I did pick a bad week to stop sniffing glue!
I did pick a bad week to stop sniffing glue!

From the fly-the-friendly-skies department: United Airlines is the best!

Free surfboard travel to and from California!

Five days ago I woke up grouchy, half-read that United Airlines was waiving surfboard baggage fees for surfers coming to California, in celebration of surfing becoming California’s official state sport, and popped off half-cocked. Something about it being an abomination, flying surfers to California from elsewhere to steal all our waves.

Something dumb.

Well, if you can believe that in my grumpy fog, I both mis-read and misunderstood the announcement. In fact, all surfboard baggage fees either going to or originating from California are waved. A glorious gift!

Now, when the United Airlines representative read and reached out do you think he was chuckling and gentle or gruff and threatening?


I’ll tell you… chuckling and gentle!

Derek & Chas,

I admit I your story on United waiving the surfboard excess-baggage fee in California made me laugh. Funny. However, there is a slight correction to it. The surfboard excess-baggage fee is being waived for itineraries that start AND end in California. In other words, if you’re going from LA to Honolulu, your board fees would be waived. So it’s not just bringing the “hordes” of surfers to California that might happen, but “hordes” of Californians could be surfing elsewhere.

Oh United, never before has an airline spokesman been so kind. In honor, I am naming you The Official Airline of Chas Smith’s Rotten Attitude.


Thom Browne wetsuit
Bring Thom Browne in to style the pretend blubber suits. He good! Here, his $3900 creation from last year.

From-the-lab: MIT Scientists use “artificial blubber” to create wetsuits twice as warm and half as thick!

Get your suit juiced! The ultimate after-market accessory!

The good news: Our wetsuits are about to take a big leap forward.

The bad: The same 14-year old sass-mouths typically seen only in summer will soon be spraying you in the once-empty dead-of-winter lineup.

Sub-50 degree water sheds the weak like fire does dross off metal. But even with the hooded 5/4, heads ache and calves cramp after not too long. Am I warm or am I numb?

But researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have been spending countless lab hours thinking about how to warm our bodies as we play in the cold.

The United States Department of Defence by way of the Navy Seals approached MIT researchers Michael Strano and Jacopo Boungiorno about producing a wetsuit that would allow the frogmen more time and warmth as they quietly rescue and kill things in frigid waters.

And they did it.

The wetsuits we wear are made from thin layers of a synthetic rubber compound structured with tiny pockets, or pores, of air. The purpose of the air-filled pores is to reduce loss of heat as it travels from the body. Thermal conductivity through air has been the working principle of wetsuits before Jack O’Neill and now we’re all bored of the science lesson.

So, what’s new about Strano and Buongiorno’s work with wetsuits?

The two have figured out a way to replace the air inside neoprene with the heavy inert gases Xenon and Krypton. A normal off-the-hanger wetsuit (or even the ripe one out of your trunk) is put in a keg-sized “autoclave”where air in the suit is replaced by the heavier gas, which is two-to-three times as slow to conduct heat. The whole process takes about twenty hours. When asked about possible damage or decrease to a suit’s longevity or flexibility, Strano says, “For all practical purposes (except thermal) the wetsuit feels the same.” However, he also stated that the gas diffuses out of the wetsuit within a couple of days, so the suit needs to be “recharged” before a second session.

Their process has two practical benefits: First, the wearer of the suit can stay warmer for twice as long. It also means that suits injected with these gases could technically be half as thick.

Strano and Boungiorno have applied for a patent and are currently in talks with several unnamed wetsuit companies. Taking the long view, it’s a trade: they’ll be rich, but we’ll be warm.

Right now, the MIT boys are juicing up my three-mil Billabong and six-mil Hyperflex then vacuum sealing them for use in January.

It’s quite a magic show, and I’m wondering how soon we’ll start tripping over these little machines on the floor of every surf shop outside of the tropics.

"Surfing is a prison!" "Yeah! On planet bullshit!" Two surfers converse.

Opinion: “Surfing is a prison! On planet bullshit!”

A reader explains the difference between a "surfer" and "someone who surfs…"

“One of the great things I love about being in the water with the tribe that’s out there is that we leave our egos on the beach, you leave everything on the shore, because it’s there when you get back. The ocean is a great equaliser. I think it’s made me a better executive of the organisation. It’s made me a better family man at home. Since I’ve discovered paddling my life’s never been fuller. My life’s in balance now. Live. Your. Passion.”

