Mahalo you fuckin’ surfers. You goddamn nerds. Im just kidding, were all part of the tribe. How are the breaks lookin’? Some lefts? Some rights? Scream rooms? Ape rooms?

Surfing’s cruellest and most useful insult revealed, “We have a three-word phrase that serves every kind of purpose, sometimes good, sometimes so very bad!”

I don’t know the origin of the phrase, the manner of its invention, or even its intended meaning. I feel like, as with many things, it’s best not to know all of these details. Legend is nearly always more fun than reality.

A week or so ago now, I went to Channel Islands Surfboards.

There, I saw the giant Dr. Seuss machines that make surfboards, or at least, perform the first steps toward making a surfboard. After the Dr. Seuss machines, the board passes through multiple human hands before it comes to life. Then we get to put our feet all over it.

Devon Howard made me hold a midlength. It was orange and very cute, but also, very big. (Keep trying, Devon!)

On the way out, I ran into Jamie Brisick, who by chance was also paying a visit to CI. If you’ve never met Brisick, he is a friendly, flannel-shirted sort with an easy smile, blonde surfer hair, and a scruffy Volvo.

Most good writers don’t advertise their big, busy brains, and Brisick is no different. We stood around and talked about surfboards, because surfboards are awesome. Also, we were standing in a surfboard factory.

As I stood there, I was reminded of a thing that I had almost forgotten.

As it happens, we have a three-word phrase that serves every kind of purpose at my shack.

Legend has it, the phrase came from the big, busy brain of Brisick, or Mr. Brisick in the stylings of the New York Times, a place I will never work, due to having allowed too many brands to buy me coffee and other things.

But, as usual, I digress.

I don’t know the origin of the phrase, the manner of its invention, or even its intended meaning. I feel like, as with many things, it’s best not to know all of these details. Legend is nearly always more fun than reality.

See a legit good surfer get a set wave?

Love your cutback.

Get backpaddled by a bro on a midlength?

Lovvve your cutback.

Get cut-off on the 405?

Love your fucking cutback, dick.

A pair of yoga pants snake you in line at the coffee shop?

Oh girl, love your cutback.

Watching just about any Dane Reynolds clip ever?

Fuck, I love your cutback.

You see how it can apply to so many different situations.

Sometimes, good! Sometimes, so very bad.

Love your cutback!

It means so many things.

The other day I was sitting in the lineup, waiting for waves. There’s a lot of waiting in surfing. Waiting for the tide, waiting for the swell, waiting for sets. Sometimes, the best stories come out of the waiting, it’s true. As much as we might like it to be different, the actual surfing rarely adds up to much at all. A blink of an eye surrounded by so much waiting.

There was some south swell in the water and for assorted reasons, having to do with a print story that was supposed to ship and was also misbehaving in layout, I could not drive somewhere good, like south, where south swells are actually interesting. So there I was. Waiting.

At long last, a set appeared on the horizon and I got mildly excited. Perhaps now I can ride an actual wave, I thought. Perhaps now I can do the surfing part. I like the surfing part, it is the good part. I do know that much.

I was carefully positioned on the outside, because I have managed to learn at least some useful things about surfing. As the wave approached, I paddled into it and stood up, as one does when it’s time to end the waiting and start the surfing.

But suddenly, there came a longboarder. I do not know how this coincidence could possibly have happened. A wave!

And a longboarder, too.

But there he was.

And he was going! The nerve!

This is not the surfing I imagined. This is not the surfing I waited so long to do. I feel like, burned by a longboarder is one of the saddest endings. Love your cutback, I said, as I fell back, defeated into the white water. Love your damn cutback.

You can see how handy such a phrase can become, how readily it applies to every eventuality.

Whenever I see weird men doing weird things in the lineup?

Love your cutback, with a heavy dose of side-eye.

A few months ago, for example, I was idly surfing some random windswell. A few friends were there, too. It’s the kind of surf that you happen upon like a four-leaf clover, all luck and happy days.

As it happened, a crew of bros got lucky, too.

Conveniently, they decided to share their waves. This is totally fine with me, since two or three bros on a wave leaves more waves for me. I am not at all good at math, but I got this much figured out.

One of the dudes had declared himself lead bro, and lead bro proceeded to explain to his friends exactly how they should surf the wave. It was very complicated and detailed.

When I say cutback, you cutback!

Following instructions is not my strong suit, so plainly, I was not cut out to be friends with this bro.

They must have taken many yoga classes, because sure enough, when they stood up on the wave together, the lead bro yelled, cutback! And his friend did exactly that. It was an amazing display of sychronized surfing and instructions following. I did not know what to say or think after seeing all of these things unfold except the three words that never fail me: love your cutback.

