Steve Sherman’s Quiksilver Pro Photo of the Day: “Darren Handley ‘pants’ Jon Pyzel!”

DHD understands the power, and humour, of humiliation… 

Wanna know why Jon Pyzel, shaper to you know who, is belting a happy Darren Handley in the guts? 

A few seconds before Sherm hit the shutter, his shorts were almost around his ankles. 

“Darren came up while I was shooting photos of Jon and tried to pants him. Then they started talking pantsing stories and the fucked-up haircuts Darren’ had over the years,” says Sherm. 

Shapers are a popular subject for Sherm, surfing’s Cartier-Bresson, a rare treasure like fourth-century Roman gold. Look through his body of work and Simon Anderson, MR, Maurice Cole, Handley and co feature heavily. 

“They’re god-like mythical creatures on this earth who make these beautiful things,” says Sherm. “Whether it be Simon or Mark Richards, I’m in awe of these guys. I like Jon because he’s brutally honest. He never holds back what he’s thinking. He’s a man who loves surfing and making surfboards.” 

Handley has been a pal of Sherm’s since his first visit to the Gold Coast in 1999, back when he was the prime shooter for Transworld Surf. But it was in 2014, when Sherm’s pal Jigga Johnson, a glasser for Handley died suddenly. 

“Two months later at Pipe,” says Sherm. “Mick is going for his third world title and there are all these boards and Mick grabs one for his heat. Darren says, ‘That’s the last board Jigga hand-sanded for Mick .’He ended up winning the world title on that board Jigga had hand-sanded.

“Jigga Johnson,” says Sherm, the name still tough to say, still warm in his heart. 

“We both just cried like kids.”

"We're going to need a bigger board."
"We're going to need a bigger board."

Evolution: New England breeding new Sturdy Adult Learners who are unafraid of sharks!

SALs are here!

We have spent very much important time here identifying and categorizing adult learners. Important work seeing as the future belongs to them and, today, our World Surf League does. Most, we know, are vulnerable and I had come to assume that virtually all of them were but a new class has been uncovered in New England. A heretofore unseen sort. And I would like to introduce the Sturdy Adult Learner or SAL.

What makes this varietal so interesting is his an her complete lack of fear of sharks and in the land that gave us Jaws, no less. Amazing? I think so but let’s not pause here. Let’s get to know these SALs straight away.

A Cape Cod town has decided to continue allowing surfing schools to operate this summer despite ongoing concerns about sharks.

A 26-year-old man was killed last September while bodyboarding off Wellfleet, the state’s first fatal shark attack in more than 80 years. A man was seriously injured in an earlier attack off Truro.

The Cape Cod Times reports the Wellfleet select board decided last week to issue permits to the popular, privately-operated surf schools that offer lessons to adults and children. The board discussed possible steps such as requiring operators to carry additional insurance or show their students shark safety videos.

And there we have it. A fatality and a serious injury, due shark, will not deter the Sturdy Adult Learner from practicing his new craft. Not deter her from the joys of riding straight.

I do worry, though, that SALs will make wave tanks less… exciting. Maybe poking a little hole in the bubble. Or maybe not. Maybe SALs want to taste the floor of Surf Ranch too, once they are finished staring Great White Death in the gimlet eye.

Day three, Quiksilver Pro: “Gabriel Medina surfing at entirely different level!”

That beautiful samba storm is in full swing!

At the risk of getting fired midway through the coverage can we just thrash Kelly around a tiny bit more, before we get started on todays analysis? Yep? OK.

I think it’s insulting to the GOAT to imply that after 55 CT wins and 27 years on Tour, a recent showing in the QS and a very good showing at Pipe last year that he no longer understands the criteria.

He doesn’t have a brain injury, only a busted hoof. He surfed exactly the same crazy weird Slater-only style that got an excellent score at Surf Ranch in September. Yes, the game has changed, but to imply the Champ does not comprehend it is an extraordinary claim with no evidence to back it up.

The indifference though, not just from the judging panel but from the general surfing public, especially the Gold Coast surfing public, is what was staggering.

We’ve had a full nine months to gestate on the retirement lap of Kelly Slater and the turnout to watch the Champ’s last (maybe) ever showing at the Gold Coast was paltry. It was piss weak.

Kelly said he felt more like crying than laughing, as well as the pain of the loss, the lack of adulation and even respect from a sporting public he has given so much too must have hurt. If not now, then on reflection.


