Medina (pictured) modern.
Medina (pictured) modern.

Question: Is modern high performance surfing grotesque?

"The picturesqueness destroyed by legs spread much too far apart and whole sections of delicious wave perfect for lip bashes or wraps being sped right by without even a glance."

The story of how skateboarding was birthed from surfing is well known by fans of both arts as well as by the general non-skateboarding, non-surfing public. It has been celebrated in documentary and feature films alike, the later, Lords of Dogtown, starring Heath Ledger, Johnny Knoxville and Emile Hirsch even receiving mixed reviews from a mainstream media not generally under our sway.

In short, Venice Beach, California, then poor and hard-scrabble with no yoga studios or fancy ice cream parlors, served as an epicenter, a paradigm shifting few blocks that sent shockwaves reverberating through all our lives. A crew of surf-first kids, stymied by living in Venice, Beach California and not having any waves worth surfing turned to skateboarding in order to fill the singular hole in their various hearts.

They attempted to re-create what surf hero Larry Bertlemann was doing on their sidewalks, “Bertsliding” all knees tucked in, hands dragging the pavement exactly like Bert himself who plied his craft on the gorgeous liquid quarterpipes of Oahu, Hawaii’s North Shore.

Skateboarding, to this point, had been a nerd sport with nerds doing tricks like weaving between cones and twirling on two wheels whilst wearing competition jerseys and bifocals.

The Z-Boys, short for Zephyr Boys, which also included girls, radically altered the scene by bringing surf to the streets and that is where our story should end. Another gift our Pastime of Kings has bestowed upon a supplicant humanity. Boardshorts, Mick Fanning’s signature beer opening sandal and skateboarding but that is where our story, in fact, begins for the Z-Boys also took their skateboards into emptied swimming pools, using the gentle curves of the pool walls to further emulate surfing then shooting above the lip, or coping, into the air and grabbing their boards this way or that way. Twisting that way or this way.

Soon we had methods, indies, melons, liens, stalefishes, 180s, 360s, 540s even, 720s.

Surfers, took notice and, beginning in the 1980s, began emulating skateboarders attempting to rocket themselves into the air above their liquid quarterpipe coping and method, indy, melon and stalefish. The spins came later, in the 1990s and 2000s, sometimes awkwardly, often misnamed but always filled with reverence toward its origin and great shame when errors were made public.

Skateboarding, in 2022, defines surfing more than surfing defines skateboarding. Certainly we have our longboarders, as does skateboarding, and our longboarding continues to define their longboarding but both are ugly retrograde embarrassments. Also, we have our big wave surfers, I imagine the equivalent of a downhill skateboarder. Guts, an overwhelming feeling of personal accomplishment but no broad appeal.

The state of the art, the only form of surfing that matters, is found in modern applications. Modern street skating with modern pool skating mixing itself in more and more. Modern surfing, as in technical World Championship level, high performance thruster with the wide point pushed forward a smidge, Italo Ferreira, Gabriel Medina, sometimes even Julian Wilson modern surfing.

There are those who claim the best modern high performance skateboard-derivative surfing is done in clips or on Instagram but the state of the art is in competition, where tension is high, hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars are on the line as well as continuation on tour. Modern high performance skateboard-derivative surfing done in clips or on Instagram is more than half luck, more than half simple repetition. Even the least adroit professional surfer can do something impressive if he gives his all to it and places his filmer on the sand at a wave and has him record eighteen hours a day for as long as it takes.

As in all arts the enjoyment increases with the knowledge of the art, but people will know the first time they see this skate-inspired surfing, if they go open-mindedly and only feel those things they actually feel and not the things they think they should feel, whether they will care for modern surfing or not.

They may not care for the new way at all, no matter whether the surfing is good or bad, and all explanation will be meaningless beside the obvious moral wrongness of the taking the Pastime of Kings and turning into a skateboard-derivative fly fest, just as people could refuse to drink vodka which they might enjoy because they did not believe it right to do so. The comparison with vodka drinking is not so far-fetched as it might seem.

Vodka is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the natural things of the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection, and it offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing which may be purchased. One can learn about vodka and pursue the education of one’s palate with great enjoyment all of a lifetime, the palate becoming more educated and capable of appreciation and you having constantly increasing enjoyment and appreciation of vodka even though the kidneys may weaken, the big toe become painful, the finger joints stiffen, until finally, just when you love it the most you are finally forbidden vodka entirely.

