turn is done. By and large I have learned to tame this board.

Early in the review, I asked the reader to consider reaching up for the board. I place one caveat on that. If you are over 40 and raising your seed, guy or gal, and/or have anything like adult obligations then add one inch. Or even two. With the fine foil you won’t notice it.

Volume measurements have led to the biggest misconceptions and false coinage in surfboard design history. They speak to a deeper misunderstanding of what the surfboard is and what it does. It has a dualistic nature. At low speed, ie when paddling it’s a displacement hull. It goes through the water and is subject to hydrostatic forces of which buoyancy is the key measure. Ergo, volume matters for paddling.

When riding a wave it’s a planing hull and subject to the entirely different hydrodynamic forces, equations of which depend on surface area, pressure and velocity. Ergo, bottom contours, rail foil and rocker/outline matter for wave riding.

The crux of the Ghost, to crack the technical nut, is the ease with which it breaks from the hydrostatic to the hydrodynamic. That is, when catching a wave it goes from low speed to planing incredibly easily and effectively. It knifes into a late drop better than any board I’ve ridden.

If that means something to you, good waves are in your present or near future and you have a shred of decency, self-respect and pride in your skill set, then the Ghost is worth the effort to figure  out. You can do the best surfing in your life on it. Big call, but true. If you’ve given up or were never there then walk on by. This board has nothing for you, and that’s no judgement on your worth as a human being.

To quote Terry Fitzgerald: “Optimising experience is in effect a commitment to multiple surfboards and varied approach. For those who enjoy the thrill of riding a wave, pro-model equipment is one link to the dream of surfing a perfect wave”.

Video to come.

Breaking: WSL loses in Hawaii!

But only for now. The future is bright!

We are living in weird times. The far left loves the FBI, populists love corporate tax relief and the World Surf League was not able to grease Honolulu’s civic wheel enough to move its Pipeline Masters permit to January for the 2019 season. Would you like me to recap?

Earlier this month it was revealed that the WSL missed its filing deadline in order change its current permitted window from mid-December to mid-January for 2019. This is necessary, of course, for the new-look tour which begins in Hawaii and ends in Indonesia with stops at not Trestles and Surf Ranch along the way. Honolulu’s mayor, Kirk Caldwell, took a hard line initially, press releasing his displeasure at the WSL’s strong-arm tactics.

WSL CEO Sophie Goldschmidt flew to Hawaii in order to work out details but today, Mr. Caldwell rejected the bid in the name of “fairness.”

“Please know the city fully appreciates the economic spending the WSL brings to the islands, but as I’ve stated, this is an issue about fairness, not about money. You have stated that the changes are minor, and if this is truly the case, we are perplexed that you would jeopardize your relationship to Hawaii on a minor change. I sincerely hope the WSL will continue to hold events in Hawaii, the birthplace of the sport of surfing.”

What happens now? Everything will get fixed and quick is what.

Of course this story can be rolled and spun and chewed as WSL incompetence and/or Honolulu greed and/or some fat transplant’s chance to riff on “the way things are done on the islands” but really who the hell cares? Professional surfing is an important economic/cultural driver in Hawaii. The World Surf League is the only organized multilateral representation of professional surfing. The two will very soon work out a proper way forward and that will be the end.

But we do live in weird times so I’ve already read lots of surf media posts punctuating the importance of getting paperwork in on time and playing by the rules etc. What the hell is that?

The only thing I want is more local wildcards in the Pipeline Masters. I want Honolulu to press its momentary advantage and stick 30 of ’em in there. Don’t you?

Viva Jamie O!

All she needs is your surfboard and then you're rich!
All she needs is your surfboard and then you're rich!

Invest: New opportunity in surf!

Don't let this trend pass you by!

Are you, like me, easily lulled into complacency? Expecting that nothing is going to really change, that the status quo has too much inertia? Then one day as you are doing your normal routine you realize BAM some great shift has occurred and you were too slow, to dense, to see it coming?

Like Bitcoin. I remember first hearing about the cryptocurrency a few years ago and thought, “Lame-o. Now computer nerds can have something to trade when they’re not trading Dungeons and Dragons stuff.” And then I was left behind, the river of progression sweeping past as I entertained myself with dated caricatures.

