An Olympic golf hopeful trains at Surf Ranch.
An Olympic golf hopeful trains at Surf Ranch.

Revealed: Wave pools are great for Olympic training!

It's a miracle!

Every single day, over the course of the past six or so months, I see a story in the lamestream media about wave pools and their potential benefit to Olympic hopefuls. They sport such titles as Where’s a great place to train for Olympic surfing? Maybe Central Texas, Olympic surfing hopefuls head inland to find perfect crests and Have board? Will travel to the San Joaquin Valley for Olympic dreams.

The first story listed reads like this:

What makes a better training ground for surfing’s Olympic debut — a wild and unpredictable ocean wave, or a manufactured, freshwater one generated at a pool in Central Texas?

Officials with USA Surfing are betting on the latter, for at least part of the time. A few weeks ago, they sent their 2018 World Junior Surf Championship Training Team to BSR Surf Resort outside of Waco, where, more than 200 miles from the nearest ocean, 16 young Olympic hopefuls caught air and got barreled in human-engineered waves dyed a peculiar shade of blue.

“An hour here is equal to a week in the ocean,” said 16-year-old team member Samantha Sibley of San Clemente after a dawn training session during which she practiced a move called an alley oop that involves launching herself into the air and slowly rotating. “Surfers coming out of these pools are going to be insanely good, and they’re going to get good fast.”

“This wave is so rippable, so fun,” said team member Taro Watanabe, 16, of Malibu, Calif. “You can do anything you want. It’s a weird feeling sitting in a pool, not the ocean, but it feels like a normal wave.”

Now, I love the BSR tank don’t get me wrong. It has proven itself as the People’s Pool and I look forward to someday surfing it. My only real beef is that I don’t know how many more “Guess what? Surfing is now in the Olympics and all the Olympic hopefuls are training inland. Super weird, right?” stories I can take.

Because it’s not super weird. It’s just normal now. Stop writing about it because I don’t know if I can take it anymore. I don’t know if I can see one more of them pop up in the feed when I Google “surf.”

Fucking dipshits.

I’m sorry.

I didn’t sleep last night because I drove from Bellingham, Washington to Portland, Oregon after a wonderful book signing, arriving at an airport hotel at 2 am with one smoking room left that smelled like my grandma who died of emphysema. That was fine, even took me down memory lane, but next door a bunch of rock n rollers were having a smoking party and being loud. My flight left at 7:00 am so I was up at 5:30 but also never really fell asleep.

Forgive the grumpiness.

Christian surf movie becomes instant cult classic: “God put me together with squid and electricity!”

Surfer: Teen Confronts Fear! Absurdist schlock you'll love!

A bad film ain’t necessarily…badif you dig. Maybe it has a little something that sends it into the schlock zone. So absurd it deposits saliva into your blood.

In the Christian-themed surf movie, Surfer: Teen Confronts Fear, a kid has to learn to surf again after being freaked out in big waves. The ghost of daddy helps him back in.

The film screened for a week in LA. Now it’s gone.

But has it gone? Or is it an instant classic?

Recently, Vice magazine interviewed the director, writer and star of the film Douglas Burke.


Douglas Burke, Surfer’s auteur, has crafted a fascinatingly absurd drama about a boy who must rediscover the courage to surf again with the help of the ghost of his father. His real-life son Sage plays the titular “Surfer.” Burke plays his father, “Father of Surfer.” The movies has overt Christian themes, including multiple oral tellings of Bible stories. It also has a dead whale, some truly incredible green screen, and one of the most uncomfortable portrayals of a mentally incapacitated person ever committed to film.

Around the midpoint of the movie, Burke delivers a full-throated monologue, moaning and shouting, “God put me together with squid and electricity! We don’t have a lot of time… I’m gonna melt back into the ocean. I wasn’t supposed to FEEL!!” He pauses, then vomits black liquid as his son watches in silent horror.