The thing, of course, is to avoid having to give up wine but there seems to be much luck in all these things and no man can avoid death by honest effort and this seems to have gotten away from modern high performance surfing, but the point I was attempting to make was that a person with increasing knowledge may derive infinite enjoyment from vodka. So too, a man’s enjoyment of surfing might grow to become one of his greatest minor passions if he studies each nuance, each hand placement and knee tuck. Each pop off the liquid coping and how the surfer’s head is placed and where his arms are in relation to his body and if he is preparing to spin this way or that way.

In vodka, most people at the start prefer to mix cheaper ones like Absolut or Smirnoff with sugared cranberry water or orange juice because of their taste masking abilities while later, with enough effort in studying how to appreciate, they would trade all these for a light but full and fine example of Beluga which is distilled in Mariinks, Russia though it may be in a plain bottle without label, dust, or cobwebs, with nothing picturesque, but only its honesty and delicacy and the light body of it on your tongue, cool in your mouth and warm when you have drunk it.

So too in modern high performance surfing, skateboard-derivative surfing, at the start it is the picturesqueness of the entire tableau, the color, the scene, the onshore breezes and very likely palm trees swaying on the beach but these days pine trees swaying too as modern high performance surfing can be practiced anywhere there is both water and wave, even in Waco, Texas which has neither palm nor pine but does have the foundation of the burned Branch Davidian compound nearby.

The picturesqueness of a tan boy and his pointy thruster paddling into a shoulder high wave, onshore winds really howling, pumping quickly down the line and searching for the “ramp.”

The spectator approaching modern high performance skateboard-derivative surfing for the first time may see it as grotesque. The picturesqueness destroyed by legs spread much too far apart and whole sections of delicious wave perfect for lip bashes or wraps being sped right by without even a glance. But when they have learned to appreciate values through experience what they seek is honesty and true, not tricked, emotion and always classicism and the purity of execution of all the subtle nuances of the aerial maneuvers, and, as in the change in taste for wines, they want no sweetening but prefer to see truth. That the lip bashes and wraps are tired and old. That the legs spread much too far apart are essential. That the hands free 540 correctly called is absolutely essential and the man who calls it a 720 deserves death rather than suffering.

But, as with vodka, you will know when you first try it whether you like it as a tiling or not from the effect it will have on you. There are forms of it to appeal to all tastes and if you do not like it, none of it, nor, as a whole, while not caring for details, then it is not for you. It would be pleasant of course for those who do like it if those who do not would not feel that they had to go to war against it or give money to try to suppress it, since it offends them or does not please them, but that is too much to expect and anything capable of arousing passion in its favor will surely raise as much passion against it.

The spectator approaching modern high performance skateboard-derivative surfing for the first time cannot expect to see the combination of the ideal wave and the ideal surfer for that wave which may occur not more than twenty times in all the world in a season and it would be wrong for him to see that the first time. He would be so confused, visually, by the many things he was seeing that he could not take it all in with his eyes, and something which he might never see again in his life would mean no more to him than a regular performance. If there is any chance of his liking modern high performance surfing the best modern high performance surfing for him to see first is an average one, Kelly Slater throwing up an ally-oop in the no-losers round of a below average Championship Tour event. Julian Wilson attempting a hands-free 360 in the dying seconds of a round three heat he has already won. Yago Dora, not too highly paid, so that whatever extraordinary things he does will look difficult rather than easy. A seat on the sand not so near that he will see entire spectacle rather than, if he is on the rocks at Snapper, have it constantly broken proper degree of rotation and if his front hand was grabbing his inside rail or if his back hand was grabbing his outside rail or if there was no grab at all — and a hot sunny day.

The sun is very important. The theory, practice and spectacle of modern high performance skateboard-derivative surfing have all been built on the assumption of the presence of the sun and when it does not shine over a third of the best part is missing. The Spanish say, “El sol es el mejor tablista.” The sun is the best surfer, and without the sun the best surfer is not there. He is like a man without a shadow. The exact degree of his rotation lost. The exact placement of his head, hands, legs obscured.

