Funny Malibu.

From the surf-mag-fails dept: Can…you…correctly identify this wave?

Come see Malibu like you've never seen her before!

The print magazine, god love it and thank god it’s almost gone, was an unforgiving master. One lazy typo and your carelessness was enshrined forever like a bad tattoo.

Once, many years ago, I pranked a pal who rarely sub-edited the work that flowed through his magazine by including a passage featuring graphic sex between a preacher and a member of his congregation.

“Mine is a magic wand to make any wish come true when you make it cry tears of joy,” said the preacher.

“I put the long, crooked thing in my mouth until I spat its slimy tears.”


It was only a sharp-eyed printer that discovered the joke, and just hours before it was due to go through the print rollers.

A few days ago, an astute, and very famous, reader, sent a photo of a surf spot guide from the British magazine Carve, a venerable title that’s been around since before the turn of the century and that is often served at international airport newsstands.

The reader writes,

“In what could be the most epic fail in surf journalism, the new issue shows a two-page spread of ‘Malibu’ complete with hand numbered descriptions of the various  take-off zones and arrows to Point Dume to the north! One minor problem. Despite the caption and lengthy paragraph describing the photo and wave. It ain’t Malibu.”

Do you know the name of the wave?

And, surf mag fails, do you have a favourite?

History: Bruce Brown, iconic filmmaker and member of the “Dana Point Mafia”, immortalized in bronze!


I can’t tell you how many times I watched Bruce Brown’s The Endless Summer as an Oregonian boy but it was certainly enough to singe my frontal cortex. Oh I loved everything about that film from Mike and Robert’s black suit/sunglass combination to the exotic lands they traveled to the dad humor jokes to the driving mission. The primary urge to get out there and discover.

And so it was with un-ironic, non-sarcastic pleasure that I read, this morning, about a giant bronze statue erected in Dana Point of the young visionary pointing his camera out to sea.

Borrowing from the Laylan Connelly, the Orange County Register’s resident surf journalist and iconic herself:

They were dubbed ‘the Dana Point Mafia.”

Hobie Alter shaped his iconic surfboards, ridden by style master and friend Phil Edwards. John Severson created Surfer Magazine, running ads and features on surf world happenings. Bruce Brown documented and shared with the world surf adventures that transported people to the waves.

“That’s why Dana Point is the most historic surf town in California, by far,” said Dick Metz, a friend who was also part of the tight-knit group that transformed the surf scene in the ’60s. “We really did kind of control the industry, in a small way. That’s why we had the name Dana Point Mafia.”

Stories flowed at a gathering at the Watermen’s Plaza on Thursday, Sept. 19, where a bronze statue with filmmaker Brown’s likeness has joined surf and sailing icon Alter, the first to be put up just south of the bridge over Pacific Coast Highway, and Phil Edwards, an iconic surfer who made waves decades ago as the best surfer of his time.

Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG
Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG

Ahhh Dana Point and you know how much I hate nostalgia but don’t those Dana Point Mafia days seem like such halcyon hours? Progressive surfboards being carved, tested and tried. A magazine conjured from thin air, the “Big Bang” moment for surf journalists around the world. Bruce Brown documenting it all with verve and style. Short shorts, robust tans and a blue sky filled with dreams.

Well, I’m sticking to my guns. Nostalgia is a mental disease and today’s Santa Monica Mafia is just as wonderful. Instagram celebrities being invited to inland wave tubs, contests being staged in the heat of a dying planet, Joe Turpel documenting it all with a stream of never-ceasing upbeat positivity.

When crime families fight it’s always more fun, or have you not seen Godfather II? The only question I have is what can our mafia name be? The Grumporra? The Core-a Nostra?


Come surf happy thoughts and tubular athleticism!
Come surf happy thoughts and tubular athleticism!

Propaganda: Rolling Stone becomes mouthpiece for “tubular perfection of artificial wave pools!”

The Wall of Positive Noise!

The World Surf League and Rolling Stone collaboration was announced a handful of weeks ago and caused much head scratching amongst people who actually surf. Rolling Stone? Isn’t that a mostly defunct music magazine? The “My Life in 15 songs” featurettes began appearing on the WSL website as well as Rolling Stones. Professional surfers shared their love of “Hotel California” (Connor Coffin) and Black Sabbath’s NIB (Steph Gilmore) and it seemed a clunky fit, though sort of “on-brand.” Still, though, why did the League need this sort of partnership?

Today in a story titled “The World’s Best Surfers Take Rio” the Rolling Stone x WSL collaboration begins to make sense. Forgetting, for one moment, that the Oi Rio Pro concluded three months ago we must read the opener together for it reveals much.

The chillest sport is getting serious. As surfers prepare to make a splash at the competition’s debut in the 2020 Olympics, athletes known for their cool are fighting for position. Only the top two men and top two women from each country will qualify for the Tokyo games — and the ranking shifts with each meet. To make the cut, members of the World Surf League ride the line between ocean and sky, unleashing acrobatic feats increasingly tested in the tubular perfection of artificial wave pools, a new training technology.

