Watch: Occy, Jack Robinson, Shane Dorian (and Laura Enever) in “Holy tubes in the naked desert!”

Come and get a glimpse of desert skin…

Somewhere on the edge of the desert on the Western Australian coast is a lefthander that makes every other wave you’ve surfed taste like a turkey cocktail (Vermouth and Angostura Bitters. Shake.)

And if you’re a Western Australian, and you surf, this wave is mapped in your DNA. You’ll feel it. The first big cold fronts come through sometime in June and all thoughts turn one thousand clicks north. If you’re a tradie or a freelancer, you scrub out work commitments for a month in the desert. Caravan. Tent. Cases of Emu Export, a second-rate beer that’s an obsession in these parts. As if drinking this camel piss and not wincing makes you a better man.

In this eleven-minute film, we see a welcome return to form for a company that is now, effectively, a subsidiary of its former arch-rival Quiksilver. Twenty-three years ago, when Billabong owned surfing in much the same way Dirk Ziff does now, it took Shane Dorian, Rob Machado, Occy, Sunny Garcia, Brendan Margieson, Kelly Slater, Paul “Antman” Paterson and Johnny-Boy Gomes to the north-west for the first of the Billabong Challenges. 

In the film here, which is called Desert Hilton, the cast includes Occ (now fifty-two), Shane Dorian (forty-six) and Jack Robinson, Shaun Manners, Kai Hing with a brave cameo from Laura Enever.

Jack and Shaun star in the water; Occy is in all his fussy and hopeless magnificence on land.

Watch: Thirty-five hot seconds of clenched-teeth Maryland tubes!

Simon Hetrick welcomes the viewer to his domicile, where woollen jerseys and very warm wetsuits are very much compulsory…

This isn’t a short film. It’s barely an Instagram-length clip. And, for that, I resisted my click.

What attracted me, eventually, was the weaponry this Maryland beachbreak produces. As naive as only the poorly travelled can be, I had no idea you could romp in the Atlantic in waves so good they give a man (or woman, yes) spells of dizziness.

Ostensibly, it’s an advertisement for Vissla’s North Seas wetsuit as Simon Hetrick, who is eighteen years old, is one of their team riders.

Whether or not you surrender to the sell is your choice as an informed consumer.

I do hear great things about ’em, to put it mildly.

Watch: Sterling Spencer in “Journal of a pointless life!”

Wrung dry by depression, the wonderful Sterling Spencer heads to secret island…

In this trailer for an upcoming film by the surfer-comic Sterling Spencer called Join the Dance, and which may or may not be completed this year, we find a curious introspection.

This isn’t a grab-bag of comic moments such as the Spurned Child that offended Jeremy Flores so much he choked out Sterling.

Or the order-a-pizza-while-tubing gag.

Sterling, see, suffers depression and this movie, which centres around Sterling meditating on an island, is gonna be shortish on jokes.

In an interview with Surfer magazine’s Todd Prodanovitch, whom I fell in the deepest platonic like with during our mutual Surf Ranch session last November, Sterling explains his motivation.

“I was really depressed when I had my son, and that totally freaked me out. I was thinking, “This should be the best thing that’s ever happened to me, why do I feel so depressed?” I’d tried everything, but nothing really helped that much until I started meditating. I had this clear moment when I realized that I wasn’t my mind, I wasn’t the person talking–I was just watching this person talking. So then who is this person watching, you know? My perspective really changed. I went to this little island–a little secret spot with waves–and I just camped out, searching within myself. I was having my Rob Machado “Drifter” moment. [Laughs.] But on the island, there was this guy who shoots photos of birds, since they fly through there as they migrate to Mexico. We kind of knew each other before, but we became good friends. He was filming me surfing when he wasn’t shooting these birds, so he kind of organically caught me finding my connection with the present moment and with real life.”


“My whole life I was always trying to win a heat or get the clip, which is an ego-based fulfillment. I realized that’s why I wasn’t being fulfilled by surfing like I was when I was a kid. When you’re a kid, you’re very present and you’re surfing just to surf–you are completely open to that experience. Whatever the ocean throws at you, you’re excited to experience it, and I think I lost that when I became a pro surfer. When I let all of that go, surfing was suddenly, like, “Whoa, what is this?” I’ve felt this shift in my surfing where it’s become the ultimate meditation for me. Meditation is just the bridge toward peace within ourselves–a bridge toward the now.”

It’s a lovely interview. Read the rest here. 


Taj Burrow to Mark Occhilupo: “I never considered myself a challenger. I was in awe of you!”

Taj and Occ talk serious injury, the merits (or none) of having children and the pain (or none) of never winning a title…

Once a podcast, now with vision, the Occ-cast demonstrates Mark Occhilupo’s great trait, his likability. He’s a terrible interviewer, mostly. He drifts off mid-question, interrupts with his own anecdotes, peers at his computer screen throughout, examining the next question while the previous is being played out thereby losing any sort of storytelling thread.

And yet, the show is compelling for we, and his interview subjects, will forgive Occ, the campest straight man alive let’s face it, for all his flaws.

In this episode we see a relaxed Taj Burrow, now forty years old, and who has known Occ, fifty-two, for coming on thirty years, light up on the usual topics: the knee injury that has kept him out off a surfboard since June (“There was a bunch of lightning bolts in my leg. I was floating there. I knew it was serious”), why he is dubious of the merits of more than one child (“I retired so I could chase waves and get tubed. And children don’t give you that freedom”) and why he doesn’t give a damn hoot about never winning the world title.

“I don’t feel one bit concerned about not winning a world title. I didn’t feel like that kind of person. I feel like my surfing’s hot and cold and I can’t maintain confidence for a while year. It shook me up at the time because it was so close. What do I need to do? I don’t really care now. I’ve done it all. I’ve experienced the highs and lows of competing and I’m happy to’ve made a career out of surfing. I couldn’t be happier. So satisfied. It doesn’t shake me up at all.”

Watch Jack Freestone in killer Waco pool: “Dreams of Fistic Glory!”

Eyeballs pop, jaws crack!

In this short film, which was made by the Newport photographer Tom Carey, and who is now King of Content at What Youth, we get to tap our toes to Jack Freestone bumping, crouching and jumping at BSR cable park.

Oh that name do ring a bell don’t it.

Just over a month ago, a New Jersey surfer died of a brain-eating amoeba after visiting the park. The Centers for Disease control and Health Department tested the facility and while not finding any Naegleria fowleri, the responsible villain, concluded that, “epidemiologic and environmental assessment indicate that exposure likely occurred at this (Waco) facility.”

In a Trumpian response, the pool’s owner loosed a press release that was headlined, BSR SURF RESORT, Lazy River & Royal Flush slide WATER TESTS COME BACK CLEAN” and “BSR Determined to Go the Extra Mile, Set Highest Standards for Safety.”

The pool is closed now, til March 2019, so let’s make a little hay with what sunshine remains.