Jon Pyzel and John John Florence, surfboard shaper and surfboard rider.
Jon Pyzel, transcendentally sexy surfboard shaper and his famous teamrider Johnny Boy Florence.

Why your Next Surfboard Should Come With An Instruction Manual

Come jump onto the lap of Mr Jon Pyzel and let’s jam on the complexity of design and how you should approach your new board (warily!)… 

I’ve learned by now that unless a surfboard conforms to a set of very narrow, and specific, strictures, I’m screwed. It’s gotta be five ten or six-o, wider than the norm but thinner than recommended, almost no entry rocker, a dirty big straight section through the guts, and a pretty wild kick in the tail.

Outline-wise, I like curves. I get my speed from the rocker.

If I get a board from a new shaper and he deviates from the formula, I’ll surf it on one wave, maybe two, then throw a For Sale sign on it. It’s not that I won’t try, I just don’t…know…what to do.

Sweet spots are sweet if you can find ‘em. If you can’t, surfing becomes tedious, difficult, impossible.

Which is why I lit up Jon Pyzel, John John Florence’s shaper since the champ was five. I wanted a shaper’s angle on how we should approach different boards purely on technique. It’s true that kids should come with an instructional manual. Surfboards ain’t any different.

Here’s how it would work in my perfect world.

You’d buy your model, Medina, Rad Ripper, Ghost, whatever it is, and you get a square of paper, folded six times, that clearly states in diagrams and words where the sweet spot is, how you should apply your stance (is it a fixed-stance sorta board, do you need to roam up and down?) and where the board can and can’t go.

For example, is it a straight-up-into-the-lip sorta shape or a nurse-your-bottom-turn-but-tons-of-down-the-line speed sled?

You’d read, you’d ride and adjust your game accordingly to the manual.

I got more questions, theories for Jon, too.

Let’s clear up a few mysteries.

I’m going to posit something. We all lose our minds over volume but I believe a forgiving rocker can solve a multitude of evils in a board. Tell me your opinion.
Pyzel: Volume is so hot right now! People are getting volume obsessed and overlooking the other aspects of design that make a board less or more user friendly. Yeah, sure, added volume (read floatation) can make a high-performance design more user friendly but as you theorise bottom rocker plays an essential role as well. A flatter rocker equals a faster board while surfing and paddling and is your best friend in average-to-below-average surf (most peoples’ day to day).

And coming from the other angle, a beautiful surfboard (perfect outline, foil, bottom curve, foil etc) can be unrideable to a certain surfer if the rocker is too high-performance.
Pyzel: Unrideable is a strong term but I agree that the lower-level surfer could be losing out on too refined a board. Average drivers don’t drive F-1 race cars to the market, so why would an average surfer choose the F-1 version of a surfboard? Here volume can help. If the surfer is a little better than average, surfing in good waves and trying hard to improve, a bit less rocker (especially up front) and a fuller outline and foil will give you a huge advantage and turn struggle into joy. I can’t tell you how often I paddle by some guy on a “Pro” type board who is not having any fun. I wish I could just hand them the board they need  and change their whole way of looking at surfing.

Now, I want our readers to up their ability. I want ‘em better after this interview. Tell me. How do you ride a high-performance surfboard, a JJ special? And don’t just say y’gotta do turns. Give me specifics, Jon, I know you got the key…
Pyzel: You can have the same characteristics of a pro-level surfboard, sensitivity, carveabilty, quick response  and liveliness, but this brings us back to volume. Everyone can ride the same designs that I am making for John John, but they need to super-size up a bit. Add some width and thickness (how you adjust volume) and you are gonna have a board that paddles better and carries speed easier.

It ain’t as easy as that. God I wish it was.
Pyzel: Of course. And then you have to put in the effort, work on wave selection, wave positioning, keeping the board in the power zone, keeping your weight in the right place, centred, not pushing too much on your front foot and bogging. Yeah, it’s harder but the rewards can be huge too.

Now let’s talk stance. Where the hell do your feet (going fast, doing turns) have to be on…

 a.) A board with a continuous rocker, fair bit of a nose and tail kick.
Pyzel: Centred to back-foot weighted is the best call. Keeping your speed up and pivoting off the tail through turns.

b.) A board with a three-stage rocker, not much nose or tail kick
Pyzel: This type of board allows for a lot of movement and has a large sweet spot so you don’t have to overthink it. Weight forward for speed, step back onto the tail to turn. Just the basics.

 c.) A goddamn super-curved high-performance surfboard…
Pyzel: If I have to tell you where to put your feet, you shouldn’t be riding this board.

The fabulous Terry Fitz famously said, build your style around your surfboard, not the other way around, unless you rip. What do you think?
Pyzel: That is rad! He’s right. If you’re riding a board that is good for you, it’s gonna lead you in the right direction and help you improve. Maybe the best thing you can do is to really take a look at how your board is working for you, paddling and surfing-wise, and see if you can’t imagine something better. Maybe a board that would help improve the chinks in your armour. Are you struggling to catch waves? Do you have trouble keeping speed and making sections? Can you wrap through a smooth cutback without digging rail? Do you want to smash the lip harder and more vert? These are things that a surfboard design can help you with. Don’t keep riding that piece of shit your friend left in your garage two years ago! Goddamn!