As surfing has gone mainstream, it’s extended beyond traditional centers of power — Hawaii, California, Australia’s Gold Coast — to Brazil. A new generation of talent has been lured by the country’s warm waters and beach breaks, surfing with more speed, greater athleticism, and bigger air.

On and on it goes, praising the League for being the home of surfing and surf culture, layering in “surfy” words like “chillest” “tubular” and “greater athleticism.” It’s almost as if Rolling Stone has become the mouthpiece for the Wall of Positive Noise and that, I’d imagine, is the exactly what has happened.

The WSL now has a propaganda arm that could theoretically appear “independent” and “respected.” Rolling Stone will drive the VAL narrative, free from pesky criticism and negativity, into the very heartland of America where Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranches will begin popping up in abandoned automobile part’s factories with many tax breaks and ribbon cutting ceremonies.

All those “cool kids” who read Rolling Stone will be pumping their fists, very excited to be part of this “new generation of talent” and World Surf League Presidents and Vice-Presidents will be smirking at me, at you, because we are grumpy and mean and not invited. Moreover, we’ll be driven to “re-education camps” where Joe Turpel will teach us many things.

Speaking of, did you ever listen to Propagandhi?

More as the story develops.

Photo: Joe Mault/Orleans Camera
Photo: Joe Mault/Orleans Camera

“Man-eating” Great White shark makes unwanted “possibly sexual” advances toward shy Cape Cod surfer!

Stunning photo shows troubling evolutionary indicator.

Scientists and folk etymologists have long considered Great White sharks the “Weinsteins of the Sea.” As apex predators they operate with seeming impunity, taking what they want, when they want, how they want without considering the feelings of others. Their reputations for destroying lives and/or careers precedes them and victims often describe a sense of helplessness when coming face to face with the toothy beasts.

As we have learned, the “man-eaters” are just that, preferring the taste of men very much over the taste of women yet this truth, along with the wild spike in Great White populations off New England’s Cape Cod and Autumn being peak shark season didn’t appear to worry a coquettish surfer as he paddled his baby-blue round-nose midlength out to catch swell from tropical storm Humberto.

Joe Mault, a local photographer, happened to be down on the beach and captured what can only be described as a “cruise” that was “possibly sexual” in nature.

As described to The Boston Globe:

“All of a sudden I saw the wake and then the fin, and it was pretty evident thereafter that it was a shark,” said Mault, owner of Orleans Camera. “It was within feet of him.”

He said he was snapping photographs for a bit when he spotted a surfer out on the water and turned his camera to the man in the wetsuit.

“I thought I’d be catching him catching a wave,” he said.

Then, Mault said, he noticed something rippling in the water. At first, he believed it was the leash to the surfer’s surfboard. It quickly became clear, however, that it wasn’t.

“It turned out it was the wake of the shark,” he said.

Mault said he kept taking pictures, realizing that the surfer was already aware that the shark was nearby.

“He was fortunately aware of it and booked his way out of there,” he said. “He was immediately aware of it; there wasn’t much we could do. I continued to shoot hoping that it was all it was going to be.”

When the surfer returned to the shore, he spoke with Mault and told him that he had heard the noise of the shark cutting through the water nearby.

“He thought maybe it was a seal popping his head out of the water but when he looked over his shoulder it was pretty clear it wasn’t a seal,” Mault said. “It’s a pretty scary thing.”

The fact that the Great White did not attack straight away but instead appeared to flirt is a troubling evolutionary indicator. Fear and not wanting to be left alone with the rotund monstrosities is often what keeps humans safe but if these instincts begin to erode there is no telling the damage that might be done.

More as the story develops.

Gabe Medina has opened up a new front and punched a huge hole into future dominance over John John Florence. It was hard to see John making the top eight at the pool, let alone coming anywhere near the tracks Medina laid down. | Photo: WSL

Freshwater Pro, Finals Day: “A transcendent Gabriel Media makes mockery of opponents, of the format, of the optics, of the context itself!”

The new world number one has opened up a new front and punched a huge hole into future dominance over John John Florence.

Has there ever been a contest victory more predictable, more pre-ordained than Gabe Medina’s win today in the 2019 Freshwater Pro at Lemoore?

From the start to the end, he made a mockery of his opponents, of the format, even of the optics and context itself; with the event following on from the greatness of Teahupoo. From start to finish Gabe transcended.

He found a line on the slopey, crumbly left that eluded others, continued to refine the backside power game and parallel back leg laid flat tube-riding stance going the same way that has proven unbeatable in comp after comp there.

He destroyed the Coté doctrine of a universal tepid positivity by elevating the dynamic range of an event that had seemed mired in a vanilla blancmange. Without the negative counter-balancing there would have been no way of understanding the extent to which he dominated, rescuing the tub from terminal mediocrity.

Most surfers got thirty seconds in the post heat presser, Kelly Slater, following his elimination got minutes, including an entire ride from Willian Cardoso explaining mostly how the event had elevated performance levels from last year.

Jordy Smith had the temerity to lay a passive-aggressive goldmine in front of his remaining peers claiming they were “not pushing too hard, merely placing their turns and getting the scores”.

As far as Jordy Smith chokes go, it wasn’t top five, but it was up there.

