San Diego surf icon, shaper and pioneer of Waimea Bay, dead at 85, “He was known as the boy-next-door barefoot adventurer who would pretend to step in a mound of poo for our lowbrow comedy pleasure!”

Rode Waimea in '57, hand-crafted gorgeous surfboards.

Dale Velzy is the first surfer Bruce Brown introduces in Slippery When Wet, Brown’s 1958 debut movie. Del Cannon is second.

The camera loves both, but for very different reasons.

Dale, with his crooked smile and Boozefighter haircut and a merchant marine tattoo on his bicep, is the lovable hustler on his way to a near-career-killing beatdown by the IRS. Cannon is handsome and innocent and reserved, with a hint of Buster Keaton around his soulful eyes. Dale was never again seen in a Bruce Brown movie.

Del was featured in most of them. It’s easy to see why.

Del looked and surfed like Phil Edwards’s understudy—Phil was every surf filmmaker’s go-surf surfer at the time, Bruce included—but was more accessible, more relatable, easier to identify with. Brown recognized the value of ground-level charisma.

Phil was a surf god. Del, although cool in his own right, leaned a bit sad-sack. At the beginning of Barefoot Adventure, he steps in a fresh pile of dog shit and responds with nothing more than a weary “why me” tilt of the head.

“Del was a San Diego guy, a good surfer and a great swimmer,” Bruce Brown later recalled, “but he was really great actor! He had screen presence. He could get a lot done with just the slightest expression. And he’d do anything you asked.”

Bruce, as you can see from the video here, was happy to film Del riding waves—but he was even happier filming him in the short comedy bits that popped up every ten minutes or so during the running time of a surf flick, as a way to break up the wave-riding action.

Cannon was among the group of surfers in ’57 who rode Waimea for the first time, and was later known for making high-quality surfboards.

Following his move to Hawaii, around 1970, he was a mostly-uncredited shaper for Lightning Bolt. But back in the sport’s pre-Beatles age, when hair was short and comedy was corn-filled, Del was known and appreciated as the boy-next-door barefoot adventurer who would pretend to step in a dog crap for our lowbrow comedy pleasure.

He was one of us.

(Matt Warshaw is the editor and archivist at his Encyclopedia of Surfing, where this story first appeared. It costs three bucks a month for the keys to surfing’s wild history. Essential.)

WHOOP is a heartless bastard who don't care for your excuses why you can't surf, too crowded, waves bad etc.

Fitness tracker intervenes in surfer’s existential crisis thus averting a new instalment of quit-lit!

WHOOP strap is a wordless drill sergeant, a heartless bastard who doesn't care for wearer's apathy or excuses.

WHOOP, my dear WHOOP, I reflected as I stood on the beach in the rain, lashed by wind, feeling cold and tired and wretched.

There was nobody in the water. It was two foot at best, a south wind hammering down the remnants of a north-east swell. Surfing, in this instance, was a hopeless business. A terrible return on investment.

And here I was, ready to surf, a pretty pink surfboard made by Matt Biolos wrapped under an arm, a hell of a surfboard, mostly unused despite it being six months old.

Six months earlier, I’d started to fall out of love with the game or at least my version of surfing: find a window in the city crowds of soft-tops, SUPS and VALS across the two, sometimes, three banks on my beach, catch three waves, avoid trouble if I could although sometimes this was not possible and come home exercised and a with little sun on my face.

Surfing had gotten real old.

Six or seven surfs a week had turned into four turned and then into three.

A flat spell came and I didn’t surf for six days. It was the longest time I’d had out of the water since I was a kid back when I couldn’t get to the beach unless I rode twenty miles.

Is this how it ends, I wondered?

Not with a bang but with the gentlest whimper?

No grand “I quit!” gestures, no rage against the dying of the light, but going gently into the post-surf phase.

Around that time, I got the WHOOP sent to me. The app told me how little I was sleeping, and how poorly, noted the times I got up and cruised to kitchen or bathroom, offered pretty good advice on when to train and when to take it a little easier.

But more than that, the data collected provided a picture of how my body reacted when I surfed, the heart spikes on a wave, the meditative lows between sets, the slightly elevated rate on the paddle back out, and all backed by a strain figure that demonstrated how hard I pushed myself during a surf.

And the wildest thing?

It made me want to surf, however grim the conditions, however dense the crowd.

A wordless drill sergeant, a heartless bastard who didn’t care for my apathy.

My new master. 

It filled my glass with surf and now I drink again, fast, defiantly, just to watch the numbers soar.

