If you saw Ross Williams waiting for a bus you’d never guess he used to be one of the best surfers in the world.
Almost fifty, a lazy hairline that holds a haircut like a dust-mop, a chubby figure that changes weight according to his mood.But put him behind a microphone, at the helm of a prized athlete or in the water and he glows.
Lately, father-of-three Ross has been riding a bicycle around the North Shore, prepping an injured knee for the coming winter. Or he was until he clipped his riding partner’s wheel at forty clicks an hour, hit the bitumen and got…degloved.
The gruesome injury, which is called a Morel-Lavallée lesion, is an “abrupt separation of skin and subcutaneous tissues from underlying fascia.”
Skin ripped off limb to reveal underlying mechanics, like the little leg of a butchered dog.
“About to have surgery to resolve this issue. Honestly, I feel lucky. Could always be worse. I’ll be back on the program in a couple weeks!!”
Hospital visits aren’t a novelty for thrillseeker Williams.
Five years ago at ten-to-twelve-foot Haliewa, the one-time Momentum star, “dove head first after a wave into the ‘toilet bowl’ straight into the reef. I cracked my head open and nearly ripped a piece of my nose off.”
Eleven staples and plastic surgery.
The roll call of well-wishers on Ross’s Instagram account, then, included Bede Durbidge, who had just been crippled with a broken pelvis, (“Wow! Not the way you want to finish the year”), the quadriplegic Jesse Billauer (“Sending you positive healing vibes. I’m glad you’re ok. Just stay positive and think about that sick barrel you got at Backdoor the other day”) and world champion Carissa Moore (“Oh man!!!!!! Definitely not #warmingitup”)
Today’s comments, although lacking a similar starpower, were anchored by Nathan Florence’s succinct, “Hahahaha.”
Big Joe, far right, with no-daddy boys.
Dope-running surfer gets clean, turns life coach to fatherless boys: “When they’re in their pain, in their grief, and they’re sharing, they get to that point of ‘we’re all in this together, what do we have to do to get out of this?’”
Joe Sigurdson isn’t afraid to talk about his darkest days.
“I was 28 years old living a double-life,” he says. “I was dealing dope in the parking lot while my kids were building sandcastles on the beach. I was running poundage up and down between San Diego and LA. I was pretty big, a substantial guy, so I was doing ‘collections’ for a coke dealer too… All the while I was married with a real job.”
Thirty years after turning his life around, Sigurdson is still an imposing figure.
But, his biggest threat these days are his bear hugs.
Joe turned Disney dad shortly after he got sober in the early nineties.
Pretty soon, other kids from his son’s Little League team were at his house all day after practices and games.
“They’d raid our fridge. We’d play ball in the yard. I’d play quarterback for both sides. I’d pitch. I’d take ‘em surfing… It was fun, but they wouldn’t want to go home.”
Eventually, he noticed a pattern.
“One by one, their moms started calling, asking if I could talk to their sons about problems they were having. That’s when I realized none of them had dads.”
When those calls kept coming his wheels started turning.
“I’d learned so much at these self-improvement outings like the Mankind Project. I was forty then going, ‘Man, this stuff is great. I could have used this when I was 14.’”
Joe and his co-founders are more than twenty years into their mission now, having transformed the lives of thousands of at-risk boys living in marginalized communities by providing them love and support.
“It’s not rocket science,” says Joe, when talking about why they succeed. “We all do better when we check in with loved ones and hold each other accountable.”
It’s worth noting, his mentors abide by one very strict rule.
“We never tell kids what to do,” says Joe. “Our job is to listen and understand the issues they’re facing. And if there’s a struggle we explore the options and shed light on what’s likely to happen if they stay on the current path. Mentors share their own experiences, mistakes, and lessons learned. But the choice is all theirs. All we do is take an inventory of how those decisions play out. And it works.”
Dana Wright, a former principal at Spring Valley Academy, swears by their success, and she’s not alone.
“If I had a chance to talk to every middle school administrator in the country about what they could do to make a difference it would be Boys to Men,” she says.
And what’s fascinating about Boys to Men Mentoring, is the San Diego surfing community powers their operation.
Surfers have rallied behind the cause, helping Joe and his team come up with creative ways to raise the funds needed to facilitate new programs, find mentors, and expand into new schools.
The 100 Wave Challenge, an annual Jog-a-Thon style event in the waves, is their biggest hit.
The 10th annual 100 Wave Challenge raised $430,000 last year, enough to provide a year’s worth of mentorship services to nearly 1000 kids.
Sadly, with the world going sideways in 2020 the need for Boys to Men is greater than ever. Keeping them engaged and connected is crucial to their health and safety.
Yet early this summer, Sigurdson warned his supporters that this year’s 100 Wave Challenge may not happen, and by some miracle it did, it certainly couldn’t be on the usual scale, with hundreds showing up in Mission Beach.
“That didn’t sit well with anyone,” says Joe.
His fellow surfers floated an alternative: let’s expand.
After all, they argued, Boys to Men’s impact is global now.
Sure, San Diego is where it all started, but they provide guidance to independent chapters in seventeen different states and nine different countries at HQ.
Why not reflect that?
After several Zoom calls, Joe and his team obliged, adding a new twist.
This year it’s “Your 100 Wave Challenge.”
You pick the crew, the beach, and the time, between now and November 22nd, and make it happen.
“Two months ago, we were feeling pretty hopeless,” says Sigurdson. “Thanks to our surfers, I’m starting to believe this may end up being our biggest year yet. Our big signup push doesn’t typically start until after Labor Day, but word is already spreading through surf clubs and surf shops and social media. And our surfers are getting calls from people asking how they can help.”
The answer is simple: Grab some friends, get ‘em together, and give these kids your love.
Captain’s log, Coronavirus pandemic day 5674. The global mood has reached its possible nadir with most people too depressed to make a fuss about anything. Tired shrugs and French-style flat tire sighs are the most common responses to both highs and lows.
A general, unrelenting malaise.
But what is this from grey olde England? A group of “Surfers Against Sewage” who are mad as hell and not going to take it anymore?
It’s true and in times of real trauma, we can always count on those with stiff upper lips to carry us through but what is making these heroes so angry?
Pandemic-related pollution washing up on their beaches, ours too, by the ton.
Jack Middleton from Cornwall-based group told the BBC, “Since lockdown has started to be lifted we’ve witnessed a new wave of plastic pollution littering our beaches in the form of disposable masks and gloves. While the PPE has helped to save lives over the past few months, we now need to consider how we dispose of it properly to prevent it from flowing into our rivers and oceans and destroying our beaches. We’re used to seeing plastic bottles and bags when we’re surfing but this new type of plastic pollution is something that no-one could have foreseen.”
Beach cleanups etc. have been organized but Surfers Against Sewage has another plan on how to deal with the problem. “Name and shame offending companies on social media.”
I love a good social media flogging and we should get in on the action too, starting with latex gloves. I’ve never liked the things as they make hands very sweaty etc. I think leather driving gloves are much better and more chic too. These right here would do well.
Screw you, latex gloves. Soak in that hot, sweaty shame.
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 Snark, Jack’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.
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.”
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
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.