“Know” Before You Go: Alaska Airlines pegs flight cost to forecasted swell height for winter trips to Hawaii!

Annie get your gun!

Surfers have long had a… what should we call it? Problematic? Troublesome? Angrily abusive relationship with airlines. We get severely overcharged for boards, they get dinged, broken lost anyhow, services have shrunken down to nothing, booze is expensive, stewards and stewardesses are grouchy and short-tempered (except on Qantas’ domestic Australian flights where they are glorious rays of sunshine), etc. Travel has, simply put, become an expensive bummer.

Well, Alaska Airlines is seeking to win us back by pegging flight costs to forecasted swells this winter on trips to Hawaii and let’s turn to Condé Nast Traveller because my eyes are blurry and my fingers as mean-spirited as stewardesses (save Qantas’ domestic).

Today, the Seattle-based airline has launched a first-of-its-kind flight deal: Discounts on all fares from all markets to Hawaii are based on how high the waves off the islands are, with discounts increasing as the waves get bigger, with up to a 30 percent of fares to the Aloha State.

“For example, as the swell gets to 15 feet, then the discount during the sale will be a 15 percent,” says Natalie Bowman, managing director of brand and marketing communications for Alaska Airlines.

To measure the height of the waves—and therefore, the flight deals—Alaska has partnered with Surfline, a company that specializes in surf forecasting and monitoring waves. The good news for fliers looking for the best deal is that the discount rates won’t decrease if the waves start to shrink in size. “The discount can get better if the swells go up, but the discount will never get worse,” Bowman says. “So if it starts at 15 [percent], it’s never going to drop down to 10 even if the forecast changes,” she explains.

Surfline is providing this data?

Oh no.

Surfline clearly doesn’t care about accurate forecasts since they get it right as often as I don’t drink but if they cared about us they would just claim “Exceptionally Epic Hawaiian Winter!” and call it 30-foot from November through whenever this promotion ends, saving us 30% no matter when we decided to go.

Do you think Surfline cares about surfers?

Matt George, at left, and back when he was a handsome and very ripe actor, the sort who endorses shampoo, and Matt Warshaw, cherished and adored, then, as now.

Warshaw: “When the last analog version of a surf movie or magazine disappears, that’s it, game over, kiss it goodbye!”

Matt Warshaw needs your money to help save surf history and culture from the abyss…

A few days ago, Matt Warshaw, the surf historian who spends his days at his Seattle home surrounded by surf-centric books and wrapped in a tartan robe parted at a forbidden delta, launched his biennial donation appeal, subscriber drive.

If you don’t wanna dive even deeper, sign up here (it’s three bucks a month, for christ’s sake) or donate  a little something.

If you’re late to the game, you’ll remember in December, 2017, when Warshaw announced he would quit and take his archive with him if thirty thousand dollars wasn’t donated immediately. Warshaw had made a deal with his wife in 2011 that if it wasn’t in the black within a year, expenses paid, he pulling out a modest salary, he’d shutter it.

One year turned into five.

‘It’s just kind of humiliating, to be 57 and making what I make. It feels like a judgement,” Warshaw said in 2017. “EOS, I think, does a such a good job at showing the world of surf in full. Look at us, maybe the most fucked-up wonderful interesting thing on the planet, it’s all here on the three sites I’ve made, in photos, video, and words — and for building that I get less than I did as a SURFER intern in 1985. It’s humbling. When I step away from the computer a few hours and think about it, I can get depressed.”

As Nick Carroll, another great surf writer who spends his days plucking at his dressing gown, wrote,

“Surfing is not culturally anything like it once was. It now has its very own .01% of very rich people. Eye wateringly, unnecessarily rich people. I hear about new ones every day. Most recently I heard about a near-billionaire ex tech guy who takes his chef and sommelier with him on surf trips, on chartered planes, and pays skilled older surfers to go with him too. Another one who has several people on permanent retainer combing the world for the best next surf trip he can take. Elsewhere this .01% is busy re-shaping the sport wherever they can, making it go to the Olympics, putting it on show in lakes, doing pretty much everything except just fucking leaving it alone. Here’s a thought for the .01%. You wanna be the modern Medicis of surfing? Well then be patrons. Fund the work of Warshaw and people like him. Don’t buy them, back them. Give everyone else in surfing a reason to like you.”

