So tell me and tell me true, is today’s Teahupoo forecast really going to be what World Surf League President of Content, Media and Hyphy Rap Dancing Erik “ELo” Logan calls “48 hours of #mustsee?” Is it going to be, as he also calls “EPIC TAHITI?” The “monster swell of Kanoa Igarashi’s young life?”
Oh he didn’t describe it as the monster swell of Kanoa Igarashi’s young life but will it be?
Do you believe?
I was in the channel, on a boat during a medium-sized Teahupoo swell once many years ago with Mikey Wright, Leo Fioravanti and Kanoa Igarashi. Kanoa did not like it and refused to paddle. Oh, I didn’t blame him. Seeing that beast up close is something that will haunt me for the rest of my life. The reef is right there, like right there, and the lagoon that folk gets washed into is literally* filled with razor blades and MMA fighters pointy elbows and the wave, that wave, is thick and fast.
Reflexes, man. You need reflexes.
Will any surfers chicken out? There are a full 32 of them. The entire field minus four and one of those four is a young Tahitian hell charger.
*Various dictionaries have officially changed “literally” to “figuratively” to reflect usage.
Jamie Brisick observes "how the omnipresent camera has affected surf style…"
There’s a scene in David Egger’s dystopian novel The Circle where an exec from a fictional Bay area tech giant is pitching a new gadget to his adoring disciples.
It’s a Steve Jobs trope. Ear mic. Black skivvy. The whole show.
But he’s also a surfer, and his breakthrough innovation is a pocket-sized, mass- produced camera that can be placed on any beach to live stream surf conditions. You can keep it as your personal feed. Or you can hook it into the network of millions of others of cameras
It’s the ultimate surf cam. Nowhere needs to be secret, anymore.
Of course, like any good sci-fi, curly questions are posed about omnipotent technology, the public’s right to know vs the individual’s right to privacy etc
But the thing is, this sorta tech is already here.
The writer and former pro Jamie Brisick has written a story in The New Yorker, and published today, riffing on this very topic.
He opens his scene with a new VAL toy called Surfline Sessions™. It’s an app that recognises subscribers and records their every wave, if it’s in front of a Surfline camera. You can have your videos cut and ready waiting for you by the time you get back to your car to dry off.
The video guy for the everyman.
I saw another one recently that is a camera you leave recording on the beach that follows you around the surf using a GPS tracker.
Never miss a wave, anywhere, anytime.
On Mikey February: “His hand jive, soul arches, and toreador-like flourishes play to the camera in a way that breaks the spell of the itinerant surfer in far-flung solitude. His style is as self-conscious as the duck-face selfie.”
It all makes for great marketing hooks. But isn’t also sorta fucken …lame?
I quoted Parmenter recently when he said surfing is the ultimate selfie sport.
In The New Yorker, Brisick takes it further.
On Mikey February:
“His hand jive, soul arches, and toreador-like flourishes play to the camera in a way that breaks the spell of the itinerant surfer in far-flung solitude. His style is as self-conscious as the duck-face selfie.”
He then quotes Slater.
“Style should be natural, and not perfect. I really dislike watching someone, anyone, who seems to be trying to look a certain way.”
Is it true style when it’s just for the camera?
Even Al Knost’s biggest fan would say no. (Though I’ll still watch him and Feb errrr’ damn day)
But what if constant recording can help you improve your surfing?
Is it still narcissistic then?
Already, surf dads sit for hours on beach capturing their kid’s every move for feedback. Surfing Australia do adult camps out of their Cabarita high tower “for all levels of surfer”.
Even I did it recently with our Ments trip photog. It was the first time I’ve seen proper video of myself surfing. It wasn’t pretty.
But it did help me pick up on a few things I already felt I might be doing wrong. I’m not about to go and hire Martin Dunn to follow me around with a drone and a clipboard. But I will open my shoulders a little more through top turns.
Surely that’s not a core crime?
Anyway, all argument is academic at this point. The future is already here. In Egger’s Circle, the tech bro’s grand reveal is that his cameras aren’t just capturing surfing. They’re also in Gaza, and Chechnya, and inside politicians offices.
