Rehabilitated: Surf Ranch and environs most famous first son!

Lemoore becomes cool overnight!

We have no secrets here between us. None at all. And you know that much of the reason I loathe Surf Ranch is because it is in Lemoore, California which is near Visalia, California which is from whence my ex-wife hails.

I hate Visalia.

I hate its inverted fog, its flat straightness, its damned old timey burger drive-in place, its everything. My heart would sink anytime I’d be forced to travel north and east. North and east in the same exact direction as Surf Ranch and the two, Visalia and Surf Ranch became conflated in my booze-soaked mind.

Or as I wrote in the prologue of the current #10 bestseller in Sports Health and Safety (buy here!)

It is cold outside, and gray. Heavy-sweater weather. Maybe even thin down-filled jacket paired with stocking cap weather and it smells like cow. Like manure, wet feed and sour milk which only makes sense since we are in Lemoore, California the official “Home of Cows, More Cows, and Chas Smith’s Damned Ex-Wife.”

Just kidding. My damned ex-wife is from neighboring Visalia, but all of inland central California is basically the same thing and a place I swore I’d never return. Then Kelly Slater went and created the perfect wave here.


Or hated.

Because not ten minutes ago, I discovered that Kurt Russell’s Jack Burton had his trucking company based in Visalia.

Do you not recall Big Trouble in Little China? It was one of the best movies of the 1980s, one of the very best, with Kurt Russell, as previously noted, Kim Cattrall and directed by John Carpenter.

I feel that 1980s Kurt Russell can rehabilitate anything at all and if you don’t believe me watch:

Escape from New York

The Thing

Swing Shift

The Mean Season


Tequila Sunrise

Tango & Cash


That is Kurt Russell’s resume from the 1980s alone and not even a complete list. He made New York, monsters, shipwrecks, Tequila Sunrise cocktails, Sly Stallone and fires all better.

Visalia too. And by extension Surf Ranch.

Kelly should give Kurt Russell a permanent golden ticket and locker that no one can use not even Mick Fanning.

He should be able surf any time he pleases.

Time in the cube stokes your fever! But must be correctly channelled!

Quiz: Can Deprivation Make You a Better Surfer?

Time in the cube can help you shred? Maybe!

There’s a mindset that says if you want to climb to any  elevated surf performance you gotta give your life to the game. You see it in the little kids pulled out of school to give ’em more hours in the ocean so they can pursue a pro surfer dream that’s gonna leave ’em broke and busted at twenty five.

You see it in the locals who’ve built their lives around their local beach, poor forever, aged into pickles by the salt and the sun and forever out-surfed by blow-ins who turn up for thirty and shred the hell out of their five waves during lunch break.

So I gotta ask.

Can deprivation make you a better surfer?

Or, better, does deprivation make you a better surfer?

Imagine that. A salaried job where you’re paid to occupy space in an office actually sharpens your attack when you get to surf.

An old pal of mine, a much better surfer who’s on the nine-to-six wheel, surfs in thirty-minute blocks. He don’t fuck around. He don’t sit out the back, legs akimbo on his horse, talking about real estate or girls or whatever. He’ll scoop up an insider on the way out then paddle wide and be on the ramp for a set. In thirty, he’ll catch eight or ten waves. Other surfers will float around for two hours for the same wave count but with a much diminished performance.

That old ten thousand hours rule by pop psychologist Gladwell in his too-often-quote book The Outliers? Where if you put in enough time, in his case the magic figure was 10k hours, you’ll achieve mastery?

It falls at the first hurdle. Look at a fifty-year-0ld man in the lineup. Endless hammering at waves all his life. He smashed the 10k rule. So why does the twelve-year-old who’s stuck at school from eight thirts to three every day surf better?

It misses the need for deliberate, passionate focus.

And how do you get that?

By depriving yourself of what you love.

Miss a swell.

Be under fluorescent lightbulbs listening to the endless drone of middle management while the sun shines and three-foot wedges topple onto lovely sandbanks?

Know that unless you’re awake at five am and out of the drink by six you won’t feel the bite of salt on your skin.

Or maybe I’m very wrong.


Watch: The World Surf League’s Masters Championship!

Hans Hedemann etc!

I had no idea this existed. No idea at all and also have no idea how it slipped through the cracks. For right now, right this minute, your favorite childhood surfers are in Portugal surfing competitively against each other (unless you were born in the 1990s).

Like, right now, right this minute I am literally watching Cheyne Horan vs. Hans Hedemann. Not figuratively watching. Not imagining I am watching. Literally watching. I think Paul Evans and Chris Binns are on the mics too which makes it the greatest event on earth.


Who else is coming up?

