Every coastal nation has a best coast, north, south, east or west. One coast trumps the other. In France, the west coast is better than the south Mediterranean coast. In Panama the east Caribbean coast is better than the west Pacific. In the United States’ California west is better than the urbane Eastern Seaboard. And in Australia the urbane east coast is better than its wild wild west.
But when California is pitted against Australia’s Gold, Sunshine, Sydney coast which wins? Which is best of all?
Australia’s east coast features one very fine town and that town is Sydney. Some will say Byron Bay or Nambucca Heads or Forster (pronounced “Foster”) are equally fine but they are wrong. And Sydney is dreamy. There is shopping, dining, delicious models and surf. Australia’s east coast also features the Gold Coast and while Surfers Paradise is both a grammatical and architectural travesty the surf is amazing. There are waves for every desire.
California features two very fine towns, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Los Angeles may be perfect. It has everything including the film industry and all the actresses who come for it. Everything except good surf but good surf is easily accessible via automobile. San Francisco is called the Paris of the west and it, too, has everything except attractive women. Australia’s east coast has Snapper Rocks. California has Trestles.
Australia’s east coast has Nicole Kidman. California has her too. Australia’s east coast has beer. California has wine country. Australia’s east coast has Splendor in the Grass. California has Coachella. Australia’s east coast has that harsh, unfiltered east coast light. The sort that makes a man feel bad about his past and not dreamy. The same sort as New York City.
California has golden light filtered in that way that all light is filtered on west coasts. The past is forgotten. Only the future exists.
And, therefore, California is better than Australia’s east coast. California might be better than anywhere else on earth.
Ryan Lovelace: “You get a hair up your butt to go do something weird!”
When he surfs, Ryan Lovelace stands with a casual slouch that belies the deep interest he has in the boards under his feet. Lovelace is well-known for his hand-built boards, and in particular his speed-loving midlength designs. He began shaping in college, because he found out it was cheaper to make a board than to buy one. Since then, he’s been rummaging around in surfing’s attic and playing with the assorted elements of surfboard design he’s found there.
We hang around the same town, the same coffee shops, and the same lineups. I have a fish he made and it glides along to a groove of its own. A few months ago, I caught up with Lovelace to ask a few questions, which is a thing I do sometimes. Here’s an excerpt from our conversation.
How did you get started shaping?
I grew up building stuff, so that was just how we got the things that we wanted. If you wanted a bicycle or a go-kart, you fucking built a go-kart. That was our option. And so I really wanted a twin fish, but I couldn’t really afford one. And my buddy was like, ‘oh I made a board once.’ And I was like, ‘what? you made a board?’ Like, I hadn’t even thought of it. So that just kind of hit me, like, if he built one, I can for sure build one.
I asked him, ‘well, how long did it take you’ And he’s like, ‘only like six months.’ And I was like, ‘sweet, I can make one way quicker than I can save up the money.’
Turns out Fiber Glass Hawaii, the materials spot was barely two blocks from my house. So I just busted down there, and saw everything, just like, my eyes lit up! Then I went back the next day and bought all my shit. The first one was a birthday present to myself. It was something I’d wanted, something I saved for, it just took me a while to get it together, and then off I went on the first one.
What was it?
It was like a 6’4” twin fish, a keel fish. It was pretty big, but it was blocky. I wanted something that was easy to shape and a lot of foam so I could for sure surf it. It took about seven days. Something like that. I was pretty amazed. Oh, this did not take me six months! It was like, ooh, okay!
And then the second one, building things is what I like to do. So I was like, fuck, I want to make a better one. I’d see pictures of all these cool boards, and it was like, ‘I want to make a board like that! and I want to make one like that!’ So I basically just got carried away and built another one the next month. The rest is a fucking blur.
How did you get your first order?
I put an ad on Craigslist. Something like, “Custom Surfboards, $400.” I got my first order that way. The guy that got board has been my best friend ever since then. Making a board for someone else became much, much more than just making a board.
Unlike some guys who apprentice in factories along the way, sweeping up foam dust and the like, you’re essentially self-taught. Are there shapers that inspire you?
George Greenough, for sure. I don’t think you can shape in Santa Barbara without the Greenough influence. There’s just no way. He mastered our waves. You’re trying to surf the same wave, you’d better take a page out of his book, because he did it right. So definitely Greenough.
The foil of what Greg Liddle really perfected is something else. The way that he lines up a bunch of the different elements and the way that he connects them resonates with the way that I like to surf. I haven’t surfed a ton of his boards but a few of the things that he put into his are big components of my boards in terms of balance and the foil. But I’ve flipped it all backwards — the relationship of the curves — and how it translated.
What makes Greenough such a towering figure, in your view?
Anything that he touched, he changed. For me, his stuff is just such fucking spaceships. Free of any, ‘this is what a surfboard looks like.’ They just don’t have that. They’re what he wanted to make and it’s totally of his creation and they’re out there.
