New BFFs, the gossip writer Chas Smith, mercenary Erik Logan and broadcaster Davey Scales.

JP Currie: “The plan is to package surfing up and sell it back to us? I say fuck that. You don’t own it.”

"The sceptical treatise that we have all contributed to right here on BeachGrit was not delivered by Chas and Dave. Erik Logan was not called to account for being Erik Logan. He was not challenged."

I’m like you. I’m just a punter who loves surfing but doesn’t get to do it nearly as often as he’d like.

We share the barriers, partners, kids, jobs, family, friends, money, geography, our health, the weather. In varying degrees, they all amount to the same thing: not as much time as we’d like to just surf.

And therein lies my problem with Erik Logan.

He’s not like me. Not even a little bit.

Educated the expensive way, he knows his claret from his Beaujolais.

Decides he’s going to be “a surfer” in his 40s or whatever.

Gets to surf every day he feels like it.

Has a personal photographer.

Probably spends more on boards every month than I do on my mortgage.

Swans around tropical surf camps.

Hangs out with surf glitterati.

And, presumably, makes a shit ton of money from all of it.

I’ve never been on a boat trip. Aside from one Indo trip (too long ago now to even savour the memories) I’ve never been in the tropics. I can’t afford any of that.

My world is one of eking a living at the 9-5. Of enduring all the bullshit that life throws at you. Of trying to negotiate and squeeze a few hours in the water here and there. Of constantly having to apologise for it.

None of this is his fault, of course.

I listened to Chas n Dave be hosted by ELo. It was not what I was expecting. The sceptical whothefuckareyoucunt treatise that we have all contributed to right here on BeachGrit was not delivered. Erik Logan was not called to account for being Erik Logan. He was not challenged.

We all play the cards we’re dealt, for the most part. But how am I supposed to back a guy like that?

What would he possibly know or care about my surf experience?

And what’s to admire in a rich man trying to get richer through surf?

I listened to Chas n Dave be hosted by ELo. It was not what I was expecting. The sceptical whothefuckareyoucunt treatise that we have all contributed to right here on BeachGrit was not delivered. Erik Logan was not called to account for being Erik Logan. He was not challenged.

I don’t blame them. ELo was charming. He seemed like a good guy, albeit a practised one. They walked into his world and he called the plays. They may run rings round him in the water, but over a conference table, or in the world of media, Erik Logan is the Alpha.

His vision of the WSL is a broad church, with space on the pews for everyone. Surfing through the eyes of Eric Logan is a happy-clappy inclusive utopia.

It’s nice, romantic even.

But it’s bullshit. And worse, it’s disingenuous.

Because the subtext is clear. The WSL is becoming a dragnet.

They want to control every aspect of surfing because that is how you maximise profit.

Erik Logan is clearly a mercenary, and in his world the North Stars shine bright. Once upon a time we told Google what we were interested in, now they tell us. Jeff Bezos was just a guy who sold books.

So, the plan is to package surfing up, tie a neat little bow around it, and sell it back to us?

I say fuck that. You don’t own it.

I could believe Erik Logan is a nice man, I just don’t believe he’s The People. I’m not sure I trust his motivations. He understands productivity, and efficiency, and maximising gains.

I’m not sure he really understands what surfing is. I’m not sure any of us do, except in our own context.

I teach high school English, as I’ve mentioned before. Language and literature is a broad church, too. I introduce kids to texts that I like, that’s only natural.

But I try, at all costs, not to be too prescriptive. I don’t tell them what to like, what’s good art or what’s bad art. You’ve got to let them find it for themselves.

Find what you love and let it kill you.

As a kid I loved to read. But all through school and university I pretty much gave up on it. I resented being told what to do, what was good and bad. What I should read. How I was meant to feel about something.

That’s the thing with writing, or surfing, or any creative pursuit. It’s yours to make of it what you want. And there will always be a dualism that can’t be justified or explained. It is at once everything, and nothing.

It’s just words on a page, except it’s not.

It’s just actors playing a role, except it’s not.

It’s just wiggling along a wave, except it’s not.

It’s how it makes you feel that’s important.

And the feeling is yours. No-one has any right to dictate it, or control it, or worse: try and sell it to you.

Jen See: “I just bought a single-fin’d surfboard to fulfill childhood dreams of becoming a graceful ballerina!”

So flowing! So smooth!

Texting a surfboard shaper can be like tossing a bottle into the sea, and hoping that the message tucked away inside will eventually reach its destination. Will there be an answer? We can only wait and hope.