I don’t want to be backward and so this morning I read of a new currency trading in Australia and thought it would be remiss not to at least bring it to your attention.

Self-portraits of Chinese people surfing have become valuable commodities.

The Newcastle Herald reports:

“For Australians, splashing in the water is something we’ve done since we were kids. For Chinese visitors, however, it is something unique and can be very daunting,” says Dr Gardiner.

She says they want to experience the surf and have a quintessential Gold Coast holiday.

“From a tourism perspective, being able to get an amazing photo of (themselves) riding a wave on a surfboard that they can share with their friends in China is by far the most sought-after Australian experience,” she says.

“It even tops a photo with a koala.”

And can you imagine that? I bet the “photo with koala” industry in Australia does very well, generating millions of dollars of revenue and hundreds of jobs. You don’t have a koala but you do have a surfboard and a phone. What’s stopping you from cutting off a slice of this new pie? There would be some danger, I suppose, in approaching what you imagine to be a Chinese man with with your board and phone and have that Chinese man turn out to be Peter Schroff but fortune favors the bold.

Don’t be sitting at home when your neighbor becomes the multi-millionaire Chinese Surfing Selfie King.

Go forth and prosper.

This is Pritamo Ahrendt, your new Head Judge. A lovely man, smart, rips and so forth. The question I have here is, why the cruel photo WSL? Are there no hairdressers in Santa Monica? A can of hairspray at a pinch? Couldn't you have toned down the side light? Chris Hemsworth would have trouble dealing with that sorta lighting. | Photo: WSL

News: Rich Porta quits as WSL Head Judge!

The lovely Pritamo Ahrendt takes peachy job… 

Rich Porta quits?

Well, not exactly quits, concede a brother the chance for a clickbait headline, but former Head Judge Rich Porta will soon “transition into a development role for the WSL.”

In a press release received a few minutes ago,

“The World Surf League (WSL) announced the appointment of Pritamo Ahrendt as WSL Head Judge. Ahrendt will take over the position previously held by Rich Porta, who will transition into a new role for the League. 

“Ahrendt joined the Championship Tour judges’ panel in 1999, and has worked closely with Porta and the WSL Commissioners’ Office in recent years, serving as an Associate Head Judge at the Championship Tour level. As WSL Head Judge, Ahrendt will oversee the consistency and accuracy of scoring across the judges’ panel alongside his other Head Judge duties. He will also work within the Commissioners’ Office team to further develop WSL Judging programs. 

“It has been an honor to work for the WSL/ASP for the past 19 years, and I am humbled to move into the role of WSL Head Judge,” said Ahrendt. “It has been a privilege to watch the highest level of surfing and to critically analyze it. I am excited for this opportunity to oversee the panel and ensure the judging is fair and consistent, while also adapting as the world’s best surfers break down new performance barriers.”

“Ahrendt brings over 19 years of experience to the WSL. He began as a Touring Judge at age 21 and was key to modifying the judging criteria to reward progressive maneuvers. Ahrendt’s vast knowledge and foresight will be invaluable in evolving the judging criteria in step with the progression of the world’s best surfers.”

It’s true, Pritamo does rip, he’s a decent sorta cat and will serve the role with distinction.

As for Rich, he wore a lot of heat as Head Judge, some of it warranted – the obsession with “Wraps” and the deluge of tens last year for example – but mostly not. What I liked about Rich was his transparency. It was a candour that would take you by surprise and make you wish you had a few harder questions up your sleeve

Once, Rich spent half a day with me in the judging tower explaining what is the what etc and didn’t get sad when I wrote,

“As I enter what I will later learn is called the Circle of Overscore, pro surfers wander naked serving food. Two of the four “studs” or “cockmongers” (a young pro chosen for his large penis) fondle each other in front of the judges, which arouses them greatly. During a search for the “cockmonger” with the firmest buttocks, the Brazilian Felipe Toledo is chosen and is gifted a win in the US Open, which will conclude the following afternoon.”