Well, he chose the path of super twitchy after breaking from CI , a move that looks more and more like a massive wrong turn. I fondled many shooters today. JJF’s, Jordy’s, Zeke’s, Kanoa’s, Gabes. The common denominator was a generous foil through the mid to aft rail section. Beef is in. Big turns need resistance is the simple calculus. Yet Kelly came out in public at Surf Ranch spruiking his new whip telling us to ride the one “that felt too small”.


Heat one, round three, first man on man. Right now, I declare a conflict of interest reporting on Soli Bailey heats. His old man is a friend. I bounced Soli on my knee when he was a bambino. I’m clearly biased. Reader beware. Looking at three-to-four-foot blue-water wedges at D-Bah I thought advantage Bailey. Rivermouth breakwall wedges are bread and butter for North Coast surfers. I’ve surfed North Wall with Soli more times than JP Currie has had standing wanks at midnight watching the EPL.

He looked good, started strong. Filipe looked asleep. A bit off like he did in the Air Show. Not there. Not on.

It was only Dickie Toledo standing on the shore, whistling like a demented rainbow lorikeet and gesturing wildly for Filipe to move a little north that seemed to wake him up. With four mins to go and needing a mid-seven Filipe leant back and hooked into three solid gaffs and loosed the fins on the closeout. The eight-pointer was enough to send Soli packing.

He should have had Filipe. Opportunity lost. Every heat on the Australian leg is especially critical for rookies.

From my vantage the over-lapping format and wide open spaces of D-Bah, as well as the small crowd played right into JJF’s hands. A non-claustrophobic atmosphere with a ton of waves, some of them wedgey and shapely, in warm blue water. You could not ask for a better set-up for a return to the Tour. There was enough draw for him to delay the bottom turn, and the timing off the top looked impeccable. Big, big sprays.

That was from the beach.

The irony for John is heats get less crucial the deeper in the draw he gets… at this stage of the year. The main thing, the only thing, was not to lose early. Not to show up and look off the pace.

I was pilloried by pro surfing legends for suggesting the game had changed and John was at risk of looking like yesterday’s man compared to a new Brazilian standard but let’s not forget the new scoring scale put in place last year was not kind to John. A new level of risk and aggression was required. John brought it this morning.

How’d you like the over-lapping heat format? Worked much better as a broadcast product, very much cut down on dead time, immeasureably more action. From the beach it was confusing.

And again, the crowd was small. Way, way down by historical standards. If the emphasis is on the broadcast and beach numbers are dissipating, is the justification for Tourism bodies to underwrite it also diminished? It does seem a question the suits will need answering at some point.

I was hiding in the shade behind the VIP tent, almost empty, watching Reef Heazlewood demolish Julian Wilson with crazy whips and big airs when a brawny man towering over me called out “Longtom”.

Bounced? I wasn’t even in the tent.

It was Mikey Ciaramella, from STAB, nee BeachGrit! I looked nervously around for the yellow beanie.

“Where’s Goggans?”

“Oh he’s here,” said Mike.

My mind scrambled for back-up. Carroll? Doherty? Neither of them reliable.

I would just have to hope Ashton was in a peaceable mood away from his home continent.

What about the fan picks? Yay or nay? Aren’t they at the wrong end of the heat. Shouldn’t it be more of a fan call on the heat. Now that would be interesting engagement. If 78% of the viewing public thought a call was a dud would there be a recount? A resurf?

Nothing remotely controversial today, to my eye. I found a screen for the final few heats. To try and understand and analyse it better with the benefit of slo-mo and replay. It really is a far superior product to consume online than it is to watch live, with rare exceptions.

I still can’t really find words to describe what happened next.

First with Gabe, who opened with two monstrous unmade airs then took to D-Bah in what can only be described as a feeding frenzy. I really hope Kelly was watching. Watching and understanding where the new level is at. I really hope all the Gabriel Medina haters can open themselves up to the truth and understand he is surfing at an entirely different level.

I thought the alley oop had gone extinct. Gabe bought it back. Huge straight airs. Backside power hooks of all different stripes and flavours. Everything.

I have to admit, and Derek Rielly will back me up, when I heard D-Bah was on this was the vision I had. The vision was Gabe and Italo.

They surfed side by side, or close enough. They made the heats surrounding them look superfluous and vestigial. They made the concept of an Air Show totally redundant.

I can’t call up the heat analyser to run the numbers and my notes are inconclusive but between them Gabe and Italo stomped what? Twenty airs?

