Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The gallery of surfing

In following competitive surfing both at the CT and QS level I have noticed that marketing developement of an individual surfer can and does have an effect on how that person is scored in events. At first I viewed this as an unpleasant fact of life. It did not seem fair. Why should one person who is more heavily sponsored and promoted have an edge over his or her fellow competitor. It seemed unethical. But as I myself spend more time seeking out video parts on the net for surfers who are mentioned in articles and other media that function as cogs in the promotion machine I realized that the situation is a bit more complex than it looks at first gloss.

The judgement of a surf contest can seem quite arbitrary. Each surfer is stringing together moves in an effort to paint a line. At the end of the day it is about the preference of the judge as to what aestetic they think is more valuable. But in all fairness some lines are harder to understand than others.

Take art for example. Abstraction can look ugly at first glance. And personally I believe it is the perrogative of the viewer to dismiss what he or she chooses. But if the onlooker has a bit of education on the subject it may further ones ability to appreciate what at first glance is not immediately apparent.

So when a surfer is being promoted through publicity and the use of video sections yes on the one hand its just plain and simple spot lighting but on the other hand it can help judges enhance there sensibilities, advancing the mechanics of scoring by fostering a more complex understanding of the art they are viewing so to speak.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Shifty mind

Riding the subway to work one day I saw a woman who was riding the express 5 train all the way uptown without leaning on or holding something for balance. It reminded of an old teacher I had. It also made me think of the difference between reef break and beach break. In particular the shifty sand bars most of us surf here.

A reef break is a study of experience over time as articulated through a breaking wave. So as different swell directions run through one learns about its behaviour. Where it bowls, what are the lines that can be drawn and this becomes the discipline.

Certain beach breaks seem to be about the absence of discipline. To embrace the spirit of this may hold some potential for drawing more workable lines in unpredictable conditions.

But this gets me thinking of the woman balancing on the subways of New York City. The train must shift in an irregular fashion. And to file the variations of each line at the different traveling speeds of the train would be impossible to index in the mind. But when falling into to a rhythm recognition must kick in.

It might do well in the line up to clear the mind and let memory recognize for itself.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Cold Water and Watch the Ape Eat

Yesterday the reports had it looking like 3-4' and mushy so I left behind the shortboard I've been riding all summer and dragged the 7'8 funboard to the A train. Probably closing out but missed the taste of salt in my mouth.

Anyway, I show up, the s**t is peeling like a banana across the box. My heart leaps. I jump in the rip and paddle out, it's actually more like 5' faces and breaking across at the perfect speed. The first set I paddle into a late takeoff and totally pearl, eating it. OK, big guy, you lost the rocker with the bigger board, now put in another quarter and try again.

Take the next one at the proper angle and it's on...from the piling to the jetty. Can't remember the last time I had rides so long I was running back up the beach to put in again. It's like this for 2 solid hours until I can't paddle any more.

Why was it breaking so righteously when there were so many days filled with closeouts lately? Wonder if it had something to do with the little bit of east in the offshores. Anyone care to submit their pet theories?

Something about a cold water session gets me wanting cold water fish. Hit the Korean fish store on the way home and for the price of a deli sandwich I've got something way better.

Today ain't Hawaii and this ain't poke but know what? I'll take a double helping of today any day.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

East Coast...and then Malibu

Scored two days in a row this Sunday and Monday. First day was 5' and fast, but lots of sneaky closeouts.

I sometimes get in this pattern of initially paddling out and getting a string of nice rides, then it quickly turns to shite and I start surfing like the town drunk. I almost quit after this happened on Mon but turned it around with a nice one from the jetty all the way to the beach. That fixed the stoke all right.

So much that when a larger, perfect peeler showed up, I gave it to the other cat, a stranger that I was trading waves with. He took it all the way in to the sand, then turned to look back at me. A grateful hand went up over his head before he headed up to the boardwalk and out. Brother, when there's enough waves to go around, it's all good.

Which brings me to this video, which blows my mind:

No rules of the road, way too many bodies in the water. Beach 90 at Rock is like the wilderness compared to it. But why does it still look so fun?

