This economy tastes like chicken.
This economy tastes like chicken.

Mystery: One-time “Shark Capital of the World” Cape Town, South Africa has lost all of its “man-eating” Great Whites!

Scientists don't know why but I do.

I’ve been so busy keeping up with the heaps and heaps of Great White sharks turning my once bucolic North County, San Diego paradise into a blood-curdling hell that I’ve not kept up with one-time “Shark Capital of the World” Cape Town, South Africa. The man-eating beasts were a constant threat for Afrikaans-speaking locals. Attacks were not uncommon and neither were deaths. Extremely scary but waters once teeming with ghastly teeth and rolled-back eyes are now peaceful. No Great White has been spotted in over eighteen months.

Scientists are uncertain as to what led to the prehistoric villain’s disappearance. The fair and balanced Sydney Morning Herald reports:

Between 2010 and 2016 staff at the Shark Spotting Program, established to warn swimmers when the three-tonne predators approached beaches, reported an average of 205 sightings of the fish off the beaches of False Bay.

In 2018 that fell to 50 and this year not one has been seen. None have been seen at Seal Island, a one-time feeding ground off the coast.

“Further supporting evidence of the absence of these large apex predators is the lack of any feeding or bite marks on whale carcasses the city has removed from False Bay this year,” Cape Town’s municipality said in a statement on Wednesday.

“We do not know how their absence from False Bay would affect the ecosystem. Neither do we know the causes for their disappearance.”

Ahhhh but I know. The bastards have packed their blood-thirst and come on over to my once pastoral North County, San Diego, turning it into a post-apocalyptic nightmare.

What gave the bastards reason to pack their blood-thirst and move? Again, scientists are uncertain. Some believe overfishing has led to their flight. Others believe that the arrival of Orcas caused them to leave.

I’ve been preaching pet Orcas in the lineup for years. I trust that the North County, San Diego powers-that-be finally take me seriously and especially those with ties to Kelly Slater’s preferred theme park Sea World.

More as the story develops.


Listen: “The power of shame is a curious thing; makes one man weep, makes another man sing!”

Surf talk.

The Tahiti Pro Teahupoo presented by Hurley is still fresh on my lips, especially that penultimate day, and it saddens me greatly that it will be chased by hot action from a steamy pool in Lemoore, California. Oh, I know Freshwater Pro is still weeks away but the depression is already creeping. I love our times together during the contests. Love our “live chats” but truly don’t know if I’ll be able to muster the requisite oomph in order to turn that Freshwater Pro on to watch with you. The mechanical drone of the sled. The odd format. The cows grazing and gazing over the fence at sunburned sows throwing back Michelob Ultra Gold brewed with Zoe Kravitz.

Shame on the World Surf League for introducing that cursed tank to the tour.

Shame!

Speaking of, I drove to Album surfboards yesterday, there in San Clemente, and sat down with David Lee Scales to discuss all manner of this and that. We spent much time on shame and how sad that it has vanished, more or less, from our safespace snowflake surfing world. I got on, again, about how World Surf League commentators’ refusal to say what we are all seeing, that the Panda and Yago Dora were too afraid to surf, was an insult to us.

Shame is a powerful tool and useful too. Every time I have been kicked into shame’s burning klieg light I’ve been thankful, later. Sure it stings, sure it burns, but hopefully it burns another little piece of weak will. Another little bit of lily-liver.

We need more shame.

David Lee and I also discussed style, the whole Big Wave thing and the greatest show that has ever appeared on television. Can you guess what it is? Shame is omnipresent!


Sea Change: The World Surf League radically alters their Big Wave World Tour!

"People are small, waves are big and far away!"

Were you on the edge of your seat, wondering what the World Surf League was going to do with their Big Wave World Tour leading into the northern hemisphere fall/winter 2019/2020? Neither was I but an important press release sent out this morning also sent ripples across the surf journalism world. Ripples so big, so robust, as to form into a “big wave” themselves and shall we read together? We have to. We can’t not.

Today, the World Surf League (WSL) announced its new and enhanced Big Wave platform. WSL’s new platform for big wave surfing will deliver unrivaled big wave action through the new Strike Missions series, reimagined events, the Big Wave Awards, and year-round content, all centralized into a new digital home designed to spotlight the boundary-pushing performances by big wave surfers.

The new WSL Big Wave platform raises the profile of big wave surfing and empowers its athletes by capturing and showcasing more exciting big wave moments. Instead of waiting for swells to hit, the dynamic new platform will allow the WSL to be faster to react, going deeper into the action whenever and wherever the biggest waves are breaking. This will offer fans the most thrilling content, including strike mission highlights, and the latest news in the world of big wave surfing.

The WSL’s new platform will feature four distinct areas, in addition to year-round content: the Strike Missions series, the Jaws Big Wave World Championships at Pe’ahi, the Nazaré Tow Challenge, and the Big Wave Awards.

