Victory: Israel smashes Surf City, USA!

And the official death of American Exceptionalism.

These are not proud days for the United States of America. Not proud days at all. We didn’t make it into the World Cup in soccer, the closest American to the Jeep Leaderboard Yellow Jersey is Kolohe Andino in surfing (all the way down there at 12), the most exciting picks in the recent NBA draft are from the Bahamas and Slovenia, jailing babies is the new national pastime and Israel, a nation 300% smaller, just beat our record for “most people ever in a paddle out.”


Reuters tells us:

Hundreds of Israeli surfers in black skull-and-crossbones shirts took to the waves on Friday in what they said was a record-breaking protest against potential environmental damage from off-shore gas development.

Organizers said 992 people, among them athletes and actors, paddled out and held hands to form a circle opposite Herzliya, promoting their demand that a planned gas rig be relocated further from Israel’s Mediterranean coast.

A slogan on their shirts read: “Don’t poison us.”

Israeli authorities say the new platform poses no environment or health threat.

Friday’s event would be submitted to Guinness World Records for recognition, organizers said. Guinness currently lists a 511-person circle of surfers off Huntingdon Beach, California last year as the world-record “surfing paddle-out”.

Damn it. Not only did Israel beat our record they smashed it. Is there anything left for us or is American Exceptionalism dead?

(A video of Israelis celebrating their victory).

Video: Examine the “pop-up” of the worlds’ most famous surfers!

See Kolohe Andino's "chicken wing" and John John Florence's "Aussie sprinter" pop-ups in slow motion…

Four weeks ago I wrote an unkind, but true, story listing five more ingredients of the filthy kook.

You know the sort of thing: measuring waves in metres, calling marshmallow soft mid-face direction changes “wraps”, riding a log without a leash and, pointedly, examining in serious detail as if it were the formula to curing inoperable cancer of the pancreas, your “pop-up.”

It surprised me, although it shouldn’t given the rise of the mega-kook adult, but it has become its own field within the study of surfing performance.

Let’s list again a recent Google search.

If that gallops your heart, examine this.

At the Founders Cup at Surf Ranch two months ago, a man called Brent Rose from the sports blog Deadspin filmed the “pop-up” of Kelly Slater, Jordy Smith, John John Florence, Carissa Moore, Gabriel Medina, Stephanie Gilmore, Matt Wilkinson, Kolohe Andino and a few more.

“Here we have the GOAT, the 11-time world champion… see that he’s kicking like crazy. That’s not so much to propel him forward, but to keep his board on a hydrodynamic plane so it goes smoother.”

“And now the reigning back-to-back world champion John John Florence…hands go back towards his waist…and look how high his front knee comes up. It actually hits him in the chest before it pops down. Both feet hit at the same time and his foot his way ahead of the traction pad so I guess he’s using that to generate drive.”

“Kolohe’s putting a ton of pressure onto the deck of his board and just…thumps down…when his hands hit the rails. So…boom…”

It makes for perversely compelling viewing.

Exclusive: Kelly Slater reveals secret J-Bay strategy!

The King is back!

For certain you’ve already seen the news that Kelly Slater is booked for a surf at the Corona J-Bay Open. A professional surf contest that runs from July 2 to July 13 in the dead of South Africa’s winter. You may have seen it on Surfline or the World Surf League propaganda organ or Instagram but you certainly saw it and I bet you thought, “Finally, bro.”

Before we get into Kelly’s injury, how he has spent his last year nursing it, what he thinks moving forward, the secret strategy he is planning on utilizing to fell the world’s best surfers etc. let’s talk about Corona’s sponsorship of the event.

So, Corona, a word that means crown in Spanish, is brewed by Grupo Modelo in Mexico City and has been since 1925. It is a very popular beer in the United States and also popular in Australia, though Modelo Especial is better as well as one of the group’s other offerings, Estrella, a word that means star in Spanish. Grupo Modelo was recently fully purchased by a Belgian-Brazilian transnational beverage and brewing company with global headquarters in Leuven, Belgium called Anheuser-Busch InBev.

Are you with me so far?

If you need a quick recap, and I’m not faulting you if the answer is yes, in Corona we have a beer started in Mexico but popular in America and Australia with a parent company that is Belgian-Brazilian.

South Africa, where Jeffery’s Bay is located, was enveloped by the great Bantu expansion which took place before the common era. In 1652 the Dutch colonized the land, wanting it to secure their place in the spice trade. The British wrested it away from the Dutch, as the nation had fallen into disrepair, in 1815 in order to hedge against French aggression. The Dutch/English combination is why Jordy Smith sounds the way he does when he speaks today (a little retarded).

Now, the Netherlands (Dutch) have many famous beers, chief among them Heineken (popular on Oahu’s North Shore). The British (English) also have many famous beers, chief among them Newcastle Brown Ale (popular in Newport Beach, California).

So why isn’t it the Heineken J-Bay Open or the Newcastle Brown Ale J-Bay Open? Mexico, the United States, Australia, Belgium and Brazil have never had a vested interest Africa’s bottom. Is something nefarious at play? A new age of empire?

Riddle me that you bastards.

Help: I was shamed by a 7x Irish longboard champ!

There is no excuse for bad behavior. And drugs are bad.

Can I admit something to you? These days find me not being my best self. I don’t really know why, to tell you the truth. Maybe I frayed my amygdala by writing surf for a few too many years. Maybe age and alcohol are catching up with me. You’ve seen scans of those booze-soaked brains, no? All black marks and holes etc.? Whatever the case, there is really no excuse, I snap or get all huffy without even being truly provoked.