A salty mid-length enthusiast in the back of the room: “What is he saying? What is that horrible surf journalist yammering on about?”

Someone near him: “He’s wondering if any of us truly appreciate modern high performance skateboard-derivative surfing.”

Salty mid-length enthusiast: “Oh, I thought he was asking if any of us wanted to be modern high performance skateboard-derivative surfers.”

Did you like the modern high performance skateboard-derivative surfing in the latest competition, sir? Gabriel Medina beating Jordy Smith at the Quiksilver Pro in 2019?

Salty mid-length enthusiast: “I accidentally liked it very much.”

What did you like about it?

Salty mid-length enthusiast: “I liked to see the surfers hit the waves right in the face then leave them then land back on them with spins and what have you in between. Hunched spins and grabs.”

Why did you like that?

Salty mid-length enthusiast: “It seemed so sort of homey.”

Sir, you are a mystic. You are not among friends here. Let us go to the Komune where we can discuss these matters at leisure.

The end.

"Getting barrelled is the ultimate escape from reality. I don’t think anything else is better.” | Photo: Nathan Lawrence/The Last Crusade

The Ultimate Surfer’s Luke Davis on making suggestive TikToks, the day he became aware he was more beautiful than anything else around him and his Insta-popularity with the older homosexual, “They think they can turn me gay!”

"If I’m not surfing a lot, and if I’m going out of my mind, I bust out dancing videos. The moves are in my brain and I freestyle.”

In the comparative seclusion of Victoria Avenue, Mar Vista, at a point where the 405 and Venice Boulevard are pleasantly tempered by distance, Nylon magazine’s The Merman has taken up his semi-permanent abode.

It is a barn-style house, set back from a plain-as-anything white garage with a beige coloured pickup from the nineteen-eighties parked outside.

The master of the house a friend from San Clemente called Max Robinson.

“He’s the one friend that didn’t surf,” says Luke. “He builds furniture and he’s an industrial designer.”

Across the road, we find the black twin-cab Toyota Tahoma which Luke bought for thirty-thousand dollars on a payment plan when he was seventeen. He rarely sleeps in the vehicle and imagines, at some point, going “full surf dog” installing a camper shell on the tray and travelling the coast for an extended clip.

The Tahoma counts one hundred and fit thousand miles on the odometer and is, currently, in disgrace for collapsing in a fit of smoke on the highway while Luke was coming back from a surf trip to Santa Cruz.

Still, he’ll keep it until it officially dies

Luke Davis is twenty eight years old, five feet and eight inches tall (in heels) and weighs one hundred and fifty pounds after a large meal and a gallon of water.

He has short thick hair, sometimes its natural yellow, often coloured purple or blue or pink, and the sort of facial construction best viewed in black and white and through the lens of Bruce Weber or Herb Ritts.

His skin is clear and, often, is coloured a shiny brown courtesy of a trip to the tropics, Mexico, for instance, from where he’s just returned.

For the first three days, Luke, along with the Hawaiian-born surfers Billy Kemper, Nathan and Ivan Florence, amused himself with jetski step-offs at Pasquales’ in Colima, a little state slipped in between Michoacán and Jalisco.

This was followed by a week surfing sandbottom points in Oaxaca.

It was, he says, “my first fucking trip of the year.”

Luke had said to his friends, “Let’s go down to Mexico for ten days and surf out brains out!”

Ten days was far too long and Luke recommends, instead, a maximum of five days south of the order.

“By the last couple of days it was fucked. So torched, too much sun. A full sun overdose.”

It was big-wave world champion and four-times Jaws winner Billy Kemper ’s first surf trip since busting his pelvis in February 2020 while surfing a wild swell at Morocco’s best wave, the righthand point Safi, which is a little like Lennox meets one of those Mex sand-bottoms.

The injury, which had Billy choking on his fluids and shitting the bed after overdosing on anti-inflamms, became a cause célèbre for the World Surf League’s CEO Erik Logan who, between tears on international phone calls, promised Billy, he’d bring him home.

“Just the words Billy was saying, I could feel the pain,” Erik sobbed to Billy, the events made into an excellent, if drawn-out, six-part series.

Luke was in Morocco when Billy’s pelvic girdle got bust.

