jon pyzel
The reassuring hands of Waialua-based shaper Jon Pyzel. | Photo: Steve Sherman/@tsherms

World’s second most popular surfer joins John John and Nathan Florence and Koa Rothman on Pyzel roster!

Everyone wants a piece of swinging Jon Pyzel!

After three years of puttering around the periphery of Jon Pyzel’s magic shapes while at DHD, Jack Freestone, who is the second most popular surfer in the world according to Surfer magazine, has signed with the Waialua-based board builder.

The signing means Pyzel now has, theoretically, the two most popular surfers in the world, after John John, to the surprise of no one, scooped the Surfer Poll. In a neat piece of synchronicity, Freestone’s baby mama, Alana, was the most popular woman. 

“Jack is a friendly, easygoing and super talented cat,” says Pyzel, and says he is “in the middle of cutting a bunch for him on my shaping machine right now.”

Freestone returns to the WCT in 2019 after one year in the bush leagues, where he finished thirteenth. His two previous years on the WCT yielded year-end placings of 31 (2016) and 30 (2017). His best result was a second in Brazil to eventual world champ John John in 2016.

Sharp-eyed readers might’ve noticed the little Pyzel sticker discreetly placed down low on two-time world junior champ Freestone’s DHD-branded surfboards although, says Pyzel, “the majority of his boards came from DH, for sure.”

Not any more.

“He has always been easy to work with and it seemed like my boards just clicked with him so here we are,” says Pyzel.

(Click here for a review of Pyzel’s famous Ghost model, a surfboard that’s not a “motherfucking fun board and it’s not a crutch.”)

Question: What are the appropriate circumstances to “go full rubber?”

Can we decide on an exact latitude?

Tonight is the night that we will reveal BeachGrit’s Man* of the Year and I can barely contain myself. In the future, this night will be the most important on surfing’s calendar and a black-tie affair. Celebrities and a who’s who of surfing greats will flood Hollywood’s Kodak Theater, jostling as they try to catch a glimpse of Monster of Surf Photography Pete Taras. Ben Marcus will take the stage as the master of ceremonies, regaling the audience with tales of working for the most important surf magazine in history at its historical zenith, beating Kelly Slater in pingpong and getting joshed, good-naturedly, by Shane Dorian for musical tastes. Then the orchestra will strike up and tears will flow as BeachGrit’s Man* of the Year receives his* award.

Before we get to this evening, though, we have a little bit of housekeeping. A quick question we must solve together so we can all be on the same page.

What are the appropriate circumstances to “go full rubber?”

I ask because the World Surf League President-elect of Content, Media and WSL Studios took to Manhattan Beach, California yesterday donning thick black wetsuit, hood, boots and gloves, writing on his Instagram:

Yes, its that cold Going full rubber this morning. Stiff offshore winds made it even more frosty ⛄️. It does help keep the crowds down!

Oh the combination of “full rubber” and “stiff” is certainly evocative but my question, is it ok in southern California? What about Sydney? I grew up surfing in Coos Bay, Oregon much to future master of ceremonies Ben Marcus’s chagrin, and happily took ice blocks on the head before covering it in neoprene and always lost my boots so surfed with bricks for feets, permanently retarding my style. Is it ok to go full rubber in Torquay? Wig’s your expertise is required here.

I suppose what I’d really like to know is the exact latitudes in both northern and southern hemispheres above and below which full rubber is ok.

Is that possible for us?

*all masculine words are gender fluid.

Revealed: BeachGrit’s most influential surf persons of 2018 (five through two)!

These four made our spirits soar.

It really has been a hell of a year, as they say in the merchant marines. A hell of a year and has John John Florence basically convinced you to give up surfing and take up sailing instead? I can speak from a bit of experience here. Sailing requires nimble fingers (for knots and things) and a nimble mind (knots etc.). Surfing requires neither. I imagine we could all cut off our fingers, in fact, replacing them with foam-stuffed Darkfin gloves and be just fine.

Also there are no brains required but the next four most influential surf persons of 2018 showed an uncanny ability to swing with the times. To put their very mark on the thing we used to love before sailing came into the picture and let’s not waste anymore time. Let’s meet them directly.

5. Steve “Longtom” Shearer: What would professional surfing have been this year without him? I’ll tell you. A soft-boiled egg. One of those soft-boiled eggs that you ask for but when the waiter brings it and you crack the shell all that viscous clear slime oozes out and know that you will be infected with salmonella. Longtom elevated the tour to a state of high art. I don’t think that has ever been done before. Matt Warshaw? Nick Carroll? Correct me please but there’s no way I’m wrong. Longtom hit it out of the park day after lousy day. He turned heats between Wade Carmichael and Willian Cardoso into poetry. Imagine doing that just once. Then imagine doing it across an entire year. Steve? I’m raising my bourbon to you right now and in the sincerest honesty. Thank you.

