Archive for category: Action Sports

Hey, I Made Surfer’s “Hot 100” Issue! Sort of…

28 Mar
March 28, 2015
Hey, that's (not) me on the cover of SURFER! No worries, though, I'm on the inside.

OK, so I didn’t make the cover…

Ok, well not officially in the "Hot 100" section, but... Did I mention they spelled my name wrong?

Well, not officially in the “Hot 100” section either, but… Hey- they spelled my name wrong!

Goin’ Nowhere Fast…

14 Mar
March 14, 2015
A kayaker and an SUPer on the Guana River in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

How we roll in the 904. Gretchen, Kendall and Kaelyn taking in the beauty of the Guana River on a lazy Saturday.

The Brazilian Storm: Force of Nature or Overblown?

14 Mar
March 14, 2015
World Champion surfer, Gabriel Medina

Only time will tell.

The World Surf League kicks off the Samsung Galaxy Championship Tour on February 28th at the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast. There are many plot lines heading into the season, none more heralded than the arrival of the Brazilian Storm. Since last year’s Snapper event when Gabriel Medina, the new Brazilian World Champ made clear his intentions for an historic 2014 title run by taking down hometown favorite Joel Parkinson, the buzz surrounding the rapid ascension of the Brazos over the past 3 years, and more notably, the past twelve months- has reached a crescendo.

This year, with seven Brazilians on CT, Medina returning to make his title defense and some of the current CT elite getting up there in years, will we witness the Brazilian Storm evolve into a veritable force of nature or watch this impressive run-up dissipate into something far more mundane?

Rest assured, I’m not a hater. I admire the Brazilians for their tenacity and passion. I used to date a girl from Rio when I lived in south Florida. She and her friends lived packed together in a tiny little apartment with barely any possessions, but the clothes on their backs. But they were all intelligent, kind people who loved life and weren’t shy about showing it regardless of what may have been occurring around them at any time. Little Claudia and her friends always talked about their home- their deep love for it, as well as the heartbreaking political and socio-economic problems its citizens faced (And that was a long time ago. Clearly things have been too slow to change). But no matter where our conversations went, they always returned to just how special her people and her country were.

So, I’m not here to disparage the Brazilians. Just to offer some balanced perspective in the face of media hype, and before the rest of us Americans, Hawaiians*, Australians, South Africans and Europeans cede the next 10 years of CT glory to the Brazos. Here’s why bustin’ down the door doesn’t necessarily mean Brazil will be taking over the house.

Dantas & Ferreira: Back Seat, Rookies

The Brazilians begin the year with two rookies, Wiggoly Dantas and Italo Ferreira both coming from the QS. Both are very talented with Italo looking particularly sharp in small waves and Dantas with a history of nutting it up in smaller and larger surf. That said, the shift from the QS is still notoriously hard. The CT features larger, more powerful waves than what QS’ers are typically accustomed to.

In addition, the event seeding system pits lower-ranked surfers against the highest, most talented and often most experienced CT ones. So these rookies will be facing not just the best in the world– but the best of the best, right off the bat. This year, that includes Medina who Dantas will face in his very first CT heat. It’s just a tough ladder to climb, although Snapper will give both a fair shot. Ultimately, both Ferreira and Dantas could easily find themselves fighting to stay on tour by the end of the year.

Andre, Pupo and Toledo: Muddling in the Middle

…Ditto Jadson Andre. Jadson is a extremely talented surfer and by all accounts, a great guy. But he has ambled inconsistently along the WCT since arriving with fanfare in 2010 when he finished 13th. Since then, Andre has finished 22nd (2011), 32nd (falling off tour in 2012 and having to re-qualify in 2013), and just making it back this year by securing the final 22nd CT-issued slot by the skin of his teeth (or CJ’s foot). He also qualified via the QS, and may well wind up having to do it again, this year. But, will he ever break away from the lower third of CT performers? He seems to be stuck in the rip as Alejo Muniz, despite Alejo’s valiant year-end effort.

What about Miguel Pupo and Felipe Toledo? I loved seeing more of these guys, here. They’ve been on the cusp of breaking out with Toledo showing a bit more promise both in small waves and larger ones. Felipe finished 17th overall last year (15th in 2013) and also won the QS while at it. He finished with two 5ths at Pipe and Portugal, which bodes well for his future. On the flip side, Toledo himself has admitted that he needs to work on his heat strategy. And head games can often prove to be more of a lingering problem than things like acclimating to larger surf. I do believe Toledo will crack the top 10 and that we may see him end up swapping places with Adriano De Souza, this year.

As for Pupo- I’m pulling for him. He seems determined to keep up with his peers and has had moments, but has been plagued with significant health problems (now corrected). Most of all, he has battled inconsistency with a 36th, a17th and two 19th place overall finishes, including one year off the CT over the past 5 years. If Miguel can just get rid of one or two more of his 25th place event finishes, then he could potentially become a long-term fixture in or around the Top 10. Otherwise, his career begins to look much like Jadson Andre’s and Alejo Muniz’s- promising, without ever really being able to really pull it all together in a way that fulfills that promise.

