Wild: Surf legend’s explosive tell-all memoir!

Rabbit Bartholomew says, "I do not want to read this book!"

If you know surfing, you’ll know the name Ian Cairns, a man with the physique of a comic-book hero (nicknamed Kanga) who ruled big waves, who was pivotal in the creation of a world tour, who would launch the ASP after tearing the game off the IPS’s Fred Hemmings and whose thin-eyed stare could give a man stomach cramps.

For the past three years, Ian, who is sixty-five, has been working with the Ireland-based writer Wayne Murphy on a two-volume memoir called Kanga: the trials and triumphs of Ian Cairns. Ian chose Wayne, a former contest judge and pioneer of waves in Western Australia,  to write the books because, a, “because I wanted someone from WA to write this thing because it’s important he knows that when you’re from Western Australia you have a chip on your shoulder”, b,”because he wasn’t a conventional surf writer. I wanted a different look at things” and, c, “because he pested the crap out of me.”

Volume one, which is 544 pages long or 155,000 words, charts his childhood, growing up surfing in Western Australia, having the dream of making a living out of it right through the conclusion of 1976 and the introduction of the world circuit. Volume two is where it gets interesting… dirty. The creation of the Bronzed Aussies. His role in the Hollywood movie Big Wednesday. Winning the World Cup. The launch of the OP Pro. The launch of the ASP. WSL and the future of surfing.

Copies land April 13 although you can pre-order here at his website. 

Earlier today, I called Kanga, who lives in Laguna Beach with his former pro surfer wife Alisa and twin teenage boys, to talk about the book, the direction of pro surfing under the private ownership of the WSL, why he doesn’t give, as Nick Carroll says, “a flying fuck whether you liked him or not”, about testifying in court against Da Hui’s Eddie Rothman and to ask why Rabbit Bartholomew, his peer and also a titan of the sport, says, “I do not want to read this book.”

ian Cairns book
The book Rabbit Bartholomew doesn’t want to read.

About the WSL and the sport’s direction, he says, “We watch all these moments, Paul Speaker and his treatment of surfing, the disenfranchisement of the surf industry from the WSL direction, hiring an Englishwoman, a former tennis and rugby executive, to run surfing  – in terms of painting a picture of what my perfect vision would be, it may not align with what the WSL direction is.

“I really struggle with the concept of it being a full-blown league sport ala tennis and football and NBA,” says Ian. “As surfers, we all do it for lifestyle and spiritual reasons. Look at the comments on your articles. The gulf between the presentation of the WSL and what the average surf fan thinks is so great. The concept that you can find salvation for the economic reality of WSL in attracting more non-surfers to support sponsors, to me, is the exact opposite of what it should be. I’ve got a screen-grab of an article that says World Wrestling Entertainment made 850 million bucks last year. They have one-and-a-half million people pay ten bucks a month to subscribe to their channel. These are wrestling enthusiasts. They’re clear on who their audience is. I don’t see that clarity coming out of the WSL.”


On Rabbit, who said, when asked for a testimonial, “Ian’s life seriously impacted on me and many other people, for better, and worse. I do not want to read this book”.

“Well… you know… that’s Rabbit’s problem,” says Ian. “It’s not my problem. When he was a nobody and I was beginning to be someone, I let him be my caddy. He was my sidekick. He thinks I soured his relationship with people in Hawaii. He needs to look at his own actions. When we were looking for a new executive director of the ASP, I was the guy who proposed Rabbit. I knew the ASP needed a surfer at the helm. I fought hard for him. Rabbit was a great surfer, we were ultra-close buddies back in the early seventies and we had to go through the turmoil to change the world. If we look at the good times and the things we achieved we gotta high-five each other. What a great time we’ve had!”

On Mark Richards, the four-time world champ who said, “Kanga didn’t start the ASP for the benefit of Ian Cairns. He did it for the benefit of pro surfing.

“This is consistent with how sport was in the years that I grew up,” says Ian. “Sporting clubs were owned by the members not billionaires. When I left the ASP I left with nothing but the satisfaction of putting pro surfing on the correct path.”

About not giving a flying fuck.

“Everyone in some sense is concerned about what people think of them. But I wake up in the morning and I think, what am I going to today? How can I do all these things that are crazy and cool and how can it benefit my family, my friends and all of this? The moment you start to think about these things you move forward and all those criticisms, which are about what you did yesterday, don’t matter. If you’re thinking about the future, you’re already one step ahead of the critics. Do I want to be disliked? No! Do I want to be focussed on coming up with some awesome idea tomorrow?  That’s what I want to do.”

