The good doctor.

Opinion: “Not everything is faux ‘Beach Vibes’ live from the Surf Country Club in the middle of nowhere!”

Surf culture ain't plastic…yet! Come visit the last bastion of realness.

I recently bought the dude who shapes my surfboards a 12-pack of Mexican lager to drink while we filled out three new custom order forms. Instead of going to a therapist, I’m opting for a less invasive procedure that involves inflating my quiver.

So, I went to see my guy.

It was my second attempt to see him this week actually — the first was postponed due to him attending a T.S.O.L. show, so we rescheduled and doubled down on the Mexican lager.

In the room over from us, resin and tape and foam were being pushed into a pile by a grom behind a broom while Joy Division radio blasted in from the shaping bay and into the “office” — where little stools, floppy discs, a mini fridge, magazines, calculators, scattered papers and an older laptop sit covered in a thin layer of foam dust.

By the end of our sitting we stared at the order forms detailing some of my thoughts for these boards. The forms looked like a highly caffeinated three-year-old doctor filled them out — barely legible scribbles scratched all over the form with no regard for staying between any lines. But he knew exactly what they said.

A custom order form filled in with a pen. Such a relic!

And so did I.

My shaper (who happens to be Doc Lausch of Surf Prescriptions in Huntington Beach) then assigned each form its own floppy disc for future dimension reference and we clinked our beer bottles together to celebrate the future creations. They will soon add weeks and months and years of joy and meaning to my overly anxious existence.

I have been doing this sort of thing one way or another my whole surf life. I was in middle school when my Dad showed me this shaper/surfer procedure and all the nuances that come with it — and I think it was best celebrated by my comrade C.S. Louis who penned this for What Youth a while back in: 6 Things You Should Never Do To Your Shaper, and the follow up: 8 Things You Should Be Doing For Your Shaper.

There are less and less of these dudes to drink beer with and bring Doritos and Jarritos to these days as surfboards enter whatever this new mainstream/plastic thing that’s happening is and ordering boards can be as simple and lonely as typing your height and weight in on a website, followed by your credit card number and favorite color. This gets you a cold, Swedish design aesthetic surfboard in your favorite color.

But these dudes I speak of are still out there. Making boards. Talking surfing. Saving lives. Guys who practice the artisanal craft of nodding through your vague and ill-informed and desperate descriptions of surfboards and then manage to translate it into what you actually need.

“Ordering boards can be as simple and lonely as typing your height and weight in on a website, followed by your credit card number and favorite color. This gets you a cold, Swedish design aesthetic surfboard in your favorite color.”

The dudes in HB like this are Doc and Tim Stamps — guys who can solve all your high-performance and grovel needs — or there are guys like Jeff Beck at Nine Lights who will take the time to teach you about alternative construction (wood!) and shapes (asymmetricals!) as well as sustainable materials. And regardless of what city or town you live in I hope this brings to mind at least two or three dudes who would love a pack of beer and a bag of Doritos on a Friday afternoon in exchange for a board or three.

There is a chance that I am overly sentimental or romantic about this type of thing. As I am about many silly things in surfing. But my first job at 15 was in a surfboard glass shop. I spent hours after school with glassers in their 20s who got free boards and wore resin high tops and cussed like motherfuckers.

My job there was simple: “Clean up this hell hole and stay out of the way…fuckin’ grom.” Guys named after motorcycle parts wandered the halls in masks and looked grumpy. I’d nicely restack the porno mags on the back of the toilet, take the toxins to the bin, sweep the foam and pubic hairs that didn’t make it into your new board and generally organize the wreck of the toxic workshop as best I could. But what I really did was listen to the dudes talk. Over frequent afternoon beers they talked about surfing, fighting, drinking, traveling, women, and the victories and atrocities that accompany chasing those things.


And nothing sounded better to me. I promptly quit any and all organized sports or clubs in exchange for a friend named Clutch who I’d thrill to run into at any local parking lot or bar.

