Joey Buran, the USA surf team coach, ponders ways to smash nature.
Joey Buran, the USA surf team coach, ponders ways to smash nature. | Photo: Surfer Today

Olympics: “Competition against nature!”

But who will win?

It is Sunday morning in America and what a fine week stretches out behind us. There was the Oi Rio Pro and its eventual champion Filipe Toledo saving professional surfing from mechanical boredom. There was Steph Gilmore admitting to wanting so much more. There was the death of the greatest surf writer to ever live and there was a massive protest in front of the Duke Kahanamoku statue fronting Honolulu’s famed Waikiki beach.

But there wasn’t any Olympic surf news. Oh earlier in the fine week I read that Joey Buran is the United States Olympic Surf Team coach and will go head to head against Bede Durbo (Australia) and Charlie Medina (Brazil) for international bragging rights, fame* and fortune** but the news did not crack BeachGrit’s slider… until now.

The Olympics, as you well know, will take place exactly two years from now in Tokyo, Japan and surfing is officially included. A Kelly Slater wave pool is being built near Tokyo and I do believe there is language in the contract that allows the Olympic competition to be held there, the organizers still dream of hosting a natural event. The official Tokyo 2020 website states affirmatively:

The competition will take place on the open ocean, where the condition of the waves, the direction and strength of the wind, and the height of the tides will all be factors. No two waves are alike, making surfing a competition against nature as much as it is a contest between the competing athletes.

And the phrase “…surfing a competition against nature…” certainly made me stop and think. Do you feel like you are competing against nature when you surf? Do the professionals? It seems very antagonistic but maybe we are? Destroying nature the best we can while laughing maniacally? Smashing nature into the ground to show it who’s boss? This “competition against nature” bit sure does make it easier to ride very toxic surfboards and litter without pause. Smearing sunscreen all over before surfing reef passes, etc.

In this “competition against nature” which country wins? The United States of America are early favorites but Australia spews out exactly as much CO2 per capita as its erstwhile cousin and Brazil actively chops its rain forests down as quickly as it possibly can. A lot closer than it appears at first glance, no?


surf comedy
Is there a joy in life greater than watching an adult beginner in the surf? Is it the highest mountain of comedy?

Movie: “The beauty in skilled performance!”

A forty-three minute surf comedy!

One-and-a-half years ago, the Ventura-based surf filmer Norwell9 (he don’t like you using his real name) quit the game despite the popularity of his Instagram comedy clips. 

As he put it at the time,

Just like the country song says, “My camera broke down, care broke down, computer down…” After trying to nurse this season, tonight the axel on my old car snapped.  That and with my camera down and costly repairs I am forced to make the decision to shut down the volunteer work that I have been doing in the Ventura area for the past 31/2 years. I will organize all current footage, make the remainder instas, and then make a final Insta Movie #2.  Then celebrate all that we have accomplished with one final party and be gone.”

Of course no one really quits.

And goodbyes are never forever

You might turn your head away from the thing you love. You might seek other kinks, new adventures, pussies as slippery as freshly shucked Indonesian pawpaw or cocks of the friendliest red, but you always return.

Today, we’d like to present Norwell9’s return, which was filmed on the southern Californian coastline from Rincon to Malibu. The surfers featured include Dane Reynolds, Lakey Peterson, Griff Colapinto, Parker Coffin, Tim Curran and so on.

“It represents 10,038,486 views on Instagram in the nine months,” he says. “But it’s just me having fun with and volunteering filming the local surfers. In the process, I was at most of the good days this winter. Please remind everyone that I am just a monkey that hits record. The true stars are in the water and on the beach.”


Ross Williams (pictured bottom left) looking taciturn.
Ross Williams (pictured bottom left) looking taciturn.

The unbearable weight of being (a coach)!

"At the end of the day it’s good to eat humble pie!"

With Filipe Toledo’s win in Brazil we are now officially… wow I was going to write halfway though the 2018 World Surf League Championship Tour but we’re only three events in. Three! Can you believe it? I mean, I suppose we’re really four events in if we count Margaret River as an “event” and I think we should because it was certainly action-packed and the perfect set up for Founders Cup in Lemoore, California where neither shark nor dolphin swim.

There are, of course, many intriguing storylines.

-Will Julian Wilson hold on to win his first ever world title?

-Will Filipe Toledo, instead, swoop in and claim his first of many crowns?

-Will the upcoming Lemoore Classic be as dull as the just passed Founders Cup?

-Will Uluwatu shine in the spotlight?

-Will John John Florence continue his subpar performance and who is to blame?

