pork roll (left) and Spam musubi (right) locked in a deadly battle.
pork roll (left) and Spam musubi (right) locked in a deadly battle.

Blood Feud: Pork Roll vs. Spam Musubi!

The winner will change our game.

A better part about traveling, as you well know, is discovering regional traditions. The particular music or architectural quirks. Ways of saying hello or goodbye. Food and drinks that exist few other places. I am currently in New Jersey working on an up coming BeachGrit wetsuit tale with locally famous surfer Tommy Ihnken and he insisted that I eat a pork roll this morning for breakfast. Now, I did not know what a pork roll was nor had I ever heard of it but when the diner lady laid it on the laminate tabletop I was pleasantly surprised.

More than pleasantly surprised even. The pork roll is a New Jersey delicacy that pairs egg, cheese and a roll with what appears to be Spam. I dumped a little hot sauce on the side, took a bite and almost fell out of my plasticine chair. The American cheese, melting over the processed pork was perfection and I had not been so smitten since… since… since Foodland on the North Shore some fifteen years earlier.

For it was then and it was there that I reached a younger hand under the warming lights and pulled the warm Saran wrapped Spam musubi into my heart and into my life. Spam musubi, for the uninitiated, features a bed of rice and a bit of seaweed wrapping holding a lightly teriyaki seasoned piece of Spam. That first bite, all crispy and salty, brought tears to my eyes and I thought I had discovered culinary heaven.

But now, some fifteen years later, I am locked in an ugly quandary. Which one is better? New Jersey’s pork roll or Hawaii’s Spam musubi? Which holds the crown for Best Pork(ish) Product on Earth?

I am lost. I am stuck. Can you help me decide? I think whichever wins is also The Official Snack of Surfers Everywhere (excluding Israel, Indonesia, Morocco, etc.)

Vs.


Italo Ferriera wins Bells
“Italo is all natural ability. Guys like Italo have the freest mind to go where they want,” says his shaper Timmy Patterson.

Design: Peel open Italo’s Bells-winning board!

A delightful pastiche of six-two meets five-eight by San Clemente’s Timmy Patterson… 

It’s a little after seven on a cool Spring night in southern Orange County. Timmy Patterson, shaper to the Brazilian tour leader Italo Ferreira, has just downed tools at his San Clemente factory across from Biolos and the gang at Lost.

Patterson, who is fifty-five years old, has been whipping up Italo’s boards since the kid from Baia Formosa was fifteen. Back when he had a “Brazilian squatty style and was always doing airs but never landing ‘em.”

In 2014, Dino Andino, who is very good at recognising such things, came up to Timmy and said, “Who is that Italian guy? He’s doing floaters on eight-foot closeouts on grinding beachbreaks and making ‘em. He’s going to be on tour next year. That guy’s a freak.”

The following year Italo was on the tour. He made the semi finals in Rio, quarters in Fiji, Tahiti and France and, with Filipe Toledo, turned the world in its head with their final in Portugal (Filipe won). Rookie of the year, easy.

Last year Italo, who is almost twenty four, tore ligaments in his ankle and missed three events. Finished twenty-second.

It ain’t his natural habitat.

In 2018, after two-and-a-half events, Italo leads the world. And that Bells win? I was on the phone to Maurice Cole and he whispered, “Have you seen Italo’s fucking boards? The back third is… dead straight. It’s really fucking simple. He’s riding the fastest boards. You gotta talk to Timmy Patterson about ‘em.”

Timmy kicks open the CAD file of Italo’s boards. It’s a 5’11” x 18 9/16” x 2 1/4”, 25.6 litres. Tells me the outline is a six-two at the back end with a five-eight’s nose. Translation: fuller in the nose, narrower in the tail.

“Italo is all natural ability. Guys like Italo have the freest mind to go where they want,” says Timmy.

“Look at how centred he is,” says Timmy. “Surfers are usually forward surfing or tail heavy and he’s so centred. He lives at this spot with a rightander that peels and he gets boards to fit into tight little pockets. The flat spot is right between his feet. He can get speed out of anything. He’s got those low centre of gravity tree-trunk legs. I mean, when you watch him, he doesn’t pump or wind up. He stiffens his legs, pushes it and he’s gone. He’s not really sinking his board, just planing.”

It’s the intermediate surfer’s lot to attempt to find a secret weapon in a surfer who’s suddenly become chic. The thing about Italo’s boards, however, is they’re classic Timmy Patterson. It’s all Timmy’s schtick. Beautiful, neutral boards that go fast, that fly, if y’got the chops.

“Italo is all natural ability. Guys like Italo have the freest mind to go where they want,” says Timmy.

