A more innocent time, before Kolohe-mania.
A more innocent time, before Kolohe-mania.

Fame: Kolohe Andino may never be able to walk anonymously in public again!


With the Olympics still one year away, weird talk is reaching a fever pitch. As you well know, surfing, skateboarding, breakdancing and rock climbing will be included for the first time in history. Surfing has also made it onto the Paris 2024 ticket and looks a good bet for Los Angeles 2028 too.

Opinions differ on how our Pastime of Kings will be affected.

There is the sensible conclusion that absolutely nothing will change. That people in Idaho Falls and Sofia, Bulgaria may accidentally catch some hot two-foot wiggle action then wonder when competitive kayaking is on.

And there is the wildly optimistic conclusion that all surfing ever needed was the Olympic stage in order to rocket into the public’s heart, turning Kolohe Andino into an international megastar overnight and let us turn to the Los Angeles Times for more.

Kolohe Andino is currently the top-ranked surfer in the world, yet early Tuesday morning he roamed the Huntington Beach Pier without fanfare or autograph seekers, as though he was just a regular dude.

His relative anonymity, however, may be short-lived, considering one year from now, the 2020 Olympic Games in Japan will include surfing for the first time.

Though Andino and other world-class surfers who are vying for Olympic spots are celebrities in the surfing world, the Olympics bring in a mainstream audience that is sure to change the way some surfers go about their daily lives. Simply strolling the pier, any pier, may never be the same.

Kolohe goes on to give a fine interview and I don’t think he’s delusional about his potential Q score but, my goodness, do people really do believe that the Olympics… the Olympics… is going change anything?

Do you think the World Surf League really believes?

Do you really believe?

Are you preparing for Kolohe-mania in case your wrong?

Debate: Is there a link between the explosion of surf-cams and surf photographers and crowds?

Embrace change and enjoy the dance or switch off from the grid and move to that shack somewhere southwest of Ceduna?

July has been kind to the Australian east coast. First, an abnormally sustained ENE fetch peppered the Queensland/New South Wales stretch. Nothing massive, unless you were behind the rock at Snapper, but still a week of four-to-six-foot groomed lines.

North swells, you gotta love them.

Then, a series of solid pulses from the south filed in with their usual polar intensity. Combined, they’ve lit up every good spot in one way or another over the last three weeks with hardly a break between.

Plenty of waves to be had. The assault continues as your correspondent types.

But in the post-Dickensian industrial caldera that is my hometown, there have been rumbles of discontent online as a result. It’s a particularly new age problem; a first world surfing worry. And it delights with the sort of semi-detached voyeurism one feels watching two cousins kissing at a Christmas party.

Sorta my problem, but still fun to watch!

Situation: there’s a Facebook group called Local Surf Photos. It members around 4,600 people. About a dozen or so amateur photographers regularly upload their action shots. Old crew who no longer get in the water. Delightful tuck shop nannas who have picked up photography as a hobby in retirement. Average Joes who point and shoot the lineup on their smart phones and upload in real time.

On a day when the waves are on you can have 100+ photos uploaded from a fifteen-kilometre stretch of coast before the sun’s gone down. Some spots well known, others less so.

If you’re so inclined, and know which break to surf at what time, you can even be assured of having two or three good pics of yourself posted, often by the time you get home for breakfast or to the office.

If surfing’s a selfie sport, as Dave Parmenter says, this is surely its golden era.

But, as the size of the group and number of photographers has grown, so has the backlash.

Oversaturation, say the grumpy locals.

Some older, some younger. Spots shouldnt be named, they say.

Or there should be a day’s wait before uploading, at least.

On the other side of the fence are a predominantly younger generation. Many newer to the sport.

You can’t control the line up, they retort.

Localism is dead. These are public spaces. There’s no such thing as secret spots any more!

Expletive-laden, punctuation-devoid rants ensue.

Fighting on the internet is fun to watch, yes. But, like, poor grammar ‘n that aside, it’s modern life writ large: The democratisation of the internet versus its desecration of longstanding cultural norms.

It’s so easy to check the surf now.

