Paradise Lost: California’s surf clubs in danger of going extinct!

Hurry and join before they're vanished!

I’m not typically a “joiner” in the traditional sense of the word, but being part of a surf club has always seemed a wonderful dream. Wearing cool sweaters or windbreakers, earning and using funny nicknames, being a lout, drinking canned bear on ol’ Ms. Havisham’s lawn then running away from Johnny Law when he comes hollering, stealing that bastard other surf club’s mascot, painting it in our club’s colors then leaving it in the town square, etc.

To be honest, I’m not really sure what surf clubs do but am saddened that they are going extinct in California and would you mind coming with me to The Orange County Register briefly? Could you read out loud for both of us?

Surf clubs used to be a way for families to spend weekends together, a chance for the kids not only to compete but to learn lessons about giving back to the community. Many of the longtime members are parents, some of whom don’t surf, who have stuck around long after their kids have gone off to college.

But the parents of many of today’s youths just want them to compete, without the labor of being a volunteer with the club, Gale said. They become “club hoppers,” only joining clubs where the kids have more chance of competing or standing out for sponsors.

So what’s missing are the volunteers who put the contests together, the people who show up for meetings, and the helpers who come out for the beach cleanups after the storms and get their hands dirty.

“The Coalition are mom-and-pop charity organizations, we are all nonprofit,” Gale said. “No one in the coalition gets paid. It’s all volunteer work. This understanding of what formed this stepping stone, they aren’t familiar with it.”

The Doheny Longboard Surfing Association, which has been around since 1988, usually has about 150 to 200 members. This year? About 40.

“What are we going to do to save this to make a positive impact on our community?” Gale asked. “It’s a constant strain.”

Some clubs are getting creative by adding activities outside of surf events, such as bowling leagues or miniature golf tournaments — extra incentives to encourage members to participate, mingle and have fun.

The Doheny club will gather Friday, April 19, to talk about dwindling membership and how to revitalize the club so it doesn’t vanish — so they can continue with the legacy of events, such as the Gathering of the Tribes.

“My hope is that we don’t have another galvanizing event that causes these surf clubs to form, such as beach cleanups and water-quality issues,” Gale said. “But now that the storm has gone by and we’re all having fun, the people thinking about getting involved will realize that there’s a lot more than just a surf contest that will put a smile on your face. You can join these clubs, make a difference in your community, and surf.”

So I don’t know about the smile on my face, making a difference in my community or surfing and these club-hopping soccer parents seem extra lame but… maybe it’s time for me to give surf club membership a real crack.

Do you belong to one? Can I join yours? What are our colors?

Just in: Jack Robinson ditches Billabong for Volcom/Juicy Couture!

A lifetime of free velvet tracksuits for Pipe Trials and Volcom Pipe Pro winner!

The Australian surfer Jack Robinson is, to yank a phrase from a popular nineties song, something like a phenomenon.

Ain’t nobody in Australia, most of the world, if we’re to be frank, who can throw on the brakes and ride a ten-foot tube like twenty-one-year-old Jackie.

A fantasy of mine is eight-to-ten Teahupoo and it’s Jack v John John v Kelly.

Jackie’s won the Pipe Trials, he’s won the Volcom Pipe Pro.

Why’d he ditch Billabong for Volcom, a company who was recently sold to velvet tracksuit pioneer Juicy Couture?

Money? Love?

Read this odd story from a normally risk-adverse website accusing his pops Trevor of swindling Billabong.

(And, read, here, where Chas Smith responds.)

All very odd.

It’s as if his parent sponsor was pushing him away.


He’s on the Stone, now, and What Youth founder and sometime BeachGrit writer Travis Ferré has written the presser.

Jack Robinson is no stranger. Not to us in the collective surf world or any of the surrounding seas. We all know him. We know his straw-like blonde hair from miles away. We can identify his stylish and powerful turns from way down the beach. And we recognize his world class and mysteriously intuitive tube riding even with the sun in our eyes. Simply: Jack’s been blowing our mind for a very long time. But Jack is only 21 years old! Which is surreal to read because we’ve all known his surfing for so long. That’s because Jack was blessed with preternatural talent since boyhood and we’ve been watching him grow up right before our eyes. For more than a decade now actually. At Teahupoo. At Pipeline. At the Box. At North Point. All over the world. And in movies. With standout performances at world-class waves. Always on the one. Growing up. Proving himself. And now, it’s official: Jack Robinson is no longer the boy next door. He’s ready to carve his way into the place in the surf pantheon we’ve been holding for him since he was 8 years old. It’s time. And to kick off Jack’s new chapter, he will be joining the most eclectic, authentic and legitimate surf family on the planet: Volcom.

Yeah, Jack Robinson rides for Volcom now.

Don’t call it a sequel or a comeback, call it the beginning for Jack Robinson and Volcom.



Dangerous: The mainstream surf media’s ultra-paranoid fear of upsetting the status-quo!


Three days ago, the mother of Fabrizio Stabile, the surfer who perished from brain-eating amoebas after surfing the BSR Surf Resort in Waco, Texas, filed a $1,000,000 lawsuit against the tank’s owner alleging the “pathogen soup” there was what killed her son.

It is a heartbreaking story, not fun or anti-depressive, but still news and yet none of the other flagging mainstream surf media outlets deemed it worthy of a nod.


