In 2017, Moroccan-born Ahmed Erraji rebranded himself as "Hijo del Mar" (Son of the Sea) and turned the drama-speak up a notch or two. "Have you heard of the saying Fear Kills? Fear tells you: 'If you’re going to bodysurf that wave, you’ll never come back,' but with time I learned that on the other side of your biggest fears are the best things of your life." On his Instagram, Erraji called the lineup a "magnetic warzone" and compared dropping into a big wave to "the suspension of time—like taffy across a violent blue universe."

Surf historian Matt Warshaw reveals the great surfing pranks, hoaxes and scams that fooled the world! “I’m 96% sure the whole episode is bullshit, and the number goes up each time I watch!”

A glorious history of the surfing Flim-Flam man!

Last month, Moroccan-born Ahmed Erraji posted a tightly-edited YouTube clip of himself wiping out somewhere in the Canaries. He gets swept shoreward, pushed into a cave, and is trapped for over two hours before the tide drops and he is literally ejected back to open ocean and safety. 

Erraji’s GoPro survived the tumult and allowed him to film the ordeal from inside the cave, and the money shot is a selfie of his zinc-covered worried-but-not-panicked face as a wave rushes into his rock-ceilinged cravasse and turns the screen black. 

Too black, maybe? 

Watch the clip here.

I’m 96% sure the whole episode is bullshit, and the number goes up each time I watch. Surf-world opinion is divided. Tracks thinks the clip is legit. 

BeachGrit readers do not, for reasons listed in the comments section here. 

(It may not be the biggest tell—nobody else brought it up—but watch for a split-second shot at 3:23 of Erraji supposedly riding a backwash off the cliff and erupting missile-like from the far side of the next wave.)

I’ve given some thought to the difference and confluences, in a surf-world context, between the prank, the scam, and the hoax.

The prank is the fun-forward member of the trio. The prank is 15-year-old Roman Emperor Elagabalus not only inventing the whoopie cushion but also sneaking full-grown (tame) lions into the bedrooms of guests who were sleeping off the previous night’s orgy. 

“Indeed,” the Historia Augusta noted, “for him life was nothing except a search after pleasures.”

The print version of Encyclopedia of Surfing was fragged by this amazing prank from 20 years ago when a sandboarding expert in Oregon spread the word that his sport began in ancient Egypt on clay pottery fragments, and I printed that in the book.

In turn, I have written about noteworthy surf-world pranks, and three of the best are featured here. 

Great hoaxes age well, and my favorite will always be “A Surfer’s Nightmare,” in which Doc Ball not only superimposed a shot of “Nellie Bly” Brignell in full crucifixion stance atop a photo of a massive pre-WWII Long Beach storm wave, but sold it to Look magazine—and yes, I suppose that means that Ball himself, while deeply religious, wasn’t above a bit of lightweight scamming, and good for him.

“This picture has caused more controversy than any other I possess,” Ball later said, and I for one detect a hint of pride in his voice.

The scam by nature is not fun—unless you are Paul Newman or Robert Redford, in which case it is very fun indeed. The scam is conceived and deployed to enrich the scammer. Scientifically defined, the scam is three-quarters of whatever Miki Dora did when he wasn’t riding waves. (Dora of course dabbled elsewhere, and it might be said that he pulled off a scam-prank-hoax trifecta with his 1974 “Winner Take All” competition scheme.)

While I appreciate our flimflamming pioneers, I also cheer those who push forward, and this brings us to a final point.

Apart from working in a different medium, has Ahmed Erraji bring anything new to the game? 

Yes. He previewed the hoax. He called his shot. Scroll Erraji’s Instagram, and look for the April 7, 2021, post.

 There it is, all teed up in the caption.

“Find what you love and let it kill you.”

(You like this? Matt Warshaw delivers a surf history essay every Sunday, PST. All of ’em a pleasure to read. Maybe time to subscribe to Warshaw’s Encyclopedia of Surfing, yeah? Three bucks a month.)


Pipe Master Jamie O’Brien puts crab down two-time World Champion John John Florence’s shirt thereby infuriating animal rights advocates: “Prank videos including animals are ridiculous. Can’t believe even you are one of those insensible people doing it.”