Most spots have two, sometimes even three cams pointed at them 24/7 (hint: suss out your local surf club website). The more industrious and digitally literate of us can even do things like check recent Instagram stories from content-rich spots like Snapper, Pass, Crescent, Bondi etc to get a look at what the waves are doing behind the kawaii pouts.

We also know crowds are getting worse.

I used to look to a tree, or a flagpole, or the clouds to guess what the waves were doing. Now I just check my feed. And there’s nothing like a shot of your local doing its best Ulu’s impersonation from an hour ago to get the juices flowing. I change plans. Come up with excuses. The car’s sick and I gotta drop the baby at the mechanics. I rush back in for a forty-five-minute power session when otherwise I would have been sitting at work in semi-ignorance.

Fact. Is there a causal relationship with the explosion of surfcams and surf photographers and the number of people in the water? It’s hard to say. But there’s no doubt more lenses pointed to the horizon equals more attention on the surf.

I’m part of the problem. I pay for Swellnet Pro. I love a FB notification on where’s pumping while I’m punching keys at work. Spot a few friends getting bombs. Sometimes even my own mug.

I used to look to a tree, or a flagpole, or the clouds to guess what the waves were doing. Now I just check my feed. And there’s nothing like a shot of your local doing its best Ulu’s impersonation from an hour ago to get the juices flowing. I change plans. Come up with excuses. The car’s sick and I gotta drop the baby at the mechanics. I rush back in for a forty-five-minute power session when otherwise I would have been sitting at work in semi-ignorance.

But, I’m still a misanthrope at heart.

I scowl at unknown faces in the lineup. I cling to my low rung on the surfing ship and anybody below me trying to get on I kick square in the face. Burn the life jackets, too.

I don’t want no more surfers taking me waves.

And I know the karmic price we will ultimately pay for this life of #content #saturation we’re currently wading through will be high.

So how do I reconcile that with the perks of the digital world I so fully enjoy?

Do I embrace change and enjoy the dance?

Or switch off from the grid and move the family down to that shack somewhere southwest of Ceduna?

Yeah, fuck it. I’ll just continue the hypocrisy, extolling the virtues of a tribalist neo-luddite while feeding the beast I say I’m rallying against.

At least I’m not the only one doing it.

PS: Don’t come surf Newcastle or I’ll shit on your windscreen wipers.

"If I ended up sleeping in the dunes at J-Bay or holed up in Morocco: somewhere with lined up Points that regularly get strafed by howling offshores the Vector-Cuda would be the indispensable one board quiver. No question." Here, we see the author at home in Lennox.

Board review, Aleutian Juice Victor-Cuda: “Transformative. Will heal the injured and comfort the elderly!”

More importantly, "mid-lengths won't fuck your shred…"

God, I’ve changed so much since I started writing for the Grit. Pushed out of my comfort zone so far.

Wearing Italian flat caps, getting in beefs with local enforcers and Murfer hubbies who take umbrage at what I write. Derek Rielly is always sending me provocative little ideas with a “You got this?” And seeing as I got the arse from bus driving I don’t have any choice, if I want to keep the bills paid, then to sit down and grapple with concepts that are deeply uncomfortable and will involve clear blowback.

To put out there, as the old French cock Sartre said, “Confused, vaguely questioning ideas that then fall apart.”

The old days of surf media seem so paradisiacal and sure footed by comparison: bit of advertorial, bit of hagiography, paid trip to the Tuamotus with some B-grade pros. Heaven.

I know a lot of modern surfers feel the same discomfort about mid-lengths, which is why today I bring a custom 7’3” Parmenter shaped Aleutian Juice Vector-Cuda into the classroom for show and tell. It is appropriate given Greg Webber’s 7’3” for sale and the stunning mid-length surfing laid on by Torren Martyn in Mexico, which I’m sure you have seen.

The chief argument against the mid-length is that it destroys the ability to shred on high-performance equipment. A subsidiary argument is that the mid-length identifies one as a hipster and that may not be appropriate; because either one is incapable of making the cut (too old, too fat, too ugly) or feels too much self ridicule at the potential mis-identification.

Despite these substantial concerns, the positives far outweigh the negatives.

