Longtom graduates from Matt Bromley's Get-Gooder-At-Surfing-At-Home online course. | Photo: Fast Times at Ridgemont High

Longtom buys online surf-improvement course: “The truth is most of our skill sets are baked in by the time we are twenty!”

Can a lifelong intermediate surfer break out of entrenched patterns? Or are you doomed to repeat the same dreadful mistakes over and over for eternity?

Look, if the Devil himself showed up tomorrow with a red button to push to kill the internets, I’d hit it in a heartbeat.

Not even give it a second thought, despite the fact I’d be nothing without it.

Compounding the stupidity is the fact I’m a total slut for what you might call internet self-improvement. Open online courses in economics, agriculture, subscriptions to every publication I can get my hands on etc.

Can’t shovel the shit in fast enough.

Ergo, it didn’t take much for me to pull the trigger on a surfing self-improvement course by South African charger Matt Bromley, which promised to help me smash through the intermediate barrier.

Fifteen bucks, can’t remember whether he charged in Rand or USD. Either way, about a schooner of craft beer and a shandy down at the local pub.

It’s a secret conceit of every surfer to get better but the question is: Can you skill build?

Derek Rielly in his UrbnSurf experience was able to identify the flaws in his own surfing. ID’ing the problems is one thing, doing something to fix them is another.

Catching more waves, whether they be natural or man-made, might not be a solution.

The world is full of leatherbacks who’ve caught a million waves and who rode the millionth exactly the same as the hundredth, if you get my drift.

You have to do something different.

Hence this tutorial offering from Bromley. A kind of online coaching resource, featuring video and text.

I barely read the text. The quantity of video information is huge.

My strengths are the intangibles: speed, power and flow in good surf. I can stitch an aesthetically satisfying ride together on a medium-sized wave. Knife a drop on a reefbreak. Reading a lineup, identifying and executing strategies to pick the best waves out of a crowd, thats my jam. Love to put a subtle hustle on. Patience.

Weaknesses: lack of vertical, poor rotation in shit surf, entrenched patterns.

Was there anything I missed as a fifteen-year-old that I could improve now?

Success came straight away.

The opening two videos: “where you look is where you go” and “generating speed” cracked open movement patterns that were as calcified as old bones. Waves helped. A few fun sessions in light onshore head-high surf had a pal commenting on the vertical turns. That little ego boost helped my confidence, fed a raging surf fever.

For the first time since I learnt to take a late drop I was on the improve again.

It didn’t last.

I kept working through the videos.

The waves got worse, then better, then worse.

Trying to do different things, keep them in mind, a strange sense of dissociation came over me. I was trying to watch myself, as I was doing it, in order to make judgements about whether I was improving according to the instructions offered.

In so doing I became mired in a swamp of self-consciousness. Over-thinking it. Bad hell. No fun.

To use the sexual metaphor, too much mind = performance anxiety.

So I dialled it back.

Cut down on the information and went back to the beginning.

To what worked.

In the end, there are only three factors at play in the equation. There’s you (with your skill set), the wave and the surfboard.

Of the three, skill set seems the hardest to budge.

Good waves can always be tracked down. I believe that is the surest path to improvement: riding better waves.

Boards come in close behind. They can be changed, radically or incrementally.

Changing skill set though, oh boy.

Even on the CT, at the elite level, skill sets calcify or degrade. A trend towards conservatism is the most common outcome. Mick Fanning was doing airs in competition in his early/mid career. They disappeared from his skill set.

Changes are the exceptions.

Surf improvement is a burgeoning field in the age of the VAL as beginners transition to intermediates and lifer intermediates dream of better feelings through better surfing.

The truth is most of our skill sets are baked in by the time we are twenty. Maybe twenty-five if one can postpone adulthood and keep the go-outs at a certain volume. The one ray of hope is a rec surfer can improve, albeit incrementally and at a snail’s pace well into their forties and fifties with a Herculean effort, most of it mental.

Matt Bromley’s surf improvement course offers a useful rope to cling to as an aid on that dizzying journey.

The new X in the equation is the existence of guaranteed reps in the wavepool and the possible rise of middle-aged, middle-class Fight Club-style support groups where the beleaguered rec surfer can work on her skill set in a new safer space for improvement.

Not saying that will happen, but it might.

A new surf community has already sprung up around the Tullamarine facility.

I’ll be there tomorrow.

Report to follow.

