karim braire
For Karim Braire, surfing Nazare is as easy as a child sliding down a bannister.

From the real-life-miracle department: This French surfer paddle-surfed forty-foot Nazare during WSL big-wave contest!

Born in the ghetto, learned to swim and surf at 18, six-figure contract with Quiksilver, best-selling author and, soon, movie star?

Nazaré, Portugal, last Sunday. Biblical crowd lining the cliffs, several dozen adoring online fans watching the live FB broadcast. The WSL, responding to a boisterous forecast that promised a very good chance of the very biggest waves ever ridden in the world, ever, broadcast the tow-surfing sessions.

The commentary featured a variety of big wave legends in the booth between go outs, most notably Makuakai Rothman and Garrett McNamara, who were actually very good value, didn’t you think?

Alas, Huey had to go and fuck us all over.

“Biggest hoax in surfing history,” said one disgruntled spectator.

He had a point. The swell was way too west to do the nuclear teepee thing, and thus, about the half the size. Nevertheless, some of the gnarliest shred-lords in the universe were on the rope and giving it a good crack.

Dylan Longbottom took a 50-footer on the head and eventually got picked up a mere few metres from the cliffs. Justine Dupont snagged some bombs. Lucas Chianca, Kai Lenny, Sebastian Steudtner, Mikey Brennan, Rodrigo Koxa, Carlos Burle, G-Mac, Makua, Pete Mel, Andrew Cotton were all in the mix at various points. Ooohs and Aaaaahs from cliff, with occasional fodasse caralhos (fucking hell!)

About lunchtime, a lone, bald paddler appeared stroking his way in towards the first peak from around the point.

“Who dat guy?” said G-Mac.

“Wooaah,” said Makua. “Paddling?”

“What he riding?” wondered G-Mac. “Look like a 9’6” or something.”

Turns out, in a sea of jet exhaust, one brave Frenchman decided it was in fact more much more of a paddle day. He went for one, kinda got sucked over, tried to duckdive(!) some whitewaters before ending up on the sand. The camera duly zoomed in on our new hero on the beach, blowing a bit but defiant, a five-year-old Paris St Germain football jersey over the top of a Decathlon wetsuit.

(Go to 1.34:09 on the live stream)

“That’s so irresponsible,” said someone holding a walkie talkie (which, btw in French, is talkie walkie).

“He’s jeopardising the safety protocol,” grumbled another.

“He doesn’t even have his own ski.”

“He’s not even on the right equipment.’. Etc, etc.

Someone else, who wasn’t part of the big wave safety scene, perhaps summed it up better.

“If that cunt doesn’t get a root tonight….”

Turns out our man is Karim Braire, who appeared on TF1’s (France’s national broadcaster) prime time 7 à 8 show last year with an incredible backstory.

The v.o. went something like:

“He grew up in the ghettos of Orléans. At 18, unable to swim and hundreds of km’s from the ocean, he chanced upon a surf magazine and decided to become a surfer. He signed a six-figure contract with Quiksilver, and now he’s one of the best surfers in the world.”

With such a compelling rags-to-rad story, the media appearances kept on coming. Several other TV channels in France gave him airtime. His biography, ‘Zarma Sunset’ received rave reviews and got optioned for a film by top French actor/producer Dany Boon.

That’s when the trouble started.

Turns out, rather than use footage of himself surfing for the TV shows, Karim had used clips of Justine Dupont surfing instead.

“A guy using shots of a girl to show ‘his exploits’, that’s a first!” said Justine on Twitter.

“Never seen a trace of a Quiksilver contract in his name,” said Quik’s Miky Picon via a French surf website.

“I’m tripping. Massive liar… can’t believe the media don’t check their sources,” said Benjamin Sanchis, the noted French surfer.

But with the French pro surf scene writhing in condemnation, was Karim put off?

Apparently not.

He stuck to surfing, training, waiting for the biggest tow day forecast in surfing history to relaunch himself into the spotlight, undergunned and underjetski’d.

Having made the long walk back up the cliffs to the fort, Karim was understandably keen for a bit of live webcast time. If you watch back the stream, you can see him dying to get in on an interview roaming reporter Shannon Reporting (no relation to Hanalei Reponty) was doing with an Irish fireman.

(Around 2.00:51)

The interview wasn’t forthcoming. “It’s too small today, much too small for tow,” he told me. “I paddle.”

Is Karim Braire the most fascinating surfer alive today? I couldn’t help but think so.

Because as the old cliché goes, there’s plenty of arguing with the guy in the tube.

But there’s no arguing with the guy calling the entire big-wave fraternity pussies by paddling big Naz in a hundred dollar Decathlon wetsuit (booties €12.99).

