Meet: Mexico’s teen version of Jack Robinson/Bruce Irons/John John Florence!

Half-gringo kid Alan Cleland Jr's got one of the world's heaviest beachbreaks in his front yard and a drug-cartel war in the back. Oowee etc.

Thinking about having kids, but don’t want them to become soft, spoiled first world brats who never look up from their phones? Meet Alan Cleland Jr, sixteen years old, from Pascuales, Mexico.

Alan’s the type of fully actualized young guy you’d want as your co pilot. Take him on a trip and he’ll expertly strap everyone’s boards onto the car, surf all day, call you into a good one, catch a fish, make a fire, cook it for everyone and eat his share last.

How did he get this way?

His father was a pro surfer from the San Diego area in the 1980’s. He didn’t compete much, but I remember seeing photos of him in Surfer, always deeply tubed at SD winter reefs with a serene expression on his face. Alan Sr started making trips south in his late-teens and fell in love with the palm groves and bombing barrels of Pascuales.

Soon, he had a local girlfriend there who turned into his wife and who bore him a son and a daughter.

Alan Jr doesn’t look half-Mexican. He’s got bushy blond hair, pale, sun-roasted skin and blue eyes. But when he says “Orale, chingon” to one of his homies you know he ain’t no gringo. He didn’t learn any English until age six and went to a Mexican public elementary school before switching to a home school program.

Pascaules isn’t friendliest spot for a kid to learn how to surf, but if you watch young Alan you’ll see what it’s done for him. He’s got that mas tranquilo approach to the barrel you see from other greats who grew up toying with heavy drainers like Bruce, Andy, John John and Jack Robinson.

The difference for Alan is that his spot is overhead 300 days and a year, breaks over sand, and until recently, was rather empty of people.

Not many grommies from Coolangatta or San Clemente have been stuffed into a trunk of a car and had a gun held to their heads the way Alan experienced at age 12. That happened on a midnight trip to Puerto Escondido when the driver of the car stopped to take a piss by he side of the road and got jacked by some hoods lying it wait. The lesson? Don’t drive at night in Mexico and if for some reason you do, don’t ever fucking stop to take a piss.

But growing up in deep, dark Mainland Mex isn’t, ah, the safest place for a young surfer.

Not many grommies from Coolangatta or San Clemente have been stuffed into a trunk of a car and had a gun held to their heads the way Alan experienced at age 12. That happened on a midnight trip to Puerto Escondido when the driver of the car stopped to take a piss by he side of the road and got jacked by some hoods lying it wait.

The lesson? Don’t drive at night in Mexico and if for some reason you do, don’t ever fucking stop to take a piss.

Alan’s home base in the state of Colima isn’t the safest joint either. In the old narco days, coke and weed were moved through that area to mainly to feed the addictions of North Americans and Europeans.

Now the explosion of cheap pills and meth have yielded a class of Mexican drug fiends. These days, you’re not as likely to catch a stray bullet from a Zetas/Sinaloa cartel “heating up the plaza” shoot out as you used to be. But a desperate junkie looking for a fix is not the guy you want to bump into on a quiet street after dark.

“Pretty much every bad thing that happens in Mexico goes down about 10 minutes from where I live,” says Alan.

To stay safe, he bolts up the doors to his house after seven pm each night and stays there.

He proudly surfs for the Mexican national team and is way better in small, weak waves that you might expect. He took second at a Pro Junior in tiny waves in Florida and recently made the semis of a QS in Acapulco.

He’s got a loose, almost hipstery style that may or may not find favor with the judges on tour, but he’s down to give it his best shot. If it doesn’t work out, he’s fortunate that Nathan Fletcher hooked him up with Vans, one of the last bastions of curated and subsidized free surf artists.

I filmed Alan in the clip above in the silky smooth point breaks of Oaxaca and was blown away by his natural talent.

Out of the hundreds of young pros grinding away in small, mushy waves at Huntington Beach next week, Alan’s one to pay attention to.

Profound: Business VAL develops foolproof middle-management risk assessment plan based on surfing!

Unlock your potential today!

And tell me true, is one of your favorite parts about being a surfer all the many and varied ways you can apply our favorite pastime to other aspects of life? If it’s not than life is better in something other than boardshorts™ for you and you also don’t exude the true Georgian Spirit™.

But would you like to know who does exude the true Georgian Spirit™? Business Leadership Strategy Consultant and one-year-old VAL David Michels and would you like to know his advice about change (I think) in the world of commerce?

Again, if not than too bad and let’s turn to the Bible of Millionaires and Billionaires for more.

I don’t know if it’s the coming of summer to the northern hemisphere, where I live, or the increasing number of conversations I’m having with business executives on the topic of change, but I can’t stop thinking about surfing.

It’s a hobby I just recently picked up. I started last summer on a family holiday in San Diego, and I’m glad I did. Not only is it a whole lot of fun and a completely new challenge—especially starting in middle age, not easy!—but it is also an apt metaphor for how “change” is changing in the business world.


