The governing body of professional surfing takes a jingoistic turn!
When the World Cup (Copa Mundial/Coupe du Monde) rolls around every four years it provides the opportunity for average workaday folk to put a fun face on wild jingoism. Flag waving, patriotic, chanting, cursing jingoism. But fun. And do you get caught up in the spirit? Do you cheer Switzerland over Brazil, say, because it allows you to be a touch racist without actually being a touch racist? Or are you Team Mexico jumping up and down while underdog heroes beat the big juggernaut?
Whichever the case, and again, the point is fun and after the matches Mexicans swilling XX and Germans swilling Spaten march swing arm and arm down the streets.
Somehow, though, the World Surf League missed that “fun” message and took this particular World Cup season to kick France in the balls. Press release? Sure!
The European headquarters of the World Surf League (WSL) will be set up in Lisbon, in what will be another step towards “positioning Portugal as the leading surfing country in Europe,” the Portuguese representative of the WSL, Francisco Spínola said.
“Lisbon and Portugal are going to be the showcase of European surfing for the world,” said Spínola, speaking to Lusa, confirming the move to the Portuguese capital after almost 30 years in France.
According to the official, this change is due to the organisation in Portugal of the main WSL events, including stages of the world tours for men, women and giant waves, as well as World Juniors, but also the proximity of beaches.
“In addition to all the accessibility of a European capital, Lisbon offers surfing half an hour from the centre and conditions for practicing the sport all year round,” he added, noting that the facility will be installed, initially in Lisbon, with around 10 to 12 workers.
Portugal is the European country with the most WSL events, organising in 2018 one stage of the world tour (MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal in Peniche), three qualifiers (Caparica Pro, Pro Santa Cruz and EDP Billabong Pro Ericeira) and one for giant waves (Nazaré Challenge).
According to Spínola, the facility to be installed in Portugal will be a “decision-making centre” for surf in Europe, as well as for Africa and the Middle East.
Well hmmmmm. Does it feel necessary, to you, for the WSL not only to move its center (centre) of operations from France to Lisbon but then add that Portugal will “lead European surfing” that it is more “accessible” with better waves, better facilities and better workers? Then once more twist the knife by calling it the “decision-making centre (center) for surf in Europe as well as Africa and the Middle East?”
Does this not sound a little bit like when jingoism wasn’t super fun? Like World War I or World War II-style jingoism? Even the age of colonization-style jingoism?
Hmmmmmmmmm. To be honest, I didn’t know the World Surf League had it in ’em. I am excited to see the flag that they fly above its new Lisbon offices. I wonder if it will be black, red and white with four interlocking geometric waves representing Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the Santa Monica headquarters? Maybe something like this.
These Ferraris will drive you crazy but there'll be…moments.
Don’t you love the accessibility of surf? That you can play the game right next to the best in the biz? Paddle out at Snapper or wherever and suddenly you’re inhaling the same oxygen as Gabriel, Italo, Filipe.
Even better is how easy it is to ride their actual surfboards.
How many average golfers are strolling the paddock with Tiger’s old clubs? Yet you, me, we can stroll into Channel Islands in Carpinteria just south of Santa Babs and buy a team board from Dane, Kelly, Yadin, Machado, Taylor.
Same with Mayhem and his Taj/Andino/Ward/Carissa …Losts in San Clemente. Give ’em a call. They’ll sell you an ex-teamer for a handful of shekels. Maybe even less than you think!
And if they ain’t selling, get on ebay. You’ll find DHDs for Mick Fanning; JS’s for Joel. These aren’t for collectors to stick on a wall. These are formula one cars you can drive.
Pyzel tells me he sells all of John John’s trade-ins except for the “special ones. The ones with a story. They’re all stashed away in my factory.”
And you wanna know why you’ll wanna drive one?
Because these surfboards have been designed to win. Handmade. Lovingly handmade. Blood, sweat and tears spilt in their creation. Glassed with so much care, the builder conscious of the difference an ounce or two can make in the height of an air, the speed of a spin…
They’re not easy to ride, sure.
But life isn’t about cutting the same lines every single day, going slowly mad with boredom. You’ll experience the wildest frustration but you’ll also experience the tiniest moments where…it’s you…it’s you throwing the fins exactly…exactly…like you’ve seen on the webcast.
Maybe just one. But it’s a moment to cherish, to hold onto.
You’ll go faster than you thought possible. You’ll fly. You’ll crash. You’ll burn. And then it’ll snap.
Preeminent surf historian rectifies mistake with dazzling turn.
Last evening was the second premier of Trouble in Jacksonville, Florida at Surfer the Bar. Matt Warshaw, David Lee Scales and I each woke up that morning in our separate jungle cottages and tended to various business before they went surfing with our magnificent hosts Kevin and John while I sat in the shorebreak and collected painful little sea needles in my Etro trunks.