Are the old beginner, intermediate, advanced surfer categories outdated? I know intermediate surfers who can rotate, advanced surfers who throw their boards away? Do you think there are better, and more specific, categories? Front-foot, former skater, back-foot-learned-to-surf-in-the-nineties kinda guy?
Pyzel: Surfing is a rainbow of styles, abilities, skill sets and desires. I’m the same as you. I see kooks land airs and rippers doing old-school cutbacks to the beach. There is merit to the beginner, intermediate, advanced categories, but who really even cares? Go surf. Do what feels good. Try to have some style when you do it. Style is always in style.

Average guy, wants to be front foot, but mostly isn’t. Surfs terrible beachbreaks eleven months of the year, three days when it’s six foot and goes to Indo once a year. He’s five-ten, 170 pounds. Describe his quiver.
Pyzel: The Ghost 6’1” x 19.63” x 2.63” x 31.70L round pin, for his Indo trips and when his beachie has a decent bank. He’s gonna get in easy and can push it into the two-times overhead range in clean conditions.  It’ll fly, turn on a dime and hold as hard as he can push.

Voyager 1  6’0” x 19.00” x 2.44” x 28.80L squash,  for the good days at home and the fun-sized days in Indo. High-performace with a touch less entry rocker to keep it flowing. This is JJF’s new shorty he debuted at Snapper.

Stubby Bastard 5’11” x 19.50” x 2.44” x 29.30L squash for your every day board. The volume and width pushed up front, relaxed entry rocker for speed and paddle power, plenty of tail rocker to keep it loose and snappy. High performance with hidden help.

Sure Thing 5’9” x 19.63” x 2.44” x 30.10L double-bump squash with baby channels. The Electralite EPS construction for a great strength-weight ratio and lively feel. For weaker, slower waves or just to liven up a normal session.  Take it to Indo and get loose or make the most out of blown slop at home.

Tell me a secret about surfing technique you’ve learned from your phenomenal team rider.
Pyzel: Never claim

 


Kelly Slater (right) doing nothing suspect yet getting accused of nasty things.
Kelly Slater (right) doing nothing suspect yet getting accused of nasty things.

Surfer Magazine AI robot accuses living legend Kelly Slater of attempted murder

A heavy accusation from the machine.

One of the high points of this still-young year has been the blossoming of a spite tree in Kelly Slater’s heart. The greatest to ever do it, 11 time world champion etc. had seemed lost entering the 2024 World Surf League season. Yes, he had been gifted a special season-long wildcard and didn’t need to win in order to stay on tour but going along/getting along is not in the GOAT’s DNA and he looked… lost. Empty. In need of… something.

As a keen observer of the surfing life, and longtime surf journalist, I knew that he needed spite in order to fly again and so began carrying on about the fifty-six year old never winning a heat again. Planting it deep, watering it daily. I knew it would be hard on him, so also sowed a spite baby, insisting that he was having a girl thereby gifting him a boy.

Now, the scattering of spite is a delicate task, one entrusted to the most noble though Surfer Magazine and its AI-generated robot “writers” don’t understand nuance though do enjoy a good bit of plagiarism and decided to plant spite seeds of their own, accusing Slater of attempted murder.

The piece reads real weird, as artificial intelligence often does, as the robot struggles to describe Slater dropping in behind Ryan Callinan then shooting his board at his head. A heavy accusation and very confusing as to what is supposed to be achieved with this spot of spite?

You can watch the entirely benign tableau here.

Does the machine want Kelly Slater to actually start murdering people?

Very terminator.

Ugh.


Gabriel Medina gives controversial interview.
"Over the years, I worked as a commentator and I was watching the heats and this (strange things) happened to Gabriel Medina a few times where I said. 'What?' said the universally respected BL. "I saw things differently and I always felt like the Brazilians had been robbed and I verbalized what I felt, I said what I thought”.

Pro surfing rocked as anti-Brazilian bias confirmed by Australian world champ and WSL’s own commentator

"I always felt like the Brazilians had been robbed."

There is neither a dam nor sea deep enough to contain the tears of Brazilian surf fans after a decision goes against their favoured sons Gabriel Medina, Italo Ferreira and Filipe Toledo. 

The Brazilian surf fan is the wretched poor crying at the gate, tormented by his losses, shivering with fury, gallons of salty sad.

The complaints are too many to list, of course, although surf fans will remember the death threats thrown at Griffin Colapinto for beating Filipe Toledo in El Salvador and the solemn promise to kill Ethan Ewing after easily despatching Gabriel Medina at Surf Ranch.

And, reluctant to stem the fury, Medina, Ferreira and Toledo are quick to fan the flames even higher, pointed comments on the WSL’s Instagram posts, letters to the judges published on Instagram etc. 

