The least of London's flaws is that he invented a manly flex-and-preen surfing archetype who would readily and happily conflate wave-riding with all manner of seriously dangerous activities—war, bull-fighting, boxing—and we've been stuck with this blowhard in one form or another (Buzzy Trent, Laird Hamilton, Billy Kemper) ever since. | Photo: EOS

Warshaw on iconic American novelist Jack London: “He was an out-and-proud racist…an ardent socialist who dressed like a plantation owner…(and) invented a manly flex-and-preen surfing archetype.”

With a brief detour into London's rectal fistulas…

In the Spring of 1907, writer Jack London, along with a crew of five, including his cheerful free-loving socialist wife Charmian, set forth out of San Francisco bound for Hawaii on the SnarkJack’s leaky DIY yacht.

A few hours out of port somebody asked “Who’s navigating?” and they looked at each other for a few moments before slapping their foreheads in unison.


London’s roguish charm and lunatic confidence had this small crew literally sailing into the void. London, to his great credit, taught himself navigation on the fly—but they were lucky, 27 days later, to find Honolulu. While the Londons planned to sail the globe for seven years, the trip ended in Australia, 19 months after it started, with Jack in the hospital full of malaria, yaws, nail fungus, and two rectal fistulas.

The Snark was sold for a fraction of its building cost.

Waikiki was the highlight of the trip. Jack and Charmian both wrote in detail about the still-relatively unknown sport of “surf-riding,” and Jack’s essay, originally published in 1907 and later titled “A Royal Sport,” was the English-speaking world’s first full-length presentation of surfing.

London puts my hackles up for a few reasons.

He was an out-and-proud racist.

He was an ardent Socialist who dressed like a plantation owner, kept servants, and was called from his morning surf frolics, Charmian recalls, by a “tempting breakfast tray” delivered by “a white-suited Filipino.”

As a father, London was absent or worse. He once asked his daughter, “What have you done for me in all the days of your life?” She was 13.

The least of London’s flaws is that he invented a manly flex-and-preen surfing archetype who would readily and happily conflate wave-riding with all manner of seriously dangerous activities—war, bull-fighting, boxing—and we’ve been stuck with this blowhard in one form or another (Buzzy Trent, Laird Hamilton, Billy Kemper) ever since.

Which, sidebar, is part of the reason I’ve always been a huge fan of Brock Little, who once batted away my question asking if big-wave surfing was symbolic or filled with any greater significance by saying “Nah, nothing like that. It’s just the funnest thing ever.”

But credit Jack London for knowing a good thing when he saw it the moment he stepped off his boat in Hawaii all those years ago, and for jumping right in to try surfing himself, and for turning his huge megaphone toward the Mainland and beyond—London’s literary fame in 1907 was at its peak—and spreading the word.

I cringe each time I read about the “bull-mouth monsters” London rode (see below), and that surfers are a “kingly species” who have “mastered matter and lorded it over creation.”

But I recognize and respect the stoke.

Anyway, here is the full text of London’s A Royal Sport, which you’ve likely already read, in which case try Charmian’s more nuanced excerpt from her book Our Hawaii, which I really enjoyed.

At one point, Jack mansplains the shit out of how waves break while Charmian no doubt smiles sweetly and says “Yes, dear” at regular intervals.

But damn, he’s got the science exactly right.

Jack London is nothing if not confounding.

PS: Top Ten Wave Descriptions as Created Jack and Charmian in Reverse Order of Purpleness
10 – big smokers
9 – big smoky ones
8 – deep-water smokers
7 – great smoking comers
6 – those mighty monsters
5 – bull-mouthed monsters
4 – Pharaoh’s horses
3 – endless charge of white cavalry
2 – white battalions of the infinite army of the sea
1 – oncoming legions of rearing, trampling, weighing sea cavalry

(This beautifully muscled piece of writing is the sorta thing y’get every Sunday when you subscribe to Warshaw’s Encyclopedia of Surfing. Three bucks a month. An insane return for such a pitifully small sum.)