Let’s break this last intriguing storyline down.

-Maybe no one is to blame.

-Maybe John John is to blame.

-Maybe John John’s coach Ross Williams is to blame.

Hmmmm. It is rude to blame Ross, certainly. He does not tie on the boardshorts nor does he paddle into waves BUT he is coach and, as such, his entire job is to make John John win. Ross addressed these concerns on Instagram and let us read.

Johns had a couple poor results this year but it was never due to a lack of effort or will. Despite all the talk, some warranted and frankly some due to just laziness in my opinion, John has been surfing with the same conviction and froth as the last two years. All these amazing surfers go through their dry runs. It happens. He had a couple insane rides in his heat today but honestly I was happier with how well he built to his aggression. He fought hard for a couple scores which led to him putting the hammer down. Funny how much John gets scrutinized against his own potential. He’s had some of the most aggressive and progressive rides this year and some decent heat totals. Just a couple sloppy heats in the mix to give him those bad results. It’s a testimony more to the level of the tour. Everyone rips. At the end of the day it’s good to eat humble pie. I think it’s made his fire even stronger. He will continue to draw different lines and push the sport with integrity. Hoping it will inspire the yarners to do the same.

A fine post but I have a few more questions.

-Why is it funny how John John gets scrutinized against his own potential?

-Which of the talk is warranted and which is lazy?

-Is it really good to eat humble pie?

-What’s a yarner?

Most pundits have buried John John’s year, concluding he is too deep down the rankings for a comeback. The World Surf League’s own official mouthpiece seems to agree, suggesting people should be worried. Ross seems unperturbed but being a coach ain’t easy. The NBA’s Toronto Raptors just fired theirs after he won Coach of the Year.

A heavy burden. An unbearable weight.

Stephanie Gilmore Brazil
Steph Gilmore, Brazil winner, hero to little boys everywhere! | Photo: WSL

Gilmore: “I still want to smash everyone!”

Y'gotta have a little animal if you wanna win six titles… 

As you all know by now, unless you’re living under a rock or are getting totally shacked on a deserted island – which, if you are, what are you even doing here – Steph Gilmore won the Oi Rio Pro yesterday.

She beat out Lakey Peterson in the finals.

Don’t ask me what happened, I was busy talking to some guy in the parking lot. Knowing what happened isn’t my job around here.

A week or so ago, I had the chance to do a brief interview with Gilmore. I’d driven down to Malibu, because Quiksilver was throwing a party to celebrate their new store. It was like any surf party you’ve ever been to. We stood in the parking lot, drinking beers and telling stories. Unlike most surf parties, we didn’t have to pass the hat for another beer run.

When I first catch sight of Gilmore, I have a weird moment of confusion. Is that her or a poster of her? She is after all standing in the Roxy section of the store. She’s wearing a colorful one-piece swimsuit as a top paired with skinny jeans. She laughs at something Caroline Marks says. No, that’s not a poster.

We step outside to get some distance from the DJ. Here are a few excerpts from our brief conversation.

On changes in the sport since she began competing:

“I started on Tour in 2007 at nineteen years old. I was able to have a few years where I competed with Layne Beachley and we had Rochelle Ballard, Chelsea Hedges, and Sofia Mulanovich. I was stoked to get a few years on Tour before those women retired.

“The first two years, I had events at Sunset. When I was on Tour, you know, the women are riding really big boards and sort of charging really big waves. It was sort of a proving point in that respect.

“These women were a lot more raw. There was something about that older generation, because they had to prove themselves from day one. They were pushing so hard for what they deserved. They had to do it with an aggression that almost created friction with the men.

“I think as time went on, you can see a transition where the men started to see that we weren’t competing against them, we weren’t taking anything away from them, we are here for the same reasons. We love the sport. We love what we do and we want to evolve and get better. It wasn’t taking anything away from them.

“I know a lot of of the older women in those generations are like, hey man, we worked so hard for what you’re reaping the rewards of today. But the beautiful thing is, we have so much gratitude for that and we really respect everything they’ve done for us.”

On style:

“Mel Bartels, she really used to blow my mind with the tricks. She was like the one girl, who was like, women’s surfing can go in this direction.”

“My surfing is pretty basic, you know, I just sort of do, like what I know how to do. And I kind of, that’s always been, it’s just solid, normal surfing.”

“Mel Bartels, she really used to blow my mind with the tricks. She was like the one girl, who was like, women’s surfing can go in this direction.”

I can’t help myself, and start laughing: Right! You don’t do anything fancy!

“No, I don’t! I don’t!” She’s laughing now, too.