Buy here, fifteen percent discount if you use the code BEACHGRIT at checkout.

Over-dramatic shark explodes out of water behind two extremely chill Puerto Rican surfers forcing one to paddle slightly down the beach!

They build 'em tough on the Island of Enchantment.

Many years ago, I wrote “Men go to Hawaii and boys go to Puerto Rico” which was rude then and ruder today especially in light of just-surfaced video depicting two Puerto Rican surfers becoming lightly surprised by an over-dramatic shark exploding out of the water behind them, one choosing to paddle down the beach, keeping a nice tight form, the other just chilling atop his board.

The incident occurred just off Middles in Isabela with Jorge Benitez filming from the sand. He told news outlets that this was the first shark he had seen though they are known to be around the area. “They have enough food, apparently, so we barely have incidents if any.”

Mainstream media described the scene as “heart-stopping” with the surfers in the water “desperately trying to flee” and “panicked” but watch the footage for yourself.

Do either of these surfers seem too worried?

They build ’em tough on the Island of Enchantment.

Mick Fanning tough.

Hawaii's Brianna Cope. | Photo: Brent Bielmann/WSL

Jen See: “The Challenger Series final at Haleiwa has totally sucked me in. Qualifying Drama! I am here for it!” 

Some winners, but many losers. The ocean, she is cruel sometimes. 

Remember surf contests? Apparently, they are still a thing that exists in the world.

The Challenger Series final is happening now at Haleiwa. Real talk: The new Challenger Series thing has totally sucked me in. 

Qualifying Drama! I am here for it. 

Women’s round one? So totally done.

The surf was… not exactly dreamy. The wind mangled the lineup into a cubist painting or some other weirdly angled, bumpy thing. 

Contest surfing always feels extra cruel when the conditions are a crapshoot. Ha ha, good luck getting your scores! Hope you qualify! The ocean, she is cruel sometimes. 

The women near the qualifying cut all look to have made it through safely — unless I fucked up the math.

Which, it would not be the first time I fucked up the math. Math, not my thing. 

Bettylou Sakura Johnson looked fabulous surfing at home. Your fave reality tv stars Tia and Brianna both made it through round one. Dimity Stoyle, our fave commentator from the Australia leg last year, yep, she also advanced. Dimity looks great in Hawaii, so far. 

I did not envy anyone trying to get scores in the junky Haleiwa lineup, but I did sorta want to surf it. I feel like this is a safe place to confess that I like shitty surf, actually. There you are, just sitting in a lineup that looks like a box of puzzle pieces dumped on the floor at random and you have to tetris them together into something that looks like a wave. This is fun, in a stupid sort of way. 

The longboard and midlength revolution has only reinforced my love for surfing junk. The big board people do not generally paddle out when the waves are shit. They have standards, it seems. Weird. 

When the waves are bad, the big board people at home, doing important stuff like working on their resin tints or something. You go do that, sure. I’m going to surf all the waves, yes.

Okay, back to the contest which was the whole point.

Let’s look at some rankings, shall we?

You know you want to. It’ll be more fun than working on your resin tints. 

Starting at the top, Brisa Hennessey and Gabriela Bryan have already qualified for the CT and lead the rankings. Oceanside’s Caity Simmers is not far behind the leading pair. I’ll go ahead and say that I’m a fan of Caity’s style. More, please. 

The next ten women? So close.

Australia’s India Robinson beat Simmers to reach the final in France and rocketed up the rankings. She’s now fourth, but only 1000 points separate her from the next five women. Sawyer Lindblad, in fifth, ruptured her eardrum during a warm-up surf at Haleiwa, and is hoping to make her round two heat. If she doesn’t, she’ll likely fall below the qualification line. There are just so many women breathing down her neck. 

There’s a bunch of ties currently in the rankings, which makes the whole math part especially hard. But we shall persevere. 

I like Coco Ho’s chances of requalifying, especially with this final at Haleiwa. She’s eighth, sure, but almost equal on points with the next six women above her in the rankings. (There’s a three-way tie for eighth, by the way, among Coco, Australian Molly Picklum, and Californian Alyssa Spencer.) 

Looking further out, Bettylou had a bit of shocker in France, and sits thirteenth. With the rankings so tight, she’s not quite out of it. Surfing at home, she might do something special. 

There’s some straight fire match-ups setting up for round two. Spencer meets Pauline Ado who is less than 500 behind her in heat one. They also have Carissa Moore in their heat. Well, hello there. 

