Jacob Venditti
Jacob Venditti, at big Mex, little balloons got no gas!

From the feel-good department: Man with incurable lung disease rides ten-foot Mex tube!

If your lungs were useless, would you be circling big Mex swells?

How good are your lungs? I get under three feet of whitewater and my little balloons feel like they’re going to give out. The spectre of drowning has always been the turkey vulture circling around me. And I’m healthy as hell, give or take a few sleeper viruses.

A week or so ago, an old pal o’ mine, Hans Hagen, who is the executive director of the the Mauli Ola Foundation, pointed me in the direction of the North Carolina surfer Jacob Venditti. The Foundation is a not-for-profit that uses surf to deliver good times to anyone living with a genetic disease. And Jacob, who is twenty four, has the incurable disease cystic fibrosis. Means his lungs work at thirty or so percent.

Hell of a thing. Let me describe. He wakes up in the morning and has to cough-start his lungs. Fills himself full of medicine. Finds it tough to hold down a job ’cause he has to go into hospital for extended stays four times a year, three weeks at a time, while they pump him with antibiotics through a PIC line. A plastic tube goes through his bicep, shoulder and into the heart. Thick as a straw.

And, soon enough, maybe in five years, Jacob’s going to need a double lung transplant.

Anyway, Jacob, who doesn’t want to give in to the disease and live a sedentary life as a couch-inflating Fortnite warrior, made it his goal to ride a big Mexican tube this past summer. He’s been surfing since he was eight, grew up at the beach, but try putting those paltry lungs to work at a Mex beachbreak. They’ll squash a healthy stud.

“It’s tough for me,” he says, even if he has been hitting Mex for the past seven seasons. “And it’s been getting harder every ear. It’s especially hard to paddle back out, getting worked by the waves and not blacking out.”

This year he hooked up with the Mex-based American Brian Conley, the same mad cat whom BeachGrit employed to sling Lakey Peterson into a thousand waves for 540 practice.

It meant Jacob could hit a swell that would’ve drowned him.

“Ten-to-twelve-foot backs,” says Jacob. “I was down there on a solo mission and this swell came and on the biggest day, Brian Conley stepped me off onto a really nice one. I didn’t stop smiling for a week afterward. It was pretty heaven, man.”

Jacob, understandably, is now an ambassador for Mauli Ola.

“They go around the whole US teaching people with genetic diseases how to surf. Not just kids, anybody who shows up. It’s about encouraging that natural therapy, which surfing is. It can adds years to your life. They’ve backed me since I met ’em six years ago. They know how much I love to surf and they said, ‘You’re the only person with your condition who can surf real waves. We want you to be the poster kid of our Foundation. So that’s what I do. I want to help and inspire other people, man. I think that’s what I was meant to do.”

Check ’em out here. 


WSL CEO Sophie Goldschmidt: Pro Surfing was bought for “business reasons!”

It’s long term. 5-10+ years!

Are you the product of a broken home? Growing up with the wonderful promise of love and stability only to have the rug ripped out when dad went to Cabo and didn’t come back. Or didn’t come back the same all distracted and thinking about other things until he packed his bags and moved in with those other things?

Very sad and also the fate of professional surfing for the past decade or such. Dad left and we all sit on the carpet surrounded by broken toys and Cheez-It crumbs looking sideways at every one of mom’s new boyfriends.

Do they care about us or they just here for a hot second so they can drive the Camry and eat our Spaghetti-Os?

Well, a new and wonderfully wide-ranging interview with WSL CEO Sophie Goldschmidt in Boardsport Source reveals much but also that our new daddy is gonna be sticking around for a minute. Would you like a snippet?

Do they (the Ziffs) have a plan as to how long they will be invested for?

It’s long term. 5-10+ years. Most importantly they want to leave the sport in a better place than they found it, but they bought it for business reasons. And I think they have already significantly increased the value of the company and the profile of surfing. And hopefully this will continue.

Oh that makes me happy.

Very happy.

And it should make you happy too.

Daddy? Daddy would you tuck me in tonight?

Read the rest here!

 


Watch: Jordy Smith stars in “I’m an instant star. Just add water and stir!”

Visit Cape Town today!

Last year, South Africa’s second largest city stared disaster in the eye. Cape Town was set to become the world’s first major metropolis to run out of water. Day Zero was marked on the calendar, citizens and residents filled with worry, politicians rubbed their temples while drinking sweet wines. New Security Beat described the madness thusly:

This is what a water panic looks like in a major global city.

People hoard water. They queue for hours, well into the night, to fill jugs at natural springs. Like mad Christmas shoppers, they clear supermarkets of bottled water. They descend on stockers before they can fill the shelves.

Restaurants, malls, and offices shut off bathroom faucets and install hand sanitizer dispensers. Exhortations to conserve water are plastered throughout buildings. Above one toilet stall at the University of Cape Town a paper placard with a hand-turned dial indicates the number of uses since the last flush. “Be A Wee-Wise Water Warrior. Only Flush After 4 (No. 1’s only),” it reads.

While “Only Flush After 4” is a wonderful campaign it is not exactly “tourist friendly.” But it, along with other severe measures and some rain, dragged Cape Town back from the brink but the tourists. Are they even aware that the city still exists? That it didn’t become like Pompeii?

Well, Jordy Smith and other local stars swung into the rescue and produced a series of water porn. Let’s watch.

If you don’t want to go to Cape Town now then you don’t have a beating heart.

Very sexy water.


Opinion: “John John Florence film ‘Space’ casts shadow over world title race!”

Never has surfing looked more at home in the ocean.

The timing of John John Florence film Space casts a shadow over Gabriel, Filipe and Julian. Their pool battle, and their title race.