It’s full transparency, whether we like it or not.
The revolution will be televised.
And it can help you with your roundhouse cutties.
Question: Do “Ocean Surfers” need to readjust concept of wave-size to fit pool VALS?
Arguments for the validity of the size revolved around two positions: Surf Lakes’ transparency that it was the wave face being measured and therefore wasn’t beholden to archaic, culturally entrenched sizing, and it didn’t matter, anyway, ’cause the wave looked pretty wild.
That night I lay alone in the dark rear bedroom of my rental and my thoughts swung to the Pool Era, which we’ve just entered.
I doubt if many appreciate just how much surfing is going to change, and how quickly.
Already, little girls are doing airs beyond the capability of female world champions and ten-year-old boys with falsetto voices are mixing combos the sort only Reynolds or Not Deane might dream up.
The thing with pools is they’re pitched at VALs. Yeah, there’s an “expert” wave, but the money that keeps the pool alive comes from VALs on softboards and plastic double-enders.
And a VAL, if she reads the promotional literature and sees the advertised max size as four foot, why, she would fall on the floor laughing.
A wave barely the size of two toilet brushes stacked end to end!
Soon, with the creation of that new spawn, the Pool Surfer, there’ll grow a new language, new boards, new moves and new ways of measuring waves.
An Ocean Surfer will visit a tank and be schooled by the local hot-shot riding switch inside his eight-foot tube.
He’ll be hectored by a mom running up beside him in the lineup telling him it’s her kid’s turn on the next wave.
He’ll watch as every advantage he had, the ability to study rips, channels, time sets and so on, disappear; his once proud athletic stride a stooped shuffle.
Let me wonder aloud.
Do we need to adjust our concept of wave size?
Of what a surfer is?
And do you fear the Pool Era? Or do you believe that pools will set free your inner power and strength and let you achieve, finally, the glory of your surfing?
I’m the latter.
Comment Live: Day 3, Tahiti Pro Teahupoo presented by Hurley!
It was Sunday morning in America, yesterday, and the last hours of summer with nothing to do but luxuriate. It was a gorgeous day in southern California, sun shining and hot, some small but fun waves on tap. No major sporting events on television as we’re still a week away from the start of college football, two weeks away from the National Football League, but there was day 2 of the Tahiti Pro Teahupoo presented by Hurley on the computer and I imagined it would do very well, airing in the wheelhouse of typical American sport consumption with no competition elsewhere.
I flipped it on and watched for a few moments, a smattering of minutes, but couldn’t really get engaged. The surf looked fine, interesting enough, and there were some fine enough storylines but… my mind wandered and then I received a revelation.
Is professional surf watching only tolerable when sitting under fluorescent lighting in a cubicle, on an interminably long road trip, when there are pressing chores to do but unpleasant chores like putting fitted sheets onto beds etc? Or must there be some other event happening, another televised game or some such, to have on concurrently with professional surfing running in the background?
The interactions on our patented “comment live” feed were slim and I had the distinct feeling that no one was really watching anywhere because, again, it was a glorious day in southern California and probably the rest of the United States from the looks of it.
Well, I don’t know that the contest will run today but I am out early and, as you know by now, would rather wear the shame of posting our Tahiti Pro Teahupoo presented by Hurley without it running rather than wear the shame of not posting it and it running.
Also, today is a work day. Enjoy the slightly better alternative to your job.
"It would be somewhere between hard and impossible to catalog all the bad choices Marvin Foster made in his relatively short life. You'll find a few specifics near the end of this post, and Foster himself weighs in here. For the moment let's just say that Marvin had a good side, a big heart, was friendly at times to people he didn't know and talked openly and often about his love for family — but he also crossed a lot of lines, hurt a lot of people, and at the very least was a heavy and often threatening surf world presence." Marvin Foster by Tom Servais
Warshaw on: Marvin Foster as Tarantino anti-hero; the rape of Hawaii and “stomping haoles”!