One thing that has never changed in me is easy access to a mid-length. I can’t even remember how far back it started; finding a Mitchell Rae Outer Island seven-footer somewhere in a shed and adopting it for baby food out the front of a friend’s house on the Sunshine Coast is where it officially began, but I’m sure it goes back further.

That was before mid-lengths became fashionable and acquired a serious step up the value chain.

The old slur of mini-mal still resonates in Australia, if not elsewhere but the name change to mid-length came with a major increase in cache.

Who knows why?

As part of a continuing push back against pro surfing by a new generation who weren’t scared of being labelled pseudo-hippies or looking like victims of boomer nostalgia would be my best guess. The pay-off for the skilled becomes immediately apparent for anyone who has seen footage of Terry Fitzgerald at J-Bay: early entry, line drive, logarithmic momentum by laying trim line on trim lines.

At the other end of the scale, gliding on petite peaks or joining the dots on disconnected short-period rubbish removes the need to generate speed through monkey pumping.

The big step up the value chain is a major disincentive.

Previously, I’d surmounted the problem by acquiring a hipster board from a Byron Bay factory. Enough laps on a Friday afternoon with a six-pack of Coopers would see a second-handy in mint condition that needed to be liquidised.

A returned custom that had the wrong spray, in this case.

That resulted in a beautiful 7’1” that I passed over to my gal as a gift, and she shredded on it. A day before we were due to leave on a surfing/camping holiday I ripped a fin out rocking off at the Point and the middy was still in the car. Half-an-hour later, a freak set landed on my head and the board was in two. That was three years ago and the opportunity to replace it had not come up.

The opportunity to replace the offending husband, very much so.

Around about then or before or later, don’t cross-examine me on the timeline, there was a secondhand Parmenter Aleutian Juice in a Byron surf shop with Jeff Hakman’s name on the stringer. The Holy Bible has no injunction about coveting surfboards and I did covet it, a lot. Seven-three with an outline that was half-Hawaiian seventies shortboard and half double-ender. Pulled in nose, diamond tail. Widow maker fin set-up.

I wanted that board so bad. As a retirement plan, to put under the house and pull out when I’m 60 or my shoulder carked it or something else happened.

The following sequence of events was pure serendipity.

Parmenter was coming to Australia in Feb to hang out with Andrew Kidman and was taking shaping orders. No chance, I thought. A wonderful board builder from Oregon named Bryan Bates, who is a spitting image of Chas Smith, also from Oregon, and who now makes boards in Byron Bay, made contact with me.

I’d helped him out and now he had a deal for me. A real great deal as Jerry from Fargo would say. Dave would do the shape job and Bryan would glass the boards. Bryan has the full skill-set of resin tints, deluxe glass jobs etc etc. My last pay packet from the buses had just enough cream to cash out Bryan for the deal and wait. The board would be presented to my gal as a birthday present.

Email exchanges with Parmenter ensued.

It’s one of the great blessings of an Aleutian Juice custom. He remembered the Hakman board, put it straight into it’s historical perspective and intended usage which from my perspective was a board that could, “paddle like a barracuda and still have easy turning off the template and rocker curve, as well as the ability to lay it over off the bottom on a wind-ribbed double overhead Point wave at maximum velocity”.

For my gal I desired, “easy paddle-in, nice glide and something that turns freely and without complication and can build speed on speed if she snags an offshore set wave that runs down the sandbank”.

He named the resultant design a Vector-Cuda.

It was a great deal.

Parmenter shaped the blank and Bryan made it deluxe. The steep-angular rails were from the Brewer school, the template was tits and the widow maker fin cluster was glassed in.

For a Parmenter custom I had it in almost record time. My pal wasn’t so lucky. Shite can go pear shaped when OS shapers outsource boards to glassing houses which then get lost. His board got lost in the system and took months to get done.

A good paddler. Sometimes I wonder if people even understand the meaning of that phrase. Its transformative power. Its ability to heal the injured and comfort the elderly.

I had to patiently wait for my wife to put the first ding in it before riding it and when she ground the tip of a side-fin off on a mistimed rock off it was time.

