National Weather Service declares: Extremely dangerous “two-story” waves arrive in Bay Area!

An important discussion regarding big waves and their measurement.

Our Hawaiian brothers and sisters, God bless each and every one, pioneered the absolutely confounding “back of the wave” measurement scale. Our Australian wave plunger brothers and sisters, God bless them slightly less, pioneered a miraculous 8 foot measurement using bodyboarders as perspective. But, I feel, as both an artist and Caucasian male, that the mainstream media delivers the most compelling system, measuring waves using “storeys” of buildings/houses.

Headlines began screaming, a few days ago, that “two-story” surf was headed to the Bay Area and let’s read before discussing.

The National Weather Service has issued a high surf advisory as a brewing storm in the Gulf of Alaska is expected to deliver waves up to 22 feet tall to Northern California beaches.

“The high winds associated with that storm are generating the swell that should get there by Thursday,” said Spencer Tangen, a forecaster with the NWS office in Monterey.

In effect 3 p.m. Thursday through 3 a.m. Saturday, the advisory warns of strong rip currents, beach erosion and large waves running far up beaches and washing over large rocks and jetties.

“Use extra caution near the surf zone as these large waves will be capable of sweeping people into the frigid and turbulent ocean water,” warns the Weather Service. “Cold water shock may cause cardiac arrest, and it also can cause an involuntary gasp reflex causing drowning, even for a good swimmer.”

So, quickly, can our San Fransisco adjacent sisters and brothers first let us know that they’re ok? No cold water born cardiac arrests? Gasp reflexed drowning?

And now, “storeys” for waves. Are with me? Best way to measure them? I feel it combines the smoke throw of the Hawaiian system with the nonsense of the plunger system. Who amongst us hasn’t jumped from a second story into a swimming pool?

We’re all big wave surfers!

But also should be employed more broadly. “I just surfed some pretty fun wainscotting this morning…” etc.


Panda Dolly Dagger Review: “A comfort zone for the non-pro. Very seductive bottom contour. Very easy speed, nice flow.”

The success of this modern performance twin fin design is as a bridge between the hard-core shred and the anyone-can-ride alternative “crutch” board. A certain type of shred lord for whom the thruster is too jock and the quad too macho will find solace in the twin fin.

You ride a twin fin, your Mom rides a twin-fin, your Mom’s girlfriend rides a twin-fin. The twin-fin is the ubiquitous piece of surfing equipment at this juncture: December twenty-nineteen.

The Dolly Dagger by Panda surfboards gets filed under performance twin, to distinguish from the traditional twin-keeled San Diegan fish and it’s offspring. The performance twin is almost always a direct replica in outline to the Mark Richards twins he rode to four World Titles 79-82. Balanced outline with width in both the chest area and tail block and a single flyer, which both breaks the outline curve at the point of primary fin engagement and helps to reduce planing area in the pod behind the back foot. Swallow-tail mandatory.

To that formula, the Dolly Dagger adds a modern (neutral) rail, compared to the hard down rail with tucked edge of the Richards Twin and a very dynamic bottom contour. Single concave under the front foot with a pronounced vee through the aft area housing concaved panels either side.

I got mine at 5’8”, coming in just under 30 litres, and the very first sensation, after coming off the Slater FRK was one of sweet relief. This is a very fine paddling surfboard, both from A to B in the line-up and into waves. Width under the chest and a relaxed forward rocker means this board moves through the water very nicely.

Do you get trapped by the rigidity of your own thought patterns? I sure do.

For example, I thought I hated twin-fins, and everything about them. My very first wave, in crumbly but longish period high-tide runners, like Bells Beach, so therefore perfect for a twin, ended badly. Squirrely pieces of shit, I thought.

A regular surfing pal on a mid-length twin went straight past, with that release/glide off the top. I always thought twins exerted too much rotational force on the hull, compared to the more hull-centric single or thruster feeling, where there is less rotational force from the side fins. Less pivot around a hypothetical fulcrum. It’s that pivot that always bugged me on the twin.

I was very, very lucky, in that a solution to the problem presented itself.

Chatting to an American chap who had paddled off the rocks and was sitting inside me on a soft-top and I was thinking there was no way he would have the hide to think he was going to paddle straight up the inside and have the next set wave, but he did.

That creates a comfort zone for the non-pro. Not having the back foot placement so critical as a thruster while maintaining the engagement of the fin cluster during turns. Parko copped heat for safety swoops but for a rec surfer not much feels better, and that greased soap around the bath tub high-line is a stoker. Both of which the Dolly Dagger does supremely well. It’s a very relaxing surfboard to ride. Lots of good feels. Compared to the FRK, it does not demand much to be ridden well.

So I took it. Sorry pal, if you are reading.

Which means I had to haul ass, as they say, and in that process I got two big pumps in that were more like top-to-bottom swoops and generated an insane amount of speed. My back foot was a little further forwards than a thruster placement.

