Surf Ranch swings wide its wooden gates in just five days and I would have to imagine there is great joy in Santa Monica. Oh the event is the very least favorite on the World Surf League Championship Tour hated by surfers and surf fans alike and has been a critical failure with ticket prices slashed to near nothing in an attempt to have someone, anyone, come and watch.
Still, much happiness amongst the World Surf League chiefs as the patented Wall of Positive Noise™ grows stronger and stronger and stronger. So strong, in fact, and sturdy that not one ounce of criticism seeps in. A whole separate universe exists behind it. One where Chief of Sport Jessi Miley-Dyer has saved women and Chief of Executives Erik Logan has saved the earth.
In an Instagram message celebrating his great accomplishment of planting a plant, Logan stated, “One of the principles of the @wsl is sustainability. As a global community of surfers, we are working hard to make sure the ocean stays healthy. One way we do that is by replanting and honoring the land so fresh water flows back into the ocean. To be able to be a small part of something that will be here hundreds of years from now was an incredibly humbling experience.”
While many applauded, one loan critic lobbed a devastating insult asking for an offset of the wild amount of air travel the World Surf League creates along with the volume of single use surfboards and called the planting of a plant “virtue signaling at its best.”
The World Surf League Positive Brigade pounced, responding directly with the message, “Thanks for your comment! We are fully committed to our environmental initiatives and realize sport has the power to inspire, engage and set new trends globally. We aim to reduce first and then offset any unavoidable emissions and have been carbon neutral since 2018, including all Championship Tour staff and athlete travel, and have reduced emissions by 49% since our 2018 baseline. If interested, you can learn more at wsloneocean.org.”
Unbent, the Negative Nelly responded, “Thanks for the reply however I don’t see a few plants make a difference. Good luck with your Winkipop viewing platform.”
But if you could, would you live in a world where you believed all of your own lies? Where you could live life one wave at a time whilst making your passion your life?
Larry Bertlemann, left, and four-time world champ Mark Richards, who'd later refine his single-fin Aipa Stings into a winged twin which, as fate would play it, would be reimagined and re-released by Lost decades later. "A full circle," says Duke.
World-first surfboard design that changed the sport in 1975 and made surfing “explosive” returns in much-anticipated collaboration!
"It was one of the biggest bangs in surfing there ever was!"
Can you believe it’s been two years since the legendary Hawaiian shaper Ben Aipa, a man so fierce-looking Gerry Lopez described him thus, “When you see Ben coming, don’t think, just get out of the way” died of multiple illnesses?
Ben, who was seventy-eight, had heart issues, diabetes, dementia and had been hit by myriad strokes.
But what he left behind, apart from two fine sons, Duke and Akila, two arch-craftsman whose own boards are prized by shredders as well as collectors, was a design legacy that sits there in the pantheon alongside Simon Anderson’s thruster.
Y’see, in 1971 Ben invented the swallow tail, or at least refined the early work of Tom Blake and Bob Simmons, his team riders Larry Bertlemann and Michael Ho riding ‘em to such acclaim in a mainland contest by day two of the event the other competitors were cutting swallows into their boards and duck-taping up their mutilated crafts.
That’s design breakthrough one, but not what we came here for. ‘Cause, landing in stores around about now, is a design collab between Duke Aipa and Matt Biolos, Aipa-powered Losts.
A couple of years after the swallow, in 1974, Ben was at a boat race in Hawaii and watched fascinated as a speed boat with a hydroplane hull gave hell to the other boats. Instead of slowing to turn, it would accelerate through the turn, keeping its momentum. Ben was so inspired he spoke to the drivers, learned about its wing and headed straight to the shaping bay.
“My Dad’s process,” says his son Duke, who is forty eight, “is he would finish a blank top and bottom before cutting the outline, rough shape the top, finish shape the bottom. This day he etched in the arc of the wing a third of the way up on one of these almost finished blanks, like a hydro-plane speed boat. He got it under Larry Bertlemann’s feet at Lighthouse in Diamond Head, walked up the hill to get a vantage point to watch and saw that the cut-out allowed the board to react faster. In single fins, the reaction is limited but the wing did the same thing for the surfboard as the hydro-plane boat, it released and pivoted faster.”
Ben was spellbound.
“Larry’s stinging the wave,” he said to himself.
And, so, the Sting, which was later bastardised to stinger by third-parties copying the design, was born.
In the winter of 74/75, Mark Liddell and Buttons Kaluhiokalani were photographed by Warren Bolster standing on the rocks at Kaisers, both holding Aipa stings, Buttons’ sled emblazoned with flames.
By the time the shot made it on the cover of Surfer it was 1976 and the design exploded.
Who didn’t want a board with flames and an Aipa sting?
