Who does this wave belong to? Which is paddling first?

Epidemic: “I was paddling first” disease spreading like wildfire through VAL population!

Are there any doctors out there? Help! 

There is much talk of disease, epidemics and pandemics in the United States of America with almost vanquished measles, mumps, etc. making a comeback. The rabidly fearful blame an anti-vaccination movement but since when did getting sick become such a horrible thing? Aren’t our immune systems there to beat away the naughties? I mean, I understand being all freaked out about polio but measles? Chickenpox?

Well, let’s not turn this into a vax vs. anti-vax debate because there’s an even more deadly plague raging through the VAL population. One that if we don’t stamp out today will destroy us all.

“I was paddling first” disease.

I’ve seen the symptoms in the wild more in the last week than I have in my three decades in the water. A few days ago, for example, I was out enjoying a little run of swell. The lineup was uncrowded, featuring only a woman riding a Lost Puddle Jumper and three college-aged VALs on softtops. A wave came, breaking left. The woman was inside but all three VALs paddled anyway. One of them caught it and was hollered off. As he made his way back out I heard him loudly remark to his friends, “I don’t know why she yelled at me. I was paddling first.”

It was more than I could take and growled, “She was inside you damn kook.” He tried to argue his point, that he paddled first and I told him to shut his mouth, which he did, but that wasn’t the proper response. I fear I rammed the disease further down his throat and now he’ll begin paddling even earlier in order to avoid being in the wrong.

Is there a cure? A vaccine? A proper way to address or is the only solution a mass culling?

Are there any doctors out there? Help!


The lady and the tramp! As the century-old saying goes, "use a picture, it's worth a thousand words." | Photo: Justin Jay

Crowdfund: Justin Jay’s Magnificent Decade-in-the-making North Shore Tome!

Help breathe life into a piece of surf history…

Always a good to help a brother out, wouldn’t y’say?

Of all the cameras and phones floating around the North Shore each season, it’s only the photographic reportage of Steve Sherman and Justin Jay that, well, how do you say it…sing.

Justin is photographer from New York city’s Lower East Side, a master portraitist who works with a Nikon film camera, an ancient manual-focus 35mm prime affixed to the beak.

Jay takes his work extremely seriously. Every year when he flies to the North Shore to independently cover the contest season, he carries a box of prints in his backpack to give to surfers he’s previously shot.

“I think it’s the right thing to do,” says Jay, who has previously shot Jay Z, Outkast and P Diddy. “A picture does take a little bit of your soul in a sense, it’s why famous people wear sunglasses all the time. So if you take someone’s photo, you need to give something back, you have to make sure they get a print. Everyone has a fucking iPhone and no one has any physical prints any more. When you give someone a print from a year ago, they feel amazing.”

Justin’s approach is simple enough.

“Whether I’m shooting Diddy or Jay-Z or Kelly or Joel I put myself in the eyes of a 13-year-old fan,” he says. “What would they like to see? There’s plenty of photos of Dane and Kelly ripping, but that’s not my game. I want to see the surfers before and after they surf, getting in fist fights, partying, eating breakfast.”

He calls himself the Switzerland of photographers because he has no allegiance to a magazine or company.

My favourite shot of Jay’s, maybe of all time, is this image of Dane Reynolds, excluded from a Bruce Irons make-out session at a North Shore party.

Justin says his game works ’cause he’s an outsider, because hasn’t been in the industry for so long that his eyes cloud over the minutiae of this awesome multi-generational gathering of the world’s best surfers.

After ten years, Jay is finally going to sling it all into a fine hard-cover book.

As he says, “my style of stuff lends itself to ageing. These are historical shots, rather than standard portraits. Plus, going back each year is like going to summer camp or winter camp, in this case, all the same faces, this great fraternity.”

Like a lot of hot shots, he ain’t doing it through the usual publishing route. Hence the Kickstart he’s chasing.

Jay needs 22k (Australian dollars) to make it happen.

There’s some good incentives to kick in.

Eighty five bucks and you get a book and a signed print.

Five gees US and you’ll “Receive a signed copy of HI 1K, a signed 16X20 print of their choice from the book, and a round trip plane ticket to the North Shore during the Pipe Masters event in Dec 2019. Spend an afternoon on a private tour of the North Shore as Justin Jay goes behind the scenes to visit team houses and deliver gift copies of HI 1K to some of the athletes featured in the book. Afterward, enjoy a complimentary meal at the legendary Breakers Restaurant.”

Buy in here. 