De Souza: Battle-tested. Battle-weary?

Adriano De Souza is a battle-tested CT elite, a perennial top 10 guy never finishing lower than 13th in the past 7 year with three top 5 finishes, a 7th, 10th and an 8th last year (even while missing Pipe). Adriano has been criticized for everything from a squatty stance to over-claiming. But he’s a plenty stylish, sure-footed surfer who rips in all conditions. Most impressively, he has always risen to the occasion, no matter what was required, including elevating his aerial game over the past years as rising talent levels demanded. But De Souza has a persistent knee problem and a pack of hard-charging young talent hot on his heels. He could easily slip out of the Top 10 this year.

Medina: Under Pressure

Gabriel Medina. He earned his title, even despite Kelly’s seemingly diminishing desire and John John’s late charge. But as one astute pundit pointed out on The Inertia, it’s one thing to win a crown. It’s quite another to wear it. As great as the pressure was on the boy king to win the title last year, will it be any less to repeat with the pride of his nation overflowing, the death of Ricardos dos Santos heavy on hearts and minds, and the global surf media beside itself over the prophesized Brazilian apocalypse? He is still 21, after all.

It is also worth mentioning that two of Medina’s wins last year came by .03 pts each over Joel Parkinson at Snapper and Kelly Slater in Tahiti. That’s not to suggest that luck had anything to do with it, only that they were that close. Slater won his first title at age 20 in 1992, but didn’t win his second until 1994. I believe that entrenches himself in the Top 5, but will be surprised if he repeats this year, given the weight upon his shoulders… again.

Old Guys Rule

Kelly Slater (age 43), Taj Burrow (36), Joel Parkinson (33), Mick Fanning (33) and right behind, Josh Kerr (31) are the core CT elders who continue to clog up the Top 10 each year, making it extremely difficult for lower seeds to make their way up the competitive ladder. And these guys should never be asked to apologize for their enduring health, talent and competitive drive. The question for their competitors is how long does desire last for each? If success equals talent less motivation, then you have to wonder if Kelly’s recent comments in Surfer are indicative of the beginning of the end, as even Slater himself finds it unusual that his losses aren’t bothering him as much these days. And I can’t help thinking that if Slater finally declares himself satisfied, that it might have a domino effect within this group. For the time being, these are the guys who really dictate the world order, year in and year out.

Brazilian Storm: You’ve Got Company…

Finally, Brazil is hardly the only nation with rising young prodigies on the brink of fulfilling their destinies. Although credit goes to Gabriel for being the fastest to punch through, South Africa (Jordy Smith), Australia (Julian Wilson and Owen Wright), America (Kolohe Andino and Nat Young) and Hawaii* (Who da guy?) all have young guns in contention to step into those top rung spots and potentially secure a championship for their respective countries. Every one of these guys are rock solid in big waves or small, all are coming on strong right now and at the end of the day, there are only so many spots at the top.

*Hawaii is America’s 50th state.

Note: This article was originally published on The Inertia

Everybody’s Ripping – Rincon

17 Feb
February 17, 2015

Friends in High Places

01 Feb
February 1, 2015

You know, I’ve lived long enough and experienced enough to understand that things are never as good or bad as they seem. Life, for the most part, is what you choose to make of it and there are tradeoffs for almost everything. What you see on the surface doesn’t always accurately reflect exactly what’s underneath.

If you’re a surfer and an adventurer like me, then you’re going to want —you’re going to need— to keep this top-of-mind when you watch this beautiful film from Cyrus Sutton. It leaves me with many questions, but I’m not going to bother asking them. Nope, I’m just going to enjoy it for what it is. Hope you do the same.

Carnage, Pure and Simple. Caught Inside at Jaws.

25 Jan
January 25, 2015

To be certain, glory and adrenaline are powerful forces. But is anything worth this?

Dream Jobs: Bryan Pohlman’s Endless Summer

21 Jan
January 21, 2015
Surfer Bryan Pohlman in the Maldives

Another day at the office for Bryan Pohlman

If you could have your dream job, what would it be? Is it safe to assume it might revolve around surfing? Would you desire it to include heavy doses of travel and adventure, allowing you to surf the world’s best waves in exotic destinations? Would playing a role in helping others realize some of their own dreams help top things off?

Most people never get to live their dreams, because they don’t pursue them. Others, like Bryan Pohlman, do, precisely because they make it a point. His job, as Global Sales Consultant for Waterways Travel, the world’s largest surf travel agency, is a veritable Endless Summer.

In fact, the parallels between Bruce Brown’s iconic surf film, which celebrated the virtues of travel, wonder and discovery by following two surfers–Mike Hynson and Robert August–as they chased summer around the world, and Pohlman’s own life and career, are uncanny.

