International Surfing Day

21 06 2010

International Surfing Day came and went like a dream that is forgotten after a second cup of coffee. The day proceeding the first day of summer was not exactly memorable, although the water was warm. Warm like a lightly toasted hot dog bun on Independence Day. Or a sweaty pair of September thighs. The June gloom hung around like a hobo smoking a hand-rolled cigarette, waiting for a train going Anywhere But Here.

Ah, International Surfing Day. Don’t get me wrong. The DVS Internet Beach Challenge is a fantastic idea. Who doesn’t want to make a video of themselves riding “the most unique piece of trash or object on a wave?” Apparently participants must send in a video of themselves riding the most unique object on a wave for prizes. Splendid.

I was up unusually early. A small, west northwest wind swell struggled too make it across the sandbar. High tide. The kind of day made for surfboards with absurd names like the Fartknocker or the Dumpster Diver. I borrowed a longboard from a friend. I have always held the firm belief that any “shortboarder” that does not ride a longboard a few times a year is doing an injustice to himself. Today I did my part.

It was also Father’s Day. Perhaps it was no cosmic coincidence International Surfing Day fell on Father’s Day. My father introduced me to the ocean and surfing at a young age. Before I could even walk. I will always be grateful for it. Like the saying goes, “Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime.”


A Surfer’s Guide to the World Cup and Beyond

15 06 2010

Jeffreys Bay. Queen of the South African coastline and home to the World Cup

The online surfing world has been stagnant lately. Well, that’s not completely true. Surfline posted its 47th “How Good Was California This Week?” photo gallery this month. I did enjoy that. Kurungabaa posted the complete works of Dostoyevsky (in Russian). Transworld, (God bless them) ran a Vimeo video of something. And Boardistan (perhaps my personal favorite) kept a tidy tally on its Google news alert with the keywords “Surf, Skate and Snow.” Copy and paste carpel tunnel is no laughing matter gentlemen.

…and so it goes.

The FIFA World Cup kicked off this week in South Africa. I know what you’re thinking. What does surfing and World Cup soccer have in common? Quite a bit actually. The waiting period for the Jeffereys Bay event begins just after the World Cup culminates on July 11. And the World Cup is played every four years, which is roughly the same amount of time between ASP World Tour events. If Nugable had a marketing director he would probably moonlight for the ASP. Or a midget wrestling tour.

Despite all of man’s flaws there are but two types of people on this Earth. Those who enjoy soccer, and those who do not. The same divide or separation criterion exists elsewhere of course. For instance, people who don’t enjoy Frank Zappa or Thenolious Monk. Or Salvador Dali. And of course The Surfer and Non Surfer—heathens who have never ridden a single fin or never enjoyed an evening session waiting for one last wave before the sun lazily slumbers into the pillowy horizon.

Then there’s the soccer fan. Although the soccer fan is batshit crazy. He is not completely batshit crazy. That distinction is reserved for Los Angeles Lakers’ fans who attach purple and gold flags to their cars.

The World Cup is an international affair with teams from every single continent including Antarctica AND Arizona. Okay, I was kidding. I’m not sure if Alabama  Arizona is really a continent or a country or what it is. Don’t get me wrong. I did the research. Arizona’s chamber of commerce website, although impressive in its own right, had nothing but advertisements for a talking Jesus doll and piñata crucifixes.

OK, back to the Soccer or the Surfing. The ASP will cut its premier product down to 32 surfers in two months. The same number of teams in the 2010 World Cup. Let’s look at some of the teams and how they correspond with the surfers we love and even some we hate.

Surfer the team resembles: Jordy Smith
Key Players: Fernando Torres and Iker Casillas
History: Semifinals (1950), Quarterfinals (1934, 1994, 2002), Knockout Round (1982, 1990, 2006).
Odds to Win: 4-1
España is one of the favorites to take home the gold trophy. They are the second ranked team in the world. Let’s just say Liverpool forward Torres and Jordy enjoy the finer things in life and leave it at that.

Surfer the team resembles: Tom Curren or Kelly Slater
Key Players: Every single goddamn one of them.
History: Winners (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002) Finals (1950, 1998) Semifinals (1938, 1974, 1978) Quarterfinals (1954, 1986, 2002)
Odds to Win: 4.5-1
The play a beautiful brand of futbol. They have the pedigree and back it up. They don’t just win, they win with style. And if they don’t, they stab themselves and feed off their own blood.