The sting got toned down as boards shifted to two and three fins, the massive cut-out turned into a little wing near the tail, but the wing lived on.
And, now, “my goal is to see the Sting become a secret weapon on the CT as the ultimate homage to my father,” says Duke.
In 2020, when I heard that Ben was sick, I’d called his other son Akila who grew up with a front-row seat to the North Shore, with his famous, and famously loved Dad. A rare soul connected to surfing’s cultural continuum.
“Yeah, man, well, everyone knows him for his Sting but his greatest contribution was how long he shaped for, how consistent he was, the attention to craftsmanship… there was a level of integrity in his boards for sixty years,” said Akila. “For my brother and I there’s a sense of pride in how we build boards. We carry on the tradition.”
Duke feels it.
“The thing I’m most excited about is it gives us the opportunity to include some surf history into a mainstream popular brand. It ushered in a whole era, a whole movement, it allowed Mark Richards, Mark Liddell, Buttons, Dane Kealoha and Larry Bertlemann to push surfing to another level. It was one of the biggest bangs in performance surfing there ever was. When the Sting came, that’s when guys were going crash, bang, getting experimental, doing carving 360s. Carving 360s! In 1974! On a single fin! I want young people to understand part of their history, because, for surfing, our culture is everything. We’re at a point in surfing where it could potentially get watered down very fast. Wavepools, surfing in the Olympics, all good things, but there’s also a possibility to lose some culture. It’s more than a cool design collaboration. We’re re-making history! It’s going to go viral one more time!”
Fears grow that Malibu may become overexposed after Jay-Z and Beyoncé purchase “most expensive home ever sold in California” on beachfront bluff near First Point!
California has long been known as a land of the uber rich, famous, powerful. From Hollywood’s hills to San Francisco’s hills, Bel Air’s hills to San Diego’s hills, million dollar homes with billion dollar vistas are occupied by the aforementioned lighting Cuban cigars with $100 bills and toasting crystal goblets filled with Dom Perignon.
A fine life.
One of the most exclusive hills, generally guarded by a sense of decorum and hush hush vibes, is the one rising above Malibu and its pristine shore. The gentle climb from water’s edge to high vista is dotted with discreet mansions but maybe the veil of secrecy has finally been lifted.
Megastar power couple Jay-Z and Beyoncé, you see, just purchased a home right up from First Point that is, officially, the most expensive ever sold in California.
The $200 cement monolith, designed by architect master Tadao Ando, sits on an 8-acre bluff and boasts 30,000 feet of usable space. There is a pool, fine views and exclusive access to Billionaires’ Beach.
Exciting but with this new spotlight, the region’s surfers are becoming increasingly worried that their beloved and historical surf break may finally become overcrowded. Weekend mobs descended upon the wave as news of Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s new address, leaving locals kerflummoxed and befuddled. Longtime natives the Brothers Marshall posted a photo of the chaos, wondering if it was a sign of things to come.
2019’s World Surf League champion Italo Ferreira is, deservedly, much loved by the general surf enjoying population. His origin story, learning this Sport of Kings on an esky (or Igloo) lid, his effervescent personality, his ridiculous ability, desire to charge have earned him a place of honor in many hearts from the United States to Australia.
Though with robust appreciation comes many eyes and much attention.
Light parental concern.
Like… what is this?
Are those human thighs?
The left quad seriously looks like an abdomen.
Are you worried?
Is his longtime shaper Timmy Patterson?
Imagine glassing for that.
Lifeguards issue dire warning as Southern California’s Dirty Ol’ Wedge reaches alarming heights: “We beg you, please, this is not the place to learn how to surf!”
It is Wedge season in Southern California. That glorious time of year when a swell direction meets jetty and BOOM! Double, triple, quadruple wave heights just yards away from gaping spectators climbing from winter cocoons all excited and energized. The Newport Beach seasonal landmark was once the sole playground of bodyboarders and bodysurfers. It is now enjoyed by traditional shortboarders as well and the lineup can be extremely chaotic.
With the National Weather Service issuing a “beach hazard statement” and forecasters declaring waves in the 10 to 20 foot range, though, there is great worry that VALs, kooks, sportos, motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wasteoids, dweebies and dickheads will see the fun being had and attempt to join in.
An unnamed surfer told ABC’s Eyewitness Newsthat he’s been surfing the Wedge since he was a teenager but that is not the place to learn. Lifeguards are urging all but the most experienced to stay safely on the beach and clap their hands together as a show of appreciation instead of wading into the carnage themselves.
But when was the last time you did something ill-advised? Do you feel all neutered and tame nowadays? Should we maybe all meet at that dirty ol’ Wedge for a little ol’ timey fun before we fade away?