Slater (pictured) "ripping." Photo: Instagram
Slater (pictured) "ripping." Photo: Instagram

Surf greats Kelly Slater, Shane Dorian lovingly satirize mid-length surfboard in must-see spoof!

Kings of Comedy.

One of the finer trends of the last few years has been the rise of the mid-length surfboard. Once relegated to the unseemly community of eggs and fun boards, the mid climbed out on its own thanks to the likes of Devon Howard and Torren Martyn who have demonstrated the gorgeous flow and glide of the 6’10 to 7’8 set.

Leave it, then, to the greatest surfer of all-time, and under-appreciated satirist, Kelly Slater to skewer the trend in a must-see new clip.

The 11-time World Champion can be seen wiggling and waggling down the line of a wave he would never ride all, seemingly, in mockery.

Slater’s dismissive interview, “guessing” that the board is a mid-length is the cherry on top of a perfect spoof.

The Momentum Generation star and surfing trailblazer Shane Dorian then takes a turn on an absolutely hilarious left.

Kings of Comedy.

Even with the skewering, I must say I am still a massive mid fan, a gorgeous CI changing my life. A life, I suppose, deserving of mockery.

Was the above clip a long-awaited diss track?

Hope springs.

Tales of a lonely rapper.
Tales of a lonely rapper.

“Drake of surf journalism” still waiting for response to decades old diss articles

Where you at, Sam George?

It is impossible, today, to escape news of the quickly escalating hip hop war civil war pitting the biggest names against each other in all out mortal combat. For surf fans aware of the landscape, but confused, I offer a short primer. Drake, who hails from Toronto and why he named himself the 6 God (due area code), and Kendrick Lamar, who calls Compton home, have had long simmering, though genteel strife. All that changed when, in March, Lamar provided guest vocals on a track that was critical of Aubrey Graham (Drake’s given name).

The gloves came off and everybody from Rick Ross to Travis Scott to Suge Knight piled on Drake who, days ago, fired back using artificially intelligent 2 Pac and Snoop Dogg in the ditty Taylor Made Freestyle.

Now, I’ll be honest. Before today I was aware that rap battles existed though never followed one closely in real time. The genius of the actors involved in this current civil war, thus, cannot be overstated. Barbs flying from camp to camp. Millions upon millions of looky-loos becoming involved, listening, picking sides etc.

Mass engagement.

Peak entertainment.

Stupid surfing.

Since I first dawned surf journalism’s door, back in 2004, I have tried to make rap-style beef with any or everyone in order to spruce up our otherwise staid amphitheater. Mick Fanning, Michael Rodrigues, the entire protectorate of Puerto Rico, The Inertia’s Zach Weisberg and staff, the World Surf League’s Erik Logan plus others, Ashton Goggans, Surfer Magazine’s AI assistant “Jake Howard” just to name the ones I can remember at breakfast.

What slams have I received in return?

Fanning decided to step up to the mic and while his initial diss response was spicy, he chased with the entirely weak follow up rhyme, “I acknowledge that my decision to use words that were inappropriate — albeit in an attempt to be ironic, knowing they were of the type favoured by the magazine — was misjudged and wrong.”

Ashton Goggans called the cops.

And that is it.

Any and everyone else somehow thinking public fighting is undignified and immature. In poor taste. Etc.

Surfing remaining an odd backwater growing increasingly stagnant with chill vibes ruling.


Where you at, Sam George?

Kelly Slater, Telluride
Kelly Slater, almost an heir to half of Telluride, net value in the billions.

Kelly Slater reveals the fateful real estate decision that cost his family billions but transformed surfing in new tell-all interview

"Our destiny, our fate, was to be at the beach."

Fresh off retiring for the twenty-seventh time, Kelly Slater, who finished the regular season equal last with Deivid Silva, has given a tell-all interview to the 1988 world champ Barton Lynch. 

The stories, the quotes, the anecdotes are as rich as you might imagine when two men who’ve known and trusted each other of thirty-five years meet with loose tongues and time on their hands. 

To know where to begin with faced with the treasure trove which is Kelly Slater’s remarkable life is difficult. 

He is born to a one-eyed fisherman-surfer Dad, an alcoholic, who rode switch on lefts so he could see the face of the wave and a Mom, who’s been married before, who works at NASA. They live at Coco Beach in the shadow of what used to be the world’s greatest space program. 

How the Slaters ended up in Coco Beach, Florida, is the most remarkable of all the stories. His Mama Judy tells him that her and Daddy Stephen Slater were driving through the ski town of Telluride, Colorado, in the late sixties and were…this…close to buying half the town for two hundred gees and setting up a mountain lifestyle. 

These days, Telluride is the home of the rich, the famous, the beautiful. Tom Cruise sold his ranch there for forty mill, and ten, twenty, thirty mill for a house or ranch, don’t surprise anyone in those parts. It’s been described as a “crucible of billionaires and ski bums.”