Surfer the team resembles: Dane Reynolds
Dane is a media darling. When he is on he is on. When he is not he is not. Like a fickle New York apartment furnace with Beethoven or Bach providing the background music on an old record player, popping vinyl and sizzling lows. The Three Lions aren’t as cool but like Dane they don’t always show their best stuff.
Key Players: Wayne Rooney and Frank Lampard
History: Winners 1966, Semifinals 1990, Quarterfinals (1954, 1962, 1970, 1986, 2002, 2006).
Odds to Win: 6-1

Surfer the team resembles: Occy
Mr. Occhilupo is an Australian Italian. Perhaps the best combination on genetics possible. Like a rhinoceros and a koala bear with athletic ability and cooking skills.
Key Players: Daniele De Rossi and Gigi Buffon.
History: Winners (1934, 1938, 1982, 2006) Finalists (1970, 1994) Semifinalists (1978, 1990)
Odds to Win: 12-1

Surfer the team resembles: Mick Fanning
Key Players: All of them. Tall Arians who score and expect nothing but ze best. Precision. Like A Mercedes running on beer and nuclear ethanol.
History: Winners (1954, 1974, 1990) Finals (1966, 1982, 1986, 2002) Semifinals (1934, 1958, 1970, 2006)
Odds to Win: 12-1

Surfer the team resembles: Bede Durbidge
The Clockwork Orange is a formidable squad, seemingly always in the hunt. Durbidge is a formidable surfer. They shall be formidable together. Expect a quarterfinals appearance for the Orange.
Key Players: Arjen Robben and Robin Van Persie
History: Finals (1974, 1978) Semifinals (1998)
Odds to Win: 12-1

Surfer the team resembles: Jamie O’Brien
Key Player: Franck Ribery
Les Bleus has had plenty of success on the international stage. The Frogs are abhorred by some and adorned by others. They both show up when it counts. Like Pipeline or the premier sporting tournament in existence.
History: Winner (1998) Finalist (2006) Semifinalist (1958, 1982, 1986)
Odds to Win: 16-1

Surfer the team resembles: Gabe Kling
I vaguely remember Kling winning an ASP Prime event at Trestles. It was like the Bizzaro Seinfeld episode when there was an alternative Kramer, Jerry and Costanza. In this bizzaro universe the Yanks might actually have a shot.
Key Players: Clint Dempsey and Tim Howard.
History: Semifinals (1930) Quarterfinals (2002) Qualified (1934, 1950, 1990-1998, 2006)
Odds to Win: 80-1

Surfer the team resembles: Bobby Martinez
Who else, right? El Tri is scrappy. They get good results. They aren’t afraid to get dirty.
Key Players: Giovanni Dos Santos and Andres Guardado
History: Quarterfinalists (1970, 1986)
Odds to Win: 80-1

South Africa
Surfer the team resembles: Travis Logie
The host nation is soccer’s equivalent to a wasted ASP wildcard from the event sponsor. They are ranked 88th in the world by FIFA. They may become the first host nation to not make it out of the knockout round.
History: Qualified 1998, 2002 (banned from 1966 to 1992 because of Apartheid)             
Odds to Win: 125-1

North Korea
Surfer the team resembles: Marco Polo
Is he still on tour? Did North Korea really qualify for the Cup? Is Kim Jong-il on the team? Hell, I don’t know? If Marco Polo launched torpedoes at opponents this season would he make it out of a heat? Who knows?
History: Quarterfinals (1966)
Odds to Win: 2 Million-1

The Endless Bummer

10 05 2010

Millions of gallons of oil have leaked from British Petroleum’s Deepwater Horizon rig off the coast of Louisiana after the explosion three weeks ago. The United States Coast Guard estimates more than 210,000 gallons (although 5,000 barrels sounds much more manageable doesn’t it?) spew into the Gulf waters each day and there is no end in sight. Other unofficial estimates are at nearly one million gallons a day. This will undoubtedly become the biggest oil disaster in the history of the U.S. and possibly the world.

How does BP expect to stop the leak that is more than a mile beneath the surface of the ocean? Is the short answer to hope the leak stops or the well just runs out of oil? Sure technology might be theoretically better today to stop the flow, but similar disasters took almost a year to plug (see the Ixtoc spill from 1979-1980). As it stands now efforts to quail the leak have failed.