As for his 1987 testimony against Da Hui founder Eddie Rothman, who was indicted on racketeering and drug distribution charges, which prompted his former Bronzed Aussie pal Pete Townend to say, “I thought he was fucken nuts,” Ian says: “This is just ethics 101. Myself, and many many other people, have been tortured and harassed by Eddie and the Hui for decades. And the truth is, Hawaii is an amazing place. I have many friends in Hawaii. But I just hated the idea of gangs, I hate the involvement of drugs in surfing and I hate the involvement the idea of strong-arm tactics to stop people from doing things. I do think there are issues, and I’ve reached out on a number of times to Eddie, to say, ‘Why don’t we work together to help the plight of Hawaiian surfers? Let’s take the gravitas that we both have in surfing and do something really positive with it. Let’s not bitch and moan about the past, let’s talk about what we can do in the future.'”

When asked for a quote for the book, Eddie Rothman said, “Why would I want to talk about Ian Cairns? That fucker kept me in jail.”


“The fucked up things I had to suffer through… What does he expect? For me to get down on my jones and kiss his arse? Or to fight back? Which is what I did. ”

Going to be a hell of a read.

Listen: Chris Cote’s signature sound!

Come remember the good times.

Nothing defines the high water mark of the surf industry better than potato chip surfboards, wrap-around sunglasses and pop punk. It was the late 1990s and all was sunny and bright in our world. Surf-skate-snow clothing companies begun in parent’s garages were hitting the market, months later, with multi-million IPOs. Quiksilver and Billabong were both worth more than a billion dollars.

Pennywise, Lagwagon and Strung Out the soundtrack to every surf DVD and our lives.

The genre was best defined by north San Diego County pop punk outfit Blink-182. Their hits extended beyond Orange County bedrooms and into the heart of America. Mtv played on heavy rotation. Tens of thousands of people thronged to stadium concerts. Blink was a phenomenon. The taste of a new generation.

And would you like a little surf lore? A very young Chris Cote was a Blink guitar tech/roadie.

Chris, of course, would later go on to much fame as the editor-in-chief of Transworld Surf, voice of the Pipeline Pro, impresario behind Monday M.A.S.S., etc. but the man has always kept music close to his heart and just two days ago loosed a single upon the world, titled Friend’s Coming Home.

The song is grown up, a touch. Matured with quality instrumentation anchored by Cote’s honest voice. It is reminiscent of slow core but still maintains the fun of those early pop punk days.

Listen for yourself and then buy on iTunes. Because we live in the future and 1998 is but a distant dream.

surf painting
A poster surf report every day for 365 consecutive days! Creative! Industrious!

Artist makes surf report poster every day for one year!

Passionate! Industrious!

We tear through our surf reports like prom dresses, loved with such acute devotion it could split the atom.

Then, when their point is served, they are never thought of again.

Some artists hold the things we take for granted and make us remember how lucky we are to have them. Enter Laura Toffolo, a graphic artist who made a poster for the surf report every day for a year in New Jersey.

The spots vary. When she traveled to LA she continued with the reports.

Born and raised in Jersey, Laura now lives in Brooklyn although she ditches the Beastie borough and heads to the Jerz when she wants to dip her seven-o in Asbury Park’s wedges.

How did she come up with the idea of making a piece of art for every surf?

“During the time of this project, I was still living at home and commuting in and out of the city from Scotch Plains by train on the dreadful NJ Tranist. The train would always be delayed or moving at a glacier pace, so I needed something to do to pass the time. I wanted to challenge myself to a poster a day for 100 days. I decided to use the daily surf report as my base so that I could get new and different information everyday. I restricted myself with only using typography, color and illustration. Except on the days where I traveled. During the time of this project, I drove the Pacific Coast Highway from SF to LA and captured some amazing photos. I decided to incorporate black-and-white photography and limit my color palette to black, white and red for these travel days. Creating these posters really allowed me to experiment with unique layouts, typography and color treatments.

“Once I got to day 100, I realized that I created a nice body of work and I wanted to see if I could push myself to do it for a whole year, creating 365 11”x17” posters.”

Was it stressful? Tedious?

“The worst part was forcing myself to open my laptop on those days when I had off of work, attended events or when I was on vacation. Some days I didn’t even want to look at the screen. This also forced me to carry my computer with me at all times to make sure that I completed a poster everyday. Sometimes I would open up my computer and the creativity would just flow out of my fingers and I could create a poster within 20 minutes. Other days I’d tinker with it for hours. There are posters that I love in this series and posters that are definitely not my favorite. But the whole practice was to create a poster everyday, no matter if the outcome was perfect in my eyes or not.”

Inspirations for the project include the book Let My People Go Surfing (Yvon Chouinard), Interaction of Colors (Joseph Albers), Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life (William Finnegan), and Still Moving (Danny Clinch) as well a playlist filled with Kendrick Lamar, Tribe Called Quest or Chance the Rapper.

“Sometimes all it takes to get my creative juices going is some Otis Redding, Sam Cooke or Leon Bridges. It really all depends on the mood that I am in that day.”