Rage.

We live in dark days, dark hours, where fun is no longer innocent, a laugh no longer light. Various special interest groups and subgroups have invaded every corner and one, or another, is all but guaranteed to take offense at chuckles and jokes. Take, for example, the recent playful exchange between Pipe Master Jamie O’Brien and his protege the two-time World Champion John John Florence.

In an old timey prank, O’Brien found a crab on the beach, captured it and dropped it right down the back of Florence’s long sleeved rash guard, oddly Hurley branded.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CShn6ahpts8/

Animal rights activists were quick to pounce, righteously indignant.

Drone operator e1000lion led off with “No fun at all… stressing that animal.”

Manjulamoon added, “That’s cruel…poor crab.”

Mike_brody, “Poor crab.”

berrotala, “not cool at all using animals for fun like that.”

Slaidfins, “Prank vídeos including animals are ridiculous. Can’t believe even you are one of those insensible people doing it.”

Etc.

Etc.

With Shaneoooo2.0 providing the rare counter argument, replying, “i sell crabs for people to cool alive and eat.”

“Cool” must mean “cook,” in this context, but either way.

And now, here, today, are you #TeamCrab or #TeamPrank?

More as the story develops.


Farris (pictured) ripping the curl. Photo: The Mermaid Society
Farris (pictured) ripping the curl. Photo: The Mermaid Society

In glass ceiling shattering moment, Brooke Farris announced as new Rip Curl CEO becoming only second woman ever to lead heritage surf brand!

Many huzzahs.

Torquay’s Rip Curl made history, days ago, by appointing Brooke Ferris as the new CEO, making her the second woman in history to occupy the corner office of a heritage surf brand. She will be replacing outgoing CEO Michael Daly, who is sliding over to become CEO of Rip Curl’s parent company Kathmandu Holdings.

In a statement, Daly said, “After a thorough search process, involving both internal and external potential candidates, I am delighted to announce that Brooke Farris will be the new CEO of Rip Curl. Brooke has contributed greatly to Rip Curl’s success and growth over the past 11 years with her indisputable commitment to the brand, our product, and our crew. I am confident she will bring this same commitment and leadership in her new role. Congratulations Brooke.”

Farris added, “Rip Curl has been threaded throughout my life since I was a teen. I’m honoured to be announced as the new CEO. It’s an absolute privilege to lead our talented and passionate crew across the world and I’m motivated to build on our esteemed 52 year history and capitalise on our continued market success.”

And much “bravos,” many “huzzahs” all around.

I remember having enjoyable conversations, years ago, with Farris at various Rip Curl sponsored professional surfing competitions. At the time I imagined myself to be thoroughly winning and charming though, looking back, it is more than likely that I was over-confident and lightly boorish. It always surprised me that she would speak with me due my run-ins with various Rip Curl stars including, but not limited to, Mick Fanning and Neil Ridgway. Displaying the sort of steel spine, poker face, that makes for an excellent leader, I suppose.

If I had money in the stock game, I would divest from Laird Superfood and go all in on Kathmandu.

A smart bet.


Read surf star’s accidental X-rated Instagram post to retiring French Olympian Jeremy Flores, “You won the best blowjob Teahupoo competitions…”

Echoes of WH Auden’s The Platonic Blow… 

A little light relief from the desk of Joan Duru, the prematurely weathered French surfer who won the Olympic qualifying event in El Salvador but not enough, perversely, to get him onto the French Olympic team. 

Now, in a saucy post to his retiring countryman Jeremy Flores, Duru has, in a metaphorical sense, opened his fly, a ten-inch monster lunging from the lair as Flores’ bottom lip trembles uncontrollably.

Writing on Instagram,

Félicitation pour ta carrière incroyable !
T’as gagné les meilleurs compets pipe teahupo et à la France 🇫🇷 !
Bravo et merci d’avoir poussé toute une génération française en arrivant avec un niveau de fou!
Bravo le fou va falloir fêter ça maintenant

 

Hit the translate button and,

Congratulations on your amazing career! You won the best blowjob Teahupoo competitions and France! Well done etc.