Why the late, great, wild, bad and mad Hawaiian surfer Marvin Foster is a Tarantino movie waiting to happen…
(Editor’s note: If you’re a subscriber to Matt Warshaw’s Encyclopedia of Surfing, which costs three dollars a month with a twenty percent discount if you take it over a year, your Sundays will be gifted with a long email from Warshaw himself. Today’s piece is about the Hawaiian surfer Marvin Foster, who dazzled at Pipe in the eighties and nineties, ran various criminal rackets, competed in the 1995 Eddie while on the run from the cops and who hanged himself in 2010, aged 49. A man of complexity and worth investigating.)
I posted this clip of Marvin Foster a few days back said something about how Foster is a “Quentin Tarantino movie waiting to happen.”
For the moment let’s just say that Marvin had a good side, a big heart, was friendly at times to people he didn’t know and talked openly and often about his love for family — but he also crossed a lot of lines, hurt a lot of people, and at the very least was a heavy and often threatening surf world presence.
Hold that thought.
It would be somewhere between hard and impossible to catalog all the bad choices Marvin Foster made in his relatively short life. You’ll find a few specifics near the end of this post, and Foster himself weighs in here. For the moment let’s just say that Marvin had a good side, a big heart, was friendly at times to people he didn’t know and talked openly and often about his love for family — but he also crossed a lot of lines, hurt a lot of people, and at the very least was a heavy and often threatening surf world presence.
(Again, I don’t have at hand or want to seek out the particulars of Foster’s bad actions, and will leave off by saying just that Kai “Borg” Garcia, possibly the heaviest of the surf-world heavies, called Foster “one of the toughest men to ever wander the North Shore.”)
So for Tarantino, or the person watching a Tarantino film, the question is: How far are you willing to go in terms of allowing history to mitigate a person’s crimes, flaws, and moral failings? Or more to the point: How damaging was it for Marvin to grow up poor and dark-skinned in Hawaii during the 1960s and ’70s?
Since we’re being cinematic and historical, picture this.
It is 1909 on the Waikiki beachfront. Before us is a hot young gun with seven vowels and two apostrophes in his last name, the Marvin Foster of the new century, eating lunch after a surf and minding his business when somebody walks up and drops this magazine article in his lap.
He reads to the bottom of the page. “The white man and boy are doing much in Hawaii to develop the art of surf-riding . . . and at the recent surfing carnivals in honor of the visits of the American battleship fleet, practically every prize offered for those most expert in Hawaiian water sports were won by white boys and girls, who have only recently mastered the art that was for so long believed to be possible of acquirement only by the native-born dark-skinned Hawaiian.”
“Why do I feel like stomping the haole? Well, look at my side of things. Suppose I came over to your house and said you weren’t dressing right, you weren’t living right, and this and that. You’d get mad and sock me too. It’s a lot deeper, I guess, but that’s the way we feel.” Unnamed Hawaiian.
One more example, from a 1969 issue of SURFER, and this is one that really stuck with me as a kid, I think because the violence was delivered in such a calm voice. “Haole Go Home” was written by an unnamed Hawaiian.
Here’s the condensed version:
Why do I feel like stomping the haole? Well, look at my side of things. Suppose I came over to your house and said you weren’t dressing right, you weren’t living right, and this and that. You’d get mad and sock me too. It’s a lot deeper, I guess, but that’s the way we feel. Captain Cook and the missionaries that followed taught us that we were sinners. They brought the word of God, but I don’t think God had this in mind. This rape of Hawaii! It makes my blood boil when I see all the hotels and stores, all the ships in our harbors, servicemen on our streets and tourists jamming up everything. Till a few years ago, we could still get away from all of this by going surfing. Now that’s even taken over by the haole. So once in a while when I get a few good blasts of beer going, I get to thinking of all of these things, and some haole acts up; well, I just bust him one good one, and I feel a little better.
In terms of letting Marvin off the hook, no, I still don’t think we’re in Django territory. But let’s acknowledge that he was not acting in a void, and that to fully understand how and why Marvin got bent you’ll have to put on a 12-bolt bronze helmet and say goodbye to the sun cause the dive is going to be deep, long, and dark.
Meanwhile, through all that, possibly because of all that, Foster surfed like a big cat running down a gazelle while listening to Metallica.