This extreme sport community, our surfing, skateboarding, snowboarding etc. is small by any standard. Those here who grew up hustling to the beach, building plywood mini-ramps in driveways, clipping tickets under icy skies have experienced a very similar thrill and likely played across all fields.
And, so, surfing mourns alongside snow and moto today in the revelation of Ken Block’s unexpected death, killed in a snowmobile accident near his Woodland, Utah, home.
The 55-year-old was integral to our space, competing as a pro skateboarder and snowboarder and co-founding DC shoes before going on to mass motosport fame.
He was a legend, bigger than life, making his shock death, hours ago, that much greater.
I knew Ken a little bit through the wife.
We went snowboarding in Japan together on a family trip, one winter, and he was funny, engaging, a wonderful father. My young daughter was immediately drawn to him and he’d pick her up, flip her in the air, give her a taste of that extreme life.
It’s gut-wrenching to think of his family now.
How does one even begin to process utter tragedy? To have a gaping hole so violently ripped into the fabric without warning? There’s some small consolation, I suppose, in the aforementioned smallness of our community.
The family nature, and mourning, of a shared bond.
In unexpected scholastic smack, world’s most recognized surfer Kelly Slater tops list of words or phrases that should be “banished” in 2023!
It is, officially, time to put the old out and bring the new in. To forget the things that annoyed, bothered, were otherwise lame and embrace the fresh and untainted. Thankfully, the faculty of Lake Superior State University in Michigan take it upon themselves to publish a list, annually, of words or phrases that should be banished from the English language.
This year, though, surfers were shocked to find the eleven-time world champion Kelly Slater’s name included at the very tippy top as “GOAT” was, apparently, the most misused, overused or useless.
“The singularity of ‘greatest of all time’ cannot happen, no way, no how. And instead of being selectively administered, it’s readily conferred,” said Peter Szatmary, a spokesperson for Lake State.
(In the spirit of full disclosure, a review of NPR transcripts revealed at least 17 candidates for the “greatest of all time” on our air in 2022 alone, including soccer players Pelé, Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona, the long-distance runner Eliud Kipchoge, the U.S. track Olympian Allyson Felix, the women’s tennis star Serena Williams alongside a trio of her male colleagues Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, the quarterback Tom Brady, the hockey player Wayne Gretzky, NBA standouts Michael Jordan, Lebron James and Bill Russell, the surfer Kelly Slater, the video game Elden Ring and a Pakistani goat with very long ears.)
Lake State’s faculty judges would likely argue that was too many people (and non-people) described as “the greatest of all time.” “Words and terms matter. Or at least they should,” Szatmary said.
Ouch but very sensible.
Slater’s name appeared, here, some 178 times in headlines alone, in 2022 and we might all agree that it was enough but still. It is rare that surfers, surfing, surf make it into the lamestream conversation. To have it in the number one slot of things that need to be banished is… sad.
Following “GOAT,” in any case, were:
2. Inflection point
3. Quiet quitting
5. Moving forward
7. Does that make sense?
10. It is what it is
Left off were “vectors” leaving World Surf League CEO Erik Logan quietly fist pumping.
Also “hand jam.”
Joe Turpel equally psyching.
Historian skewers Australia’s wild “surf-misogyny” in search for forgotten female champion, “She is the most overlooked and hardest-done-by surfer in the sport’s history!”
"At 15, just after winning her first national title, Trim was asked to pose naked, on her back, beneath a surfboard, for a full-page magazine ad."
Nat Young’s SURFER Magazine report on the 1969 Australian National Titles, a five-round marathon held that year in Western Australia, mostly at Margaret River, skips completely over the women’s event and doesn’t even bother to post the final results.
(For the record: Josette Largardare won, followed by Nola Shepherd. We’ll skip the men’s.)
Is it fair to make Young the exemplar of shitty treatment of women surfers during this period? Probably not.
For all that Young built his surfing career on arrogance and bluster and overwhelming force (Bob McTavish described him as “Australia’s answer to Bismark,” and Young’s 1998 autobiography was shyly titled Nat’s Nat and That’s That), he has also proven to be open to change and progress and reinvention. Church of the Open Sky (2019), Young’s second autobiography, finds him in a spotlight-sharing mood, with much love and attention going to his wife and daughter.
On the other hand, from the mid-’60s to the early ’70s the Australian surfing universe revolved around Young like planets around the sun, and if American default position with regard to women’s surfing was to ignore it, the Aussie way to ignore and debase it in equal measure, and Young was certainly on point there—the opening chapter of Nat’s Nat contains a wistful look back at the gang-banging he and his Collaroy Surf Club friends did on the regular with a school-age girl Young identifies as “the Grunter.” Aussie surf-misogyny was truly in a league alone.
Much work remains to be done in simply taking full measure of the injustices, large and small, heaped upon female surfers over the years.
But at the same time, and without reducing or distracting from that injustice, surf history needs to swing its attention to the fact that, barriers and all, women went surfing, and loved it, and that some gifted few—then, as today—were incredibly good at it.
The history they made was barely broadcast at the time, or not broadcast at all. The skill and flair they brought to the game went mostly undocumented. The sport is paying for this still, and will be for a long while.
The mark left on surfing by women in the 1960s and ’70s in many ways consists of the mark left upon them—or, rather, the erasure.
(2020’s Girls Can’t Surf jumped the queue in that it presents the second chapter of a struggle that was engaged two generations earlier. No fault to the Girls producers, though, because good luck finding enough photos and movie clips of women surfers from the ’60s and ’70s to fill out a feature-length documentary.)