Pohlman not only spent a significant part of his career shaping boards for August, but also constructing a life to satisfy the deep wanderlust within him and the DNA of pretty much all surfers, that Brown’s film so beautifully conveyed. Indeed, the film’s concept was born at the suggestion of a travel agent who informed Brown that a flight from LA to Cape Town, South Africa and back would cost $50 more than a trip circumnavigating the globe. This inspired Brown’s idea to make the film about chasing summer around the world and to call it Endless Summer.

Pohlman, who began his career with Air New Zealand and also worked for Quiksilver Travel, has surfed in multiple locations around the world this past year alone, all while collecting a paycheck and helping others pursue their own endless summers. I caught up with Bryan to gain some insight about his professional journey, and his current dream job at Waterways.

Tell me a little bit about Waterways, and your own career timeline. 

Waterways is the largest surf-travel agency in the world. We’ll be celebrating our 21st anniversary in 2015. I’ve personally been in the travel business since 1996.  I started at Air New Zealand and worked there for three years, took a break to be a ghost shaper for Robert August, shaped 600 boards, and then started Quiksilver Travel in 2001. I worked there until 2013, before moving over to Waterways.

How’d you get the job? 
I met Sean Murphy, the owner, on a surf trip to remote Panama in 2007. Even though we were competitors at the time, we got along really well. When Quiksilver Travel shut their doors, it seemed natural to transition over to Waterways, since they were the biggest and best at what they do. And I knew that Sean was probably the only guy in this business who I could still learn a lot from.

How great is your job?
I love it. Getting to interact with traveling surfers keeps me stoked. It also keeps me in tune with tour operators all over the world and gives me a unique perspective on global surf patterns. This year alone, I logged tube time in the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic oceans. Not too bad!

What does a typical day/week look like at Waterways? 
Normal office job from 9AM – 5:30PM, but Sean is the best boss ever. He’s always buying lunch for everyone and we’re looking at photos and watching surf contests. Working at Quiksilver for over 10 years was pretty special and had some insane perks, but I think on a day-to-day basis Waterways is a fun place to work because of the people that work here, not to mention our many awesome clients!

Have you always been a frequent traveler?
Always. I’ve been going to Baja since I was 8 years old. I’m just one of those people that sees a map and says, “I have to go there.” So, that’s what I’ve done.

So, you get to travel and surf a lot for work?
Yes, we all get out to R-and-D our surf tours several times each year. I like that part because not only do we get to know our tour operators well and really evaluate their operations, but we also get to meet our clients. I can honestly say that having been in the business for so many years, that most of my best friendships started as client/agent relationships. I love being able to help others fulfill their own dreams. Obviously, I can relate.

Do you get special rates?
We turn down tour operators all the time that want us to come down to their spots. Everyone wants us to check out their tours, because we are the front line of the sales force. So yes, we do get offered lots of free trips, but we don’t expect free trips. We understand that our tour operators need to make a living and we don’t take advantage of them. Plus, I find it’s better to pay, because then you don’t feel obligated to sell a specific resort if they aren’t up to Waterways’ standards. The old saying “There is no such thing as a free lunch” is definitely true in the travel business.

Where all have you been?
(Laughs) a lot of places, and most of them multiple times. Sumatra, Mentawai, Bali, Sumba, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji Islands, Samoa, Hawaiian Islands, Chile, Peru, Panama (Pacific and Caribbean), Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Mainland Mexico and the Dominican Republic
.

What’s your favorite destination?
I’ve learned that every destination is unique and different in its own way. But my favorite wave in the world is probably Macaronis.

Some have said that travel is increasingly become a luxury item, a privilege enjoyed primarily by the wealthy. Would you say this is true?
I definitely think having a discretionary income to travel is a luxury. Of course, a lot of surfers travel while they are young and before they have families. And if you’re smart, you can get great value on a surf trip.

Who are your primary customers? Do you work with traveling pros at all? 
Here at Waterways, we’ve been in business since 1994, so most of our customers come back every year or every other year to book their surf trips. I don’t have any official stats, but I think an average age of about 35-45 year old men, some traveling with their non-surfing companions, make up the bulk of our customers. We work with pro surfers and photographers on a regular basis, because many of our destinations offer world-class waves with the best accommodations possible.

Did the recession impact your business significantly, as it did so many others? If so, how did you weather the storm and are you seeing continuing improvement?
Yes, things slowed down some for a while, but we are back on track. Waterways is a niche business with a great reputation and track record. We’ve always offered great prices and work with the best surf tour operators in the world. When you’re the best at what you do, people will buy your products in good times, or bad.

