War in Oregon: Two competing big wave events set to run at Nelscott Reef today!

"Fist fights likely!"

Have you missed your hot big wave action this year? Oh there has been absolutely no lack of swell pounding coasts from Hawaii to California to Australia’s west and east but there have been very few days of live coverage and even fewer events.


In the dying days of 2018 the World Surf League decided to drop the Big Wave World Tour and have a Pretty Big Wave World Tour instead and as fun as it is watching bold women and men paddle into 7 -9 foot waves with helicopters circling overhead and many jetskis in the water it’s also not that fun.

Thankfully we have Oregon and today a massive swell is hitting her famed Nelscott Reef. Those brave souls north of the wall are not like their compatriots in Santa Monica. The bigger the better for them and they love it so much not one but two events are scheduled for the same day. Let’s catch up on the action in the Newport Times News!

Big-wave surfing contest promoters are slated to hold competing tournaments on the same giant swell Sunday, setting the stage for a clash that involves renowned surfers, bewildered city officials and the Oregon State Police.

John Forse, who holds the primary permit from the city allowing him to use Canyon Drive Park as a staging site for his Nelscott Reef Big Wave Classic, announced this week he would hold the contest Sunday, March 10, with alternative dates of March 11 or 13 depending on conditions.

But a rival group whose organizers were once cited and fined by Lincoln City for holding an illegal surfing contest has also laid claim to the big wave, setting up the possibility of another clash like one that captured the attention of the OSP.

“They’re saying they’ll break the law to run their event,” asserted Forse, who has asked the city to cancel both his permit and a secondary license held by the rival group for a contest called the Nelscott Reef Pro.

City tourism officials who sanction the event by issuing permits for exclusive use of the park did not return queries from the newspaper. However, the system allows the primary permit-holder, Forse, first call on surf dates.

In an embittered email sent to city hall on March 5, Nelscott Reef Pro organizer Gabe Smith announced his contest would not be suspended, regardless of city penalties. His web site, nelscottsurf.com, claims the event will be held March 10, as well.

“Considering we have $40,000 on the line and we are doing an actual webcast you would think we could get priority, but whatever,” wrote Smith, giving his interpretation of the city-issued permits. “John is not allowed to have both days so he needs to pick which one of those days he is going to run his itty bitty garbage contest. I would rather pay a fine than return $40,000, just a head’s up. John Forse will not ruin this for us. It’s already in the works and happening no matter what he does.”

Forse responded to the letter by calling on city officials to rescind both permits before the situation boils over, as it has previously.

The grudge match between rival surf contests has vexed city officials for several years and drew the attention of state police after Forse complained of rampant safety violations, including jet skis that endangered surfers.


So, to sum up, we will have two big wave events today and in Oregon and likely mixed-martial arts action in between sets.

I love my home state.

Watch live here!

Jen See: “I just stood in line to watch a surf film!”

Who is this man and why does he matter?

A few weeks a go now, I stood in line to see a surf film. In a strange serendipity, Bruce Brown’s son stood in line just in front of me.

All of this was both totally normal, as surfing, especially in the Santa Barbara area, is a very small world, but also unusual, because who stands in line these days to watch surfing. On this particular night, the line stretched around the block, so it seems, at least a few of us will show up for such things, even now, when every day we’re inundated with a firehose of fresh clips served up in an instant.

Annually, the Santa Barbara Film Festival selects a closing night film. This year, they chose Spoons, which traces the history of surfboard design in Santa Barbara. The film sets out to portray the area as a seedbed of innovation from Renny Yater’s time to the present. Yater’s 1964 Spoon design gives the film its name and its starting point.

I’ll say up front the film is worth watching for its wealth of interview material from Santa Barbara and beyond, and for its vintage footage.

Spoons opens up the coast in Bruce Brown’s studio, where Brown sits surrounded by film canisters. It’s beautifully elegiac, though I’ll confess to an acute anxiety over all that original film footage. Someone, please tell me it’s safely deposited in an archive somewhere. Fragile historic things near the coast make me so nervous, she says, looking around at her shelves stacked with first editions. This opening might be the most memorable part of the film for me, really, and I wanted them to linger there for longer.

There’s gorgeous footage of a largely undeveloped coast. Dirt roads and pickup trucks. Yater and George Greenough tend their lobster traps. The vibe is very Eden before the fall. A voice-over from shaper Marc Andreini about the historic ranches, their vast open spaces, and the cowboys of the land and sea strikes a slightly jarring note, as though it is all there for the taking.