Then Simmers and Bryan meet in heat two. Tati West livens things up for Picklum in heat five. Lakey Peterson makes a long-awaited return to competition after a back injury. She’s in heat six with Robinson and Japanese surfer Sara Wakita, who won her round one heat. 

And oh hey, look at the final heat of the day: Caroline Marks, Bettylou, Coco, and Olympic bronze medalist Amuro Tsuzuki. I think I’m going to watch that one, yes. 

I do like this whole Challenger Series thing, even if it does bump around the calendar in strange ways.

Yes, Pipe Masters in January.

You know what?

I think we can survive this change just fine, actually. We are adaptable! We surf in the wind and shift with the tides and all that surf junk. I think we can do this, team. 

The mid-year cut should make this series even more spicy next year. I have thought for some time that the CT needed a good shake. The cut adds pressure to stay at the top. The Challenger Series provides the opportunity for new faces to make the cut. I like variety. 

You could always work on your resin tints instead, if you’d rather.

You do you.

I will definitely be judging, though.

Definitely. But I’ll just scream inside my head. 

You’ll never even know what happened. 

DH's house, torched. | Photo: NBN News

Man who blamed his girlfriend for torching surf icon Derek Hynd’s Byron house, killing a dog, sentenced to two years in prison, “The dog itself would have suffered a horrible death by suffering smoke inhalation or being burned to death”

House burnt down after former pals argued following a heavy night of weed, port, vodka and beer.

Two years ago, iconic surf writer, former pro surfer, creator of Rip Curl’s The Search campaign and fins-free pioneer, Derek Hynd, lost his house, a dog and most of his possessions, including a forty-year collection of writing, memorabilia a five-thousand dollar violin, and his surfboards, including the little five-eight Skip Frye fish from Litmus, in a deliberately lit fire.

Yesterday, Isaac Lehane, who is twenty-six and who lived with his girlfriend in a caravan on DH’s Myocum property, near Byron Bay, pleaded guilty to damaging property by fire worth more than $15,000. 

Dive into the agreed set of facts (as reported by the GC Bulletin) and you get this.

DH and his kid Lochlan lived in a a refurbished shed. Outside Lochie’s bedroom were two unused gas canisters. 

Lochie and Issac were on the piss and smoking weed on September 16, 2019, when they started to argue. 

The argument, over petty little things initially, went south when Lochie started talking about the rent. Lochie told Issac he had to leave. 

Issac and his  girl went back to the van where he kept yelling. Lochie heard it and banged on the van door telling him to leave. 

Issac came out with a metal pole. Lochie picked up a machete and said, “Are you seriously going to try to kill me? Are you going to die tonight?”

Lochie went back to his shed, took sleepers and was asleep by midnight. 

Fifteen or so minutes laster, DH heard bottles dropping on the floor outside Lochie’s rom. 

Issac  lit on fire a piece of cardboard that was on a window covering a broken spot. 

DH said he heard a pop before he saw Lochie flee his room with flames behind him. 

DH called triple O (Australia’s 911). He saw Issac running towards the house screaming for Lochie. 

DH went to the cops the next day and told ‘em he heard the van’s doors open and shut twice and said he suspected Issac might’ve started the fire after his fight with Lochie. 

A weeks later, Issac spoke to the cops and told ‘em about the argument over the rent. Told ‘em he saw the fire and ran to warn Lochie and to rescue the dog. 

On November 26, 2019, Issac told the cops his girlfriend probably did it. “I feel like she’s burned my best friend’s house down”. He also said she started the argument about rent.

Exercise bike survives fire. Not much else.

On June 18, 2020, the girlfriend told the cops Lochie and Issac had been smoking weed “quite heavy” on the night in question and were drinking port, vodka and beer. 

Girlfriend told ‘em Issac had a Zippo lighter and that he’d left the van and said he was going to burn DH’s joint down. 

On November 4, 2020, Issac was arrested and charged. 

Defence told the court Issac had a brain injury and mental health probs. Special circumstances, the event was spontaneous, real sorry about the dog, which wasn’t owned by DH, etc.

Magistrate Geoff Dunlevy acknowledged the bummer of precious boards, the excellent violin and so forth disappearing in flames but was concerned about how the dog died. 

“The dog itself would have suffered a horrible death by suffering smoke inhalation or being burned to death,” Dunlevy said, describing the case as “a nasty offence with a significant impact”.

Issac Lehane was sentenced to two years in jail with a fourteen-month non-parole period, backdated to October 2. 

If he keeps himself clean in prison, he’ll be eligible for parole in a little under a year.