Co-Waterperson of the YearDirk Ziff (right) pictured with Tom Cruise's ex-wife Katie Holmes (5'9).
Co-Waterperson of the YearDirk Ziff (right) pictured with Tom Cruise's ex-wife Katie Holmes (5'9).

Question: If you were drowning, and co-Waterperson of the Year Dirk Ziff was in the water, would you feel confident?

Yes or no?

You have by now, no doubt, read the heroic story of two professional surfers who saved three girls from drowning just ahead of their heat in the Belmar Pro in my third favorite state New Jersey. Oh it was heartwarming, so heartwarming, in fact, that it forced me to pause and reconsider my normally grouchy ways.

Were you too won over?

Some of you yes but our friend shootsthen took a more prosaic approach on the moment in the comments, writing, “For experienced water persons, ‘saving’ people from the ocean is like opening the door for old people, it’s an act of common decency, not a newsworthy headline.”

An interesting point, to be sure, though jaded. Grumpy even.

Now, have you ever saved a person from the ocean? A flailing child? A VAL with too much water up his nose? I, myself, have guided a few pre-teens to shore, them using my Album surfboard (buy here) as floatation, after a “big set” caused panic but I’m no hero, no co-Waterperson of the Year, which brings us to the owner of professional surfing and co-Waterperson of the Year Dirk Ziff.

Let us pretend that you are out in the water “over your head” and something goes terribly wrong. Would you feel safe if you knew that co-Waterperson of the Year Dirk Ziff was there? Would you trust his instincts to jump in and rescue you?

A serious question and I don’t know the answer.

On one hand he is co-Waterperson of the Year. On the other, I’ve never seen a picture of him out of a collared shirt. Oh don’t get me wrong, I’m wearing a collared shirt even as I type, pink even, but there’s something about his shoulders that give me pause. Something about his shoulder to waist ratio.



And it is beyond the pale that you, even for one moment, would consider that’d I’d participate in body shaming.

Shame on you, in fact.

I just want to know if you have ever saved a person from the ocean?

And if you’d trust co-Waterperson of the Year Dirk Ziff in saving you?

Damn it, I’ve totally fallen back into the grouchy again, haven’t I.

Well, “Good News” had a good run, didn’t it?

From the Good-News Dept: Two young pro junior surfers save drowning girls before their heat!

The new BeachGrit way!

And my goodness gracious if I haven’t been on a grouchy tear these past few days, hollering from my soapbox, kicking at DJ Steve Aoki’s cultural value, smirking at Kelly Slater’s fashion choices. A real Grumpy Gus but do you ever see those Good News websites? Ones that try and counter the dark, negative tone of today by only pushing out heart-warming stories? I have never been to one but Good News content regularly peppers my every day Internet consumption. Paid posts for: “Woman adopts fifteen pets after wildfires.” “Man builds gender-less treehouse for neighborhood kids.” That sort of business.

This morning I got to thinking that BeachGrit should include more Good News and, thankfully, there’s a wonderful story about two pro juniors who were waiting for their heat to begin at the Belmar Pro in New Jersey when they saw three teenage girls struggling in a rip current. What do you think they did? Hollered about VAL life? Screamed that DJ Steve Aoki hasn’t been meaningful for years? Yelled about midget tuxedo surfing vests and why the girls didn’t have them on?

Surprisingly no and let us turn to for the answer:

Without thinking twice, the New Jersey native Cole Deveney and his friend, Logan Hayes, swam past the jetty to the next beach, aiding the lifeguards in bringing the girls to safety, a NJ Advance Media photographer who was there to photograph the competition said.

The three girls were safe, albeit traumatized. The lifeguards helped them back to shore on their surfboards, the photographer said.

Even after saving the group of teens and helping lifeguards back to safety, Deveney and Hayes went back to compete in their heat.

