Rothman: “They’re a band of idiots!”

A North Shore icon weighs in on Hawaiian bureaucracy!

Eddie Rothman’s laugh is art. Building from grumble to genuine, pure chuckle. Slow rolling and infectious. Better than any super villain’s. Better than rock candy.

I called him last evening, after hearing Dave Prodan claim on the Surf Splendor podcast that Da Hui did not get a permit to run their Backdoor Shootout. It sounded scurrilous. Like the World Surf League spreading falsehoods in order to cover bureaucratic mistakes so I went seeking the truth.

Eddie answered on the second ring.

What are we up to?

I heard a rumor from the WSL that Da Hui didn’t get a permit for the Backdoor Shootout. Is that true?

We never do.

And then the laugh. That carved from granite laugh.

They take it away every year. Every year we go back and get it. Every single year. They took away the Duke Kahanamoku Classic in favor of a bodysurfing event and they don’t care. The State of Hawaii does not care, at all, about the Hawaiian people and this is what they do every chance they get. You can fill out a permit in Hawaii…they don’t care if you lie or whatever you do. Last year the director, how’s this, she took away our contest. She said we didn’t get the permit on time, right? So the independent council came and deemed her actions an erroneous abuse of power and made her sign the permit back to us. After getting the permit back last year from the independent council she went and took it again. They’re a band of idiots. They are so stupid. And then again this year. We have this happen every year.

But every year you end up running the contest, right?

We don’t care if they give us the permit or not. It’s a cultural event for the Hawaiian people. The way this place works is… incredible and it’s not like people are getting paid off. They’re just incredibly… ignorant. But we’ll go get it back again, I guess, we’ll go through the thing and this time it got a little more publicity…

…because the WSL?

Yeah because the WSL. What happened with the WSL is, remember we sued them and the city for the rules they made but they violate the rules every year and you’re not supposed to get a permit the next year if you do that. So for them, they met with the city, they changed the rules that they made, that we sued them for, that they’re trying to break. Now it’s biting them in the ass because they made the rule. This system is just fucked over. It’s incredible.

Do you think the WSL will come back or are they done?

How they gonna leave? The WSL made the contract to begin with. Now they want to break it? Good luck. The rules they made with the city, about how you have to do this and that and apply for the permit… those are their rules, not ours. We sued them over the rules they’re trying to break. They can’t so the WSL bum rushes the city, thinking that the ignorant fucks of Hawaii are going to buckle but they can’t. There’s like five sue jobs waiting for them. But here’s this lady (WSL CEO Sophie Goldschmidt) getting off the plane saying, “I’m from London, I’m from tennis, I’m from this…” You know let’s put it this way, if the WSL had credible people like Peter Mel, Pat O’Connell, Myles Padaca, Pancho Sullivan…there’s a host of others. Martin Potter, Barton Lynch… if they had people up there running the thing right, there wouldn’t be any problems. Everybody would be stoked.

My heart raced with the thought of Pat O’Connell as head of the World Surf League. He would be a perfect choice, having been around the block but also forever young, so as soon as I got off the phone with Eddie I called him. He answered on the third ring.

There’s a North Shore movement to get you installed as head of the WSL. What would be your first order of business?

Pat, ever gracious, laughed too. His was not carved from granite and appropriately wary.

Ooooooof. I have no idea man. I’m too close to it all but I will say this. The old model was broken. The WSL had to do something and I like big, bold moves. I’d rather it all fall on its face because everyone tried something new rather than just keep going the way it’s going.

Lack of fear sure is refreshing and I am going to dream of the day when Eddie Rothman and Pat O’Connell run professional surfing.

Also, Dave Prodan was right!

Come and get a piece! A wavepool that is small enough to fit in an office or bigger than average backyard.

Coming: Office Wavepools!

CityWave gonna squeeze a wavepool into your office or store for under five mill!

Almost two years ago, I wrote of my excitement for CityWave and its interpretation of the modern wavepool. The Munich-based operation has applied the physics of a standing wave to the creation of its tanks, a little like Tom Lochtefeld’s FlowRider, but deep enough so you’re not riding finless discs.

It ain’t no surprise that the river wave, the Eisbach, is in the same town as CityWave.

Oh it’s a wave that will whip you out! Much riding, not so much sitting.

This morning, the sporting goods store L & T in Osnabrück, a city in north-west Germany, opened a CityWave that had been installed in the middle of its store.

Stick a wave pool in your office! Oooeeee!

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Tell me that ain’t fun. Showing everyone in town your cutback and chop-hop prowess. The size and portability of the tank means you could, theoretically, throw one in an office or a slightly bigger-than-average backyard.

