Early visor sketch and patent drawings from mid-eighties.

Margaret River inventor Ric Gath comprehensively refutes US man’s claim to have invented the world’s first surf-specific helmet!

Take a lil stroll back to 1986… 

Yesterday we ran, unquestioning, Terry Simms’ claim that he had invented the world’s first surf-specific helmet, something Simms repeated “many, many times,” says Chas Smith. 

Simms’ helmet, the Simba, with its Roman Gladiator styling, is certainly eye-catching. 

But it ain’t the first.

In the late eighties, early nineties, y’couldn’t find a lineup in Western Australia that wasn’t filled with surfers wrapped in Ric Gath’s eponymous surf helmet. 

Ric launched it at the 1989 Margaret River Masters, a contest won by Dave Macaulay wearing the wild-looking plastic thing. A photo taken on the day appears to show Dave’s wife hugging the helmet. 

That same season, Tom Carroll won the Pipe Masters with a Gath. 

Kong won it the year after, wearing a Gath. 

Tommy won Pipe again, the following year. 

Tom Carroll, festooned in Gath.
Tom Carroll, festooned in Gath on a trip to Indonesia.

“It was a dream launch,” says Ric, now sixty-four.

He ain’t too concerned about anyone claiming to’ve invented surf helmets.

Still, his story is a good one. 

Ric, who is a big-waver from Margaret River, Western Australia, had ears that gave him hell in a region famous for its cold wind. First he used divers balaclavas, then when Rip Curl brought out a peaked neoprene hood he wore that, although losing it in a wipeout was common. 

So he switched to carpenters’ ear muffs with the padding taken off and with the balls resting over the ears. Ric dislocated his jaw on that idea.

Then his three-year-old kid, this is 1986, nearly copped his fins in the face after nose-driving in a little shorey. 

Ric is a can-do sorta guy. He made some drawings and three years later it was everywhere.

Early visor sketch and patent drawings from mid-eighties.

In Bali, surfers used ‘em as motorbike helmets. Mums agreed to let their kids surf with the stipulation they wore a helmet. 

Ric says they were moving around 12,000 units a year. It’s not massive in today’s sorta numbers but thirty-ish years ago, big enough to make a little cash and save a few skulls. 

Almost as quickly as they’d arrived, howevs, the Gath disappeared. 

Two reasons, says Ric. 

First he heard that surf companies weren’t real thrilled that his “parasite” company was getting free press in their editorial photos and started telling photographers they weren’t going to run shots with helmets. 

Second, biz probs. 

In 1994, his three investors showed him the door and they all went to court to see who got to keep the intellectual property. 

“Three chiefs and one Indian and I was the Indian,” says Ric. “I went straight from a surfboard and into business to going into a liquidation meeting.”

Ric, who had to go back to carpentry to fund the case, won. 

In 1999, he picked up the pieces and was back in biz by 2005. 

Nowadays, he’s got his son Jess and wife, Jennifer, running the show, the company chasing Europe’s lucrative kite and foil  market, something that’s gonna spike now that governments there are starting to legislate for compulsory helmets while foiling. 

“The future is looking really good for us,” he says, adding he might be sixty-four but surfing makes him feel eighteen, even if he’s given a reality check every time he walks past a mirrored door and he catches his reflection. 

He ain’t too bummed about much these days, still talks to one of the investors who took him down and, with characteristic whimsy, says the liquidation of his business with all its legal documents “improved my reading.”

Check out Gath Helmets here. 

Cool Mom Fab. | Photo: Stab magazine

Famous surfboard shaper transitions heretofore iconic style: “Is it just me or does Matt look like the cool mom that will let everyone drink at the house as long as no one’s driving!”

Possible best surfboard shaper in the world debuts new Cool Mom Fab look.

I made my name in this surf game not caring. Writing what I felt, writing my first addled impression without connection to the levers of “cool” or “surf prestige”, and my first addled impression of Matt Biolos’s …Lost transitioning to energy drinks, some two decades ago was …silly.

