There was once a time, or at least I dreamed there was once a time, that California’s various beachside hamlets were locked into a vicious, dirty war as to which was superior. San Diego vs. San Clemente vs. Huntington Beach vs. Oxnard vs. Santa Cruz with no love lost between and no tactic too low when it came to publicly denigrating an enemy.
The fever grew so hot that Huntington Beach and Santa Cruz dragged each other into the legal system to punch up over the moniker “Surf City, USA” with Huntington eventually winning and Santa Cruz plotting revenge.
And I thought, or dreamed, that this enmity still bubbled beneath the surface so you can imagine my shock, this morning, when I learned that The Golden State’s favorite surfer, Kolohe Andino, has a favorite wave in Southern California and that is not in his hometown San Clemente.
In a wide-ranging interview with Inside Hook, the Olympian is asked, “Favorite place to surf in Southern California?” And responds “Maybe Santa Cruz? Is that Southern California? I love it up there. Or just home, in San Clemente. Wherever the waves are good!”
Geography aside, how do you think T-Streeters and Trestleers will respond to this bomb? Will he be muscled out of the choicest nuggets by an aggrieved Matt Biolos? Have windshield waxed by Griffin Colapinto’s dad?
Will he be forced to move to Santa Cruz?
How will Nat Young take it?
More questions than answers.
Jordy Smith, hero of previous event theatrics. WSL
Open thread, comment live, day one, Margaret River Pro, “The heat’s on! Find out what’s cooking besides the waves!”
Before e-bikes, serious training regimes, Mike Parsons and ice baths surfers had one sworn enemy and it was the malignant jock. Brawny boys to men who played organized stick and ball sports under the watchful eye of “coaches” and “umpires” or “referees.” Their way of life, all rules-based and rigid, was not ours with its radicalized “freedom” and home cut mohawks and hot war festered.
The salad years.
But leave it to our great champion, 11x, Kelly Slater to bring the enmity back for footage has just emerged of our hero taking the mound, before heading to Bells, at his hometown University of Central Florida and purposefully spiking a ball into the ground.
The Margaret River Pro began yesterday, though did not run, and all eyes are on Western Australia. Blood will soon stain that hearty earth, the claret of those professional surfers who happen to be below the cut line, included but not limited to Owen Wright. Wright’s brother, Mikey, is safe via all the wildcards he shall receive and sister, Tyler, shall not dealt the indignity of challenger serieses as she is currently number two in the world after an impressive Bells victory.
The enigmatic former world champion was ecstatic post-triumph, telling The Guardian, “I cannot put into words what this means. It’s more than a win. It’s the only event I’ve ever wanted to win. I’m over the moon, I’m stoked. Two years being out is a long time. That fire that kind of got snuffed out by illness has been re-lit. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt like I’ve surfed like myself.”
The illness a reference to the post-viral syndrome she was diagnosed with nearly two years ago. In an interview with ESPN she said, “Overnight, I lost everything, what made me Tyler Wright. I lost my personality, my physicality. I’m used to excruciating amounts of pain, but the physical pain got so bad that it would mentally break me. And it broke me every day. I didn’t get a minute where I was unbroken.”
A sports and exercise chiropractor with expertise in neuroscience, Dr. Brett Jarosz, anyhow, miraculously stitched Wright back up and now she is winning, again, and debuting exciting new partnerships with canned spice rum distilleries.
“Lots to celebrate lately,” she announced on Instagram. “Excited to partner with @reeftip as their ambassador. Celebrating feels even better when I can give back to the reef while also learning about it. 10% of @reeftip profits go to reef regeneration through the work of the @coralnurtureprogram.”
Sailors of old used rum as a medicinal to cure aches and pains and also enhance vibrato whilst singing sea shanties. It became associated with British naval might in the mid-1600s and spirits bottled above 57% alcohol by volume are still marked “Naval Strength” in that country. It is also synonymous with piracy and featured in such classics as Robert Lewis Stevenson’s Treasure Island which I just so happened to read and is very fine.
Spiced rum traces its origins back to 1879 when Myers’s, in Jamaica, produced a sweeter, spicier, darker version of the drink made from pure Jamaican molasses.