The monologue lasts a full ten minutes before his scene partner, his son, speaks. This is within a 12 minute single take, with no cuts or camera movement. Later, Burke told me it’s the longest single-take movie monologue ever. It feels like it.

I pointed out that, at the Surferscreening I attended (which Burke spent sitting directly behind me), the audience was laughing throughout the movie.

Burke suggested that the audience might have been laughing because they were in awe of his performance. “I think people at some point have to laugh if the actor is doing a good job,” Burke reasoned. “It’s going to make the viewer feel a little bit insane, and start to laugh a little bit. But there’s also a lot of deep, deep tragedy.” Burke explained that his inspirations were more classical than modern, citing Richard Burton and Peter O’Toole. “I love to write poetry and perform it as though I’m on the middle of some Shakespearean stage,” he said. “No other producer would ever let me do that.”

One scene features Burke shouting another monologue to his son in front of a dead whale. “That’s a real whale,” he told me.

Burke read online that a whale carcass would be washing to shore near them, so he quickly pulled together a shoot for the same day. “It stunk. It smelled. Imagine the worst sour milk you’ve ever smelled. That’s what it smelled like.”

“To me, it was a gift from God,” he added.

Read the rest of the interview here! 


Help: Australian surf great Nicky Wood find his Bells trophy!

The famous bauble sold after Nick defaults on storage shed bill!

It’s happened once. Once. A sixteen-year-old kid in his first big event winning the damn thing. Nicky Wood. Newcastle prodigy. Godson of the four-time champ Mark Richards.

A wildcard at Bells in 1987. Beats Tom Curren. Wins it on a little five-seven Gunther Rohn channel bottom.

Nick’s career post-Bells was a little underwhelming. Grew more than half a foot in a year and blew his knees. Got busted for hash. Accidentally fed the South African pro surfer Pierre Tostee, an anti-drug Christian, one of his hash cookies. Pierre went into a drug-induced psychosis and had to be hospitalised.

In 1994, Nick failed to qualify for the world title and that was it, pretty much.

I remember, years later, finding Nick and asking what had happened.

“If you take a lot of drugs it fuckin’ disorganises you. It dregged me out, pretty much,” he said.

A couple of days ago, Nick’s sister Rochelle put out a hit on Facebook asking for help in retrieving his famous Bells trophy.

I need everyones help. When my brother Nicky, was 16, he won the Bells Beach Surfing Pro and when anyone wins Bells, they receive a bell trophy. Its a part of our families history, my mum used to ring it at dinner time as a joke and we would all know tea was ready lol. Because you cant enter Bells now unless you’re over 18, no one will ever beat his record so the symbolicness of the trophy is huge, as well as it being a part of our families history. About 10 yrs ago when Nick was between houses he left his stuff all at a mates and unbeknown to Nick, that mate moved from his place at Byron Bay, and some of Nicks stuff that didn’t get lost, left or sold, got put into a storage shed in Newcastle. Apparently this guy then didn’t pay his storage fees and everything inside the storage unit including Nicks Bells Beach trophy, was sold at auction. I was told some guy at Merewether had it but I couldn’t find out his name. If anyone knows where it may be, or the guys name who actually did or does still have it, I would be overjoyed and would be happy to buy it back for double what was paid for it so I can return it to my brother. I know the auction house where it was sold was in Wickham because I went there and spoke to the owner who confirmed it had been sold but wouldn’t tell me anything else and to ring the police and at that point i didn’t really want to involve them, and still havent, because i know they’ll do nothing anyway. Thank you everyone please share share share hoping someone who knows may see it 🙂

You got it?

Want to sell it, return it?


Read: A mentally challenged surf journalist rambles on about books!

Incoherent and incomprehensible!

On my best days I am not very bright. I have a brain that muddles through days organizing the various inputs 7 to 10 times slower than the average man. When I was seventeen I had a part-time job bussing tables at a faux fancy hotel/restaurant named The Red Lion. I wore my black pants, white shirt, black apron with some pride and worked as diligently as I could. Trying my best.