As it happens, Italo had flown through California on the way back to Brazil. Did he talk… sharks? Well, sure. Italo pointed out how…creepy… it was there, how unsafe it felt.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BhxJVyfj03l/?taken-by=tpattersonsurfboards

“I surfed my whole life in Dana Point, never saw sharks, and then last year they showed up,” says Timmy. “To see White shark fins and to see ‘em breaching, when it’s actually happening in front of you, you would never go in the water. It’s that menacing.”

(Watch Italo in his breakout performance at Portugal in 2015 here!)


Super Troopers: Cops hold surf contest!

Uniting mankind!

I will admit to you here and now that I’ve always been jealous of skateboarders and their adversarial relationship with law enforcement. There they are, on the streets, trying to poach this or that set of stairs, needing to always keep one eye out for little pieces of gravel and the other out for the fuzz. Oh it is such beautiful enmity. The skateboarder thin and scabbed. The cop chubby and authoritative. The seething distrust that pours from each their eyes when they spot each other.

Surfers don’t have this natural enemy and, untethered, drift easily into the dangerous esoteric spaces, imagining that surfing is somehow spiritual and/or decent. Hell, surfers and the law are apparently so tight that Redondo Beach’s police department is putting on a surf contest during the same weekend as Founders Cup. And let us turn to the local newspaper to learn more.

Coming off a successful skateboard contest in October, the department is planning its next community-focused event, this time a team surf contest titled “The Line Up.”

“We’re trying to reach people who we normally wouldn’t reach,” said Dinah Lary, community services program manager for the RBPD. “Usually when you have an experience with a police officer, it’s not your best day. It’s usually because you’re the victim of a crime or something is going bad, so we’re trying to have your experience be positive and do things that are more fun.”

The contest is designed for all ages and skill levels in partnership with the Special Olympics of Southern California, Wounded Heroes of America and the Redondo Beach Police Foundation. While the event is free to compete, donations are encouraged to any of three charities.

The contest itself will involve teams of up to six members that can either be pre-arranged or sorted out at the event. Each team will also include either a Special Olympic athlete, military veteran or police officer, many of whom do not have much experience surfing, Lary said.

“They are going to have to work together as a team to help that person catch their waves,” Lary said. “It’s really about the experience and having a good time.”

The winner of the event will be presented with a Golden Donut trophy, a tongue-in-cheek reference to a police officer’s favorite treat.

“We do have a sense of humor,” Lary joked.

So what’s next for the department that’s getting cooler by the day? Lary said there is no shortage of ideas. The only slow-up is organizing them and getting them funded.

To be honest, it sounds very nice. It sounds like a wonderful celebration of the brotherhood of mankind. Like the perfect balm to soothe our irritated times. Maybe surfing really is spiritual and/or decent.

Wiggolly’s Paddling Style? Is it?


Holy Grail
"The concept of the long tail is to create hold and to give you that connection to a wave face that draws you upwards. I knew it could be insane in small waves but I knew I had to cut off the tail.” | Photo: Josh Tabone

Hayden Cox on “The Delights of Damnation!”

Names surfboard after important religious artefact! Can you guess?

The surfboard designer Hayden Cox, who is a sunny faced thirty-five, arrives for the interview carrying three gorgeously brazen surfboards. One is an all-black eight-foot-six gun, a scaled-down version of a nine-six he’d made for the Narrabeen big-wave surfer Ben Wilkinson to ride at Jaws, and early and final versions of his new model the Holy Grail, one a five-six, the other a five-seven.  

The original Holy Grail, as if needs to be explained to our theologically aware readership, was the cup that Joseph used to collect Jesus’ blood as he died upon a wooden cross during his crucifixion in 33 AD. His death would later become a public holiday in Judeo-Christian societies. (Good Friday.)

I remember, two-ish years ago, when Hayden told me the name. I thought it divine, literally. Hayden was worried that he’d get himself a little heat for its religious overtones, another surf media person had said as much, but as I said to Hayden, live a little, risk eternal damnation. There’s worse things.

Hayden’s here to explain his kink for rail curvature, or side-cuts if we’re to be specific, and how he says he can build a board that has all the easy-paddling and stability of what you might call, in hushed tones a fun board, but with a radical high-performance back end. Think, a car you can easily drive in traffic but still loose on the track. 

The inspiration for the side-cuts, and it’s the reason the eight-six is arranged on my terrace next to the Holy Grails, is it came from solving the problem of Ben Wilkinson wanting a board he could turn mid-face at Jaws. 

“We always talked about how you could get big-wave board to surf with all that speed but have enough curve to do a big hack underneath the lip,” says Hayden. “And it took me two years of thinking, on a million plane rides, visualising what the board could be and then it came to me. I gotta use side cuts. I gotta use a fast, straight rocker down the centre of the board put the curve in the rail line so as soon as he tilts the board on a mid-face bottom bottom turn, you want that rail line curve to draw you up the face. And when you flatten the board you’re on the flatter centreline rocker.” 

