David Lee, Matt Warshaw and I chilling at Mar a Lago pre film festival.

Listen: “I’m so old and cynical! What can I get out of a surf movie?”

The master Matt Warshaw speaks. Of course you listen!

I will tell you what the highlight of last few years was right now. Hanging out with Matt Warshaw for an extended weekend is what. Oh sure I have seen the man for a quick meal or quick drink time and again in the past but never no not ever did we have time to waste. There were always constraints. Bumpers. And so the fact that he was an esteemed guest of the Florida Surf Film Festival in New Smyrna Beach, Florida pretty much sealed the deal for me and oh did he deliver.

Between getting him lost and him buying jeans… wait. Those were the low points!  Matt Warshaw is incredible. Honest, intelligent, funny, self-aware, a true and genuine and honest icon of our game.

And so it was with the most pleasure that I sat across a small wooden table from David Lee Scales and shoulder to shoulder with Matt Warshaw to deliver this edition of the Grit! We talk about the relative value of surf film, the importance of Lisa Andersen and the future.

Always the future.

Maybe that is what makes Matt Warshaw so special. He has made his living chronicling surfing’s past but he is never bound by it. He realizes, maybe more than anyone, that surfing exists only in the moment and other than that it is one big laugh.

Thank God he is ours.

P.S. We stayed at Mar a Lago pre film fest. In your face.


Breaking: The revolution is at hand!

Surfing is an art not a sport!

Oh boy. This has all caught me, and I hate to admit this, but more or less unprepared. Like, a bit flat footed. Maybe like if I’m not careful history will look back on this moment and criticize me the same way it does World War I generals. The whole “lions lead by donkeys” business.

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy.

And let’s rewind very quickly. If you have followed along here at all during in the past few years and/or listened to me jabber across from David Lee Scales on the Grit! podcast and/or read the just released Cocaine + Surfing (buy here!) then you know my feelings on surfing as a “sport.” It ain’t one. Oh sure I love competitive professional surfing as much as the next man (unless the next man happens to be Dave Prodan) but I have also always felt that “sport” just doesn’t capture the essence.

Not that surfing is spiritual (ha!) or anything it’s just… I don’t know a dirty though very fun addiction we all suffer. So I go around banging my drum calling for honesty and an embrace of our demons and full scale war on the machinations of those who dare try and turn riding waves into something bland and systematic. I holler for World Surf League heads and Rip Curl hides and… you get it, right? You understand. Right?

I’m for you. For The People™.

Well, I didn’t even know this BUT apparently right now is the USA Surfing Championships at one-time WSL stop Lower Trestles. A sign has been put up reading Welcome to the 2018 USA Surfing Championships though yesterday that sign was defaced.

A brave vandal scrawled “nature” at the top and then “Surfing is an art not a sport” over the entire thing.

Oh boy. The resistance is here and I am totally unprepared. Aside from my talking points I haven’t yet figured out my costume. I was thinking something along the General Butt Naked line (remember him from Liberia?) but there are lots of other good options out there.

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy.

Any ideas? Also, does anyone know where the resistance is meeting?


My voice sounds best when my mouth is very shut (pictured)

Win: A free Audible download of Cocaine + Surfing!

Totally free! Tax and everything included!

It seems like the entire world can be broken into two camps these days. Those who read books and those who listen to books. I never really understood those who listen to books until I drove from north county San Diego all the way to Jackson, Wyoming and back over the holidays. I began with music but then transitioned to podcasts and then audio books. Music is great for a few hours but it becomes like wallpaper after a while. Podcasts are great for more hours but listening to a new subject every few hours can be slightly jarring. Audio books bring you in and allow you to luxuriate on the same topic for 8 to 15 hours.

Having someone reading to you, in your ear, is very intimate and soothing. Time just melts away and irritation at others’ poor driving etc. stops registering when you are in the very middle of a nice, lengthy story.

And did you know Cocaine + Surfing is also an audio book? It’s true! And Audible Audio book read by a famous reader named Tom Pile. The people at Audible didn’t ever ask me to read, when the book sold, and I assume it is because they heard my Muppet voice on the Grit! podcast. Maybe they heard it say, “I’m warning you Ashton…” and realized that it carried no weight.

Tom Pile’s voice carries much weight. It sounds like it has experienced many mafia sorts of things all noir and serious. I wish I could trade my voice for his. I probably would not have to try and choke people out anymore because my voice would signal how dangerous I am.

I can’t trade my voice, anyhow, but maybe it doesn’t even matter because you get to hear my thoughts through Tom Pile’s very tough baritone.

And guess what?

I have a free Audible version of Cocaine + Surfing to give away! Who wants? Simply tell the world which famous celebrity you would want to read the Audible version of your memoir in the comments below and I’ll chose one and gift you!


Play: Is it Stab or is it The Inertia?

A new gameshow certain to leave you puzzled!

I am a real sucker for radio gameshows and particularly one that plays here in the United States called Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! Oh my enjoyment is, no doubt, a product of my advanced age but I squeal with delight if I happen to get in the car when it’s playing.

The format is very simple. A funny host, Peter Sagal, runs through the news headlines with a panel of almost-celebrity “contestants.” They riff and joke and I sit in my car squealing with delight at everyone’s wittiness. A fun time and I also learn a little something along the way.