Photo courtesy of @outcast_sport_fishing
Photo courtesy of @outcast_sport_fishing

In Memoriam: South Carolina fisherman hooks “obscenely huge” Great White shark; names her after local teen killed in still unsolved hit-and-run!

15-feet, 3000 lbs, all heart.

Contrary to the popular aphorism, nothing can be said to be certain in this world, except death. Taxes can easily be dodged by moving all accounts to Bermuda and placing assets in children’s names or other such inventiveness but death… The Reaper comes for all. Sometimes far too early, sometimes far too late, but 100% of the time.

And there is a very sad, still unsolved 2016 hit-and-run case involving a 14-year-old girl from South Carolina killed on her way home from a track meet in 2016. A local Hilton Head Islands fisherman is making sure people don’t forget and maybe even leads to new evidence that can be used to put a heartless murderer behind bars and let us read the bittersweet tale together.

Captain Chip Michalove, owner of Outcast Sport Fishing, caught a 15-foot great white shark off Hilton Head Island. He named her Grace after 14-year-old Grace Sulak.

“You know this is kinda, maybe a way to help somebody who many need a little bit of healing and try to find a little more about the case,” said Michalove.

Michalove said he hopes the tribute will bring some closure to the family of Sulak, who was an aspiring marine biologist.

The great white shark that Michalove reeled in weighed around 2,800 pounds. Michalove, and his crew, took tissue samples and tagged the shark before naming her Grace.

Captain Michalove wrote beautifully on Instagram:


Great day yesterday landing this 15 footer. It was too rough to get out so we stayed in close and had this big lady show up at 10:30 yesterday. Big Grace never really panicked. Definitely one of the easiest sharks we’ve worked on. Once we got her boatside, we kept a motor in gear and she just slowly swam with us. She got an array of tags and tissue samples. We’re naming her Grace, after an aspiring marine biologist Grace Sulak that was killed in a hit and run May 7, 2016 on I-26. The white truck that caused the accident was never found. You can follow Grace on Sharktivity.

Grace was, of course, released back into the water as obscenely huge Great White sharks taste gamey and mercurial. She now swims fierce and proud in memoriam but back to the case:

The South Carolina Highway Patrol said the driver of the vehicle involved in the crash has not been identified. According to South Carolina crime stoppers the vehicle involved in the crash was a white Dodge Ram 2500 crew cab. The family said the truck could look different now but the search to find the person responsible hasn’t stopped.

If you have information about the crash, you can contact Crime Stoppers at 1-888-crime-SC.

Do the right thing.

And no more surfing in South Carolina.

Just to be safe no more surfing in North Carolina or Florida either.

In Oliver Stone's football masterpiece Any Given Sunday, Jamie Foxx (pictured) plays running back for the fictional Miami Sharks.
In Oliver Stone's football masterpiece Any Given Sunday, Jamie Foxx (pictured) plays running back for the fictional Miami Sharks.

Opportunity Knocks: Star running back for NFL’s San Francisco 49ers once offered contract to surf for Billabong, turned it down in “moment of divine clarity!”

Oh what might have been...

But are you a fan of professional sport? Addicted to the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat? Oh of course I’m not referencing professional surfing here. We’re all obvious fans of that game but also recognize it is not a sport. More dance meets America’s Top Model.

No, I am curious about real professional sport. Baseball, rugby, cricket, Aussie Rules, football sport.


I’ll admit to being more than passively interested. I enjoy flipping on a game and being relatively up-to-date on the bigger happenings. Yesterday, for instance, found me driving home from Tahoe and happy to have the divisional round of the National Football League’s playoffs as company. The Tennessee Titans destroyed the highly favored Baltimore Ravens in the nightcap. The day belonged to the San Francisco 49ers running all over the outclassed Minnesota Vikings.

And this morning, perusing the game details, I learned that one of the 49ers star running backs, special teams pieces, Raheem Mostert, was once a rising star in our surf game and even offered a contract to surf for Billabong? Here, I’ll show you.

Raheem Mostert went from avoiding sharks on his surf board while growing up on the eastern shore of Florida to pretending to be one on special teams in the NFL.

“I was really a beach bum,” Mostert told The Bee last month.

While growing up in Smyrna Beach, Florida, an area just south Daytona famous for shark attacks, Mostert was a regular on the waves and his skateboard. He and some 15 friends would spend their spare time on the water or in skate parks after school or on weekends.