A good paddler. Sometimes I wonder if people even understand the meaning of that phrase. Its transformative power. Its ability to heal the injured and comfort the elderly. The Vector-Cuda is glassed heavy, to last. Heavy boards follow the most basic laws of physics. Momentum = Mass times Velocity squared. Momentum joins the dots on disconnected point surf, cuts through wind, glides on little peelers. Momentum is a gal’s best friend.

I get to see a lot of insane mid-length surfing. Torryn Martyn, Joel Fitzgerald, Dave Rastovich all live in the hood and frequent the Point. Some is performative, with cameras at the ready. Seventies posing will never go out of style.

Sometimes though you’ll see Rasta at the Point on raggedy swells with no-one around. The lines he draws on a middy are pure function. A single haiku from start to finish. Completely wasted lateral surfing by CT standards.

I don’t ride it all the time. Don’t need to. Sometimes if a swell cycle is imminent it’ll get used as a deliberate strategy invented by Derek Hynd to upshift and then downshift through a quiver. You ride a 7’3” for a day or a session and then go down to a 6’0”. Your legs feel like steel springs.

And, here, the author scrambling down the rocks at The Point, the photograph showing the distinctive outline of the surfboard and the glassed-in fins.

I doubt Dave Parmenter would approve.

Being Catholic with board choices is a luxury for the few.

If I ended up sleeping in the dunes at J-Bay or holed up in Morocco: somewhere with lined up Points that regularly get strafed by howling offshores the Vector-Cuda would be the indispensable one board quiver. No question.

The takeaway, as Derek would ask for?

1. Mid-lengths won’t fuck your shred.

2. Good deals can turn bad but great deals can be awesome.

3. A good middy can be a reliable and trusted ally to help you negotiate the stormy vissicitudes of life.

4. You won’t find one on the rack.

Surfing or Flurfing? | Photo: WSL

Bold: Travis Ferré demands wave tank “surfing” be renamed something more fitting!

Introducing "flurfing!"

You know, and therefore love, California’s Travis Ferré for his now decade plus long plus run documenting our pastime of kings. The onetime Surfing magazine editor-in-chief, founder of What Youth and BeachGrit contributor has made an indelible mark and its difficult to pick a favorite moment, favorite piece, but his refusal to surf Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch must be near the top of the list.

Can you imagine getting invited and turning it down? But can you really?

It was one of the boldest stances our surf industry has ever seen but he is not finished. On his new project Inherent Bummer he suggests that calling the activity that happens in war tanks “surfing” is not accurate and demands we change the moniker.

Shall we taste?


Surfing and wave pool riding are not and have never been one in the same. No longer can they be linked under the surfing name. Since I know I can’t stop the gold rush of new pools and wave parks, I’m launching a campaign against the name. We must make history together and change the name of riding waves in wave pools and never refer to it as “surfing “again. Just as riding wakes behind boats is fun, it’s not surfing and so we don’t call it surfing. Why should wave pools be any different?

He builds a very compelling case, likening surfing and wave tank riding to smoking and vaping. Accurate, I think, and then offers that we come up with a new name for wave tank riding together.

His suggestion is “flurfing.”

It has a powerful ring.

Do you think it will stick?

Do you have a better option?


From the bargain-bin dept: Buy a Greg Webber surfboard for $1000 and get 1000 free waves in his debut pool!

“Free waves from me when the god forsaken projects start exploding on the scene.”

The Australian surfboard shaper and pool/reef designer, Greg Webber, has made an offer almost too good to refuse, wouldn’t ya say?

Webber, whose travails I have covered in forensic detail over the past few years, here, here, here, here, here and here, (wait, here, here and here, too) is offering a seven-three diamond tail that he’d made for himself to offset the increasing generosity of his middle belt.

But, now, having put the cakes down, he’s auctioning the board, starting at four fifty and if it hits a thousand or beyond, the winner is going to get a thousand free waves in Webber’s first wave pool.

“Go on you fuckers!” writes Greg, on a recent Facebook post. “Free waves from me when the god forsaken projects start exploding on the scene.”

Thousand bucks, A, is a little under seven hundred bucks US.

A board, maybe a year’s worth of waves?

“I’m patient and I’m fucking determined,” Greg told me two years ago.

Contact Greg to buy board and reserve your thousand waves here.