I do wish Rich the very best. A job well-ish done, I think.

Here, from left, Pete "Yella Face" Schroff, Joel Tudor and Shane Dorian.

Three-way: Dorian v Tudor + Schroff!

A debate on the delicate topic of made-in-Asia surfboards… 

If you’ve kicked around here even for us the past few months, you would’ve seen the myriad stories about shaper Peter Schroff’s war against made-in-Asia surfboards.

The sixty-three-year-old shaper from Newport Beach in California, the darling of eighties surf chic, has fashioned himself as the anti-imported surfboard and fiercely anti-Asian, provocateur.

He has used a chainsaw to cut in half an (imitation) Hypro Krypto and, lately, he’s been targeting the Kelly Slater-owned Firewire surfboards and Slater Designs, all of whom manufacture surfboards in south-east Asia.

(They’re not the only countries who enjoy the considerable economic benefits of Asian labour, of course. Most of the carbon-wrapped boards you see are made in Thailand or Vietnam. JS, Lost and so on. Have a look at the tail of your board.)

You might remember the story, Peter Schroff Does Yellow-Face or Modern: Peter Schroff Doubles Down.

Peter Schroff, right, playing “yellow-face”.

Two days ago, Shane Dorian, whose son Jackson is Kelly’s godson, who rides Slater Designs and who was a guest at Surf Ranch, weighed into the debate on Schroff’s admittedly poorly subscribed Instagram account on the side of Asian-made boards.

“Imported goods don’t sell because they’re imported,” wrote Shane. “People buy the board they want to ride. Just like you buy the car you want to drive and the food you want to eat. If you have an imported car, shop at Target or Cosco or wear Italian sunglasses y8ou are unable to preach about buying local. The surf shops are not the problem, imported boards are not the problem The problem is people don’t want to ride your boards.”

Valid points, yes?

There’s a lot of back and forthing on the thread, which you can read here, but it gets good when the longboarder Joel Tudor suddenly bites after one commenter wrote:

“Ask @joeljitsuwhere his values were when he had a full line of surftech longboards before he went all elitist and purest. Look to the past and you’ll see your old weed maps black belt buddy riding surf tech China longboards. While I don’t mind a change of heart, be transparent about your past. Those boards paid the bills at the time, now his child labor footwear does.

To which he replied, “I quit doing it because I saw the damage it was doing to friends in surf factory’s here at home/also wasn’t in retirement mode that I needed the extra income at the cost of local builders …,takayama & velzy were the ones who originally talked me into it ….over time realized that royalty wasn’t worth the damage it was causing to the industry! Yes i smoke weed ,witch has nothing to with this conversation- enjoy your day.”

And, pointedly, to Shane, “Call me sometime & we can chat about this stuff – I can give you some helpful insight on all this stuff & where all the old school crew are coming from ….this isn’t just a here at Home issue ….this effects all the factories world wide that are owned & operated by surfers …the very people that created the industry & write our checks all stated out mowing foam or were around surf manufacturing! The easiest solution to all of this is build them locally in each hub of sales …aus , Europe , Hawaii , Japan , USA , Brazil have excellent factories & builders who actually surf ….hence keeping it in the hands of surfers …also most the countries with exception to Brazil have a active EPA that call bullshit on all the corners FireWire is cutting to avoid losing profit …..acetone recycling…charcoal filters …fire marshals …EPA are all realistic things we should deal with in a attempt to keep our stuff somewhat clean – pretty much a way of life for most world who build Surfboards.”

Shane replied, “I agree with a lot of what you are saying. All I’m saying is complaining about imports or anything else does nothing except make people look like whiners. Anyone can talk, and there is a lot of that here. It’s easy to see the problems and point fingers and place blame. Anyone can do that. The surf businesses, including the surf shops are adapting just to barely stay alive. It’s all changing so quick and to me it looks like trying to stop the tide from coming in, unfortunately.”

You, yes you, tell me: are Asian-made boards a tide coming in? Does it matter?

Personally, I couldn’t care where the damn thing was made (read about my date with a Cambodian model here) and feel that a brother is a brother is a brother, Asian or otherwise.


Are you with me?