Momentum: Surfers “forever reshape world!”

Turn the dial to 11!

As you may, or may not, know I have spent the past two-ish years working on a documentary about the wonderful Lisa Andersen. During this period I have thought constantly about documentary films. About what makes them good and what makes them bad. About triumphs and pitfalls. It is a deceivingly difficult genre, I think. The narrative seemingly writes itself but each decision along the way colors the truth and either alters or focuses history.

My favorite documentary of all time is The Kid Stays in the Picture.

My favorite documentary of the year is Wild, Wild Country.

They are as brilliant as they are beautiful and if you have not watched I highly recommend.

My least favorite documentary is any that falls headfirst into hyperbole. Sport’s documentaries are particularly plagued by this disease. On the field exploits somehow get magnified through the camera lens and turn into momentous, earth shattering, never-before-seen-or-imagined events. Athletes turn into world re-shapers. It is unfortunate, I think, because the amplification of everything to “totally, once-in-a-millenia amazing!” means that nothing is totally amazing. When the dial is constantly at 11 where else can it go?

And so it is with a bit of wincing that I anticipate the upcoming Momentum Generation documentary. You, of course, watched the original surf films by Taylor Steele and starring Kelly Slater, Rob Machado, Ross Williams, Paul Roach, Benji Weatherly, Shane Dorian etc. For surfers, these films form an important part of the canon but let us read a touch from Rolling Stone, who interviewed some of the boys while they play in New York.

A crew of surfers who helped change the sport tumble into each other’s company in a new clip from Momentum Generation, a documentary executive-produced by Robert Redford (among others), that’s set to premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival.

The film tracks the rise of athletes who eventually “win world titles and forever reshape worldwide culture in the 1990s and beyond,” according to a statement from the directors, Jeff and Michael Zimbalist.

In the Momentum Generation teaser, the surfers come together as a group for the first time. “We all knew each other from surfing different amateur events,” Rob Machado says. “But it wasn’t until we stayed at Benji’s house that we became a posse.”

The fact that Benji Weatherley had a house ideally situated for surfing was actually accidental. “My mom and dad split up,” he remembers in the film. “She went to Hawaii on vacation. She came back and said, ‘hey boys, get in the car, we’re moving to Hawaii.’ And it happened to be the north shore of Oahu.”

“We didn’t even know that Pipeline and Waimea Bay and Sunset Beach [all popular surfing destinations] were down there,” Weatherley’s mother adds. “This was how naïve we were.”

That changed quickly. Ross Williams and Shane Dorian were two of the first surfers to start visiting Weatherley’s house regularly. Soon the group of aspiring stars ballooned to include Kelly Slater, who went on to win 11 World Surf League world championships, Taylor Knox, a member of the Surfing Hall of Fame, and many others.

Oh I want to see, I want to like, but the director quote, “…forever reshape worldwide culture in the 1990s and beyond…” worries me. Did Benji et. al. really forever reshape worldwide culture in the 1990s and beyond? Do mothers in Tibet’s isolated mountain villages name their sons Conan Hayes Namgayl Wangchuk? Do fathers in the Congo’s dense jungle regale their daughters with stories of a longhaired man named Donovan Frankenreiter? Has anyone, literally anyone, on earth who is not a surfer and/or related to a surfer ever heard of Ross Williams?

Or am I just being a picky bastard?

You tell me!

Meet and greet with Brazil's biggest stars, world champ Gabriel Medina and maybe 2018 champ Filipe Toledo! | Photo: @tsherms

Buy: Ultra-VIP tickets for Rio Pro!

Six hundred bucks buys three-day "privileged" pass with meet-and-greets and all the booze you can drink…

Are you packing for Rio? For tour event number four?

Are you willing to raise the coffin lid of your Californian boredom with a shrivelled white hand to go to the city where, as Vincent Cassel, said, “People still live with “a big charge of poetry on a daily basis?”

Forget museums, it’s a beach. 

And, as revealed today by the Brazilian promotions company IMR MKT, you can buy access to an ultra-VIP “and privileged” area for as little as $US230 per day (rounds one to three) and up to $US340 for the quarters through to the final.

You want the whole event in your gilded cage? A little less than $US600.

IMR MKT, whose social media footprint is as light as a mouse which does ring a faint alarm bell, promises,

An open bar with beer, soda and snacks.

A meet-and-gree with professional athletes.

A tour of the contest site.

Exclusive photo wiht the trophy.

Photo in the podium area.


Exclusive awards area. 

An open bar with beer, soda and snacks. (Just in case you missed it.)

It sure beats the theatre of the “media area” where anyone with a pen and laptop is shunted away from meaningful or even accidental contact with “professional athletes”.

How about you?

Would you peel off a couple of c-notes for a day at the beach, with the beer, the soda, the snacks and the meet-and-greet?

And what would you say in your meet-and-greet?

And who would you enjoy being met and greeted by?

Click here to buy. 

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.)


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.

“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?