The World Surf League President of Content, Media and WSL Studios, Mr. Erik Logan, is officially in the building and ooooee! Santa Monica’s high castle has never seen such hot surfer action.
Oh look, in that spacious office feat. floor to ceiling windows and appropriately reclaimed shelving. Who’s lounging upon the supple brown leather couches? Only professional surfing’s sweetheart Coco Ho, America’s only hope Griffin Colapinto and the boy who could turn Connor Coffin.
Now look courtside at the Los Angeles Clippers basketball game (top). Squint those eyes and take in Connor and Griff again but this time joined by Kanoa Igarashi in brand-new Gucci sneakers (such a power move considering the current Gucci ban), the Mother of Dragons and Courtney Conologue. Each wearing smiles as wide and tight as Mr. President’s shaka.
“Pffft…” You dismissively exhale. “The Clippers. Such a WSL move. If the League really wanted to show the world and surfers it has arrived it would have plopped them down courtside at a Lakers game.”
And while you’re right, that’s also just us being grumpy locals.
I am beyond excited to meet Mr. President in person though don’t expect the same treatment. Maybe we’ll get to chat in the High Castle’s basement conference room. The one with authoritarian slogans painted on the walls.
Or maybe across the street at Dogtown coffee.
But is it wrong for me to dream of a day when surf journalists cuddle on that supple brown leather couch? Nick Carroll’s legs kicked up on the soft arm, his head cradled in my own lap?
Is it wrong for me to hope that Mr. President might just might fill the WSL-sized hole in all our hearts?
Concierge: Come find “delicious glimmering triangles” at Noah Surf House, Portugal!
Want to paint yourself into overhead barrels on Portugal's surf rich coast but need a little sexy in your accommodation?
Looking out across the western horizon, an atmospheric haze atop a sea surface glaze heralds all the sunset you’ll ever want or need. Witnessing this final farewell on the terrace at Noah, you can’t help but feeling you’ve been invited to the only party that matters.
For its relative dearth of freedom of expression in nomenclature, notably in proper nouns for people and places, Portugal more than makes amends via the pursuit and delivery of earthly pleasures.
And nowhere along her fine shores do they manifest more than at the excellent Noah, perched just so above the golden stretch of sands at Santa Cruz, fifty clicks north of Lisbon.
The various Santa Cruz (holy cross) ‘s are many. Which begs the question, would He really want reminding exactly how He met His sticky end? Surely the actual method of offing is by the by compared with all the fine work. Perhaps the Feeding of the five thou’ would’ve been better commemorated in Iberian peninsula place names had He only had the extra foresight to turn a handful of Galilee seawater into Portuguese olive oil from Alentejo to dunk those loaves in, especially the kind served at Noah.
More of that to follow.
Both Noah Surf House and Restaurant & Beach House are smart, spacious, ambitious new builds where post-modern concrete, high-performance glass and bleached wood all open toward the big blue Atlantic.
A well-placed succulent here, a cross-processed surf print there, from the juice in a jam jar meets artisanal loft meets up-cycled fisherman’s hut aesthetic, mature surf chic abounds. At a glance you could be in the surf haunts of Malibu or Avalon, only with added old-world charm and vertical history.
Welcome to modern Portugal’s pleasant shred-tinged confluence of gastronomy, design and internationalism.
The eight bedrooms and thirteen bungalows of Noah Surf House are cosy, comfy and well-appointed, and suit a range of budgets. Go all in on your own Mar & Cook Bungalow boasting seaview, kitchen, fireplace, outdoor shower and surf racks. Or merely toss your pack on a bunk in communal lot and get your Euro backpacker on in the finest of style.
Surf House’s cocktail bar, surf shop, wooden skatepark, organic veg garden, communal kitchen, gym, outdoor pool and jacuzzi all promise to nourish and stoke your rig to varying degrees.
Noah Restaurant & Beach House has nailed that rarest of vibe, refinement without fussy and wanky, cool without judgey. Whether you savour the Atlantic’s legendary local delicacies, or have virtue signalling hashtag plant-based requirements, a recurring theme of excellence and modernity runs through the menu.
And yet for all the culinary craft and cleverness, it’s the basics that steal your heart.