In truth, the strongest part of Spoons is the early sections. There’s gorgeous footage of a largely undeveloped coast. Dirt roads and pickup trucks. Yater and George Greenough tend their lobster traps. The vibe is very Eden before the fall. A voice-over from shaper Marc Andreini about the historic ranches, their vast open spaces, and the cowboys of the land and sea strikes a slightly jarring note, as though it is all there for the taking.

(Also, Henry Jackson Turner called and would like his frontier thesis back.)

Predictably, Rincon holds a central place in the story. It provides both a challenge and a testing ground for the generations of designers the film depicts. Much is made of the wave’s speed and perfection, though arguably, it’s the imperfections, the way the wave changes speed as it passes from cobbles to sand and back to cobbles again, that creates the design problem. An old-school longboard on trim will slam down the line pretty damn fast. It’s the slowing down and the turning that’s the trick – and frequently leads to a dead forest of loose boards crashing through the inside.

Spoons ably explains Yater’s contribution to design. Long story short, his Spoon narrowed and shortened the longboard outlines of the time. George Greenough, meanwhile, rips across the screen on a tiny kneeboard. Seen in the context of footage of his contemporaries, Greenough’s top-to-bottom lines do look radical and fresh. His designs, meanwhile, confound everyone. Bob McTavish says in the film that when Greenough’s ideas reached him and his crew in Australia, they had no idea what to do with it all.

What’s missing from Spoons is context. It’s hardly fair to ask a filmmaker or writer to tell the whole story of everything, but establishing significance means showing why something stood out in its time. In 1964, when Yater was designing his Spoon, what was happening in the workshops in Hermosa Beach or Dana Point? How were their design problems different? Why was the Spoon such a departure? I needed to know more about what was happening outside Santa Barbara to understand why what was happening here was so influential.

While the film neatly draws a connection between Tom Curren’s cutback and Greenough’s crazed kneeboard lines, the thruster seems to arrive out of nowhere. If I hadn’t known better, I might have believed Al Merrick had created the shortboard….

As the film moves through time, this problem becomes more acute. Shaun Thomson speaks of going from a seven-foot single fin, to a twin fin, to a thruster in a matter of months. He’s exaggerating a tad here, but what’s not clear is why there is this sudden shift. While the film neatly draws a connection between Tom Curren’s cutback and Greenough’s crazed kneeboard lines, the thruster seems to arrive out of nowhere. If I hadn’t known better, I might have believed Al Merrick had created the shortboard, though his interviews in the film are careful to avoid this claim. Eat your heart out, Simon Anderson.

Late in the film, Ryan Lovelace gives an extended interview (with far fewer swears than his BG interview, so disappointing!) about his interest in board designs from the pre-thruster era. He compares the genealogy of surfboard design to a tree, some of whose branches simply stopped growing after the thruster showed up.

Maybe it was because those designs quite simply sucked. But Lovelace is convinced there’s a rich vein to mine that the shortboard revolution cut off. The absence of Anderson in the film, though, muddies the story of the creative chaos of happening in board design now.

Spoons does a lovely job of smoothly welding old and new footage together. Visually, the film is a joy. The one exception was an oddly anachronistic sequence of women, maybe shaping, maybe just hanging around a half-finished blank. I couldn’t figure out what was happening there. It highlighted a missed opportunity. If the filmmakers had wanted to include a woman shaper, Ashley Lloyd Thompson, now in Santa Cruz, credits her time in Santa Barbara for helping her refine her ideas about design and counts Greenough and Andreini among her influences.

If you are into vintage footage of California, dig surfboard design nerdery, and can play along with the film’s Santa Barbara-centric perspective, Spoons is worth a watch.

For me, the opening sequence with Brown will stay in my memory for a while. There we all were, standing in line, a long way from Endless Summer, and yet, maybe not so far at all.

From the No-Fear Dept: New robots designed to save people from the surf!

Jaws, here I come-ish!

First, the wonderful scientists of the world designed an inflatable life vest for big wave surfing. Oh, you’ve seen the women and the men out there at giant Jaws, Jaws so giant that it causes knees to tremble all the way across the Pacific in the bucolic hamlet of Cardiff by the Sea.

But what are our brave knightesses and knights wearing? What are those bulky bulges?

Inflatable vests that work with the pull of a rip and rocket the wearer to the surface of the ocean.

“Maybe I should try surfing giant Jaws too?” Santa Monicians wondered.