The fact the film follows traditional surf film formula, surfing set to music, starting with innovative airs (flips), then big turns and crescendoing with a big barreling Hawaii section, allows for the profound greatness of John’s surfing to remain the central focus.

Space almost immediately reaffirms John John’s position as the greatest surfer in world today, mainly because almost all his surfing is performed on waves of consequence.

The timing of it marks a transition that is difficult to understate. It showcases the value of a talented support crew. The filmmakers at Parallel Sea are nearly as talented and focused on their craft as John is on his. They understand cinema. They understand mood and character. They treat John’s surfing as high art without fawning over him. They include zero lifestyle shots. They fill those spaces with nature.

I found myself wondering how we might perceive Gabriel Medina if he had a similarly talented crew reflecting his surf experience to us. Space marks a transition into an era where simply capturing incredible surfing on film will no longer garner audience attention. There is a glut of thoughtlessly edited, hi-fi surfing available. When was the last time you watched a six-minute surf edit? We’ve had our fill. Cinema will now be required to capture our interest. We’ve seen examples of surf cinema in the past, Space now mandates it as requirement.

Parallel Sea’s choice to include the preaching of TD Jakes adds gravitas. In any other instance, it would feel contrived and cheesy, but it works here. There is no secret meaning, innuendo nor subliminal messaging in the preachings. It’s Jakes’ delivery style that adds gravitas to the piece. His baritone and intensity accentuates the seriousness of John John’s surfing.

And it is serious.

So serious that one of his aerial attempts resulted in a year-ending injury. In a year when John John would be defending his two back-to-back world titles.

The timing of the release of Space was undoubtedly strategic. Everyone will attribute John’s injury as the reason he was unable to defend his world titles in 2018.

But let’s not forget that prior to injury John had a 25th at Snapper, three 13ths, and his best result was a 9th. He was not in position to win a third title. And, specifically, his paddling incident with Zeke Lau at Bells Beach highlighted a shortcoming in his competitive game. He lacked zeal, fire, and tenacity. That moment also seemed to cultivate a mental fragility that followed John throughout the next events. He fell. He made odd decisions. He had four opportunities to better scores in his round three heat against Jesse Mendes at Keramas and he simply didn’t. He went huge a couple times and fell, which is commendable, but it was round two, and he could have easily out-surfed Jesse Mendes.

Zeke exploited a weakness in John. Not just a weak moment.

Wounded athletes often return to competition stronger than ever, with a renewed focus. Eight months on the sofa breeds appreciation for what may have been previously taken for granted à la Mick Fanning in 2005 or Lakey Peterson this year.

We should expect a similar return from John. Moreover, John won his first two titles with freakish talent. Zeke Lau found a way to disable that confidence and injury has provided enough respite for John to reflect. He’s displayed humility in the past and he has a team of coaches, trainers, sponsors and, most important, family who have proven to be focused on a very long game. They are watching every event and taking notes of other competitors weaknesses, tells, and blindspots.They are using this down time to formulate competitive tactics and strategy that will fortify John’s 2019 title campaign.

The timing of Space serves to redirect any attention that was focused on Surf Ranch and the world title race. As viewers of Surf Ranch found themselves looking away while surfers sat in the tube. The Ranch wave only grabbed viewers attention once the end section approached. One is unable to look away from Space. The Phantom Flex 4k footage reveals intricacies of water moving and John’s contortions the closest approximations of real-life viewing that we’ve ever seen in surf film.

One nearly motionless moment shows a barreling, overhead right gurgling with foam. The tip of John’s board appears, seemingly unmanned, spit veiling its rider. Then the wave breathes and reveals John casually levitate over a foam ball. It’s a genuinely brand new moment in surf cinema.

The timing of the film serves to remind us that winning world titles is an impressive achievement, but not a reflection of who is the best surfer in the world.

It’s timing also serves to remind us of the irreplicable beauty and wonder of the ocean. Space offers a glimpse at the ocean’s majesty, harnessed by John John, and on display through the cinematography of Erik Knutson and Chris Bryan.

Never has surfing looked more at home in the ocean.

And never has the ghost of an injured surfer cast such a long shadow over a world title race.


Jimmy Buffett: “Ain’t afraid of dying… I’m surfing a hurricane!”

Margaritaville star bravely conquers Hurricane Florence!

If I’ve written it once, I’ve written it 1000 times… surfers are craaaaaaaazy! With our bushy bushy blonde hairdos, our baggies and our huarachi sandals too ain’t no telling what kind of no good we might get ourselves all mixed up in. Like waking up really really early in the morning to check the waves,  or surfing in hurricanes.

You already know how much I love madcap defiance of both nature and man but, I’ll be honest, I didn’t count Jimmy Buffett amongst the loons.

Jimmy Buffett, whose music is described as “island escapism” and is equally famous for the Margaritaville restaurant chain, posted an Instagram photo this morning telling the world he is not afraid of dying and he is going to surf a hurricane.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bno-5kwDR9f/?taken-by=jimmybuffett

Folly Beach is in South Carolina, if I’m not mistaken but real quick have you ever eaten at a Margaritaville? I thought about it, once, in Honolulu but ate at a sushi place instead.

I’m looking at the menu right now, though, and if you and I were meeting at Margaritaville today for lunch I believe I would order the crispy chicken cobb or maybe the California club. If we were meeting for dinner I’d order the Lava Lava Shrimp and possibly a Cheeseburger in Paradise. No, strike that I’d order the Lava Lava Shrimp and the blackened grouper sandwich with sweet potato fries.

Most importantly I would order a Stolichnaya and soda. I totally know that you’d look at me with your nose all scrunched and say, “But we’re in Margaritaville, bro?” And I’d respond, “I know, I know, I just can’t do it.”

A bummer for me in the moment, but I’d be happy later when my mouth didn’t feel like a puckered bowl of fruit.