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.

Alert: Kanoa Igarashi falls to heretofore unknown dreamboat in World Games!

Introducing Santiago Muniz!

Remember where you are at this exact moment reading the name Santiago Muniz for the first time. Take in your surroundings and stock of your emotional state because someday your grandchildren will ask you and will expected to provide a proper accounting. Like, “Yes little ones. I was shuffling home from… a woman who is not your grandmother’s apartment very early in the morning, a touch of autumnal fog dusting the field feeling… hungover and ashamed until I checked BeachGrit on my phone and saw a picture of Santiago Muniz.”

“Santiago Muniz…” they will coo in response. “…gold metal winning Santiago Muniz with those eyes and that hair and that tango in his step.”

Yes, Santiago Muniz, from Argentina, beat Kanoa Igarashi yesterday in tiny Japanese waves to win the World Surfing Games not 100 km from where the Olympics will be staged in two years’ time. Reuters has a better accounting than I could ever muster so let’s head there first.

Argentina’s Santiago Muniz won the men’s gold medal at the World Surfing Games on Wednesday, while Kanoa Igarashi and Shun Murakami claimed Japan’s first ever medals in the competition.

Gold for Muniz, who also won the event in 2011, gives him a place at the 2019 Pan Am Games, which is a qualification event for the Tokyo Olympics.

“I am so happy. This feels like a dream,” Muniz told the International Surfing Association website.

“It’s amazing to represent my country. I can feel the energy coming from my team. It’s a beautiful feeling.

“This has given me even more motivation to get to Tokyo 2020. I am excited for the opportunity to qualify, but I have got to take it step by step.”


Now, there is much debate across BeachGrit’s various bureaus as to the future of face of professional surfing. James Prier, the brains behind our business operation, insists that Kanoa Igarashi is the future. With his Bulletproof Boy Scouts good looks, small wave skill and competitive drive it is a safe call but I feel he’s missing… something. Fire? Spice? I don’t exactly know but am all in on Santiago Muniz.

He’ll win gold, do the morning talk show circuit, tango with Kelly Ripa, get cast on Bachelor in Paradise then get cast as the Bachelor. What happens after that is up to him but let’s just say that a recurring role on a future Baywatch retool is not out of the question.

And we all know which other famous surfer had a recurring role on Baywatch, don’t we.

From the feel-good-department: Laird Hamilton says “The idea is to become an old wizard!”

Greatest big-wave surfer of all time releases book of various personal philosophies.

Recently, Laird Hamilton, who is the world’s greatest big-wave surfer, released a book called Force of Nature: Mind, Body, Soul, And, of Course, Surfing. 

The 247-page volume tells fifty-four-year-old Laird’s story, which is compelling enough – born in an experimental bathysphere, abandoned by daddy, collected new daddy from the beach (and his name, Zerfas to Hamilton) and so on – but focusses on his various philosophies.

It begins with this lovely quote from Mark Twain: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones that you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

“The idea is to become an old wizard; to live a long, fruitful life and have family and be healthy and enjoy the ride. And speaking of the ride, why not let it rip, at least a little bit?” LAIRD HAMILTON

Laird hits the vein from a similar dropper.

“You can spend your life fence-sitting because you’re frightened of something bad that might happen or you can launch yourself into it with all of your conviction and all of your intelligence. Here’s my advice: Meet up with your fears. If you’re afraid of sharks, go learn all about sharks. Get into the water with one. If you respect fear, face it straight on and act anyway. What you’ll find isn’t terror –it’s exhilaration and the moments that you never forget.”

“Forget your emotions around fear for a second and look at the simple reality: It’s an energy source designed to increase performance. Adrenaline and the natural hormones your body creates when you’re scared are more powerful than any drug. The ability to harness it constructively, that’s the tricky part.”

“When we’re not operating in life-or-death situations, a lot of times we tune out. If you’re sitting behind a desk all day, you don’t have to be hyperaware. But it’s important to exercise your instincts like you would a muscle. If you don’t try to tune in to every-thing–smell, hearing, sight, vibration–you can get dull, and that might come back to haunt you when it matters most.”

Or my favourites.

“Our days are meant to be fun. Once you lose that thread, I think you’ve just lost the essence of the whole deal. If you build up a wealth of experiences, letting yourself be amazed by everything and everyone around you, then fun and its close relative, joy, will be the inevitable by-products. The last thing you want to do is to look back at the end and think coulda, woulda, shoulda.”

“The idea is to become an old wizard; to live a long, fruitful life and have family and be healthy and enjoy the ride. And speaking of the ride, why not let it rip, at least a little bit?”

Last year I interviewed Laird for the release of his biopic Take Every Wave: the life of Laird Hamilton. He got me with a few zingers then too.

“The doctor was covered in my blood, all over his mask. I could feel him yanking on me. I could feel pulsing as he was doing shit to my leg.”

“I grew up a white guy in Hawaii and there was a certain level of …of…of…aggression… on the land. Or should I say, instead of aggression, a certain level of separation. I was a white guy in a dark guy’s world. I was an outsider, like I am in surfing, so it was a natural place for me. Some of my best friends are Hawaiians and some of the greatest and most beautiful people are Hawaiians. But when you’re a minority in a racially tense environment you get used to being an outcast. I think that shaped my life.”

Read that interview here. 

The book costs around thirty dollars in hardcover, half that in paperback.

Buy it here.