Accidental? A coded message? Freudian?

Very reminiscent of Auden’s The Platonic Blow, which you can, and should, read here.

A sample passage,

By soundless bounds it extended and distended, by quick
Great leaps it rose, it flushed, it rushed to its full size.
Nearly nine inches long and three inches thick,
A royal column ineffably solemn and wise.

I tested its length and strength with a manual squeeze,
I bunched my fingers and twirled them about the knob,
I stroked it from top to bottom. I got on my knees.
I lowered my head. I opened my mouth for the job.

More as the story grows…


Conner (pictured) brave and inspiring.
Conner (pictured) brave and inspiring.

Premium surf magazine uses racist trope, rampant deadnaming, in denigrating Conner Coffin’s inspiring push into the World Surf League’s first-ever championship day!

"Don’t let anyone get you down or keep you from achieving your goals!"

And this is the end, beautiful friend, this is the end, my only friend, the end. With the cancelation of the Ok Pro Teahupo’o, we now have our official final five who will each be invited to the first-ever championship day, at Lower Trestles, wherein they fill fight to the death.*

On the women’s side we have: 1) Carissa Moore 2) Tatiana Weston-Webb 3) Sally Fitzgibbons 4) Stephanie Gilmore 5) Johanne Defay.

For the men: 1) Gabriel Medina 2) Italo Ferreira 3) Filipe Toledo 4) Conner Coffin 5) Morgan Cibilic.

Coffin’s run into the draw is particularly inspiring especially for the hardworking, under appreciated, work-a-day folk. A light blue collar hero like Bruce Springsteen before him but premium surf magazine Stab, still buckled under woke pressure, was frustrated by the turn, writing, “Connor Coffin fell short to Leo in the quarters but managed to smash his acoustic guitar into the back of Griffin Colapinto’s head. Connor got enough points this comp to take Griffin’s spot at Trestles, stripping him of the opportunity to win a world title at home. I’d love to share my feelings on this, but this less than appropriate YouTube comment does enough: ‘Connor winning lowers would be like a white guy dunking in the NBA.'”

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

Condemnation was swift with Coffin, long a BeachGrit favorite (listen here), taking to Instagram and writing,”Stab, thanks for your continued ‘premium’ journalism, you could spell my name right. It pissed me off for a few minutes, but then I thought about all of the times people have doubted me, said I wasn’t good enough, said I can’t do something that I wanted to do and how I’ve always channeled it and combined that with passion, hard work, and love to accomplish my goals. In posting this, I hope it encourages you guys to use negativity and spin it into a positive and don’t let anyone get you down or keep you from achieving your goals! Also, I’ve known @griffin_cola since he was a kid and I’m always happy to see people I know do well in life!!!!”

Jimmy Wilson added, “Most NBA players can dunk regardless of ethnicity. That’s just a dumb reference. You and Morgan both earned your way to Lowers.”

Fioravanti, who beat Coffin in the quarters at Barra de La Cruz, weighed in, “Great post bro. You work hard and deserve being there as much as anyone! Keep it up,” thereby opening a deluge of professional surfer support.

Jack Freestone: Powerful words. Fuel to your fire brother. Can’t wait to watch you go mad in the event.

Conner’s brother Parker Coffin: MVP OF THE LEAGUE WAS WHITE LAST YEAR! nobody deserves to be more than you… fuel the fire with it !!!! LETS GO!!!!!

Lakey Peterson: Smash em at lowers Con!!

Seth Moniz: Most deserved brother! Fuel the fire and prove them wrong once again

Sage Erickson: You deserve that spot 100% best rail game on tour by far.

Johanne Defay: So pretty to turn that into good words! Gréât Spirit, amazing surfer !! #letsgo

Joe Turpel: Proud of you Conner!!!

Etc.

Stab, with a mission of being accepted by, and allowed to tag along with, professional surfers is certainly tucked under its warm down comforter, spooning Rocky Road ice cream directly from tub to mouth while hot tears stream down red cheeks.

Sad.

*Achieving points by pleasing judges with a series of turns punctuated by an air reverse.