Conan Hayes, part of the Momentum Gen, founded RVCA with buddy Pat Tenore in 2001. The V in RVCA which still trips people up, is the Roman version of U. Conan picked up that little affectation from BVLGARI, a brand his mom liked.

DA drops felony charges against RVCA founder and nineties surf-star Conan Hayes; now faces separate lawsuit for “breach of contract and fraud”

The busy courtroom life of a nineties surf-star…

The founder of RVCA, professional surfer, and member of the Momentum generation was charged with grand theft by the Orange County District Attorney in 2015.  

Read, Just in: Felony Arrest Warrant for Conan Hayes. 

The DA alleged that Hayes had committed short sale fraud against the Bank of America “by providing Bank of America with false information concerning his financial net worth, which was in the millions of dollars, in order to qualify for short sale relief.”

Hayes allegedly had hidden the offense by falsely claiming that he was unemployed and feared foreclosure, while, according to the complaint, “he had within the past nine months, sold his interest in a business for approximately $8,000,000 and had purchased a $1.39 million house in Los Angeles County for cash.” 

The complaint further alleged that Bank of America discovered the offense in 2011 “by means of a report by Patrick Tenore Sr. to Bank of America.” 

Odd, considering Pat Tenore Sr. is the father of RVCA co-founder and Hayes’ former business partner, Pat Tenore. Even weirder considering that Hayes had just allegedly sold his interest “in a business for approximately $8,000,000.” 

So, according to the Orange County DA, Bank of America discovered the alleged offense through a report to the bank from Patrick Tenore Sr. not long after Hayes had sold his interest in a business. 

The charges were later dropped in July of 2017 among a myriad of scandals following the prosecution. 

According to the OC Weekly, in prosecuting Hayes, Megan Wagner, now Judge Megan Wagner, had illegally obtained Hayes’ tax filings without a court order and failed to submit relevant documents in discovery. 

RVCA’s website is noticeably devoid of any mention of Hayes and further claims that “RVCA is the brainchild of company founder, PM Tenore.” 

Hayes is currently being sued in the Los Angeles County Superior Court for alleged breach of contract and fraud stemming from a home renovation project.

The plaintiff, a contractor, alleged that Hayes refused to pay the amount stipulated by the original agreement and committed fraud through misrepresenting himself as an owner. 

The contractor is seeking over $300,000 in damages from Hayes and additional defendants. The case is ongoing. 

Austrian energy drink manufacturer Red Bull releases much anticipated “How to Longboard Surf: An In-Depth Guide” thereby publicizing long held secrets passed down from older semi-broken father to physically inferior son!

Get learnt!

It is extremely difficult to keep secrets in our modern internet age, see Jeff Epstein, but the ancient art of longboarding has kept itself shaded. Nuances and tips handed down, orally, from older semi-broken father to son no able or willing to surf a proper board.

Joel Tudor plying his trade in darkness.

Well, no longer as Austrian energy drink manufacturer Red Bull has just published the entire run of show in its just released “How to Longboard Surf: An In-Depth Guide.

Tears rolling down salt-crusted cheeks from Cardiff-by-the-Sea to Byron, Australia.

A way of life vanished.

But let’s learn, real quick, how to longboard surf.

What exactly do you need in order to longboard?

Just a few things, really…A swimsuit or wetsuit (depending on water temp), fin(s) for the board, surf wax, leg leash, sunscreen, and of course, a longboard. You can purchase most of these items from most surf shops.

Where do you go to longboard surf?

It is definitely true that there are surf breaks more suited for longboarding, and others that are not. The ones that are not: break quickly, hard, and in shallow water. Like Pipeline, for instance.

How to longboard surf?

As this is a “how to longboard surf” as opposed to “how to surf at all,” we’re assuming you know the bare-basics. As in—paddling and popping up to stand on your board. Both of these things can be practiced on dry land, by the way, to refresh. The great thing about longboard surfing (as opposed to other, shorter surfboards), is that they’re far easier to balance on and ride.

Tears rolling down Joel Tudor’s cheeks.

All laid bare.

“Man-eating” Great White Shark singles woman out of San Francisco lineup: “The sucker was eight-feet and went right for her!”

Vindication for Laird.