So when I confided to Ryan Lovelace over text message that I maybe wanted a singlefin, I did not expect an immediate answer. But there he was, right back to me. Oh, I have a few of those at the shop, he said. His shop is less than a mile from my house. Just about everything in Santa Barbara is about a mile from my house, it seems. Except Rincon. Rincon is more than a mile from my house, which is sad, but we can’t have everything in this life.

The idea of singlefin has nagged my brain for a while. So flowing! So smooth! Perhaps by some alchemy, I could discover grace. I should confess right now to trying and mostly failing at ballet as a child. Grace is not really my thing. I am good at endurance sports that are notable for requiring a stupid determination to keep doing a thing that hurts. I do not know how I drew this particular athletic card, but it seems that we don’t get to choose these things.

On the whole, my boards have run toward the small and skateboardish. More speed than grace. This pattern might reflect a subconscious wish that I could actually ride skateboards. (I can’t.) Can you imagine being able to just go play any time you want? No tides, no wind, just pavement. Better still, there’s a lot of pavement in the world. The problem is, pavement breaks bones, in my experience, and I like my bones in their current arrangement. So, surfing.

In the current issue of Surfers Journal, LT interviews six shapers from around the surfing world. The premise of the story is the two-board quiver. What’s your ideal two-board quiver? The story resonated with me, because mostly by accident, I’ve spent the past year or so carrying the same two boards to just about every session and riding one or the other. They aren’t my only two boards — but they’re the two I’ve ended up riding most often without thinking too hard about it.

The first is a square-tail thruster I ordered custom to work in half-assed waves. I liked it so much that I ended up riding it pretty much all the time. Made by Jason Feist at J7 Surfboards, it’s got some width tucked into the nose and tail. For the nerds, which is all of you: 5’9” x 19” x 2 5/16”, 27 liters. Futures Blackstix fins.

If the first board is pretty conventional, the second is… not a thruster. You’ve all met my tiny twinfin before, and when I first picked it up — and let Chas smell it — I had no idea how much I would ride it. I figured it would be a summer fling, a novelty. Turns out, the little thing is damn addicting. Made by Christine Brailsford Caro at Furrow, it’s a 4’10” twinfin, single concave to v-bottom, moon tail, 19” wide. I got a pair of fins from Christine, which she designed.

Two totally different boards: Which to ride? Somedays, the conditions make the decision quickly and easily. If it’s over shoulder high, that 4’10” starts to feel like a twig in the rapids. Easy choice, ride the shortboard. Steep? Again, three fins feel pretty great. Junky? The shortboard minces its way through the texture a little more easily than the tiny toy board. On a clean, waist-high day, that twinfin looks insanely appealing. On an average day, though, either board will work.

Mostly, it’s a mood thing. The twinfin is fast, slidy, silly. It’s impossible to ride that little thing without grinning like a fool. It’s terrible in a crowd, which in a weird way, makes it good. It’s almost impossible to be an angry asshole on a board that looks like a Tiffany box, if a Tiffany box could float. It does the cutest little turns and flies down the line on a wire. Surfing should be fun, and this little board is the best reminder of that truth that I may have ever ridden.

If I’m in the mood to bash things, well, there is a reason that angry shortboarder is the stereotype. And there’s something deeply satisfying in the way a well-tuned thruster that’s familiar and comfortable will go very precisely where you tell it to go. The shortboard is also very good at telling me that some of my ideas about where we should go aren’t really that smart. Nobody’s perfect.

So there I was, standing in Ryan Lovelace’s exuberantly cluttered shop, looking at a singlefin shaped by Alex Lopez. I’m pretty sure shapers’ workshops are the same the world over. There’s the cluttered space where finished boards and random detritus hangs out. And then, there’s the precise foam-dusted room, with the tools neatly stored, where the actual boards are made. The contrast will always amaze me, I think.

So how does this even work, I ask him. We crack jokes back and forth about where to put the traction pad (No, I didn’t! I promise, I didn’t!) and how maybe there’s a couple fins missing back there. You just do less, he tells me. I nod and try to understand the idea that the board will do the work for me. You just cruise. I’d probably fuck this up and try to hack a foot off the length if I were ordering this thing custom (it’s 6’7”), I say. And yes, that would defeat the point — or at least, change the nature of the project entirely.