Yesterday, the giant killing rookie Cole Houshmand beat Gabriel Medina, who was fresh of his Olympic-qualifying episode and in electric form. 

Houshmand needed a sixish and gave hell to the running little Winkipop rights, got the score and then some.

In his post-heat interview Gabriel Medina wept,

“Ah, this is funny…this is the worst judging I’ve ever seen,” he told big-wave maven Laura Enever. “It’s bad for the sport, I’ve been through a lot of judging things but I feel like this is the worst one.… we pretend it’s not happening. It’s happening. It’s bad for the sport.

“The last wave was pretty small, I didn’t even paddle… this is sad. yeah, so much… (long sigh) I just feel bad. It sucks.”

Is there really an anti-Brazilian bias in pro surfing?

Filipe Toledo’s two world titles, which were gifted in two-foot waves tailor-made for the notoriously big-wave shy father of two, and Brazilians winning every world title since 2018 would suggest otherwise.

But now!

In a bombshell interview on Brazilian legend Rico De Souza’s channel with the world champion Australian surfer Barton Lynch, the claims are indeed true!

Gabriel Medina…is…persecuted!

“Over the years, I worked as a commentator and I was watching the heats and this (strange things) happened to Gabriel Medina a few times where I said. ‘What?’ said the universally respected BL. “I saw things differently and I always felt like the Brazilians had been robbed and I verbalized what I felt, I said what I thought”.

Also feeding into the conspiracy is the Brazilian-born two-time longboarding champ Phil Rajzman, whom you may’ve seen doin’ chop-hops on his log.

Writing on the WSL’s Instagram page,

The WSL is now executing what has already been done with longboard surfing, a category with less promotion and therefore easier to manipulate… In our case, they began by changing the traditional criteria (defined by the sport’s creators), which valued classic surfing and the sport’s evolution, in favor of “traditional Californian” surfing, which limits the sport to the equipment, maneuvers, and wave conditions surfed in California in the 60s/70s. In this way, they took a big step back in the category’s evolution and automatically eliminated several athletes who do not follow this culture, either due to the type of waves where they were born or because they do not agree with the limitations in the sport.

Next, they took advantage of the pandemic to hold a two-stage circuit in California (Kelly’s pool + Malibu), where athletes needed official letters from the organization to enter the country during the pandemic. However, they did not send me my letter, despite persistent requests more than three months in advance, and I ended up missing out on the circuit that year… After the organization’s “error” was publicly proven, they gave me a wild card the following year, but they did what they did with Medina to remove me from the circuit once again…

I managed to get 2 x 4.7 in the same heat, needing 4.8 😂 In 2023, we did not have a single Brazilian representative on the longboard circuit, while out of the top 16, 10 were Americans… Do you know why? The “California Surf League” closed sponsorship deals with the giant Californian footwear industry of the 60s/70s, which sells this retro Californian longboard lifestyle to the world… From then on, judgments in longboard surfing ended and the results began to align with the commercial interests of the sponsors…

Heady days, yes?

 

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Hawaiian surfers prepare to receive foreign attack after revelation island chain not part of NATO

“It’s the weirdest thing,” says David Santoro, president of the Pacific Forum think tank in Honolulu, who added that even most Hawaii residents have no idea their state is technically adrift of the alliance.

Hawaiian surfers went to sleep last night feeling very similar feelings to those felt the day before and the day before and the day before. Namely, a sense of languid calm. Life, on the islands, moves at its own pace. Wake up, grind some loco moco, check the waves, grind some Spam musubi, check the waves, grind a mai tai, check the waves, go to bed. The sun shines during the day, generally, the wind blows warm, generally, the flowers smell floral, generally, before they are cut, strung and whipped around tourist necks.

Ahhhh.

Well, sorry. Tomorrow might be very different. See: bombs raining down from foreign powers whilst the free world shrugs her shoulders and says, “sorry ’bout it, kingdom.”

Ouchh.

Per CNN:

Sweden became the newest member of NATO earlier this month, joining 31 nations in the security alliance, including the United States. Well, make that 49 of the 50 United States.

Because in a quirk of geography and history, Hawaii is not technically covered by the NATO pact.

If a foreign power attacked Hawaii – say the US Navy’s base at Pearl Harbor or the headquarters of the Indo-Pacific Command northwest of Honolulu – the members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization would not be obligated to rise to the Aloha State’s defense.

“It’s the weirdest thing,” says David Santoro, president of the Pacific Forum think tank in Honolulu, who added that even most Hawaii residents have no idea their state is technically adrift of the alliance.

Heavy.

Slash weird.

And should Hawaiian surf heavies forbid the paddle of every European/American interlopers until Hawaii’s flank is covered?

I’m very much on the side of “yes.”

Ish.

The islands, as mainland Americans often forget, is the only united state to taste foreign rage when imperial Japan drilled Pearl Harbor.

So?

Where you at re. NATO?

Scared?

Well, if yes, you must listen to the latest offering from David Lee Scales and yours truly. Stop your rudeness and just give it a try.


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