Jen See reviews Laura Enever movie Undone: “Holy shit, she is a badass, you guys! Shoot this film straight into my veins!”

Worth leaning into…

Laura Enever’s film, Undone, is insane.

Holy shit, she is a badass, you guys. Shoot this film straight into my veins.

In the film’s opening sequence, Enever gets completely annihilated on a crazy mutant of a wave at Shipstern’s. This is just the start of her thoroughly candid depiction of transforming herself, after seven years on the CT, into a big-wave surfer. The introduction succinctly brings us up to date. A trip over the falls at Jaws, a knee injury, dropping off tour.

In a characteristically generous interview, Steph Gilmore says she texts Enever all the time.

Come back to the Tour, we miss you. The Tour isn’t the same without you.

“I guess she’s on her own world tour now,” says Gilmore.

It’s the perfect set-up line for the three years of adventures that provide the subject of the film. Enever buys a jetski and learns to drive it. Her brother Chris goes all-in with her on her new project. She collects a series of mentors from around big-wave surfing. She learns to tow-surf and how to weight her board for the wind.

On the face of it, Enever does not look the part of a woman who rides extra large waves. She’s cute, with the bleached out blonde hair all-but required for pro surfing. Early in the film, she walks to the coffee shop with her spotted dog, casually beautiful, and orders her cappuccino. She dances in the road.

Also, she surfs gigantic waves.

In one of the film’s short snapshot interviews, Joel Parkinson emphasizes the point. There aren’t too many men who would go on waves like that, he says.

There’s a steely determination to Enever. She wants this big-wave thing and she wants it badly enough to fight hard for it. That’s the narrative arc of the film and it comes easily. There’s no need to bash the audience over the head, and the film-makers don’t bother to try.

We get it. She has this wild mad dream, and she’s going to chase it, wherever it leads.

Enever’s path doesn’t run especially smoothly.

She runs into her brother with the jetski trailer. An extended roadtrip across Australia to surf the Right, turns into an extravaganza of bad luck. She laughs and cries in equal measure.

Incidentally, the film shows the sheer size of Australia, the way that once you get out there, well, you’re way out there. Even against the space of the American west, but Australia is another level altogether.

When they set out to drive across Australia, it’s a mission — and with everything that goes wrong, the film shows just how far they travel, in a way that the usual montage doesn’t at all capture.

The landscape seems to mock Enever, her crew, and her ambitions all at once.

One of the film’s strengths is Enever’s willingness to allow the camera to keep rolling, even at times, when maybe she’d rather turn away.

This is her story, she seems to be saying, and she’s going to own it. And own it she does.

Without belaboring the point, Enever shows just how hard the challenge she has set for herself actually is. She gets injured. Takes a break. Trains more. Tries again. She falls. She falls again, over and over.

Often in surf films, we only see the makes. Enever shows all the considerable effort it took to get there.

When she makes that gorgeous final wave at Shipstern’s, it’s easy to feel the joy of accomplishment right along with her. We’ve seen what it took to get there. Her crew cheers from the jetski as she kicks out. If you have a heart at all, you’ll want to cheer, too.

A frequent pitfall of films about women athletes is a kind of desperate effort to make the women at their center relatable. Oh sure, they can do amazing things, but they’re just like you! Look, they wear cute clothes! This tactic nearly always feels fake and forced. I’m pretty sure a woman who paddles into giant Jaws is not really like me at all.

And that’s just fine. I want to feel that awe. I want to be amazed at her talent and her courage and her sheer pigheaded determination.

Sure, Enever would be a joy to meet for coffee, but her film also let me feel that awe.

What Enever does is rare and special and brave — and that’s worth leaning into, all the fucking way.

(Buy here.)

"Be Grateful, Juan Pablo. Today Is Especially Delicious." | Photo: El Imparcial

The Big Shutdown: Mass arrest and jailing of surfers in Mexico: “The 22 were rounded up before the judge and held in cells!”

Masked cops and soldiers round-up recalcitrant surfers; hit 'em with stiff-ish fines.

Thirty minutes south of San Diego on the toll road across the Mex border is the resort town of Rosarito. 

Lot of retired Americans getting leathered in the sun.

A few miles of beaches. Cold water. Gets pretty good. 

And, now, Rosarito will go down in some sort of history book, if they exist, of the world’s biggest mass arrest of surfers during The Big Shutdown. 

In Mexico’s case, they’re currently in phase three of their COVID-19 lockdown, running from April 21 through May 30, all public places closed, kissing and shaking hands banned, no surfing etc. 

See, Mex has a pretty young population, which is good, but a lot of fatties and diabetes and so on, as well as dire poverty, so it ain’t in a real good place to hit back at the Wuhan Wheeze. 

Anyway, yesterday, Tijuana’s El Imparcial ran photos of masked cops and soldiers waiting for the pack of local surfers, then photographing ‘em and finally driving ‘em to jail in the back of a police pickup. 

“The 22 [surfers] were rounded up before the judge and held in [jail] cells,” reports El Imparcial, “because they were surfing in the area …. at kilometer 43 of the Rosarito Libre highway. Francisco Arellano Ortiz, the head of the Secretariat of Citizen Security of Rosarito, mentioned that ‘these people were detained for not complying with the instructions of the agents, as it is prohibited to carry out any activity on the beach.”

The San Diego Reader spoke to a nearby surfshop owner, Al, from Playa Hermosa Surf & Skate Shop in Ensenada, who says each surfer was fined eight-hundred pesos, thirty-five American dollars, or thirty-five hundred pesos, one-fifty US, if they defended ’emselves in front of the judge.

“The virus cannot survive in the water,” Al told The Reader, “and by us exercising, our body’s defenses are stronger. The police are not making money with their corrupt acts that generate income, because people do not leave their houses, and they’re looking for money.”