Today, the  wonderful scientists designed robots that can find a man or woman in the surf and save them, or actually come close to saving their very lives and let’s learn about them at Phys.

Dr Chapman works specifically in the field of multi-vehicle, or swarm, robotics.

Using a combination of mechanical, electrical and software engineering to build the robots, Dr Chapman then programs the vehicles using algorithms to react and think autonomously.

“There are benefits to using many smaller Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) in place of one large one, particularly for job like cleaning up an oil spill, environmental monitoring or searching for survivors of a mine collapse,” says Dr Chapman.

Not only is there the element of redundancy with smaller vehicles – losing one small UAV out of a group is less of a problem than losing a single large UAV – but there are also the implementation benefits. For one thing, there’s the improved coverage capability and reduced cost.

“A swarm of cheap small robots, each with little capability, can replace one costly highly-capable robot,” she says.

In Australia, UAVs are now used for agricultural monitoring as well as for surf and rescue in the ocean, which means getting the job done faster which is particularly important for time-sensitive applications.

Did you read that? Surf and rescue in the open ocean. Between inflatable vests and many robots hovering overhead to find me when I fall, I’m almost ready to surf Jaws. Now I only require a robot that takes me out to the lineup, preferably flying as I don’t trust those jet-ski robots, and also a robot board that will paddle me in.

Jaws, here I come-ish!

Revealed: “The surf industry wants you to die from skin cancer” and other bummers!

It's anti-anti-depressive!

We all here love surfing with all our hearts. Everyday we love it and love it more and more and more. We love advances in surfboard technology, we love new expressions of wave riding like the stately SUP and magnificent foil, we love the World Surf League, there in Santa Monica, and its partner Jeep, allowing us to surf the world. There is truly nothing not to love. Surfing is like Sarah Lee.

BeachGrit, as you well know, is anti-depressive but have we gotten lost in all the positivity? Are our rose-colored lenses actually clouding our vision?

For yesterday the online surf publication Surfer Today listed things about surfing that are bummers. On and on and on it went and by the end my eyes were filled with tears. My frown was not turned upside-down and would you like to be sad with me for a moment?

1. Surfing is a clothing business.

2. Boardshorts over over-priced.

3. Making surfboards pollutes everything.

4. Also surfboard making uses child labor.

5. Surf wax is poison.

6. The surf industry is racist.

7. The surf industry is ageist.

8. Tanning is bad for you but the surf industry wants you to die from skin cancer.

9. If you are a selfish bastard and choose not to die from skin cancer you kill coral and turtles.

10. Cancer-riddled, anorexic, blonde Caucasian girls are the only sort of girls that get paid.

11. There is no such thing as free surfers. They’re all tools of the Man.

12. Pro surfers get rich while you suffer.

13. The only people who are allowed surf products are Americans, Europeans and Australians.

14. Surf competitions usually run in bigger cities with horrible surf.

15. Big waves hate each other.

16. NGOs run by surfers are corrupt and lousy.

17. Basically all the wetsuits in the world are made in one factory.

18. Corn syrup, booze and diesel-spewing cars are pro surfing’s biggest backers.

19. Weed is fast on their heels, corrupting everything further.

20. Nobody gives two shits about sustainability.

21. Wave pools are basically going to end the world.

You can find me in my car, I suppose, wearing my new Hurley Carhart tee and trunks (shockingly fabulous by the way) with my surfboard riding shotgun. A garden hose attached to the tailpipe will be inserted into the window. Or maybe my surfboard and I will just drive around Las Vegas drinking cheap vodka.

Either way it’ll all be over soon. So long world, you’ll be better off without us.

From the exactly-what-you-want Dept: World Surf League delivers patented “chart” technology!

Dreams really do come true.

There are a lot of things in this world that we want and never see. Michael J. Fox’s hoverboard in Back to the Future II. Doc’s DeLorean in Back to the Future I. Absolutely nothing from Back to the Future III.

Oh how we dream, lust, crave but then our dreaming, lusting, craving goes away and we are left with the empty pit that flying cars are never going to happen and everything is just going to be a slightly worse version of what we’ve already experienced.

Until the World Surf League came along.

I don’t know when the powers in Santa Monica’s high castle added this feature but it is arty and it is epic.

Click here and you can see with your very own eyes a graphed graph of the performance of your favorite professional surfers over the course of a World Surf League tour season.


Because graphs work. Graphs lend credence to what you already know.

Graphs actually are the real future.

Bon appetite.