Revealed: “I’m in love with a mid-length surfboard and I don’t care if the whole world knows it!”

Birds are singing!

A grey pall hangs in the air this morning. The sort of grey that rudely threatens to malinger all day. Thick. Monochromatic. Lazy. One lonely crow squawks a miserable song in the backyard. A vehicle is backing up somewhere on the street making that horrendous beeping sound.




Maybe its a hearse.

Or a refrigerator truck.


Everything is the color of death, the sound of death maybe reflecting the hundreds of thousands of otherwise healthy overweight diabetics with underlying heart conditions north of 80 years-old who are mysteriously dying but I’m entirely unaware of the grey, the crow, the refrigerator truck and/or hearse, the fragility of life because I’m in love.

In love and there’s music playing. In love and it’s almost like praying.

In love with a beautiful mid-length surfboard and I don’t care if the whole world knows it.

Before I received my custom 6’10 21 2/34 seamfoam green Channel Islands MID from the very hand of Devon Howard, I’ll admit to being extremely conflicted.

Would touching the thing taint me forever? Turn me into a lily-livered, big tent-preaching, cop-calling Vichy capitulator?

Maybe but Devon Howard, Devon fucking Howard, surfs the way I want to surf clean lines, no wasted movement, in control and pretty, so I touched it, posed for a picture, drove home with a mind full of sin.

The afternoon surf was garbage but… I couldn’t help it, waxed up fresh and paddled into the wind beaten chunk. I was surprised at how it moved. I thought it would be like a cork, bobbing above the water, impossible to duck dive with my spindly arms but it was no problem at all. When I saddled up it sunk to normal sitting-on-shortboard depth.


I caught a couple waves, had a bit of fun but it wasn’t good enough to fully assess.

The next morning, I woke, waxed, paddled before the wind had a chance to yuck my yum.

It was a classic Cardiff day. Peaky, shoulder high nuggets spread in front of the crumbling bluffs watched over by the ghosts of campers past.

The first wave I swung, dropped and… felt it. The board wanted to surf. It wanted to surf well. I stayed low, lower than I normally do, and thought about my body, my legs, my trunk. Made sure my hands weren’t jazz dancing. Focused on that first bottom turn. It bit with rail and fin hard and pushed back against me. I could feel the energy, feel that it wanted to harness that energy, so pointed it toward 9 o’clock (where Devon Howard told me to point it) and suddenly I was there.

On the roof of the world.

I rolled back on my heels, moving my back foot over the fin box, and took the rollercoaster drop before repeating then gliding over the diminished shoulder into the flats. It felt good, almost too good, and I quickly paddled back out, swung, dropped on a late one and it felt glued to the face, rail drawing its own line with me simply along for the ride.


It is a fast board but, riding it, my body felt slow. Like I had time to pay attention to the little things. Do those little things right. Little things that I’ve been neglecting for years. Decades. Little things blown right through on my way to trying to surf like Ritchie Collins at Newport.

I know it ain’t for every wave but it feels made for the wave a bike ride away. The one I’ll be stuck surfing most of the summer what with Coronavirus restrictions malingering with no end in sight and now, this grey morning, death all around, I’m skipping to the beach and will, in three months time, surf like Tom Curren at J-Bay.

True love.

Pentacoastal review #2: “This is how you create a narrative! This is exactly where the sport should be!”

Make art, and see what happens. If you don’t have a plan you can never fail.

Vans’ latest film Pentacoastal is a war cry for the contemporary surf fan.

It shows us surfing at the vanguard of the modern performance spectrum, pushed even further forward by the sure-handed direction of an in-form auteur. Pentacoastal is blistering, exhilarating.

It captures attention like a well placed punch on the nose – blam! – and forces our gaze back to what’s most important.


This is how you create a narrative. This is exactly where the sport should be.

A rare delight. And all for free.

Have you seen it yet?

There’s a whole lot to like.

The reinvention of Wade Goodall, who’s as close to a central figure in the film as we see. Wade’s had a narrative arc that would match any character from The Wire. The pop-shuvit funboy of the early naughts is still there, but with a style and presence that’s rounded out into something much more substantial.

His surfing is next level. That foamball wrestle and bounce at P-Pass needs to be watched again, and again.