Captain Morgan became the most recognized spiced rum brand in the mid-1980s and uses a character and general tone that might be described as “toxically male” in many of its advertisements.
Reeftip, Wright’s choice, donates 10% of of profits to saving reefs and comes in at 4.5% abv.
Not “Naval Strength” but also not blatantly sexist.
A good fit, me thinks.
Barons has it all. Ridiculously good looking characters with names like Trotter and Snapper dressed in impeccably stylised recreations of ‘70s fashion. The soul surfer v consumer dichotomy. Spiritual connections with the ocean. Drug smuggling. Sex. Panel vans. Single fins. Copious amounts of incense and woollen turtlenecks. It’s all fucken there.
Big-budget TV series that skewers surf industry’s wonderfully louche drug-money funded beginnings premieres tonight!
"Barons puts an imagined microscope to the nefarious origins of Australia’s biggest surfing dynasties. It’s a story that in many ways is still yet to be told, especially to a mainstream audience."
With all the hullabaloo ‘round the release of Make or Break, another mainstream surf offering here in Australia has slipped under the radar. One that might prove more incisive, more explosive than the Woz’s docu-drama could ever hope.
Barons, premiering tonight on the Australian taxpayer-funded ABC, is the fictionalised story of two warring surf brands developed by close friends out of the same small town in the early 1970s.
Billed as an authentic recount of the birth of surf culture – and the surf industry – in Australia, Barons has it all. Ridiculously good looking characters with names like Trotter and Snapper dressed in impeccably stylised recreations of ‘70s fashion. The soul surfer v consumer dichotomy. Spiritual connections with the ocean. Drug smuggling. Sex. Panel vans. Single fins. Copious amounts of incense and woollen turtlenecks. It’s all fucken there.
But most importantly it puts an imagined microscope to the nefarious origins of Australia’s biggest surfing dynasties. It’s a story that in many ways is still yet to be told, especially to a mainstream audience.
We want the truth. But can Barons handle it?
In my recent review of Lines to the Horizon, I talked about how easy it is for surf storytellers to drift into cliche.
Call it the Bodhi complex.
If the competent writers in that collection of essays were sometimes guilty of dipping their toe in those waters, Barons looks like it has jumped head first. Judging by the preview it’s Tim Winton meets Party of 5. But then again, this was the birth of the surf guru epoch. Cliches are born from truth.
Early reviews have been kind without being effusive. Sydney Morning Herald described it as a sexy, stoner period soapie but a slow burn.
“Selling out a counterculture isn’t inherently interesting on its own.”
It does come with some bonafides. Taylor Steele was in charge of the surf cinematography as well as being involved in the script. Producers include Michael Lawrence (Bra Boys, Fighting Fear).
Check the preview here.
I’ll reserve judgment until I’ve seen the damn thing. But some observations:
Anybody with even a passing knowledge of the early days of the surf industry in Australia knows that an M-rated soap opera isn’t gonna tell half the story. Truth will always be wilder than fiction, if a producer even had the gumption to try. Plus it’s still living history. Too soon, for many that were there.
The fictionalised story is a good way of sidestepping any legal snafus. But is a TV soap really the right vehicle? A more apt setting might be Wake in Fright by the beach. A hedonistic, all-consuming world of inescapable vice. All the little devils, proud of their hell.
After all, we’re all so hungry for surf history. The culture is quickly swallowing itself. Eager to turn history into lore.
But who should be telling the story?
A little while back WSL commissioned a profile on Surfline of the founding of G Land. Proudly talking of the early Boyum, Lopez, McCabe days and the lifestyle that funded it. To see the WSL effectively coat tailing off the Sea of Darkness crew was jarring. The industry’s once dirty little secret now, seemingly, being worn as a badge of pride. Barons looks like it will lean into the same territory.
Who are they to claim ownership?
The real story is still out there. Still living and breathing. There’s narratives. Counter-narratives. Bitter rivalries. Legal disputes. Some of the players have done well for themselves. Now in boardrooms and beachside mansions. Others, not so much. They’re in outer suburb living rooms. Or tiny backyard shaping bays. Or retirement homes.
All with their own perspectives. Their own stories to tell.
What would they make of it all? This sudden mythologisation of their lives?