Austin Keen
"Everyone was frothing over the slide out to the wave, And if you look closely you can see me shaking like a leaf, hoping I time it right, slide out far enough, and don’t blow it!"

Lemoore Miracle: Watch this no-paddle, run-in takeoff at Surf Ranch!

No ski. No paddle. Just a man and his disc.

It ain’t no secret that I got a little crush on the new era of skim. Beserkers like Brad Domke skimming Nazaré, Jaws and Puerto Escondido on a  fifty-three-inch, flat-rockered, finless disc. 

And Austin Keen, the two-time world champ, and his gotta-see-to-believe boat wake hijacks. Oowee etc.

(Click here for that)

Last Tuesday, Austin, who is twenty eight years old, was invited to the Surf Ranch by a skim fan who’d hired out the tank. And Austin, who’d spent the last two years dreaming of hitting the joint and who went to the Founders Cup just to get a feel for it, figured he’d make his first wave a run-in takeoff.

“I wanted my first experience to be skimming right into it,” he says. “I was shitting my pants. I didn’t want to blow it. Every wave counts. But I’d been wanting to do this for a long time. If you look closely you can see me shaking like a leaf, hoping I time it right. ”

The no-paddle, run-in takeoff ain’t easy.

“I watched the other guys I filmed the wave and watched the timing over and over. The wave moves really, really fast. I was in the back room for thirty minutes, scrolling through my phone, watching it, making sure I had the timing right. I had to get out super early because while you’re sliding, the wave is moving fast.

“I was on the sidelines and you hear that train moving and as much as I wanted to wait longer, I made myself run before the wave was even there. I knew by the time I started sliding out, the wave would be forming and then starting to break. I got there right as it was lipping up and I hit it and beat that first mini barrel section, where the pro’s take off, and then got a nice little barrel section off the bat.”

Austin says that everyone, from the lifeguards, to the jetski guys to the workers and his skim-fan patron were thrilled by the event, but somewhere out there in the ether, watching on some webcam, was an overseer who told Austin he couldn’t skim anymore unless he had a leash attached to his board.

(The pool owners fret that a leashless board will bounce around, get washed over the bank on the side of the pool and damage the lining. It ain’t paranoia. Both commercial Wavegardens have been closed down for ripped linings.)

“So I called the maintenance guy over and asked him to drill a hole in my board,” says Austin. “I was able to skim for the rest of the session, sometimes paddling into waves on my surfboard, sometimes stepping off the ski and skimming the wave.”

After posting of his adventure, Austin says he was contacted by Kelly Slater who was “curious” how, a, shimmed onto a wave, and, b, how he got into the pool in the first place.

“He thought it was pretty rad,” says Austin.

Now…now… you ain’t feeling these skim jams?

“Me and guys like Brad Domke, we’re all surfers,” says Austin, who rode half his waves on a five-ten Gamma. “It’s another avenue for us to surf and this is our little niche way of doing it.”

Future: “The thrill of surfing without the effort!”

It's easy to master and a hell of a lot of fun!

We’ve all been caught up in Surf Ranch and BSR Waco and etc. fretting over how the creation of genetically modified waves, wondering how these genetically modified waves will poison or benefit our DNA. Losing sleep at night just wondering about how the future will look. How our children’s children will surf. How our children’s children’s children will surf. Etc.

But while we’re distracted by waves and their creation the intrepid reporters from international wealth magazine Forbes know that surfing requires effort, even surfing perfect artificial waves, and the march of technology always seeks to limit effort.

Have you not watched Wall-E?

And let us read now, together, from Forbes.

Surfing is without a doubt a very fun sport, but not only is it difficult to master, it’s pretty tiring, too. You can sometimes be paddling for what seems like forever before you’re ready to catch your next wave, and even then it might not be worth the effort.

So, what are the alternatives out there? Well, I got the chance to try out a brand new innovation that looks to catch the eye of those that either already love surfing and fancy a change, or can’t quite master it and want the thrill without the effort.

That innovation is the Lampuga Boost, and it’s essentially the birth child of a surfboard and a jet ski, or in other words, an electric surfboard.

I can hands down say it’s one of the most exhilarating things I’ve ever done out at sea and by far the best watersport that I’ve ever tried. Why? Well, from the video below you’ll see it doesn’t look like I’m going that fast, right? But in reality, when your feet and stood precariously on a board in the ocean and you have the addition of the natural movement of the sea under you; 32mph feels a lot faster. As a result, it can sometimes feel like you’re holding on for dear life. This fear, though, is easily translated into excitement because you’re in control of how fast you’re going at all times thanks the board’s speed-variable trigger, which at the flick of a thumb, can slow things down a bit, or equally speed them up.

After a few attempts, I found myself using this control to my advantage, skillfully releasing it to slow down slightly when I wanted to carve into the sea and turn direction. It’s the little things like this that instantly make you feel like a pro. This was my second time on the board, and my fourth time ever surfing, and already I felt like I knew what I was doing. It’s easy to master and a hell of a lot of fun.

And there we are. The future. You children’s children’s children’s children’s other favorite thing to do besides drinking calories.

Surf quiz: You’re the New CEO Of the WSL. What next?