4. Bruce Irons: Yes he is high up the list but also high. Or low. Or whatever falling asleep in a Newport Beach gas station and getting woken by the police before flying to Oahu in order to attend the Eddie opening ceremony but missing it but making TMZ instead is. Bruce continues to be watchable after all these years. A throwback with a devil may care attitude and enough credibility to go all in every single time. You’d crave him if he wasn’t here and of which other professional surfers can that be said?

3. Kelly Slater: Oh yeah. It can be said of Kelly Slater. Around and around and around we go but son of a bitch if the greatest surfer of all time, the greatest athlete of all time isn’t a bucket of fun contradiction. What if Tom Brady got on Instagram and endlessly debated flat-earthers? What if LeBron James announced his future retirement the day after Kobe Bryant did? I’ll tell you what. Then the NFL and NBA would be that much more entertaining. Our GOAT knows how to pull focus and wants it, demands it. And how fabulous is that?

2. Beth “Backward Fin” Greve: It has been a longtime dream of mine to make it into The New Yorker and the World Surf League’s ex-Chief Commercial Officer made that happen. Oh sure it wasn’t in the way I imagined. I thought I’d maybe write a story but beggars can’t be choosers and how many deep bellied laughs did we have about her ill-fated Balinese adventure? So many! She was invited to join, of course, but refused thereby rejecting our core ethos that “the best surfer in the water is the one having the most fun.” I hope she has great success wherever she lands and also frames that issue of The New Yorker on her wall. It’s truly a proud moment.

Tomorrow we reveal who BeachGrit’s Man of the Year is. “Man” is of course gender fluid. It’s almost 2019!

See you tomorrow!

Sophie Goldschmidt
Dear Secretary General Sophie G during her now customary December address at the Pipeline Masters, this from 2017 when John John Florence still showed a vague interest in the game. | Photo: WSL

From the desk of Dear General Secretary Sophie Goldschmidt: WSL gets three years of permits for Hawaii!

Pipe Masters until 2021!

Does it warm your heart every December when the non-surfing marketing executive turned Dear General Secretary of the WSL, Sophie Goldschmidt, makes her annual appearance on the podium at the Pipeline Masters and talks about surfing’s “hallowed waves”?

Its’ all very…inclusive… devoid, as it is, of gender or even participational bias. We’re all surfers now etc.

Earlier today, the WSL announced it had secured permits for events in Hawaii for the next three years. This is a switcharoo from last year when the Pipe Masters was all but shelved (figuratively, not literally, as in ass) after a testy permit-roundabout between the City of Hawaii and the WSL.

Not any more.

From the presser:

“…the World Surf League is pleased to announce that the City & County of Honolulu has approved three years of permit applications, ensuring that the following WSL events will have the opportunity to run during their traditional holding periods and at their usual locations in 2019, 2020 and 2021:

  • Sunset Open, Sunset Beach, January 18 – 28
  • Volcom Pipe Pro, Banzai Pipeline, January 29 – February 10
  • HIC Sunset Pro, Sunset Beach, October 28 – November 10
  • The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing Series:
  • Hawaiian Pro, Haleiwa Ali’i Beach, November 13-24
  • Vans World Cup, Sunset Beach, November 25-December 7
  • Billabong Pipe Masters, Banzai Pipeline, December 8-20

“Hawaii is an integral part of surfing and a hugely important community for the WSL,” Sophie Goldschmidt, WSL CEO said. “The permit approval is a great step to not only ensuring the world’s best surfers continue to be tested in Hawaii’s hallowed waves in the coming years, but that these events provide infrastructure and developmental support for up-and-coming surfers from the region.”

Two more WSL events will be held before the 2018/19 Hawaiian winter surf season draws to a close: the Sunset Open QS1,000 (January 18-28) and the Volcom Pipe Pro (January 29-February 10), which will see the return to competition of former two-time WSL Champion John John Florence (HAW).”


And do you think John John Florence will ever return to port?

Listen: Legendary shaper Maurice Cole and the surf industry apocalypse!

Love, loss, failure and victory!

Maurice Cole has been one of my favorite surf personalities ever since I was ten years, lounging on my Coos Bay bed, gazing at his lines. Oh they were perfect. Sensual even and they fired a youthful lust that infects me to this day.

You know the poster.

And ooooooee, it still gives me shivers.

Maurice has rare charisma in this surf world. He’s not afraid to butt heads, to tell it like it is, to change the game and then change it again. He has been through multiple iterations and yet is still a visionary. It is why I was so desirous to hear his chat with David Lee Scales.

David Lee you know, of course, from the Surf Splendor Network and our biweekly chats. He has always been a wonderful host but has also developed into a crackling interviewer. He takes his craft seriously and is able to dig gold from his subjects.

Here, the two discuss tragedy and compromised integrity. Failure and stress and cancer and why publicly traded surf brands are destined for failure as soon as that IPO floats. It is a fantastic episode, well worth a listen between today’s madness.

It is the best show yet.