Introducing: Watermen of Year Dirk + Natasha Ziff!

The owners of professional surfing feted at a grand ball!

Last night, while I was flying trans-atlantically home from Copenhagen, Dirk and Natasha Ziff were honored as Watermen of the Year at the very famous Waterman’s Ball. I was informed of this by the equally famous Scott Bass (listen us chat here!) who texted me “Waterman’s Ball tonight in Laguna… Dirk and Natasha Ziff are being honored as ‘Watermen of the Year.’ You going?” while I laid over in Stockholm.

The invitation must have been delivered to my home whilst I was away and I felt very sad, knowing that my absence would be both noted and mourned.

Dirk and Natasha Ziff, as you well know, own professional surfing and I’m sure the evening was a glittering who’s who of surf personality. I spent the 11 hours from Stockholm to Los Angeles intermittently crying and imagining my most perfect night.

4:30 Pull on a newly purchased Balenciaga tuxedo over a Hawaiian shirt and pair of Reef Mick Fanning Signature beer bottle opening sandals in traditional green/yellow colorway.

6:00 Drive north from Cardiff by the Sea to Laguna Beach listening to a Planet Money podcast.

7:15 Arrive fashionably late and make small talk with Jessi Miley-Cyrus (PowerBalance bracelet), commissioner of the Women’s World Surf League Championship Tour. Laugh about Sarah Huckabee-Sanders, inequality etc.

7:18 Order a vodka soda only to be informed that the sole drink of the evening is the new Michelob Ultra Gold brewed with Organic Grains.

7:35 See Kelly Slater (floor-length green lei) take a sip of his Michelob Ultra Gold brewed with Organic Grains. See him pucker his lips uncomfortably.

8:03 Talk shop with Nick Carroll (floral bowtie), Marcus Sanders (below the knee boardshorts), Jamie Brisick (drag) and other assorted surf journalists. Laugh about being “frenemies of the people.”

8:07 Open my sixth Michelob Ultra Gold brewed with Organic Grains with my Reef Mick Fanning Signature beer bottle opening sandal because the bartender forgot.

8:23 Take my seat two rows away from WSL CEO Sophie Goldschmidt (ultra large Dragon sunglasses) and chief marketing officer Beth Greve (FCS rashguard), trading ironic open-mouthed silent laughs and exaggerated shakas with both of them.

8:45 Listen attentively while Dirk Ziff (oversized St. Christopher chain medallion) and Natasha Ziff (pussy bow blouse) speak glowingly about how much surfing means to them and how our beautiful future will look.

9:04 See The Inertia’s Zach Weisberg (wetsuit booties) subtly rubbing himself against a Rob Machado ice sculpture.

9:48 Cocaine (Buy here in the US! Here in Australia!)

10:03 Solve the World Surf League’s Hawaii problem alongside WSL General Manager of Events Graham Stapelberg (Da Hui Pit Proven baseball cap).

11:46 Get a text alert that #tournotes Peter King has gotten his band Dakota Motor Company back together and is playing a secret show in Costa Mesa. Sprint.

12:30 Arrive home realizing that one of my Reef Mick Fanning Signature beer bottle opening sandal was somehow lost along the way.

7:30 am (the next day) Wake up to a gentle knock on the door and find ex-WSL CEO Paul Speaker (black leather chaps) holding one rose and one Reef Mick Fanning Signature beer bottle opening sandal on bended knee.

Live happily ever after.

The happy couple.
The happy couple.

Chicago Executive Finds “Lazy man’s” Surf Dream in Wisconsin!

Our most tenuous cut-and-paste story yet!

What a wretched thing it would be to find oneself far from the beach, chained to work, our only respite coming from that queer thing we call imagination.

Recently, the Wall Street Journal ran a comprehensive story about a Chicago real estate executive Marc Lifshin who wanted the surf buzz so he bought himself a wake boat and who now spends three days a week on “lazy man’s ocean surfing.”

Mr. Lifshin is a Chicago-based managing partner of Core Spaces, a real-estate company focused on housing for college students. He spent childhood summers on Geneva Lake in Wisconsin, where he now owns a second home. He bought a wakesurf-specific boat that has an inboard motor with the propeller tucked away from the surfer. Onboard mechanisms pump water into ballast tanks that weigh down the boat and augment the wake. This creates a small wave, like a surfer would ride in the ocean.