Harry Bryant, the fizzling quokka with a Marzo-esque level of command in some damn heavy situations. I was lucky enough to be out during a few of the Indo sessions featured in Pentacoastal and he was by far the standout in real time. It shows through in the film.

A supporting cast that expose no weak links.


Even though the locales are mostly well known, the waves are shot in a new light. Literally. Muted hues and tonal fades are in the edit throughout. The aesthetic is distinct, but never overpowers. The washed-out drone soundtrack evokes that unsettling power of desert Australia and the Indian/Southern oceans chillingly. It had me putting on some Earth and settling into a doom haze as soon as I finished watching.

Pentacoastal captures the dystopian mood of 2020, but in a way that will remain relevant long after the last Chinese cough subsides.

At thirty mins it’s the perfect release time.

You gotta love the Vans model, too. Keep loose rein over a large team of talent. Allow them the creative freedom to do their own thing. Pull them together every now and then for a major project, and place it under the guidance of the likes of Goodall and Shane Fletcher with full creative control.

Make art, and see what happens. If you don’t have a plan you can never fail.

For that reason, nothing in Pentacoastal feels contrived, or marketed. It’s a statement in and of itself that surfing is at its best when it’s organic, powerful, and unencumbered.

This is how you create a narrative. This is exactly where the sport should be.

Perhaps the ultimate compliment I can give?

I’ve already watched it twice.

Pentacoastal movie review: “Like a drunken sleep on the beach after a melodious sacred concert!”

A filmmaker reviews Vans' latest full-length movie…

We all know the state of surf cinema: the industry’s in decline, there’s no budget, instagram ruined everything, attention spans are too short, blah blah blah.

All of this was on my mind as I queued up the livestream for the premiere of Wade Goodall and Shane Fletcher’s ​Pentacoastal​. As the opening notes of the metronomic score thumbed I immediately felt like I was in good hands.

Opening credits in surf films are rarely good. Taylor Steele might be public enemy number one, but even​ View From A Blue Moon​ spends what feels like an eternity introducing its cast over painfully repetitive, if beautiful, underwater cinematography.

Goodall and Fletcher gracefully side-step this pitfall with a wonderful montage of hand-drawn, mixed medium animations. These strange creations, over 1700 hand drawn images according to Goodall, vibrate and morph with small imperfections from frame to frame.

Amid these little slice-of-life moments featuring random passersby, each cast member is brought into the narrative in his own animated sequence. (On a side note, does Vans have the most likeable team in surfing? A Goodall, a Graves, two Gudangs, a Bryant, a Fletcher, a Florence and a fucking Reynolds? And Kyuss King is there, too.)

The true genius of the introduction is the employment of the age old adage: show, don’t tell.

Nothing kills my boner faster than half assed B-roll over a surfer’s narration of what their home is like, or why they love surfing, or why their team is “like a family” (ironically this is basically Passion Pop,​ Goodall’s early 2000’s Billabong flick).

These images feel like Goodall’s POV. Without any explanation or direction he has transported us behind his eyes ​Being John Malkovich-style, depicting a world strange and alien.

Every frame is operating on multiple levels, and while describing it is some real film school bullshit, it makes for a compelling opening that reflects careful thought and attention to detail.

One minute in and we’re out of the intro, wham bam thank you ma’am.

And once this film ramps up, it doesn’t really slow down for the rest of the running time (around thirty minutes). There’s no candid B-roll, no narration, no explanation, just top-notch, progressive surfing complemented by a beautifully consistent, semi-monochromatic color treatment of deep blues and crushed blacks and a soundtrack of feel-it-in-your-chest pounding rock.

They surf that one stretch of the South Coast that is in way too many web edits, but somehow Shane Fletcher manages to make it look fresh and entertaining. They surf that one super-fun-looking-but-probably-pretty-gnarly-in-reality beach with all the A-frames on it (See Parko in ​Trilogy)​.

They have the obligatory Indo part but Dane is there so who cares, gimme all the Dane, gimme my precious! Kyuss King goes wave for wave with Goodall at a shallow right slab in a coming out party reminiscent of Kolohe Andino in ​Lost Atlas.

Harry Bryant surfs with the reckless spontaneity that has recently and deservedly made him so popular.