“My Mom told my Dad, let’s move to the mountains and live in the snow,” says Kelly Slater. “My Dad was, like, no, I want to be at the beach. So, I mean, if we owned half of Telluride we’re probably be billionaires at this point.”

“Well, you’d be a snowboarder,” says Barton. 

“Probably be a skier, you know, back then and maybe I’d understand the snow and the mountains the way I do the ocean. But our destiny, our fate, was to be at the beach. My Dad wanted to camp and fish and hang out at the beach and have a beer with the boys. So we ended up the beach and I wouldn’t change a thing.” 

An essential two hours. 

Tyler Wright, layback, Margaret River Pro .
Somehow, Tyler Wright transforms what should be a radical turn into a whippy little spinny thing. Tyler’s version never seems to land too close to the pocket. It’s like a top turn trying to be something more interesting in the same way a writer might try to use bigger words to look smarter. It’s easy to see through the lie.

Is the WSL trying to kill women’s pro surfing?

"If people who actually like surfing get bored and wander off, maybe it’s time to rethink the thing."

I have a stupidly short attention span. This makes me extremely fun on roadtrips. Are we there yet? What if we just decided that here was good enough?

Recently, for example, I drove to San Clemente and back in a single day. I did not enjoy it. I sat parked on the PCH, stared at the shuttered Boardriders store at Topanga, and wondered what the hell I was doing.

Sometimes, things take far too long, is what I’m saying. Sometimes, I am not that patient at all.

This has both nothing and everything to do with contest surfing. The way the Championship Tour works now involves a whole lot of waiting. There we are, grinding along through opening rounds in small, inconsistent surf. It’s rarely that interesting.

Try to watch heats live, and there’s more ad breaks than waves ridden, and most of the waves are shown on delay. Watching the replay the next day feels more live than the live show. Also, there’s only two ad breaks on the replay. I try to find joy in unexpected places.

All of that waiting and patience, two skills in which I don’t excel, is to hopefully someday make it to the promised land of finals day. That’s the thing that’s supposed to make this whole trip worthwhile. Sometimes, it even works. It might be nice, though, if a few more roadside attractions popped up along the way.

By the time finals day came around, I felt pretty sure that the comp at Margaret River had lasted the entire year. Pipeline? Oh, that was five years ago. Like driving the 405, time had lost all meaning.

But at last on Sunday in West Australia, finals day arrived just in time on the last day of the waiting period. No hate here, I believe in procrastination. I am a writer. Game recognizes game.

On Sunday Kaua’i girl Gabriela Bryan won her first ever CT event after beating Sawyer Lindblad in the final. She also rocketed up the rankings to slide into the top five. It might look like a surprise result, but Gabriela’s been making heats consistently and she was the only rookie her year to make the cut. It was only a matter of time.

If you didn’t know what a perfect layback should look like, John John showed how it’s done in his semi against George Pittar. Rail engaged. Body extended. Deep in the pocket. This is how you do it. Why am I talking about John John? Because once you’ve watched John do that turn, you can’t possibly bear to watch Tyler do it. It’s, like, so painful.

In the quarterfinals, Tyler surfed a clean, if not especially inspired heat to beat Caity. To be clear, Tyler deserved to win it. But that layback, man. She used it twice in that heat and the judges rewarded it both times.

Somehow, Tyler transforms what should be a radical turn into a whippy little spinny thing. Tyler’s version never seems to land too close to the pocket. It’s like a top turn trying to be something more interesting in the same way a writer might try to use bigger words to look smarter. It’s easy to see through the lie.

At the moment, the judging panel does not seem to reward variety. Or at least, they don’t punish repetition. It’s possible to win heats, even very important heats, doing the same turn over and over. I don’t think I’m being super controversial here if I say that this is not super exciting to watch.

It also seems to go against the whole point of the thing. At its heart, surfing is creative self-expression. The Championship Tour should showcase the best surfers in the world. Surely, the best in the world can muster up more than one turn at a time. I know I am impatient and bad at all kinds of things, but I don’t think this is too much to ask.

Tyler may have sold the judges on her layback, but Caity also made it easy for her. Caity’s inconsistency as a heat surfer is her weakness — and maybe her only weakness. In her quarterfinal against Tyler she fell on two scoring waves and left points on the table.

On her opening ride, Caity’s extra carves and wiggles made her look indecisive rather than stylish. The judges like smooth polish and Caity didn’t convince them. Despite her loss to Tyler, Caity’s still world number one. And she has plenty of time to shapeshift her dynamic, expressive surfing to fit what the judges want to see. I just hope that procees doesn’t kill the spark that gives Caity’s best surfing its magic.

In fact, Caity’s not alone in this dilemma, and the heat between Brisa and Molly had a similar quality. Brisa brought a fairly straightforward approach to the table, and she looked steady and controlled. The judges liked it. Her power and her tidy, carving turns have kept Brisa above the cut line this season and vaulted her into the top five. It’s a notable shift from last year when she missed the cut.