The American face of CityWave, the former world number two Shane Beschen, daddy to two rippers Koda, twelve, and Noah, seventeen, has been riding the tanks for the past four years.

“We all went to Munich four winters in a row, each time for five days, and honestly, it’s what motivated me to jump fully in, business wise. Because I’d watch my kids, who live in Hawaii and who are used to surfing good waves, get so stoked. In the middle of fucking Germany!

Beschen says there’ll be a fully operational CityWave within the US sometime in the next twelve to eighteen months. He calls it a “patience game”, getting the money, the land, the approvals. But it’s getting very close. “Now we’re seeing successful investment companies, real estate companies looking into this. When that happens, it becomes a real thing.”

Instead of the usual ten-metre wide pool, Beschen says he wants to build the US version three times as wide as the German tanks.

“On the ten-metre wide pools you’re going pretty fast by the time you get to the side and have to turn. If you continued another ten or twenty metres you’d be capable of a lot more. We’ll see a massive revolution when we build ’em that wide.”

Which means, big airs off the coping instead of roundhouse cutbacks, which is the bread and butter of CityWave and which you can’t do on Wavegardens or at the Surf Ranch.

Another advantage of CityWave, and yeah there are disadvantages too, like, it’s not going to feel like Snapper or little Kirra (Surf Ranch) or Aragum Bay (Wavegarden), is there’s hardly any down time. You’re not sitting in flat water waiting for the wake to settle before another wave arrives.

Beschen says each session will be forty-five minutes long with ten other surfers. “It’s like…hours… in the ocean as far as actual riding,” he says. “It’s a crazy workout.  As soon as someone blows it another person is riding. Within that forty-five minute session you’re getting three to four minutes of riding. Your legs are throbbing.”

The CityWave costs around one-sixth of a Surf Ranch or Wavegarden, which adds to the likelihood of ’em actually happening.

“A complete facility, with retail, a bar, is in the five million dollar range,” he says. “You’re on half-an-acre at most. All other products are on five or ten acres. We can penetrate the dense suburban market. The bigger facilities will always be on the outskirts.”

And to the pitchfork-wielding luddites who fear the pool?

“Once people start riding ’em and having fun, they’ll realise it’s just an alternative,” says Beschen. “A lot of people are getting hung up on this or that. To me surfing is… everything. It’s surfing rivers, surfing behind boats, surfing Backdoor.”

Watch recently retired three-time world champion Mick Fanning on a CityWave from last September.

Opinion: I hate your surfboard!

It’s real cute how you kick with your legs.

That’s a mighty nice board you have. Is it new? It looks new.

You just got it. Oooh, it’s custom. 7’3”. I’m sure that three inches is very important to you.

Did you pick the color? It’s awfully pretty. Oh, your girlfriend picked it. Well, that’s nice. Does she surf? No, no, of course not. I can’t imagine what I was thinking.

You usually surf a shortboard.

I see.

And when exactly do you do that? When it’s not crowded. So I guess what you’re saying is never. You never surf a shortboard.

Your shortboard is a 6’6”. It’s that one on the beach. You mean, the red thing right there. That’s a fish. Your shortboard is a fish.

Thrusters. Have you heard of them. They work pretty great, actually. You know, three fins. They make carbon fins now. I like carbon fins. Thrusters. Simon Anderson. Kelly Slater. Surely you know Kelly Slater. A shortboard is not a fish.

Why are you backpaddling me. Your hair is still dry and you’re backpaddling me. You don’t even know what backpaddling is, do you. You love that board. It catches so many waves. That’s why you bought it. Your bro said you’d get so many waves. You always listen to your bro.

Did you know that Farmer John makes your arms look small? Maybe you should check out the gym some time. Chicks dig big arms.

Or I don’t know, maybe just wear a suit with sleeves. They make them, you know. Full suits. With sleeves. Sleeves are pretty great in winter. Which, it’s winter now, actually. You know, low tide in the afternoon. Winter. It’s hard to keep track sometimes.

It’s real cute how you kick with your legs. That are not in the water. Your legs are not in the water, but you’re still kicking. If I took your board away, could you swim. You would drown, wouldn’t you. And then I’d have to save you, so maybe don’t do that please.

You’re behind the section. You’re still behind the section. You’re still behind the section. You’re not going to make it around. Keep holding on to that rail, though. That’s definitely going to help.

Does your arm always do that. I don’t understand what your arm is doing. You’re trying to fly. That must be it. Flap on.

You’re back again. That’s nice. We missed you out here. You were gone so long. We thought you’d left us. We’d be so sad if you left us.

