"There was a giant bite mark. That could have been me."
Any surfer who has traveled to the Hawaiian Island chain knows that it is paradisiacal but also knows a dark menace lurks beneath the plumeria and hibiscus flowers. Violently spilled açaí bowls. But also wild pigs. Nasty things that defecate in water sources, root around for goodness only knows what and terrify the unsuspecting.
Usually, this terror occurs on terra firma with the beasties snorting and glaring. They are not afraid of humankind and so gladly charge, tusks bloody and gross.
One day in December 2021, I drove out at dawn to Mokulē’ia beach on Oahu’s north shore. I picked a spot to surf and went down to the shore with a friend. It was a beautiful morning. The sun was out and the waves no bigger than two feet. We paddled out; he went right and I turned left. The nearest people were 200 metres away.
I began surfing the waves, then saw something floating towards me. I wondered if it was a seal, but it looked stiff. Suddenly, it lifted its head out of the water. I was eye to eye with a wild boar, only 1.5 metres from me. It was shocked – and so was I. It had a bloody face as if it had been attacked, the longest snout, with tusks like a baby mastodon, and a look of desperation. I was afraid and, more than that, surprised. What was it doing here?
It started piggy-paddling towards me with all its might. I turned to paddle away, but its face was at my foot. I got off my board and placed it between us as a safety barrier. The pig pulled itself up and took a chunk out of the board with its teeth. I swam underwater in the other direction, and when I surfaced 3 metres away I realised it had broken through the fibreglass casing of the board and crunched through the foam. There was a giant bite mark. That could have been me.
Seiple, thankfully, made a getaway but if she hadn’t I’m certain the most feared pig hunter on the island would have been called in to TCB.
Or don’t you remember how I was an integral part of a crack team that slayed a terror up Kualoa Ranch way.
Imminent collapse of global economies creates golden market for surfboard collectors, “The flotillas of big-name machine shapes purchased in frenzy during the height of the boom are now being jettisoned as the proles look to tighten their belts and ride the bust!”
There’s never been more surfers, sure. But there’s also never been more surfboards. Stretching as far as the landfill can see.
Am I the only one who finds the notion of a recession romantic?
Everyone back to square one. On equal footing. Starting from scratch.
Legions of once-pencil necked corporate types suddenly freed of their neoliberal masters. Lounging around all day, eating salted pork and sauteed bike tyres. Repairing old jalopies between mid-morning surfs and afternoon moonshine benders.
Kids running amongst golden fields of grass, dirt-faced but happy, patched-up overalls hanging languidly from their sun-kissed shoulders.
While all those fat-cat speculators and entrepreneurs sit weeping in their abandoned co-operative work spaces, the “elaborate” and “innovative’” business models that served to only further exploit the working class finally laying in ruin.
The culture that exalted home ownership as a model for accumulation of capital. Bunnings and Home Depot our new cathedrals for weekend worship. Casualised workforces. Laissez-faire economics.
The LinkedIn cult of the corporate. “Bring more of yourself to work” so work can bring more of itself to you.
All collapsing in on itself like a cursed dwarf star.
Sure, I jest. I know there’s clear links between economic downturns and rates of suicide, family breakdown, crime, drug use etc
And it’s usually the working class man that feels the pinch the most.
But the socialist in me does want to see this smoke and mirrors capitalist shitshow we’ve laboured under for the last fifty years falter just a little more.
Even a slight touch on the breaks of unlimited economic growth. Maybe take into consideration factors other than just GDP when looking at a nation’s wealth. Push a few of us back into the warm, egalitarian embrace of market regulation and big government.
Economic rationalism isn’t, as they say.
At the very least, the threat of recession makes a great market for secondhand surfboards. Jeez there’s been some steals of late.
There’s never been more surfers, sure. But there’s also never been more surfboards. Stretching as far as the landfill can see.
The flotillas of big-name machine shapes purchased in frenzy during the height of the boom are now being jettisoned as the proles look to tighten their belts and ride the bust.
The result? It’s a buyer’s market, just like that greasy real estate agent will tell you.
There’s almost no argument now for buying new boards. Check out your Gumtrees, Craigs Lists, FB marketplaces near even the mildest concentrations of surf populations and there’s a plethora of deals to be had.
Unless you’re spending good money to buy a handshape from a guru, you gotta go secondhand. It’s an ethical as well as economic imperative.
Me, I’ve long been a fan of used goods. But the pendulum has swung so far now in my favour that even I can’t believe some of the scores that present themselves. Especially for those underground gems that might not attract the SEO hits of a JS, a Hayden, a Sharpeye.
