The brightest light at the US Open is Filipe Toledo, unbeatable at HB except via interference. Photo by @tsherms/Steve Sherman/WSL

Opinion: “US Open allows for mankind to swallow spoonful after spoonful of putrid filth!”

Half-a-million fans excepted at world's biggest surf contest!

Today is the official opening day of the US Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach, CA, or it might have been yesterday. I don’t exactly know since I’m still in Copenhagen, up early with the summer sun, eating avocado on rye bread with rhubarb, tomato, mint, olive salad in the side, swimming everywhere.

Copenhagen is a dream and Søren Kierkegaard was smart to be born here and not Huntington Beach where the dirty feet of sex-crazed inland empirians kick up so much dust during the US Open of Surfing that lung cancer rates sky rocket.

I have very mixed feelings about the US Open of Surfing and I tried to work through them in the book Cocaine + Surfing.

I watch a dirty perverted teenaged boy with the words “Sexx Simbol” scrawled across his chest try and slap the ass of dirty perverted teenaged girl with the words “Slap dat” scrawled on her lower back. Giggling from both parties ensues as he swings and misses and almost runs into a three-hundred-pound man riding a motorized chair with off-road tires featuring many Vans and Volcom stickers.

Here is my ode:

And if Agenda, in Long Beach, is a tri-colored mural of the five-year surf apocalypse then the U.S. Open of Surfing is its taste. The decayed flavor of good times turned very bad. A Mad Max-esque dystopian mess where God has officially turned his back and allows for mankind to swallow spoonful after spoonful of putrid filth.

I watch a dirty perverted teenaged boy with the words “Sexx Simbol” scrawled across his chest try and slap the ass of dirty perverted teenaged girl with the words “Slap dat” scrawled on her lower back. Giggling from both parties ensues as he swings and misses and almost runs into a three-hundred-pound man riding a motorized chair with off-road tires featuring many Vans and Volcom stickers.

A Monster Girl holding a T-shirt cannon watches too with a blank expression. I wonder if she ever fantasizes about shooting people in the face. I wonder if she could please just shoot me in the face. It would be a fitting end and my grave stone could read: “He died how he lived—like an asshole.”

Maybe I would even get a paddle out. Have you seen one of those? Where surfers paddle out on their boards together when someone dies and sit in a circle and splash water in the air and sometimes wear floral leis?


The U.S. Open of Surfing is like an unfortunate paddle out on land for an elderly and very bad horrible performance longboarder who died of a coronary or something. Much to everyone in the surf industry’s chagrin it is the biggest event of the year, and by far. Thousands upon thousands upon hundreds of thousands of perverts drain into Huntington Beach for one week near the end of July to make a mockery of decency and of my career. There are art exhibits, some skateboarding (maybe), some BMX (I think), free industry garbage like Hurley Frisbees and Mayhem temporary belly tattoos, underage drinking and a World Surf League qualifying tour event in the worst waves imaginable.

There used to be live music, but it got cancelled after the 2013 U.S. Open of Surfing turned into a riot.

Matt Meola air instructional: “Hopefully this stops that stupid fucking (360 or 540) argument!”

Matt Meola uses hunting knife to explain diff between skate/surf/snow rotations in compelling instructional!

Are you weary of the air-rotation debate? That whole thing on whether it’s a “full rotation”, a 360, a 540 and so on?

The question, Do surfers, skaters or snowboarders have carte blanche on naming tricks?

The fun’s been going on for years. For background, read:

Rotation: Surfers are Math-tards! 

Kelly says, ‘It Was Actually an 810!”

Definitive: The Full-Roter is Dead! 

Even The New York Times deemed the matter of such world significance it threw a reporter and a couple of thousand words at it. Read that here. 

Yesterday, on Instagram’s version of YouTube, IGTV, Maui’s Matt Meola, who is twenty-nine years old and from Maui and whose Spindle Flip 540 caused a brief sensation three years ago, got into the debate with a to-camera instructional.

Using a hunting knife as surfboard and in a manner that could either be described as thoughtful or sluggish, Meola turns the rotation argument on its head.

Surfing is different, posits Meola, pushing the so-far discredited line that because surfers hit the lip at different angles and because fins means we gotta revert out of spins it can’t be compared to skate or snow.

“What makes the most sense is if we call it the exact degrees but that would be too confusing,” he says.

It’s a strangely beautiful and thoughtful mediation.