What are some tips for cost-effective surf travel? 
Well, if you have more time than money, you can just go with the flow and show up places. You can meet local surfers and do things on the cheap. But most of our clients can’t leave work and family behind for a month at a time. Most are traveling for 7-14 days. When you have only a few days, you can’t take 3-4 days getting settled in. You need to hit the ground running and be connected with someone who can take care of the other little things like food, transportation and lodging logistics, so you can forget all that, relax and go surfing. That’s what you’re there for and that’s our specialty at Waterways–maximizing the value of your time.

These days, people are increasingly placing value upon “experiences” over “things.” People have realized that you can lose “things” (like homes) and are realizing that these kinds of material possessions can be fleeting or lose their value, whereas experiences last forever. And of course, experiences help shape our identities and define who we are. Have you seen evidence of this in your job?
Absolutely! As a group, surfers have always placed a high value on experience. That’s what surfing really is… it’s an experience. And no one can ever take that away from you. At the same time, you can’t take a wave home with you after you ride it. It’s gone and that particular experience is over until you paddle back out for another one.

I’ve done a great deal of surf-traveling myself and know that sometimes, things can go wrong. Have you seen much of this in your career?
Things can go wrong on any trip, but for some reason, we love to talk about the worst surf travel experiences in our surf media. I don’t know if it’s a “badge of honor” or if people just love to hear stories about trips gone awry, but my motto is, “Expect the best, be prepared for the worst and the trip will probably fall somewhere in the middle of those two extremes.”

What are some of the trickiest situations you’ve had to deal with?
As an agent, we deal with al sorts of issues from airlines losing bags to guys getting injured and needing to be evacuated, but cancelled flights are one of the biggest headaches for travelers and agents alike. As a surf traveler, I’ve fended off crackheads, walked through knee-deep mud to find waves, super glued my cuts and had to figure out foreign lineups all alone on some really sketchy days.

For readers, of the places you’ve been or promote, where are some of the best destinations for each of the following:

Nothing but hardcore surfing:
Sumatra, Salina Cruz, El Salvador and G-land 

Adventure:
Samoa, Galapagos, Mozambique, Dominican Republic

Couples:
Namotu, Matanivusi, Chaaya Island and Nemberala Beach Resort

Families:
Tavarua, Waidroka, J-Bay, Bocas Del Toro

Best with an unlimited budget: 
Kandui Villas, Chaaya Island, Macaronis Surf Resorts

Best on a tight budget:
Peru, Mexico, Dominican Republic, G-Land, El Salvador

So, do you need some help setting up an East Coast office, so that we can get folks off to the Caribbean, Nazare, Mullaghmore, Mundaka, The Canary Islands and J-Bay most efficiently (hint hint)?
Ha Ha! Maybe some day. But not now.

Ok, well at least there’s still hope!

Where are you personally headed next?
This year, I was in Fiji, Samoa, Hawaii, the Maldives and the Dominican Republic. Next up is Teahupoo, Tahiti in March… nothing booked beyond that.

Any words of wisdom for those wishing to pursue their dream of a career like yours?
You know, the travel industry has changed so much since I began in 1996 that it’s hard for me to give advice to newcomers.  I’d just say that if you want to travel the world, do it any way you possibly can, whether that is being a travel agent, chef, boatman or a teacher. Experiencing different cultures and getting to know people that come from completely different backgrounds is truly a priceless, life changing and enlightening experience that will forever shape how you view others and the world around you.

When you hear Kelly Slater talk about his life, he doesn’t brag on world titles. He talks about being a citizen of the world and how many wonderfully diverse friends he has who have taught him valuable life lessons and provided him with differing perspectives… This is because he has been traveling the globe for the past 30 years. The fact he’s the best surfer who ever lived is just a bonus for the rest of us.

Note: I originally conducted this interview and created the article for Waterways Travel and The Inertia. You can find the that post, here: http://www.theinertia.com/surf/dream-jobs-bryan-pohlmans-endless-summer/#ixzz3PPtMnsok

And You Thought Shipsterns Was Violent?

15 Jan
January 15, 2015

Boy, if you think Shipsterns is the most mutant wave on the planet, you’d better take a look at “The Right” in Western Australia. Ryan Hipwood got a good view. Wow. For more on this spot, check out this story on Networka.com. Enjoy!

Lagundri Bay, Nias

15 Jan
January 15, 2015

Love this relaxed edit from Jason Lesh, Justin Buulolo, Aloha Aerials and Ryan Meichtry. Nice work! Beautiful waves and barrel riding…

Kelly + Rincon

11 Jan
January 11, 2015

The guys from the Surf Station dug this one up. As Matt O said in his blog, Kelly Slater + Rincon = Endless watchability. So true. Rincon is the perfect break for surfers with perfect style of which Kelly is certainly one. Here’s a clinic on style and form. Nice work Michael Kew and crew.

The Most Barreled Man in the Mentawais

30 Dec
December 30, 2014

Any wonder why they call this spot the Mentawai Wavepark? The man in the video getting barreled over and over is Christie Carter, official MD for Mentawai Wavepark. Not a bad place for an office.