Every guy I know wants to surf like you, I say.

“But that’s not because I do fancy stuff, I think that’s maybe because it’s fluid to watch and people love that.”

On being a woman athlete:

“That’s the cool thing about being a woman athlete, we’re able to have this balance. We can be fierce and have that assertiveness and competitive drive with each other and then we can kind of switch out of it.

“We care for each other and we want to help each other out on Tour and you know, it’s a really special camaraderie between all the girls.”

On the Competition level on Tour:

“It’s a lot tighter. Every single heat, you could lose. Anyone can lose. It’s crazy to think Carissa and Tyler aren’t winning every single event still. It’s a true testament to, all the girls, the level all the girls are at.”

I get a sudden glimpse of Gilmore, the athlete. She’s a photographer’s dream and seeing her perfect images and video clips, it’s sometimes easy to forget what Gilmore has accomplished. Here’s the woman who’s won six world titles, and still, it seems, wants more. There’s a determined glint in her eye.

“I love it. I still want to smash everyone and do my best. That’s why we’re all here.”

Eddie Rothman: “Stone cold fucking idiots!”

No beachboys, no aloha!

If you have been perusing the news at all over this past week you have no doubt stumbled upon a story involving Waikiki’s iconic beachboys losing their concession on the world’s most famous stretch of sand. A dive operator has, apparently, won a bid to take over the spots where, for decades, Duke Kahanamoku and others have taught tourists to surf, swim and how best to enjoy the Hawaiian islands.

With the beachboy way of life threatened, notable Hawaiians have jumped in, bringing the story to national attention. I called up Eddie Rothman for more background and was gifted with his son Makua Rothman too, who was with his father crafting a battle plan. Here, without further ado, is the unedited conversation.

Chas: Eddie, Chas Smith here. I need your help. I need you to tell me about the beachboy situation.

Eddie: Yo, Makua is right here just talking about it it’s pretty fucked up, bro. Surfers from all over the world gotta get involved. (to Makua) You wanna talk? You wanna tell him about it?

Makua: (indecipherable)

Eddie: Because you know I swear when I talk.

Makua: (silent)

Eddie: Ok so here’s what happened. As far as I know, the city and county of Honolulu hates Hawaiian people. The officials. The government. They are against the Hawaiian people. I mean, really bad. Right after we lost the Duke Kahanamoku name, even though we’ll probably get the contest back because they’re caving in and gave it to a bodysurf guy who has a three and a half hour contest but whatever. For a few grand around here you can get whatever you want. So, after they flushed the name Duke Kahanamoku down the toilet, that took us over 30 years to get back, now they go after the beachboys. The beachboys put in a bid, they win the bid, then the State of Hawaii opened the sealed bid, showed it to everybody and then they re-bid it. Are you kidding me? Are you fucking kidding me? And now these new people. Did you see his Instagram (Dive Oahu) before he took it down?

Chas: I sure did.

Eddie: So here it is. Our government of stone cold fucking idiots they hate the local people they hate the Hawaiians…

Makua: (takes phone) And listen to this. So, basically, they are taking the history of beachboys which is myself, Kelly Slater, Laird Hamilton, John John anybody who has ever made their career out of surfing… you know, modern day contest surfing was put together by the Duke, you know, this is the Duke’s legacy these beachboys. This is from the Hawaiian people to all the most famous people who were ever shown aloha from Elvis to Marilyn Monroe to any famous person you can think of back in the day, the beachboys is who took care of them when they came to Hawaii. They came here to see the beachboys. This is a legacy. This is the core of Hawaii period. I can’t see why the State of Hawaii isn’t protecting this as a cultural heritage legacy and extension of Hawaii. I don’t even know how it’s up for bid at all.

Chas: How can surfers around the world help?

Makua: We just have to stand up and say we want the beachboys and we will boycott to show that they are taking the legacy of Hawaii. This is like a slap in the face to the surfing community of the world. This is the epitome of what we all do every day. Everything we do is a spin off of the beachboy lifestyle. If there’s no beachboys there is no aloha and they’re giving the permit to some country club donkey who wants the people to wear country club shoes, collared shirts and khaki shorts. They’re trying to turn it into some country club fancy group but it’s Hawaiian, brah. No shirt. I want surfers to fly here to protest with the Hawaiians. We’re going to be doing some in front of the Duke statue in Waikiki. Also, there is a petition…

So, do you want to do some good this year? Want to help? Fly to Waikiki! Tell the bastards that you want the beachboys then rent one of their boards and cruise it out to Queens. Nothing feels finer.

Or sign a petition here!