"I just want to get as many waves as possible. Everything else is secondary. I’m a surfing solipsist. My experience is the only one that matters, and therefore exists."

Opinion: “I consider it a moral as much as an economic imperative to avoid mass-produced surfboards!”

The world is quickly being flooded with shit (see IKEA x WSL collab). The mass-production board industry doesn't need my support.

The less I buy new boards the less I want to buy new boards.

Does that make sense?

I think it does.

It’s a simple equation.

My desire for showroom shapes diminishes the more I purchase and ride used boards.

I’ve bought one new board off the rack in the last five years.

My last custom was a little while before that.

Probably close to twenty second-handers cycled through in that time.

Sure, it’s a vice.

Name yours.

I consider it a moral as much as an economic imperative. The world is quickly being flooded with shit (see IKEA x WSL collab). The mass-production board industry doesn’t need my support.


There’s still one or two dream boards I have in mind that I’ll get shaped. Somewhere down the line. But for now I swim amongst the refuse and jetsam of a rapidly expanding swamp.

Used boards. I’ve written of my love before. Every board’s got a sweet spot, if you’ve got the time to look. It also helps hide my own deficiencies. Poor performances can always be blamed on the board. Project mediocrity and you’re less likely to disappoint.

Boy, there’s some real gems out there.

One came to me on Facebook marketplace a few months back. I was doing my usual doom scroll of boards in the area. The ad had an unassuming title.

“Second hand learner’s board.”

This was no VAL boat or high performance mini-mal though. A sleek-ish outline. Wider through the middle, to be fair. But a bonafide big boi toob shooter.  It was the spray that caught my eyes. Thick orange and yellow vertical stripes ran the length of the board.

Very Californian. Very Endless Summer.

Zoom in confirmed. A Robert August handshape.

Known for longboards, this was the R.A. attempt at a shortboard profile for the larger / older / less skilled surfer.

Three ticks for me.

7’6″ x something x something.

The guy has $120 on it. Australian dollars. Thing like that would have to sell for $550, $600. Easy.

I sent him a message seeking availability. Quick response.

“Sorry friend, another buyer has already said he is going to take it.”


I sat and thought. Looked at the board again. Imagined it on a sharp winter’s day, brisk offshore blowing up the face of a Tasman monster, me fading into it early like some mysto veteran corelord.

Wrote another message.

“Has he collected it  yet?”


“I’ll give you $150, and can pick it up right now.”

“If you get here with the money, it’s yours.”

I quickly made an excuse to leave work. The car’s sick and I gotta take the baby to the mechanic. Hotline it to the guy’s house on the other side of town. An English fellow, moving home. Had been given the board by a friend to learn on but had never really used it.

“The other guy was pretty pissed when I told him he was missing out. He offered me $200,” he said as he brought the board out from his garage.

“You didn’t want to hold it for him?”

I took it under the arm. Damn it felt  good.

“No, I’d already committed to you.”

I was  about to pick him up on the contradiction, but decided not to.

“I guess this guy Robert August is a well known shaper huh?” said the Pommy. “I’ve probably had a dozen messages come through after yours. ‘

Reckon I could have got more for it?


I handed over the money. No time for a history lesson. Out of there before old mate decides to  up the price or the irate gazzumpee turns up with a knuckle duster.

I’m used to snaking in the water. But this online board snaking brought a whole new level of joy. Snooze you lose ‘n that.

I shoved it in the car and headed back to work. It wasn’t until that afternoon that I was able to inspect it closely.  In beautiful condition. A few hairline rail cracks. Some minor damage on the tail. Rotten tail pad placement, which I decided to leave. Set of plastic G5s.

Dimensions like a scaled-up shortboard. Not quite a Queensland Original but in the same ballpark.

This will be a forever board, I told myself. Only to be taken from the rack when the Tasman stirs. Or maybe I’ll restore it and re-sell. I could easily make 5x what I paid.

I’ll be the belle of the winter swells on this thing.

But here is the reality: I am unreliable. Weak willed. Even in the promises I make to myself.