Fantasysurfer 2014 Results – Top 1%

20 Dec
December 20, 2014
Fantasysurfer 2014 results

If Fantasysurfer awarded a combined Men’s/Women’s performance prize, I think I’d have a good shot at winning!

Fantasysurfer 2104 results- Men's

My Men’s team final results – Not bad!

Fantasysurfer 2104 Women's team results

My Fantasysurfer 2104 Women’s team results- even better!

Well, the 2014 Association of Professional Surfers’ 2014 World Championship Tour ended with the culmination of the Pipeline Masters in Hawaii, yesterday. The ASP crowned a new World Champion, Gabriel Medina- at age 20, the youngest world champion since Kelly Slater. Medina narrowly beat out Slater and Mick Fanning for the title, which would have been Kelly’s 12th. The best surfer to ever walk the earth may possibly retire, or not. At age 43, he still has the ability to win it all and it is only his interest level and motivation that will likely determine whether he comes back or not.

I completed another year of Surfer Magazine‘s Fantasysurfer.com competition (a fantasy surfing league where you have a $50,000,000 budget and select and manage a team of surfers), where the men’s side winner wins a trip to Hawaii. It’s a fun game. Just like all fantasy leagues, you need to know a great deal about all of the surfers, their abilities and tendencies, the breaks and what kinds of conditions each surfer performs best in, etc. I’ve cracked the top 50 in the men’s side previously, and had another good year this year.

On the men’s side, I came in 453rd this year out of 33, 907 teams- finishing in the top 1%! On the women’s side, I came in 250th out of 22,189 teams, also in the top 1%! Unfortunately, Surfer Magazine does not give out a prize for either the women’s side or for combined performance. If they did the latter, I think I’d have a great shot of winning the whole thing. Oh well, maybe one day they’ll at least let me fill in for Shea Lopez and/or Ross Williams to write for their Fantasysurfer.com blog!

Red Bull Nightriders Contest in Jax Beach

10 Dec
December 10, 2014
Scene from the Red Bull Night Riders Contest Jax Beach

Jax Beach in on fire! The surreal nighttime scene as viewed from the Jacksonville Beach Pier at the Red Bull Night Riders contest. Good time! Great surfing in challenging conditions.

Dividing Lines – The Segregated Soul of Surfing

06 Dec
December 6, 2014

Freesurfing vs. Pro Surfing

As we head into the homestretch of the 2014 ASP World Championship Tour, we know that a fast-approaching storm of inevitable controversy, heartfelt conviction and colorful commentary is headed our way. We don’t even have to wait to spot it on the horizon. It is coming just as surely as that sneaker set at your favorite big wave surf spot.

Just sit deep and get ready for it.

By December 20th, the entire surf world will be blowing up over botched scores, titles earned or gifted, the new world order and the very future of our sport. Or… err… “activity”. (Dang it! I knew that one was coming and still took it right on the head! When will I learn?)

Jokes aside, I say this because I know full well that in the midst of all the coming noise, the loudest voices won’t be from those interested in the compelling storylines that the ASP, ZoSea and the world’s greatest surfers will have delivered for us. Nope. It’ll come from those who wish that professional competitive surfing would just pack up its sh#t and go away.

Forever.

After all, surfing is too diverse to be siloed. Too sacred to be packaged and sold. It was always meant to be, “free”.

The continuing segregation of surfing into two camps, “freesurfers” who believe that surfing at its core is a spiritual activity inherently at odds with competition and consumerism, and those who support professional surfing as an acceptable way to advance and enjoy the sport, is as old as competitive surfing, itself. But these days, like so much other social and ideological phenomena, the divisions just seem to have grown deeper, the conversations more shrill and cynical, our ideological differences pulling us further apart in ways that are neither fun, healthy nor productive.

Maybe it’s just me. Heck, I’ve been “freesurfing” for the past 25 years! I haven’t competed in a contest since college, when I launched my own citywide surf league. And even then, when we competed, it was always in the spirit of fun and fellowship.

At the same time, if I had sufficient talent to make a living competing as a pro on the WCT, would I do it? Hell yes- in a second! I do love competition. Professional sporting competition. Professional surfing competition! As a result, I’ve followed it closely for nearly as many years as I’ve been surfing.

And therein lies the biggest disconnect of the whole, “surfing as an activity vs. surfing as a sport (or a business; or product)” narrative: Why should any of us have to choose one over the other? Can’t we enjoy all of the various aspects of surfing? Haven’t most of us always done so, to one degree or another?

Following the careers of surfers like Shaun Tomson, Tom Curren, Kelly Slater and John John Florence… watching live contests in places most of us could only dream about in conditions we could only imagine… enjoying the sheer drama of the battles for glory that have provided the fundamental appeal of all athletic competition since the first Olympiad in 765 BC?