Some minor damage and dirtiness, the ad said. But otherwise good to go.
What’s crazier is the asking price on FB marketplace was even lower than what I ended up paying for it. I saw it pop up on a weekend scroll for $10.
Ten buckeroos. About the same as a pie and Coke at the servo. A few litres of diesel. One schooner at a fancy inner city bar, if you’re lucky.
I assume it must be a typo. Send a DM.
Hey, definitely interested in the McCabe. So it’s $10?
A quick response. Yes it is. Somebody else has already put a hold on it though.
I’ll give you $20.
Done. It’s yours.
Pick it up the next day. A younger girl living behind a commission flat out the back of town. Dogs barking in the driveway. Early model Holden Commodore rusting out front.
She’s immediately apologetic, like I’m doing her a favour.
“Thank you so much for taking it. I’m so sorry it’s dirty,” she says, pointing to the thin layer of grime on the deck. “It’s just been lying around here forever, and well, I needed the cash.”
“That is no problem at all,” I say as I slide it into the boot. “The pleasure is all mine.”
A quick clean up with some turps and a wax comb. Your usual compressions. The only real damage is a thumbnail sized hole in the bottom of the deck. In keeping with the aesthetic I plug it up with the old wax I accumulated from stripping it.
It’s a pulled-in square tail. Wide point forward. Subtle mass of foam under the chest but the rails are foiled nicely. Deep double concave out through the tail. Set of as-new Shapers fins (FCS1) with it.
Some weird spray paint art on the front which adds to the overall vibe.
Can feel the life force still inside it under the arm.
First surf down at Manly on one of those wicked SE mega swells we’ve had here of late. Four-to-five-foot with a few bigger ones. Some absolute drainpipes when they’re hitting the bank right.
It’s a board that tells you how it wants to be ridden from the get go. A few missteps when I try to pivot too much on the tail. Almost like a rounded pin masquerading as a square.
But quickly get a good feel. And it can find a tube. Almost feels like it’s on autopilot when you slide up and under the lip.
Next couple of surfs on a three-foot inside rip bowl back out the front. Not as responsive a turner as your modern day performance thruster but jeez it’s got some drive. Loves being put on rail. Can’t wait to get it on some of the local reef breaks once we get a run of clean swell.
What else would you expect from a McCabe?
I think about that girl. Going to all the effort of putting the board up and dealing with degenerates like me for a measly $10.
Or twenty in the end.
Mark Rabbidge rail channel fish 6’4 x 21 x 2 ½: $50
Another one where I had to double take at the price. We all know Mark Rabbidge as the shaper responsible for Tom Curren’s first go at J-Bay, widely regarded as one of the finest waves ever surfed.
Mark’s been at the forefront of board design for decades now.
So to see one of his shapes up in relatively ok nick for such a price was nuts.
It wasn’t advertised as a Mark Rabbidge, mind you. Just “old fish” or something similarly nondescript.
Turns out the guy selling lives only two hundred yards down the road from me. I’ve seen him in the water before and am confident he didn’t understand the gravity of the design he was holding under his arm.
Deep rail channels, you might even call them edges, run through the middle third of the board. They’re not belly channels. But they’re also not like a traditional Greenough edge which follows the curve of the rail.
The outline itself is like one of those big boy Aipa stingers. Fuller again through the nose. Plus it’s got one of them flame sprays. Ya can’t go wrong.
I messaged Mark about the board on Instagram. He remembers it, fondly.
“I see some shapers doing different styles of channels now but no one does them straight like that. I have made keel versions, four fins, twins – they all work. I started doing them back in the early ‘90s as handles for a surfer doing the Quik air shows and they helped with breakage as well – they put more strength in the rails. When he surfed it he said it pumped up speed so fast. I made them for some other team guys and they all said the same. Works best in short, wide planeshapes, I think it cancels out the bottom and plane shape curves.”
To be honest, me surfing and reviewing this board feels a little like somebody using a Stradivarius to hammer nails. A gross misuse of craftsmanship.
I’m also riding it as a thruster when I really feel like it should be a twin with trailer. But who the fuck still has FCS 1 twins nowadays?
Damn thing hooks regardless. To me it feels similar to a standard channel bottom – incredible on a clean face, but doesnt like the soup. The drive it maintains through turns is outrageous.
But it can also randomly buck you off without a moment’s notice, punishing any minor misstep or re-weighting through a turn, of which I’m responsible for plenty.
Here’s the limerick that runs through my head everytime I surf it.
There was a young man who said, damn! I perceive with regret that I am A creature that moves In determinate grooves I’m not even a bus, I’m a tram
Still but. $50!