If your castle needs a little colour, click here to see, maybe buy, one of Laura’s surf report posters.  

(Note: all surf reports provided by Surfline.)

How to: Qualify for the 2020 Olympics!

The steps necessary to get you in the Games!

So you’ve got Olympic dreams. Don’t worry, it’s ok to admit. You’re amongst friends here. A judgement-free zone where you can confess all your closely held secrets. Like your Olympic dreams. Maybe carrying your nation’s flag, marching into an arena packed with throngs of jingoistic sport fans. The pop of flashbulbs. The scent of gunpowder lingering from a fantastic fireworks display.

Your parents used to deride your surfing. Mother called it a “nasty habit.” Father made not so subtle gay jokes any time you passed in front of him on your way to the beach. Well, they’re at home now watching these opening ceremonies live on television. Sitting there proud as punch of their Olympian.

The day the qualification process for Tokyo 2020 was released was the best of your life. You’ll forever remember passing you local surf shop and seeing it taped to its window, right below Billabong x Joel Parkinson’s new six-year contract. It spoke to you:

The key elements of the qualification system are as follows: 20 men, 20 women.Maximum of 2 surfers per gender per National Olympic Committee (NOC).Qualification spots will be earned on an individual basis, by name.

In accordance with IOC guidelines, the qualification events have been determined in hierarchical order of qualification, as further explained below.

If two surfers of a gender have qualified through the first hierarchical order, that NOC will not be able to qualify more surfers of that gender through qualifying events lower in hierarchical order.

All surfers selected by their respective National Federations for their national teams must participate in 2019 and 2020 ISA World Surfing Games in order to be eligible for Olympic qualification.

The final details of the eligibility requirements are still under review by the ISA and the IOC.

The hierarchical order of qualification will be as follows:

2019 World Surf League Championship Tour: First 10 eligible men and first 8 eligible women.

2020 ISA World Surfing Games: First 4 eligible men and first 6 eligible women.

2019 ISA World Surfing Games: 4 men and 4 women selected based on their continent. Top finishing eligible surfer of each gender from Africa, Asia, Europe and Oceania.

2019 Pan American Games: First eligible man and first eligible woman in the surfing competitions.

Host nation slot: One man and one woman slot will be guaranteed for the host nation of Japan, unless already filled through the above hierarchies. Should athletes from Japan qualify regularly, their slots will be reallocated to the highest ranked eligible surfers from the 2020 World Surfing Games.

And you ran home, screaming “I’m going to surf in the Olympics!” the entire way. Now look at you. Look at you marching in your nation’s sequined polyester pantsuit and glittering cowboy hat. Nasty habit? Gay? No need to apologize mother and father. No need at all.

Laura Never
"What the actual efff?" Kelia Moniz reacts to Laura Enever's twelve-foot Shipsterns bomb. | Photo: @stugibson

Fresh: Laura Enever Tows twelve-foot Shipsterns!

Taj Burrow says, "You did not!!! You little weapon, yes!!"

Yesterday, Narrabeen’s Laura Enever towed ten-to-twelve-foot Shipsterns in Tasmania as part of an upcoming documentary that follows her transition from tour surfer to freesurfer.

Ms Enever, who is twenty six years old, wasn’t exactly planning on grabbing the rope on what was, by all accounts, a serious day, but what are you doing to do when you’ve got a filmer, a photographer, a fuelled-up ski and driver and the skills to negotiate the infamous ledges there?

Steve Wall, the Manly-based photographer famous for his sublime images of Craig Anderson on the NSW South Coast and who is making the documentary, says it will focus on Laura “pushing into the bigger and crazier stuff.”

Wall, who was at Hobart airport when BeachGrit called, describes the film, which is called Undone, as something out of the box, and one that will capture an athlete at a pivotal point in her life – as she moves from competition to squeezing a living out of making surprising, spur-of-the-moment decisions in bigger than usual waves.

“We’ve been chipping away for a couple of months,” says Wall. “That was the first day we shot. Obviously, we came down here not expecting fifteen-foot sets.  But Laura ended up getting on the rope and was thrown into the deep end really fast. As you can imagine, it was quite a sight.”

The reaction to a still from the session, that was shot by Stu Gibson, and posted on Laura’s Instagram was instant, surfing’s best lining up to pump her hand.

From the noted Shipsterns surfer Marty Paradisis who towed Laura into this wave: “She wanted it bad… was epic!”

Carissa Moore: “You are crazy! Incredible babe!”

Brad Gerlach: “Wow!”

Kelia Moniz: “What the actual effff?”

Sabre Norris: No way! This is crazy, you are crazy!! ❤❤❤

And Taj Burrow, “You did not!!! You little weapon, yes!!!”

More on the film soon!