A wee dish of liquid sunshine to dip morsels of rustic loaf appetiser in (it’s still Europe, there’s gonna be carbs) became a daily highlight during my stay. I still think about that olive oil and its notes of artichokes, most days. It comes from the Alentejo wine district south of Lisbon and is called Angelica – another Good Book reference – and I thought it was the finest olive oil in all the world. As did the New York International Olive Oil Competition jury of 2015.
From your base at Noah you’ll love moseying down to Ericeira, Europe’s finest surf town for variety of surf break, a half-hour south. Or saunter up to thumping Supertubos, slightly closer to the north. Perhaps boot an hour up to witness Nazaré’s unique sinister threat.
The surf at Santa Cruz crashes with varying degrees of violence out front of Noah’s. Some days it’s the best spot on the entire coast, when slightly overhead groundswells render it delicious glimmering triangles.
Other days, it’s monstrous and out of control, such is the whimsical nature of Atlantic cyclogenesis.
I am currently somewhere between Salt Lake City, Utah on the way to Jackson Hole, Wyoming holed up with family in a roadside hotel while a winter storm rages outside. All things considered not a bad situation or not as bad as it could have been.
A big storm hit Maui just a few days ago, for example. A huge storm and created maybe the biggest Jaws ever. Unsurfable sure but still a spectacle and people drove from near and far to see the extra-large breakers.*
Maui police responded to reports this evening of multiple parking violations at Hoʻokipa Beach Park with reports of hundreds of vehicles at the location throughout the day.
High surf of up to 60 feet was being forecast for the north shores of Maui, attracting spectators and “triggering a multitude of illegal parking on the Hāna Highway” according to Nāpua Hūʻeu, a Resident Volunteer Organizer with The Kua Hawaiʻi Project.
The organization website describes the group as a resident volunteer program to enhance visitor safety and protect the sacred sites of Hawaiʻi.
Group organizers say the motorists created delays and hazards at various points along the scenic North Shore route. “High winds and rains added to the fragility of the scene with visitors traversing down the beach cliff side to, as one visitor noted, ‘photograph the surf up close,’” said Hūʻeu.
So see? My current situation could have been worse. I could have gotten a parking ticket.
*How do you feel when folk refer to waves as “breakers?” Have you ever used legitimately?
Mark Richards, in the foreground, and Shaun Tomson in Free Ride's most famous sequence. Bill Delaney
Warshaw on Bill Delaney (RIP): “It may be shameful, but every time a famous surfer dies I get this initial rush, almost like a fire alarm going off.”
In these instances, when a pivotal figure in the culture slips into the loving hands of god, one must create some sort of obituary, yes?
This interview took place an hour or so ago, between Bondi Beach, Sydney, and Seattle, Washington, where Warshaw lives.
BeachGrit: How’d y’hear?
Warshaw: An EOS viewer emailed me day before yesterday. Randy Rarick and PT confirmed. Bill had been in pretty poor health the last few years.
Describe for me your first thoughts?
It may be shameful and wrong, but every time a famous surfer dies I get this initial rush, almost like a fire alarm going off. Can I bang out a video? Do I have an interview? How fast can I post? Then when I dive into the material, like I did all day yesterday and this morning with Delaney, I feel the loss. I knew Bill, going back to when I worked a bit on Surfers: the Movie. We stayed in touch over the years. He was all-in with EOS, basically gave me the keys to his film library, which in turn helped me leverage a bunch of other people to let me use their stuff. So my memories of Bill have to do both with his movies, and how good he made us all look, and also with him personally. When I started playing the interview reels with Bill yesterday, to make the edit, it became real and sad that this smart, generous, very classy, very creative person was gone. Same thing when Bruce Brown died last year.
A sweet man, yes?
Yes, mostly. But he took no bullshit, and let you know quick if you put a foot wrong. About 10 years ago he lit me up for something I wrote about Free Ride; I think I said he’d poached the music and that was why the film never came out on DVD, which was totally wrong. Bill and his wife worked really hard to clear rights for all the songs, but apparently he didn’t have permission to re-release outside of the theaters. Something like that. Which is why Free Ride to this day is a black-market-only treasure. But again, he didn’t burn the bridge, he took my call right after, we talked it over, I apologized, he accepted, and we were good.
Free Ride, from 1977, defined a generation, a time, as much as Morning of the Earth did a few years earlier, yeah?
