Examine: A surfboard for the stubbornly intermediate surfer who can (very) occasionally go backwards!

A high-ish performance surfboard for the working man…

I am a husky, wrinkled old-timer with a harem of surfboards. Stubbornly intermediate is my level and most days I leave the surf emitting ughs of disgust at my performance.

Do you know the feels?

You’re…almost…there.

In the right conditions, on the right board, you’ll hit a lip, throw fins, maybe there’s an end-section foam climb to almost revert in there or an on-the-face reverse that takes four seconds and a frenzy of duck-paddling to ride out of.

On a bad day, you’re getting hung up in the lip, driving too far out on the face, avoiding sections and traversing set waves with your feet unable to  get anywhere near the levers.

So I’m always looking for boards that forgive but don’t shut the door when you hit a little form.

Four years ago, I bought a custom Lost Puddle Jumper, right when they first came out (the harem, as we can all appreciate, is never quite complete). It was five-six, still with all its insane width, twenty-one inches…insane… but thinned out to hell, two-and-a-quarter inches in the middle, two-and-an-eighth on the rail.

For all the limitations of its width, it was a revelation of sorts.

Y’see, the general rule of the quasi-fish, hybrid, fun board (more ughs) is you squash the length down, stretch it out the middle and give it the rocker of an ironing board.

Anyone can ride ’em.

They’re stable to paddle and they don’t have to be surfed in the pocket. You can traverse an entire wave five yards from where the action is and make deep-water sections with nothing but a smug look on your face.

But piloting an easy-to-drive SUV down a freeway ain’t ever going compete with the satisfaction of pushing a Formula One around a difficult track.

The Puddle Jumper was different. It had the fat outline but it was married to performance rocker and bottom curve. The shaper, Californian Matt Biolos, had wanted to create what he called a “return to surfing” board after a knee injury had him landlocked for three months.

“I needed width as well as floatation,” says Biolos, “But I still wanted to turn.”

An easy-to-ride board that got its stable platform from the wide outline.

Like all boards, if you take something, in this case stability through width, you gotta lose something. Which meant the thing will give a little of that hi-fi feel but on the stable platform of the (again, ugh, ugh, ugh) fun board.

In a technical sense, “the centreline ( stringer ) rocker is pretty flat, we just fooled the curve by creating a hyper extended rail rocker, which counters the low, flat, over all rocker and allows much tighter arcs, when rolling over onto the rail,” says Biolos. “When simply trimming or pumping , it feels like a typical, down-the-line, fish or Simmons-esque plank. But on a rail, it really comes to life.”

A year after I got that thinned-out custom, I was in Bali with Biolos and we got into the CAD program AkuShaper. I wanted a pulled-in version of the Puddle Jumper. Less nose, less tail and I wanted to lose a few pounds off the girth (board and owner).

“That was the early adjustments leading to the Puddle Jumper High Performance,” says Biolos. “Reduce the nose area in the forward third and pull in the tail block in the last few inches.”

Lately, I’ve been on a PJ-HP and the diff between the original and the HP is marked. It ain’t gonna baby you quite so much but it ain’t gonna buck you off either. For the stubbornly intermediate surfer who might go backwards even ten surfs or land one air in every twenty, and who is missing a few too many sections on the original, it’s a pleasing improvement.

“The entry is flat enough that all but the most rudimentary of surfers can still get it up and going immediately, although it’s much quicker. The pulled-in nose reduces swing weight and gives the feeling of a set back wide point,” says Biolos. “Combined with the pulled-in tail block, it creates the hip effect between and under the rear foot. This allows aggressive small-wave wraps while still maintaining drive, without any shuffling of the feet.”

I’m 175, five-eleven (six-one in heels) and the five-seven, all thirty-one litres of it, treated me pretty good. I blew a fin box (board came with those damn fragile FCS II things) soon after it landed but it’ll be, upon repair, the board I loose in everything up to four feet.