And it should surprise no one Halliburton played a role in this current disaster. Halliburton also did the concrete work for a rig that exploded last year in the Timor Sea between northwest Australia and Indonesia.

BP, Transocean and Halliburton. Fuck you. You fucking fucks.

Photo illistration: Matty

A Quick Chat With Kelly Slater

22 04 2010

The nine-time ASP World Champion celebrates after winning the Rip Curl Pro. Photo: ASP/Cestari

There has been a lot of hype this year about the rookies and perhaps deservedly so. It’s a pretty strong class. But Taj and you are 1 and 2 in the ratings after two events. Does it motivate you to beat the younger guys?
It motivates me to surf well and keep progressing. It’s not personal. I don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings in the process. I used to like that secretly.

Conversely, I imagine some of the younger guys are really motivated to do well when they surf against you. During your first few seasons on tour who motivated you?
For sure. I nearly beat Pottz and BL (Barton Lynch) when I was just about to turn pro and that fired me up. Then I eventually got both of them and that was good confidence building.

With the revised judging guys are routinely getting 7’s, 8’s and 9’s for one maneuver. How much does that change your approach in heats?
Not sure yet. I think the judging is finding itself. Just as you can’t give a ten for the best ever carve, you can’t do it for airs guys pull every heat. It needs to focus on combos and variety, and the quality of each individual maneuver within that. That’s where I think we should steer it.

Do you think Christian Fletcher and John Holeman are screaming “fucking finally” somewhere while watching these events?
They should be but inversely (I had to use it cause you used conversely) Gerry Lopez and Rob Machado might feeling ill at some styles and claims they see going down. 

What event would you like to see come back, or is there a spot that hasn’t had a WT event that should be a part of the Dream Tour?
GLand and more rotating mobile event licenses.

I think Bob McKnight should just hand over the keys to Quiksilver if you win title number 10. Thoughts?
The actual office? No thanks.

Since your given name is Robert Kelly have you ever thought about going by just R. Kelly? Or would that be too weird?
Maybe in the summer when I get really dark. It would probably be fun for a few days, but then just way too creepy.

I saw a video on Surfline where you were experimenting with shaving the deck to make it a concave…like a skateboard. It surprises me that someone hasn’t done something like that before. Maybe someone has. How are those boards working out?
They’re good. Don’t tell anyone. Try tend to flex too much though.

I have seen you touch on this subject before but I think the ASP is doing a disservice to fans by continually allowing events sponsors to run the webcasts of events. To me it seems so transparent and amateurish. The PGA, for instance, doesn’t allow Titleist that kind of control. But it most likely comes down to money. There is no revenue stream. Events don’t charge admission. And there is no across the board TV deal like we see in most major sports. Is it even possible as it stands now for the ASP to run webcasting/broadcasting from a financial standpoint?
No. We cater to surf fans mostly and maybe that’s all our industry wants. There are a lot of things on the ground level that need changing for that option to happen. Someone would need to figure out that revenue stream for the governing body. 

I think people are really enjoying the Occy and Curren Clash of the Icons thing. Do you think 10 or so years from now we’ll see Kelly vs. Andy?
At Pipe? I hope so.

There doesn’t seem to be any true rivalries on tour anymore. Do you think that is a true statement?
Yes. Maybe Jordy and Dane. They’re very different and polarize each other, but surf towards the same place on a wave. Dane’s the anti Jordy and vice versa.

Weisbecker’s Water Time

21 04 2010

In his third book, Can’t You Get Along With Anyone, Allan Weisbecker writes “No one who wants to make a movie out of my book is smart enough to get it done.” His first two books, Cosmic Banditos and In Search of Captain Zero, have been optioned by John Cusack and Sean Penn respectively. The way it looks now neither title will be on the big screen in the foreseeable future. It’s probably for the best. Unless Francis Ford Coppola signs on to direct the movie, it won’t be as good as the book. He’s the only director I can think of who can make a film better than the book it was based on.

 Which leads us to his latest endeavor—a self-produced film.

For more than two years Weisbecker of has been working on Water Time; Surf Travel Diary of a MadMan. The following is the first seven minutes of the movie. Some may call Allan Weisbecker crazy, but he should take that as a compliment. All great writers, at the very least, are a little bit crazy.