Medina was the sole plank underpinning that argument.

Most went soft. Predictability and safety ruled.

None moreso than Jordy Smith. After a completed rodeo in his bonus run his finals runs were a letdown. Bad reads, incomplete, too easily paced. He then had the temerity to lay a passive-aggressive goldmine in front of his remaining peers claiming they were “not pushing too hard, merely placing their turns and getting the scores”.

As far as Jordy Smith chokes go, it wasn’t top five, but it was up there.

The argument for progression was on much more solid ground for the women’s draw. Backside tube-riding prowess, or lack of it, drew the ire of Pirate Commentator, David Lee Scales, who posited a biological impediment, an argument swiftly demolished by Derek Rielly as antiquated phrenology.

Guys could barely ride backside in the tube as recently as Grajagan in the mid-nineties he claimed – rightly – and the women were advancing rapidly, despite varying levels of skill set. Johanne Defay stood out with a classic stance, Lakey’s was solid, Caroline Marks had a tube stance that looked more awkward but still got the job done.

The scoring seemed to fall apart for the women during the finals. Historian Matt Warshaw was running through a detailed history of the original wavepool event in Allenstown PA as the top women flared out. It was a radical enough juxtaposition of history overlaid on the present to highlight how far women’s surfing has come.

Carissa Moore surfed a right perfectly and with no commentary I scribbled down 9.1. It was awarded a 7.73. Lakey P smashed her bonus runs to finish ahead of Defay and then thanked God and dedicated the win to the climate strikers claiming the “Earth really needs our help right now.”

Even allowing the most generous interpretation for the water hungry, power hungry tubs it’s hard to see how the Earth would be helped by more of them. Unless we abandon ourselves completely to hedonism and they are made free for every man, women and child in the first, second and third worlds.

Who buys the do what I say but not what I do enviro-messaging of the WSL?

Honest question. The kids don’t. Thats for sure.

Warshaw flagged the possibility that our collective read on the tub maybe minorly, or majorly off base. That what we see as failure might be success, perhaps in the medium term, perhaps even right now. Tuning back to the pirate YouTube feed Chas had a full kitten head wobble going, on the FB feeds 2.2 thousand were watching the English feed, 6.2k on the Portuguese. Granted, there can be a stunning disconnect between online and the real world but I’d walked the streets and stalked the local line-ups speaking to guys and gals who I know live and breathe surf comp watching.

I could not find a positive spin, nor even a committed watcher. The promised stadium surfing vibe was AWOL, at least judging from the broadcast. Judgement had been made.

But the Finals Day was sick. Incentive to go big was finally present. Julian Wilson dodged the toob, who would have ever anticipated that tube-dodging would look as liberating as the French Resistance? –  to launch a backside big spin, or varial, greased perfectly.

Colapinto looked both mechanical and as loose as Travolta in Saturday Night fever in his opening left. The 7.5 drew queries from the booth, as an underscore. It seemed more of an indictment on Colapinto for failing to bring an aerial attack than legit reckoning of the wave ridden.

Twelve of the 32 rides (pre-bonus) of the final were fallen on. The outside section of the left being a notable graveyard for pro surfer ambition. Only Griffin and Yago Dora were able to improve on the opening runs.

Filipe made it look the most fun.

Nursing a back injury that flared up after his best wave in the final he gave us an old school layback on the end section toob on the left and a pair of cheater five toobs on the right, when he seemed in cruise control. In toying with it so he redeemed the wave from what had been identified by Warshaw and commentators as what I call the “scarcity paradox”.

Despite the machine pumping out perfect waves all day long there never seems to be enough. Enough to feel the joy and the abundance of the ocean. This scarcity produces a grim, grasping feeling, both in the surfer (who all expressed this desire for more, more, more) and the watcher.

Pulling individual rides out of the three-day melange of rides is almost impossible bar the handful that Gabe rode and the ones Pip toyed with.

It’ll take ten years to parse the history of this event. Whether we see it as an anomaly like jetski tow-ins in big surf or if this really does represent some new step forwards. After today, my earlier unshakeable convictions that we were witnessing the live snuff movie of the wavepool experiment feel more brittle.

And if they do go forwards with it Gabe Medina has opened up a new front and punched a huge hole into future dominance over John John Florence. It was hard to see John making the top eight at the pool, let alone coming anywhere near the tracks Medina laid down.

He laid the Medina line on for his opening left in the finals. The fin-drifts at speed, gaining speed as the fins are loosed over the coping that seemed super-glue for others, the repertoire and the Kerrupt flip at the end. It was perfect. A ten that was short-changed seventh hundredths of a point to satisfy, what? Some future that may never be realised presumably.

The final was over following Gabe’s next wave, a righthander that turned the torrid sky above into a cascade of slowly diminishing rainbows as spray plumes hung in the air.

What to think. Three days does not work. A

one day, a half-day novelty event for big money? UFC man on man match-ups on different equipment?

Gabe did not need his bonus runs but we wanted to see them.

We did not. Dead air followed by a half a left then nothing.

It ended as it began: a debacle where the only person covered in glory was Gabe Medina.