Ain’t That Swell’s Vaughan Blakey and Jed Smith dagger fingernails down Newcastle surfing’s spine in stunning new documentary!

"A glorious madhouse full of absolute lunatics… "

An oddly electric moment yesterday during Newcastle surfer Ryan Callinan’s post-heat presser.

As the camera swept over the crowd, the viewer’s attention was drawn to the heroic profile of Vaughan Blakey, brother of commentator Ronnie and one half of the long-running Ain’t That Swell broadcast team, squawking ecstatically, as if he wanted to seize Ryan in his arms and pull him down between his thighs.

This documentary by Vaughan and his ATS co-host Jed Smith celebrates what Vaughan describes as “the skitz energy of this town and why people from here are legends. It’s a glorious madhouse full of absolute lunatics but they’re all down to earth, really good people. Nowhere like it.”

Plenty of whiz and fluff and bludgeon strokes of Vaughan’s sucker ding dong.

Newport beachgoers flabbergasted at legendary Hawaiian aristocrat cavorting in fat cones!

Classic supersonic Mason Ho… 

In this, the two hundred and seventy-fifth instalment of Mason Ho’s winter and spring, our innards are yanked out by Mason’s capacity to sit cosily inside Newport’s The Wedge as if it was a luxurious lodge and he was warming himself in front of a fireplace.

“The thing with style,” says Mason, “is that style truly does come out when you don’t give a fuck. Right when you truly don’t give a shit what your surfing looks like, that’s when some sort of style comes out. As soon as you let go of everything, you’re styling. When I was growing up, I copied all of my favourite guys but I was never as good as them. Once I got the theory down and stripped it back…boom…finally…something came out. There was some style. Finally…”

Big-wave world champ Billy Kemper finds absolution after the multiple tragedies, Erik Logan’s tears and a busted pelvis in final episode of ‘Billy’!

The tear-jerking conclusion of a wonderful six-part series… 

In the struggle and turmoil that agitate the USA today, Billy Kemper seems to belong to a remote and silent past.

Kemper, almost thirty-one, a four-time Jaws winner and the 2015 Big-Wave world champion, is a nobleman of the old school where struggle is hidden in some remote world of quiet contemplation.

You know the story, of course, or you should by now.

Billy is belted to within an inch of his life at a Moroccan ledge right at the start of the COVID pandemic, the hospital there don’t know what they’re doing, wrong drugs are administered, humiliating episodes of diarrhoea and so on, and so WSL Erik Logan moves heaven and hell to get him back to the US.

“Gonna bring you home, Billy,” Logan, an executive producer on the series whispers to Billy in episode three. 

There follows much rehabilitation, which includes cameos by Laird Hamilton and Gabby Reece, and, today, his return to Jaws.

It ain’t the best episode, if we’re to be frank, but it still meets with high approval.

Former world number four surfer famous for his “go-for-broke” style details battle with loneliness and a bitterness that threatened to eat him alive: “They have an eagerness that I can’t relate to… full of energy and zest for life!”

"And they have friends. Friends they give surf reports to. Friends they surf with, and they laugh with each other and they surround me with their youthful exuberance."

In this, the tenth episode of Dane Reynolds’ newly launched vlog Chapter11 we find Reynolds, a former world number four surfer famous for his “go-for-broke” style lancing a bitterness that threatened to eat him alive.

Hard to imagine, yes?

The still-best-surfer-in-the-world’s homeostasis upset by the arrival of a younger, prettier, more popular and more energetic man?

Reynolds writes,

I used to hate Jake.

It was no fault of his own I was just being an asshole.

So here’s what happens – Every bright eye’d young kid with an NSSA win under their belt and a sticker on their nose eventually gets a drivers license and graduates high school and if they’re lucky enough to be earning a buck off said sticker they likely have no college or job or other responsibilities and are at the beach every goddamn day.

And they have friends. Friends they give surf reports to. Friends they surf with, and they laugh with each other and they surround me with their youthful exuberance.

When Jake was 18 I would have been a 29… just had my first kid, Quiksilver had just gone bankrupt, I was trying to figure out what’s next. Still filming and making a surf movie which would become Chapter 11. My time to surf became scheduled and limited. Clips became harder to capture. Crowds increased.

And there’s Jake. And his friends. At the beach every goddamn day. Full of energy and zest for life.

There’s a pattern with each new crop of kids. They first start showing up when the waves are good and then figuring out swells and wind and when to be at what spot and they have an eagerness that I can’t relate to and I feel like I can’t shake em and we surf the same peak every day and step on each other’s toes trying to do tricks for the camera and i get annoyed…

Then when I finally get to know them I feel like an asshole.

Jake turned out to be a fucken cool kid. As most of em do…

Here’s my highly evolved and mature fresh perspective –

I owe a lot to the older generation of surfers that accepted my group of friends. Virs and Purps would drive us around. Dunk us, burn us, introduce us to filmers and photographers take us to contests. Point out locals, rocks and other hazards. Miss those days. A part of why I wanted to start Chapter 11 tv is to rebuild that sense of fraternity and give the guys that i surf with an outlet as the surf industry evolves and becomes more fickle.

Jake lost his main sponsor last year and is handling it like a champ. He surfs cause he loves it and when there’s no waves he takes jobs as a PA on production sets. No bitterness. That’s something I admire.

And he’s surfing better than ever.

CH | 11 | TV | 010 from CHAPTER 11 TV on Vimeo.

Be wooed, again, by two-time world surfing champion John John Florence in striking ultra-slow motion edit, “I’m serious about the matter of good taste!”

Being a two-time world champion in your field grants one a certain license to naval gaze.

Posting six-and-a0-half minutes of oneself doing anything at 300 frames-per-second might come across as a bit self-indulgent, but then again what’s social media for if not a bit of narcissistic self-aggrandisement?

And being a two-time world champion in your field must grant one a certain license to naval gaze.

My personal favourite frame is the frame grab that fronts this story, taken at the roughly twenty-five second mark: John (John) turning off the top, working that action-figure swivel waist to sculpt a perfect bowl into the face – nature, body and board combining in perfect unison; poetry in 300fps motion; the gratifying blend of synergy and symmetry.

The flight of a hummingbird.

The leap of a cat.

The ripples on a lake from the first drop of morning rain etc. etc. and so on and so forth.

How does he do it? We know it’s not Spam.

Maybe it’s the adrenalin of a good night’s work updating his LinkedIn profile that gives him the drive to perform.

What can you do that’d be worth filming in 300fps for six and a half minutes?

I’m getting pretty good at flicking dried beans into my neighbour’s pot plants in the building next door. Bean on the nail of the middle finger.

Build tension against the thumb. Lionel Messi himself would weep.