The style of these cats works for me...smooth, in a dance with the wave. The absolute best is the very end of the video, that last ride is something to see!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The stiffness of skill

Im starting to notice something...I am a hater. Well I didn’t just notice that I’ve been aware of my douchebaggery for a minute now. So yeah I sometimes spite the next guy for being better than me in the water. But what I’m noticing is that the intentionality of peoples surfing affects my perceptions. I think I tend to resent those who use elaborate moves to master the wave, its very punctuated and the rides tend to look like –insert maneuver here-. Yet there are others who seem to be getting loose when they bust out and I become downright inspired. I guess it comes down to attitude and style, or maybe haircuts.....

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Board Lust

The other day I was scanning the interweb for surfboards. I'm looking for a new board and a shaper that is environmentally aware. While browsing Board Riders Review I found an interview with Solid Surfdoards Dan O'Hara and I really liked what I saw. Check out the interview here.

Below is their 5'9 Discus board made with recycled EPS foam strips stringerless blank, bamboo cloth, hand-foiled bamboo fins, a Bio-Plastic leash plug, and epoxy resins.

I would be more than happy to ride a recycled board with replenishable materials, such as bamboo. Check out the Solid Surfboards website for more info and more boards. Be sure to check out the shaping videos. Being on the East coast and riding mostly small waves, I thought the boards pictured below would be cool to have in any quiver. I'm looking forward to ordering one this spring!

Solid Surfboards: F-Bomb, shortboard fish hybrid.

Solid Surfboards: DisFish, discus fish hybrid

Solid Surfboards: The Kwad, shortboard fish hybrid.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A shaper i've admired

Geoff Mccoy's nugget is a board I've always wanted in my quiver. I saw them out in Byron Bay while I was still in my newbie longboard phase. The nugget's shape and heft seemed to make sense to me and I'll forever kick myself in the ass for not bringing one home.

Mccoy in his own words.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Four on One

Added four fins to my Catch Surf ONE. I want it to stick to the wave when I kneeride it. It kept side slipping out but the quads should keep it tracking and get me howling.

So I can fly like this:

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Last Hope at the New York Surf Film Festival

This post is long overdue but I was on the move. A few of us took in a screening of Andrew Kidman's Last Hope. The film is a collection of 16 shorts that portray our connection to the water. As children, as seventies aussie surfers, as northeast winter surfers, as defenders of the past, as outsiders. Kidman and band played during some of the shorts and obviously the live sound gave it that "Oomph" that only a live performance gives. If I could decree something it would be that all surf films need to be accompanied by live music. What better way than to get transported, elevated into that celluloid tube ride...

Magic Seaweed Bodyboarding Action Shots

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Arctic Surfing

Winter in NYC is approaching. According to the Farmers Almanac, we are in for a cold winter. I was cruising The Surfer's Path website and found this trailer about surfing in the Arctic Circle. If I could only get a hold of one of those self-heating wet suits! Enjoy!

Monday, October 5, 2009

The tribe

For me surfing is a tribe not a f-ing sport

This quote taken out of a recent issue of surfer magazine has me thinking on the state of tribalism in surfing. While the author is a bit larger than life and beyond my analytic reach I do feel his words illustrate a pervasive mindset, which is the schism between competitive surfing and well, I hate this phrase but lets just call it soul surfing for now.

Its easy to see the athletic/competitive component to surfing as godless. Especially on a professional level I would imagine that the business side of peoples careers could become really overbearing and the culture around that downright stifling. But I am attracted to competitive surfing. I feel it serves its purpose in nourishing the spirit of the culture even though on the whole I don’t see surfing as a sport either.

The thing is that tribes can be exclusive to the point where the expression gets inbred. And the idea that on any given day of a pumping swell that people are not competeting, not just for waves, but energy and shine is naive and in some cases dishonest. Take the etiquette of surfing. These rules are observed for our safety and so that the palette of a wave is not ruined by our chaotic behavior. But actually etiquette is a guidline, the real underlying principle is judicious sharing. True enough that any old a-hole who paddles out does not deserve a wave but if an individual is legit then there is no reason why a guy who just got a ride should paddle back around deeper and take another wave first just because by law he is entitled to do so. What is the motivation? It’s a stilted psuedo competition based on a skewed interpretation of the „rules“ to suit the whim of the prevailing tribe.

This sucks. It makes the surfing at the break crappy and mutes the soul. There are lots of stupid things about surf comps and the business around them no doubt. But there is also something democratic in the criteria. You don’t need to be liked, you don’t need to be in with the tribe. Although favoritism does exist, in theory its about letting the surfing speak for itself.