 


Shaun Neff starts toothpaste brand with Kendall Jenner: “I just riff on what’s in my head and it’s valuable!”

It's a great time to be a early 2000s surf industry scion!

There was a time in the surf industry’s history where anyone, and I mean anyone, could make money by starting a brand. I don’t know how or why just that it was true and I enjoy watching these men imagine it was their unique skill in “youth culture” and “rad” that led to their early 2000s riches in this the 18th year (and counting) of the surf industry apocalypse.

Shaun Neff is one of these men. The kinetic “guru” launched his eponymous brand Neff in 2002, selling a majority stake to a private equity firm a few years ago and now reveling in his position as a “brand whisperer” and shall we read some quotes from a new feature in Forbes highlighting his toothpaste collaboration with Kendall Jenner? We’d be horrible rude not to.

On high school: As a surfer and snowboarder, it was all about the brands that I felt represented my culture and what it meant the first day showing up in high school and what logo is going to be on my chest. There’s lots of options, but I had to make sure it was the right one that would represent who I am and what I do on the weekends.

On attending Brigham Young University: I was putting Neff stickers all over stop signs and I had the coolest guy at the skate park wearing it and the DJ at the party; I created this cool brand vibe in the college town.

On naming his brand “Neff”: I love that age of when you’re very entrepreneurial. It’s the time you don’t know enough and that naiveness of understanding what it takes to build a business and how you have to properly set it up and how many million things have to go right for it to catch on. I was just simple, even down to naming the brand. Bob Hurley used his last name, so I figured I’ll just use mine.

On his first trade show: I’m looking over at Burton and thinking oh that’s whack—they spent all that money and that’s not cool and I had all the cool kids and pro athletes hanging out at the Neff booth.

On being crazy dope famous: There was a good four or five years where I could not leave my house, whether I was dropping my kids off at school, going to the beach, going to work or getting on a flight, that I didn’t see my last name on someone. It was insane.

On life as a consultant after he sold his majority stake in Neff: I just riff on what’s in my head and it’s valuable and then they apply it to their whole business. That really triggered me to want to do more.

On his brain: That’s just who I am and my brain never stops—I can’t be walking anywhere and not think of a new business I would love to start and how to make it different.

On starting a toothpaste brand with Kendall Jenner: When a friend is coming over you hide your toothpaste, so the idea was let’s make something that looks beautiful on your shelf, that elevates your bathroom and really stands out.

Etc.

It is a truly insightful article featuring many more gems and I hope you take the time to read, highlight, take to heart, meditate upon, recite, use at TED X talks.

I also wrote about Shaun Neff in the award skirting book Cocaine + Surfing (buy here). Would you like to read?

(The U.S. Open of Surfing riots) That might have been one of the funnier moments in surf history. Drunk white boys with Neff bandanas tied around their faces pushing over porta-potties and throwing stop signs through surf shop windows to steal more Neff bandanas. Neff might be the worst brand in all of surf. On the company website founder Shaun Neff is pictured standing like a gangster except wearing two different colored shoes, tight-black skinny jeans, some goofy Mickey Mouse T-shirt under a try-hard satin jacket and a black beanie above the words: “We are like a gumball machine; spitting out endless flavors for the world to consume…” I wonder what “endless flavor” Huntington Beach riot tastes like. Like generator exhaust, aerosol sunscreen, vape pen, spray paint, spray tan, spray cheese, sand particles probably.

Fucking Shaun Neff.

And that’s all I have to say about that.


Pro surfer goes on dating show to spruik “whole range of surf boards emblazoned with the words she makes up!”

Introducing the "Fwoofed Off!"

I’ll admit, there are times that I get arrogantly complacent as a surf journalist. I spend my days and nights thinking about surf, writing about surf, talking about surf, surfing, watching surfing etc. and fall into the ugly trap of imagining that I am at least vaguely aware of every single thing happening under surfing’s sun.

But how could one man hold all the surfing wonders in himself? All the magical bits and bobs? It is impossible and egotistical and I am therefore happy when The Universe kicks my hubris by offering some surf business of which I have never heard. Never even imagined. And allow me to introduce you to professional surfer Lucie Donlan who stars on British dating show Love Island but not for the reasons you’d think and let’s get right into the article. Let’s go straight to The Mirror.

She’s the sexy surfer from Newquay who’s got all the boys chasing her.

But Lucie Donlan has revealed her real reason for entering Love Island – and it’s got nothing to do with the chaps.

The 21 year old started surfing when she was 13 and makes her money through surf modelling.

