Mason Ho Waco
Somebody gonna crucify me on this, but I'm gonna call this a Benihana air, that ol Lester Kasai skate trick. Mason Ho, backside air, kicked back leg.

Opinion: “Every surfer should be talking about Stab High Right now!”

Chas Smith and David Lee scales podcast in real time with Texas wavepool event… 

Earlier today, Chas Smith and David Lee Scales recorded their bi-monthly podcast The Grit while watching the wavepool event Stab High, held in Waco, Texas.

Over a Texas-themed charcuterie, the pair garnished the event with their own commentary.

“If the rest of the media is silent about this event, fuck them all,” Chas told me while driving home to north San Diego county from David’s modest hacienda in Huntington Beach. “Stab went out and spent a shit-ton of money to entertain us for a day. Everybody should be talking about it, whether it’s good, great or shit. I have nothing but respect for Stab and everybody should give equal weight to this event as they would to the WSL.”

A few takeaways, as they say.

  1. Like skateboard mega-ramp events, pools are going to become the preserve of little boys, in this case Eli Hanneman etc.
  2. It’s easy to watch the WSL and be snarky but they do kinda nail their event broadcasts.
  3. The best surfers still are on the WCT.
  4. Bobby Martinez does real fine backside hooks at Rincon. Not so hot at calling airs in a pool.
  5. Mason Ho has a slow-burning spark that takes hold of your eyes! Hoo-eee, last-minute rodeo.

Listen here!

From the let-them-eat-cake department: Surf Ranch Florida reserved for elites!

The People get informational kiosks though!

I’ve been so darn fascinated by the Wave Pool Wars that I find it difficult to sleep at night. Awake I lay, eyes following ceiling fan spinning languidly, trying to calculate the costs of waves at Surf Ranch, wondering if the operators shorten the dampening time to 3 minutes instead of 4 how many more waves could get generated. Wondering if American Wave Machines technology feat. at Waco is the perfect nexus of quality and economy. Wondering if Wavegarden’s burgers will carry the day. Wondering if Surf Lakes in Australia, opening very soon, will make the other pools feel redundant or will it itself feel redundant.

And when the sun pokes its head up I am no closer to conclusion than I was at midnight.

Which tank will win out, at the end? How can Surf Ranch with its $5000 per day price tag compete?

Is it the Spruce Goose of pools lorded over by a mad, germaphobe?


How is it economically viable?

Well… this morning my bleary eyes found answers. Maybe Surf Ranches, soon to be dotting the globe, are not for everyone. Maybe Surf Ranches will be very exclusive country clubs for the .5%

And let us read from the Palm Beach Post for Palm Beach is of course the site of Surf Ranch Florida.

The site will be a major training facility for professional surfers, said Joni Brinkman, a principal with Urban Design Kilday Studios. She didn’t know to what extent it would be open to the public, but she did say the site would have informational kiosks for visitors to learn about the surrounding natural areas. They plan to partner with the county’s Environmental Resources Management department in doing so.

And again:

She didn’t know to what extent it would be open to the public, but she did say the site would have informational kiosks for visitors to learn about the surrounding natural areas.

And one more time:

…she did say the site would have informational kiosks for visitors to learn about the surrounding natural areas.

So there you go. Surf Ranches and the WSL don’t want The People muddying the waters, as it were. Surf Ranches are not for me or for you but for millionaires and billionaires. At least they are giving us kiosks to learn about the surrounding natural areas though.

Thank you Kelly Slater. Thank you Dirk Ziff.

shaun tomson
The world champion Shaun Tomson, dressed in the uniform of the man who yearns for sexual abandon. | Photo: bruce weber/saturdays magazine

Meet: the iconic fashion photographer who made surfers barbarically sexy!

The great Bruce Weber's gorgeously torrid work with Kelly Slater, Shaun Tomson, John John Florence, the Fletcher family and so on.

If you enjoy examining black-and-white photos of men in underwear as much as me you’ll know the work of the American photographer Bruce Weber. Abercrombie and Fitch, Calvin Klein and so on. A real one-of-a-kind.