As we head into a big week for artificial surfing culture and surfing’s Homo Deus moment, I think it’s still important that we remember that not all is faux “Beach Vibes” and being “King of the Weekend” live from the Surf Country Club in the middle of nowhere.

Not everything is plastic yet.

There are still those little things that bring actual meaning to your love of surfing. Ordering custom boards in person is one that never gets old for me. And while I’m definitely curious about this weekend and currently loading the Red Shark with cigarettes, gambling cash, Perrier and hallucinogens for me and Chas’ weekend in Lemoore, so far my favorite part about all the anticipation for the contest has been the Pacific Ocean’s response to it all: two hurricanes and several southern ground swells stacked up and ready to take us ocean-going surfers right through the end of September.

First swell hits Friday. Remember, remember the former contest of September.

Breaking: blink-182 cancels Surf Ranch Pro show!

But don't worry! Social Distortion is here to save the day!

Everything was working. Everything was working so damn well minus Joe Turpel’s vocabulary, the left, Martin Potter, too much Merino, the actual plow itself plus a handful of other issues depending on who you talk to and depending on what they’re drinking.

Surf Ranch. A success. An unmitigated* success then blink-182 cancels.

Like that.

Blaming drummer “Travis Barker’s ongoing medical issues.”


And what the hell? What the dammit hell? How could this happen?

Tickets were sold based purely on blink’s wide appeal. Tickets, man, to kids wanting to see mechanical surf of course but also Travis Barker, Mark Hoppus and Tom DeLonge. I mean Matt Skiba.


Thankfully there appeared to be a backup. Social Distortion. Social D.

Now, I’m not even going to pretend I don’t love Social D so I’ll be there. But will you?

Will you?

Speaking of Social D real quick I saw Mike Ness once backstage at a Brian Setzer Orchestra show in Orange County. My damned ex-wife performed with Brian Setzer and I was there backstage, before she was my ex-wife, standing next to Mike Ness, looking at him thinking “heroin does no favors.” Though maybe it had nothing to do with heroin. He was very wide. Much wider than I wanted him to be. And that sounds like it has absolutely nothing to do with heroin at all does it.

My damned ex-wife is also from near Lemoore remember. She grew up in the cow stink and made me hate that cow stink forever and ever and ever. Everything comes full circle.


*Minus Joe Turpel’s vocabulary, the left, Martin Potter, too much Merino and the actual plow itself plus a grab bag of other things.

Surf Ranch Pro: It’s finally here! Watch live with friends!

Come share your first impression!

We’ve been wagging our tongues about this Surf Ranch Pro (watch here!), this very moment right now, since it was announced there was going to be a real competition, not an expression session, not a Founders Cup. Jen See is in the crowd, taking notes, observing. I’ll be there Saturday but at his moment am in front of my computer, like you, watching and maybe confusedly.

Is it fun? Exciting?

Or dull?

I know there are too many ads. I know that without any help. 1 minute on 5 minutes off is how it feels and that is too much. I like Wade Carmichael and I like Merino wool but I don’t know how much more I can take about life on the Championship Tour and the necessity of Merino wool.

They knew this was coming the 1 minute on 5 minutes off and didn’t prepare fun interstitial programming?

Don’t they have a studio in Santa Monica?

Still. I don’t know what to think.

What do you think?

I’ve asked Matt Warshaw what he thinks and we shall hear from him soon.

P.S. Did Ronald Blakey change his voice for this event? Is he trying on a new persona? I thought Crocodile Dundee was in the booth for a good 10 minutes.

Naked: Events lose their sponsors for the ’19 season!

Vanished in the night!

I spent much of yesterday pondering the newly released 2019 World Surf League championship tour schedule and can we all admit that it is almost perfect? Oh of course it is our job to grumble, and we get paid very well for it, but really it feels like the WSL listened to our pleas and responded.