A clarification. 

Hayden ain’t saying he invented the concept of side-cuts. First, you’ll see ‘em on snowboards. Second, they’ve been around since the late seventies, and mostly on twin-fins. Hayden says he was turned onto the concept of side-cuts, and it’s a concept he first introduced commercially with his Psychedelic Germ model, via conversations with the shaper Mick Mackie.

“He’s an absolute chilled legend,” says Hayden. “He loves a good chat about how boards ride and how they flex.” 

Now let’s get into more theory. Hayden picks up a basketball and shows how the black channels intersect, at one point resembling a rounded pin tail. 

“People need to understand that there’s different parts of the board you surf on different parts of the wave,” he says. “And the concept is that when you surf horizontally on a wave, which is across the wave, you’ll surf on the centreline rocker. As you know, the theory goes that the more rocker you have the more manoeuvrable the board and the more sensitive it is in the pocket. And the flatter the rocker, the more lateral the board surfs and the faster is moves across the wave, but you lose the ability to turn in the pocket.”

Side-cuts give you a hit each way. 

“Where it translate to the surfer,” says Hayden, “is the fact that now you have a really straight centreline rocker, which you feel when you surf horizontally, and that’s giving you flow and speed. But when you tilt the board on rail, now you’re surfing on the rail-line rocker which has all the curve late off the back foot.”

In his thinking, in his experimentation, Hayden rode a five-seven at big Nias. The design is an early version of the Holy Grail, fins well forward and with the side-cuts kicking in, dramatically, a dozen inches off the tail. 

“I’m not going to surf Jaws but Nias is a big, open face,” says Hayden. “I felt that speed and that flow and that turning ability when you hit the rail line that curvature coming into play. But even with fifteen-foot faces I felt like it was only just starting to come to life. The concept of the long tail is to create hold and to give you that connection to a wave face that draws you upwards. I knew it could be insane in small waves but I knew I had to cut off the tail.” 

The result is the finished Holy Grail. 

“In small waves that’s the evolution. You don’t want the hold. The outline and the amount of that curvature was put into the rail line to suit everything from shoulder high faces, three foot, up until, shit, I’ve surfed it into good twelve-foot faces, South Coast sorta stuff,” says Hayden. 

Three foot, double overhead. 

One board.

Hayden picks up the basketball, spins it. 

“Maybe I should’ve called it the Spaulding,” he says. 


Surf Ranch and the Great White Conspiracy!

What does it all mean, man?

I went to bed last night in New Jersey with the news that the World Surf League had cancelled the Margaret River Pro due shark activity. When I woke up this morning, still in New Jersey, Margaret River remains cancelled. The agony caused to presenting sponsor Western Australia’s Tourism Board and the World Surf League was detailed marvelously by the current best surf journalist in the world.

Agony ain’t the half of it for the tourism board. I believe this will go down as the worst public relations spend in history, knocking the 1930s campaign “Pedophiles love Pepsi!” from its perch.

For the league, though, this momentary sniff of embarrassment will be almost instantly replaced by the scent of cow turds. By the scent of farm laborer fears. By the scent of Immigration and Customs Enforcement SUV vanil-a-roma air fresheners. By the scent of Indian gaming parlors. By the scent of Lemoore, California.

And ain’t it just a neat coincidence that the next event, though not officially “an event”, is Founders Cup at Surf Ranch. A converted water ski lake some hundred miles from the nearest great white shark. A place that doesn’t have flat spells. A place that can charge 5000 people an admission fee. Like a dude ranch with surf. Surf Ranch.

The World Surf League’s financial way forward is undoubtedly the pool. It will showcase, sell, build and promote. The Championship Tour acts as a loss leader. The ocean as the biggest competitor. It is almost as if the League held the Margaret River event during salmon spawning season on purpose. Almost as if those dead whales were placed strategically around the event site. Almost as if certain Brazilian competitors were pushed forward with fear-filled social media messages.

And here, right here, in a nutshell, is why no conspiracy on earth is actually true. Conspiracies take many people working toward a common but largely secret goal all while keeping their mouths shut. They take unbelievable planning, coordination and skill. After completed they take a level of candor not seen since… since… since ever.

Can you imagine this level of institutional dexterity from Joe Turpel and 1989 World Champion Martin “Pottz” Potter? From His Honorable Judge Pritamo and CEO Sophie G.?

Well?

I can’t and I can’t imagine it from any other bureaucracy on earth either. Chem trails, 9/11 as an inside job, flat earth, radio ID chips being stuck in people, etc. have all effectively been rendered silly by the World Surf League’s general incompetence. Because the World Surf League’s general incompetence is the same as yours and mine and alls people everywhere. I mean, maybe a little more marked but…

It is funny, in the end, that the potential for any conspiracy theory to be true has been undone by Kelly Slater.

Isn’t it?