Now you know one of the most useful phrases in the whole world.

And I gave it to you, right here, just like that. Now you can’t say I never give you anything! Because that would be a total lie and you know how I feel about snakes and liars.

Love your fucking cutback.


Spanish, British holiday-makers wilt as largely docile 8-foot blue shark swims through lineup, thrashes in shallows; British, Spanish mothers vow to not let their babies grow up to be surfers!

Thanks for the laughs, friends.

Sharks have, I think, very recently jumped themselves and I also think you can take that to the bank if you happen to be invested in shark or shark-adjacent properties. Discovery, television channel, has been airing its famed “Shark Week” since 1988, a 33-year run for those not inclined to pull out phone calculators. The world’s most anti-depressive surf website rounding the bend toward its 1,988 shark or shark-adjacent story here here here here here here here here etc.

A hot, unprecedentedly hot, slam but all things, both good and bad, come to an end.

Like pumpkin spice flavor, and burnt vanilla scent before it, sharks really and truly cornered the market. Nothing more captivating, nothing more watchable, nothing more guaranteed to stir than sharks.

Except now, outside the rare and proper surf tragedy, we have largely docile blues flopping around in Spanish lineups while British holiday-makers lose their minds, set to dramatic music, august newspapers like The Daily Mail declaring “It’s NOT safe to go into the water.”

Per on-the-sand reportage:

Holidaymakers relaxing on a beach in Benidorm were forced to flee after an eight-foot long blue shark was spotted in the shallow waters.

Horrified swimmers rushed to the shore after the huge shark appeared in the sea by Poniente Beach, just yards away from them.

Video footage shows terrified beachgoers watching on as the blue shark swam in the shallow waters, with its fin clearly visible.

The creature was then seen thrashing wildly from side to side and its body was almost entirely out of the water as it touched the sand.

Police officers who were called to the scene on Thursday can be heard telling the beachgoers to stand back, before the shark eventually swam back into the shallow waters.

Mothers, don’t let your babies grow up to be surfers etc.

But how can anyone care anymore about these sharks what with viruses gone wild, wildfires burning the world over out of control, broken governments, breaking institutions.

More investment advice?

Pandemic Week.

Go long.

Sharks now a sweet, sweet relief so maybe still long?


"A little story about Jack and Alana..." Photo: @alanablanchard
"A little story about Jack and Alana..." Photo: @alanablanchard

World’s cutest couple Alana Blanchard and Jack Freestone add new baby to “genetically stunning” family!

Sorry, Kelly Slater.

Yesterday, the world’s cutest couple, composed of Kauai’s Alana Blanchard and Australia’s Jack Freestone, announced the arrival of their second child.

Blanchard, taking to Instagram, penned, “Welcome to the world Koda Riley Freestone. Born at home yesterday weighing 10lb 6oz. I still can’t believe I did that! Going to almost to 43 weeks was such a mental game for me but I knew Koda would choose his divine timing. Women’s bodies are so incredible don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Thank you everyone for messaging me and checking in,” while Freestone added, “Watching @alanarblanchard go through such intense pain to create a way to get Koda out yesterday safe and sound was nothing short of mind blowing. I’m left speechless at her strength, love and determination. Once again proving that she and all moms are real life superheroes.”

https://www.instagram.com/p/CSht3WgBTlf/

Heartfelt congratulations and well-wishes poured in from every corner of the surfing globe with Carissa Moore, Nick Carroll’s brother Tom, Bethany Hamilton, Donovan Frankenreiter, Mitch Crews and Michel Bourez amongst those weighing in.

Koda joins older brother Banks in, arguably, the most genetically stunning family on earth and who would have guessed the honor would belong to surfing? Of all the actor and actress, football player and soccer player, singers and songwriter, dancer and dancer couplings, child makings, that two surfers would be the very, very best even better than Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani?

Statues commemorating the Blanchard-Freestones should be erected in Kauai, Australia and on Huntington Beach’s Surfing Walk of Fame. Maybe one in Cocoa Beach, Florida too.

Sorry, Kelly Slater.


"Eat my dust family!"

Family man given three-day window to chase swell as birthday gift days before state plunged into COVID lockdown, “Look at this pathetic old guy. Chasing surf in the middle of a pandemic. Idiot. Superspreader!”

"Eat my dust, kids!"

For my thirty-seventh birthday I was afforded a three-day window to chase a short but powerful south swell up the NSW east coast.

As promoted across all major forecasting sites. It was noteworthy only in its abruptness. A teepee rise and fall of the buoys that for most spots peaked under darkness. An isobaric hard on that would disappear before it could do much good.

