The editor of Stab magazine, Mr Ashton Goggans, who is 32. | Photo: @Facebook

Stab ed tells police: “Chas Smith assaulted me!”

Ashton Goggans visits Orange County PD to press criminal charges!

Shortly after 10:30 in the morning, January 11, 2018, the surf journalist Chas Smith, aged forty-one, lunged across a reclaimed wood and brushed nickel coffee table toward Stab magazine’s Ashton Goggans, born some thirty-two odd years ago.

The unusual occurrence took place at the Surfrider Foundation offices high up one of San Clemente’s many winding suburban hills. David Lee Scales, host of a popular surf podcast network, had invited both men debate the relative merits of their online surf publications, Smith with BeachGrit and Goggans, with the aforementioned Stab.

The lunge, which was really more of a hurtle, brought Smith face to face with Goggans. He had grown increasingly agitated during the course of the debate with the high register of Goggans’ voice as well as its combination of ingratiating and demeaning statements. To Smith’s mind, Goggans could shift instantaneously from false praise to bald-faced condescension genuinely believing each one of his pirouettes. There he sat uncomfortably in his seat trying to make bold counter-points but being stymied by his own lack of verbal dexterity.

Then, just over thirty minutes into the podcast, Goggans brought up Smith’s wife. He claimed the only reason Smith was able to write the way he did was because Smith’s wife was wealthy and supported him. Smith felt his blood reach a boiling point. He was tired of the stilted narrative that a wealthy woman would gladly suffer any fool for the sake of companionship.

“When a husband makes more than his wife nobody says anything,” Smith thought, “but when a wife makes more than her husband all of a sudden she is a sugar mama?”

Smith warned Goggans to shut his mouth, Goggans persisted and Smith launched out of his chair.

Scales described, on the podcast, as Smith having “his hands around Goggans’ neck” but in truth it was more akin to a slap with an empty silken glove. Smith fumbled and missed, grabbing a handful of shirt while Goggans staggered forward. The two were easily separated by Scales and continued debating bringing the embarrassing episode to conclusion 40 minutes later.

A photograph taken shortly after the alleged assault. Chas, at left, Ashton, right.

Smith drove home, heart still pounding, but as the adrenaline receded he realized what a poor job he had done and was fundamentally embarrassed. He had warned Goggans to shut his mouth but when push actually came to shove, as it were, he had failed horribly. What’s more he had sounded like a dolt. He had done a poor job all around and was sad but hoped the episode provided some small entertainment for others.

Three weeks later, Ashton Goggans went into the Orange County Police Department in order to press assault charges against Chas Smith.

Detectives interviewed Smith, Scales and the people who work in the Surfrider’s San Clemente office. The case may still go to trial but Chas Smith doesn’t care.

Instantly his fumble looks fierce and vicious. Instantly Ashton Goggans looks exactly like what he is. A man concerned with proper civic decorum.


The thing I’d found while surfing this board elsewhere, and the reason I am scared of it, is that under a certain wave-speed, it doesn’t work. The water won’t get through the channels. It has no feel. You have to stand back on the fin and swing it like a mattock… Yet the few times I’d ridden it in surf capable of pushing it to speed, the thing would just lift off like some sort of aquatic Scramjet.

Board Review: Nick Carroll on the “Scramjet”!

No it’s not a fucken model name! It's a ten-channel single fin!

I have so many surfboards. I didn’t once. Nobody did when we were kids. I went to Margaret River for the Aussie Titles with a 6’0” and a 6’3”. Quiver!

I stayed in a shitty caravan in the Margarets camping ground with John and Rob Harris and Glen Winton. At the pre-contest meeting Tommy Peterson drank three bottles of Bundaberg rum. It rained a lot. It was 1978.

Col Smith won the contest. Colin Smith of Redhead, NSW. I could not believe there were two Col Smiths and they were both goofyfooters and could both surf so fucking briliiantly. Col Smith Narrabeen was all vertical power and arms and legs, and long blond hair and a mouth full of busted up teeth. Colin Smith Redhead had short dark hair, crinkly smiling eyes, perfect teeth, and one of the most fantastically graceful surfing styles I’ve ever witnessed.

Colin was extroverted and gleaming, yet never above himself.

Smithy rode “bee-tail” six-channel, single-fin boards made by Jim Pollard and then by Phil Fraser, and then eventually by Phil Myers of Lennox Head. He blew minds in Hawaii, won the Pro Class Trials at Sunset, surfed superbly at Pipe. The North Shore crew drooled over those boards.

He made friends with all of us kids, well, it felt like we were kids, even though Col was only a couple of years older than us. That was surfing at the time, when a small, poor NSW ex-mining town at the end of a potholed coast road could produce someone who was the surfing equivalent of a rock star.

Smithy rode “bee-tail” six-channel, single-fin boards made by Jim Pollard and then by Phil Fraser, and then eventually by Phil Myers of Lennox Head. He blew minds in Hawaii, won the Pro Class Trials at Sunset, surfed superbly at Pipe. The North Shore crew drooled over those boards.