Via an enduring friendship with the famous surf family The Fletchers (Herb, Dibi, Christian, Nathan etc) Weber occasionally cuts frames with surfing celebrities: The Fletchers, natch, John John Florence, Laird Hamilton, Shaun Tomson, Kelly Slater, Bruce Irons.

Look at the harmonic revelation of the world champion Kelly Slater, and pals, all with thorn stumps out.

And the barbarically sexy Laird Hamilton (with eighties star Brooke Shields).

In an issue of the always very good Saturdays Magazine, the New York clothiers interview Weber about his relationship with the surf game.

I won’t take you all the way to the bottom of this particular grove (click here for the full story) but you’ll like these moments.

Surfers remind me of the rock and roll guys of the ’60s and early ’70s. Rabbit Bartholomew is a good example. He was the Keith Richards of surfing: hair, clothes, jewelry and all. All the surfers I met early on had great style and a desire and passion for living in the moment. They made no money. They were like wrestlers in that way. College and high school wrestlers never make any money, but their hearts are totally into it.

Danny Dimauro: When you work with surfers, what is it that you’re seeing, from an artist’s perspective?

bw: I think you always discover something when you look in the eyes of an adventurer—whether it’s a surfer or a person who climbs mountains. They defy incredible obstacles. Their eyes seem to have the same light as the sky. They’re almost translucent. Surfers are adventurers, people who know no boundaries. My interest in surfing began with photography, but I was never going to be out there in the waves taking surf photographs. I take portraits. Surfers remind me of the rock and roll guys of the ’60s and early ’70s. Rabbit Bartholomew is a good example. He was the Keith Richards of surfing: hair, clothes, jewelry and all. All the surfers I met early on had great style and a desire and passion for living in the moment. They made no money. They were like wrestlers in that way. College and high school wrestlers never make any money, but their hearts are totally into it. To meet a surfer whose heart is so into the sport and into being in the water—there is just nothing like it for a photographer. I was really lucky that I got to photograph so many people when they were just beginning. I photograph for Vanity Fair sometimes, and my friends who work there often tease me—they say, “You’re really great with people when they’re beginning, or when they’re in their 90s.” I forget about that sometimes, but it is how I live my life.

Danny Dimauro: Let’s talk about your relationship with Herbie and the Fletcher family.

bw: It was around the time when I first photographed Marky Mark for the cover of Interview. I wanted to do a sportsman, so I thought of Nathan and Christian Fletcher. I drove down to where they live in San Clemente with my assistants and some clothes. Dibi opened the door and said, “That fucking 405 is terrible.” It’s the last thing I expected that a mom would be saying to me. I stepped in the house and there were all of these great artworks and painted surfboards everywhere. We were in the kitchen talking, and Christian came in with his hair half-shaved, a tattoo on his skull and a ring through his nose. He was so beautiful—it just made me love surfing that much more. It felt like I was in the middle of a crashing monster wave when I was at their house. I went into Nathan’s room—it hadn’t been cleaned in years. Surf paraphernalia everywhere, like a great piece of art. I knew I was photographing a record of their family, living there at that time. I just adored Herbie and Dibi. I kept imagining that they were like my adoptive parents. They taught me so much about the surfing world and surf clothes. They instantly became great friends of mine and still are to this day. I had some of my greatest times with them during our travels and visits over the years. Looking back at all of those surf films, I think that the Fletcher family’s story would have made the best surf film ever. I know that Sean Penn was really interested in it at one point, but then he got occupied with other films he was working on.

Click through and see more of Weber’s fabulous work, studded with torrid glares and barely concealed bacchanals.

Dad-strength: Aged Australians teach world a lesson it won’t soon forget!

A stacked final day!

Tell me that you are now officially a fan of the World Surf League’s Masters Division. Tell me you know that the spark, the pasión, missing from the World Surf League’s Championship Tour (aside from Kolohe Andino) has been discovered burning brightly in the semi-autonomous Azores. Tell me you are watching.