I end up riding the board in predominantly small to medium sized beach breaks, because I can get more waves than other people and because the colours look cool.

Forget whatever idealist cockamamie I spin. These are the factors I favour over performance, lineup congeniality etc. I just want to get as many waves as possible. Everything else is secondary. I’m a surfing solipsist. My experience is the only one that matters, and therefore exists.

A right cunt.

Anyway, the board.

The board. In small waves the  thing is a dog. Doesn’t like being thrown around. But still wants to be ridden like a shortboard. Effortless glide between turns there is not.

Still, I slog away. I do eventually end up getting it out in some waves of consequence. It does paddle well. We do make some memories.

Like our final surf.

The scene: A Tasman low bombing from a  relatively close distance, throwing up all sorts of shapes at the local. four-to-six-foot breaking over a very shallow bank with regular, bigger clean up sets.  All under a clean NW wind.

The conditions I’d originally promised to it.

I sneak out early. Only one or two out.

Surf Ads, at Newy, very close to time travel on his Robert August seven-six.

It’s another simple equation. Early entry, hard bottom turn. Sit up and enjoy the view. Or, it should be. There’s a little vision, but nothing to write home about.

Finally I see the one. Not a set, but a viscous looking bowl coming at me. The other two pass it up.

I spin late, draw off the bottom. Go to set up but the thing looks ready to explode. I pin drop bail instead of pulling in.

Stupid move.

I come up from a brief but violent interlude. Find the board snapped right above the fins. Two and three-quarter inches of foam sliced clean. Delam up the whole bottom.

End of an era etc.

I would have been better pulling in.

The board would have been better off with somebody more deserving. Maybe it wouldn’t have ended up in a better place.

Still,  that’s what they’re made for. One-fifty well spent.

I go home, and log back onto marketplace.

Candid: Sometimes, in my less-than-charitable moments, I wish that American Pickle’s Seth Rogen had become heir to Miki Dora’s Malibu throne instead of Hollywood funnyman Jonah Hill.

The heart wants what the heart wants.

Oh here I go wading into another quagmire. Another un-winnable war. Trying, and failing, to enjoy the journey of learning to be funny. But, now that you’re here, wouldn’t it be a lot cooler if Seth Rogen had become heir to Miki Dora’s Malibu throne instead of Jonah Hill?

I know, I know, the grass is always greener etc. but the heart wants what the heart wants and this heart has really been yearning, lately, for Seth Rogen.

He, like Hill, is funny and makes many funny movies often starring Hill. He, like Hill, is non-traditionally extremely handsome. But he, unlike Hill, seems… I don’t know. Less sensitive? More… humorously cantankerous?

Maybe humorous cantankerousness is entirely out of vogue and should be shunned and shamed but the heart still wants what the heart wants.

Hill, in any case, chose us. We didn’t choose Hill but ain’t that just the surfer way. Accepting whatever dribs or drabs popular culture spoons out and being extraordinarily thankful, falling over selves trying to become adjacent.

It’s the sort of thing, in fact, that leads to The Ultimate Surfer.

So I vote Rogen for the throne. He looks like this surfing, by the way.

Who would you like to see owning Malibu’s First Point?

Think big.

Superfood scion, big wave surfer, Laird Hamilton utterly stupefies general public by swimming underwater with dumbbell: “It’s like he’s a real life Greek god or something!”

The hero we need in these uncertain times.

Uncertain times call for extraordinary people and, thankfully, we have Laird Hamilton. The superfood scion and big wave surfer exploded back into view, over Labor Day in America by swimming the length of a pool, underwater, whilst holding a dumbbell.

“Suffering together is always more fun,” the one-time movie bad guy penned to Instagram. “Training w the boys @billykemper and @lucapadua …helping each other become more prepared. Now all we need is some waves.”

@billykemper is, of course, many-time big wave contest winner Billy Kemper while @lucapadua happens to be young Brazilian Mavericks charger Luca Padua.

But attention for the superhuman feat mostly surrounded Hamilton with the mainstream media swooning and the general public left in shocked disbelief, wondering if the man might be, like, a Greek god or something.