“Yeah, I was there. It was fucked,” he says. “It was the end of our two-week trip. We’d surfed for two weeks straight. The day he got hurt, we got into the water at seven and we hadn’t got out of the water even one time and the sun was setting and everyone was completely delusional. You saw the wave. He dug his outside edge and, I didn’t know at the time ‘cause I was out of it on the beach and watching all the skis going around. I thought a camera had fallen in the water. And then someone drove up and said, ‘Billy broke his leg!’ From then on, it was a full fucking nightmare.”

The hospital, says Luke, was “super super scary. A stark room. Billy is on a metal table shaking and crying. It was fucked. I’d never seen an injury go down like that firsthand. They weren’t giving him anything for the pain. It was fucked, yeah, it was pretty fucked up.”

Do you consider yourself a lucky man, a happy man, Luke Davis?

“Lucky? Yeah, I feel super lucky. Blessed. However you want to put it. Nothing to complain about. I was lucky to be born where I was born, San Clemente, super fucking nice, you’ve been there. Trestles was right next to my house. Am I happy now? Yeah, I feel happy now. The better waves I get, the more barrels I get, the happiest I am. That’s my mission right now. I’m less happy if the waves are shit. My baseline happiness is somewhere in the middle and if I’m scoring waves it gets me to the place I want to be.”

As for last year’s trip to Indonesia’s Mentawai islands, Luke describes it as the best trip he’s ever been on, and says the waves were as good as you can get out on this ribbon of seventy islands stretching over a hundred miles just off the Sumatran coast.


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A planned twelve day-charter on the seventy-foot supercat Sibon Jaya turned into twenty three as one swell followed another. Luke surfed for the first sixteen of the twenty-three days, but was benched for the final week after a series of wipeouts.

“Fuck, we got every wave you wanna get out there. Started out at Lances, firing, three days in a row, then we had Maccas, we had Thunderbox, that right slab, then we got Rags, we got Greenbush psycho for one day and we ended at Bank Vaults. It was overhead to, like, fifteen-foot faces on the biggest day. Big, big Mentawais. As big as you can get, some of the spots.”

Luke says Greenbush was a terrifying ride.

“I hit the reef there so it was fucked. Fuck, it was worse than I’ve had in years. Both hands on the reef, the first time, then had to get a couple of stitches in my hand then I went back out and got a couple of waves then on my third wave I hit my side on the reef and my knees and the top of my feet. I hit my whole body and I was done. That was my last session on that trip. I was kinda fucked.”

As the wave didn’t improve after day sixteen, Luke healed in the air-conditioned saloon, “a solid week of chilling.”

Do you drink, Luke?

“No, I don’t.”

It would’ve been much more fun if you drank.

“No one was drinking. Maybe Crane had a beer at some point. We were downing Coca-Colas and eating candy bars hard core. My teeth started hurting so much.”

Describe life as a beautiful man.

“A beautiful man? I don’t know.”


When did you become aware that you were more beautiful than anyone else around you?

“I don’t know, Brother’s pretty good looking. Captain America. I’m kinda short, though.”

What would you prefer handsomeness or height? I think, easy answer.

“Probably handsomeness. You have a point.”

When did you become aware you were very good looking?

“Fuck, I don’t know. It’s not something you choose.”

I imagine you’re a hit with the older gay man.

“Yeah, they like me. They do. I do get quite a few DMs.”

What do they say?

“Uhhhh… maybe they think they can turn me gay or something, I don’t know. I think it’s only gay people that I don’t know. Gay people that I know are more subtle in their approach.”

Have you ever wanted a man?

“No, no. I’ve had no experimenting.”

Maybe it’s because you haven’t met the right man, yet.

“Maybe. Feels like if it was meant to happen I would’ve met him already.”

At this point, I tell Luke that I believe he values individuality over conformity. He confirms my assumption.

“Hundred percent,” he says. “It’s important to be yourself over anything. And not change your ideas based on someone else’s opinion.”

Luke was eighteen, and he says he remembers this vividly, when he had a moment where he promised himself that no matter what people said, wrote or implied, he wouldn’t let it affect him.

“It’s pretty freeing,” he says, “you can do what you want.”

Doing what he wants means going through phases like putting glitter on his face all the time.

“You wouldn’t put glitter on your face if you cared what people thought.”

Why glitter?