Increasingly, it seems that the freesurfers of the world –the real freesurfing purists and not those like me, who are only half-in– would have us be free of everything but their opinions and their judgment, ever-projecting a self-righteous air of pretentious enlightenment that the rest of us poor souls who watch contests more than clips, could only ever hope to understand. And, while I couldn’t care less about how anyone might try to frame me as one kind of surfer or another- that mindset, old as it is, is fast becoming as stale and sour as the rest of the ideological antipathy that we increasingly see grinding our country and our communities to a halt.

Interestingly, the Pew Research Center noted in a recent study that people with strong political views are increasingly constructing their lives around people who agree with them, while shunning those who disagree. The report stated that this kind of ideological rigidity is increasingly leading people to actively avoid others with divergent opinions, making them not only more likely do simple things like defriending on Facebook, but also affecting their decisions about where to live (think Red State / Blue State- all the way down to the neighborhood level); where to eat; where to shop and do business; even who to start a family with (“My name is Canyon. I’m 25. I love surfing and traveling, ride a ’73 Steve Lis fish and am looking for a girl who hates Paul Speaker as much as I do.”)

It begs the question: Are many surfers today really not traveling down the path of independent thought, but rather, simply following the well-trodden and increasingly crowded path of rigid ideologues whose close-minded thinking continues to sabotage compromise, civility and acceptance in so many areas of society, today?

No offense to my friends in California, but I often wonder if the whole freesurfing “purist” vs. “competitive” or “commercial surfing” narrative is primarily a Calicentric industry phenomenon? Because I rarely see so much hand-wringing about it over here on the East Coast.

Here, by and large, all competitors are idolized, from world champs to mid-level CT’ers and QS’ers to local blue-collar rippers. They are supported at every level from the amateur ranks to the pros. When they win, we all win. And when they lose, retire, get hurt, run out of money, head back to college or into the real world, it’s no big deal. They are welcomed right back into the water where you could always find them anyway between their competitions, heats and traveling- freesurfing.

I understand that California suffers from severe crowd-control issues at many spots (don’t we all), and that a common complaint about ZoSea, current owners of professional surfing, is that their ultimate goal to bring surfing to the masses via the aggressive marketing of professional competitive surfing will only worsen this frustrating trend. Truth is, shifting demographic trends and local zoning and development regulations are far more likely to impact these issues than people from Ohio watching the Teahupo’o contest live on ABC, or breaking heats down afterwards on YouTube.

Heck, in a well-researched article written earlier this year by Stu Nettle on Swellnet, his organization’s findings suggest that you could see the crowds at your local break plummet by as much as 30% as soon as Slater decides to retire! (Or at the very least, folks will be unplugging from watching professional surfing, online).

Ultimately, the fear of increasing crowds is just one of a laundry list of justifications that surfing “purists” cite for being skeptical of professional competitive surfing generally, and ZoSea in particular. There’s too much we know about them, and too much we don’t. I for one think they’ve been doing a pretty damn good job with the exception of the name change to the World Surfing League (I understand their reasoning, I just don’t like their choice). Regardless, the ASP and professional surfing have survived name changes and many much larger challenges in the past, and both have only continued to grow.

If the conspiracy theories are true and ZoSea ends up leaving surfing at the altar because like others before them, Paul Speaker, Terry Hardy and (allegedly) Dirk Ziff can’t figure out how to wring a dime out of it, rest assured, it won’t stay down for long. As long as there are surfers who yearn to make a living out of their passion, there will always be others willing to try.

As for me, I’ll continuing to keep an “open mind”, something surfing’s “purists” like to own, but which doesn’t resonate when they continually insinuate that those of us who enjoy professional competitive surfing are somehow uniformed, immoral or something less than “pure”, because we value surfing both as an activity and a sport. It is both those things and so much more.

Note: This article originally appeared on TheInertia.com. Go here see to the original version, and full ensuing discussion.

Misread Charts- Dolphins, Drones and Barrels

19 Nov
November 19, 2014

BULA! I’m Going to Fiji!…

15 Nov
November 15, 2014

 

Waterways Travel Free Trip to Fiji Announcement

#winning

Yes, that’s right! I just won an 8 Day / 7 Night all-expense paid trip to FIJI!!!!!!!!!!!!  The trip is courtesy of Waterways Travel, one of the most experienced and renowned surf-travel outfits in the world, based out of Santa Monica, CA; and The Inertia, one of the action-sports world’s highest-profile web-publishers, focusing on surfing and mountain sports, also based out of Santa Monica. It includes EVERYTHING. Airfare from LAX; round-trip transportation to and from the airports; first-class accommodations (oceanfront bure) at Waidroka Bay Resort; 3 meals per day; hotel taxes; and daily boat rides to the surf breaks! Needless to say, I am stoked out of my mind!