So how do we erase the erasure?
More to the point, how do we raise up and salute Judy Trim?
This is not a rhetorical question. I’m asking as a gatekeeper of surf history who is amazed and slightly panicked at the lack of source material available to fill out a basic Encyclopedia of Surfing page for Trim, two-time Aussie National Champion and three-time qualifier for the World Championships, and possibly the most overlooked and hardest-done-by surfer in the sport’s history.
Nearly everything I have on Trim bends toward indignity. At 15-years-old, just after winning her first national title, Trim was asked to pose naked, on her back, beneath a surfboard, for a full-page magazine ad. She refused, another girl took the job, and Trim claimed that was the end of her board sponsorship.
In 1968, Trim, as the reigning Australian champion, was invited to the World Championships in Puerto Rico. The two top-ranked Aussie men (Nat Young and Midget Farrelly) both had all travel expenses covered. Trim was left to wrangle the funds herself, and the round-trip fare from Sydney to San Juan was steep.
The Aussie team flew off without her. Margo Godfrey, another 15-year-old regularfoot phenom, won the contest—nobody in Puerto Rico was close. Trim would have given Margo a run for the title.
1972, same thing. World title invite extended. No money to pay for the trip. Except by this time Judy had come out as gay, meaning the sport had even less time or interest in her. Trim hung around competitive surfing for another two years, but by 1975, at age 22, she was done, and with the creation of world tour pro surfing about monopolize the conversation for the rest of the decade and into the ’80s, Trim was forgotten before she’d even had a chance to dry off.
So there’s my a grim and depressing little sketch of Judy Trim, and that’s exactly what I’m talking about.
It’s so lopsided. Trim’s story, as told, is important.
But it is also incomplete and buried in grievance and I don’t have the material to go any further, which in a way perpetuates the rip-off. I can’t find a description, anywhere, for example, of how Trim actually surfed. I have zero film footage of her, and just two action photos, both duds.
She was tall and blond, with big front teeth and an easy smile, and I gather from some of the Facebook comments posted after her death, in 2018 (she was 64; cause of death is unclear, but her post-surfing life was checkerboarded with drugs, alcohol, and recovery) that Judy was outgoing, loyal, funny, and smart-mouthed.
How to define Trim more on her own terms, rather than what was visited upon her?
Again, not rhetorical.
Any photos out there?
Did you ever surf Did you ever surf with Trim, or watch her surf, or know somebody that watched her surf?
How good was she; what made her stand out?
From the Facebook comments, I know there was joy and flash and stoke in Trim’s surf life, and that should be given equal time, at least, with the cultural beatdowns.
The World Surf League had an undeniably wonderful year, save asterisks hung on both its male shortboarding and longboarding champions. Wild growth, crazy uptick in partnership vectors, eight million people, and counting, still tuning in to catch September’s Finals Day, but the most colorful feather in that cap is the many social strides made on various social fronts.
Equality, inclusion, recognition, ally-ship, love wins.
Only the hardest of hearts could not stand and applaud but apparently this sort of approach is poison for the bottom line for just this morning Fox News has published an exhaustive list of “liberal books, movies, TV that bombed in 2022.”
Amongst the alleged casualties, Disney’s Strange World, featuring the first openly LGBTQ+ which had a $180 million budget and only made $24 million, the gay rom-com Bros which made maybe nothing, political firebrand Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s climate change documentary which, according to Fox, made $80, amongst many others.
Christian Toto, editor of HollywoodinToto.com, said entertainment projects with “woke” themes tend to turn away audiences.
“The American public is increasingly aware of ‘woke’ Hollywood projects and often steers clear of them. The examples from 2022 include ‘Strange World,’ ‘Lightyear,’ ‘Bros’ and ‘Amsterdam,’” he said.
Netflix and Hulu also canceled “woke shows” and defended comedians that have been attacked by progressives.
“Hulu canceled its original series, literally named ‘Woke,’ after just two seasons. Netflix nixed an animated series based on Ibram X. Kendi’s ‘Anti-Racist Baby’ book. The streaming giant similarly stood up for unwoke comedians like Dave Chappelle and Ricky Gervais, understanding their robust ratings dwarf the attacks on them,” he pointed out.
Will this string of un-fortune dampen World Surf League financier Dirk Ziff’s passion for doing the right thing?
Surf fans were left reeling, no, retching, on New Year’ Eve after Australia’s greatest ever surfer, the four-time world champion Mark Richards, posted photos of what was subsequently described by the great Jedaum Smith as his “ragingly infected puss-filled back.”
One month into my Shingles outbreak on my back, hip & stomach.
Only a couple of the blister scabs still to heal but I still have the constant burning, itching, numbness & stabbing pain.
Unfortunately i’ve ended up with PHN where even though the skin is nearly healed you are still left with the constant nerve pain which can last for weeks, apparently months in some cases. The pain is constant but at times it can be excruciating.
I’ve been out the water all December & with the amount of pain I’m still experiencing around my stomach I doubt I could lay on a board & paddle.
I’ve been cranky with myself for not taking more notice of the Health department ads on TV warning of the risk of Shingles when your in your 60’s, Stupidly I had barely glanced at them.
I’ve posted my Shingles recovery experience as I’ve had so many enquires on my progress. Also as a warning to talk to your Doctor about it on your next visit. It’s definitely not something to take lightly !!!