"4. Have a surf and leave immediately, don't chat with mates in the car park. Call them on your phone."
"4. Have a surf and leave immediately, don't chat with mates in the car park. Call them on your phone."

Surfing Australia delivers highly anticipated Covid-19 guide: “Don’t change in the parking lot. Wrap your towel around yourself and go home!”

2. Wax up and prepare at home.

Common sense is hard to come by these days, what with toddlers being arrested for standing on the beach in South Africa and the police opening fire on surfers in Costa Rica but the fog of pandemic may be starting to lift all thanks to Surfing Australia.

The southern hemisphere nation’s official governing body just released its highly anticipated guide for surfers to survive, even thrive, without endangering each other or other overweight 80 + diabetics with underlying heart conditions.

We have been embroiled in this pandemic for roughly three-months, now, but quality takes time and without further ado, let’s learn how then to surf in the time of Coronavirus.

1. Surf the spot closest to your home ONLY.

2. Wax up and prepare at home. Put on your wetsuit, boardies and other gear at home before driving to the beach.

3. Follow physical distancing at all times coming and going to the beach. For example, if you have a narrow path to the beach wait an extra minute for it to clear before you walk down.

4. Have a surf and leave immediately, don’t chat with mates in the car park. Call them on your phone.

5. If the surfing spot is overcrowded – don’t go out

6. Don’t paddle next to someone like you would normally. Give them more space.

7. CRITICAL CHANGE – take it in turns. Do not paddle back over to the peak after catching a wave. Wait your turn patiently on the shoulder.

8. Don’t change in the parking lot. Wrap your towel around yourself and go home.

Very common sensical but a few quick questions.

What if your car is very hot and doesn’t have air-conditioning and all the wax melts off on the way to the beach? Simply tough luck?

What if your mates have left their phones at home and/or aren’t teenaged girls?

What if everyone becomes too polite and patiently crowds the shoulder?

Might hospital emergency rooms become overwhelmed with surfers developing yeast infections due wearing wetsuits in very hot cars?

Just a few thoughts and I’m wondering if Surfing USA will address when it releases its guidelines?

Watch: Progressive equal opportunity sharks surround paralympic swimmer out training; inspire a record-smashing 100 meter dash!

"I think they were the 100 metres where I most put my heart and soul into swimming in my life."

Inspiration has been difficult to come by in these days of our Covid lives. Distanced from other people, forced behind masks, living in a pixilated Zoom world that once felt futuristic but now feels like a collaboration between Max Headroom and Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day.

Rough times.

Lines of poetry gone unfinished.

Potentially masterful works of art collecting dust on easels.

Well, we always have the animal kingdom when our humanity needs a spark and thus we travel to Spain where a brave teenaged paralympic swimmer was training off Costa Brava.

The Rough Coast.

Ariel Schrenck Martinez, who has one arm and one leg, and a member of Spain’s paralympic B-Swim Team was going through the paces, trying to find some incentive, with his mother on the beach filming.

Suddenly she saw not one but two shark fins, tracking her boy.

Like any good mother, she began screaming loudly.

Martinez told TV channel Antena 3 Deportes: “My mum started to shout like a crazy woman that there were sharks in the water.

“At that moment my body started panicking terribly and I started swimming like a madman.”

“I think I was 100 metres from the shore. I think they were the 100 metres where I most put my heart and soul into swimming in my life. I’m not in top shape and I almost died sprinting to the shore.”

Video footage that Martinez crushed the previous 100 meter paralympic record of 47.68 held by Ihar Boki of Belarus and there is little doubt that he will be bumped up to the A-Team in time for the 2021 Tokyo Games and surfing’s grand debut.

Now it is your turn. Take the wonderful story of Ariel Schrenck Martinez and use it to fuel the best Zoom call of your life today, in turn inspiring one of your colleagues to really smash it tomorrow.

Eventually all of humanity will be back to doing what we do best.

Doing Zoom calls in person.

Let’s give ‘er hell!

Happy Great White, caught, tagged and released a click out to sea, at Tuncurry. | Photo: @nsw_sharksmart

Miracle: The Australian “Great White superhighway” where sharks happily co-exist alongside surfers and swimmers!

Come to a joint crawling with Whites and where no one gets hurt…

A week ago, “terrifying” and “chilling” drone footage emerged of two Great Whites swimming under three surfers at Tuncurry, a pretty little fishing town with an occasionally good beachbreak four hours north of Sydney.

(Watch here.)

A local drone pilot regularly patrols the skies above the main beach in town and what everyone thought but couldn’t prove until he got his little chopper into the sky, was that the place is crawling with Great Whites.

I’ve riffed on it here; Chas did it here. 

What recent headlines (“Death lies beneath!”) miss, I think, is the obvious conclusion from recent events.

Great Whites, at least the squad that patrols this stretch of beach, find little of value in the bones of human beings, something the surfers involved in the rumpus were quick to realise.

“We could hear a drone going and I’m like ‘where is that coming from?’ And we turned around and there’s a dude running down the beach to come wave us out of the water yelling ‘there’s two Whites behind you!'”one of the surfers told Channel Nine’s The Today Show.

“I actually found it quite reassuring that they’re not interested in us, they were just swimming past and happened to run into us,” said another.

“I reckon it happens on a near daily basis here,” said the third.

He ain’t wrong.

A recent six-month smart drum line trial run along the area’s beaches caught, and released, sixty-five Great Whites, two Tigers, no Bulls, and seventeen “non-target” sharks including five absolutely stunning thresher sharks.

And, still, not a bite, a nudge, nothing, in Tuncurry.

Unlike at Boomerang Beach, a few clicks south.

This story’ll put the wind up ya, as they say in these parts.