Three years ago, to the day-ish, famous waterperson Laird Hamilton was stopped in his Malibu by celebrity news gatherer TMZ and asked about shark attacks. The one-time surfer responded that more people are killed by soda machines than bitten by sharks, adding, “The main reason to be bitten is a woman with her period. People don’t really think about that. Obviously if a woman has her period there’s a certain amount of blood in the water…”

Condemnation was swift from actress Lena Dunham, the National Organization of Women and scientists as Hamilton’s statement had no basis in observable fact.

Until yesterday when a group of surfers were out at Pacifica, very near San Francisco, when an eight-foot Great White Shark bypassed a “cluster” of men and made a beeline for the lone female.

According to Bevan Bell, who was out amongst it, “I saw this big gray shape, just under the surface of the water, and that top fin, and the big shark went directly under her. The length of that sucker was like 8 feet. It went right towards her, and as the wave lifted her up [on her board], it literally went right under her.”

Bell also said that he was yelling at her to pull her legs out of the water, but she didn’t understand what he was saying.

Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, am I right?

In any case, it is unclear if menstruation was a factor or not but it can be certain that Laird Hamilton is sitting in his Malibu compound right now, maybe in an ice bath, drinking an invigorating cup of coffee mixed with his eponymous SuperFood Creamer.

Feeling good about his big brain.

Chatting with Lena about stuff.


Also, how do you feel about the name “Bevan?”

Yay or Nay?

Feisty Whites.

Australia’s Great White Crisis: New documentary by Discovery Channel investigates why Western Australian sharks are “more aggressive than others”…

Secrets revealed?

Last week, I spent one fascinating hour examining the new military-grade crankshaft tourniquets of Mr Jon Cohen, the emergency department doctor who has made it his business to stem the death rate from Great White shark attacks in Australia.

His new shark bite kits are a work of art.

Rip it open, pour the calico package onto the sand, it unfurls, the instructions are printed on the fabric and out spills the crank-shaft tourniquet, a smaller SWAT version you can keep in your wetsuit, as well as plastic gloves, and various pads for mopping up the expected torrent of blood.

Jon lives in Sydney most of the year but spends a little time each year in the ED of Esperance Hospital in south-west Australia, a town reeling from recent multiple attacks by Great Whites.

Seventeen-year-old surfer Laeticia Brouwer, killed; Sean Pollard, a surfer, left arm and right hand gone; Gary Johnson, hit by a White as soon as he dived into the water to set his anchor, killed.

Jon knows hits by Great Whites in Esperance are a new reality.

“I know some guys who were in the ED that day (Laeticia Brouwer was killed) and it was a traumatic experience to manage. Cases like that are preventable deaths. People can act on the beach if they’re there when it happens. It might be scary to talk about but it’s reassuring to know that there is something you can do and it’s not complicated.”

He doesn’t have, or won’t share, any opinion concerning solutions to a growing population but he does have a solution post-hit. His goal is to have a shark bite kit at all the main beaches, and he runs regular classes on what to do if a White takes a limb.

His kits even include a sticker to put on your car to show you’re packing a tourniquet and the skills to staunch a wound.

Esperance has become such a byword for Great Whites, the Discovery Channel brought a New York-based marine biologist, Dr Craig O’Connell, to the isolated town to film a documentary exploring the peculiarly aggressive nature of Esperance’s Great Whites.

All this went down before the hail of attacks by Great Whites on Australia’s North and Mid-North Coasts, including two fatalities, and a handful of near-misses, all within three months.

The film, called Lair of the Great White, made for Discovery’s Shark Week, investigates “why a population of great whites off the coast of Western Australia is so much more aggressive than others”.

O’Connell and his film crew only used a cage to get to the seabed and back to the boat. After that it was balls to the wall, so to speak.

“Once we were on the sea floor, we had a bunch of scientific tasks that we had to accomplish and a lot of those required us to get outside of the cage. We can use the caves and the crevices as a way to keep a nice ledge to our backs so the sharks can’t come from behind,” he said.

Any secrets revealed?

Only that the joint hosts a Great White nursery.


(Watch here, although y’gonna need the keys to a TV-sub service.)