That along with his approach, if you want it, make it. That’s how I was raised, too. So for me, what resonates there, is like, oh, you want this kind of engine in that car? Fucking it put it in. Go for it.
The more I learn about him, the more I learn how many fucking things he built. He built all kinds of crazy shit that no one knows about. I went to one of his friend’s houses and he had like a 16- or 17-foot, it looked like a kayak, but it has a massive fucking giant, big edge bottom on it. Craziest fucking thing. And I was like, oh, what’s this thing? It’s a windsurfer. Apparently, he built it, to windsurf from fucking Leadbetter Beach out to the islands.
Like, what the fuck? Are you kidding me? That’s insane. But that’s what’s up. You get a fucking hair up your butt to go do something weird, like windsurf to the islands, then you make the appropriate craft to do that. Like, what a great pursuit. So cool. The thing is so funny-looking, I love it. I have a pictures of it, I was looking at it the other day and I was like, this thing is stupid.
You’re probably best known for your midlength designs. What do you like about those boards?
I remember watching Endless Summer 2 when I was little. And I thought I had to decide right then and there if I was a longboarder or a shortboarder. And I was like, ‘what am I?’ Am I Wingnut or am I Pat McConnell? Who do I want to be? I could never fucking decide. And thank God, because now I don’t have to. I really thought it was a black-and-white choice. And it was for a long, long time.
I don’t like longboards and I don’t like shortboards. I just like midlengths! Because in Santa Barbara, that’s the thing — there’s that big gap in the crowd between the longboards and the shortboarders. You can clean up so many good waves just right in the middle of all those guys on a midlength. You’ve got no competition.
I think you’ve maybe converted too many people.
Yeah. It’s kind of blown up. Whoops! Wait, Ryan doesn’t surf well, but he’s getting waves? What the fuck. Blew my own cover. I had it dialed for like a year.
You do a lot of cool vintage fabric inlays. Where do you find the fabrics for those boards?
There’s something about them. I just like them. Making something the way everyone else makes it, is never enough for me. I just started messing with it and I really enjoyed it and the medium. It’s a whole different challenge to take something that’s already created and figure out how it can enhance what you’re making. And there’s so many fucking cool fabrics out there that are just lost in people’s collections.
What do you think makes your boards unique?
I think that the fact that I do hand-shape them is unique. The more, I learn about my peers, the more bummed out I get. The more I realize how alone I am in my age group in doing this. Nobody. The other guys that were doing it by hand, they’ll look like they’re doing it by hand, but nobody fucking knows. It sucks, because so many people aren’t honest about what they’re doing.
Guys, when you say that nobody cares if you machine shape, I think maybe, what’s hurting your business, is maybe that? Maybe if someone is spending a thousand dollars on surfboard, they really do want you to make it. Like, that’s a lot of money. That’s no joke. I just always figure that customers actually do care and that all the shapers that tell me, oh nobody cares anymore, are just jaded and lost. I think people really fucking care.
If I was riding shortboards, I would want them machine-shaped. Like guys, the machines are an amazing tool. Super valuable. Super complex and super impressive. Tell people about how cool the technology is and how great it makes your job. Tell them about the stuff that you’re doing. Don’t just hide and be scared of the repercussions. Tell people machine shaping is awesome. Because it is. It’s fucking gnarly.
What keeps you going back to the shaping room?
That experience with [that first customer off Craigslist], like making a good friend, building a relationship around creating something, and building a surfboard, and having a surfboard be the crux of a relationship — that was really fun for me. A lot of it, was me, like when I decided to really try and do it, and keep pursuing it, was basically after the experience with him. Just saying, that added value to my life.
It’s a really cool way to get to know another human. To me, the building of a surfboard, became a lot about that. Who can I meet, what I can do? Like it’s been a crazy ride.
Trending: Dumb and Dumber haircuts sweep Australia’s Gold Coast!
Ain’t it a wonderful thing when old trends come back and all of a sudden you are in style again? Oh don’t lie to me. You live for it. You absolutely live for your puffy tongued Globes coming back and all of a sudden being belle of the ball.
Well you’ve arrived. Last night I attended a very chic party in Los Angeles for the wonderful brand Moncler. Of course A$AP Ferg performed, of course he did, and it was a star-studded event featuring Danny Fuller and that one albino model who is so hot right now. There were many very chic kids too wearing boat-like Balenciaga sneakers, basically Globes circe 2004, and one of them was even wearing a Rockstar Energy Drink albeit ironically.
Don’t be sad that you are ironic because being something is better than being nothing.
Also, the haircuts featured in the James Carrey and Jeff Daniels blockbuster Dumb and Dumber are trending hard on Australia’s Gold Coast.
You recall Dumb and Dumber and its easy laughs. It feels from a different time because it was but also because James Carrey and Jeff Daniels have become very serious actors starring in very serious films/television that I don’t care about because they are forever Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne.
Well, Mick Fanning is now officially Lloyd Christmas and Harry Bryant is officially Harry Dunne and I’ve also seen this phenomena run the gamut of Gold Coast Australian youth and also Gold Coast Australian retired elderly.