I wrote something about him liking little boys.

Unfounded, incorrect, absolutely rude and not even related to anything but he was kind enough to call my then, and now, muse Derek Rielly to say, “What the fuck?”

Derek told me I should go down and talk with Matt, stifling a giggle.

I did and thought Matt might like Pick Up Stix (fake pan-Asian cuisine one tiny step up from Panda Express) so brought some.

Matt said, “Why did you write that I like little boys?”

I said, “Because I thought it was funny. I was wrong.”

Then we transitioned to talking about World War II.

I loved Matt Biolos from that moment on.

Willing to take surfing’s idiocy on the chin and not care because ain’t that the best of us?

An un-serious take on life?

A funny-if-wrong view?


Well, Matt has recently transitioned his heretofore iconic style by dying his hair and embracing a new look in the new and reportedly wonderful Andy Irons warm-over.



Via Instagram:

“Is it just me or does Matt look like the cool mom that will let everyone drink at the house as long as no one’s driving?”


Pick Up Stix or…. your call. Because you totally do.


Watch: One-time surf brand Hurley releases must-see-to-believe video debuting full line of men’s skincare product!

Performance art.

Some time in those free-wheeling 2019s, pre-Covid, the brand Hurley was sold by Nike to Bluestar Alliance for an undisclosed sum. With a team consisting of John John Florence, Kolohe Andino, Julian Wilson etc., innovative design year over year and a corest of the core executive team, Hurley represented the very best of what the surf industry was, of what it could be.

The axe fell quick, executive team jettisoned, designers too, team cut and then relative quiet… until a line of men’s skincare product was teased four-months ago.

It almost seemed like a joke, like a very canny bit of performance art.

Today, the video selling that line of men’s skincare product has been released and it is more than I could ever hope for. Words cannot describe.

Watch here.

BeachGrit NFT. Real expensive.

The mystery and stupidity of NFTs, the world’s hottest new art market where otherwise worthless digital files are traded for millions of dollars!

"Why would you want ownership of this art? Why is it crypto?"

One week ago, in a sprawling thought piece, the best surfer in the world years 2007 until 2016, Dane Reynolds, wrote about being accosted in the water by a man pushing NFT’s. 

A long haired fellow on a soft top asks if he can have thirty seconds of my time for a business pitch. You can’t really say no so he proceeds to inform me that NFT’s are all the rage and they could be right up my alley.

What are NFT’s? Well shit, I still don’t quite understand but someone is creating something called crypto punks which are 8 bit digital art files that are being traded for millions of dollars. Fuckin crazy. My brain does not compute. Fascinating and foreign. Why would you want ownership of this art? Why is it crypto? What the fuck?

The man on the softie was John Caldwell, the thirty-seven-year logistics and marketing guy for Martin Daly’s Indies Trader and his surf heaven resort on Beran Island in the Marshalls. 

Remember that deal where you can hire the entire joint out for one week for one bitcoin? That was LA-based John’s idea. 

Anyway, he saw Dane in the water, had an inkling Dane’s label Former had the sorta low-fi cred that is big in the virtual world and figured, what the hell, I’ll see if I can sell him on NFTs. 

Dane asked if NFTs were going to be the next beanie babies. 

John said, I ain’t got a clue, but crypto is the future. 

What’s an NFT?

Oh it’s wild. And it’s nothing, at least nothing physical.

NFT stands for Non-Fungible Token. 

Fungible means exchangeable. You bought a watch. You can give to to someone else. A plane ticket? Not without a ton of hassle, if at all. Non-fungible. 

NFTs, if we’re to be kind, are unique, collectable tokens. They can be permanently affixed to art, music, whatever.

Like baseball cards and other pointless collectables, they run on FOMO and limited supply. 

A ten-second video of Donald Trump collapsing sold for six-mill, US. 