Pushing each others limits in the name of growth as opposed to blind progress is at the heart of the matter. Sometimes this is best exemplified by a contest and sometimes it is better expressed at a session where like minded individuals are getting their flow on.

Stay focused......

Newport RI

Last weekend I found myself in Newport RI for sight seeing and over all relaxation. I did not know much about the area and was not expecting to find surf. To my delight Sunday proved to be a great day for waves! It was waist high and relatively glassy for New England. Here are some shots of the locals enjoying the waves.

After watching the locals do their thing, I stumbled into Island Surf and Sport. The folks their are the friendliest people you would ever want to meet. I was scoping out potential new boards and found out about Strive Surfboards and the Bully Fish shaped by Jon Henderson out of Santa Cruz CA. It's a hybrid Fish or some would call it a Long Fish as the shortest model is 6'6" with a modern rocker and hard rails at the tail. I can't wait to take this board out for a session!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Action over admiration

In many aspects of our culture we worship the maverick, the rebel the non conformist, weathered and weary from a life spent bucking the system. In surfing especially we tend to lionize these characters. Its no small wonder though, that many times the heroic struggles of these warriors involves drugs, alchohol and other self destructive vices.

While I empathize with the mysanthropic righteousness of the misfit savant it also occurs to me that we who have managed to etch out a viable existence in this joke we call society are a part of the malignant force that condemns the so called non conformist to a life of hardship. The fact that we glamourize just as the victim rationalizes is a coping mechanism. On the one hand for complicity, on the other for denial. What I’m saying is that non conformity implies choice, when really there never was one at all.

When moving through time and space we need to mind our basic laws of physics. One of which is that two bodies can not occupy the same space at the same time. So the social space that I inhabit, the job I work, the home I live in, the friends I make etc..will exclude another body from occupation, Which is fine assuming that there is room elsewhere. The assumption is that society being a construct of our imaginations as such can accomodate an infinite number of beings. This is false, society as we know it, the paradigm we have generated has a limited amount of space.

It does not have to be this way but that is the way it is. And here in lies the great crime of our complaceny and the sin of martyrdom. It is the idea that pure individualism can only exist on the outside. Alienation is not a choice it is an imposition. And admiration from a safe distance is simply putting a positive spin on the sentence.

I think if we could all make more of an effort to be our own heroes then we wouldn’t need someone else to live under a boardwalk, or in a tent on the beach as a symbol of what we wish we could have. If we all made more of an effort to go ahead and have it, then maybe there would be more energy and will to help out our brothers and sisters who suffer needlessly for a cause that really should be a burden shared by us all.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Local style

in Hawaii it is my limited understanding that back in the day the land was divided into radiating pieces from the center of an island to the ocean. Proponents of localism could take a lesson from this.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


I just rented this DVD. Blackwater is Tim Bonython's Teahupoo documentary. I think it will be good to watch this winter to keep the surfing fires stoked. Check out the trailer.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Groveling – more than one way to skin a cat

Groveling is at its essence a term of derision. But at this moment in surfing a change in terminology would be most appropriate. Used to describe a kind of false intensity or imply a desperate quality of trying to rip a small wave into a higher score or experience depending on the context, the word is a security blanket for the uninspired.

Not that the phenomenon is not real. We see it all the time. But if a long boarder can make music out of a three or four foot peeler than so can a short boarder. In the final heat of the Hurley pro 09 Dane Reynolds v Mick Fanning, Dane could not put it together to challenge Mick's fire. However Dane's last ride was punctuated by a crisp skate like air off of what had to be a two maybe three foot end section. Though too little too late it showed an intensity for the whole wave not just the best or meatiest section that alludes to the idea that it is not just the surfer drawing from the wave but also answering back natures call with a creative echo from within.

I wouldn’t really call that groveling, would you?

water shots

the picture of the 3 photographers duck diving the wave is amazing.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Fearlessness, and the absence of fear

Courage is a positive force. The absence of fear is a negative force. Fearlessness is a subcomponent of courage and therefore a positive. Because courage can not exist without fear.