You probably cut in line at the coffee shop, too, don’t you. Just walk right up to the front and get your coffee. It’s fine. We don’t mind at all. We like just sitting here watching you surf.

Oh look! A wave! I see you’re going again. Good, good, just keep going.

Fuck. No. I’m taking this one. Get out of my way. Out. Of. My. Way. Fuck. I’m going.

I’m making it. I’m making it. Oh look, a section. Get your board out of the way. Why are you paddling for it. I was going to hit that section. Hit. It. Now look what you’ve done.

I have to go around your dumb board. Around. Now I’m going too slow and I have to hump and flail to get going again. I hope nobody is watching this part. I am humping and flailing and it’s all your fault.

One last turn. Please let me have one last turn. Bam. Nailed it. This surfing thing isn’t too bad, really.

People, get rid of your midlengths. They’re terrible.

Christian Fletcher
Occ: "You've been sober for a long time now." Christian: "I wouldn't say… sober!"

Christian Fletcher: “I wouldn’t say I’m…sober!”

How to interview with Mark Occhilupo!

The game of interviews ain’t as easy as y’think. Human behaviour being as it is, we genuflect towards the famous, we talk over answers and we try to impress the mark with our own genius, thoroughly forgetting the purpose of the interview – to extract information.

I remember, once, an entire interview with Mick Fanning became a treatise on life, love and big-wave surfing by a prominent surf photographer employed to shoot portraits, Fanning reduced to a bit player in the proceedings.

Mark Occhilupo, whom, as a teenager was as remarkable a surfer as the young Kelly Slater, has become, accidentally or by design, a formidable interviewer. In this forty-three minute podcast/video hybrid Occy peels back layers of Christian Fletcher with a goofy style that belies a sharp mind and an ability to ask excellent follow-up questions.

Occy asks Christian about his famous contest win in 1989 at Lowers that polarised surfing to such an extent members of the top 16 co-signed a letter to the various surfing magazines asking for photos of Christian not be run.

“Got talked into buying a house by my parents. Ended up with a wife, a kid, a house – all the responsibilities of a fifty-year-old man at twenty one and she didn’t cook. She didn’t even cook a bowl of cereal, ok, didn’t clean, didn’t work. It was a rough one so finally ended up with a nervous breakdown.”

You won $30,000, says Occ.

“31725,” corrects Christian.

“What happened to the money,” says Occy, a beautiful follow up.

“Got talked into buying a house by my parents. Ended up with a wife, a kid, a house – all the responsibilities of a fifty-year-old man at twenty one and she didn’t cook. She didn’t even cook a bowl of cereal, ok, didn’t clean, didn’t work. It was a rough one so finally ended up with a nervous breakdown.”

Can you go further with that?

“Sure! I would’ve ended up dying.”

You’ve been sober a long time now.

“Wouldn’t say sober. I’ll do whatever I want, whenever I want! I just choose not to do it too often.”

Making the right choices, says Occ.

The interview is priceless. Watch here.

Listen: The WSL’s kingmaker reveals all!

"I don’t think Kelly will ever win another world title."

Hope Hicks is gone but dry your eyes because we have Dave Prodan and we always will. The World Surf League’s senior vice-president of global identity predates the WSL by a good five years. He was there, when professional surfing was called the Association of Surfing Professionals. He will be here when professional surfing is called the Indoor Surfing Club. Dave Prodan is eternal.

I first met the man in Europe, I do believe, in the early 2000s. He was then CEO Brodie Carr’s right hand and executed his duties with a wry sense of remove. Nothing but nothing could ruffle Dave Prodan’s feathers. Nothing but nothing can still. He is able to walk the very fine line between corporate and core interests somehow deciphering one to the other. I don’t know that he has ever said or written a wrong word and would imagine that future heads of state will someday look at his body of work, call and say, “Dave Prodan? My name is Oprah Winfrey, I am President of the United States and I’ve been following your career. What would you say to coming to work with me in the White House as communications director?”

“I’m truly honored…” Dave Prodan will respond “…but the Indoor Surfing Club has just released its tour schedule, including Dubai and Midland, Texas. It will be an important year and I must sally forth.”

He is honorable yet he just sat down with provocateur David Lee Scales for a podcast. What WSL secrets slipped out? Well there’s this…

We do not have a permit for Pipe in 2019. The mayor has acknowledged that the permitting process is flawed. They’re tearing up the permitting rules and rewriting them from scratch. It’s my understanding the Da Hui Backdoor Shootout did not receive their 2019 permit either. Hopefully we end up with Pipe back on the schedule in 2020.

Is true? Da Hui got slapped by bureaucracy? Son of a bitch.

Come listen for more!