What upstanding young men, demonstrating the new BeachGrit way (replacing fun-making, naughty-talking, beating a story to death, purposefully injecting high levels of shark paranoia into the mainstream population etc. for a happy few moments).

If tomorrow my English-born wife made the unilateral decision to move back with the kids I would follow as meek as a lamb and, quit.

Quit-Lit: “What would make you give up surfing? Be honest!”

Everyone has their breaking point.

We’ve already established in the newly formed, albeit protean field of quit literature, that sometimes it is merely a case of circumstance moving a man to a new town where surf is scarcer and the effort/reward ratio dips that causes the sword to be hung up.

Of course we all scoffed and/or thought “could not, would not happen to me” but maybe the truth is a little more prosaic.

Used to think I was pretty hard core.

Every fork in the road came my way I chose the one that went surf. Crewed a yacht from Hawaii to Guam, straight through the Marshalls, Micronesia. Days and days and weeks surfing empty atoll waves, anchored up in Kolonia harbour, surfing P-Pass before it was even a “thing”, before the Surfer mag cover blew it out.

Good waves, though, can be a curse, like the Egyptian Queen in Shakespeares Antony and Cleopatra they “make hungry where most they satisfy”. Their charms grow more compelling with time.

We rarely entertain sliding doors moments.

I could end up in Sydney, Bondi even. Honesty demands me to say I doubt I would last the distance. There would be some text messages from Derek, couple of go-outs. Then longer and longer radio silences. The lycra would beckon. An embarrassing encounter (or three) down on Campbell Parade with DR post surf and me in the lycra on the new road bike, eyes down.

Go-outs would shrivel up and die on the vine. I couldn’t cope with the downgrade. I think, like going down on all fours again after learning to walk and run. Sydney = quit for me.

Last week we had the week you dream about. Overhead every day, swells under the radar, hence few VAL’s around etc etc.

I got on the end of one with a bloke sitting with a dog on the grassy slope over-looking a local 300-yard Point wave. One guy out. We chatted.

“Out there?” I asked him.

He wasn’t out there. Was driving a truck and felt weird, so the story went. Stepped out and collapsed onto the road. Massive stroke. Forty years of surfing gone in an instant.

“You couldn’t get back out there?” I asked him.

“Took me twelve months to learn to walk again,” he said. “Surfing’s gone, it’s over. I watch now.”

Sunshine and swell beamed down on my local again yesterday. On the headland I saw a pal. Former pro surfer. One of the few with a winning record against Tom Curren. A man to whom old DH Lawrence could have been referring to when he said “For man, as for flower and beast and bird, the supreme triumph is to be most vividly, most perfectly alive”.

Carved out of granite in his prime. He was downbeat, low energy.

“Everything OK?” I asked him.

“Nah, I’m really struggling eh.”

Anxiety and depression had him by the balls, were hollowing him out like an old dead tree.

What to do, what to say?

We’re told now surfing is an antidote to poor mental health but I think the causal arrow points the other way. Poor mental health robs the joy from surfing, makes people quit. I hugged him, told him I loved him, to call me if he wanted to talk and then paddled out.

He did not.

Mental health, strokes, heart attacks, city close-outs…what else would make me quit? Cold water, yep.

My babe is English. Whiles back, when the bub was still in arms, we went back with the aim of making a go of it in the Mother Country. We were holed up in Bournemouth, a Victorian* seaside town on the English Channel. There is surf there, and a surfing community.

When I say surf, I mean days when the narrow channel has been whipped into a rideable windswell. The water is cold, grey and polluted. It smells like wet dog and rotten sausages. The prime spots, next to Bournemouth and Boscombe piers,  magnificent, derelict structures, are surprisingly crowded.

I surfed, mostly to avoid causing my wife the embarrassment of explaining why her hard-core convict scum husband refused to paddle out.

If tomorrow she made the unilateral decision to move back to Bomo with the kids I would follow as meek as a lamb and, quit. A story on a pro surfer in Sweden whose daily bread is freezing cold onshore slop. Nope, quit.

