chappy jennings
James "Chappy" Jennings, snapped in the guts of Pipe by the peerless Don King.

Dorian, Healey, Kohl: “Wait! This is the best surf shot ever at Pipe!”

Kohl Christensen hands his three-day old crown to that ol master Don King… 

Three days ago, or thereabouts, Kelly Slater announced that he had seen the best photo ever taken at Pipeline.

It was a shot of underground Pipe regular Kohl Christensen, snatched on a grapefruit sunset, by the  photographer Daniel Russo, who was seated on a jetski.

“This picture sums up why we surf. And nobody seems to be more in tune with the ocean than Kohl,” said Kelly.

(Click here for story, photo.)

Russo ain’t one to claim thing, but he did say it was his best ever shot at Pipe.

“Perception of one’s experience can vary from person to person. But this image is exactly what happened. To me, this is the exclamation mark of the winter at Pipeline,” said Russo.

Christensen, for his part, was pretty quick to hose off the best-ever photo tag, writing on his IG account, “The best picture is the picture that inspires you the most. Pipeline. Surfer Magazine 1984 shot by Don King. I had this shot on my wall as a kid. I didn’t know Chappy. I was only seven when this went to print but it was so amazingly beautiful and terrifying at the same time. Shocking. The size of the barrel! The lip detonating on the shallow reef, the boils and Chappy’s crazy low ninja tube stance. I never forgot this image and along with countless other wonderful captures, I was inspired to follow my dream of surfing the ‘Pipeline’ one day.”

A roll call of noted surfers were quick to agree.

Mark Healey: “Still my favorite Pipe shot. Something about the lack of distortion in the image makes it feel more like real life out there.”

Shane Dorian: “That is still by far my favourite shot of all time at pipe!! Had the poster on my wall and just stared at it for hundreds of hours in shock.”

Koby Abberton: “Had it on my wall for 15 years!”

And, Kelly Slater, of course.

“Chappy was insane and underrated out there I thought. Always charging from so deep. I played golf behind him and got to chat a couple years back on the Gold Coast. That conversation ultimately allowed me to make a flight I was late for on the Gold Coast but that’s a different story for another time. Glad I got to meet him finally. Was always a legend to me from Performers in early 80’s.”

Chappy, for those who aren’t one hundred years old, is James Jennings, a surfer from Queensland who, despite being the size of an adolescent girl, was a marquee Quiksilver rider alongside Gary “Kong” Elkerton.

Matt Warshaw’s Encyclopedia of Surfing (subscribe here) describes the photo and Chappy thus:

“He was better known as a fearless tuberider, utilizing a wide, low, crablike stance, and a photo of him racing through an cathedral-sized tube at Pipeline ran as a two-page spread in A Day in the Life of Hawaii, a 1984 coffee-table photo book. “The usual mugs were riding deep,” SURFER magazine said of Jennings’ performances at Pipeline that year. “But Chappy went deepest, and those who witnessed it talked for weeks in tones of respect and valor.”

Apocalypse now: World Surf League president of content, media and studios takes on foil SUPping!

So deadly it should come with a Parental Advisory warning!

The very famous poet T.S. Eliot once mused, “This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang but a whimper.” and while I both appreciate the art form and the sentiment have to disagree for the world will neither end with a bang nor a whimper but with the sound of the World Surf League’s president of content, media and WSL Studio’s new SUP’s new foil sawing through your jugular vein.

Something like a gurgle.

Or maybe a choked gasp.

And what possessed our dear president of content, media and WSL studios to exchange his normal mode of transportation, the @infinity_sup #blurrV2, for 18th century France’s favorite tool? I cannot honestly say. I cannot even honestly speculate.

President Logan himself writes, “Super #sundayfunday on the @kalamaperformance @gofoil setup. Been quite some time since we FLEW the GoFoil. Waves were PERFECT and fun. Thanks to @jawadchabib for the pic. Foil Squad @legrandebeachhomes & @nikaukai with support of @ballred @ryharrisshapes #somewhatLOYALtothefoil #neededahaircut #justatadrusty”

Maybe there’s a clue in the hashtags? Like, why is “loyal” capitalized in #somewhatLOYALtothefoil? An acronym maybe? Lopping Off Your Auburn Locks? Is #needahaircut code for “I am going to scalp some folk today…” ?