Mr. Lifshin likens wakesurfing to a “lazy man’s ocean surfing,” since you don’t have to paddle or pop up on the board. A surfer starts in the water with his heels on the board and uses a tow rope to get up and onto the board. The surfer releases the rope once into the wave. “Not being attached to a rope and board takes away a lot injury potential,” he says. “The whip effect of the rope can leave you with a concussion, even with a helmet on.”

Mr. Lifshin surfs in Vuori board shorts ($68). He wears a Hurley wetsuit in cooler months ($210). His Ronix life jacket cost $150. He owns a Hyperlite Hi-Fi wakesurf board ($700) and a Ronix Koal Thruster Technora wakesurf board ($700). Wakesurf-specific boats sell for $50,000 to $180,000. A six-pack of two-on-one training sessions at Strive Village costs $65 a session. CorePower Yoga charges $26 per drop-in class. Mr. Lifshin and a friend pay Mr. Flegel $1,000 for private lessons, plus his airfare.

Mr. Lifshin loves surfing to music. “We’re on the water as early as 5:30 a.m., so we at least wait until 7 a.m. to start the tunes,” he says. Favorite artists include Kygo, Beastie Boys and the Gaslight Anthem.

It’s a story ripe for parody, of course.

Man with too much money; adult learner kook who buys lessons for a thousand buck from a stud he flies in; middle-aged man flailing behind a boat to (You Gotta) Fight for your Right (to Party), and so on.

But if you ever found yourself in the mid-west, raking leaves but no surf, wouldn’t you do the same thing?

Read here. 

Watch: Seth Moniz’ Insane Backside Jump at the US Open. “That was some superhero stuff right there!”

Hawaiian redefines possibilities at two-foot Huntington Beach…

Necessity is the mother of invention, as they say. And Seth Moniz, whose name has been in lights since his back-flip at Waco in May, just got everyone harder than honeymoon dick with a backside jump in his round five heat at HB.

Hawaiian-born Seth, the twenty-year-old son of the photogenic former pro Tony Moniz, took his heat with Evan Geiselman into the cosmos with a backside jump that looked like a kiteboarder getting hung in the wind.

“He’s on! He’s on! He’s on!” said the commentator Peter Mel.

“That was… that was some superhero stuff right there,” said Strider Wasilewski.

“It was…that…inverted. I don’t know…” said the pro-in-booth Dion Atkinson, trailing off.

“That’s a ten in my book and if they don’t give him one they can throw ’em out of the judging booth because this was ridiculous,” said Strider. “He was superman!”

The wave scored a 9.87. Two judges threw tens. Two scored it a 9:80 and one unimpressed son of a bitch gave it a nine-and-a-half.

Watch here (it comes in around the 1:24:24)



"It's phenomenal," says seven-time champ (still a record) Layne Beachley. | Photo: Surfing Australia

Easy-to-love: Australia’s $10-million “Gold Medal Factory!”

Injection of government millions guarantees Australia surf gold in Tokyo!

Whatever you think of bureaucracies like Surfing Australia (and I’m looking square at you Maurice Cole), you gotta hand it to ’em: they sure do know how to squeeze shekels out of every tier of government.

Last week, Surfing Australia unveiled the seven-million dollar renovation of its pre-existing facility at Casuarina, half-an-hour or so from Byron Bay. The state government gifted three mill, the federal government two-and-a-half mill and Surfing Australia covered the final five hundred gees.

The joint has more foam pits, trampolines, climbing walls, skate ramps and so on than before, as well as underground parking, a boardroom, 100-seat auditorium etc.

As reported by tabloid The Sunday Telegraph,

And here it is: Australian surfing’s first-ever factory for Olympic gold medals. 

The 4000 square metre, state-of-the-art centre for high performance will be used to coach Australia’s current world champions including Stephanie Gilmore and Tyler Wright.

Every day the new home of surfing excellence will be used to motivate the next wave of rookies towards the sport’s Olympic debut at the 2020 Tokyo games.