Unfortunately, as of writing, the moment did not buoy the Laird Superfood Inc. stock price, which is lower still after an earlier “stunning fall.

President Business is not chill.

Still, with many extremely nervous over Coronavirus variants etc. it is comforting to know that Laird Hamilton is still out there pioneering work outs unbent.

The hero we need.

Malia is very sad now. She is the lone wolf! She should draw a wolf on her boards. That would actually be cool, and give her something to do, while the other girls scheme against here. All the girls hate Malia now. It’s going to be so hard for her.

ABC’s The Ultimate Surfer, Episode five analysis: “Malia Ward is very sad. She is the lone wolf! All the girls hate Malia now!”

The door is wide open for Tia to win the whole thing! Are you team Tia or team Malia? Bitches will be bitches!

In this episode: There is a big surprise, which I won’t ruin!

Also, some surfing.

Hi, hello. Yes, I’m back. You thought I would quit, didn’t you. Oh, she’ll last two or three episodes, then she’ll stop, you said. She is totally going to crack.

But no! I would never abandon you. We must somehow reach the finish of this thing together.

Once, and actually probably more than once, I wrote about every damn day of the Tour de France. That’s 21 days, in case you were wondering, which you totally were. I am here to tell you that there are a lot of lengthy stretches in the Tour de France where nothing much happens at all. I did not crack.

A mere reality television show? Child’s play.

Last week, some stuff happened. Really, I barely remember what I did yesterday, much less last week. I do know there are only three teams left. Mason and Bruna, two people I hadn’t really noticed, left last week.

Let us descend again into the demented world of the Ultimate Surfer.

Episode 5! “A little bit of this and a little bit of that.”

Presumably we will learn what this means soon enough.

Oh right, there was a pairs surfing thing last week. And they didn’t even wear cute spangly dresses, which was very disappointing. Also, Koa’s cheekbones survived another episode. I’m remembering it all now. I’m not sure if this remembering is good or bad.

Again, Koa is making a smoothie. Can we learn what Koa puts in his smoothie? Because this would be so helpful and servicey. I could learn how to make it and maybe I could be as good at surfing as Koa. That’s how it works, right?

We’re halfway! I did not know we were halfway.

The Jesse bro is telling them that they have the day off. No beach battle! I am so disappointed, because beach battles are my favorite part.

Product time! Camp-out trailer thing. Squeals of joy!

Oh. Every one is back. This is… not what I expected.

ANASTASIA! The Queen returns.

Bad music interlude. They are having a beach day. And pretending to have fun. I just want a good time, too. Yes. Totally.

Malia and Anastasia are bonding again. They are getting catty about Tia’s barrel skills. I can’t believe anyone would come to the Kelly Slater wave pool without knowing how to barrel well. Hisssss.

The good news is, you don’t have to say good bye, Jesse the American jock bro tells them.

Some nefarious shenanigans are afoot! It seems that everyone is back and we are starting all over again. They do not do it this way in the Tour de France.

But as we established before, this ain’t the Tour de France, baby!

This is all very confusing. The six remaining surfers get to pick the teams for the wave challenge, which will involve some sort of surfing. But that comes later.

First, teams. So many options! So many decisions!

There is a girl drama, again! The men are getting frustrated. Everyone is so nervous about all these decisions they must make right now.

Anastasia is paired with Kai. She is worried. Everyone agrees that Kai is a good surfer. But the nerves! He does not have the Surf Ranch figured out, maybe this will be his day!

The others are… I’m not sure. So many names! I need a cheat sheet or something. Or maybe some flash cards. They all left, so I thought I could forget all about them! But then they came back. This is a very mean trick to play on my one remaining brain cell.


The wild card moment! Fight your way back in, says Kelly. Scare the other competitors and impress the judges! Kelly is so looking forward to it.

Yes, Kelly, we are looking forward to it, too.

The Ultimate Surfer bikinis are back. They are… not cute. Please, could I have some cute bikinis. Please could I have this one nice thing.