The Strike Missions series will track swell models and deploy WSL camera teams into the eye of the storm in order to showcase big wave surfing beyond competitions. With the launch of WSL Studios earlier this year, this new content will bring fans closer to big wave surfing than ever before through exclusive behind-the-scenes storytelling and unparalleled highlights.

“I am excited about the big picture here and looking at big wave surfing differently with this new platform,” said Keala Kennelly, reigning Big Wave World Champion. “The new approach is going to reflect the reality and adaptability of big wave surfing where these incredible feats happen at any time, and with WSL, I want to be able to share these epic moments with the world.”

The WSL will host two reimagined events this season at Pe’ahi, Hawaii and Nazaré, Portugal. The Jaws Big Wave World Championships at Pe’ahi will feature the best and most proven big wave surfers from around the world to decide the men’s and women’s Big Wave World Champions. Big wave surfing’s most iconic break, Pe’ahi (aka Jaws), is known as the greatest test of skill and courage in the paddle surfing universe. The Nazaré Tow Challenge will host invitees as they utilize jet skis to tow into Nazaré’s biggest waves. Nazaré is the home of world record-setting waves and will display barrier-breaking surfing in this never-before-seen competition.

Etc.

Important but do you really really care about the Big Wave World Tour? I didn’t until today but this “Strike Mission” business mixed in with a grand slam format seems the future of professional surfing and I just had to call Senior Vice-President of Tours Etc. famous professional surfer and star of Endless Summer II Pat O’Connell for more. He was gracious enough to take my call and also gracious enough to speak truth.

Chas: I don’t care that Mavericks has been disappeared. Those locals should be stoked. They get the best days of their year back. Any Mavericks aficionado will be partying in the streets right now. Freedom!

(I laugh)

Pat: So what we’re really trying to do here is deliver on a year ’round proposition. To capture the pinnacle moments and let’s take Tahiti for example. If we can capture that content of epic swell days and deliver it to the people quickly, why wouldn’t we do that? People are small, waves are big and far away. All we’re trying to do is make this more accessible and with this new format I think it’s the best way to make that happen.

Chas: I completely agree and think you should shift this format onto the regular tour?

Pat: There’s no plans for that yet but we take things as they happen every day.

Chas: Well hurry up with those plans!

We chatted lots more, a freewheeling discussion about surfing, in general, and professional surfing, specifically. Pat is engaged in the process and  but ruthlessly narrowing down the big wave events to two that are guaranteed to run every year then adding a fun, reflexive video component seems the way the entire enterprise should go.

Don’t you agree?


Joel Tudor on Amazon rainforest fires: “Don’t believe the hype!”

"Is the forest burning?" "No burning."

And have you been following along with the troubles in the “lungs of the earth?” Of course you have. Of course you know that the Amazon is burning thanks to either a relaxation of restrictions from Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, record heat or, as President Bosonaro claimed, non-governmental workers frustrated that their wages have cut and are taking it out on the rainforest.

All news outlets report that fires in the Amazon are up over 80% compared with last year. Many fires. Many many fires. Or are there?

Two days ago, professional longboarder Joel Tudor posted a video on his very entertaining Instagram account featuring a Brazilian jiu-jitsu aficionado and a one-time director of sports from the Amazon region.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B1shEmenahC/

The BJJ aficionado introduces his friend then asks, “Is the Amazon burning?”

The one-time director of sports answers, “No burning.”

The two go on to profess much support for President Jair Bolsonaro claiming that the only thing burning are the hearts and consciences of those disrespecting him.

Joel Tudor captions the post “Don’t believe the hype!”

So, is the rainforest really not burning?

Have we been scammed?

Help!

 

 


Longtom on the Cabianca/Medina DFK: “The easiest pro level board I’ve wrangled!”

Our reviewer finds the Holy Grail of surfboards, an ultra-high performance sled for the immediate surfer…

It does seem a little like cheating when you get, not just what you want, but what you need and with perfect timing.

Thus it was, that around the same time Medina had slayed J-Bay on his 6’0” DFK by Johnny Cabianca I received mine in the same dimensions, in time for a six-week run of perfect waves where my local resembled a sub-tropical warm water version of J-Bay, except better.

Sure, I got chipped for it by local wags.

“What, you think you’re fucking Gabe Medina?”

Yeah, if Gabe was reincarnated as a bald, albino with intermediate skills. I do, after many hours in the sun look like a plucked and cooked turkey, so I guess me and Gabs (armpits) do have that in common.

The dominant narrative on Gabe’s boards is that you could stick deck chairs on ’em and host baby boomer cruises to the South Pacific with very little modification.

That did not gel with my initial impression.

I felt a very balanced, slightly lower rockered round tail shortboard with the only noteworthy features being a slightly thicker tail foil and a very crisp edge on the bottom tail rail extending forwards of the fin cluster. Subtle bottom contours.

The thing felt damn good. Substantial.

