vince collier
Vince's rep now is that he took Flea and I think Ken Collins to Mavs for the first time, probably in 1992, and they surfed it on acid. His was the protective and kind of psychotic big brother figure to those guys He was the guy who gave Flea the nickname “Flea.” But what Vince is probably best know for is he went deep into the drug scene. Deep, dark, and ugly into the drug scene, backwoods scary shit. | Photo: Woody Woodworth

Obit: US Surf Enforcer Dies of Heart Attack

The King of Santa Cruz, Vince Collier, dies en route to Puerto Escondido.

Earlier today, the noted surf photographer Chris Klopf announced that his old pal, big-waver, meth-aficianodo and tough guy Vince Collier had died of a heart attack while driving to Puerto Escondido.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bf4LLGJBdUs/?hl=en&taken-by=chrisklopf

What do I know of Vince? That he liked to surf, liked to smoke and he liked to fight, not always in that order. For a little perspective on Vince’s death, I turned, as one must  to Matt Warshaw, custodian of the sport’s history. 

BeachGrit: Vince was a biggish deal, right?

Vince and Richie Schmidt got California back the big-wave game in the late ‘70s. Richie kept going, Vince got sidetracked, but was still dangling a big pair, and was very much a player during the first Mavs push. To us SoCal guys in the ‘70s and early ‘80s, Rich and Vince were both awesome. Really cool. On a different level then us, because of the big-wave cred, and because everything about Santa Cruz was way heavier than what we knew down in Manhattan or Newport or San Clemente. Vince and Rich were already putting in months at a time on the North Shore, doing Puerto Escondido when it was still just a village. Rich was the quiet one, Vince was the back-slapping loud one. He was a really good surfer. Tons of power, bit of a slouch-stance, heavy back foot. Surfed like Ian Cairns. Vince and Rich and I were all IPS washouts in the early ‘80s, so we kind of bonded over that. They were great to me, I liked them a lot.

Enforcer sorta cat?

More so in later years, but yeah. Vince was a big redneck Westsider, friendly if you knew him, but drop in on him at the Lane and you’d be sent in for sure. Or punched if you mouthed off . . . except nobody did. I remember in 1992 there was a PSAA contest at the Lane. Machado and Beschen and guys like that were all in town, this was right before they jumped up to the world tour. I’d just moved to the Bay Area, and covered the contest for SURFER. Finals day, really fun six-foot surf, dropping tide throughout the morning. There was going to be a 30 minute break just before lunch, the whole damn place was gonna be empty from the Point to Indicator. So I suited up, lurked down at the bottom of the cliff, and when the horn blew I sprinted into the lineup. Right when I sit up I hear “HEY YOU! GET THE FUCK OUT OF THE WATER!” I turn around and see Vince charging me, snarling, face red, he’s the hired muscle, and I froze. I’d never seen him like that. It was terrifying. I babbled something and he pulls up, stares, and goes “Oh! Warshaw!” For a second he wasn’t sure how to handle it. Then he nods, asks me how I’m doing, turns for the next wave, and tells me to clear out before the next heat starts. I loved him at that moment.

Vince’s rep now is that he took Flea and I think Ken Collins to Mavs for the first time, probably in 1992, and they surfed it on acid. His was the protective and kind of psychotic big brother figure to those guys He was the guy who gave Flea the nickname “Flea.” But what Vince is probably best know for is he went deep into the drug scene.

How big was Vince’s rep?

Vince’s rep now is that he took Flea and I think Ken Collins to Mavs for the first time, probably in 1992, and they surfed it on acid. His was the protective and kind of psychotic big brother figure to those guys. He was the guy who gave Flea the nickname “Flea.” But what Vince is probably best know for is he went deep into the drug scene. Deep, dark, and ugly into the drug scene, backwoods scary shit. I didn’t watch the Josh Pomer documentary. It’s out there if you want to see it. I don’t.

Where does he stand in the pantheon of US surfing?

As a cautionary tale, you’d put him in the top four. Vince, Ricky Rasmussen, David Eggers, Andy Irons in any order you choose.


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!


CityWave
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.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bfzem4Sj9XS/?taken-by=beach_grit

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.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bf1EXx4hcKT/?taken-by=citywave.de

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.