By contrast, Molly desperately wanted a big section to bash. That’s where she thrives. Out on the face at Margarets, she looked ragged around the edges. The thing about Molly is, she’s figured out the hard stuff in surfing first. She got a frickin’ 10 at Pipe. She can smash the hell out of giant sections at Sunset. Now she has to perfect the nitty-gritty details.

My favorite surfer of the day had to be Sawyer. She ripped it out there. Her solid backhand is doing an excellent job of memoryholing that bobble-headed paddle interference she had at Sunset. She’s animated and feisty. Who the heck wears a springy at Margs? Sawyer does. During her semi against Tyler, she nailed a legit hammer on the end section.

After beating Tyler, Sawyer made her first ever CT final. At Bells, she made the quarters for the first time. The San Clemente girl is starting to find her rhythm with this whole CT thing, and she flung herself over the cut line. In the process, she sent 12-year CT veteran Lakey Peterson to the Challenger Series.

In the final, Gabriela went on two waves early, but couldn’t find a score. Sawyer came out swinging and took an early lead with a mid-six on her opening ride. Gabriela could only find a five to answer, and it wasn’t until around the twenty-minute mark that she began to swing the heat.

Dancing with dolphins, Gabriela turned a two-turn wonder into a 7.83. Her first turn hooked deep into the pocket. An arcing bottom turn set her up perfectly for a closeout bash. Gabriela’s strength and short-legged stance allow her to pull her turns in tightly. At a time when the judge’s have fallen back in love with power turns, her surfing’s like catnip to them.

With ten minutes to go, Sawyer came close to retaking the lead. She needed a 7.44, a tall order with the onshore building. On a mid-sized set wave, she bashed out two solid hits and rode out some weird Margs double-up shit on the inside. The score, a 7.27 came heartbreakingly close. Not enough.

Inside the final minutes, Gabriela slammed it shut with an 8.10. The score mostly came from a heavy closeout hit, but it felt like the judges had painted themselves into a corner on this one. They’d been paying two-turn waves all heat. They’d already thrown high 7’s. There was nowhere left to go but up. Gabriela rightly won this one, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Sawyer get hers soon.

We’ve got about a month until the tiny post-cut women’s field heads to Tahiti. You have already heard my views on the cut and how bad it is for women’s surfing.

I will not bore you with that sort of thing again here.

Ten women. That’s fucking absurd.

I like to be optimistic, sometimes.

And in that mode, I would like to hope that the new CEO takes a hard look at the product his little sports league is offering. It is, I would argue, not the showcase the athletes’ talent deserves nor is it especially entertaining to watch most of the time. If people who actually like surfing get bored and wander off, maybe it’s time to rethink the thing.

In the meantime, I’ll just be over here trying to stay awake in traffic.

Geoff McCoy and Barry Kanaiaupuni
Geoff McCoy and Hawaiian great Barry Kanaiaupuni.

Legendary surfboard designer Geoff McCoy, “creative, intense, cocksure”, dead at seventy-nine

“The most dominant force in surfing around the world…”

They sure don’t make ‘em like ol Geoff McCoy anymore and maybe there’ll never be another like him. A child of the fifties and sixties, a man of the seventies and eighties, unsullied by the viruses of the modern world.

The legendary surfboard shaper and designer whose no-nose concept paved the way, at least partly, for the modern thruster outline has died in Tasmania, aged seventy-six.

Geoff McCoy, described so poetically by Matt Warshaw as “creative, intense, cocksure” is best-known for his Lazor Zap design, a tear-drop shaped surfboard with a big ass and a needle dick that Cheyne Horan rode to consecutive world title runner-up finishes in 1981 and 1982.

Again, from Warshaw:

Geoff McCoy’s Lazor Zap surfboard design—generically called the “no-nose—looked incredibly sexy and futuristic, but was skittish and high-floating and drive-free and more or less impossible to ride unless you were Cheyne Horan. Harder to surf than a twin-fin? Difficult to say. Pick your poison. The twin-fin was like riding a bar of soap, the Lazor Zap was like riding an air-mattress pumped up to 75 PSI. Anyway, it didn’t matter. Saint Simon of Narrabeen mooted this no-win choice in 1981 by introducing the Thruster, and in its protean glory the tri-fin remains the sport’s board of choice. We were saved. 

Through the late seventies and early eighties, McCoy surfboards was killing it, a Lost, a Channel Islands, selling his boards worldwide.

In 1984, McCoy lost everything when a biz manager split leaving him with almost half-a-million dollars in debt.

“He then retreated to Byron Bay, his faith in humanity deeply dented. At that time it seemed to him that many people were happy to see this great man fall; maybe they could gain a foothold now that he was down.”

McCoy never recovered from the setback, at least financially, and drew a narrative that he was being crushed by the “industry”, although he continued to shape in his little factory there in Tweed Heads. 

Apart from the Lazor Zap, you could buy a  Quazor Zip, an Astron Hot or a Nugget.