Col and Allan Byrne were automatically mates. So many of the things they loved and respected in surfing were the same. They loved good hollow surf and they respected people who rode it well. They were schemers, but in a good way. Together they squared up Jim’s rounded-out channels and perfected the modern clinker-style design. Col told us about the ten-channels he was doing with Phil Myers. Trying to understand surfing, I sat at their feet and listened to their stories, usually under the influence of some sort of hashish.

Col died of cancer at the age of 31 in Margarets after going back there for the last 18 months of his life. He left us a son, Rique, who is a fantastic surfer in his own right. I dunno if AB ever quite got over it, or Phil.

Anyway, 20 years later I started hounded AB to make me an eight channel. I’d been riding the sixes for ages but I could remember Col saying to us, “Mate, the more channels, the better they go.” AB knew it, but he wouldn’t go there.

“Once you’ve got one, everyone’ll want one,” he said, “and then I’ll be fucked!”

Then AB died for chrissake.

A couple of years after that I saw Rique had got hold of one of Col’s old ten channels and was tearing the bag out of Jakes Point on it. I also saw it was a Free Flight — Phil Myers’s brand.

Cut to Phil making me a 6’5” x 183/4” x 23/4” ten-channel, single-fin pintail, as close as he could to the board Smithy had passed on to Rique.

I have a lot of boards but this is the only one that scares me. It has almost no rocker beyond a third back from the nose. There is also barely any outline curve thanks to the channel exit points and low width. There is no freebie pick-up speed from side fins. It is completely unforgiving of any error.

I took it to J-Bay and rode my best wave of the year, and did nothing on that wave other than four simple turns, base to lip to base to lip. That was it.

This was the arvo of the day Kelly busted his foot. I can’t remember why they pulled the contest so early that day. The wind swung a bit more southerly, sideshore on the Boneyard section, or maybe there was a pseudo-shark, I dunno.

I took the board and ran around the back side of Boneyard where the whole beach was closing out in pluming six foot-plus bombs, figuring to paddle out while they finished the last heat of the arvo.

The paddle-out was work, but not difficult work. It shook me up enough to put me into the right headspace for this incredible location, with which I was just coming to grips.

Maybe five people out up top, including Louie Egan and Tom Whitaker. Early finishes always lead to coach-froth; the coaches watch too many heats and go quietly mad. Louie and Tom got waves, and I back-paddled a bit higher into the Boneyard peak and a solid six foot wave appeared — long tapering wall, windblown in the lip, easy paddle-in.

The thing I’d found while surfing this board elsewhere, and the reason I am scared of it, is that under a certain wave-speed, it doesn’t work. The water won’t get through the channels. It has no feel. You have to stand back on the fin and swing it like a mattock. I had many memories of single fins, the way they tend to draw short in turns and are slow to gain speed off the mark, but low-speed clunkiness wasn’t one of those memories. Yet the few times I’d ridden it in surf capable of pushing it to speed, the thing would just lift off like some sort of aquatic Scramjet.

I had such high hopes of it here!

But what if it didn’t break through?

What if it just wobbled on those channels, underpaced and underpowered?

Pointless concern at Jeffreys Bay.

I took off at a slight angle and let the board run downhill at maybe 45 degrees to the wave line. The wave lurched and stood up, and just like that the board went into Scramjet mode. With no side-fins asking me to turn, it felt like I was riding on air, effortless, in a full flying glide. I compressed slightly into the wave base and tilted the board just a little bit on to its inside rail, not wanting to over-pressure it at full speed — single-fin adherents won’t tell you this, but singlies don’t typically feel the inside edge of a turn very well, you have to wait for the fin to anchor the turn before you push. In this case the ten channel went into the turn instantly and with no resistance whatsoever, so cleanly it felt like nothing was happening, but it was happening, because I could feel every molecule of water running down the edges of the channels — an incredible sense of connection with the wave.

By this time we were about to enter Supertubes and I could see the jetski guy driving on the shoulder trying to get my attention, so just rode the Scramjet out off the back and into clear water.  Four turns, 150 metres.

The board leaped off the wave base and went up the face at fantastic speed. I kept the angle quite low and put my eyes on the next section, which already rose off the reef some way ahead. I felt absolutely no concern about the distance involved. The top turn was less sensitised than the bottom turn, thanks to the curve in the wave face. You’ll have had the feeling of pressure on that curve pushing you forward and down. All I had to do was shift a little weight back over the right heel, and the board and the wave did the rest. If anything, it came out of the top faster than it went in. I had to settle myself so as not to scream, or overpower the next turn, a long snowboardy base line chatter of a thing. I felt the board asking me to be patient in this turn: just stay low, it said, you can decompress and take the brakes off once we’re heading back up. I did as it requested and it sprang out of the turn again and straightened the line so we were flying along parallel to the lip.

By this time we were about to enter Supertubes and I could see the jetski guy driving on the shoulder trying to get my attention, so just rode the Scramjet out off the back and into clear water.  Four turns, 150 metres.

No wonder Col used to ride ‘em.