“It’s fun! Very fun, but I haven’t worn glitter in a while. Is glitter not fun?”

I answer that, no, I don’t find glitter fun, preferring, if anything was at my whim, the creamy colostrum from a free-flowing breast.

Tell me about the United States, I say. It’s a troubled time, yes?

“Yeah, how does it look from afar.”

It looks like it’s crumbling.

“It doesn’t feel bad when you’re here. It’s bouncing back now, but for a while, mid-last year it felt crazier.It’s pretty chill, it’s sunny and nice and places are opening up so it doesn’t feel too grim.”

Luke pauses and considers the state of the union.

“It could be crumbling still.”

The conversation swings towards music and Luke offers two different songs for his interlocutor to enjoy.

The first song I’m already familiar with, Cowgirl in the Sand, from Neil Young’s 1969 album Everybody Knows This is Nowhere.
The second is Brainstorm’s disco hit from 1977, Lovin’ Is Really My Game, which I haven’t heard. The lyrics are instructive.

Disco guy
You’ll be sorry if you pass me by
I’ve got what you need
And boy, I wouldn’t tell you no lie

I can’t catch no man
Hangin’ out at a discotheque
But I believe in the boogie
Oh, but lovin’ is really my game
Well, lovin’ is really my game
Well, lovin’ is really my game
Well, lovin’ is really my game
Try me, baby, yeah

“It’s really fucking good,” says Luke.

I ask, does surfing understand you?

“I think so. I put myself out there. I don’t know what they wouldn’t understand.”

Luke Davis is sponsored by RVCA, a martial arts outfit famous for its grappling shirts and no-gi rash vests.

Does the fight life interest you?

“The fight life? I don’t know about it. The closest I ever got into a fight was me and Crane. It was more of a wrestling situation, however. I burned him on a little wave coming in at Lowers and he freaked out at me on the beach and we started stabbing each other with boards. Another time, I kept making noises when he was playing ping-pong, it was a heated battle with Kolohe, he snapped and was wrestling me and trying to choke me out for twenty minutes.”

Do many people recognise you on the street, Luke?

“Not a lot. The odd person. It’s not annoying if it’s a small scene and surfing is a small scene. Although, it’s crazy with all the lockdowns and all the shit, it’s the most people surfing in California that I’ve ever seen. Never seen this many people… ever.”

How can you make suggestive Tiki’s Toks in the tragedies of everyday existence?

“The dancing videos? If I’m not surfing a lot, and if I’m going out of my mind, I bust out dancing videos. The most amount of views is one hundred thousand. I get my moves from… nowhere. They’re in my brain and I fucking freestyle.”

Tell me your daily routine.

“Wake up, cold and hot shower back and forth, bullet coffee. Hit Surfline hard and figure out where I’m surfing. If you don’t use the coffee jolt for something you have to ride it down and it’s disastrous.”

Do you surf as you think? Cock-sure and drunk with sudden success?

“It reflects my personality, confident, but not overly confident. I don’t look aggressive when I surf.”

Sometimes you look excited.

“Yeah, maybe sometimes.”

One of the things often said about you is that you’re a tremendously strong surfer. What does strength mean, is it the kind of strength that bends iron bars?

“Strong? I’ve never heard that. Strong like power? I don’t think so.”

Are you physically strong?

“Not crazy, that’s why it doesn’t make sense. The only thing I lift are board bags.”

I always think of you as tremendously fit and healthy man. Do you ever get ill, have a cold, for instance?

“I try and be healthy but after the Indo trip I was sick as fuck, mostly ‘cause I was run down – six weeks of going non-stop. That was fucked, went too hard for too long.”

What attributes must a good surfer have?

“Kelly’s a surf god, right? He’s five-nine, flexible strong. Him.”

Like you, he’s little, too.

“I think he’s around my height, he’s thicker and wider than me. I’m pretty thin.”

Do you like to escape to reality and how?

“With music, I do. My main time escaping reality, though, is surfing, which is the ultimate. Getting barrelled is the ultimate escape from reality. I don’t think anything else is better.”

Do you find cigarettes squalid?

“Yeah, and it’s fucking crazy how many people are into the vapes. Once, I took a couple of hits off a vape and the next day I couldn’t breathe when I was surfing.”

Do you have much to say about marriage?

