A fascinating study of a man with everything who still wonders why…
“How did I get here?” wondered eighties band Talking Heads.
Watching this new episode of the WSL’s excellent Sound Waves series, which features Kelly Slater at the Freshwater Pro, his backyard pool, you get the feeling that it don’t matter if a man has a late-model Cadillac, flawlessly tailored ice-cream silk suits and a Kewpie Doll wife with a reddish tan and platinum hair, he will always be beset by feelings of inferiority, anxiety, confusion.
To wit, Kelly Slater.
Eleven titles. Millions of shekels. Sweet girl.
Owns a piece of the world’s most perfect wave.
And, yet, the terror of losing aches his gullet.
It’s a few hours to Portugal, so let’s watch the behind-the-scenes machinations of the greatest surfer ever dealing with the internal torment of a career in its twilight.
"Want a joint man from the future?"
Coming soon: Relatively funny time-travel wetsuit comedy, “Once Upon a Time In New Zealand!”
This is a short novelty film, starring dynamic midget Mason Ho, thirty years old from Sunset Beach and Ho family scion, and made in two parts.
Nine days ago, Mason was filmed, along with his pal Sheldon Paishon, surfing a mock heat at a greasy rock-break which, according to director Rory Pringle, they’d never surfed before.
“Lots of Pohaku (rocks), thats why its called the Pohaku Division,” writes Rory.
In the second half we see Mason and his Uncle Derek, who was the world champion in 1993, beating even Kelly Slater at his early peak, whipping up a lil magic at Velzyland, a locals-only sorta joint east of Sunset.
“Mason’s truly one if my favorite surfers to watch,” says Kelly Slater. “You never know what he’s gonna do. He throws style points back to his influences and elders, and throws down maneuvers lots of new school guys can’t pull. And he surfs those weird waves nobody else does, which is probably my favorite thing about him.”
Watch: Son of slab-hunting maniac quits WQS tour grind for Balinese Dream!
Meet Reef Doig, Australian kid who grew up in the loving arms of Mother Bali…
In much the same manner as Beau Cram, the son of eighties pro Richard Cram, this month’s star of O’Neill’s O’riginals series is about the kid of a noted surfer who ditches tour dreams for a sublime life of waves and meaningful work.
Reef Doig, who is twenty-two, is the son of Geoff Doig, a hard-charging cat who co-owned Cronulla Point and Shark Island in the seventies, alongside names like Jim Banks and Gary Hughes.
Back when magazine covers meant something, Geoff nailed two with the one shot at Cronulla Point.
And when Geoff fathered twin boys, and named one of ’em Reef, and then split with the mother and moved the gang to Bali four years later, you know the kid was going to live in the ocean.
Reef says his childhood cruising Bali with his pals was of the sort that would give helicopter parents heart tremors.
“It was pretty wild,” he says. “We’d sneak out of the house, borrow motorbikes, scooters, get our boards and drive to where the waves were pumping, chill there all day and go mad at night.”
Reef was part of the Padma Boys, local Balo kids that hung out at the beach in Seminyak, surfing all day, pulling the yoke of clueless tourists and so on. Classic kid stuff.
He even has a Moroccan half-brother, whom he’s never met.
“Dad fell in love with a Moroccan. He’s probably thirty-something,” says Reef in his softly nuanced, accented English, his third language besides Balinese and Bahasa Indonesian.
Reef was never religious but he follows all the usual Hindu ceremonies and observes Nyepi, the six-day Balinese celebration where, on day three, and just after the dark moon of the spring equinox when the day and night are of equal length, the joint comes to a complete halt.
Lights out. Streets empty. Shops closed.
“It’s to kick all the bad spirits off the island,” he says.
Reef says he feels more Balinese than Australian which ain’t surprising. It was only when he decided to do his final two years of high school at Palm Beach Currumbin High, a joint famed for its surf program, that he spent a chunk of time in Australia.
“I’ve got more of the culture inside me as a Balinese person than an Australian,” he says. “When I went back to Australia people considered me a white Indo even though I had super blond hair. And I had this twisted American accent everyone was tripping on.”
The culture shock of returning to Australia, he lived with the family of a kid he met in the surf at Burleigh Heads, was “insane. Going from somewhere where you have complete freedom to adapting to all the rules was hard. You can’t even do half the shit you can in Bali.”
School in Australia wasn’t easy, either. But he put his head down and went from failing in year one to straight A’s in his graduation year.
Reef’s pro surfing dream was slowly coming true, too. He’d won a major Pro Junior and, on Hurley’s budget, was chasing the WQS.
“I wasn’t getting the results and the pressure kept building on me,” he says. “I’d always make it to the quarters, maybe the semi’s, but I never had win. I lost my love for surfing and I ended up getting dropped. Slowly, I’ve found my love for surfing again.”
For cash, Reef works at his buddy’s beach clubs and is pretty thrilled with the hospitality game. One day, he figures one of the beach clubs could be his.
He gets an airfare here and there from O’Neill to chase waves, a bunch of clothes and says “that’s all I need, mate.”
Daddy Doig, now sixty-three, is still surfing and would’ve been available to talk about his kid but had disappeared into the Mentawai Islands.
Taj Burrow and his flame-licked intensity.
Watch Taj Burrow in Namibia: “It was the most fucked-up sensation I’ve ever had!”
A dazzling, if cruelly brief, cameo from former world number two in vlog from Koa and Alex Smith…
Yeah, I know, Namibia tube-vision is starting to get a little old.
But what don’t is when a man who commands your affection and who carries the baton of excellence long after it should’ve evaporated makes a lively, if brief, cameo.
Taj Burrow? Can you believe he’s forty-one and long retired? Time waits for no man and modern pro surfing life, though entertaining enough, will never seem so full again.
In this vlog from Koa and Alex Smith, brothers who come across like a pleasant hybrid of silken tofu and sweetbread, Taj comes and goes while the brothers and Benji Brand monopolies the flavour with their pungent gaminess.