More questions than answers.

But one more.

Would you rather surf knowing there is a Great White shark prowling around underneath or with President Logan next to you on a SUP foil?

Revealed: “Surf City, USA” Huntington Beach hates poor people!

No pier waves for you!

When was the last time you visited “Surf City, USA” aka Huntington Beach, California? Were you there for the U.S. Open of Surfing rubbing buttocks with underaged rude things? Were you there more recently, say for the annual Christmas puppy parade? Well, California’s new governor Gavin Newsom is suing the town but not for what you think (buttock rubbing). He is suing because he thinks Huntington Beach hates poor people and let’s read about it.

Gov. Gavin Newsom used a new law for the first time Friday to try to force a wealthy Southern California coastal city to end its years of opposition to meeting low-income housing goals.

Newsom’s administration sued the Orange County city of Huntington Beach under the law that took effect Jan. 1 after passing in a 2017 package of measures intended to alleviate the state’s severe housing shortage and homelessness problem.

The lawsuit says leaders in Huntington Beach, home to about 200,000 people, have repeatedly refused to amend the city’s housing plan to add state-required low-income housing and are fighting a separate lawsuit by housing advocates. The city says it’s complying with state housing and zoning laws.

It’s the second major issue facing California that the self-styled “Surf City USA” is battling the state over. Huntington Beach also is challenging the sanctuary law that limits cooperation with federal immigration officials.

The city is in a traditionally Republican area that has been shifting more Democratic like the rest of California. State officials say housing negotiations began before Huntington Beach challenged the immigration law and the lawsuit isn’t retaliatory.

“Many cities are taking herculean efforts to meet this crisis head on,” the Democratic governor said in a statement. “But some cities are refusing to do their part.”

The story goes on and on and on but, jokes aside, when I first read the phrase “a wealthy Southern California coastal city” I thought maybe La Jolla or Malibu had effectively stolen the self-styled Surf City, USA moniker.

the U.S. Open of Surfing is going to be more fun this year.

Former pro surfer-turned-DJ’s smash hit voted second most popular song of 2018!

Dirty ol Paul Fisher more popular than Travis Scott, Childish Gambino etc.

A few moments ago, the former-pro-surfer-and-comic-turned-DJ Paul Fisher’s song Losing It was voted the second-best song of 2018 in an Australia-wide poll.

Every January, the youth radio network, Triple J, runs an online poll to find the 100 most popular songs of the previous year.

And Paul Fisher, who trades under the stage name FISHER and who was formerly part of a duo called Cut Snake with another former pro Leigh Sedley, finished second ahead of Travis Scott’s Sicko, Childish Gambino’s This is America and behind the seventies yacht-rock ballad Confidence by Ocean Alley.

My favourite memory of Paul Fisher was when he called me was five or six years ago. It was eight pm and I was about to sit down to a delicious dinner with my (then) wife and (still) two sons. It was a Skype call from America, three in the morning or thereabouts in LA, which gave it some importance.

I removed my bib, drained my pitcher of department store red wine. (Family man.)

Was Fisher in trouble? Did my little pal require serious counsel?

As the pixels settled down to a clear picture, Fisher appeared and ordered a girl to “Show Derek ya tits! Ha ha ha ha ha!”

And now look at him!

Listen to Losing It again (and again) here!

The door to surfing is now open to everyone, regardless of creed etc. | Photo: @elo_erik_logan

From the BeachGrit house of altruism: 10 Helpful Tips for the Adult Learner!

Put down the gun and learn to love.

It’s one of those calm overcast afternoons where hues of orange and purple bruise the sky. The threat of an oncoming storm. Weak two-footers dribble towards shore, echoes of a recent windswell.

I mind my own on a wider peak away from the pack, doing my damned thing, when I see an adult learner on a SUP almost kill a man.

He’s wearing below-the-knee boardies, oversized diving vest and a surf helmet.

I keep watch.