To me, change today is less like that old carnival game and much more like surfing the waves. For one thing, change, like waves, actually never stops. It can be large or small, fast or slow, but it is continuous. No two waves are exactly alike, and that’s one of the things that makes surfing so much fun. But there are patterns: Waves form, roll, peak and break. Often, the difference between a successful surf and a complete wipeout is your ability to understand the characteristics of that particular wave as it forms. These things are all true of change, too.


As a surfer, you need a few things to be successful. You need the right equipment—a decent board and, depending on temperature, a good wet suit. As you venture out into the water, you must decide which waves to try to surf, to pick your spots. Positioning is paramount: Too early and you miss it, too late, and it will crash on top of you. Then comes technique—the right paddling motion to get into position and, critically, how you balance on your board to find just the right edge. Oh yes, there is a lot of skill involved, as I can attest as a relative beginner, and you won’t always succeed. You need to either enjoy the ride or embrace the lessons of the wipeout, and then get back out there.


Oh it goes on and on and on and by the end you’ll no doubt feel that surfing has given you the keys to unlock your financial potential.

Wait… what?

Sorry… I have water in my ears and forgot what I was getting on about.

"Yesterday an elderly lady came up to us at the beach and asked if we could help fulfill her husbands wish to ride a wave one last time. She said that he is suffering from dementia and most likely has a year to live." | Photo: Ryan Giacola

Thanks for the laughs: Dying Man with dementia rides one last wave

Sooner or later it's gonna come, your last wave. How do you want to sign off?

It’s hard to contemplate, but, sooner or later, it’s gonna come.

Your last wave.

Maybe one VAL lecture on equality in the lineup or collision too many vaporises the love.

Diminishing returns and a disgust in your atrophying skills convince you to turn out the light.

Or you get old and you switch, first, to a longboard, then a SUP, and then it just gets too hard.

Below, we see a terminally ill man, ruined by dementia, whose loving wife helps him ride one last wave into the sunset.

A beautiful coda, yes?

Live from Bali: Watch the Rip Curl Cup Padang Padang!

Mason Ho, Matt Wilko, Nathan Florence and co climb into four-to-six-foot Bukit tubes.

Got a little down time at work, Australia, or it’s a lonely ol Sunday afternoon in the US?

If slowish four-to-six-foot barrels and a looseness you won’t find on a WSL broadcast thrill, click on the link below.

The scores are a little confusing, click on live scores on the sidebar tab and you might think Jackie Robinson had just ridden a near-perfect heat. He didn’t. At least, not yet. That was last year.

Heat two’s about to jump in the water, Mason Ho etc.

Heat three has Matt Wilko.

Heat four, Nathan Florence.

Pull the steel bar down on the Padang rollercoaster seat below.

Commentary from Matt George, Vaughan Blakey and co.

Celebrate: Kanoa Igarashi on track to become “the face of the 2020 Olympic Games!”

"He's very talented..."

Ooooooee what would we have done the last few days if not for the Brothers’ George? Sam and Matt brought the heat, burning right through typical post-World Surf League event gloom. I’ve now read both of their fine works and all the comments and still have no idea what Matt is defending.

Do you?

Can you help me understand?

In other news, the Japanese have been surfing for over 100 years and Kanoa Igarashi, current world number five, is on track to become the face of the Olympic Games.

All true and I read about it this morning on Japan Today. Here, I’ll give you a taste.

A total of 26 sports applied for inclusion in the 2020 Games and in August of 2016, five new sports, including surfing , were added.

The IOC has also approved the inclusion of surfing on the program for the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

Surfing in Japan dates back over 100 years.

As detailed by Legendary Surfers, most Japanese-style wooden boats at the time had removable floor boards that were called Itago. When the boats were beached after fishing, the children of the fishermen took the Itago out of the boats and used them as body boards. This practice was commonly known as Itago-nori, meaning “Floor board riding.”

Japan, meanwhile, is hoping to get a boost from Kanoa Igarashi. Born in Huntington Beach, California, the 21-year-old Igarashi recently received dual citizenship in order to compete for his ancestral homeland in 2020. He has become one of the top surfers in the World Surf League and will be a medal contender next year.

In May, Igarashi became the first Japanese surfer to win an elite Championship Tour event when he topped the men’s competition at the Corona Bali Protected.

As host, Japan will get one automatic berth in each of the 20-surfer draws and will have a chance to earn another.

“He’s very talented, I think he could become a face of the games,” Fasulo said.

So, first, I would like to officially change the word “surfing” here to also be “floor board riding.” I think it is more accurate and also more poetic. A rare win-win.

Second, does it surprise you that Kanoa Igarashi is current world number five and that Kolohe Andino is current world number one? When I was laying out my projected midway rankings ahead of the 2019 season I did not have it like this, to be very honest. Professional floor board riding never ceases to confound and delight.

Third, are you still not on the Kanoa Igarashi train? As sometime BeachGrit contributor Jamie Tierney eloquently puts, “to know Kanoa is necessarily to love him.” I think he will make a fine face of the Olympic Games and I will do my best to run all the very cute Japanese commercials he appears in here.

Lastly, one of Kanoa Igarashi’s very strongest events, The U.S. Open of Floor Board Riding, is set to begin in seven days. Do you have plans to go to Huntington Beach? Are you a registered sex offender?

Just curious.