You, my friend, have arrived.
Surf Photos that Matter: Evan Valiere, Outer Reef, North Shore, Oahu!
Photographer Daniel Russo captures a perfect moment.
We live in a video clip world but I’ll tell you what, it’s still the surf photo that stirs my loins most. I don’t want to spoil the above masterpiece with too many words here but I will give you some bare bones. For context etc.
It was taken by, I think, the world’s greatest swimming photographer Daniel Russo. I don’t know that “swimming photographer” is an actual category but we don’t operate in the “actual” here. We operate in the “what should be.”
And swimming to one of Oahu’s many and scary outer reefs is… something very special. Swimming with a heavy camera wanting to pull another friend to Davey Jones’ Locker. Swimming while monstrous swell churns and boils, while surfboards shoot like rockets is… well, it is truly something very special.
Russo said of the shot, “Serious egg beating and arm extensions.”
I don’t doubt. I will also never try.
The shot itself is framed perfectly and captures the horrifying/exalting moment all surfers know so well, even if most surfers know it so well only from peering over the ledge of 3-4 foot beachbreak.
Would you mine sharing one of yours? Either a story or photo of you on the edge maybe going or maybe not?
I love that moment surfing. Absolutely love it while having no idea if the surfer in this particular masterpiece, Evan Valiere, went or not. Maybe that’s what I love most about it. I don’t ever want to know if he went or not.
But I do want to know if you went or not.
Opinion: A modest proposal regarding how to deal with our modern surfing life!
Here is what I’ve been thinking. The once-sacred act of wave-riding has been co-opted by the forces of evil, and, not to put too fine a point on it, we’re all fucked.
I don’t want to upset anybody unnecessarily so let me assure you at this early stage that I have a solution, and an ingenious one at that. But first it will be necessary to elaborate the nature of the problem.
It was Mr Ziff who drove the whole thing home to me, with his talk a few months ago at the Waterman’s Ball of “growing in popularity” and surfing’s “rightful place” and the “few grumpy locals who have to deal with some new faces in the line-up”. Grumpy doesn’t cover it. Homicidal, perhaps even suicidal, would be more like it. Nor is it true to say there are only a few of us, indeed that is the very issue at hand.
There are too many people in the world, and too many of them are surfers. That is the essence of it, and things are getting worse. There aren’t nearly enough waves to go around, and wavepools, far from easing the strain on our natural resources, are likely only to exacerbate it. Of course it is only a matter of time until the inlanders climb out of their freshwater pools and infest the ocean like so many test-tube mutants. Obviously such a trend is not sustainable. Violence will break out on a huge scale. It will be like a never-ending US Open.
Well, I have an answer. Now, euthanasia has acquired all sorts of negative associations, as I have learned in the course of my market research. None of these unpleasant associations are warranted, but such is the way with these things. The very word makes people wince and shudder; they are physically and morally repulsed.
Clearly the word is in need of a rebrand. Well, it is our firm intention to put the “yeeeew!” back into euthanasia. In so doing, we hope not only to reduce numbers in line-ups across the world, but to restore dignity and meaning to the lives and deaths of our customers. Our motives are above all utilitarian; total worldwide stoke levels will experience a sharp spike.
By “we”, I refer to the small team of staff that makes up What Euthanasia™, an innovative new company that specialises in creative solutions to demographic challenges. We also produce our own content, which we distribute both through our social channels and in a quarterly print-magazine-cum-coffee-table book.
Those who missed most of secondary school to focus on their prospects in the pro juniors may be wondering what Euthanasia actually is. It is not, in fact, a remote tropical archipelago in the Pacific – although in a sense it might as well be. Some people define it as assisted suicide, which I will grant does not sound like much fun. Jet-ski-assisted suicide, on the other hand? A great big Code Red stand-up barrel of laughs!
We are currently in talks to secure semi-exclusive rights to a prime surfing location in the Pacific Ocean, where potentially fatal conditions of 8ft and over are a regular occurrence. (The spot in question is situated in international waters, meaning there are no legal barriers.) Swells emerge out of deep water onto an extremely shallow reef, the inside section of which is known colloquially as “The Mortician’s Table”. No doubt you have heard coral reef described as “razor sharp” before; our reef has been embedded with actual razor blades in order to inflict maximum damage.
As for the wave, it is perfection itself – a huge barrel, almost as wide as it is tall, grinding down the reef for a hundred yards. The view inside is to die for.
One of the many things that set What Euthanasia™ apart from its competitors is that we cater for all abilities of surfer. Our experienced jet-ski drivers will save you the hassle of making the beyond-vertical drop, ensuring you are safely on your feet before whipping you several yards too deep into what we guarantee will be the wave of your life, and indeed death.
Friends and family are encouraged to join in the chorus of “yeeeew!”s from the channel, before donning floral leis and convening in a circle beyond the breaking waves for the customary commemorative service. Various package deals are available, about which more details to follow soon.