The season ends at Pipeline like it’s supposed to and begins on the Gold Coast, a nod to those simpler times when the Association of Surfing Professional’s offices occupied a tidy second story Coolangatta floor. Marg River might not be a favorite but I do love that the WSL is returning to a very sharky land maybe hoping for another “Mick Bump” as the sky high ratings for J-Bay ’15. The rest is as it should be, as we’ve grown accustomed,

Many openly question the viability of the World Surf League moving forward but ’19 is robust. The only thing I’m really curious about is the naked events. Sponsors disappeared into the night. Vanished without a trace except Meo and Oi which may or may not be cell service providers and Billabong for Pipeline and Rip Curl for Bells.

But the rest? Where did they go? Quiksilver has been sponsoring the Gold Coast event since I cut my teeth on surf journalism. Quiksilver has been synonymous with France since Tom Curren was a competitive threat. Same-ish with Billabong and Tahiti and Billabong and Teahupoo.

So maybe it’s only Oaktree brands which have been disappeared but still 7 out of the 11 events are nude.

And do you think it is possible, even the slightest chance, that we could crowdfund title sponsorship of one? The BeachGrit Bali Pro say or the BeachGrit Pro Bells Beach (in association with Rip Curl)?

Which do you think we should choose?

Gold Coast Men’s Pro: April 3 – 13, 2019
Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach: April 17 – 27, 2019
Bali Men’s Pro: May 13 – 24, 2019
Margaret River Pro: May 27 – June 7, 2019
Oi Rio Pro: June 20 – 28, 2019
J-Bay Open: July 9 – 22, 2019
Tahiti Pro Teahupo’o: August 21 – September 1, 2019
Surf Ranch Pro: September 19 – 22, 2019
France Men’s Pro: October 3 – 13, 2019
Meo Pro Peniche: October 16 – 28, 2019
Billabong Pipe Masters: December 8 – 20, 2019

kelly slater surf ranch
Whereas the right at Surf Ranch is remarkable, the left is merely fun and highly rippable. | Photo: KSWaveCo

Explained: Why the left (sorta) sucks at Surf Ranch!

A revealing interview with pool co-inventor Adam Fincham…

Okay. The left don’t…suck…but it ain’t no secret the right is the money shot at the Slater-Fincham pool.

Did you ever wonder why?

Is it, despite the planting of trees all around the joint, the prevailing wind that makes it crumble so? Some quirk of water volume or similar?

Earlier today, tech magazine Wired ran an interview with the pool’s co-inventor Adam Fincham, a Research Associate Professor at University of Southern California who has worked with Kelly since 2006 to create a masterpiece of bathymetry on the outskirts of a lousy cotton-farming town four hours north-east of Los Angeles.

Wade through the story and you’ll hit this.

Fincham stops our conversation again to stare at the wave, and I ask him what he’s looking for.

“I don’t want to see too much whitewater coming off the fence there,” he says, pointing to the part of the wave that’s closest to the fence. It’s that left again—a wave peeling to the left of the surfer—barreling toward the south side of the lagoon. Where there should be an unblemished, clean face of a wave, there’s a spray of surf shooting up in the direction of the hydrofoil apparatus.

“We saw it happen on one of the waves a while ago, and we’re trying to ascertain what control we have over it in this particular situation,” Fincham says. “This was designed to only make rights, and then we retrofit it to make lefts as well. So it’s not optimized for the lefts. It’s a weakness.”


It’s why he’s still obsessing over it now, that wave that’s showing just a little bit of whitewater where it shouldn’t. Fincham is nowhere to be found when I leave the Surf Ranch in the late afternoon, but there’s a good chance he’s off somewhere staring at that left, the one that’s not yet perfect.

Other notable facts: the pool is filled with fifteen million gallons of water and on a hot day, which ain’t so rare out in Lemoore, a quarter-of-a-million gallons can evaporate.

The pool’s deepest point is nine feet; shallowest is three-and-a-half.

The hydrofoil weighs 10o tons and is covered by tarps so no secrets are revealed and it has solar panels on the top so drones can’t film it.

Read here.