Simon Anderson, Rob Bain, Michael Ho, Buzzy Kerbox and maybe others.

Why aren’t Paul Evans and Chris Binns given the keys to the World Championship Tour suite?

The best combo in the game.

Watch here!

This is the board made from whisky casks!
This is the board made from whisky casks!

Buy: A surfboard made from whisky casks!

Two great things in one!

Whew. It’s a good thing I didn’t die or… I’m still unsure so even if I am dead it’s a good thing because now surfboards are being made from whiskey barrels.

Personally, I’ve settled on vodka as my ride or die but know that whisky is way cooler and have danced with the amber goddess on and off for years.

Mostly I prefer bourbon but don’t turn my nose up at anything from Ireland or Scotland.

Which do you prefer? Maybe we should all prefer whiskey from Scotland and I mean whisky from Scotland because Glenmorangie barrels are used in the production of a Grain surfboard.

Shall we learn about it?

We’re thrilled to share this limited edition Glenmorangie Original surfboard with you. More than a year in the making, the builders here at Grain worked closely with the team at Glenmorangie to create a surfboard using re-purposed whisky casks. Part of Glenmorangie’s Beyond the Cask project, these surfboards are built using twelve barrel staves in each board.

The best scotch whisky is made from only the best American white oak and for Glenmorangie Original, their casks are used only twice for a smoother and more rounded taste.The crew here at Grain was able to create the entire interior framework that defines the shape of the board from these oak staves, replacing the otherwise mundane marine plywood that is commonly used. For those looking for beauty, the oaks visual properties shine through as we embrace the material with bookmatched center planks, tailblock and custom made fins.

We’re always up for a challenge and this project set the bar to a new level. We’re proud of the final product and honored that the team at Glenmorangie selected us for their Beyond The Cask Project. Get your limited edition Glenmorangie Original Surfboard today.

Limited Edition Custom Built Board- $5500. Start your order today by putting down a $2000 deposit. Pay the balance when the board is ready to ship.

Shipping not included. We will contact you when the board is nearing completion to get an address and discuss shipping costs and options.

Boards are available in European Union countries (excluding Estonia, France, Latvia, Poland, Slovenia, Sweden), and USA only.

*Please Drink Responsibly

Finished Board Specs

6’11 3/4″ x 20 1/8″ x 2-3/16″ / Volume 39.96

Buy here I suppose but to be honest I’m glad I settled on vodka. 6’11 3/4″ x 20 1/8″ x 2-3/16″ / Volume 39.96?

Vodka means you stay skinny.

Breaking: Surf journalist Chas Smith has died!

Come take a peek from the other side of the veil!

I Googled myself for the first time in many years this morning (in order to find this story) and learned that I am dead. Long dead, in fact. In the ground since 2007. Or maybe not in the ground. Maybe I was cremated. Apparently I didn’t attend the funeral because I have no memory of it. Of whether there was a coffin and my friends and family were clustered graveside or whether there was an intimate gathering on some cliffside where my ashes were released into the sky, doing their small part in warming the globe just a little more.

Then again, I have no real memory of anything at all so it makes sense that I am dead. It answers a lot of questions about my memory.

Apparently I died from pneumonia which seems literary. Not quite tuberculosis like my heroes (Camus, Kafka) but close enough. A disease of the lungs.

I should probably be enjoying my death more but feel a responsibility to give you a peek from the other side of the veil.

Here is what’s going on.

I don’t know if I’ve landed in heaven or hell or quite possibly purgatory. There are wave machines here for surfing but they cost a lot of money to try or at least Kelly Slater’s does. He’s here too, building wave machines, looking the same as he has forever. The Association of Professional Surfers has been transformed into a thing called the World Surf League and is owned by the son of a publishing magnate and run by an ex-tennis executive.

Isn’t that funny? Publishing and tennis? Either God or Satan has a rich sense of humor.

What else. Ummmmm. Brazilians win everything and are the only surfers that really matter. John John stopped by for a while a few years ago but has left which makes me think this is purgatory and John John went on to heaven. The other wave machine is in Waco, right next to where David Koresh got burned to a crisp. I haven’t seen him roaming around yet.

Some surfers ride these things called “foils” that have giant metal guillotines affixed to their bottoms. I don’t really understand the purpose or point but people seem excited about them in general. The biggest surf brand in the world is named Salty Crew and is for fishermen too. Quiksilver and Billabong are the same company here. I don’t think Rip Curl exists because I never see it.

Sharks eat people but nobody really cares because they are like gods. Totally protected and impossible to do anything about.

Air shows are big and trending which is bizarre.

Very bizarre.

Or I suppose just like things were in 2007 when I died.