Fitting present for a now middle-aged man. Tracking the surge was delicate. It was a south-south-west swell. Not the holy eastern-infused angle that flushes our every nook and cranny. Four-to-five metres at its peak. V directional. V Windy. Choosing the wrong spot could mean getting a wind-blown mess, or missing out completely.

At one point early on I sat on the headland at B___ H___,* shrill wind in my side, Rorschach clouds zipping overhead, watching swell lines bend out towards the horizon.

Against my will. The ocean being a cunt, on my birthday.

But there was enough to work with.

It was a well-worn path I was travelling. Plus I had the time. I was able to wait. This was a solo trip. Slicing through a narrow geographical window surrounded by covid lockdowns. Greater Sydney to the south. Queensland border to the north.

I had: Four boards. Bag of warm clothes. Sleeping bag. Esky. Negative covid test in the back pocket, just to be sure.

Family left to fend for themselves at home. Two thirds of the country’s population in lockdown. And me, further abusing my one real vice in a life of already immense privilege. Only in times of crisis can we truly be gluttonous etc.

Maybe I’m the one being the cunt, I thought as the swell marched back out to sea. To my family. To society. A lotta turmoil out there currently. Here I am worrying about waves. Shouldn’t I be doing something more worthwhile?

But I guess that’s what this thing is all about.

The swell would eventually angle back. It always does.

On day one I left before dawn. Almost all of the major towns between home and the Gold Coast have been bypassed by new, flat, featureless highway. Dotted only with roadkill and twin servo/fast food outlets. Replicas of replicas. Boring as shit. But travel time is way down. We live in a world of convenience. I was at my first spot before breakfast.

B____. East facing, but can still handle a southerly wind. Not too far from home. At the southern extremity of my hit list, so early in line to get the swell. Despite the greyish skies the water was an obscene blue. Shimmering.

I was too early. The waves were only a foot, two max. Nobody out. Cold. But this was my time off. Here to fuck, as they say. It still had some shape. I suited up anyway and headed out.

I admit. I’m no Wayne Lynch. I don’t like crowds. but I also don’t wanna surf alone. The water was still unseasonably warm. Activity everywhere. Big, dumb, lumbering humpbacks were blowing their tops out to the horizon, telegraphing their position to prospective diners. More than I’ve ever seen in a season. Drop pins for a feast. There’d even been a proper fatality in recent months a few beaches north. (not to mention that time I almost killed myself surfing solo). I was skittish.

As soon as I paddled out things ramped up. The swell hit. The wind refracted around the headland, more to the south. The tide dropped. The take off spot shifted out another thirty metres.

One other guy paddled out to my right, closer into the protection of the headland. Shadows slid across the surface. Fast moving clouds. Patches of weed. Or could it be…? My feet tucked up further under the board. A few quick lefts into the corner before the swell shut down the channel. Four waves and that was enough. Better than nothing. I left the other guy to it.

I stopped in at the local eatery for coffee and a smoothie. Lots of masks. Stern faces, furrowed brows, motioning to QR codes.

“Did ya bloody sign in?”

Maybe it wasn’t the right time to be on the road.

I was at pains to point out I hadn’t come from shut-down Sydney. I’m no Covid dog. A regional paisan, just like them. My car, sans hubcaps with gaffa-taped window, hopefully added to the vibe. But I could tell from their looks they saw right through me.

“Look at this pathetic old guy. Chasing surf in the middle of a pandemic. Idiot. Superspreader. Cunt.”

Yup.

I checked in at a few more spots along the way. The swell was either too directional, or just not there yet at all. Bypassed T___ , scene of the recent fatality, altogether.

A quick Facetime into home. The grom’s sick. How long was I gonna be? I can’t answer that, baby. It’s up to the swell.

Next stop. S___ P___. A long, open angled point that could have been more. Cruelled by its own bathymetry. Outer bombies break up the swell and suck out the size. But there’s a lot of headland for it to wrap into. By the time it hits the inner shelf, lines do reappear.

Despite being dead flat only a dozen or so kms south, the swell angle had finally shifted. Windswept runners pushed down the inside section. It was looking like a poor, poor man’s Lennox. 40 to 50m of workable wall on a good one. A lot of down time between. Many wraps, much cut back.

Of most note: one all mighty blow up from a local, directed over my head to a fulla sitting just behind me.

WHAT ARE YOU DOING DROPPING IN ON ME YOU CUNT?

For a second I thought he was talking to me

YEAH, YOU, he continued, looking directly ahead, as I engaged a subtle subsurface eggbeater to steer out of the firing line.

I’LL FUCKEN DECK YOU, YA CUNT. I’LL BREAK YOU AND YOUR FUCKING BOARD AND RAM IT DOWN YOUR FUCKING THROAT.