Last year, there were two-hundred fifty mill, US, in NFT transactions, up from under a hundred mill the year before. 

“Nobody knows what’s going to happen, what’s going to fucking take off,” says John. 

He tells me the story of one of these NFTs called MoonCat Rescue. Twenty-five thousand virtual space cats that needed rescuing from a long defunct website. Real cute. You wanted one? Totally free apart from the fifty-dollar transaction cost. Somebody tweeted about it and they were all gone in a few hours. Want one now? Four grand. 

FOMO, of course, is an old art trick. 

As Tommy Wolfe wrote in The Painted Word, his book from 1975 that jams a skewer right into the high-falutin art biz’ guts.

“First you do everything possible to make sure your world is antibourgeois, that it defies bourgeois tastes, that it mystifies the mob, the public, that it outdistances the insensible middle-class multitudes by light-years of subtlety and intellect…”

You buy one of these things and you get a sorta certificate of authenticity.

You can’t put it on your wall, unless you live in some virtual meta-verse and you want to decorate your beachfront casino. 

Anyway, we’re having a swing.

Empty your virtual wallet here. 


Professional skateboarder Tony Hawk and his one-time best man’s wife make New York Times as action sport pandemic icons: “During a time when many families have struggled with the chaos of working and taking classes under the same roof, Mr. Hawk and Mrs. Goodman have found grace in their 5,080 sq ft oasis!”

"Luckily the size of their house allowed everyone else in the family to spread out and avoid getting sick."

There are times when I think surf journalism doesn’t matter. There are other times when I’ve realized  we’ve reached the absolute peak of privilege, no higher rung to grasp, no higher stone to hold.

Or not “we” but “The New York Times” and not “us” but skateboarding.

And the world’s most married skateboarder Tony Hawk was just profiled in that august New York Times with his now wife, who was once married to the best man for an estimated three of his four weddings.


Let’s sample?

With the increased time spent at home, Mr. Hawk and Ms. Goodman have witnessed an improvement in their relationships with their children and also gained a lucid understanding of their interests and needs.

A Stronger Sibling Bond

Being home together has also made the couple more pleasantly aware of the strength in their children’s relationships with each other. Ms. Goodman, who has two children from a previous marriage, and Mr. Hawk, who has four children from previous relationships, value the compatibility of their mixed family, especially during such restricted times.

“It’s been refreshing to really realize how well all of our kids get along and how great they are together. Not all siblings have these dynamic bonds — especially stepsiblings — so we’re thankful for that,” Ms. Goodman said.

Grateful for Space

During a time when many families have struggled with the chaos of working and taking classes under the same roof, Mr. Hawk and Ms. Goodman have found grace in their 5,080-square-foot oasis. At different points, three of their children contracted Covid-19. Luckily, the size of their house allowed everyone else in the family to spread out and avoid getting sick.

The family was able to have Christmas dinner together on their large outdoor patio and still remain socially distant while two of their children were both tested positive for Covid-19. “Christmas was especially challenging, making sure that nobody felt left out even if we couldn’t be near each other physically. Cathy and I were a good team as co-parents, dividing responsibilities and making time for each other amid the chaos,” said Mr. Hawk.


“Caring for my sons while they were in isolation in my home had its own strange issues. Not being able to be close with them and being in a constant state of emotional check-ins, food delivery, and contamination management was a new and unexpected role as a mom,” said Ms. Goodman. “I am just endlessly grateful that they were fine. Mostly the experience made me very aware of how hard this must be in homes where families have to share small spaces, plus the countless inequities that this virus highlights.”

There is much more in the article, worth reading as performance art, as a tableau playing out on a glorious stage.

Much related to Ms. Goodman, self-proclaimed playwright sans play who took on unexpected role of new mom in spite of birthing Tony Hawk’s two-time best man’s children decades earlier.

But also to an extreme lack of awareness.