Surf Journalist taps in to bounty of data science and research, utilizes personal digital fitness and health coach to steal waves off the woefully unsuspecting!

Knowledge is power.

It truly is the most wonderful time of the year and I defy you to challenge me there. Defy you to tell me, straight faced, that when you enter a store and Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas” is playing a shiver of pure joy don’t rush right up your spine.


Pure magic but a slight problem exists for us grumpy locals, we guardian angels of the sea.

The holiday season means that work is pushed down the daily list of “things that must get done” leaving ample time for the stoked-adjacent to head to the beach, paddle out and clog already choked lineups.

What to do?

Well, for the first time in my life I have a WHOOP strap, a personal digital fitness and health coach, that teaches me to be my very best and, moreover, employs a cadre of scientists and researchers to parse data, codify behaviors.

The team recently looked at holiday behaviors and, maybe shockingly, discovered that people drink more and sleep more during the time of year.

Per the just-published report:

To understand the relationship between holidays and changes in WHOOP data, we compared the population averages on each holiday and holiday eve to a baseline. We didn’t want any seasonal or weekday effects to muddy the results of our study, so our baseline consisted of the average of 8 other days–the 4 days of the same day of week preceding the holiday or eve, and the 4 days of the same day of week following the holiday or eve.

Using the baseline averages and the holiday averages, we found the average change in sleep and alcohol prevalence on each of the federal holidays and their eves. This illuminated which holidays correspond with significant differences in sleep patterns and alcohol prevalence and which seem to have little changes at all.

Bed time changed by around 16 minutes on average during holidays and their eves. Most differences in bed time were later bed times, when it was on average about 22 minutes later than usual. Each of the holidays with an earlier average bedtime were Monday holidays, indicating that members were likely taking advantage of the day off to catch up on some sleep during the work week.

Wake time changed by almost 25 minutes on average. Most holidays were associated with sleeping in and on those days the average change in wake time was almost 33 minutes later. Similar to bed time, the only holidays that were associated with an earlier wake time were Monday holidays.

As the changes in bed time and wake time indicate, WHOOP members were getting more sleep around the holidays. The average change in sleep duration on holidays and eves was 2.1%. Of the 20 holidays we analyzed, 15 corresponded to an increase in sleep duration for an average increase of 2.5%. Only two holidays corresponded to significant decreases in sleep, one of which was New Year’s Eve. Overall, holidays were associated with varying changes in sleep consistency–about half had an increase in sleep consistency and half had a decrease.

Genius and I realized all I need to do is keep my recovery in the green, or “ready for optimal performance,” during this crucial time, wake up an hour earlier and, thereby, catch so many more waves all by myself.

A Hanukkah gift that gives for more that seven, ten, even thirty days.

Worth every ounce of investment because how will you know, otherwise, that you have not succumbed to the inertia of this festive season?

Healthy sleep, recovery, strain data equals more waves.

You’re welcome.

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.