chas smith
Chas Smith, on an earlier adventure to Yemen. "The Middle East used to be my rising and setting sun. Now it is only part of my past with surf replacing."

Announcement: Chas Smith has fled to the Middle East!

Where do dreams go when they die?

Well son of a bitch if I ain’t very boozed with two Americanos thrown on top in order to throw the Islamist boarding agents off my tail.

Yes, I’m headed back to the Middle East and it has been far far far too long. Very far too long but it feels like yesterday that I was doing this same exact dance.

I can’t tell you why I’m going, not to be needlessly secretive, only that I am and only to apologize.

The Middle East used to be my rising and setting sun. Now it is only part of my past with surf replacing.

But do any youthful passions ever actually get replaced? Where do dreams go when they die?

I don’t know.

If I did I’d be in that dream graveyard sleeping the dreamiest sleep. Feeling accomplished instead of failed. Living the unencumbered life exactly like Garrett McNamera or Erik Logan.

Well, c’est la vie as they say.

We are surf journalists now and proud but the past, rearing its head, can’t be ignored and that’s why I apologize to you because maybe it should be ignored. Probably it should be ignored but I ain’t nor will I ever.

Middle East über alles though I will catch you on the flipside, hundreds of thousands of miles from anyone who cares.

So long and God bless. Viva the youthful passions.

(Editor’s note: Chas will be writing when he can from Cairo and surrounds where he has been called on urgent personal business. Hopefully, all will, or can, be revealed in a week or so.)

From the wsl’s-mind-games department: John John Florence and Kelly Slater now “currently in draw” to surf Pipe Masters!

See if you can find the trivial but fateful detail!

As the afternoon ripens into evening, let’s unbutton our pinafores, pour a cherry cola and play a game. If you’re west of the date line it’s almost the weekend; east, it’s Thursday and everyone loves Thursday. Live a little.

Examine this photo and accompanying words from two days ago.

And, now, today.

The difference is subtle but significant, yes?

Did you guess the trivial but fateful detail?

Two days ago, the surf media, of which we are proud to belong, dutifully aggregated a World Surf League story that promised John John Florence, Kelly Slater and Caio Ibelli’s return to competition at the Pipeline Masters this December.

Today they’re “currently in the draw” for the Pipeline Masters.

I would suggest that one of the three made a telephone call or sent an email reeking of sap to the WSL, putting the company on notice that they may, or may not, surf the event, depending upon various things, motivation etc, and that the WSL had no right to presume their attendance.

Who made the call to the WSL you think?




From the Gavin-Belson-Signature-Box Department: Let’s Google “World Surf League” and see what we find!

An SEO surprise!

Imagine, for one moment, you are an adult-learner who just heard from Dan in accounting that there is this thing called the “World Surf League.” Dan saw you coming to work, yesterday, and you still had your Surftech Spade Fusion (7’2) strapped to the roof of your Subaru Outback.

“You surf?” Dan asked.

“Can’t get enough of it.” You responded.

“Did you catch the WSL’s last Instagram post? He continued.

“WSL?” You queried.

“World Surf League” He said before heading into the break room.

At your desk you pondered this “World Surf League” before Googling in order to discover more. Scanning the top three results you saw:

Revealed: The World Surf League unveils its vision of the perfect wave!

Meet: The World Surf League’s new President of Content, Media and WSL Studios!

Announced: The World Surf League declares war on people who surf!

Do you think the World Surf League is thrilled by this little scenario or is Bob from Search Engine Optimization getting fired right at this very moment?

Revealed: “When you fall at Sunset it’s worse than Pipeline!”

"Sunset gets a hold of you in a half-nelson then keeps you down for the longest time and then there is always seven waves behind it."

Yesterday, after being notified via an Instagram friend that the HIC un-culled Pro at Sunset Beach was running, I stopped my work and tuned directly in. As per my previous point, the World Surf League does an absolutely terrible job marketing the Triple Crown. I swore, for example, that yesterday’s event was part of it. I thought in the confusion of dropping Pipeline then reinstating Pipeline that the Triple Crown must have been shuffled, kicking off in Sunset instead of Haleiwa.

Of course I was wrong but there I sat watching, marveling at Sunset. It looks like a big wave that you or I could conquer, no? A throaty drop but then long, non-intimidating wall that ejects into the safety of a wide channel. Sunset looks like the big wave for the rest of us but that’s where we’re all wrong.

The place is a nasty kick in the pants, or so I’ve been told. Michael Tomson, one of my very favorite all-time surfers (read more about him in the hit Cocaine + Surfing!) opened my eyes to the terrors. The strong-jaw’d South African is no shrinking violet and made a name for himself fearlessly charging both Pipeline and Sunset during those late 1970s winters. He told me, one sun-dappled afternoon:

I don’t even want to ride Sunset anymore, you know what I mean? It’s just too fucking heavy. The older you get you realize… I’ve nearly died at Sunset twice. At 50 and 52. And this one time I was out there and this set popped up and I said, “Fuck it. I’m gonna go.” And there it was, life on the table, got pounded, held down, thought I was dying right? Next thing is I’m being pulled up on a board. I couldn’t focus on anything, had to go to the hospital. So I had another one like that at Sunset and I have become so careful now because when you fall there it is worse than Pipeline. Pipeline is violent but short. Sunset gets a hold of you in a half-nelson then keeps you down for the longest time and then there is always seven waves behind it. I get cold thinking about some of the wipeouts I’ve had there.

Does it give you pause? It should.

Back to yesterday, though, Kiron Jabour beat O’Neill Massin, Beyrick De Vries and Slade Prestwich in the final.

Has there ever been a final in any sport ever with better names? I defy you to find and maybe we should hold off on the cull? I’d like to see where this O’Neill is headed. Beyrick and Slade too. It’s like a lost Game of Thrones village!

In defense of Kelly Slater: Golf is not a fun game nor is it a funny game!


How glorious was it, yesterday, to see Dane Reynolds for the first time in forever? There he sat, chatting, self-aware, like he had never left. Sure sure a couple of inches wider but he wears it well. He wears dad well. And it was enjoyable to hear him crankily list off the things he hates like a true dad.

I was hanging on every single word, anyhow, and agreed with most of his positions except veered sharply when he mentioned golf. Oh I have no love for that game. I don’t watch it on television nor have I ever played a proper 18-holes and… well let’s just go though Dane’s statement:

Dane Reynolds: I hate golf for many reasons but I’ll tell you a story about the last time I ever played golf was in Tahiti with Kelly Slater and we were, like, drinking beer and kinda having fun and then he yelled at us and told us to quit fucking around and then I swore off golf from then on.

Perfection. A perfect story top to bottom and a perfect summation. My only issue, which isn’t really an issue but… well… I worry that Kelly Slater comes off as the bad guy here, as the cranky killjoy but have you ever been out surfing, a good day maybe with fun peaks etc. when a whole pack of drunk low-30-somethings celebrating a birthday or, worse, a bachelor party, paddles out loudly whooping it up, laughing, having lots of fun?

It is the worst thing ever. Of course surfing is supposed to be fun, it’s only supposed to be fun, in fact, but too much obnoxious fun wrecks it for everyone. I’d imagine that Kelly Slater, there on the greens or fairways or whatever, looked at Dane and his friends drinking beer and kinda having fun through the lens of bachelors having a bachelor party.

In this context, don’t you side with Kelly Slater? Don’t you understand his crotchety yell?

I sure do.