Bold claim: Kelly Slater tells Esquire he dunked phone at Surf Ranch, didn’t get another for weeks!

But is it true? Let's fact check the king!

It is Thanksgiving in America and I am Thankful for Kelly Slater. Someday he will disappear, leaving us only with memories of flat earth debates, OuterKnown, spotlight stealing head fake retirement announcements, Surf Ranch, 11 x world championships etc. but today is not that day and so let us gather around the family table and enjoy another fable from the greatest to ever slither into a rash guard.

Kelly chatted with Esquire magazine recently and ostensibly about technology. It is not an interesting conversation (he likes Candy Crush, he liked when Surfline was an 800 number read here!) but he does reveal something I find extremely doubtful. Let’s just get right into it.

It’s a Sunday afternoon in November, and downtime seems to be the order of the day. It has been for awhile now. A May 2018 incident on his personal wave machine left him phoneless for a couple weeks (call it an occupational hazard), forcing Slater to disconnect and appreciate the moments when acquaintances, brands, and obnoxious journalists aren’t blowing up his cell to chat.

“I was doing a live thing from a jet-ski and I dropped it in the water,” he laughs. “They found it like three weeks ago. It was kind of nice. You stop thinking about it, you know?”

Slater talked to Esquire.com (from a new phone) about how technology has changed his industry, his guilty pleasure app, and where the world’s best surfer goes for the world’s best waves.

Ok. Do you believe that Kelly Slater went without a phone for a couple weeks sometime in May and probably extending into June? Do you really believe in your heart of hearts that he “unplugged” as it were?  Let’s go look at Instagram!

May 2 (a post of Kelly Slater in a pool from old issue of Surfing)

May 13 (a loving post from Kelly to his mother for Mother’s Day)

May 20 (a well composed post of Kelly saluting an airplane at Surf Ranch)

May 22 (a video of Kelly giving away sessions at Surf Ranch)

May 27 (a post featuring Ramon Navarro on a bomb in Fiji)

May 30 (a repost of the AI movie trailer)

June 2 (a video of Italo Ferreira spinning)

June 9 (a post of Kelly’s x-rayed feet)

June 16 (Happy International Surfing day post)

June 17 (Kelly wishes himself a happy Father’s Day)

June 22 (a beautiful sunset post from the North Shore)


I ain’t seeing a lot of 2 -3 week gaps here but maybe he was referring to a metaphorical 2 -3 weeks? A gorgeous 2 -3 weeks of the soul (that go for 24 hours or something)?

We could all learn from Kelly, anyhow, especially the Americans here who will likely be amongst family and especially today. Tell everyone you are taking a break from technology while getting much praise then sneak into the bathroom lots to chat with your buddies at BeachGrit.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Allegation: The World Surf League’s Executive Vice President of Tours and Events confuses major feminist movements!

#MeToo vs. #TimesUp!

I have been writing about surf for two decades now and today, two decades in, today, I read the funniest thing yet.

Something that has seriously kept tittering all day long. Tittering in the morning while drinking my coffee. Tittering in the afternoon while drinking beer at Chuck E. Cheese’s. Tittering right now in front of my computer and you while drinking Svedka and lemonade.

It is one of those church titters, though, the sort that sprouts out of boredom maybe and shouldn’t be shared, probably shouldn’t be shared, because it is impossible to explain and it loses all charm but I’ve never been one for decorum so here goes!

Yesterday, I read a story on the edgy sport website Deadspin about how the World Surf League CEO Sophie Goldschmidt referred to offering equal pay at the Mavericks event as “an abuse of the #metoo movement” and couldn’t believe she actually said it, especially while her Executive Vice President of Tours and Events Mr. Graham “Taste-my-Palm” Stapelberg was in the room.

I wrote it up, anyhow, casting dubious aspersions, then one of the principals in the room, a brave and gorgeous soul, emailed me:

Yes, that actually happened. After Sophie said it we looked at each other, we were both thinking the same thing, does she mean #timesup?!! I actually think Graham Stapelberg may have coached her to say it. We did not take the bait. We ignored the remark and told her we wanted equal pay.

And I’m dying!

Not dying about the substance, which is serious and real, but dying about Graham Stapelberg, the World Surf League Executive Vice President of Tours and Events, allegedly fucking up #metoo and #timesup then forcing the British ex-professional tennis executive and current World Surf League CEO Sophie Goldschmidt to fuck it up which then carried into the public record via Deadspin.

By way of explanation, #metoo refers to sexual harassment and/or assault. #timesup refers to inequality in the workplace which includes sexual harassment and/or assault but implicitly as it relates to the workplace.

