A grifter’s guide to surfing Lake Michigan: “Grenades of power wobble my surfboard; I feel like Bodhi paddling out one last time!”

A blaze of triumph in Chicago… 

I quickly wax my board, feeling a combination of self-loathing and grudging acceptance.

I tie my boardshorts, throw on a cotton shirt (it’s not cause Dane wears them, it’s cause I prefer stepping on the bottom of my shirt mid popup) and do my best to look like I belong.

Strange how I now feel more self-conscious “surfing” in middle America than I did paddling out at spots in Northern California I had no business being at.

Michiganders gawk, chuckling at the small man walking through a Lake Michigan parking lot with a surfboard tucked under his arm.

I am acutely aware of the caricature I am.

“Surf’s up, man.”

Not sure if he’s making fun of me. Probably.

I stare at the lake.

Last time I was here it was a jumble of frozen blocks of ice. Now, I might consider it an actual beach, as long as I ignore the reddish brown water.

Surf is pumping. A jumbled mess of white caps, four foot at five seconds. I ponder to myself if it’s really worth the hepatitis.

We aren’t far from Chicago.

I throw my leash on, hyper aware of the judgmental, mid-western eyes.

The paddle out isn’t bad.

It’s probably because I can walk out the lineup, or the fact that the waves are gutless. I bob in the lineup, trying to ascertain if the waves breaking fifty yards outside of me are rideable.

My thoughts are quickly interrupted by frantic whistles.

I look back.

On shore, a pre-pubescent lifeguard frantically signals for me to come in.

His friend sits atop an ATV – an apparent necessity to cover the fifty yards of beach.

“I just can’t let you go out here. We just can’t. But, if you walk, like, one hundred yards north, I can’t tell you what to do.”

He glances at me, unsure if I understand his hint.

As I trudge north, I hear him say, “Seriously, be careful out there man.”

I feel like Bodhi paddling out one last time.

I repeat my paddle out, gleeful when a single wave breaks in front of me and I’m forced to duckdive.

I’m joined by a middle-aged, balding man wearing a nineties-era O’Neill electric blue and yellow rash guard. I’m pretty sure he’s not wearing to appear ironic or retro.

He flashes me a pair of vertical shakas, the thumbs pointed to the sky, a smile plastered on his face with a look that says, “Can you believe this?”

I like my new friend. He’s riding a five-o Beater-like a boogie board. I respect it.

And even though he will inevitably be staring up at me when I stroke into the only set of the day, a waist-high burger, I can’t fault him.

There’s a whole lot less kooks here than Southern California right now.

I’m greeted by childish screams every time I lumber to my feet. There’s a family splashing in the waves on the inside and I’m relatively sure I’m the first person they’ve ever seen stand up on a surfboard.

Though my rides consist of a pop-up to a not so graceful kick out, that’s all the waves offer, I feel as though I’m ripping.

These people have no idea what good surfing looks like (a stark reminder Elo – the WSL doesn’t, and won’t, garner watches in Michigan).

Might as well enjoy the one instance when I am the best surfer in the water.

An hour or so later, I leave the water feeling more disappointed than satiated.

I wonder if this is what Lemoore feels like? A long drive back through rural America, no coastline in sight, no feeling of dried salt on my skin.

Even so, as soon as I’m home I check the NOAA wind reports for next week. Maybe next time I’ll find a salty local to scream at me in the lineup.

Or when I ask the boy at the surf shop counter for a bar of wax, he won’t look at me as if I’m not speaking English.

Or, who knows, it could be five foot at four seconds.


Watch: Boxing great “Iron” Mike Tyson set to fight a shark on cable television “in the name of research,” aggressively punches surfboard to prove fitness!

"Someone is going to get bit."

Let’s be very frank and honest here. Who is your favorite boxer of all-time? Muhammad Ali is, of course, the natural number one choice but “Iron” Mike Tyson has to be a close-ish second followed by Ivan Drago in third.

No?

I think undeniable and now, Iron Mike is ready to “square off” against a shark “in the name of research.”

According to the press release, “Iron Mike Tyson, the baddest man on the planet, is back for the ultimate showdown. Tyson vs. Jaws.”

The “name of research” is yet to be revealed. Also, it is unclear how they will fight though Tyson declares, “Someone is going to get bit.”

In the accompanying video clip, Mike Tyson can be seen angrily destroying an unglassed surfboard.

Do boxers have beef with surfers, in general?

I hope not as I like boxing, very much, though am not adept in the Sweet Science. Still, I find boxing graceful especially when compared with Ultimate Fighting which generally sees two men rolling around on the ground, grasping for each other’s tendons.

Uncomfortable.

Which professional surfer would make the best boxer?

Filipe Toledo?

The boy who punched that açai bowl?

Hmmmm.


Great News: Surf apparel industry on path for “explosive growth” over next decade, set to blow past 1.5 billion dollars mark!

Thank you Billabong!