To be transparent, I wanted this thing when it came out and promised this review in exchange for the free board.

If you’re better than intermediate, you’ll dig the speed but may find the limitations of the width and rocker in anything other than two-foot waves frustrating.

For me, and for you, I’m guessing, it’s a peach.

Buy, examine, the PJ-HP here. 


Revealed: Matt Wilkinson rains hell on unsuspecting cows!

And what other professional surfers did for Christmas!

What a wonderful day Christmas was filled to overflowing with cheer. I hope you had as much fun as I did with the presents and the unicorn poo slime and the snowboarding and the bourbon with very good friends. It was one for the record books but part of me wonders if former World Surf League Championship Tour competitor Matt Wilkinson didn’t have even more fun.

Instagram revealed he spent the day hitting golf balls at defenseless cows.

I’m certain that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) would be furious about that Christmas Day activity and still might picket the Rip Curl stores spread across the United States’ many outlet malls but I imagine the cows enjoyed it. It takes a giant spike driven into their skulls at maximum velocity to turn them into meat. Golf balls from Matt Wilkinson’s club must have felt like a gentle pressure-point massage.

His day did make me wonder how other professional surfers spent theirs.

A quick perusal of the top 20+ revealed that most don’t post Christmas greetings. The ones who do are flanked by loved ones…

…except Italo Ferriera and look at him here.

Italo might have even had more fun than Matt Wilkinson cruising for babes on his brand-new dirt bike. Getting in and out of trouble. Doing donuts in the parking lot. Slamming some Sunny-D and doing it all again.

I shall start calling him The Dirt Bike Kid and I recommend you call him that too. Italo “The Dirt Bike Kid” Ferriera.

It has a ring no?


Holiday Repeat: Bruce Irons’ Fantastic LAX-LAX Round-trip!

"Those stories seem outrageous don't they? I wouldn't believe it if someone told me."

In August, the Australian Josh Kerr won the Four Seasons invitational contest in the Maldives, an event that tests the savvy of surfers on singles, twins and three-packs.

Also in the event, and in order of placing, were Alejo Muniz, Fred Pattachia, CJ Hobgood and local wildcard Abdulla ‘Fuku’ Areef.

A sixth competitor, Bruce Irons, was a notable absentee.

Shortly after his non-appearance, I spoke to Bruce, who is thirty-eight years old and living in Salt Creek in southern Orange County, about the chain of events that led to his withdrawal from the event.

Well, first, hoo-ee, it’s been three years since I spoke to Bruce, since he told me he was jumping back on the qualifying series, so there’s a little bit of catch-up.

I tell him I’m the now the biz partner of a best-selling author (buy Coke and Surf here, free worldwide delivery); Bruce says he’s had two months out of the water, all of June and July,  after laser eye surgery. A pterygium made it feel like “someone had spit in my eye. Last winter, I’d drop in late, pull up and all of a sudden lose my balance. I looked like a fucking kook. I spent thirty years not realising it. It was like looking through a glass bottle. Towards the end it was really bad, like, does she have fuzzy skin? Do you have…scales?”

As for missing the Maldives, well, that’s a three-pronged story.

First, Bruce was psyched to go.

“I wanted to go and fucking wax Freddy P. We had a vendetta. In our last little matchup in Bali I smoked his ass. We were staying together. He got second and I won. I knew he’d be coming with his A-game. As for Kerr, I knew he was going to win. I saw him surf that single fin in that Rusty vid, doing airs, and alright, well, yep, he has his shit down. So… I was bummed. Fuck.”

The last time Bruce was in the Maldives was with old pals Chris Ward and Shane Beschen.

“Chris tried to do a Muay Thai kick and he slipped over and split his head in front of me,” says Bruce. “I went to kick in his face and slipped and got a huge bump on my elbow. He got up in the morning and we got into it again because he thought I’d punched him. He broke my boards and my mini-DVD player, back when they were a thousand dollars out of Singapore. It was Beschen’s Bombay gin that started us.”