The fact that Graham Stapelberg is weighing in on these matters, though, absolutely kills me. Will he #MetToo Eddie Rothman while trying to deny women equal rights/access/pay at big waves?

Also, how in the world did Sophie not know better? What in the World Surf League was she thinking?

I’m gonna keep hammering on this damned thing and get to the bottom of it all, even if it is just church titters, because…. hahahahahaha!

Rumour: Texas Wavegarden to close until 2020!

Staff layoffs? Remodelling of superseded wave tank?

Who would’ve thought that, one day, Bible-raising, silver-crucifix-hanging-on-the-review-mirror-with-machine- guns-in-the-trunk Texas, would be giving surfers honeymoon dick?

Little ol’ BSR Cablepark in Waco stood the world upside down this year when its Hawaiian magician Cheyne Magnusson turned an unremarkable wavepool technology into something capable of creating the world’s best section for airs.

And then came the brain-eaters.

One hundred miles south of Waco is Austin, home to America’s first commercial wavepool, NLand Surf Park, which opened two years ago. Its owner, Doug Coors, paid for the exclusive rights to Wavegarden in Texas, pushing BSR into the arms of American Wave Machines.

And, oowee, how did…that…work out?

Anyway, according to rumours swinging around the Central Texas Surf Club Facebook page, “insiders at both parks” say NLand will be closed for all of 2019, with a new-look opening in 2020.

The money is on this theory: NLand was losing steam to BSR and the investors made the call to invest in new technology, either remodelling the old design into the newer, more American Wave Machine-ish Cove or overhauling the original machine to “make it more compelling.”

I hit up the club to ask ’em if the brain-eaters scared hell out of ’em?

One nice man replied: “We all love BSR. Nothing stopping any of us from surfing it again. Especially knowing how much Stuart (Parsons) is investing in the new filtration. To be honest, he was very on top of ensuring water quality control even before so we never second guessed it. I actually cracked my head during one session so figure if the amoeba didn’t take the invite then it prob won’t ever.

“Seriously though, we’re all transplant surfers from all over the world and we have all come to grips with the fact that we have all surfed, and continue to surf breaks that would never be considered truly clean and safe. I moved here a few years ago and surfed during and after storms in Orange County and always got sick. I have seen some really scary stuff float out of the river jetties…”

Meanwhile, giant plungers are set to take over the world! 

(But not Switzerland. They’re going Wavegarden Cove.)

Swiss wave pool!

From the selfishness-is-a-virtue Dept: Get a brand new custom Pyzel Ghost while helping fire victims!

The last win-win on earth!

It is the giving season, the most wonderful time of the year, when friends help friends and friends help strangers and… ohh who am I kidding? It is a vicious time, a terrible time where Ayn Rand’s ethos reigns supreme. Gimme gimme gimme and have you ever read The Fountainhead? What about The Virtue of Selfishness? Are you a fan? Did you name your son Howard Roark? Do you wear Roark Revival on principle?

None of it matters. The human race is all but lost, thanks to Rand Paul and his damned Atlas Shrugged but would you like to win a brand new custom Jon Pyzel surfboard while helping victims of the California wildfires at the same exact time? It is maybe the last win-win left on earth. An almost extinct combination of altruism and egoism and let’s read about it (AND ENTER HERE)!

The recent California fires have devastated communities and left thousands without homes. The tragedy is too large to know where to begin but the stories of people helping one another are inspirational. It’s hard to know how to help when so much help is needed. The best way we know how is raise some money by auctioning off a custom surfboard and donate it to the Red Cross. The Red Cross are always on the front lines of every disaster and we would like to help their efforts in providing shelter for those who have nowhere to go. You can also donate directly on their website https://www.redcross.org/

The winner of the raffle can select a model from our ghost collection, either custom made for the winner or from our retail stock in time for Christmas. The models in the collection include our best selling board, the Ghost for bigger waves, the Phantom for smaller ones or the Gremlin for mushy days. Go to Pyzelsurfboards.com for more information on boards. This prize includes shipping to any US address. If you live outside the US you can still enter but you will be responsible for all shipping costs.

Australia? Did you catch that last line? You can be selfish too! JP up there in Scotland? A Ghost under your Christmas tree! It is the board that changed Longtom’s life wherein he exclaimed:

If you have a shred of decency, self-respect and pride in your skill set, then the Ghost is worth the effort to figure out. You can do the best surfing in your life on it. Big call, but true. If you’ve given up or were never there then walk on by. This board has nothing for you, and that’s no judgement on your worth as a human being.

(read here).