Goodall closes with a solo section at maxing P-pass, a wave which, no matter how many times I see it, is still jaw dropping. It’s beautifully shot by Fletcher, who much to my relief, doesn’t camp out on the same 200mm lens, but varies his focal length, giving us cropped-in close-ups and wide, pulled0back shots of the break.

I think filmers get obsessed with walking the tightrope of “how tight can I shoot from a boat and still keep it steady and framed up”. Here’s a good rule of thumb: if you are cutting off the top and bottom of a wave, don’t do it more than once.

Show me the wave, show me the lineup, I will likely never see a wave break like this in person, show me the ​mechanics​.

Obviously I really liked this film, but I do have to level a complaint at one element, and frankly the entire surf filmmaking community at large is guilty of this. Sloppy, handheld footage on a film camera is not compelling and needs to die a quick death. Every asshole with a Super 8 camera thinks they can zoom in on a flower or point it up at the trees and it’s god’s gift to filmmaking.

And I get it, shooting film is really fun, but at this point it’s the surf section equivalent to dancing while lip syncing a pop song on TikTok. It’s as lazy as it is boring. Look no further than Jack Johnson, Thomas Campbell, or Joe G for alternate and interesting ways to navigate film.

In any case, bring back full-length films, stop posting all the best clips on insta, cue old man shaking his fist at the collective youth etc.

Go watch the film, it’s free on YouTube, forever, and we are damn lucky to have it.

Listen, shaper Jon Pyzel talks “depraved Screaming Eagles” and more on Dirty Water: “I would sacrifice myself before I sawed through a little girl!”

Enter the castle of John John Florence's lifelong shaper…

Here, today, on Dirty Water is an almost two-hour long conversation with John John Florence’s lifelong shaper, Jon Pyzel.

Some of Jon’s story you might already know: how this diabolically sexy shredder (sponsored by Rip Curl and Hamish Graham surfboards) fled Santa Babs for the North Shore in 1992 and was taken under the wing of master shaper Jeff Bushman before, in 1998, shaping a little blond boy’s first ever custom.

The boy, of course, John John Florence.

In Dirty Water, hear about what it’s like when every major surfboard company in the world is forever circling your marquee rider and how Al Merrick warned his own company to keep their hands off the kid; how Jon lived in a tool shed at Pupukea fed by a single light bulb with an extension cord running into the main house, the surfboard he made that nearly killed Mark Healey, why he ain’t into making flashy expensive surfboards for LA movie execs, the story of how The Ghost was created via a “fucked-up blank” and the depraved name of his foil model, The Screaming Eagle. 

(Available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcast, Stitcher, TuneIn + Alexa, iHeartRadio, Overcast, Pocket Cast, Castro, Castbox, Podcast Addict, Podchaser, Deezer and Listen Notes.)

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Fatal shark attack in Santa Cruz likely result of “stay-at-home” orders associated with Coronavirus prevention according to wildlife biologist

"Since the beginning of the pandemic, animals worldwide – from bears and bobcats at Yosemite to marine life in Hawaii – have been spotted reclaiming their natural habitats."

Last week, Ben Kelly, a 26-year-old surfer and shaper from Santa Cruz, was hit by a Great White and tragically died from his injuries on the beach. According to the coroner, the shark was likely a “sub-adult in the 10-foot range.”

Shark sightings are not uncommon along this stretch of northern California coast but attacks are rare, though in a recent interview host of Animal Planet’s “Extinct of Alive” and wildlife biologist Forrest Galante suggested there could be a spike as surfers return to the water as “stay-at-home” orders associated with Coronavirus prevention are relaxed.

Per Santa Cruz’s local KRON4 news, Galante said, “…the shark that attacked and killed Kelly probably had not seen a surfer in the area since stay-at-home orders were enacted. With a lack of humans in the water, the shark was most likely comfortable and attacked when its area was disturbed.”

Shark attacks are most often a case of mistaken identity as they hunt for seals, Galante said, adding that the increase in shark sightings is not uncommon since sharks are now hunting in areas previously frequented by humans.

People are urged to exercise extreme cation, especially since many California beaches are reopening or are expected to reopen this week.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, animals worldwide – from bears and bobcats at Yosemite to marine life in Hawaii – have been spotted reclaiming their natural habitats as humans continue to shelter-in-place amid the pandemic.

A memorial fund has been set up for expenses associated with Kelly’s funeral. Donate here.