To site a personal experience I had a long night out before a day that I really wanted to surf. So I ended up going straight to the beach being that if i went to sleep I would be sleeping for the day. I showed up at dawn to shoulder/overhead short interval stormy but rideable surf. With no fire in my belly I paddled out. Ducking my first wave I immediately perceived the absence of fear. Duck diving in shallow sand I frequently worrie about the wave splashing off the bottom and forcing the board out of my grip and into my face. But now I did not have the energy to care. And I pushed through the outside easily. Similarily on my first wave, too exhausted to think I took off and flew down the stormy overhead face backside like it was a glassy 3ft. roller and finished by just letting the wall knock me off the board without bothering to turn towards or away from the oncoming close. It was like fallling into a waterbed. I did not know or care where my board was in the foam and getting to the surface was not even a thought in my mind, things were just happening.

That was a very short session, for obvious reasons I could not sustain a long surf. Thinking about that session I can see that utilizing negative energy, a lack of or even denial of fear can open some doors. However I also notice that without courage, without positive energy one can flow but not actualize. In that state I could not have done anything but what I did. So without using exhaustion as a strategy I realize that positive force tempered with negative can generate energy and flow. To make this work sometimes one has to set aside logic and move on straight intuition but as I apply this emotional discipline to my surfing it seems to yield results.

shot with my casio wp last summer on long island.

Friday, September 18, 2009

keep it simple...

check out Sea Movies on Korduroy. "Subsistence Shredding" sums up what surfing is.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Surf Naked!

Thought I'd pass on a few stories from my trip to Assateague Island, MD a few weeks back. Brought two boards and a tent. Lucky me, I'd scored a week earlier with Mr. Bill...

(I'm behind the camera for this one)

...and here I am traveling down to MD to camp out amidst wild ponies whilst tropical storm Danny kindly spins up the Atlantic coast to greet me.

Next morning is head high+ surf and good conditions. After getting thrilled and worked in equal proportions, the next dawn brings waist high waves, sideshore winds, and a largely deserted beach. Still having an appetite for the water, Rebecca and I grab the boards and head down and here's this hippie guy and his girlfriend frolicking nude in the surf under the pelicans. They have a good vibe so we exchange hellos and they playfully ask us why we're so overdressed. Once I realize I don't have a good argument, I throw my board shorts on the beach, paddle out, and ride one in. If you haven't tried it, I recommend it...

Just avoid doing it when there's a sideshore current pulling you quickly toward the more populous end of the beach with families and little kids running around. I mean, theoretically you could have a minor problem. that's all I'm gonna say.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Bikini shots

I try to follow competitive surfing and watch the CT and QS events online when I can. Lately there has been some noise made about why contest surfing can not seem to break into the mainstream. The first thing that comes to my mind is those idiotic T and A shots of chicks on the beach. Even sports with cheerleaders don't do that and it insults me as a viewer. If I want that online I will indulge myself in the vast resource of internet porn that exists at my disposal. The industry itself does not seem to take the sport seriously so why should anyone else?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

George Greenough

da man!

Catch Surf

Even though these are soft boards they totally rock. I think the folks over at Catch Surf are on to something big. Using new materials and technology with time tested design sounds like a recipe for some awesome sessions. I'm really looking forward to getting the Y Quad designed by none other then Tom Morey. Enjoy the video below with Hans Hages on the Y Quad. Oh, on those small lazy days look to the Swizzle. Check out their website for more info, boards, pics and videos.

Catch Surf's Y Quad

Catch Surf's longboard the Swizzle

Friday, September 11, 2009

gotta love community

Wooden board day at Currumbin Alley:

Le Grand Bleu

I need to watch this movie again. I've probably watched it three or four times already. It was my first introduction to Luc Besson's work and it's the best movie Rosana Arquette has ever done which isn't praise for her, just her luck. Also the first time I saw the acting chops of Jean Reno and Jean-Marc Barr.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


I heart fins, on my feet and on boards. This fin system for dropknee looks pretty cool. Too bad I suck at it:

some dk minus the fins:

New York Surf Film Festival Sept. 25-27th

Get yours while it's here!

click here for schedule and tickets.

Lots of good stuff, where do I put my money down? I think I'm in the mood for some Bonnie Prince Billy and surf footage on the big screen. White Wash for an interesting rarely mentioned part of surf history and Inner Most Limits of Pure Fun for some good old fashioned take me back to the time before I was born nostalgia. haha.

Last Hope - Andrew Kidman from X-Treme Video on Vimeo.

Whitewash Trailer from Daniel Scott on Vimeo.

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