Seattle, quit.

Boston, quit.

LA, quit.

San Diego, non-quit.

Newcastle(Aus), non-quit.

Florida, tarpon fishing.

Melbourne, quit.

Adelaide, quit.

Christchurch, quit.

Great Lakes, quit.

Holland, quit.

Scotland, quit. Well, maybe a splash and giggle once a year in the French shorebreak.

Not hard-core at all. Alhamdullilah, as Khabib would say.

Throw me out of the sub-tropics, away from warm blue water and good waves and I’d quit in a heartbeat. Soft core, to the core.

What would make you quit? Be honest.

Everyone has their breaking point. And what are your thoughts on this new genre of surf writing: quit lit?

Confronting or strangely comforting? Will it catch on? I think, yes.

*The Era, not the state in Australia.

Hot new product: Kelly Slater rocks the future of aquatic fashion, a midget tuxedo surfing vest!

Welcome to next year.

I visited Stab magazine’s online portal very recently and felt so very sorry for the once proud title that used to call Bondi home until Venice-adjacent came calling. Two days ago, you see, someone there posted a riff on the most embarrassing surf products ever. The whole thing seemed very “un-Stab” as its stable of BeachGrit cast-offs typically engage in advertorial pursuits but there it appeared anyhow. Slamming GoPro, a fine camera that overcame early CEO hiccups to soar, and Nose Guards which haven’t been around in a decade.

One of the most embarrassing surf products ever, according to Stab, were eye stickers you affix to the bottom of your surfboard to scare sharks away. Laughable, certainly. Today that same product appeared as straight up advertorial.

Uh oh.

And I would make plenty of fun of any company that pays for a “Stab Recommends…” except I truly and without sarcasm feel sorry. The whole enterprise seems to be circling the drain but I don’t want it too. Stab was once proud. A glorious antidote to surfing taking itself too seriously. Could you find it in your heart to visit there again? You can click here and it would mean very much to me.

In the meantime, BeachGrit will never offer a bum steer when it comes to worthy/worthless products. Those shark eye stickers are obviously dumb but what about Kelly Slater’s new midget tuxedo surfing vest?

(Disclaimer: Nike, the entity that appears to manufacture Kelly Slater’s new midget tuxedo surfing vest, has not paid for this post.)

It looks awesome, clearly, but what is it for? It appears too small to provide floatation and Kelly appears to be standing somewhere that floatation isn’t an issue.

Back compression?

Cancer reduction?

Pure style?

Obviously it’s pure style. But also what else?


And don’t forget to visit Stab!

I, for instance, find the color of Kai Lenny's tan interesting. I also enjoyed his barrel advice, though I think it's time to reclassify Surf Ranch's barrel as something else. It's a little bit unfair to all those who had to figure out shifty, weird, crowded, inconsistent barrels in the wild for Steve Aoki to claim "I got barreled."

Experience: the World Surf League’s newest program “Surf Ranch Sessions” feat. Steve Aoki and Kai Lenny!

Very cute!

Now, I’ve been entirely remiss in bringing the World Surf League’s newest programming here for discussion. If honest, I’m only vaguely aware of the new shows, concepts and episodes coming out of Santa Monica’s Studio division which is somewhat odd seeing that I peruse, read, watch and think about surf and surf content almost every minute of every day. Until today, the WSL’s slate of programming has not forced me to stop. Oh I understand, somewhat, that what they are producing is not for me and not for you but rather for the surf fan of the future. The non-grumpy un-local. And so I skip right over it in my email’s inbox and my Instagram feed exactly like I skip over served ads for Sofi fee-free personal loans.

Today, though, I not only stopped but watched the pilot episode in the WSL’s newest series Surf Ranch Sessions. I engaged partially because of the attached picture featuring DJ Steve Aoki and Kai Lenny jumping but also because I was emailed the three minute video eight or nine times, DM’d another ten or fifteen and texted twice.