“Fuck, I don’t have much to say about it. It sounds scary to me.”

What have been your experiences with marijuana? Do you find it a sensual drug?

“I don’t know how sexy it is. I start overthinking when I smoke with a chick, like, hyper-analysing the situation.”

How are you different from other men?

“Being able to surf for a living is pretty rare.”

What kind of boy were you?

“A shy surfer kid with a bowl cut. I had two doughnuts and a chocolate milk every single morning before surfing.”

What are you grateful for? For me, it’s the absence of pain and life’s little pleasures, my children, flowers etc.

“The ability to go surfing every day and for the group of friends that I have. Fuck, I was talking to everyone on our trip about it. Fuck, we met each other when we were ten and here we were eighteen years later still doing this fucking surf thing! When we were ten, who would’ve fucking thought we’d be doing this still, and not be in a cubicle.”

Do you wish you had children?

“No! they scare the fuck out me!”

(Editor’s note: This interview appears in the outrageously impractical, from-another-era hard-cover volume, The Last Crusade, which documents the best trip to the Mentawais since Pottz, Ross Clarke-Jones and Tom Carroll went there in ’92. In this instance, Kolohe Andino and pals, including Luke Davis, side-stepped COVID restrictions and, in the words of shaper Matt Biolos, “risked everything and embarked on a surf trip for the ages. A rally against repression. A Crusade.” (Watch the movie of the event, Reckless Isolation, here.) The Last Crusade is a fine book, beautifully made and so on. At one hundred Biden shekels it ain’t cheap, but it feels like a couple hundred pages, no page numbers, and features stories from Lewis Samuels, Travis Ferré, Matt George and me. The principal photographer is the peerless Nathan Lawrence and there’s cartoons from Ben Brown so it’s real pretty to look at. Buy here.)

Suspended sitting longboard world champ Joel Tudor opens new front against World Surf League as tour set to resume: “First event starts in a few days and per usual the ding dong WSL hasn’t advertised it!”

Blowing it.

Longboarding, as they say, is so hot right now. In Western Australia, the most inspirational story has just unfolded with surfing’s first ever competitive transexual competitor, Sasha Jane Lowerson, absolutely demolishing the women’s division to hoist the cup high above her tousled strawberry blonde head. And in eastern Australia, the World Surf League’s longboard tour is set to officially kick off with the Great Wall Motors Sydney Surf Pro at Manly Beach.

Oh but you certainly wouldn’t know it as the aforementioned World Surf League is absolutely smothering the feel-good story of the year with its utter incompetence. Thankfully sitting longboard champion, currently suspended, Joel Tudor is around to shine his light on the excitement while, at the same time, questioning the WSL itself.

Tudor took to Instagram and wrote:

First event for longboard tour starts in few days / as per usual the ding dongs @wsl haven’t given any advertisements or posts regarding it! Good luck to all the men & women competing! Bet ya 20$ it goes back to high pro wanking as style of choice now that @devon_howard has resigned! Here’s the great Gary Propper showing how it’s done!

The “dong dongs” really are blowing it. The drum of equality has been beaten, hard, in Santa Monica for years now but apparently “equality” has its limits. Apparently it doesn’t include surfboards longer than six feet two inches nor edifying stories of transexual surfers beating all odds and wildly thrashing a pack of women.

Tudor’s question about how this year’s tour will be judged, anyhow, is very interesting in light of Devon Howard’s resignation. Will “high pro wanking” be rewarded or will traditional grace and style win the day?

Also, how fantastic would a final between Lowerson and Tudor be? Guaranteed mainstream coverage, that’s for certain.

Blowing it.

Utterly blowing it.

West Oz log champ Sasha Jane Lowerson. | Photo: @sasha_jane_lowerson

LGBTQ+ community jubilant as world’s first competitive trans surfer destroys opposition to win one-sided women’s longboard contest; becomes first surfer in history to win men’s and women’s divisions!

"To be the first trans woman competing in surfing hasn't been an easy ride emotionally but the amount of support I've been showed has been phenomenal."

Surfing’s first competitive transsexual surfer Sasha Jane Lowerson has continued her dream run through the women’s division of the Western Australian longboard titles, winning the open gal’s crown easily.