Girl drama! Kayla wants to beat Anastasia no matter what!

Wild card wave challenge. Eliminated surfers have one more chance! They will be judged like a WSL heat. So, I guess do cool shit on the wave.

Luke is fired up! He hasn’t done his best surfing yet!

Heartbeat sound effect. I feel the intensity, for sure.

Good surfing from Luke Davis, actually. I did not hate it. Kayla, also fine! Everyone is super worried, because they did not expect this team to do well. Oh no!

More surfing.

Bruna, fell on the barrel. Dramatic reactions! Austin, where are you? Underwater, duh.

Falling in the barrel, so trendy!

For whatever reason, there is much backside surfing. I do not know why the producer people made that choice with this thing. But better them than me!

Tension! No one knows the scores!

Annnnnd, commercial. Dominos, yes, yes, I like pizza. For some reason, there are zebras running around in this Dominos ad. Seems strange, but who am I to ask questions?

I’m just a girl, sitting in front of my screen, waiting to find out who wins Ultimate Surfer.

Kayla and Luke, they back! ANASTASIA, she back!

Anastasia fell, but Kai carried their team through the challenge.

Anastasia surfs against Kayla tonight! MEOW.

Kai surfs against Luke.

I do not know if I can take the intensity right now.

A wildcard surf-off! It’s going to be so insane.

A dream match-up! Luke and Kai, they grew up together, says Turpel. Kai is the wild, wild card. Turpel, he loves wildcard stories so much!

Luke is surfing super nice, but I’m not sure what his back arm is doing. Does he?

Luke falls in the barrel, but he did stomp some turns. Who even knows how to score that? Fortunately, I don’t have to know. This gives me joy.

Kai has a chance! Turpel likes it. Like squeezing honey in your eyeballs, says Turpel. He is very excited about Kai’s wave, which had a very long barrel and some other stuff.

More drugs for sale. None of them look that fun, really.

Kayla is up and riding! Weird soundtrack. She’s surfing her butt off, says someone. But she did not barrel.

ANASTASIA! She got a good barrel. But she fell! Yikes.

We’re going to find out the scores now!

The men? High score was a nine. Women? A six. Less than a point separates the women. So stressful!

Oh, Kai wins! He made it back. I did not see that coming — and clearly, neither did he. Kai has figured out the Ranch. Watch out, bros!

Kayla, she back!

Malia is very sad now. She is the lone wolf! She should draw a wolf on her boards. That would actually be cool, and give her something to do, while the other girls scheme against here. All the girls hate Malia now. It’s going to be so hard for her.

The door is wide open for Tia to win the whole thing!

Are you team Tia or team Malia?

Bitches will be bitches!

And yes, of course, I’ll be back.

Tomorrow is another day!

A thorn between two roses!

The Ultimate Surfer’s “Queen Bitch” Anastasia Ashley on show’s wild behind-the-scenes bacchanal, the near mass drowning and persistent cancellation rumours!

A thorn between two roses!

Today’s guest on Dirty Water, Anastasia Ashley, thirty-three and from San Clemente, California, moves like a ballet prima donna through the rubbernecking surf crowd, a surfer, yes, but not, until recently, of the chase-the-tour sort. 

Years back, she hit one million followers on Instagram, men from every culture, religion etc, lavishing praise such as,

“That’s great small butt fat”,

“La plus belle femme du mode. Mon bebe. Ma vie. Je t’aime”,

“You’re hottest item of the moment”,


breathing heavy,

Please check your DMs.”

She is small and slim and her face is sharp, as pointed as the beak of a stork and with the mysterious beauty of things seasoned by storms. 

Anastasia has appeared in Sport’s Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue alongside Kate Upton and Chrissy Teigen, and has featured in Esquire magazine.

Some years ago, she twerked before her Supergirl Pro heat in Oceanside, ran it on youtube, and stole many millions of views. 

Lately, she has appeared as Queen Bitch on ABC’s The Ultimate Surfer, a topic we peruse at length in this podcast along with an important discussion on Texas abortion law.