That creates a comfort zone for the non-pro. Not having the back foot placement so critical as a thruster while maintaining the engagement of the fin cluster during turns. Parko copped heat for safety swoops but for a rec surfer not much feels better, and that greased soap around the bath tub high-line is a stoker. Both of which the Dolly Dagger does supremely well. It’s a very relaxing surfboard to ride. Lots of good feels. Compared to the FRK, it does not demand much to be ridden well.

I rode it mostly in crappy surf but just as Eskimos have lots of words for snow, Arabs for sand and Polynesian navigators for ocean there an infinite number of types of crap surf, rarely categorised. The type I rode mostly was a seasonal variety consisting of small mid-long period swell, point surf with a counter-vailing devil wind. Hard to ride. Hard to maintain speed, join the dots, find clean corners and do turns. Hence derided and uncrowded.

This Dolly Dagger ate it up. You get the speed and the safety swoops going and crack the corners; the flattish rocker keeps the glide going and the short hull and fin set-up gets the pivot. I think, a lot of waves break like that in the world with, what in ecology is termed, an unexploited niche.

I also rode little beachbreak wedges at Coolum and had a ball smashing closeouts, more typical beachbreak and could glide between sections. Rail-to-rail movements get water flowing through the concaves either side of the vee. It’s a very seductive bottom contour. Very easy speed, nice flow.

The marketing blurb says twin fin, one look at it and I thought twin fin but some minds- Derek Rielly, for example, saw three fin plugs and thought: thruster. I did put some JJF Alphas in the plugs but the board instantly lacked the drive of the big twins.

Back to the OG set-up, which was the Merrick AM-T’s. A big upright twin, with a small trailer.

The trailer might be considered cheating by some, but as a way of softening the rotation on my backhand it worked a charm. My beef with the AM-T’s was the Soviet grey colour. Twins need a beautiful fin. My Irish ranga pal at the Byron Equinor protest rocked a rainbow set in his twin and that looked amazing. Don’t snort Nick Carroll, you’re as prone to petty vanity as the rest of us.

The Mayhem Evil Twin set would also work fine, with a nicer aesthetic.

Cons? Some shred will be left on the table in good waves. A local breakwall turned on a rare day (for this time of year) of overhead wedges. There was resistance from the wider nose to going straight up into the bowl at speed. Hard to lever off the fin cluster to get really vertical.

Don’t get me wrong, still fun, but maybe just a tad restrictive, more lateral. I might add, most of this was backside surfing. Forehand, I think the control and placement of vertical surfing would be much easier, especially for those of an advanced skill set.

The success of this modern performance twin fin design, I believe, is as a bridge between the hard-core shred and the anyone-can-ride alternative “crutch” board. A certain type of shred lord for whom the thruster is too jock and the quad too macho will find solace in the twin fin.

There are many fine examples from Dave Rastovich to Asher Pacey to Torryn Martyn. The non-pro intermediate finds larger margins for error in foot placement, very nice feeling speed swoops and easy pivot surfing that feels better than it looks, in most cases.

Deferring to Dane Reynolds dictum that for the non-pro, if it feels good it is good, is a fair enough punctuation point.

PS. I rode a board with three plugs but the Dolly Dagger has options to fin as a twinzer, which is an enormously appealing prospect.

Heartbreaking: Thousands of desperate “pulsating” Penis Fish wash up, unloved and unsatisfied, on a Northern California beach!

Weep with me.

We here at BeachGrit promise to be anti-depressive. Strive to be each and every day. To lift your spirits from the murky mire. To free your soul from bondage but some stories are simply heartbreaking yet must be reported.

This is one of them.

For thousands of Fat Innkeeper Worms, also inexplicably called “Penis Fish,” have washed up, unloved and unsatisfied, on a Northern California beach usually famous for Great White sharks dismembering surfers and let us turn to Aunty for more but not before grabbing a box of tissue with which to dry our eyes.

It may just be the most bizarre thing seen all week.

Thousands of pulsating penis-shaped fish have mysteriously washed up on a California shoreline following a series of winter storms.

The underwater creatures are fat innkeeper worms, or Urechis caupo. Although the worms are technically neither penises nor fish, they are widely referred to as a “penis fish.”

In a jarring photo posted to Instagram, thousands of the pink 10-inch marine worms are seen covering the shore of Drakes Beach in northern California, about 30 miles northwest of San Francisco.

Well, one man’s “most bizarre thing” is another man’s deep, profound tragedy.

Will you weep with me?

Mourn, quietly, the unfulfilled fate of the mighty Penis Fish?

Great White shark.

The End.

Listen: “With hair braided to corral and hold all the power of the islands, Gabriel Medina cannot be beat at Pipeline!”

Italo vs. Gabe is a heavyweight bout for the ages.

Hair is an important, if sometimes overlooked, source of male strength. Who could ever forget Sampson in the Bible with his flowing locks that held much power. All was lost when the temptress Delilah lopped them off but they grew back in time for a picturesque murder/suicide.