Like two days ago there I was on Instagram, scrolling around after posting yet another bit of bald-faced promotion for my book Cocaine + Surfing (buy here in America!) (Here in Australia!).

Instagram can be a wonderful tool for this kind of thing but, of course, promotion is sniffed out and disliked by a good number of people because it is annoying. So anyhow, there I was scrolling around into some comments on the bit of promotion (a video of a man playing with his nose) and stumbled across a note from someone frustrated with my glorification of cocaine because I was setting a bad example for the minors following my account.

His profile describes him as a surfer, writer, traveller, ex 7 x longboard champ, LGBT, creator of Humans of Surfing and he made a very good point. Cocaine is not good for you and children should not be tricked in to sampling.

I should have just apologized and was clearly holding an untenable position but got huffy instead and responded, “Unfollow, bro!” or something equally lame.

He went on and on and on in comment after comment after comment telling me that he knows people who know me and they have informed him that I’ve never done any cocaine and just participate in bad behavior only to get attention. That this sort of thing is my modus operandi. He was mostly right except for the never having done cocaine bit and, again, I should have admitted this and apologized but laughed at him for being a 7x Irish longboarding champ instead.

Then he went and deleted all his comments which, in turn, deleted all mine which made me very sad and only haunted by the people he knows who know me. The people who have informed him that I am a rude fraud.

How many longboarders do I know? How many longboarders know me?

It is definitely time for an apology tour.

“The best kinds of boards give you ideas!”

Thoughts on a new friend.

We met in the back of a non-descript warehouse, the sort where all kinds of things are made and stored and sold. I handed her a envelope stuffed with cash and she carefully counted it out. It felt like a drug deal. I was picking up a board, which maybe isn’t all that different for people like us.

On the way, I’d lost myself in an island chain of strip malls looking for a bank. All the buildings looked the same. Who can possibly find anything in such a place? I made more wrong turns than I’d like to admit. I am bad at following directions, which I’m guessing won’t come as a surprise to any of you. But I found my way to my new surfboard.

I’d met Christine Brailsford Caro earlier this spring, while working on a story for Red Bull’s magazine, the Red Bulletin. A friend of mine who has an eye for this kind of thing, told me to check out Furrow, which is the name Caro uses for her boards. “She’s this rad shaper down in San Diego. Her boards look epic.” My friends text like this. I can’t help it. But I do tend to trust their judgment when it comes to surfboards.

When I went to interview Caro, we sat outside Moonlight Glassing where she shapes and she told me how she grew up an artist. She made wood carvings and her first boards were made from wood: an alaia, a series of over-engineered handplanes (“They have little rails, they don’t really need little rails”), and zippy little paipos.

A friend wanted a board and offered to pay for the materials. After that, Caro was hooked. The second board she made was for herself: a 5’9” stubby design with a glass-on fin.

“I guess you’re supposed to keep your first surfboard. This is my second surfboard, so I guess I have to keep it. One day, I’m going to find some kid that’s worthy and I’m going to give it to them.”

Caro is forthright that she’s not a shortboard shaper. Thrusters aren’t her thing. She’s interested in the wild, innovative period of design between the longboard era and the shortboard revolution. Not surprisingly, she cites Greenough as an influence. “He made this v-spoon and he was able to do these wrapping turns that no one had ever seen before.” The first board she loved riding was a fish.

Now, you will all be rolling your eyes. Like, what is going on? Why is she writing about a fish shaper? She said she hated fish. She said she hated fish and was never riding a fish again. She said they make her arms do weird things. They do! It’s true that riding a fish does make my arms do weird things. But I’m trying to overcome these feelings. Rainbows. Unicorns. Peace. Love. Kale. And fish.

At the time I interviewed Caro, I had an obsession. I wanted a super short small wave board. I blame the diabolical geniuses at Catch Surf for this desire. Last summer one of my editors wanted a fun, beach-surf story and I suggested soft-tops. I’d ride them and write about them. Easy, I thought.

Then I rode a Catch Surf Beater for the story. And then, I kept riding it. It was aesthetically questionable — and became even more so with time. Also, I got like zero respect in the lineup. A chick on a boogie board. Awesome.

So when Caro said she liked making short, fast boards, I figured, here was the solution. I’d have her make me a tiny board. A twin fin. It would be fast and slidey. We emailed back and forth. Two fins. 4’10” long. 20” wide. A moon-shaped tail. I told her to put the volume wherever she felt it would work best. I picked a blue resin tint almost exactly the shade of a Tiffany box.

I drove to the industrial park with my envelope full of cash. It fits snugly under my arm, this baby twinnie. The color looks amazing. Caro shaped a single concave bottom with the cutest little v between the fins. There’s a tiny short rail line and a round nose. The tail is wide with a killer moon-shaped cut-out. When I met Chas for lunch later, he insisted on smelling it. At least he didn’t lick it.

I didn’t expect it to matter to me that a woman had made my board. I love gossiping with my usual shortboard shaper and he makes me lovely, precisely tuned boards. But somehow, there’s something special about this one. It’s the first time I’ve had a board made by a woman who loves playing in the waves just like I do. I guess it’s a kind of kinship, a meeting of kindred spirits. I can’t quite explain it. It just is.

I rode the board last night and it’s screaming fast. I giggled madly. It’s giving me the best kinds of ideas. Boards should give you ideas — the more improbable, the better.

Caro named her boards Furrow for the lines farmers cut into their fields to plant their crops. She describes a furrow as a path and sees her boards as seeds.

“One of my goals is to bring joy and positive energy into the world with what I create. And that’s what I feel like with my boards. You know, I’m not doing anything amazing or miraculous. I’m not saving lives or anything. I’m just hoping it’ll give someone this experience of joy that they can take with them in their lives.”