Fiji is a true “bucket-list” destination for me and any surfer (or anyone, really). We have decided to also take our girls, Kendall & Kaelyn, ages 15 and 12, with us. We were planning a family trip to Nicaragua for next summer and that trip for all of us would have cost almost as much as carrying two extra to Fiji! So, we are now looking forward to traveling halfway around the world with them, further broadening their minds and perspective, while introducing them to Fijian culture. I understand that the Fijans are some of the friendliest people on earth. I know that Fiji is one of Kelly Slater’s favorite places on the planet, and I am guessing that his world perspective is as broad and deep as anyone’s.

The contest was promoted through The Inertia, a website I have written for fairly extensively in the past. It was well-promoted both on their website and within various social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, ect.). I originally saw it on Instagram. On some channels, and on the Inertia Website, all you had to do to enter was provide your email address. On Instagram, the Inertia asked entrants to state why they felt they should win the trip and to tag their posts with the hashtag, #GoThere.

Here is my post. As you’ll see, I did a few key things. I came up with not one, but multiple reasons I should win. I also offered to WORK for the prize by promising to write 12 articles for the Inertia in 2015, including 4 for Waterways. I also promised to report back about my trip on The Inertia and in social media, and offered to dedicate a full day of our trip to the service of the local people, something I am passionate about. I also tossed in a little humor, which always helps, generally.

My post, while written to entertain, was also at its core, sincere. This is truly a dream come true for me. When I saw the opportunity, I simply used a little creativity to come up with a Win-Win-Win proposition for myself, the publisher and the advertiser. I love writing generally, and love writing for The Inertia in particular. And I am stoked to get to work more closely with Waterways Travel, because my surf-tripping won’t stop at Fiji. I consider traveling (and traveling for surf, specifically), core to my being, even if it had become more challenging financially for me, recently. Below is a copy of my post and a few pics from the Waidroka Bay Resort website showing some of the waves in the area. We are leaning towards traveling in late May or early June and hope to catch it good!

@theinertia @waterwaystravel :

Why I should win the Waidroka trip:

1. I’m a goofyfooter

2. FIJI’s on my bucket list and I’m not getting any younger

3. I haven’t been able to travel for surf outside the US for 5+ years due to tight budget

4. …I’m willing to work for it

If I win, I will commit to:

1. Drop in on ANYTHING FIJI throws at me, including purple-blob swells at Frigates

2. Post social media updates 2x per day during my trip on both The Inertia’s and Waterways Travel’s FB, Twitter and IG accounts

3. Provide a multi-media wrap article detailing my full experience (I’m handy with an iPhone and hoping Santa sponsors me with a Go-Pro for Christmas. If not, I’ll borrow a friend’s!)

4. Write (1) feature article per month for The Inertia in 2015. These will alternately be more compelling than Reid Levin’s, “40 Foot Jelly Fish Attacks Anastasia Ashley on a 100’ Wave” pieces; funnier than Alex Haro’s tall tales (but with improved syntax); or more insightful and culturally significant than Zach Weisberg’s meaningful social commentaries

5. Become Waterways Travels’ top advocate for hard-working, surf-addicted, middle-class families for whom surf-travel is economically challenging, but necessary

6. Dedicate a full day of my trip to the service of the locals

#sohelpmeJesus #GoThere #Fiji #giveaway #surftrip #surfsomething #everybodysripping

Pefect waves rolling in at Frigates in Fiji

"Pipes" surf break in Fiji

A Mutant Mini Teahupo’o

 

Frigates Passage surf break in Fiji

Power anyone? Frigates Passage in Fiji

Surfing at 1000 Frames Per Second by Chris Bryan

31 Oct
October 31, 2014

When it comes to surf cinematography, a few trends have really propelled the medium forward over the last decade- GoPros; UAVs (Drones); and High-Def Super Slo-Mo, such as that which is showcased in this incredible short film from filmmaker, Chris Bryan, revealing the beauty of surfing at 1,000 frames per second.

This. Is. Incredible.

The opening sequence is a break called, Shipstern’s Bluff, located in Tasmania, an island state in Western Australia. I’ve featured other Shipstern’s clips in this blog that are amazing, but this one provides its own unique experience. Shipstern’s is one of the most dangerous and compelling waves on the planet, and watching fearless surfer Mark Mathews navigate this wave’s multiple shelves and jagged rips at the speed of molasses, is quite spectacular. The clip also features Kelly Slater, John John Florence and others. Check it out!

Moche Rip Curl Pro Lay Day Shred Fest

17 Oct
October 17, 2014

Wow, here’s another great one from Portugal, shot on a lay day at the Moche Rip Curl Pro. Although the winds were bad at the contest site, they were good up the road and a group of touring pros, including Kelly Slater, Taj Burrow, Mick Fanning, Josh Kerr, Kolohe Andino, Jordy Smith and others put on a brilliant display of surfing. The waves look nearly perfect and this crew really showcases how beautiful and FUN the act of surfing can be.