The Native Americans have famously kept their hair long and according to the Awakening Times, “It has been proven scientifically that people who have long hair tend to be less tired, more energetic and less likely to become depressed. People who have long hair also conserve energy and don’t feel the cold of winter the same as people with short hair. A person who has short hair wastes his body’s energy. A person who cuts his hair over his lifetime forces the body to grow 22 meters of replacement hair. A person who keeps his hair only produces 1.5 meters of hair over his lifetime.

Fascinating, no?

Which brings us to our current Men’s Championship Tour World Title heavyweight bout between Italo and Gabe.

My heart so so so so wants Italo to win, to be chaired up the beach draped in Order and Progress.

My head says “Gabriel Medina will win. Look at him above, hair braided to corral and hold all the power of the islands. All of its mana. Italo became like the ancient, evil Haole, cooking his hair to white. Gabriel has transcended to the place only nymphettes with bracelets of friendship, hands of henna and hearts of pure gold/patchouli oil dare tread.”

I hope my head is wrong but… oh, what do you think? While weighing out various scenarios come listen to David Lee Scales and I chat about Jaws, Joe Turpel and the Jabbawockeez.

Have you seen them? In Las Vegas?

Me neither.

Paige Alms, Jaws.
Paige Alms, Jaws.

Jen See: “So what about the women’s Jaws?”

A thoughtful discussion.

I am sitting in the airport on my way to work a bike event in Seattle. No lie, I checked a bag filled entirely with Goretex. I love my bike people, but their choice of weather is not always my favorite. Somehow, I will survive this experience.

Even through the shitty airport wifi — and really, in 2019, why is airport wifi still so shitty? — I can hear you. I can hear you yelling at me, like, Jen, Jen, what the fuck, what is up with the women’s big wave event at Jaws. Help us understand. Well in truth, I think some of you just want me to post up as a target for your comment section shenanigans. Well, someone has to do it, so here I am.

My foundational belief about women’s sports is the following: I believe that women athletes should have agency over their sports. They should be able to determine how and where they compete and what they earn. They should be able to progress their sports at the speed they want to progress them. They should have events that reflect their priorities, their ambitions, their values, and their dreams.

The women who compete in big wave surfing have made their priorities very clear, I think. Based on what we know from Daniel Duane’s reporting (among others), the women in big wave surfing want equity. They have set as their goal to achieve the same opportunities to compete that men enjoy. They’ve sought equal prize money and they have made it their priority to build their sport on these values.

That means, if the men paddle out at ginormous Jaws, the women are going to paddle out, too. That means if there’s an event for men at Mavericks, the women are going to demand entrance, too. And they will take the hold-downs and the criticism that comes with their determination to chase the biggest possible waves and the biggest possible goals. They would not thank anyone who tried to hold them back, who tried to tell them that it’s too big or who tried to tell them that they aren’t ready.

By contrast, I think it’s fair to say that the women on the CT are following a somewhat different path. When I asked Steph Gilmore and Carissa Moore about surfing Teahupoo, they were open to it, but they want to take it step by step. On the question of prize money equity, Gilmore says it wasn’t a priority for her. She only came late to understanding the symbolic importance it has in inspiring other women. Of course, Gilmore doesn’t speak for the entire CT — Fitzgibbons and Conlogue both told me they would go, right now today, if an event happened in Tahiti.

Shortboard surfing is a different sport from its big-wave sister and it makes sense that the women who do it are searching for different things. They want opportunities to showcase their style, their meticulously crafted turns. They want space for self-expression. It’s not that they’re ignoring the men’s side of the sport and it’s not that they aren’t looking at how the men are pushing what’s possible. Moore, in particular, says she’s aware of the gap in the performance levels between men and women — and perhaps more than anyone, wants to change it. But exact parity does not appear to be how they are thinking about their sport.

But, and read this slowly my people, both approaches are equally valid, as long as they reflect what the women doing the sport actually want their sport to look like. It doesn’t matter what I think, or what a bunch of men yelling in the comments section think. What matters is what women want their sports to be and what goals they set for themselves as athletes. That’s it.

To support women’s sports, in truth, requires coming to it on its own terms and engaging it based on the goals that women athletes have set for themselves. What it doesn’t mean is setting men’s sports as the norm, and constantly measuring the ways that women fall short of this imagined ideal.

Sure, the women competing at Jaws were not on the same level as surfers as the men. That’s true. But on their own terms, they have already succeeded. They paddled out in the same event, on the same day. That is the goal that they’ve set for themselves. And they’re evolving their sport steadily and determinedly in the direction they want it to go. Nothing is ever built in an instant.

The thing about elite athletes is, they are never willing to settle. They are always pushing, always chasing, never content with average or normal. In this, women athletes are no different from men. That process is not always pretty and it doesn’t always run smoothly.

Stand or fall, the women in big wave surfing have my respect for their determination to paddle out and their refusal to back down. There is, eventually, something inspiring in that — which is maybe the point of watching sports at all.