Foto Feature: Myles McGuinness

19 04 2010

“A photograph is memory in the raw.”
—Carrie Latet

Myles McGuinness is a photographer who lives in Oceanside, California, but he grew up all over the United States—places like the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia, Ohio, North Carolina, and the beaches of Georgia, Texas, Florida and California. As he puts it, “I was raised on snow and saltwater.” He traveled a lot as a kid and developed a passion for exploration and photography. After graduating from the Savannah College of Art and Design with a double major of photography and graphic design, he started his own brand communications company in 1998 called 9MYLES.

Through his work he aims to capture images that have “a profound aesthetic and an elegant simplicity that is drawn from the magic and spirit of the sea, the land and the people whose paths he has crossed along the way.”

What do you love about photography?
With my images I look to combine a certain energy: a feeling, with unique light at an equally interesting moment in time. At the heart, it all comes back to the ocean and what it is that draws us to it. It keeps me up at night. I cannot turn it off in my head.  I have learned the best way to express my passion for the ocean is through photography. Its feeling and essence is what I try to embody and capture within my images. Subtle but bold.  Simple yet deeply complex. Instantaneous but timeless.

How long have you been shooting surfing?
I’ve been shooting lineups for about 15 years…you know a couple quick snaps before paddling out. But I really started taking it seriously about 2 years ago when I purchased an SPL water housing before a trip to Indonesia. Things have taken off since then.

What publications do you contribute to?
In the surf industry I’ve had my images run in Surfer Magazine, The Surfer’s Journal, Water, with upcoming images running in NALU and The Surfer’s Path. I’ve been trying to branch out a bit with the unraveling of the surf industrys two largest pubs (Surfer & Surfing) both in Chapter 11. They are mainly running “staff shots.”

Was it an honor being a finalist in the Follow the Light competition?
It was a privilege to be part of it all and to make the finals says a lot. I wouldn’t be telling the truth if I didn’t say that I’m little bummed I didn’t win. I truly believe the best guy won (Ray Collins). If only I lived in Oz. He’s a good bloke and a more deserving person couldn’t have won it. As they would say in Australia “good on ’em.” Larry is smiling down on us and his light continues to touch us all.

Who are your influences and favorite photographers?
Water, the ocean and the moon are the most dominant natural forces of my life. These three elements provide an abstract means of communication, through both surfing and photography. The ocean’s energy often transcends reality. It is this energy that I aim to capture. Artistically, Mies van der Rohe—less is more. Edward Hopper for his realism and simplicity. Edward Weston and Ansel Adams for their surreal landscapes. Art Brewer for his grit and portraits, as well as John S. Callahan for his untold discoveries. Timeless, unrelenting, honest, always exploring.

Do you think the surf industry takes advantage of photographers at times?
Man, this is a double edge sword. Of course the surf industry takes advantage. I recently had someone working for one of the largest companies in the industry with sales exceeding a billion dollars annually tell me they only pay $125 for a catalog cover and that included using it on their web site for up to a year. With a take or leave it attitude. The worst part was being told you will get great exposure and can sell prints to make up for it. Then they tried to convince me that this was industry standard, comparing their commercial catalog to editorial use.

Yes, it is true we all are trying to climb the surf industry ladder. But at what expense… it is a delicate balance between exposure and also getting paid for your labors. Giving away work for less than reasonable value not only hurts my bottom line but undermines all the other hard working photographers too. Being the cheapest gets you no where but poor. I also think the photographers need to share thoughts, billing practices, pricing and rates more openly. Maybe even form a union. The way it works right now everybody is undercutting and blaming the companies. But they’re helping undermine the photo industry by selling their images out the backdoor for less than industry standard. Or even worse, the industry is telling the photographers what they pay. Have a rate, stick to it and don’t be afraid to walk away.

For more of Myles’ images go to 9mPhoto.

Rip Curl Pro Final Day Open Thread

8 04 2010


The remainder of Round 4:

Heat 5: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Adrian Buchan (AUS)
Heat 6: Bobby Martinez (USA) vs. Jadson Andre (BRA)
Heat 7: Bede Durbidge (AUS) vs. Luke Stedman (AUS)
Heat 8: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Michel Bourez (PYF)

Predicted quarterfinal match-ups

Heat 1: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. Taj Burrow (AUS)
Heat 2: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Mick Fanning (HAW)
Heat 3: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Bobby Martinez (USA)
Heat 4: Bede Durbidge (AUS) vs. Kelly Slater (USA)

Predicted semifinal match-ups

Taj Burrow (AUS) vs. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 
Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs Bede Durbidge (AUS)


Taj Over Bede