“We’re one step ahead of the rest of the surfing world, because I don’t know of any other surfing nation with a facility like this,’’ Mark Occhilupo, the 1999 world champion, said.

“If they are, they’re doing it in secret.’’

Australia’s past and present world champions including Joel Parkinson, Pam Burridge, Tom Carroll, Wayne “Rabbit” Bartholomew, Wendy Botha, Phyllis O’Donnell, Pauline Menczer, Beachley and Occhilupo gathered on Friday.

“This is incredible – the timing of this centre is perfect, with the coaches we have at Surfing Australia, I can’t see why we won’t win an Olympic gold medal,’’ Parkinson said. “To walk in this building and see an Australian Olympic gold medal would be an amazing feat.’’

And yet, despite the rivers of gold, there is sugar in the wound.

As the shaper Maurice Cole pointed out in one of his two opinion pieces on the subject (Read: “Bureaucracy killing Australian surfing!” and Why (the fuck) is Australia’s Olympic squad training at Surf Ranch?”)

It’s a system that’s broken.

It’s not producing anything except salaries for the people at the top. They’re more interested in having shitty contests every weekend in every part of Australia.

But when do kids learn to surf? To really surf?

Meanwhile, the French kids, the Hawaiian kids, they’re out there charging. Killian Guerin just surfed Waimea. He’s fourteen. These kids can all surf top-to-bottom barrels no matter where. By the time they get to the WQS they’re ready to graduate to the WCT.

Surfing Australia, I feel, is a mediocre bureaucracy that produces mediocrity. We have some of the best free surfers in the world, Ando, Creed, Noa and we have that in bucketloads, but for the competitive kid, all they get prepared for is years and years on the QS.

Right now is the lowest Australian competitive surfing has ever been and the Olympics are coming up. God knows how we’ll go. Normally, I’d say Australia is odds-on for a medal but I fucking doubt it. We don’t have the depth of surfers. But we have all the infrastructure, all the academies, the six-million-dollar high-performance centre, all the bureaucracies.

Why has Brazil produced all these amazing, hungry surfers? Not because they have more talent. They do a few local contests, do the ISA, world pro juniors then they’re straight onto the WQS. We dick around for another two years, hold onto ‘em until they’re twenty. Meanwhile, teenage Brazilians are spending their winters in Hawaii.


I don’t think you can buy enough curved-screen televisions and inflatable bags and climbing walls. I mean, look at the best surfers in the world: Dane Reynolds, John John Florence, Filipe Toledo. They’re all products of coaching, yes?


Celebrities like Orlando Bloom (pictured) live the SUP life.
Celebrities like Orlando Bloom (pictured) live the SUP life.

Revealed: SUP participation smashes surfing!

The craze sweeps the world!

And do you think when billionaire Dirk Ziff, who received much of his wealth from a publishing magnate father, decided to buy professional surfing that his investment advisors said, “Yes. Growth industry. Buy low, sell high.” Or do you think they said, “Hold on, Mr. Ziff. You enjoy stand-up paddleboarding like many other fabulously fit middle-aged men. Should we not invest there instead?”

Investment advisors are usually wise this way, cutting through passions and relying on hard data to make decisions. Mr. Ziff might have done well to heed their advice as I was forwarded a top secret document today from a helpful whistleblower. It details participation in various outdoor activities, from hunting to rafting to surfing to SUPing and shall we look together?

Well hmmmm. There appears to be around 2,000,000 surfers in the world, give or take, and the numbers remain relatively static. SUP, on the other hand, was introduced to the world in 2010 and boasted an initial 1,000,000 participants. That number more than doubled four short years later, shooting SUP enthusiasts ahead of traditional surfers.

The favorite other activity of The Inertia editorial board (besides being involuntarily celibate) continued unabated growth at a clip of 60% while surfing, again, has remained relatively static. Today, more than half a million people prefer the standup to the surf.

Does this surprise you? Do you think there is a SUP bubble that will soon burst? Do you think Dirk Ziff is angrily pacing his office floor yelling invectives at employees about “this fucking World Shit League!”

Or are these numbers damned lies?