So what happened on this trip?

“It was a string of fucking…okay…it’s partially my fault. I was moving out of my place, I was hotel hopping, I had all my fucking stuff in storage, a car full of shit, and I got my boards sent to a friend’s place in Venice. As I was driving up there, I grabbed all my stuff. And I open it all up and I’ve only got a double board bag. It was, like, shit, crunch time. Plane to catch. I needed to open up the bag, go boom, boom, boom. Oh my fucking god. This is not going to work.”

Bruce’s Lost quiver for the event.

(Flight to Dubai missed.)

“Next day, I get there three hours before the thing opens. I call this service on Yelp where they come and pick up all your luggage so I don’t have to sit there with all my stuff. (Later), I call the guy and I say, ‘Alright, boom, drop off my shit, I’m over here.’ The guy comes up and tells me he doesn’t take credit cards. Cash only. I have a credit card, that’s all I’ve got. I tell him, ‘Fuck, I’ve got stuff I can give you, what the fuck?’ He doesn’t budge. Me and this dude are going back and forth… for fifty dollars. Everyone was losing. I’m going to miss my flight, he’s going to lose his fucking job. I tell him I’ve got GoPros, sunglasses, shoes. He asks me if I have any perfume. Per…fucking…fume! I gave him a GoPro to get my stuff. And I missed my fucking flight. Now…you’re not going to believe this.

“The third thing.

“So I go back to the motel. Next day, I get a taxi to the airport, my luggage is in the back. The driver gets into me for going so short a distance. A twenty-buck fare. He’s mumbling shit. Want me to get out? Right before we get out he tells me he’s from Ethiopia da da da. Whatever, all good, he’s talking, talking as I get out and then he takes off with all my luggage. Are you fucking kidding me? So I Uber back to the taxi bull pen. Eight lines. Fifty cars. They’re all yelling at each other. And I tell ’em, one of your taxi guys has my shit, the Ethiopian dude. The guy there says there’s so many cars and so many different races and I’m standing there going fuck, fuck, fuck. Then, because my iPad was in one of the bags, I tracked it to Hollywood. I go to my car and I’m flying towards Hollywood where this fucker is and then he comes back to the bull pen, turns off my iPad, but I’m already back there. I’ve fucking got him. The motherfucker. I tell him, what’s up motherfucker! You turned off my iPad! He said he didn’t know whose it was.

“(The trip) just wasn’t meant to be. It sucked. Those stories seem outrageous don’t they? I wouldn’t believe it if someone told me. Really? Really? So I’m sitting there, baffled, the fight leaves at one in the morning, the cops are there, and I grab my shit and get to there (check-in) with fifty minutes to go. The chick doesn’t let me on. Then it’s two in the morning and it’s like the Twilight Zone. I gotta get back to my car with my board bag, the car is filled with shit, and on top of it, I’m looking for a hotel in fucking LA, and everywhere is booked out. I find this one place, drove up to it, and there’s a dude on the porch, this full trap house, holding a bottle of hard alcohol, full gangsta, and I just did a full u-turn.

“I blew it. There was a string of events but you know how it is. I’m justifying it to myself. If I had a chick, this probably wouldn’t have happened. They’re all organised. I’ve been running my own shit. At the end of the day it’s my own fucking fault. I spent a lot of money. The first fight they paid for. I spent probably spent six grand and didn’t fucking go anywhere.”


Merry Christmas dear BeachGrit family from Chas Smith!

Lift your bourbon glass!

I am sitting in the mountains, snow falling heavily, so heavily in fact that the internet has been wiped out entirely and while my gorgeous family is drinking hot chocolate and listening to Justin Bieber croon carols to shawty I’m thinking about you.

I couldn’t find a surf story worth posting today, before the snowfall and loss of internet so I shined it.

Has honestly nothing at all happened by near any of the seven seas today?