Did I tell you it was $50?
It’s a buyer’s market, I’m telling ya.
Surfers grow increasingly frustrated with leading surf forecaster’s unimaginative “super swell” monikers, turn to serial killers for inspiration!
Surfers around the globe were treated to a “super swell” during the almost wrapped week. A “pumping” south lashed French Polynesia, the Hawaiian Islands, even California with powerful waves and much fun though smiles turned into frowns when the realization sunk in that leading surf forecaster Surfline, official partner of the World Surf League, had officially dubbed the event “Code Red II.”
The original “Code Red” swell occurred in 2011 but even then the moniker seemed… unimaginative. This second time around it feels downright stupid.
David Lee Scales and I discussed, anyhow, on today’s chat and he brought up the wonderful point that serial killers never have banal names.
Jack the Ripper, The Nightstalker, The Zodiac Killer, The Grim Sleeper, Dr. Death, John Wayne Gacy Jr. etc.
The list goes on and on and on and how do malevolent psychopaths get to carry such poetry while super swells are forced to stagger under the weight of dumb?
It is obviously Surfline’s fault and we must do better to coin a name for the next one before those bromidic bros get their way.
David Lee and I also kicked around the idea of steel trap memories, as they relate to Kelly Slater
Enjoy now or later.
Florida wave prospectors develop “crazy eye,” expect new plunger-powered Tampa Bay surf park to exceed $50 million in revenue per year!
“Surfing is truly just the start of what we’re hoping to build here.”
The promise of two wave tanks in every town and a chicken in every pot has not materialized the way rabid surfers might have hoped. Surf Ranches, Surf Lakes and Wavegardens are still relatively far and few between but that reality has not dampened the lofty expectations of developers who continue to feel extremely bullish about manmade juice.
Take, for example, the proposed Tampa Bay wonderland set to open near Tampa Bay in 2025 that will utilize the aforementioned Surf Lakes’ patented rusty plunger technology. Per a just-released report:
The 30-acre amenity, an adventure park that can simulate ocean waves, is being developed by Tony Miller, with assistance from Hotel & Leisure Advisors — a hospitality consultancy whose clients include Crystal Lagoons Corp. and Great Wolf Resorts Inc. According to a news release, the project could generate $50 million in revenue in its first year of operation, in addition to creating 700 jobs.
The facility’s features, according to the release, could also include pristine beaches, concert and event venues, bars and restaurants, retailers, education and business facilities, fitness and wellness amenities, and more.
“Beyond tapping into the widespread surf culture and introducing a destination to the Tampa Bay area that will draw interest from all over the world, we’re creating a shared experience that every single member of this community will benefit from in some way,” Miller states in the release. “Surfing is truly just the start of what we’re hoping to build here.”
$50 million bucks a year is nothing to sneeze at but do you think our lifestyle and its adjacents is filled with that much lucre?
A blue rush just over the horizon?
Cheeseburger in paradise.
Movie-star handsome Ben Gravy big winner in ultra-cancellable Men’s Journal’s summer “Amazon Surfboards Under $600” guide!
Men’s Journal, which must be on the verge of cancellation with its gender exclusive title, just released its coveted “10 Best Surfboards on Amazon Under $600” guide doubling down on erasure. Amazon, the consumerist behemoth, is, theoretically, on the block too what with slave wages and slave hours for hundreds of thousands of employees but bedfellows etc. and let us examine the 10 Best Surfboards on Amazon Under $600 guide in depth.
Wavestorm, a Costco sensation, is obviously near the top with Men’s Journal raving about the 8′ model, “This is a classic surfboard to learn how to get started on. A durable design makes this a good pickup for the newbs out there.”
“Newbs” an internet version of “VALs.”
The “classic” is followed up by Wavestorm’s 15th anniversary edition, also 8′ and also in landfill ready foam. It has “a fun new design to make you stand out from the pack when you’re out there putting the work in.”
The Catch Surf Odysea 54″ special tri-fin is for those ready to take the next step. “The more comfortable you get, the more you’re gonna want to challenge those waves. Hit them with a good amount of speed.”
But the clear winner of the whole shootin’ match is one Benjamin Franklin Graeff better known to you and me as Ben Gravy.
Gravy’s Wave Bandit gets highest praise of all based on the fact that it is his board. Star power. The distinctive pineapple skull head with sunglasses soft top swings in at $350 on Amazon and have you ever seen one in the wild?
I did just yesterday. Its owner seemed to enjoy paddling in place very near shore.
But back to Men’s Journal. What will its name be when forced to abandon “Men?”