Oh, the answer is unfortunately simple. Surf media, especially the mainstream varietal such as Stab, Surfline etc., lost its stomach, spine etc. years ago.

Of course, they will each spout out a litany of reasons why a lawsuit revolving around the death of a surfer at a wave tank is not news but, of course, their reasons are gutless, compromised and worst of all, collaborationist.

Are you a fan of Vichy, France?

Is anyone?

All I can think is that Stab, Surfline etc, is looking for cheap, easy kicks from Waco and/or have already received them. Silence is part of the payment. Silence is always part of the payment alongside cocaine (buy here!).

Now, we all know that surf and surf media is goofy and fun but at some point being honest means something.


Or maybe it doesn’t. Maybe boardshort cataloging is where surf media actually belongs and is it’s heart’s true home.

But really, and I ask seriously, do you care at all or not? Am I just kicking against the goads like a lame, embarrassing fool and should I stop?

Help me!

Prison ain't a joke. Although the friends you do make inside are usually for life.

SUP pilot found guilty in paddle attack that left surfer brain damaged; faces seven years hard time!

Tough love in San Diego… 

Six days ago, you might’ve read about a SUP pilot who was on trial for allegedly belting a surfer in the head with a paddle at Sunset Cliffs, San Diego, on June 26, 2018.

An emergency room physician said the surfer’s injury looked like a “hammer blow.”

(Read about “Beach Bully SUP Pilot” here.)

You can now strike out allegedly.

A jury has found SUP pilot Paul Konen guilty of assaulting Kevin Eslinger. Konen faces a possible seven-year stretch in prison.

From NBC,

Prosecutors said Konen hit Eslinger on the head with a paddle so hard, that it damaged Eslinger’s brain, leading to speech problems that persist.

Deputy District Attorney Matthew Greco said the gash left on the back of the victim’s head was so severe that he could not speak for days after the incident. Prosecutors called Eslinger’s injury “highly unusual.”

Meanwhile, defense attorney Brian McCarthy argued Konen was acting in self-defense and was actually trying to get away from Eslinger. Konen allegedly told a friend he thought Eslinger “was going to kill him,” and swung at him to defend himself.

However, the prosecution said the attack was not an act of self-defense and told the jury the paddleboarder should be held accountable for the injuries suffered by Eslinger.

It don’t end there for Konen. Naturally, for this is America, Eslinger has filed a civil lawsuit against Konen, saying his impaired speech has affected his job as a swimming teacher.

What’s the takeaway, as they say, here?

For Konen it’s seven years of ass play and shivs in the guts and living in fear he’s going to be smothered every time he closes his dang eyes and a possible bankruptcy courtesy of the civil suit.

Ooowee, keep those paddles holstered, boys.

Let's surf Tofino!
Let's surf Tofino!

Beware: Summer VALs being directed to “cruise the waves” at these seven spots!

Come for the rolling rides, stay for the zipline canopy tour!

It is springtime in America, with summer hot on its heels and you know what that mean. Picnics, BBQs, camping and non-surf websites informing non-surf readerships which beaches around the world are best for learning to surf.

Historically, these lists were easy to ignore. They were neither for you nor about you but, as seen recently in Santa Cruz, we live in strange times. The VAL apocalypse is upon us and it may be your head on the bottom of a SUP foil if you’re not at least moderately aware.

So, where are our friends across the aisle being directed to “take the opportunity to become one with the water, and test your skills and pump your adrenaline through sports like scuba and surfing?” Where might it be best to avoid if at all possible?

Let’s dig in!

-The Outer Banks: “You’ll find everything from beginner to advanced, depending on the time of year [and] hurricane swells that frequent in the fall,” said Erin Swain, an avid east coast surfer and master sommelier, self-dubbed the Surfing Som.

-The Algarve: “The Algarve in the south of Portugal is a fantastic destinations for surfers of all levels, but particularly beginner surfers,” said James Cave, a travel blogger at Portugalist.

-Tamarindo, Costa Rica: “The best place to stay is at Witch’s Rock Surf Camp, and make sure to ask about the zipline canopy tours for when you’re not surfing.”

-Tofino, Canada: This coast has often been described as like surfing in the Twilight movies because of the stunning forests filled with pine trees and rocky terrain.

-Kuta, Bali: Conditions like these are great for beginners, or for anyone wanting a chilled-out session. These beaches tend to be quiet along the south coast, and you can easily hire a scooter and explore the blue lagoons, sandy coves and lush vegetation, to find the perfect spot for surfing.

-Cocoa Beach, Florida: Florida is known for having beautiful weather all year round, and…Cocoa Beach, with warm water temperatures and numerous surf schools is an excellent place for beginners.

-Puerto Escondido, Mexico: The area has the typical laid back surf town vibe going on with a multitude of places…offering morning yoga, organic meals and all types of smoothies for a post surf refreshment.

Bummer. I had a surf trip planned to Cocoa Beach already. I hope I can get a partial refund.

Once, many years ago, I was charged with writing the summer “where to surf” guide for BlackBook magazine. I sent everyone to Oxnard’s Silver Strand, Sydney’s Ours and to go explore the wonderful beaches of northern West Australia.

Where would you send them?