Mostert as a 14-year-old turned down a sponsorship deal from the popular surf wear brand, Billabong, instead choosing to focus on football and becoming the first member of his family to get his college degree.

“Football’s always been in my heart no matter what,” Mostert said. “It was one of those things where I just took it for what it was. I still enjoy it, skateboarding and surfing.”

I was so intrigued that I dug deeper for this “fork in the road” moment and found…

If Raheem Mostert hadn’t been so laser-focused on football, he might have had a career as a pro surfer. The San Francisco 49ers running back joined KNBR on Wednesday morning and discussed his love for the sport growing up and being offered a contract at the age of 14.

A surfing scout approached Mostert when he was surfing and skateboarding with his friends and wanted to see some tape of his skills, the running back revealed on the “Murph & Mac” show. Mostert didn’t have tape, so the scout asked him to perform some stunts on the spot. The 14-year-old impressed.

That’s when Mostert got offered a contract but turned it down.

I’m certain, now that Raheem Mostert is an NFL star, that he considers his decision a moment of divine clarity but just imagine how dominant today’s Billabong team would be with him on it. Already the best around, featuring Italo, Ryan Callinan Seth Moniz, Griff Colapinto and Jack Freestone, Mostert would have offered a sub-4.4 40 time and uncanny ability to read defenses.

Oh what might have been.

But, quickly, while you’re here, did you ever have a “fork-in-the-road” moment too?

Did you choose the right path?

Watch: New York Sculptor Tom Sachs’ thirty-minute paean to the Vulnerable Adult Learner Surfer!

Only today's demented society could make such a movie…

If there’s anything the 2010s will be remembered for, it’s the rise and rise of the Vulnerable Adult Learner Surfer.

Meteoric, as the Greeks say.

This thirty-minute film, How to Learn How to Surf, follows the travails of a group of New York VALs as they struggle to come to terms with their impotence in the ocean and the futility of their doomed pursuit.

There is no expense spared in their quest.

The group stays at Rizal Tanjung’s surf resort Disa Limasan with its six pretty Javanese-style houses parked in lush green paddocks overlooking three bays in the East Javanese village of Watu Kerung.

Cars, boats and surf coaches, which include Riz, Balinese shredder Marlon Gerber and Newport’s Punker Pat, are on call.

And yet, success is elusive, impossible.

If you don’t surf, don’t start, has never been more appropriate.

Still, it’s an oddly compelling movie if only to illuminate the thought processes of VALs.

How to Learn How to Surf was created by Tom Sachs, the fifty-three-year-old New York sculptor, who made his name in 1994 with a Christmas window display for Barneys called Hello Kitty Nativity.

Sachs fashioned the Virgin Mary as a Chanel bra-wearing Hello Kitty, the stable had a a McDonalds logo and the Three Kings were modelled as Bart Simpson.

My favourite work of Sachs is his Chanel guillotine  from 1998, a riposte to the home of world couture that was still decapitating its citizens, and others, as late as 1977

Chanel Guillotine by Tom Sachs.

Breaking: Oahu, Hawaii’s Westside “Birthplace of Mixed Martial Arts” set to receive brand new wave tank!

Welcome to paradise, now you're in hell!

If there is one common refrain seasonal tourists mumble on their way in and out of Honolulu International Airport it is, “Oahu doesn’t have enough waves. Pipeline? Yawn. Waimea? Snore. Queens, Makaha, Off-the-Wall, Sunset, Pupukea, Zippers, Ala Moana Bowls…. booooring.”

Well, ever aiming to please, the state body has tentatively OK’d an inland wave tank and let’s learn all about what is being called Honokea Surf Village directly from Hawaii’s KITV, your home for island news.

Surfing in Hawaii may be getting a whole new look on land.

A proposed park project called Honokea Surf Village could be built on 19 acres of vacant state land in Kalaeloa

The center of it would include a 5-acre wave pool where big and small waves will be generated for pros and first timers. The proposed plans also include a lazy river, skate park, buildings and more.

Total cost of the project is an estimated 72 million dollars.

It’s not clear when construction will begin.

Wednesday, the Hawaii Community Development Authority gave the company HK Management the OK to explore the feasibility of the spot.

KITV reached out to the developers behind the surf village for more details but we have not yet heard back.

Many questions.

Which technology will the tank employ? Wavegarden? Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch? American Wave Machines?

How will localism be enforced?

Will the wave reach 50 feet every eight or so years for a possible running of the Eddie?

Many, many questions.