In the final, Lowerson, a forty-three-year-old strawberry blonde who has ridden “stupidly big Waimea” and who won the male division of the WA longboard titles in 2019 as Ryan Egan (whom Lowerson talks about in the podcast below) before transitioning, combo-ed one surfer, the other three gals needed nine-pluses to win. 

The triumph was a sweet return for Lowerson who says she was close to killing herself a few months back, even had a few swings at it.

Depressed as hell, Lowerson gave up surfing, shaping, but once she decided to transition and the female hormones kicked in, woke up one day in February, felt a little better, called up Surfing Australia and said,

“Umm, this is me, the last time I competed in your Australian titles I was third, what are you going to do? I was pretty frank about it. We can do this two ways. We can do it together and make it amazing or we can do it terribly and it’s a circus and you guys are the only ones who are going to  come out looking silly… I’d prefer to not go through that.” 

Head judge Glen Elliot was super cool, says Lowerson, and told her he’d “love to see you still competing.”

Lowerson says, “To be the first trans woman competing in surfing hasn’t been an easy ride emotionally but the amount of support I’ve been showed has been phenomenal and I’m so grateful to be involved, welcomed and embraced within the longboard community in Australia.”


Matt Biolos (pictured) poking.
Matt Biolos (pictured) poking.

What if I were to tell you that surfboard shapers are evil creatures seeking to keep the whole of humanity locked into embarrassing mediocrity so that they can go to surfboard shaper conferences or hang out in surfboard shaper bars and mock and laugh and laugh?

Come ponder.

Dear brothers and sisters, what if I were to tell you that surfboard shapers are evil creatures seeking to keep the whole of humanity locked into embarrassing mediocrity so that they can go to surfboard shaper conferences or hang out in surfboard shaper bars and mock and laugh and laugh more until tears come into their eyes and wash the foam dust off their cheeks about our poor skill? Our hunchbacked rail bogging, slow top turns, non-existent bottom turns and very bad lines?

Oh, I am joking, and I know myself that my jokes are not brilliant, but you know one can take everything as a joke. I am, perhaps, jesting against the grain. But in truth, I am tormented by questions; answer them for me. Surfboard know-it-alls, those who know all about liters, rocker, concave, etc. want to cure surfers of their old habits, ordering boards that are inappropriate for their body shape or skill level, and reform their will in accordance with science and good sense.

They see a fellow surfer in the lineup straddling a high performance JS Monsta squash tail and paddle over, clucking the tongue, saying, “You, sir, are not a professional and should be on something with much more volume.” Or go on Instagram and comment, “Too little volume, too much rocker” underneath posts of a fellow surfer taking off too late and making an ugly turn.

But how does the surfboard know-it-all know, not only that it is possible, but also that it is desirable to reform a surfer in that way? And what leads him to the conclusion that surfers’ inclinations need reforming? In short, how does anyone know that such a reformation will be a benefit to surfer? And to go to the root of the matter, why is the surfboard know-it-all so positively convinced that not to act against his real normal interests guaranteed by the conclusions of reason and arithmetic is certainly always advantageous for man and must always be a law for mankind?

So far, this is only supposition. It may be the law of logic, but not the law of humanity. You think, brothers and sisters, perhaps that I am mad? Allow me to defend myself. I agree that surfers are pre-eminently creative animals, predestined to strive consciously for an object and to engage in engineering — that is, incessantly and eternally buying new surfboard models with tweaks and adjustments, following new roads wherever they may lead. But the reason why a surfer wants sometimes to go off at a tangent may just be that he is predestined to make the road, and perhaps, too, that however stupid the “direct” practical man may be, the thought sometimes will occur to him that the road almost always does lead somewhere, and that the destination it leads to is less important than the process of making it, and that the chief thing is to save the well-conducted child from despising engineering, and so giving way to the fatal idleness, which, as we all know, is the mother of all the vices.

Surfers like to make roads and to create, that is a fact beyond dispute. But why do we have such a passionate love for destruction and chaos also? For sucking so badly and publicly? Tell me that!

But on that point I want to say a couple of words myself. May it not be that surfers loves chaos and destruction and sucking so badly and publicly (there can be no disputing that we do sometimes love it) because we are instinctively afraid of attaining what we seek and becoming good and powerful surfers?