Anyway, the response was very good, Warshaw even squeezing six thousand American dollars out of us (which we’ve almost paid in full, one or two more instalments to go).

Now, he needs a little more.

And the advertisement-free Encyclopedia of Surfing, which is a fully registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit, which means it’s tax deductible, has its phones and arms open for surfers who want to do something tangible for the culture they love and loathe in equal measures.

Warshaw, of course, has been responsible for some of the sharper stories on BeachGrit including: (On wavepools) “We’ve traded magic for Perfection!“, (On the death of filmmaker Bill Delaney) “It may be shameful but every time a famous surfer dies I get this initial rush, almost like a fire alarm going off!” and (On Kelly Slater’s Sound Waves episode), “I watched Sound Waves, Kelly Slater twice. It’s almost druggy, like MDMA!

A man as precious and loyal, and as secretly wanton, as any that has walked the earth.

Here’s his spiel.

I’m a full-time EOS employee, developer Mark Augias is part-time—and that’s it for staff. This year’s fundraiser is mostly about getting another pair of hands involved. $50K in combined donations and new subscriptions gets us a new part-time person and throws some more hours Mark’s way. $100K gets us a full-timer, more hours for Mark, and a small raise for me—I’m doing EOS for $30K a year and I’d be lying to say I’m not looking for a pay bump.

What’s on our to-do list for 2020? Apart from creating and improving the pages you already know (Encyclopedia of Surfing, History of Surfing, Above the Roar), we’ve just added beta versions for two new EOS areas: Surfboards and Contests. Click here to see a Surfboard page, and here for a Contest page. Both environments are already functional and integrated with the rest of the site, but they need hundreds of pages to really lift off—which means added work hours, which means staffing up.

Meanwhile, we’re still doing the non-sexy stuff: digitizing movies and videos, scanning old surf mags, tagging, keywording, databasing. The preservation work isn’t glamorous, but it’s the most important thing EOS does. We have to grab this stuff now. When the last analog version of a surf movie or magazine disappears or is forgotten, that’s it, game over, kiss it goodbye. So again, more hands at EOS means more surf history and culture saved from the abyss.

Click here to watch the fundraiser movie.

And, once convinced, subscribe here and donate here. 

Longboarder gets his just desserts.

Study Confirms: Surfers Scared of Sharks; Predicts rise of “tenacious, intense” Surf Gangs!

"As utilization of high-quality surf breaks rises in response to lower levels of shark activity around them, surf gangs are expected to become more tenacious and intense," say academics.

There is a saying in academia that professors must “publish or perish.” Meaning that to gain tenure one needs to have their research published and published often.

A major criticism is that the quality of scholarly work has declined in favor of quantity.

A recent study in the journal Sustainability found that surf spots with the highest levels of shark activity are less crowded than spots that have less shark activity. Specifically, “surf breaks in California that are associated with the highest levels of shark activity tend to be less congested, perhaps by as much as 28%, than their counterparts that are visited less often by sharks.”

I’m going to ask you to please suspend your disbelief because this finding is based on rock solid data.

The researchers explain, “Each variable is constructed by scientists at Surfline.com, arguably the premier website for information on surfing conditions at surf breaks around the globe. The ratings provided by Surfline.com are based on travel reports produced by experienced surfers who have visited each surf break. These describe conditions at each surf break, including congestion, wave quality, accessibility, water quality (dirtiness), ocean floor conditions, and shark activity, among others.”

Read: they went onto surfline.com (prior to its recent revamping) and copied down the travel information (what the researchers labeled “water quality,” Surfline called “poo patrol”).

I know this is a lot to take in all at once, but if you aren’t completely blown away by the study’s findings, then read its implications.