Add Yago to that mix and it might be twenty five.

Poor Ricardo Christie. Pottz said he needed to find the better waves and get back to his power game. He needed a fucken miracle, an act of God, maybe a full scale terrorist attack or something equally horrific to stop Italo.

For maybe the first time ever I was in full agreement with Joe Turpel when he intoned “Italo is melting my brain”.

It was hard to keep up with all the wtf moments. A very big day.

Sand bank update. There is a short, hollow little sand bank now at Snapper behind the rock. Not much sand moving there today.

One of Keala's two world title-winning wipeouts at Pe'ahi.

Warshaw: Women’s big-wave world title “an embarrassment. Not for Keala, but the WSL”

"On the WSL's master list of embarrassments, though, it's not even in the top 10."

Last night, after a pleasing vegan pizza (red lentil ragu, oven-roasted kale, tahini etc), I came home to, a, an apartment whose supply of Japanese whisky had been exhausted, and, b, a squall of social media activity.

It was enough to trigger some sort of sad feeling, if I was open to these sorts of things.

The social circuit buzzed because of a story, two days ago, where I wondered aloud if a world title granted after one event, with ten competitors, and where the winner didn’t make a takeoff, was a little overcooked.

I did forget what year I’m in and that any sort of critique is hate and so on, particularly if the person is female or gay. To question someone who is both, even if the issue has nothing to do with gender or sexing, is suicidal.


Keala Kennelly issued an invitation on Instagram for readers to pile on, which they did with gusto.

(Click here, it’s pretty long. Some very good points are raised. The Inertia’s Zach Weisberg and Blue Crush lead Kate Bosworth make cameos.)


Made me wonder.

Should criticism of one-event world titles be quarantined, should I have known this, and therefore did I deserve the scorn?

Who else y’gonna ask? Matt Warshaw, king of surf history, one-man operator of the Encylopedia of Surfing, the most valuable property in the game. 

BeachGrit: I got pitch-forked by mobs last night after questioning the validity of one-event world titles, with reference to Keala Kennelly’s big-wave crown and Cori Schumacher’s longboard titles. KK’s is an interesting subject to discuss. Didn’t make a wave in the final and there were only ten other competitors in the event although, yes, the waves were very dangerous and she’s a brave gay woman etc. Does it take, as the WSL suggests although it clearly vacillates on the issue as evidenced by the BWT award, a tour to make a title? In your opinion etc.

Warshaw: A one-event world title lowers the odds that the champ is legit. A tour is the way to go, but all that does is bump the odds that the champ is deserving. We’ve been flaying our pro tour champs as long as there’s been a pro tour. Not all, but some.

The obvious question, where do you place KK’s big-wave world title?

It’s an embarrassment. Not for Keala, but the WSL. On the WSL’s master list of embarrassments, though, it’s not even in the top 10.

Those pre-tour single-event world champions, like Midget, Felipe Pomar, Nat, Hemmings, Rolf Aurness, Jimmy Blears . . . how do you rate ‘em?

Midget deserved his title, just the way Damien Hardman deserved his. Smart, clean, beautiful surfing. Neither one ever set you on fire, but give ‘em the crown and congratulations. Felipe Pomar as world champ is a head-scratcher. Nat Young surfed circles around him. But you gotta go back and figure out what the criteria was that afternoon in Peru, probably it was a biggest-longest wave deal, and that makes it harder to gainsay.
Nat in ’66 was a hands-down winner. But here’s a twist. That was a three-round contest, and David Nuuhiwa won the opener, so if that event been like every other world title of the era, David is your world champ. Nat didn’t even make the final that first round. But he won the next two rounds, didn’t even break a sweat, there’s your champ, fair and square. Hemmings in ’68 rode the biggest waves the furthest distance, but Midget very much looked like the winner to me. Midget had a win and two runner-up finishes between ’64 and ‘70, so he’d be your champ for the decade. Rolf was totally legit in 1970. Blears in ‘72—the whole event was black comedy, the surf was shit in the finals. Bob Hawke could’ve won if he got the right waves. The women champs were on the level, start to finish: Phyllis, Joyce Hoffman, Margo, and the criminally unknown Sharron Weber were all deserving.

If there is a validity to single-event world titles, does that make whomever win the Olympics next year a world champion, even if it’s at one-foot Chiba and some donkey gets lucky? And might there, very soon, with big wave titles, ISA titles, junior titles, Olympics etc, be a glut of meaningless world champions, as in boxing?