I could tell you about the time that Sal Masekela told me that he gave Nike’s very first toe dip into surf, Nike 6.0 (the 6.0 representing the six extreme sports), its credibility and without him Nike would have been laughed out of the surf market entirely but I was thinking about saving that for your Boxing Day present.

 

I learned that there’s a surfer in Cornwall who hates sewage but can’t care.

The World Surf League’s note-perfect propaganda film has already been praised.

I could tell you about the time that Sal Masekela told me that he gave Nike’s very first toe dip into surf, Nike 6.0 (the 6.0 representing the six extreme sports), its credibility and without him Nike would have been laughed out of the surf market entirely but I was thinking about saving that for your Boxing Day present.

I texted Derek, “I got to WiFi and no ideas!”

He responded, “Your highlights of the year? Cheesy but…”

And I thought, “Boom.”

You wanna know my highlight of the year?

You. 

All of you.

I chuckle everyday at the banter. I truly thrill at our conversation. This year alone between Backward Fin Beth and Ashton Goggan calling the police and Ben Marcus going on a grammar tear and the world’s lamest surf assault and leash-gate and the President-elect of Content, Media and WSL Studios Erik “ELo” Logan and things I can’t even remember…. this year has been fun.

All thanks to you.

So I lift my bourbon glass and say Merry Christmas family.

And thank you.


Progressive: The World Surf League releases stirring propaganda video!

"Dear General Secretary Sophie Goldschmidt resounds the marching drums of the powerful, prosperous League."

Three days ago the World Surf League released its first propaganda video via Instagram and I don’t know why it has taken me three days to get to it.

Maybe I was too wrapped up in Michelle Rodrigues unfollowing BeachGrit’s Instagram to see straight? Tears flooding my eyes every time I checked in?

Maybe but I have seen it now and it is amazing.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Brp8lQ6gGfY/

Our dear General Secretary Sophie Goldschmidt appears on camera wearing a comforting yellow and recounts the unvarnished successes of the year from Mick Fanning’s retirement to the Surf Ranch Pro to equal pay amongst all surfers.

A true workers’ paradise.

Inspirational music plays in the background and when the WSL’s Ministry of Culture finished editing I’m sure they bowed slightly to the framed picture of ex-General Secretary Paul Speaker hanging upon the wall then threw very tight shakas in each other’s direction, shouting, “Job well done comrade!”

Was President-elect of Content, Media and WSL Studios Comrade Erik Logan overseeing the work even though he is yet to officially take the position?

Maybe.

And if this is a representation of his art we are in very good hands.

Though some degenerates didn’t love.

ed_geb64 wrote: “WSL get a real CEO not a Facebook sister…..bring back the aloha spirit. There are other ways to make money rather than force us into FB. WSL should be from surfers to surfers!”

ndsearing wrote: “If you can’t admit the Facebook failure and correct it for next year you need to resign. Surfing will never be a mainstream sport. It’s not built that way. When you alienate your core base of fans (surfers) to pander for $ and viewership your sport will suffer long term.”

The World Surf League quickly mustered ranking members like Joel Parkinson (ok sign, praying hands) and Conner Coffin (raise the roof raise the roof raise the roof) to suppress the small insurrection with beckgard adding, “Ignore the Haters Sophie…this middle-aged, land-locked, non-surfer LOVES following the WSL…men & women.”

Re-education camps will be set up forthwith Surf Ranch adjacent.

Now let us sing our anthem:

By exploding the mental strength of the united heart of our billion fans.

Dear General Secretary Sophie Goldschmidt resounds the marching drums of the powerful, prosperous League.

Let’s go, great World Surf League from bright and pure Santa Monica.

Let’s drive unbelievers and degenerates into the sea.

Or maybe drown them underneath the never ending perfect waves of Surf Ranch.

Hail General Secretary Sophie Goldschmidt.

Hail the World Surf League.

May it rule for 10000 years!