To be fair, old mate in question had been getting a lot of waves.

But the tone, the volume, the exquisite imagery, the overall display. It was a relic from a lost time. Worth the trip alone.

The angry local went in. Old mate held his ground, smiled and paddled back up the inside. The session continued.

I guess being a cunt is a subjective thing.

I surfed until dark.

I got up to A___ first thing next morning. My primary target. Greeted at the iconic look out by blue skies and four to six foot of swell rounding the headland.

The waves were there, yes. Angle not great. It wasn’t incredible. But it’s still a good wave, even when it’s not.

Out there.

Coffee brown water. Turbid. Plus, a smell in the air like fresh-wrapped bait.

Mysterious aquatic disturbances only a few metres out from line up. I’d been buzzed by a white surfing out here solo once before. Always a lot of activity. But on this day there were 20 or so others spread across the bowl. Many of them looked taster than me. I should be ok.

Wave-wise, it wasn’t quite doing it. Sets hitting too wide. Lacking a little oomph.

But, I made the most of it on the bonzer twin. Here to fuck etc. A few diamonds in the runners hugging the rock. The ones that grow and wrap back to you as they round the corner. A good time on the rail. No need for pumps or transitions between turns.

Still, a wave that stacks up even on an average day, for an average surfer.

Among the crowd were a few influencers in the truest sense, picking some good lines.

One swarthy WSL commentator looking fresh on an old single fin. But also a lot more mediocre talent than usual. Granted it was user friendly. But way more crab stances and 7S fishes than you’d expect.

One guy on a Firewire, fit looking, vaguely intermediate, was making the most of the A___ run around and jump off, which can have you back into pole position after every wave. Engaging in some very cunt like behaviour.

But he looked to be having a good time.

At least there’s always S_____

I spent the rest of the day gorging on inside runners. Got my fill. Checked in. The grom still hadn’t improved. It was time to head home.

Another quick couple of surfs followed on the drive back south the next day. The S pulse disappeared. Weak undercurrent E trade all that was left. I still made it home by early afternoon, a few hours before deadline. A swell well and truly milked.

And now, looking back, it was the perfect strike mission.

I’ve since joined the rest of the state in lockdown. Ten-click travel limit. No end in sight. I might be a cunt, but at least I have good timing.

*With respect to Ben Marcus for the idea of poorly hiding information


Surfing's Stepford Wives.
Surfing's Stepford Wives.

ABC Television, WSL, turns to “zombie surf website” to promote Kelly Slater’s The Ultimate Surfer ahead of reality show’s exciting debut!

Noa Deane was right.

Last October, the 60-year-old Surfer magazine was shuttered overnight, entire staff furloughed, by parent company A360Media. Out on ears. Wailing and gnashing of teeth etc. The group, owned by the very famous David Pecker, had purchased the august title in 2019 though ran out of surf steam in under a year.

Maybe not a surprise considering Pecker’s history.

The print edition was immediately killed while the online version was mostly killed, but not all the way, becoming what is commonly referred to as a “zombie website.”

Zombie websites are those titles with cache in the name that get kept alive, after leveraged buy outs, slashes and burns, various and sundry capitalisms because why not? Sucker born every minute. Sucker not aware that Surfer is now a Pecker. Sucker World Surf League knowing non-surfing, non-human, voices can be found to spruik Kelly Slater’s The Ultimate Surfer ahead of exciting debut.

Per the just-dropped Surfer piece:

This article was produced in partnership with ABC. Be sure to check out the premiere of “The Ultimate Surfer” on Monday, Aug. 23, and Tuesday, Aug. 24, 10/9c.

When it comes to televised entertainment, America has two loves: reality and sports. They pull in higher ratings, larger audiences, and more passionate fandoms than we know what to do with.

This summer, surfing will make its reality TV debut on The Ultimate Surfer, which premieres on August 23rd on ABC. The 8-episode show takes place at The Surf Ranch–the world’s best man-made wave–where 14 top talents will battle it out for the prize of $100k and a spot on the 2022 Championship Tour. Even if you don’t normally love watching reality television, believe us, this one is worth a watch.

But exactly what will it take to become The Ultimate Surfer?

While surfers will push their abilities in various “beach challenges”, these challenges only serve as a leg-up for when it really matters, which is during the head-to-head “surf offs” that happen in every episode. Surfers cannot be eliminated for anything except surfing itself, which puts a premium on performance and lends credibility to the format. Which is great. It would be lame to see a surfer kicked off the show because they lost on land, especially with $100k and three wildcards on the Championship Tour on the line.

Etc.

What is John Severson doing in his grave, currently?

Noa Deane was right.

Fuck the WSL.

P.S. Zeke Lau wins.