What are those things? They are white, thin, one inch long needles and the water was filled with them. Some told me sea lice but I looked at a picture of sea lice and they were not that. Others told me sea butterflies but they were not that either. I did an image search for “sea needles” and all that returned were photos of hypodermic syringes floating in the foam.
I am still very puzzled.
Post surf we ate a healthy lunch at a natural food store, came back to the Atlantic Center for the Arts and recorded a podcast, then drove from New Smyrna Beach up to Jacksonville talking various surf gossip and laughing much.
Matt and David Lee were both wearing shorts, as men sometimes do in hotter climes. I was wearing the same pair of ripped jeans that have become an unfortunate staple of my wardrobe. They were brand new stiff Japanese selvedge five years ago and I have worn them, more or less, every single day since because they fit so well but now look like I’m trying to be in the band Danger Danger.
Shorts are, of course, the more sensible option but ever since I spent a semester studying in Cairo some 20 years ago now I haven’t been able to bring myself to wear them even on the most humid of days. Shorts are reserved for little boys and perverts in the Middle East and if you start looking though that lens it makes all kinds of sense. Grown men in shorts do look like little boys or perverts.
David Lee must have had some inkling of this truth because changed into a very nice pair of trim black jeans when we pulled into a parking lot near Surfer the Bar as the sun was dipping low. Matt Warshaw appeared crestfallen and stuttered, “I left my pants at home.”
We all walked the short block to our final destination together still talking though Matt seemed very distracted. Then, at the door while we were getting fitted with red floral bracelets signifying our ability to order alcohol, he suddenly disappeared.
“Where did Matt go?” I asked David Lee.
David Lee shrugged and we went inside to get some drinks. I asked for a Stolichnaya and soda. David Lee a margarita with salt on the rim.
After finishing and ordering another I went to the outdoor patio. Lo and behold there stood Matt Warshaw in a crisp, new, dark blue pair of denim. They fit him exactly right, perfectly, and he seemed very pleased with himself.
“Where did you get those pants?” I asked.
“At the surf shop on the corner.” he responded.
“Were they the first ones you picked up?” I wanted to know.
“I tried on two other pairs first…” he said and then his face turned almost serene, almost beatific “…and these were 50% off.”
Overall, it was a very good night.
Pyzel x Biolos collab board review: “I feel like a leopard baited through bars of cage!”
Stick two noted shapers in a little room and see what happens…
Are you aware of the Principle of Double Effect? Oh it’s a doozy. Catholics use it when they want to dance around religious no-nos like abortion or euthanasia.
It’s the notion that there is a moral diff between an intended consequence and one that is going to happen but not the primary motive. So, if you give a terminally ill cancer patient a ton of morphine to lighten up the pain, knowing it’ll kill ‘em, that ain’t euthanasia. And if you rip out the tubes of a pregnant gal to save her life and it kills the kid, it ain’t abortion.
It’s the same with the low-rockered semi-fish. It’s going to make surfing a hell of a lot easier, it might even convince the lifetime intermediate that he’s suddenly advanced, but it’ll do so at the cost of ever being able to ride a high-performance board again.
The double doctrine effect. You survive and thrive, thereby making the decision morally acceptable, but your skills are killed.
I’ve been trying to get off five-six ironing boards for years. I got addicted in 2000 after scooping a five-nine Brian Bulkley-shaped Lost round-nose fish off the racks at the Pukas factory in Spain. I was on six-twos at the time. Once I figured out the standard three-fin setup didn’t work on the fish and threw in two MRs and a baby third, I couldn’t get off it. It was fast, it was loose and, as one of the first to get turned onto ‘em in south-west France where I lived, it gave me a substantial performance advantage among pals.
When I moved to Bondi two years later, a joint where the waves are made for wide-tail designs that can fly over dead sections, the little five-nine came with me. When it was eventually retired, I found a newer version. Then another. And another.
Fifteen years later, still on ‘em.
Back in September 2017, for a story that I hoped might birth a transitional board that’d work for me, I got the Hawaiian-based Jon Pyzel (lifetime shaper to John John Florence) and California’s Matt Biolos (lifetime shaper to Kolohe Andino) to collaborate on one design. An email thrown back and forth with a CAD file attached, each working on different aspects of the one surfboard.
I told ‘em I wanted “a HP board the average stud can ride. And, imagine, this stud, who doesn’t have the luxury of a sponsorship, might ride it at Trestles and Rocky Point.”
Five eleven. 170 pounds. Me.
“Fast but loose, light but strong, thin but floaty. Okay, Goldilocks, you got it,” wrote Pyzel.
“It looked good, not what I am used to my boards looking like, but sexy,” said Pyzel. “The main things that stood out to me were the last few inches of nose rocker and the thickness flow through the last 18” in the tail. Both looked quite a bit different from one of my boards, but it wasn’t so far off from them. Pretty weird to create a board like this and have it come out so nice.”