'BFGoodrich will feature a custom surf garage at the Vans U.S. Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach, Calif. (PRNewsfoto/BFGoodrich Tires)'

Fuckin Boom: WSL snags new sponsor!

Our World Surf League just snagged a new sponsor and I think you’re gonna like it. I think you’re gonna be very pleased.

I’m still in Copenhagen, staying up late with the gorgeous summer sun, riding bikes and enjoying comfortable footwear. If you have never been here it is well worth a trip. The Danes are proud of what they have built, as they should be. Raping, pillaging, raping and pillaging during those viking seasons has paid off handsomely and now there are many Michelin stars and many bottles of natural wine.

Speaking of Michelin stars FUCKIN BOOM! Our World Surf League just snagged a new sponsor and I think you’re gonna like it. I think you’re gonna be very pleased.


Why BFGoodrich Tires of course. Or Tyres for when the tour is at Snapper, Bells and not Marg River. Every surfer knows the feeling of walking into Tires Plus or Tires Etc. and shopping for tires. Running ginger hands along the grooves, pulling those little rubber stubbly hair things and watching them snap back. Life is better in radials and the options for ad copy etc. is endless.

What does the press release say? Oh, it says:

Whether conquering extreme off-road trails, getting to remote fishing holes or accessing an isolated surfing spot, BFGoodrich consumers are always building for their next adventure. At the Vans U.S. Open of Surfing, BFGoodrich will bring a customized garage built for surfing adventures to the shores of Huntington Beach.

The garage will feature surfing accessories and the latest must-have equipment for serious off-road adventure enthusiasts – the BFGoodrich® Mud-Terrain T/A® KM3, an extreme off-road tire with better climbing, traction and toughness in mud and over rock.

“Partnering with the World Surf League is a natural fit for BFGoodrich. The surfing community seeks adventure and performance. They need vehicles and tires that can be depended on to get them wherever their passions lead them, even if it’s far off the pavement,” said Jess Parris, BFGoodrich brand communications director.

Damn it. I didn’t read the press release before starting and am frustrated that the tyres are not going to be at Snapper, Bells and not Margs.


Genius: Matt Biolos and Elon Musk create Tesla Surfboard fashioned in black carbon!

A $1500 limited-edition board by the genius that created the Lost empire and Tesla's Elon Musk.

I have a girlish fascination with Elon Musk, the South African billionaire and futurist whose can-do attitude leaves me feeling passive and dumb.

Shall we count the ways he’s changed the world? The satellite biz that proved private enterprise can compete against the Russkis, the Americans and the Chinese in the space race, the hyperloop that’s gonna revolutionise travel, electric cars so fast they jerk your eyes wide open and smash frail bodies against the vegan-friendly faux leather seats.

What’s not to love etc?

A few moments ago, another man for whom I burn a candle (although this has dimmed slightly in recent months due to pressure from a rival publisher), Matt Biolos, announced a surfboard collaboration with  Musk’s car biz, Tesla.

From the presser: “The Limited Edition Tesla Surfboard features a mix of the same high-quality matte and gloss finishes used on all our cars. The deck is reinforced with light-weight “Black Dart” carbon fiber, inspired by the interiors in our cars, and featuring tonal logos in subtle contrast gloss. Model S, X and 3 can comfortably accommodate this surfboard on either the inside or outside of the vehicle. Each surfboard is custom made to order. Only 200 will be produced. Please allow 2-10 weeks for production and delivery.”

The shape, according to Biolos, is “a contemporary short board scaled up and refined for performance.”

Fins not included.

Buy direct from the Tesla website here. 

Ryan Burch: “If you have enough speed you can do anything!”

Conversations with a surf junkie.

Ryan Burch has cut an innovative path through surfing. I can remember seeing his section in Psychic Migrations, sitting there at the premier in the multiplex in Fashion Island, which is about as Orange County as a girl can get. There’d been an accident on the 405, of course, and I got there late, too late to score a beer before the film started. I was in a bad mood, thanks to the traffic and the lack of beer.

Then I saw Burch, piloting his tiny, self-shaped 5’2” fish along beautiful green walls and my mood lifted. His surfing felt fresh. Suddenly, I was happy. I love how unpredictable he is – one day on a fish, then on a longboard, then riding a block of unglassed foam, because why the hell not.

“I can take anything I want that floats out into the ocean and you know, express myself on it,” he told me. That idea feels essential to surfing – whether you want to ride a fish or some sort of asymmetric invention or a clear-glassed thruster.