Such are the ruminations of the incoming media and content director for the WSL, Erik Logan. But compare his words to your experience with surfing, and what it means to you. Because if you’re anything like me, a lifelong surfer mired in mediocrity, surfing is, mostly, negative.

Wasted time, money and resources.

That’s the difference between a surfer, and somebody who surfs. Somebody who surfs uses the sport as a bow in their quiver of a well-balanced life. A surfer will eschew any semblance of balance in the chase of an unattainable goal.

It’s lies to yourself. You’re still a good person for following this selfish pursuit, you say. You’re doing it because it makes you a better person in the long run. At least you’re not a roaring alcoholic or a 72-hour-week career hedonist.

But you know it’s not true.

All it does is hold a mirror back up to your own selfishness.

We lord it over others when we’re in the lineup. Surfing is all about ego. Exaggerated avatars are activated as soon as we slide on a leash. Mild-mannered paper pushers on land are transformed into roaring balls of testosterone in the water. Spindly-limbed junkies run their dowried lineups like mad dictators. Retirees on surf mats will straight up try and drown a woman all because of a tribal breach.

It’s smoking snow cones with a methamphetamine-riddled local named Rocket at three am on a Thursday morning so that he’ll let you sit on surge with him on the next big south swell, while you’re wife and newborn child lie alone at home wondering when they’re ever going to see Daddy again.

Being a surfer is to fall into the abyss of solipsism.

It’s smoking snow cones with a methamphetamine-riddled local named Rocket at three am on a Thursday morning so that he’ll let you sit on surge with him on the next big south swell, while your wife and newborn child lie alone at home wondering when they’re ever going to see Daddy again.

Give it anything less than that and you’re just another blow-in. A dilettante.

That’s the difference between a surfer and somebody who surfs. A surfer will tear down everything they love for a Sisyphean pursuit.

It’s what the WSL needs to realise they have inherited.

And it’s what we need to accept.

But hey, maybe we’ve got it wrong. Maybe we need to be more like Loges?

Live.Your.Passion. Here.

Here's a hypothetical: you can only surf one wave for the rest of your life. What's it going to be? Maybe a little slice of France? No! Too damn cold! | Photo: @surflodge_seignosse

Quiz: If you had to surf…one…wave for the rest of your life…

…what would it be? It's a hypothetical that will tie you into knots!

As Bill Cosby said, perhaps while boiling a Quaalude broth, kids say the darnedest things. And ol’ fuck-everything Bill was right.

This morning, on a school run, one kid fiddling on the True Surf game, the other busy studying the lyrics to Eminem’s Killshot (“If I was three foot 11, you’d look up to me, and for the record, you would suck a dick to fuckin’ be me for a second, lick a ballsack to get on my channel…”), the gamer looked and me and asked:

“Dad, if you had to surf one wave for the rest of your life, what would it be?”

I’ve been mentally playing with a move to Hossegor, lately: cheaper than Bondi, a few less bankers throwing their SUPs around and all those photos from around the Quiksilver Pro haven’t hurt the dream.

I tell him, “Hossegor.”

“But what about winter?”

He got me.

Winter anywhere in France except the Alps sucks. The water halves in temperature. Big fronts hit the coast and it rains and blows without respite. In Hossegor, you hibernate in houses built for summer and ruin your teeth with red wine; your abdominal apron with cheese.

“So it’s gotta be tropical,” I say.

“Not necessarily,” he says. “Temperate works.”

Smart kid.

I tell him D-Bah. It ain’t my favourite wave in the world but it’s consistent, the water never gets cold and if life ain’t going the way I want it, I can always buy a package of ice and dream it away.

One wave for the rest of my life?

I move to D-Bah.

Where you gonna go?


Poll: How many photographs of yourself surfing do you have?

Please circle one in the comments below.

I’m just gonna keep riffing here because it’s Thursday and Thursday is for lovers. But real quick, how many photos of yourself surfing do you have? I’m talking in any form. Printed photo, digital photo, that digital frame that used to be available for purchase that would scroll through digital photos, magazine layouts, magazine posters, just regular posters, etc.

Please circle one in the comments below:







Now, of course this question comes up due the World Surf League President of Content, Media and WSL Studios’ elect’s prodigious Instagram feed featuring 51++++ of him SUPing both with and without paddle which makes me laugh heartily. But maybe I shouldn’t be laughing. Maybe I should be taking notes and/or having someone take photos because I have 3 shots of myself surfing and have to use the same ones every time I post a story that somehow relates to me surfing which is thankfully not often.

Should I have more?

How many do you have?