And she admits she’s got big hopes of having a whole range of surf boards emblazoned with the words she makes up.

“I do make up weird words. They will be coming out this summer,” she tells The Mirror.

“There is ‘Bev’ which is like hot. ‘My Bev’ is – he is nearly my boyfriend. ‘Schnag’ is like when you bite at someone like your boyfriend – when you are like – just stop doing that… you schnag at them.

“‘Fwoofed off’ is when he dumps you. There are loads of them. I just made them up. My family use it now and my friend use it too. It carries on to people. You might be shocked. There might be some you end up using. Maybe there will surf boards adorned with these words. That would be cool.”

I can only hope Jon Pyzel is reading right now or even Matt Biolos. Speaking of, quickly, how much gloating do you think Pyzel does in front of Biolos after his John John beat Biolos’s Kolohe on what would have to be deemed superior equipment seeing that Kolohe had closed the power gap between he and John earlier in the year?

What sort of gloating? Passive? Aggressive? Humorous? Kind?

What sort of gloating will Biolos return when Lost inks Donlan to an exclusive distribution deal and the Bev, Schnag and Fwoofed Off outsell Pyzel’s Ghost two to one?

Oh, I know. Taciturn gloating. It’s the only mood the man has.


Surfer attacked by shark at Lennox Point: “God, I love this place!”

Eight-foot Lennox, four surfers, one hit…

The last bite in Feb to local chalkie Sam Edwards was major. Maimed and a near fatality. White shark.

One before that, in Nov last year, to another chalkie, Lee “Grimace” Johnson was a stitchable leg bite. Also a White.

Fifty or so stitches, good story to tell. He had to fight it off.

Someone, not local, got themselves a Ballina tattoo surfing Lennox Point around lunchtime. Not serious, but plenty of blood spilled. Likely culprit a small bull shark.

Biggest day of the year at the Point, biggest day for over a year. I checked it at dawn, then nine am.

Walked the length of the Point with Santa Babs pioneer George Greenough and sat down and watched for an hour while we had a great old gossipy bullshit session. My doggie dropped a little caca next to George’s foot and I had to pick it up with sticks. The surf was raggedy and eight foot, a very strong current and a very big paddle.

Good to great chance of getting beat up jumping off the rocks.

George told me not to fuck around and to just get my biggest board if I wanted to paddle out.

So I dragged out a nine-o Brewer from under the house. Ludicrous for eight-foot surf, but when you’ve spent a few sessions out near the shipping channel beating into a five-knot current and twenty-knot headwind you don’t think twice about how ludicrous it looks.

Drove back to the top of the Point. Carcass was hanging with a crew. There was less than a handful out. Forgot my wetsuit. Thought: do I really want to deal with that paddle, that wild and feral ocean?

I did not.

But I went back and suited up anyway, had a discrepancy in the carpark with a kind of frenemy who reckoned I had called him a pest on the internets.

Possibly true. But I couldn’t remember it.

Ambled back to the top of the Point and had a strange chat with a toothless old man who said it was the worst year he’d seen in forty years. The Brewer felt great cleaving through the water except the fine red dirt had now turned to a slippery mud.

Paddled for another 45 minutes, the wind shifted from west to south-south-west and came in hard against us and the dropping tide made the whole ocean start to drain. From my lineups I could see I was, in fact, making no headway and going backwards. On a nine-0. And we were way the fuck out near the shark listening buoy.

Paddled for forty-five minutes and got halfway out. There were four surfers. Ballina kid on a red Arakawa nine-0 and two others, I thought Euros.

Paddled for another 45 minutes, the wind shifted from west to south-south-west and came in hard against us and the dropping tide made the whole ocean start to drain. From my lineups I could see I was, in fact, making no headway and going backwards. On a nine-0. And we were way the fuck out near the shark listening buoy.

I turned.

Drifted and then began a long paddle cutting across the grain of the current and wind. The thought of sharks began to play with me. A school of mullet came drifting past, flicking and nodding. I was well down past the boat channel by the time the Brewer reached land.

A big paddle for one wave.

A long walk back to the Point.

That was 12.30. Half an hour later, there were two left in the lineup. One of which got tagged on the wrist, almost certainly by a small bull chasing those mullet schools. Eyewitnesses report frantic paddling from the other surfer and a mad scramble up the rocks.

The bite victim was driven to Ballina hospital.

Richmond-Tweed police refuse to release any details on the man but local sources say he is a WA surfer.

Most likely one of the two crew I thought were Euros.

God I love this place on days like these.

Beaches closed with shark signs up etc etc.