“The results presented in this study have implications for the relatively recent decline in the populations of large sharks at surf breaks worldwide… As utilization of high-quality surf breaks rises in response to lower levels of shark activity around them, surf gangs are expected to become more tenacious and intense, ceteris paribus, in their efforts to exert informal property rights over the surfing commons.”

It’s inevitable.

Read here.

(Or not.)

Watch: Kelly Slater’s “huge concern” about Tokyo Olympics’ radiation risk, “Cancer rates in the country have skyrocketed and they’re not telling anyone!”

"It's a reality… and that's from friends of mine who live there and/or have moved out of the country because of it…"

Early last week, I enjoyed a breakfast with a movie industry heavyweight in the sitting room of a hotel in which Lonzo Ball had once stayed.

There were cigarettes on one table, flowers on another and a waiter serving strong and hot coffee. I felt like a young woman in the grip of a seducer who would reveal, shortly, the marvels of sex.

Instead, among other things, would I write a movie script etc, he told me of a meeting with Kelly Slater in which Kelly’s handler had advised that if he wanted to pique his interest, he should bring up conspiracy theories.

We laughed etc.

And it reminded me that sitting in my email box was a press release pointing me at Kelly’s interview with the sports reporter and wrestler Graham Bensinger where Kelly talks of the Japanese hiding “skyrocketing” cancer rates from its people.

True or no, it makes for exciting reading.

Watch or read excerpts below.

Slater discusses the environmental and ethical concerns facing Japan ahead of Tokyo 2020:

BENSINGER: What challenges do you think Japan has between now and the games in getting ready for surfing?
SLATER: Figuring out their radiation problem. That’s one. And making sure we got enough waves to surf. I don’t know. They probably don’t want me talking about that…But it’s a reality, and it’s actually not a laughing matter. The cancer rates in the country have skyrocketed. And they’re not telling people about that. And that’s from friends of mine who live there and/or have moved out of the country because of it.

BENSINGER: How concerned does that make you?
SLATER: I think it’s a huge concern. And for a surfer the Taiji Cove where they round up the dolphins and either kill them or sell them to amusement parks is another issue. So there’s a few things that I think won’t be sort of politically correct that are spoken about during the games and I think rightfully so, but that, you know, that brings up bigger topics around the world, around nuclear power, and captive animals, and the fact that we kill and eat so many animals around the world, and it’s something that we all need to be aware of and do something about I think.

Innovation: Brigham Young University’s surf team utilizes cost-effective Surf Ranch-esque training facility; achieves impressive results!

A new growth market?

The Mormon institution Brigham Young University made history this weekend by being the very first landlocked school to compete in a surf competition and what could be a more wonderfully fitting story on this early Saturday morning, a day generally dominated by collegiate football? As you of course know, BYU has produced some real stars in that sport including Steve Young and Ty Detmer. An extremely kind and clean-cut surf star now also seems a real possibility.

As I wasn’t in attendance, we must turn the school’s paper The Daily Universe for more.

This is the first competition that the team has competed in. Considering the team had not practiced in two months, they placed 14th out of 31 teams. The club is in a league with 31 schools from California, Florida, and Hawaii.

“We didn’t win, of course, but it was definitely a good result for a team that hasn’t practiced in two months,” said Christian Bowcutt, member of the BYU surf club.

Jordy Collins, a member of the BYU Surf Club, placed first in his heats all day. He got 5th place overall.

Utah is a landlocked state, so it adds an extra challenge for getting enough practice for their competitions. The team has alternative ways of practicing. They have found river waves in Spanish Fork, Ogden, and Provo. They also use something called a tarp wave, where they skateboard underneath a tarp that makes them feel as if they were surfing under a wave.

And congratulations to BYU. Beating 17 ocean-fronting states is wildly impressive and I think the unique training schemes must be credited with the success but, quickly, how much do Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranches cost to build? 30 million? 50 million? Do you think the World Surf League will try to squash the revelation that a very similar design can be constructed for $8.50 and directly lead to impressive results?

Will Kelly Slater be rolled out personally to provide back-handed compliments to the young Mormons?

More as the disinformation campaign begins.