Kelly Slater’s 540 to 720

17 Oct
October 17, 2014

What can you say about this? Kelly Slater is 42 years old and is still the best surfer on the planet. Watch this clip (filmed on a lay day for the ASP / WSL’s Moche Rip Curl Pro in Portugal) for the “PERIOD” to that statement.

It’s funny how he calls out John John Florence at the end of the video. JJF is the heir to Kelly’s throne (only once Kelly decides to relinquish it). They seem to have a great deal of respect for one another, but are competitors and trade a lot of fun barbs, such as when John John called jokingly called Kelly, “Dad” in a recent clip.

Kelly has stated that he wants to surf better at 50 than he did at 40 and at this point, he’s on track to do it. Here he reminds the young guns who’s still the Top Gun.

Steamer Lane, Santa Cruz

07 Oct
October 7, 2014

I’ve posted some spectacular shots and videos of Steamer Lane in Santa Cruz before. Here’s another one. This spot is so naturally beautiful, and the waves look so fun. I had a friend who lived there for a while and he loved it, although he said it could get crowded and competitive in the water. At the same time. There’s multiple places to sit and plenty of room, overall. I think the only issue I’d be concerned with is the COLD water! But for waves like these, in a place like this… bring on the booties!

Aloha Sunday at Mickler’s

30 Sep
September 30, 2014

Surfer girl

 

Surfer Girl Close-up

A couple of shots of Kaelyn droppin’ in at Mickler’s Landing on Sunday, September 28th. The stoke meter was on high in the 1-3′ surf! No more whitewater waves for this kid! Kaelyn caught quite a few rides with no falls. Nice job out there, Kaelyn! Thanks to Ryan Ketterman who was testing out a new water housing, for the shots!

Cardboard Chaos

27 Sep
September 27, 2014

Wow, this is pretty crazy- a cardboard surfboard! It was designed by legendary surf shaper Jeff Doc Lausch for Signal Snowboards as part of their Cardboard Chaos video series. They are working with a California-based packaging company, Ernest Packaging, to make crazy things out of paper! They already made a paper snowboard, so they pushed it a bit more and built a surfboard, using a honeycomb design. It’s see-through- they say you can sit on it and watch the fish pass beneath you. Most incredibly, it looks like it rides pretty well, too. Check it out!

Eric Geiselman – Grindy Fun in New Smryna Beach

24 Sep
September 24, 2014

What can you say about this? Eric Geiselman is one of the Right Coast’s premiere talents. If you want to see some truly phenomenal surfing- explosive, with near flawless style, just click right here and enjoy. The drone (UAV) videography also reveals what lurks below the surface here in Florida- plenty of sharks. New Smyrna Beach in particular has more than it’s share around the inlet, but Eric is clearly having too much fun to notice.

I think the growing use of the aerial videography is going to continue to reveal what we’ve all been surfing over and around for years, without fully knowing it. I think this will probably make many people more uncomfortable; and a lot of people, more comfortable. While I have had a couple of nerve-wracking run-ins with very large sharks over the years, neither I, nor anyone I know personally has ever been bitten, and I know a lot of people who have spent a ton of time in the ocean here, over many years. Like my own personal encounters and the evidence in this video, it leads me to believe that if sharks were really interested in us as a food source, we’d have figured that out upon stepping in the water on most days.

Pete Devries: Outside The Box

20 Sep
September 20, 2014

As a third-generation native of Jacksonville, Florida, I’m not much of a cold weather guy. I start shivering when the water drops below 72. That said, winter surfing does have its appeal, as does the natural beauty of places like this in Vancouver Island. How beautiful is this? Enjoy!

Sisters of the Sea / Saltwater Cowgirls Surf Contest 2014

20 Sep
September 20, 2014
2014 Sisters of the Sea / Saltwater Cowgirls Surf Contest

Did she get through her heat?

Had a great time at the 2014 Sisters of the Sea / Saltwater Cowgirls contest on September 6th, at the Jacksonville Beach Pier! What a wonderful event this is for all surfer girls / women of every age and ability. The spirit of the event is really supportive, and I would venture to say that vibe does not come altogether easily or naturally for many women, or surfers. But it sure showed on the beach at this event, which has been held for about 15 years now, I believe. Very proud of Kaelyn who made it through three rounds in the most crowded division (the 12U Whitewaters). 1st place in her first heat; 2nd place in her second heat; and 4th in her third heat. She missed making the final by a single surfer! Arrggh, so close! Sorry, honey! Thanks to all the volunteers, sponsors and photographers, including Joey Wilson, who snapped this one.

Below are a few video clips of Kaelyn. There wasn’t much to ride the day of the contest, so Kaelyn’s strategy was just to ride each wave as far as she could. She had quite a few step-offs during the day. In her semi-final heat, I lined her up outside in what had been our sweet spot all day, but the peak had shifted over with the tide and she couldn’t find quite enough good ones. Oh well, next year!

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