How would you turn the damn thing into a profitable biz?

Y’seen the forecast for J-Bay? Oowee, the volume is hot. A brisk start on Tuesday, a sizzling overhead middle and a reasonable enough back end for the finals.

Even Kelly Slater is back. Will he crack? Will gravity finally bring the famous ego to earth at last?

But, tell me, real talk etc, how do you feel about day one? Those twelve, thirty-minute, three-man heats where no one is ejected from the event? Six hours of pointless surfing and twelve passive interviews with handsome dumb men turning their profiles this way and that to look best on the webcam.

How do you feel about that torturous first half of day two, watching B-listers jerking through six heats? It don’t get good, in that heart-belting, slap-your-forehead, sports way until round four, sometime on day three or four.

Sixteen surfers left.

Round four til the final. One day of surfing.

That’s an event. 

Therefore, if I was the CEO of the WSL I would draw my battle axe and cut down one score of surfers, leaving us with the magic sixteen-man, one-day event. One glorious  highlight reel.

“But what about monetising the whole damn thing?” the reader asks.

Fuck knows.

Do you?

Because that’s the thing ain’t it.

It’s why a non-surfing former tennis exec, who once helped broker an $88-mill deal for the WTA, is running the joint.


What would you do if you were handed the reigns to the WSL?

How would get the League to turn a profit?

How would you drive traffic to your Facebook Live broadcast?

Would you broadcast your events on Facebook?

Would you turn contests into pay-per-view?

What sort of tour would you construct?

Would you do it?

Could you do it?

And would you let John John Florence quit the tour?

Meet: Your new surf hero!

The brave woman who stood up to leading surf website!

They say that you should never meet your heroes. That they won’t live up to the expectation. That they will let you down and leave you with a hollow emptiness that you will later try to fill with cocaine and booze. Well, I met my hero today (via the phone) and call bullshit on the commonly held notion. She exceeded my lofty imagination and I do believe she should be your hero too.

Her name is Demi Boelsterli and she is a Santa Barbara local, one-time pro, artist and coach. She also tattooed “Fuck Surfline” on her foot.

I wrote about this in the new book Cocaine + Surfing (buy here in America, here in Australia, here as an Audible and here as an iBook)! Shall we read together?

I go to Surfline to see what is happening in the water even though it means that damned Marcus Sanders gets my click. It’s calling 3 – 5 occ. 6 “Primary/peaking WNW swell blends with some smaller SSW swell this morning. Many spots throughout the region offer broken-up and fairly peaky, waist, shoulder-high surf with occasional head-high sets.”

Basically gibberish.  Surfline only speaks nonsense, so much nonsense that some amazing woman just tattooed “Fuck Surfline” on her heel. Can you imagine the frustration that it would take to do that? Fuck Surfline, but from the accompanying webcam I can see it’s good or at least fun.

A little backstory. I had been sent the Instagram post of the tattooed Fuck Surfline foot a while back and it stuck with me. I wondered, “Who is this magical woman?” But knew that I would likely never find out. She would stay there in the mists of my mind.

Well, just two days ago the great Jen See was reading the book in Morgan Maassen’s Santa Barbara coffee shop, stumbled across the passage and texted me, “ha ha the “Fuck Surfline” girl is my bestie!”

I immediately begged for an interview and today I got!

Chas: Please tell me all about Fuck Surfline!

Demi: I grew up in Santa Barbara and there’s this joke my friends and I all had about Hoatio Spoonbender (Horatio Spoonbender is the name associated with many Santa Barbara photos that appear on Surfline). We would laugh and say it was an alias for people to submit photos of Sandspit and other more local breaks that we didn’t really want blown up. It became this big thing where we’d start going on to Instagram and if anyone had a picture of the more local breaks we’d put an emoji of a spoon on it. I think some people started getting mad but it was just this big joke to us. Anyhow, Morgan Maassen (one-time BeachGrit principal!) told me that he’d pay me $100 bucks to get “Fuck Surfline” tattooed. We happened to be at a buddy’s house who had a tattoo gun so I had him do it on my foot. “Fuck Surfline” on one and “Go Home” on the other.

Chas: Do you still have?

Demi: There are just a few dots now but I’m thinking about getting it again this winter.

My hero. And yours.

See her art here and buy some!

A healthy left in a flat river!

Watch: This outrageous (little) left breaks from 7am to 10am every day!

A wave every ten minutes. And it ain't a wave pool!

Who doesn’t love novelty? A new board, a loose pair of shoes, a tight pussy (or ass), a different wave?

The joint pictured, Gasolines, is a shreddable little left created by the commuter ferries that ply the Tejo River between the crummy old fishing town of Barreiro and the Portuguese capital Lisbon.

Every morning, between seven and ten am, the ferries leave Barreiro Port, hit the juice, and, depending on the tide and the wind, create a wake that foils down a gorgeous, if hard to read, sandbank. The size of the wave depends on the speed, the boat and how many commuters are on it.

“Sometimes there’s no wave at all and sometimes they turn into Pipeline,” the German surfer Nico von Rupp told Surfline.

In this clip, we see the Portuguese surfer Joao Kopke snatch a runner underneath his pal who looks like the bell boy sent off for a toothbrush for his master.