After two weeks the manager pulled me aside and said, “Everyone else here is in 5th gear and you seem to be stuck in 2nd.” I imagine it was just a pep talk but it enraged me and that night, after closing, I returned with my black pants, white shirt, black apron bundled in a brown paper bag inscribed with the words, “Get bent!”

Now, some two decades later, I have realized the manager was right. I am stuck in 2nd gear and would you like to read a man stuck in 2nd gear ramble incoherently about the books that give him great bursts?

I think yes. I think yes you would. I had the great pleasure of chatting with surfing’s preeminent journalist. The man who broke the kook-gate scandal wide open. We are forever in Billy Wilson’s debt and we spoke the other day about great books. Here are two:

“I love some Kierkegaard! I’m too dumb to know anything about him but I love just to stare at his words. I did a semester abroad at Oxford and didn’t read any of the books I was assigned, and instead I discovered Albert Camus. I thought I was the first person in the world ever to read Camus, and Camus talked a bunch about Kierkegaard, so I followed the rabbit trail to him.

“His idea of the absurd — and I don’t know if I ever understood it correctly — always made me smile. I thought that somehow he was plotting a big joke in philosophy, though I doubt that he was. And truly the most absurd, Sisyphean thing a man can do is surf.

“Either/Or is written from two different perspectives — it’s about looking at life aesthetically versus looking at life morally, and how we’re going to judge the value in life. I’m an aesthete over an ethicist every day of the week!

“I wrote the pitch [for Cocaine + Surfing] as a total lark, and when it was actually time to write it, I was like, ‘There’s no book here! It’s just two words!’ So I was really struggling.

“One of my least favourite ever pieces of writing is The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell. I always hated the concept — it just always seemed so obvious and ham-fisted. Of course a lot of books have this arc with a hero and his journey — why make it all weird and metaphysical? So every chapter of Cocaine + Surfing is a chapter from the ‘hero’s journey’ with me as the hero, on the hero’s journey, in search of cocaine and surfing.

Read the rest here!

Insane II: “Madcap” Hawaiian surfer becomes Ninja Turtle!

The hurricane surfing story to end all hurricane surfing stories!

You most certainly caught the story two days ago wherein Hurricane Lane visited the Hawaiian islands and instead of being scared/hoarding/cowering many brave locals went surfing instead.

As I remarked at the time, it is one of my favorite surfer traits. That big freaky storms evoke in us the unquenchable need to paddle and that news organizations love to gapingly stare at the spectacle.

Well, I thought all the angles had been covered. All the:

Reporter: “We’re here on the beach in Waikiki with Hurricane Lane set to make landfall in just a few hours, Jill and yet… (camera pans out) … we have surfers paddling out to ride the storm.’

Anchor: “Did you say surfers, Bob?”

Reporter: “I sure did. They have been here on the beach all morning, not heeding the sirens or the lifeguard warnings.”

Anchor: “Well I’ll be. Cowabunga. Stay safe out there, Bob.”


But never did I think a man in Hilo would be Surf Ranching. And let’s turn to NPR for more.

As Hurricane Lane approached Hawaii’s big island, it dumped record amounts of rain on the city of Hilo, on the island’s eastern coast, causing flooding, landslides, and damage to homes.

But as all that water began draining out to sea, it also created the perfect conditions for Shawn Pila to grab his surfboard and jump into the concrete drainage canal near his home.

When it rains hard, Pila said, the torrential flow interacts with the shape of the canal to create a standing wave, “and we found out that we could surf it, so when it rains like this we’re surfing the trench like Ninja Turtles.”

Pila said the wave he rode on Saturday was the largest he’d ever surfed in the canal. The perils are many: the river carries logs and debris; after a fall, it’s easy to get carried out to sea; and then there are the police, who threatened to arrest him.

“They’re just doing their job,” Pila said after a police officer made him get out. But he’s been surfing that little wave during hard rain for almost 20 years, and said he doesn’t plan to stop now.

Hilo for the win.