Earlier this spring, I called up Burch to talk about shaping. Here’s an excerpt from our conversation.

How did you get into shaping?

I started shaping belly boards [Paipos] . Also, wooden alaias after that. I could go to Home Depot and get some pieces of Douglas fir and sand on it and hit it with the tools just like a piece of foam. But I wouldn’t make a lot of mess and I was doing it on my mom’s patio, so that was pretty important to make it easy to clean up and non-toxic.

As soon as I got the opportunity to use a friend’s shaping bay. That’s when I shaped my first board, when I was 20, I used my friend’s Chris Cravey’s shaping bay and he taught me how to make a longboard. And then it was, I probably had more fun building the board than actually riding it. That’s what got me hooked.

Who has influenced your ideas about board design?

Yeah, for sure there are. The fish came from Steve Lis, so I’ve always kind of admired what he had done with it and kind of followed the principles that he had laid down a long time ago with the fish design. And then with shaping, I’ve learned a lot from Rich Pavel. He was a really good shaper and he really taught me a variety of different kinds of boards and different kinds of design theories. And so I think I learned the most from him as far as actually shaping surfboards.

There’s Carl Ekstrom with the asymmetrical thing and just free thinking and going outside the box. He’s always been a huge inspiration with that and making shaping seem like it’s not like within the parameters of the PU blank and traditional fiber glass. He really thinks of alternative ways to make a board.

And then a lot of guys who are more designers than shapers also inspire me. Like my friend Richard Kenvin, who does the Hydronamica thing. He’s been a huge inspiration to me — just knowing a certain type of board, and like, identifying it and having his theory on it and relating it to a skate, progressive style. So he’s been a big inspo.

Same with Joel Tudor, because he’s such a longboard aficionado or snob, whatever you may call it. He seems to know what the best stuff is. He always seems to give me a pretty open opinion about what he thinks of the last board I shaped.

How does your surfing influence your board designs?

They’re directly related. I feel like the different types of boards are like different genres. It’s like different genres of music and learning to play them all, you need to know what you’re getting into from the start. So the way I ride a longboard is different from the way I ride one of the asymmetric shortboards. But it’s all connected, because it’s all surfing. You’re still out there trying to time a wave and trying to predict what’s going to happen.

What are you riding most often right now?

My go-to at the moment is, I’ve been really excited about making these little twin fin, pickle-fin, asymmetric boards. I guess for good waves, they’re like my normal shortboards and step-ups. I’ve been honing in a design with those that I want to ride everywhere when the waves are really good.

And I also been making some more California-friendly twinfin fishes. Different variations of it, using different fin types. For more gutless waves, using more pivotal fins. And then for the better, faster waves, using the traditional keel fins. And then just noseriders for the average day at Cardiff where I live, those are my favorite boards to ride. There’s really no better feeling than getting to the nose except getting barreled.

Why do you like asymmetric boards?

Asymmetrics are just subtle little benefits. I feel like they’re just a more highly custom board. It’s something where you know what you like on your toes and you know what you like on your heel side or your back side. And you’re just trying to combine those. For me, it’s just, a more tuned-in to the conditions you’re going to ride and your stance. It’s just more highly custom.

I’m still trying to keep the boards balanced and make them feel pretty fundamentally sound, but the little tweaks are there to help under your toes with what your toes can handle and under your heels with what they’re good at. Your toes kind of feather in their pressure, so the toe side will quicker and less forgiving.

If you could surf anywhere, where would you go?

I would probably go to Tavarua and go surf Cloudbreak. I think that would anyone’s idea of paradise. I just feel like it’s just a really good wave for the boards and the way I like to surf. It just has a long wall and it goes really fast. It just really matches the speed of my boards. It’s just an unbelievable wave that you can get barreled on, but still turn. And you know, feel really, really fast.

So the theme here is that you like to go really fast and you like to design boards that make you go fast.

That’s pretty much the underlying theme here. If you have enough speed you can do anything. Once you have speed you can do anything — it’s just a lot more fun.

What haven’t you accomplished yet that you’d like to?

I’d really like to experiment with materials a little bit more. I’d like to make some nice wooden boards, too, just kind of get deeper into the craftsman side of the thing. I’d like to build some beautiful wooden boards. And maybe even take it to small sailboat-sized boards. Make them bigger and make them more beautiful.