Then I handed him a wad of cash and slid the board under my arm. I promised to ride it in good surf, assuming I can figure out how it works well enough to do that without creating a total disaster. Do less, I mumbled to myself. I’m not sure I’m good at doing less. I walked out into the damp, grey light and stood, board under my arm, waiting for the afternoon traffic to break. Maybe I can find waves this weekend. Maybe I can figure this thing out. I enjoy my optimism — and my delusions.

(And yes, because I know y’all in the comments section will ask: I pay for pretty much all my stuff in surfing, so anything mentioned in this here story, I bought with cash money. So there’s that.)

Scientifically proven: Surfers are tough characters who mock danger and laugh in the face of debilitating injury!

Irreverent too!

How much stock do you put in science? Like, if you’re listening to a news radio story and the host says, “Scientists agree…” are you also inclined to agree? What if the scientists agree upon something that sounds dubious and/or you’ve seen contrary evidence with your very own eyes? Do you question the scientists or your own eyes?

Well, what if I told you that science just proved that surfers are tough characters who mock danger and laugh in the face of debilitating injury?

I hope you’d say “No duh.” And let’s learn about University of British Columbia PhD student Nikolaus Dean who decided to explore the attitudes surfers have toward concussions for his thesis. You know, of course, how trendy concussions are right now. A very modern, scary ailment like AIDs used to be. One knock on the head and it’s all over. No more playing… for folk not quite as tough as surfers, anyhow.

And let’s dip straight in to the question and answer portion with almost Dr. Dean, skipping sample size etc. Let’s not waste precious time with boring details.

What attitudes did the surfers in your study have toward concussion?

Generally, they showed irreverent attitudes toward the injury. They would often downplay or trivialize the severity of it. It shows that they’re willing to accept the risks of playing injured, and to push through concussive injuries. This has been shown before in more traditional sporting contexts, but now it’s also being displayed in individual, non-contact, non-traditional contexts. It’s really interesting when you think about that, because surfers don’t have teammates or coaches who may be pressuring them to play through injuries. Those external factors were absent.

Then why do they do it?

There were three main factors. The first was time. Maybe they had a limited time within a surf area. For example, if they had travelled to get to a remote spot, they would be more inclined to surf through a concussion. Or if the injury happened on the first wave of the day, they would be more likely to stay out and surf through it.

The second factor was having others present in the water. Although they don’t have teammates, coaches or trainers, a number of surfers said they’d be more willing to push through a concussion if they were out surfing with friends.

And the last factor, which I thought was one of the most interesting, was wave conditions. A number of them said that was the No. 1 reason they would continue to surf through a concussion. It was quite telling that wave conditions would dictate that.

And there we have it. Definitive proof that surfers are more robust than people who play other sports and/or better.

Longtom: “I watched the WSL Big-Wave Awards so you wouldn’t have to!”

"Kidding, I didn't watch it live."

One of the things I like most about covering the world tour is it’s easy to understand. Someone wins, someone loses.

Even if the judging is incomprehensible, at the end of the year you get a world champ and it’s all hunky dory.

Big-wave surfing, whole ‘nother story.

WSL broadcast live the Big Wave Awards and I watched it live so you wouldn’t have to. Kidding, I didn’t watch it live. Awards ceremonies give me panic attacks unless they are hosted by Ricky Gervais.

I have been over the presser and the awards itself though struggling to make sense of it all. This is ironic because about the only thing the general public understands viscerally about surfing is guys and gals careening down massive walls of water.

Mum and Dad have got no clue about Italo pulling spinners at D-Bah but Laird is still pulling cheques from Nat Geo covers 20 years ago.

Big-wave surfing is anti-marketing. It hypes itself. It sells itself.

Married to innovators and entrepreneurs like Laird and G-Mac it’s a reliable meal ticket.

Who won? Everybody!

No, Kai Lenny won.

No, Grant Baker and Keala Kennelly won.

I thought the champions had already been crowned, but that was for the Big-Wave Tour (BWT). This was something different called the Big-Wave Awards.

Confused? Clear as modern boxing?

The Big-Wave Awards was something that used to be owned by Billabong, has nothing to do with contests and has never been won by Laird, despite Laird being the best-known big-wave rider in the World, correct?


In a new gendered category, Brazilian woman Andrea Moller won the biggest paddle-in wave and a Guinness World Record at the same time for a “42 foot wave” at Jaws.

Twiggy Baker won Ride of the Year and Paddle of the Year for two waves at Jaws during the cancelled Jaws day on Nov 26. A day of madness when the WSL dropped its bundle on the whole entire meaning of publicised big wave surfing.

