John John Florence about to cross line, top ten, in world’s most prestigious open-water yacht race!

"My goal is to sail around the world," says John John.

The annual 600 nautical mile Sydney-to-Hobart yacht race ain’t for sissies or cry-babies.

As those precious hunks of carbon and aluminium and fibreglass move off the coast and mainland Australia they hit Bass Strait, an irritable body of water known for its “high winds and difficult seas.”

Boats sink, people disappear.

In 1998, five boats sank, six people died. Of the 115 boats that started the race, 44 finished.

This year, the two-time world champion surfer, John John Florence, who turns 27 next birthday, joined the crew of Winning Appliances, a fine sixty-footer that was built in Dubai.

The boat is currently 50 or so nautical miles (57 regular miles. See, nautical miles are based on the circumference of the earth, each mile equalling a minute of latitude) from the finish line where it is expected to finish ninth.

John John ain’t no stranger to boats.

Earlier this year, he bought the snowboarder Travis Rice’s totally off-the-grid, 48-foot catamaran, Falcor, a boat Travis once sailed from North Carolina to Hawaii via Panama and Tahiti.

“My goal is to sail around the world,” says John John.

From the can-you-believe-it Dept: “The average California surfer is 35 years old!”

Also college educated with four surfboards in his garage!

Can you believe it? Our favorite pastime is ancient sure. As ancient as the proud Peruvian Norte Chicans. As ancient as the coca leaf (learn about the love story here!) but it has always felt young. Bushy bushy blonde hair-dos etc.

But what if I told you that the average California surfer is a college educated thirty-five-year old male earning 75k a year owning 4 surfboards.

Would you believe me?

According to the San Francisco Chronicle it’s true!

I don’t normally read the San Francisco Chronicle because I am a Padres fan, a Lakers fan and mostly a Collingwood Magpies fan but I think it is a legitimate source so let us read together.

The average California surfer, studies show, is about 35 years old, college-educated and making $75,000 a year, enough income to own, on average, four surfboards.

The typical surfer isn’t a low-income, Muni-riding San Francisco high school student who recently learned how to swim.

Yet more than 100 teenagers from the Mission, Western Addition and other neighborhoods across the city are becoming part of the Bay Area’s surf scene, learning to catch waves and earning gym-class credit while wearing a wetsuit.

Surfer and former teacher Johnny Irwin founded the City Surf Project four years ago, realizing that most urban kids — even those who live within a few miles of the ocean — don’t surf. But they want to, he said.


I stopped reading at “Muni-riding” but does the whole 35 year old, 75k, four surfboard thing surprise you?

Is surfing becoming a rich, white man’s game a la golf and skiing?

World Surf League are you reading? Just imagine the adult learner products that could be rolled out.

A very exiting time.

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?


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.”