A breakthrough.

Though there is no description, Surf Ranch Sessions seems like it will be a serial that features a celebrity surfing Surf Ranch for the first time paired with a professional surfer.

In this episode, DJ Steve Aoki declared that it is one of his three dreams to get barreled at Surf Ranch. The others were DJing in space and swimming cage-less with sharks. Kai shows him the ropes, there is a climax of sorts and then the two sit and discuss parallels between DJing and surfing. Pushing through boundaries, past fear, etc.

I insist you watch here before further discussion.

And I know the brass in Santa Monica believe we are only filled with bitterness and gall. That we love nothing more than sitting in our shit shack and throwing rocks at their fine glass tower but let’s really try to find things we like. Let’s focus on the positives.

I, for instance, find the color of Kai Lenny’s tan interesting. I also enjoyed his barrel advice, though I think it’s time to reclassify Surf Ranch’s barrel as something else. It’s a little bit unfair to all those who had to figure out shifty, weird, crowded, inconsistent barrels in the wild for Steve Aoki to claim “I got barreled.” In fact, he clearly didn’t as the camera cuts away very abruptly at the end. I understand the producers had to give the episode its seminal moment but even if he had shot out with the spit, we should call it something else. “Water parked” or “flushed” or something and uh oh…

….here comes the grumpies!

What the fuck was that? Who was it for? Steve Aoki fans? Kai Lenny fans? It certainly wasn’t for damned surf fans, I’ll tell you that right now. It was devoid of meaning, contrived and driving the shallowest, most manufactured narrative of “stoke” and surf as a conduit for conversation. I get that Surf Ranch is custom made for this sort of content but if the point is “bringing disparate folk together” then why not invite some crusty, WSL hating hick and try to convince her that pools are glorious? Or Wiggolly’s Paddling Style and WSL President of Content, Media, Studios and Applebee’s Loaded Fajitas Erik “ELo” Logan? Or Eddie Rothman and Ian Cairns who still have wonderful, simmering beef tracing its heritage all the way back to those “Bustin’ Down the Door days. I know that would be very “inside” very “small” but DJ Steve Aoki?

Trading on a celebrity culture that peaked eight years ago is not only tired and boring, it’s fucking embarrassing. I think, and I could be wrong, that the “surf fan of the future” might actually enjoy  a view into what surf culture actually is as opposed to what Santa Monica is attempting to create and sell. Again, there are so many potential partners with whom the World Surf League could team to deliver these stories. The Surfing Heritage and Culture Center, The Surfer’s Journal, Jamie Brisick, Hardcore mag in Brazil, Jed Smith and Vaughn Blakey, Zigzag mag in South Africa to name but a tiny fraction.

Matt Warshaw, yet another glorious potential partner, gifted me with an introduction to Cocaine + Surfing (buy here) that I ponder regularly. He wrote:

We should know better- we used to know better – than to try and reshape surfing into a sport that fits into a Mutual of Omaha ad campaign, or an Olympic telecast. Selling the sport isn’t a crime. But sell it on our own terms, the way Bruce Brown did with Endless Summer. Make them come to us. And if they don’t, so what? But no, we continue slicing off our legacy of cool, of independence, piece by piece, in exchange for a seat in the nosebleed section of mainstream culture then we compound the error (not ‘we’, actually but the World Surf League, the NYSE-traded surfwear companies, and whoever convinced the IOC to make surfing an Olympic sport for the 2020 games in Tokyo) by passing this auto-swindle as growth and progress.

Fucking shit fucking fuck and… breathe.


Serenity now.

Serenity now.

I also watched a few episodes from the series Transformed feat. Shaun Tomson. Heartstring tugs, inspirational stories using surfing as a platform for overcoming obstacles etc.

Very cute though I do have MAJOR problems with the Afghanistan feature-ette but let’s save that for another day, shall we?