If you are not watching it is a great shame and, very quickly before I forget, where is Dino Andino? I would like to see him surf again and I would like to see Mike Lambresi surf again too but more on that later for we need to discuss how aged Australian men took their proverbial belts off, ample stomachs spilling over waistbands, and whipped the rest of the world. Whipped aged Americans and aged Brazilians, even an aged Frenchman if you consider Tom Curren French, which I do.

But don’t take my word for it. Take the august Weekend Australian’s:

Australian surfers are dominating both the men’s and women’s events at the World Masters and Grandmasters Championships in the Azores.

No less than five Australian men – Jake Paterson, Dave Macauley, two-time world champion Damien Hardman, Luke Egan and Matt Hoy – made it into the masters quarterfinals in Portugal on Thursday.

Paterson has been particularly dominant, knocking out Sydneysider and two-time world champion Damien Hardman before eliminating former world champion Hawaiian Derek Ho.

The West Australian coaches promising young QS surfers including Leonardo Fioravanti, Ramzi Boukhiam, Marc Lacomare and Ezekiel Lau and Kael Walsh, and he’s aware they’ve all been watching him compete.

“When I’m out there I’m actually thinking of what I preach but I still made a couple of mistakes and I’m sure my guys will text me and let me know about it, for example when I lost priority paddling for a wave I didn’t get,” Paterson said.

Natural-footer Egan cut the lefthanders apart to post the big enough scores to defeat Aussie Dave Macaulay and local wildcard Joao Alexandre on Thursday.

“It’s so cool to see everyone is still as passionate about their surfing. I think it goes to show that no matter how old you are, if you really put the effort in you can still keep a very high level,” Egan said.


I wonder if things would be a little different had Dino Andino and Mike Lambresi been in the draw?

Also, I know it is not called The Grand Wizard’s division because it is called the Grandmasters division but I think it would be cool if they could change the name. Surfing’s eldest champ should be called a Grand Wizard. The Grand Wizard of the WSL.

Don’t you think?

Revealed: World Masters Championship too hot for WSL!

The old boys are going mad!

It was announced right here and two days ago that the World Surf League is running a Masters Division feat. all of your favs including Michael Ho, Gary “Kong” Elkerton, Tom Curren, Damien Hardman, Dave Macaulay, Sunny Garcia, Cheyne Horan etc.

Every one of your favs minus Derek Ho and if you read the World Surf League wraps you’d think it was all cupcakes and roses between the boys. Here’s a snippet:

Most of the time competitors escape to the airport as soon as they’re eliminated from an event but the vibes in Azores have been the opposite. Regardless of results, athletes have been hanging around and watching each other’s heats. Tom Curren, asked for Matt Hoy’s autograph after losing out to him in Heat 17.

“The passion is still there,” said Luke Egan. “We’re just a lot older.”

Do you believe the cupcakes? Roses? Well we have a billboard in Lemoore and we have a man on the beach in the semi-autonomous Azores. He says:

Despite the serene nature of the WSL press releases the old boys have been going mad.

Sunny Garcia came out of the water flipping the bird, saying, “The judges are…still…fucked. The judges are still fucking kooks.”

The WSL changed the format which meant Michael Ho was eliminated. He said, “This is fucking bullshit.” That some of his competitors “should be in the women’s division” and that they’re “all fucking crybabies.”

Everyone is a caricature of what they were thirty years ago.

Kong, who surfed three heats and only caught waves in one of them, is fatter.

Dave Macaulay and Dooma Hardman are somehow more boring.

Tom Curren, blaming his fins while riding a wild alternative board, is reaching new realms of crazy.

Most of all, it’s the greatest contest ever. Beautiful island. Black sand. Warm water.

Oh, and Jodie Cooper is surfing in the women’s division.

Jodie Cooper, most recently seen getting allegedly attempted drowned by Tomo Sr. in New South Wales!

I wish I was in the Azores. This all sounds incredible. I wish I was our man on the beach.