Absolutely. Where Earth was more impressionistic and stoney, Free Ride was a bit more pointed. It had narration. We got that great long loving look at Rabbit. Whereas Alby made a choice not only to skip the narration, he didn’t even bother to ID his surfers. I loved Earth as a kid, but when Free Ride came out, we were so ready to move on from the trippy stuff into something with harder edges, something we could get a grip on. Which of course was MR’s top-turns, Rabbit’s pinball-playing, and Shaun’s tuberiding. That said, the Free Ride photography, especially Dan Merkel’s water shots, were as mesmerizing and ethereal as anything in Morning of the Earth.
Shaun Tomson owns Free Ride. MR and Rabbit were still on the rise, but Shaun at Backdoor and OTW was life-changing, beyond progressive. There’s a slow-mo shot of him at dusk, coming out of a long tube, and his face just breaks into this huge grin as he heads for the beach. What Shaun was doing right then, at that very moment, inventing a better way to ride the tube, was new to HIM, as well as us, and he just can’t help but smile at what’s going on. MATT WARSHAW
Best moments: The pivotal scene of MR and Shaun weaving an Off the Wall tube together, which was painted as a moment of symphony when it was MR who had the shits with Shaun hence the drop in, and Rabbit on the swing. Talk to me. Your best moments and why.
Shaun Tomson owns Free Ride. MR and Rabbit were still on the rise, but Shaun at Backdoor and OTW was life-changing, beyond progressive. There’s a slow-mo shot of him at dusk, coming out of a long tube, and his face just breaks into this huge grin as he heads for the beach. What Shaun was doing right then, at that very moment, inventing a better way to ride the tube, was new to HIM, as well as us, and he just can’t help but smile at what’s going on. Not in a claiming way. It’s just pure joy. He’s thought about surfing a certain way, worked really hard at it, and here he is making it happen, and it’s like waking up inside a dream. And Bill Delaney caught it! Every time I see that shot it cheers me up.
An undervalued film is Surfers: the Movie, Bill’s film for Gotcha. The Miki Dora interview is still being used in popular culture: on the Anderson Paak album Malibu, there’s a couple of samples.
The Dora bit is for sure what Bill liked best about the movie. He filmed it in his living room, just him and Miki, nobody else, and I’m not sure that anybody but Bill could have pulled that rant out of Dora. People trusted Bill, and felt comfortable around him. But I don’t think he has totally happy overall with how Surfers came out. He wasn’t specific, at least not on record, but there may have been some creative differences during the edit. I do know that he talked about making one last film, a third film, before quitting altogether. But that never happened.
Tell me how he’s going to be remembered.
Free Ride, obviously, is the signature work. Surfers is great too, if for no other reason than the Dora bit. I’m always so impressed by people who set and keep their standards as high as Bill did. Which has nothing to do with output. He made just the two features films, so you might think he left something on the table. But I think just the opposite. I wouldn’t be surprised if Bill, deep down, wished he hadn’t done Surfers. Free Ride said everything he wanted to say about surfing. For it’s time and place, it is perfect. Part of being really good at something is knowing when to let it be.
Hot from the desk of WSL’s SVP of Global Identity: “Ron still on team!”
Earlier today, a press release slip, Freudian or otherwise, indicated that the world’s number one surf commentator, Aaron “Ron” Blakey, had been cut from the WSL roster.
In a list of “current announcers”, the presser announced,
Longtime WSL play-by-play announcer Joe Turpel and former World Champion Martin Potter call the action from some of the most remote and exotic surfing locations in the world. Rosy Hodge (former Championship Tour competitor) and Strider Wasliewski serve as commentators reporting from the water. In addition, Ross Williams and Big Wave Champion Peter Mel round out the commentary team.
The response from fans was immediate.
The former pro Mike Lambresi, wrote: “I already spend half the broadcast yelling at the computer. If the big dog is gone my yelling time will probably go up as well. 🤯🤬😡”
From another fan of Blakey, “I’d rather clap my hands in shit than listen to a full seppo team.”
Another, “How will I get the missus to let me watch more now ? It was my trump card.”
Happily, a few moments ago, the WSL’s SVP of Global Brand Identity, Mr David Prodan, released a three word text message.