Almost invariably the initial impressions of a new sled are determined by context, what you’ve been riding and where. I’d been cycling through some insane surfboards for good point waves: a 6’3” roundpin Maurice Cole Protow custom, 6’6” Desert Storm custom swallowtail and, on days when the westerly wind was howling or the devil wind was in, a 7’3” Aleutian Juice custom Vector-Cuda. The best quiver I’ve ever had for good waves.

A 6’0”, no matter how generously foiled, was always going to be easy to power up after cycling down from those boards.

I’m shit with my hands but before I rode the DFK I did a little DIY mod to the BeachGrit tail-pad, based on a positive experience with a Necro pad and negative one with a Connor Coffin pad. I figured a low, subtle kick was to my taste so took a stanley-knife and hacked the kick in half. That turned out to be a very good move.

A ruled-edge long period east swell greeted my maiden voyage.

Crisp, before sunrise on a Sunday morning. Strangely uncrowded. Sizzling little head-high racetracks. It took very little to get this board humming. Maybe the first wave or two felt little sketchy, a bit under-powered due to coming off much longer rail lines.

It took less than half the session to figure out the board wanted to be surfed simply and definitively from top to bottom with no wiggles or double pumps to keep the water flowing through the fins or the concaves engaged.

Since I T-boned an elderly Vietnamese man on a rainy night in Byron Bay and got shown the door from bus driving* I’ve had to account for my time with more prudence.

As a full-time freelancer two go-outs in a day is rare. Feels too indulgent.

But my Bribie pal had come back from FIFO in the Tanami desert, which is the middle of Australia if you’ve never heard of it. He was keen for a paddle, and although I’m not a leave passer I did get the second bite of the cherry with the blessing of my spouse.

Second surfs always feel better.

I never pretend to be anything more than high intermediate, competent is the vain term. The DFK is a board that is reassuringly easy to come to grips with. After riding various high-performance shortboards I’ve come to believe that control is the most important variable.

In sunny head-high point surf, with just a ruffle of side breeze, the DFK felt very, very solid. Leveraging speed off the bottom to go straight back into the top third felt seamless, and you can push that as hard as you like.

Generating rhythmic momentum from turn to turn very much within my grasp.

I never pretend to be anything more than high intermediate, competent is the vain term. The DFK is a board that is reassuringly easy to come to grips with. After riding various high-performance shortboards I’ve come to believe that control is the most important variable.

That balance between sensitivity and drive has to be tilted firmly in the drive quadrant, for me, to be able to get the board where I want it go. Struggling with control is almost the definition of a board outside your area of expertise.

I felt confident pushing this board very hard, from that second surf onwards. That had generally positive results. We can all agree, I hope, a point of difference for Gabe’s surfing is the ability to switch from hi-fi, fins-free or aerial attack to classic power-based carving.

My skill set did not extend to the former but very much enjoyed the latter on the DFK.

The only mixed bag came in a crowded Saturday surf where the Grace of God smiled upon me and I jagged three set waves in quick succession. Threading through a heavy pack I thought I could blast a backhand high hook on the corner of a tubing section with multiple people to dodge. Ended up catching an outside edge and slamming hard.

Not sure whether it was the rail of my board or someone elses or the wave but I spent the rest of the day thinking I was having a heart attack. Rib cartilage or broken rib. Nothing Nurofen before and after a surf couldn’t fix.

The only other slight caution is to be on your fin game.

I started with JJF M’s, fins made from recycled fishing nets (sourced in Chile) and carbon. Beautiful fins and they felt great, but at speed, under pressure, I was able to blow them out under load a few times. It wasn’t bad enough to swap them out so minor problem.

I think Gabe’s DFK is the easiest pro level board I’ve wrangled.

The trend among most pros has been to increase volume. You’d have to give Matt Biolos credit for that. When Fanning jumped on the Mayhems (at Trestles) and changed the emphasis to more volume he got better immediately.

All up, from pro to Joe people mostly look better and surfing feels better on something that paddles and has some glide, even at the high-perf level. There’s really only one human being alive who looks good on an underpowered sled and we call him the greatest of all time.

Toledo gets away with bladier boards.

Julian’s still look underpowered to my eye, especially now compared to Medina.

JJF has added litreage.

All up, from pro to Joe people mostly look better and surfing feels better (to me) on something that paddles and has some glide, even at the high-perf level. There’s really only one human being alive who looks good on an underpowered sled and we call him the greatest of all time.

A way forwards for the rec surfer is to get your top end dialed and customised, make sure your good-wave sleds are as good as they can be. That gives latitude for experimentation in the high-performance “space”, if you’ll pardon the corporate malapropism.

Johnny Cabianca has put a high-performance sled square into the Goldilocks zone for the average recreational surfer. I cannot recommend highly enough.

I rode my DFK as a stock 6’0”, just under thirty litres of volume.

* I had two witnesses who testified he was driving without lights on. No matter, I got shitcanned.

Buy, examine, here.