And so this morning, as I was scrolling though various surf news, and a few Stab headlines popped up and a few The Inertia headlines popped up and I was having trouble telling the difference between the two which made me think of this game here. Is it Stab or The Inertia? All you have to do is guess correctly and you’ll win Jen See’s voice on your answering machine. Are you ready?

Race, Representation and How the Surf Industry Can Save Itself.

(Is it Stab or The Inertia?)

How Santa Cruz Has Changed and Why Jason Collins is Moving to Alaska

(Is it Stab or The Inertia?)

How Rob Machado’s Freesurfing Fate Was Decided by a Sponsorship Contract

(Is it Stab or The Inertia?)

Why Japan’s Oceanic Olympic Future is Misguided and Harmful

(Is it Stab or The Inertia?)

Why Jaleesa Vincent Might be Just What Women’s Surfing Needs

(Is it Stab or The Inertia?)

Decades of Surf-Misogyny Finally Reversed at Keramas

(Is it Stab or The Inertia?)

Five Reasons Why New Zealand in Autumn is a Desirable Experience

(Is it Stab or The Inertia?)

Have a Cocktail in Santa Monica and Support A Walk on Water Surf Therapy

(Is it Stab or The Inertia?)

More difficult than you thought, no? Please list your guesses in the comments below (no peeking) and Jen See will call the winner up and leave an outgoing message that your friends and family will hear every time you screen them.

“Hi. This is Jen See from BeachGrit and you are trying to reach ________ who is not answering his phone right now because he doesn’t really like you. Leave a message after the beep. Thanks!”

Good luck!


Ride the Cymatic and feel like a master of the universe. No one else exists! | Photo: Billy Lee Pope

Cymatic Update: “What’s so wrong shedding blood to do what you love? “

More secrets revealed on Dan Thomson's latest planing hull design…

I won’t lie. Having the great Miki Dora accuse me of self aggrandisement, name dropping and providing minimal info on the board (Cymatic) was a kick in the nuts with a steel-capped boot.

He even vomited over the one positive comment my Bribie mate had given me in 40 years ( ollowed by calling me a useless cunt for not keeping on top of the regrowth from the Camphor laurels he chainsawed for me in December).

The real kicker, though, was being viciously impugned for not supporting my local surfboard shapers/builders. 

Granted this board was made in Thailand, but seeing as the design, refinement and testing has all happened within a stone’s throw of my crib and I’ve known the bloke responsible for > 20 years, it was a bitter pill to swallow and, I think, quite unfair criticism.

Granted this board was made in Thailand, but seeing as the design, refinement and testing has all happened within a stone’s throw of my crib and I’ve known the bloke responsible for > 20 years, it was a bitter pill to swallow and, I think, quite unfair criticism.

Given the first person account is the only honest way forwards and the Indian will always trump the arrow, a more techno/historical description follows, including an update with Powerdrive fins from Mark Thomson, designed and built in Lennox Head. 

The theoretical roots of the modern Planing Hull design lie in the work done by the redoubtable Professor Lindsay Lord of MIT, whose book Naval Architecture of Planing Hulls laid out some of the hydrodynamic properties of same. Glibly summarised, his chief finding was that short, rectangular hulls with wide sterns were the most efficient planing devices.

Lord’s planing hull Bible was discovered by prototypical Californian Bob Simmons, an architect of the surfing lifestyle and famous for leaving a trail of oranges along the southern Californian coast. It was Simmons who declared the surfboard to be a planing hull and began the process of incorporating Lord’s methodologies and results into the surfboard. 

Dan Thomson was dragged into the Simmons orbit via Richard Kenvin in the process of making the great unfinished cinematic epic about Simmons titled Hydrodynamica. Dan took the straight-railed Lis fish into the realm of the modern high-performance shortboard via a process too lengthy to describe here.

Its performance capabilities have been described: super fast off-the-mark planing speed and incredible manoeuvrability. Its flaws: steering control in turns and obligate short-arc surfing. Redress via fin experimentation was attempted.

Its performance capabilities have been described: super fast off-the-mark planing speed and incredible manoeuvrability. Its flaws: steering control in turns and obligate short-arc surfing. Redress via fin experimentation was attempted.

Mark, or Carcass as he is colloquially known, had seen the Cymatic in action and assured me the power drive fin, a kind of hockey stick template fin, would fix the steering problem. Days later, in the North Wall carpark a black Beamer pulled up beside me and Carcass handed me a package of fins out the window.

“Try these,” he said, “and let me know how they go.”

Today, in perfect zippering head-high Point surf they were tested. The board still paddled like a wet sock. Lady Luck and a little cunning strategy* in a thick crowd saw a set wave nabbed. The lack of fin base felt a little spongey through the opening high-line drives, to deter would be assassins from intruding.

The board whipped through a top-turn cutback and came straight back off the whitewater knuckle with control. More set waves followed. Steering was improved. A sizzling little session, for sure. A real little stoke-out. I did not fall.

Is this infomercial? I don’t know if these fins are for sale. Talking to others who had ridden confirmed my experience of improved control at speed. If you are on the modern planing hull trip you could try Googling it. 

On the way up the path, in the shade of a cottonwood canopy, I chatted to a new German friend, in booties and helmet, also on a Cymatic. He said he was a surf refugee. I felt compassion, brotherhood, but still faintly disgusted by the protective gear and the white puffy feet.

What’s so wrong with shedding a little blood to do what you love? 

*The frog in the Hole strategy. The frog waits in the hole, just too deep and off the take-off. Ignored, asleep: the frog launches out of the hole to nab the fly.