Who knows, perhaps we only love that idea, becoming actually good, from a distance, and are by no means in love with it at close quarters; perhaps we only love pretending to become better surfers it and once a surfboard we are riding makes us surf too good we abandon and order a board from Greg Webber that looks like a banana, tossing our other board into the yard for the use of les animaux domestiques — such as the ants, the sheep, and so on.

Now the ants have quite a different taste. They have a marvelous edifice of that pattern which endures forever — the ant-heap. With the ant-heap the respectable race of ants began and with the ant-heap they will probably end, which does the greatest credit to their perseverance and good sense.

But surfers are frivolous and incongruous creatures, and perhaps, like chess players, love the process of the getting better, not the end of it. And who knows (there is no saying with certainty), perhaps the only goal on earth to which mankind is striving lies in this incessant process of attaining, in other words, in life itself, and not in the thing to be attained, which must always be expressed as a formula, as positive as twice two makes four, and such positiveness is not life, brothers and sisters, but is the beginning of death.

Anyway, surfers should always be afraid of this mathematical certainty, and I am afraid of it now. Granted that the surfer, especially the surfboard know-it-all, does nothing but seek that mathematical certainty, he traverses oceans, sacrifices his life in the quest, that magic board, but to succeed, really to find it, dreads, I assure you. He feels that when he has found it there will be nothing for him to look for exactly like Kelly Slater feels, filling his time with empty social media battles and faith healers.

When workmen have finished their work they do at least receive their pay, they go to the tavern, then they are taken to the police-station — and there is occupation for a week. But where can surfers go? Anyway, one can observe a certain awkwardness about the surfer that has attained such objects (see Kelly Slater again). Surfers loves the process of attaining, but do not quite like to have attained, and that, of course, is very absurd.

In fact, surfers are comical creatures; there seems to be a kind of jest in it all. But yet mathematical certainty is after all, something insufferable. Twice two makes four seems to me simply a piece of insolence. Twice two makes four is a pert coxcomb who stands with arms akimbo barring your path and spitting. I admit that twice two makes four is an excellent thing, but if we are to give everything its due, twice two makes five is sometimes a very charming thing too. And why are you so firmly, so triumphantly, convinced that only the normal and the positive — in other words, only what is conducive to welfare — is for the advantage of surfers? Is not reason in error as regards advantage?

Do not surfers, perhaps, love something besides surfing well? Perhaps we are just as fond of suffering? Perhaps suffering is just as great a benefit to us as surfing well? Mankind is sometimes extraordinarily, passionately, in love with suffering, and that is a fact. There is no need to appeal to universal history to prove that; only ask yourself, if you are a man, or woman- a surfer- and have lived at all.

As far as my personal opinion is concerned, to care only for surfing well seems to me positively ill-bred. Whether it’s good or bad, it is sometimes very pleasant, too, to smash things and surf like a complete Cro-Magnon. I hold no brief for suffering nor for surfing well either. I am standing for … my caprice, and for its being guaranteed to me when necessary. For paddling out on a very throaty day, barreling and whatnot, on a surfboard not built for barrels. Likewise, paddling out on a very small day on something that demands perfection to perform.

Suffering would be out of place in vaudevilles, for instance; I know that. In a “perfect world” it is unthinkable; suffering means doubt, negation, and what would be the good of a “perfect world” if there could be any doubt about it? And yet I think man will never renounce real suffering, that is, destruction and chaos.

Why, suffering is the sole origin of consciousness. Though I do believe that consciousness is the greatest misfortune for man, yet I know man prizes it and would not give it up for any satisfaction. Consciousness, for instance, is infinitely superior to twice two makes four. Once you have mathematical certainty there is nothing left to do or to understand. There will be nothing left but to bottle up your five senses and plunge into contemplation. While if you stick to consciousness, even though the same result is attained, you can at least flog yourself at times, and that will, at any rate, liven you up. Reactionary as it is, corporal punishment is better than nothing.

All to say, there is no perfect surfboard for any surfer and anything a reputable shaper produces, whether a custom order or one that is pulled from the rack, is fine enough. Surfboard shapers should not be blamed for our misfortune, our poor skill. We crave it and need it and will never become Kelly Slater because Kelly Slater is miserable. Also, the surfboard know-it-all should shut his mouth.