Despite its restrictions this is a unique surfboard in my experience. I do have to discipline myself into riding it only when Scramjet Mode is available. To make sure I do this, I got Phil to make me a 6’1” version, a little wider with more outline curve and a little more vee — sort of a spine, though up from the fin, not behind it. This board is sweet and can be ridden happily in a three foot rip bowl.

I don’t get a feeling of Col from it, but then again I’m not a goofyfoot.


Confession: “I rode a fish all fishy!”

"But suddenly, my arms were above my head and I had no idea how they got there."

Yesterday I drank coffee with Chas, or rather, he drank tea meticulously steeped by a cheerful barista and I drank espresso brewed ristretto and a small glass of mineral water.

He did not wear the ectomorph pants, which was disappointing, but he did wear the YSL moccasins (ed. note: They are Louis Vuitton) which looked sinfully comfortable. Surely, there are laws against such things. I wore Volcom, Amuse, and Reef flip flops, because I am nothing if not a caricature of myself.

We sat in the Southern California shade in our ripped jeans and talked predictably of writing and surfboards. Beautiful west swell lines wrapped around the reefs just beyond our peripheral vision. It was postcard California.

I said I’d surfed Swamis the previous day. I rode my fish (sorry, not sorry DR!) which is blue and terribly cute with its fancy wood fins. One of the fins has a tiny chip after a bad decision at low-tide Malibu. In truth, I’m not terribly good at surfing the fish. My frail girlish frame can’t sink any part of it and it skims along the surface of things with a mind of its own.

As the smart stalkers among you already know (hi), I live in Santa Barbara. We surf point breaks, generally. When I first started surfing Rincon, it was something of a mystery to me. Oh, I could see that long line of water stretching to infinity. It felt like I had all the time in the world, and yet, never enough. I consistently blew sections, flapping like a flightless bird, falling behind, falling ahead, falling.

One of the most generous people I’ve ever met in a lineup, Kim Mearig one day told me that the secret to the thing is just to get down the line. Just get down the line. The advice sounded so obvious as to be useless. Well, duh. If I could get down the line, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

But eventually, I came to understand. She meant that you have to learn to let the wave do the work for you. The speed you need, it’s right there in front of you. The wave will always tell us what to do, if only we can read the story it’s writing for us. Maybe someday if I do this thing long enough, I’ll achieve that rare effortless grace of someone like Kim. Probably not, but there’s joy in the trying.

So there I was at Swamis, sliding along, drawing lazy fish loops. I’d scooped up an in-betweener under the longboarders who’d been drawn outside by a set. This is my signature move and I use it relentlessly. A section popped up and I could see there wasn’t much left to this thing. I told my fish to go up, which it obediently did. I was hoping to eek out just enough speed for one more turn before it all ended.

And then I was up there, skimming along the top of the wave. I felt good up there, riding my cute blue fish with the fancy fins. But suddenly, my arms were above my head and I had no idea how they got there. It was as though they weren’t even attached to my body anymore.

I also felt a weird urge to cross step which was super scary. I firmly reminded myself that I am neither Mason Ho nor Ryan Burch and my feet need to stay the fuck where they belonged.

I looked around furtively, hoping that no one had noticed. But I couldn’t help but think someone up there on the cliff was wondering what the hell was up with the weirdo chick on the fish. What is she doing with her arms. Why are they up in the air like that. I have no answer to these questions.

I thought I was the only one who’d experienced this bizarre arm thing, but then Chas admitted that it had happened to him. We vowed to create a support group for people like us. Hello, I once lost control of my arms while surfing a fish. I don’t know how it happened.

There was more talk about surfing and some writerly trash talk. Throwing shade in the shade. Then the coffee was gone, the tea drained, and it was time to go.

I took a long, lingering look at those magic green lines. Then, dreaming of Rincon at sunset, I drove north toward home.


Hiroto Ohara (pictured) | Photo: WSL

Olympics: Japan early favorite for gold!

A super team in the making!

The Winter Olympics commence today in PyeongChang, Korea. It will be a time of great cheer and veiled jingoism. I will catch as many events as I can, including but not limited to biathlon, curling, the 70m long jump, the 90m long jump and ice dancing.

Eighteen months from now, the Summer Olympics will kick off in nearby Tokyo, Japan. The 2020 Games will mark surfing’s debut and the host nation is the early favorite to bring home the gold. The Japan Times reports:

Twenty-year-old surfer Kanoa Igarashi, a dual citizen of Japan and the United States, has been named to the Japan national team for the first time, the Nippon Surfing Association said Tuesday.

Along with 55 other men, including 2015 U.S. Open of Surfing winner Hiroto Ohara, and 26 women, Igarashi will represent Japan in surfing events in the 2018 season as he seeks a place in the team at the 2020 Tokyo Games when the sport makes its Olympic debut.

Kanoa Igarashi and Hiroto Ohara have both won the U.S. Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach, conditions that likely mirror the Japanese beach breaks. Igarashi and Ohara also have a combined height of 2m and will be able to do many acrobatic maneuvers inside the Slater-Fincham barrel if the Olympic committee decides to hold the event at a wave tank.

I think the combo may well be unbeatable, easy favorites for gold and silver. I think Brazil will take bronze.


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.