Recently, despite the weight of a one-hundred dollar royalty payable (fifty apiece to Jon and Biolos), the Australian distributor of Lost and Pyzel made thirty of the collab board to sell, Australia only.
The Mayzel or maybe The Pyhem, depends which shaper you ask.
It comes in three sizes, five-eleven (27.7 litres), six-o (29.2 litres) and six-one (30.7 litres), $995, limited edition etc.
I got the six-one.
“Dunno about the super narrow nose,” the counter jockey at the delivery surf shop said disapprovingly as I picked it up.
He pointed out the new Futures boxes. Lightboxes.
Made out of fibreglass and carbon, the same as the board. Unlike plastic, the Lightboxes form a chemical bond with the fibreglass and resin. All of the Mayzels come with it even though the system ain’t being rolled out until the end of the year.
Apart from the fancy fin boxes, the board didn’t look promising to a man fattened by easy boards. Was this going to deliver me from the evil of the Fish and be my gateway drug back into the high-ish fi realm?
I’ve become emotionally conditioned to surfboards that look easy. I caught two waves on a Channel Islands DFR five years ago and was thrown off by the extreme rocker. My upper limbs became paralysed with tension, the lower pair twitching like the severed legs of a galvanised frog as I tried to wrestle it down the line.
I’ve never felt so sad and vowed never to do anything so cruel to my self-worth ever again.
Walking the Mayzel/Pyhem to the car, a kid, in startled recognition, saw the two conflicting shaper logos and asked if it was a Chinese board.
Two from two.
But there was something about the Mayzel, the Pyhem, that felt just a little reassuring. I know I can trust Biolos’ and I ain’t never heard a bad word about Pyzel’s Ghost.
I didn’t surf it for two weeks.
I knew I should.
One mid-morning in winter.
Three foot. A little horse-shoe wedge. Rare for this part of the world. I expect… nothing, nothing that is except a wild arrhythmic flurry in my heart and terrible disappointment.
It doesn’t come.
I’m reminded of how superior a six-one with a pulled-in nose is to paddle compared to a five-six. I collect a couple of sets.
I bang on my front foot and outrun sections and then try and wheel it all back into the juice. Standard fish surfing. When you’re settled on a bag of pillows like a five-six fish you can murder all the sections you like, it’s still gonna get you home.
It ain’t that easy on the hi-fi.
I’m not hopelessly fucked up by my initial impressions, howevs, and when you’ve been bankrupt you’ll bank any gain.
A few more surfs.
(Here, the reader interjects: “Lemme guess. Board goes insane. Changes your life etc.” Author replies: “Yes!“)
My back foot starts to catch on the pad (Necro, buy here) and I learn to hold my fire. The approach starts to work. I’d forgotten the feeling of being able to bottom turn and come straight back up the face and hit the lip. And not murdering good waves waves by air-dropping, hopping up on the concave and trying to kickstart my little board. Instead, I could knife into the face.
Shorter, tighter, better turns.
A couple of weeks on the Mayzel/Pyhem and the five-six in the corner starts to look like the tired old syringe of a former junkie.
What the Mayzel/Pyhem delivers, and ain’t this just a miracle since I conceived the idea, is a board that stands as an easy-to-ride hi-fidelity entrée.
A gateway back into the real game.
Criticism? As divine as it is, I don’t feel no pop or that savage looseness of a pro’s board. What I find is confidence through control, like a train on a predetermined track.
At times, when it comes together, I feel like a leopard baited through the bars of a cage. Snarling. Growling, Hissing.
I’m back etc.
The Mayzel/Pyhem is available from these surf shops:
Last night, as you well know, the movie Trouble premiered in front of a sold out crowd at the Florida Surf Film Festival in New Smyrna Beach. It was hot, sticky with periodic jolts of thunder and miraculously only one lonely mosquito. It was also almost too much fun and I had completely forgotten what it feels like to sit around with a derelict batch of surfers, kids, families, derelicts and enjoy the bizarre dance we all love deeply.
The best part, for me, were the opening acts. These bolstered my soul. These made me smile. These made me remember that in the day and age of YouTube, Vimeo, Instagram, Facebook the best way to watch surfing is with other surfers.
Eric Geiselman absolutely rips.
The Fortune Wild by Ben Gulliver made me want to go on a surf trip.
Coco Ho should be the face of the World Surf League.
And Joe G. is the greatest surf filmmaker to ever live by far. By far far far far. He understands the genre like no other and deserves an Academy Award for his work. I am not even kidding. He work manipulates an audience into frenzy like… like… like Mick Jagger. Women were throwing their bras at the screen. Men their underwear.
And do you have a bigger screen television? You should go out, buy some booze, drag it all outside and invite the neighborhood kids over. When the police arrive just tell them Chas Smith said it was ok. Not only ok. Necessary.
If you happen to be in Jacksonville, Florida tonight come to the Surfer Bar. We’re going to do it all again.