Distant thunder rumbles as a set wave surges from dark water, catching him off guard. A lame attempt to swing for it sees him go over the falls sideways: a ten-foot long sword of flesh and polyurethane. He nearly decapitates the funboard funboy unlucky enough to be paddling in front of him.

Funboy doesn’t make things easy on himself either. Instead of bailing and diving under the hot SUP mess, he tries to somehow raise his board and body up over the top, catching it in the neck for his efforts.

I kept a watching eye on them for that pregnant second when they both disappear under the foam. Schrodinger’s kooks.

But they pop up one after the other. Alive. Smiling and laughing at the fun of it all. SUP throws funboy a shaka and off they go.

Rain begins to fall. The Adult Learner Apocalypse is here. It’s the Wavestorm to end all Wavestorms.

Trying to share a lineup with that? How do you compete with such… enthusiasm? It’s a zero sum game.

This is a world sport now.


We need to adjust.

They’re not going anywhere, and as the modern world’s addiction to mental and physical narcissism increases, more and more people are going to clue into what surfing offers. So, as the great Warren Ellis said: “When you find yourself in a hole, you may as well decorate.”

Plus, to quote Point Break:

“So you want to become a surfer? Hey man, that’s cool. A lot of people your age are learning to surf. I hope you stick with it. Surfing’s the source. It can change your life. Swear to God.”

In that spirit of harmony, I’ve begun to pull together a few home truths for adult learners, welcoming them to the idiosyncratic and hypocrisies of the surfing world. A little cheat sheet that’ll have them looking and sounding like regulation grumpy locals quicker than they can say, “Dropping in is a form of assault.”

Getting ready
Choosing what board you will ride is important. If you go with “retro” craft – longboards, funboards, hybrids, SUPs twinnies, single fins etc –you’re compensating for the fact you can’t ride a shortboard. You can try and cover your deficiencies in life but there’s no point. Everybody knows, everybody’s judging you. Never expect respect, unless you hang on to that 6’1″ for life.

No coloured wetsuits unless you’re at an elite level. Anything other than regulation black and you’re drawing attention that ain’t earned. See also, springsuits.

Your tailpad should be as near the leash plug as possible. None of this half-way up the deck bullshit. You want that fucker pushed closer to the edge than an environmentalist at a plastics factory.

Speaking of which, please do remember a lot of surf hardware comes wrapped in single-use plastics. But that’s ok, because you’re in a direct communion with Mother Earth now. She will still grace you with her Infinite Love, once she finishes her shift at Outerknown.

In the water
When surfing, keep a lid on your emotions. The only claims you should ever make in life are for travel insurance and custody.

To wit, never give away that you’re having a good surf and enjoying the conditions unless it’s absolutely pumping. Talk it down: “Yeah it’s alright but would be better with a little more water/ little less water/little more swell /a bit more north/south/east/west in the wind.”

The only time you should really speak to someone you don’t know in the surf is if it’s only the two of you out. You can then ask anything surf-related: “Getting a couple?” “Been out long, mate?” or “Is it ok to cry in the shower every morning?”

General tips
Check the surf often, but very rarely go out. When the tide’s high it will need a bit less water. When the tide’s low, it will need a bit more. Early mornings need more wind on it, afternoons need less. Besides, look at that crowd.

Instead, sit with a crew of other grumpy locals in the carpark, cat-calling women half your age and bullshiting about that wave you didn’t get at HT’s in ‘98.

The better you surf, the less photos of yourself surfing you should put online. Unless you can afford your own personal photographer

If someone asks if you’re a surfer, be careful. Chances are they’re going to try and pin a water-related offence on you. Instead, answer with something like “Who or what I identify as is none of your business” and then threaten to livestream them.

Once you’re out of the water, feel free to ease up a little with other surfers. For instance, if someone you’d usually ignore is showering at the same time as you it’s ok to ask something like, “Get a couple, mate?”.And if you see someone you recognise from the lineup in a non-surf environment, you can even push it out to “Been getting a few waves lately?” or “I’ve just shelved an eight ball of speed, could you watch my kids for me?”

The mark of a truly good surfer is one that can chop hop, but doesn’t.