With much of these United States of America being put under lock and key, once again, in order to combat the robust spread of a novel Coronavirus, you might be feeling bleak and sad about the future of a once great economy.

How are restaurants and bars supposed to survive without being able to sell food and/or drinks?

Salons without trimming hair?

Well, at least we have the surf apparel industry.

You are certainly aware that surf branded soft goods, like t-shirts and hooded sweatshirts, became not popular some decades ago spinning the surf apparel industry into a great apocalypse.

Many fired.

Much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Yet it appears that all that was needed to pull The Stone, The Mountain and Wave, The Search etc. out of its nose dive was a real great apocalypse.

According to market specialists Grand View Research, the global surfing apparel and accessories market, valued at USD 1.04 billion in 2019 is set to grow at an annual compounded rate of 5.3% over the next seven years and reach an overall valuation of USD 1.56 billion by 2027.

Exciting.

The reason for this stratospheric spike may surprise you.

“In October 2016, Trinity Board Sport announced the launch of a surfboard based on parabolic rail system technology. The board offers 20%-30% more volume than a conventional surfboard, thus offering high degree of balancing and significant performance advantages.”

And

“In July 2019, Billabong, an Australia-based company announced the launch of a graphene-enhanced surfing apparel named Furnace Graphene. This product is intelligently designed where graphene wrapped yarns trap and retain heat more efficiently, thereby offering warmth to the wearer.”

Have you ridden one of these magic parabolic rail surfboards?

I can attest to the power of Billabong’s graphene-enhanced surfing apparel.

Very warm.

But what will you do with this glowing report? Start a surf brand? Send out the resume to existing surf brands?

Much to ponder.


Adorable maniac and toy. | Photo: @jackbatesphotography

Heavyweights: Watch as a tiger shark wrestles, eats hammerhead in three-feet of water at Juno Beach, Florida! “There was a guy swimming with his dogs who had no clue this was happening!”

"Witnessing this tiger's power and beauty chow down blew my mind…"

Pretty little Juno Beach, Palm Beach County, Florida, is a sleepy little joint of three thousand souls more famous for its loggerhead turtles, its pier and a drowsy golden brown climate than undersea battles ‘tween leviathans.

Here, as snatched by Jack Bates Photography, we see a tiger giving hell to a lifeless hammerhead thirty yards off Juno Beach.

“Sorry to see the death of this hammerhead but witnessing this tigers power and beauty chow down blew my mind,” writes Jackie. “Interesting fact: 30 yards down the beach there was a guy swimming with his dogs who had no clue this was happening.”

https://www.instagram.com/p/CCm2NDXFHqv/

Tried to call Jackie to check if it was real or not; that cut between above water and below is a little sudden, but time diff maybe making connecting difficult.

Tigers eating hammerheads ain’t a new thing. Here’s a little something from Nat Geo.

As for Jackie, kid shreds.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B2c660QBJaU/

And has an eye for imposing, goddess-like beauty.

Junoesque, y’might say. 

https://www.instagram.com/p/B1BmAcshDgW/


Destroyer swell hits Australia’s east coast: “This was the biggest and best wave ever ridden in Sydney! The wave of the day, the wave of the swell. A freak!”

"I've been shooting for ten years and it's the biggest and best wave I've seen for sure."

It ain’t no lie to say that Australia’s east coast lit up like a Christmas tree these past couple of days. 

Didn’t matter if you were curled up away from the brunt of the swell at Snapper, easing into six-footers among the Whites at Lennox like Longtom or seizing control of a Sydney reef with refrigerated composure, these were the days when surfers became, like days of yore, the Gods of Olympus. 

And yesterday, Sydney’s Chris Lougher, pictured below, slammed his excalibur into a wave at Deadman’s, a reef halfway between Manly and North Head, filmer Spencer Frost describes as “the wave of the day, the wave of the swell. A freak. I’ve been shooting for ten years and it’s the biggest and best wave I’ve seen for sure.”

This joint, Deadies, will yank you out of your bean-bag and crack you over the head with grenades of power.

Breaks on a cliff.

A little chip-shot into a section that, usually, don’t have an exit door.

“For a paddle wave, that’s incredible for Sydney,” says Frost.

Frost has been busy as hell fielding calls from news outlets and surf sites since he threw the frame grab from his RED camera onto Instagram.

“I went and did some training, didn’t look at my phone, came back and it had gone absolutely bonkers. Missed calls from everyone. Local newspapers trying to call me. Stab, Surfer, Coastalwatch, every surf media outlet. I didn’t think it would blow up like it did.”

What makes the image even more remarkable is that it was shot using a giant 800mm lens with a two-time converter from Freshwater Beach, a couple of nautical miles further north.

“Getting cheeky with a long lens,” says Frost.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CCp7OXYB7wQ/

So far, the bidding for his RED footage has hit two gees, but Frost is hoping for a little more.

Whatever happens it’ll be loosed in a day or two.

In the meantime, here’s a reel of raw footage shot from the cliff.