“Olympic champ” is its own category, adjacent to but separate from “world champ.” Which sounds like hair-splitting, and yeah I think we’re already into a glut situation. In the Warshaw Manual of Style, Usage and Elucidation, “world champ” by itself refers to either the single-event gang we discussed above, or the world tour winners. Anything else gets prefaced: “1988 juniors division amateur champ,” or “1996 longboard world champ.” How boring is this? Is this more or less boring than the Round One heats Longtom was frothing on day before yesterday?

I can’t even express the thrills this gives me. Do you count Layne Beachley’s masters’ title among her world titles, making it eight not seven and still one tiara beyond Gilmore?


And Gary Elkerton, what did he win, four masters titles? Is he a four-time world champ? Same as MR?

Those four masters wins are worth more than the participation trophies my kid got for soccer, but they’re not world titles. Gary got tag-teamed out of a for-real world title that one year, though.

Let’s veer left slightly and recap that Pipe tag-team with Kong.

1993 world title showdown at Pipe, second semifinal, four-man heat, Gary, Derek, Larry Rios, and I can’t remember the fourth guy. Gary was in second and heading for the final, along with Derek, but Larry just needed a small score to knock Gary back to third. Seconds before the horn, the wave comes. Derek paddles on the inside and forces Gary to back out, then Derek pulls up and gives it to Larry, who gets the score. Derek went on to win the contest and the title. God’s honest truth, I was on the beach that afternoon at Pipe and didn’t notice that double-team thing. I don’t think there were any rules broken, in any event. But there are things you can do in a four-man heat, obviously, that you can’t do man-on-man. If Derek and Larry worked something out beforehand, and it wasn’t against the rules, then fair play to them. Hate the game, not the players.

Gimme your thoughts about CJ’s 2001 abbreviated tour world title after our Islamic brothers took their birds down on New York City and DC. It demonstrates, I think, CJ’s ability to see the world clearly that he doesn’t go around calling himself a world champ. Or maybe he does. Does he?

I think the point we’re making here is that the whole thing is maybe at best half serious. Suicidal jihadists gave us a world champ, and I think it’s surfy to laugh at that, and laugh harder at PT winning the first pro title without taking out a single event that year, while also acknowledging that CJ and PT are both world-class surfers. Then of course we wait for a new Kai Lenny edit, and I’ll take that very seriously indeed.

Breaking: Volcom just sold to Britney Spears, Paris Hilton’s one-time favorite brand Juicy Couture!

Introducing the Juicy Couture Pipeline Pro!

It is a wonderful time to be alive and enjoying the surf industry. Exciting developments happen every single day and sometimes even multiple times a day. Yesterday, for example, we learned that Harley-Davidson is the official motorcycle of professional surfing and today we learn that Volcom, the brand that pitted the Youth against Establishment, has just been sold to Juicy Couture!

“Juicy Couture?” I hear you say with a squished up face, like you don’t remember those velour tracksuits, like you don’t remember Paris Hilton or her toy Chihuahua Tinkerbell.

You know Juicy Couture and let’s first go straight to the press release for details before we carry on any further. Let’s get our facts straight (not as in “not gay” but as in “clear”).

Authentic Brands Group (ABG) continues expanding its fashion portfolio, adding to its collection of clothing properties with the acquisition of lifestyle brand Volcom. Formerly owned by Gucci and Saint Laurent parent Kering, ABG’s newest purchase sets the company up to make moves in the skate, surf and snowboarding markets.

Already the owners of Juicy Couture, Nautica, Aeropostale and several celebrity namesakes (including Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe and Shaquille O’Neal), ABG’s Volcom buy affords the company access to Volcom’s massive retail presence, with nearly 100 stores across the globe. “For nearly three decades, the Volcom family has created one of the most iconic brands in the skate, surf and snow markets,” affirmed ABG chairman and CEO Jamie Salter in a statement. One of ABG’s goal with the acquisition is to promote Volcom’s digital campaigns and influencer partnerships, with a focus on expanding its millennial and Generation Z customer base.

I love Gen Z and everything that is happening here but I am curious how much Volcom sold for?

I am also curious as to when The Stone will release its first velour tracksuit?

I am also curious if the Volcom Pipe Houses will now be called the Juicy Couture Pipe Houses?

I am also curious if the Volcom Pipeline Pro will now be called the Juicy Couture Pipeline Pro?

Many curiosities.