Our shrivelled little modern souls need danger to survive and the best danger is lived vicariously. I haven’t heard the Chas/E-Lo bro-down yet but I hope he grilled him on the Jaws capitulation.

Our shrivelled little modern souls need danger to survive and the best danger is lived vicariously. I haven’t heard the Chas/E-Lo bro-down yet but I hope he grilled him on the Jaws capitulation.

Still following?

Twiggy won the BWT (did he make a wave?), Ride of the Year, Paddle of the Year but lost out to Kai Lenny for the XXL and Over-all Performance Award.

It took a bit to decipher but eventually I realised that is the new Tow-In award. Maybe renamed the egg on your face award, seeing as Kai made the BWT look silly by showing up at the biggest day of the year at Jaws ready to rumble. Surely, the WSL has to be ready to shift gears and grab the rope to avoid leaving its audience all het up and horny when the surf gets giant.

Not that long ago, Big-wave surfing was going to be the golden ticket to take surfing to the mainstream and cash in bigly. It’s struggled to find its feet and gain traction.

A concept so simple that any Okie could grasp it has become a convoluted program more byzantine than a Game of Thrones episode.

Justine Dupont, a Seignosse local, got the Overall Performance and biggest (tow) awards for a “53” footer at Nazaré. Did you know G-Mac had already broken the 100-foot barrier at Nazaré? It’s very hard to keep up with but Wikipedia tells me he achieved this astonishing feat in 2013.

I don’t mean to sound snarky about big waves. I love big waves and the guys and gals that ride them.

I love to watch them ply their trade.

Can you guess the high-profile pro surfer that wrote me an email suggesting gals should not be endangering their lives and the lives of their rescuers by being out in big surf?

More importantly, now that the WSL has gendered the Biggest Paddle In Award, which is, as far as I can tell, the Gold Medal, can we speculate on which country the first transgendered athlete will come from to steal the bikkies.

I say Austria, raised in South Africa.

Even more importantly, which way will the wozzle swing, so to speak, when the first transgender athlete crashes the scene.

Do you think they have a contingency in place? I sure hope so.

“We continue slicing off our legacy of cool, piece by piece, in exchange for a seat in the nosebleed section of mainstream culture!”

Lady and gentlemen... place your bets!

Oooooee, I caught cracks for delivering a singularly underwhelming performance during yesterday’s much anticipated podcast interview with the World Surf League’s President of Content, Media, Etc. Erik “ELo” Logan.



“Do better next time!”


All completely honest, true and well-deserved. The only problem, and it’s a small one, is that is probably the best I can do.

Uh oh!

I may have forgotten to mention, at the outset, that I’m not an investigative surf journalist… I’m a tabloid gossip column surf journalist and sorry for the confusion.

But here’s really the thing. My point in going to meet with Mr. President Etc. was, number one, because it was funny and, number two, to begin the process of nudging the World Surf League off the path it chartered when Dirk Ziff purchased it for free those four years ago.

The well-trod ground of manufactured respectability and politically correct charm.

The bland common area.

Surfing’s revered historian Matt Warshaw wrote, more poetically than I ever could, in the forward to Cocaine + Surfing (subscribe to the Encyclopedia of Surfing here!)

The blandness, yes, but mostly the hypocrisy. The sport’s own self-betrayal. We should know better – we used to know better – than to try and reshape surfing into a sport that fits into a Mutual of Omaha ad campaign, or at Olympic telecast. Selling the sport isn’t a crime. But sell it on our own terms, the way Bruce Brown did with Endless Summer. Make them come to us. And if they don’t, so what? But no, we continue slicing off our legacy of cool, of independence, piece by piece, in exchange for a seat in the nosebleed section of mainstream culture. Then we compound the error (not “we” actually, but the World Surf League, the NYSE-traded surfwear companies, and whoever convinced the IOC to make surfing an Olympic sport for the 2020 games in Tokyo) by passing off this auto-swindle as growth and progress.


Now, did yesterday’s chat do anything other than make me complicit in this auto-swindle? Certainly not but by the time I’m finished dancing through the High Castle we’ll have Longtom calling heats from the booth, Joe Turpel Michelob Ultra drunk underneath the WSL coffee table, Jed Smith and Vaughn Dead ushering the losers out on a rail while interviewing, a flat screen television in the judges’ tower that allows viewers to heckle directly, proper betting tied directly into the broadcast and the professional surfers brought out like racehorses where punters can can feel their thighs and look at their teeth before placing bets.

Or something.

Aside from cutting the draw down, the action in the water has never been better.

I want to break the action on the land.