Well, it had everything didn't it? J Bay was the event of the ASP season so far. Bombing waves, flawless point break surfing, and a precious little frenchmen by the name of Jeremy Flores losing his shit, again.
But getting gypped by the judges can be the least of your worries in South Africa. We cover Aritz Aranbaru's forlorn tale (courtesy of Surf Europe) about getting locked up in a Johannesburg prison on his way to the Mr Price Pro in Durban. Surfers get caught "harassing" whales, Firewire delivers us an eco-revolution and the ASP Big Wave World Tour: Riding giants or a giant fizzier?
Dorian gets the bomb at Puerto, but what about underground charger Gabriel Villarean? Where's the hype for his effort?
It's also comeback week on Ain't That Swell. Aussie Puerto pioneer, Gary Hughes returns to Mexico to charge Mex Pipe at 50 something years old and Jai Abberton makes his return to Ours. To celebrate these two icons, we take a look at surfing's top five all-time comebacks.
Visionary / Film Lord / Bearded dude
SW: The Academy of Motion Pictures delivers you a lifetime achievement Oscar. What’s the opening line of your acceptance speech?
TS: Spike Jonze hands me the trophy and I’d say, “I know that dude… You know, all I need are some tasty waves, a cool buzz and I’m fine.”
You direct a re-make of Big Wednesday with unlimited budget and the cast of your choice. Give us the actor and the stunt double for the following characters…
Matt Johnson: James Franco with stunt surfing by Dane Reynolds.
Leroy the Masochist: Owen Wilson with stunt surfing by Owen Wright.
Jack Barlow: Michael Cera with stunt surfing by Noa Deane.
Bear: Danny McBride with stunt surfing by Jordy Smith.
Gerry Lopez: Craig Anderson and he would do his own stunts.
You can go back in time and film the one wave you missed or taped over from your early years as a video guy. Whose is it?
When I was filming for Momentum 2 I missed the first part of a Ross Williams combo. He was so mad he didn’t talk to me for a week. Whenever we have a couple beers the tension still comes out about it. Sorry Ross, now can you let it go?
George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola and John Milius invite you to join the esteemed Bearded Directors of Hollywood League. Do you sign up or go into the bathroom and shave?
Of course I sign up! I haven’t shaved in over a year hoping they will call. I stay awake at night staring at my phone. “Please ring!” But it’s only ever an Indian voice asking if I’d like to take part in a survey.
You’re paddling between two islands when all of a sudden you feel compelled to slink off your board and just lie there… drifting… what’s going through your mind at this point?
“Dude, where’s my car?”
The title of the best surf movie you never made? What’s it about?
BREAKOUT! It’s about a bunch of under-privileged kids that are trying to get out of the ghettos by surfing and singing pop music. Tagline: “Whether it’s ocean waves or sound waves these guys are breaking all the rules.”
Would Jon Swift really enjoy playing guitar more than getting paid millions of dollars to make atomic weapons? Really?
Money or groupies it’s a tough choice. He has no regrets.
Which number is better 12 or 37?
37, no reason why. Who needs reasons?
You have to erase from existence one film from your back catalogue. Which do you choose and why?
I’d erase Momentum. Crooked horizons, too many Bad Religon songs, tons of shots that are out of focus, but mainly Kelly would pay me a lot of money to lose that fight scene with Paul Roach.
You wake up in an alternate reality where cameras and film making don’t exist. Describe what you’d be doing today?
I’d be a slacker.
Illustration by Nanda Ormond.
Provenance: Ulladulla, NSW
Russ was born on the North Shore of Oahu and moved to Ulladulla with his family aged 5. His pedigree exposes his preference for airdrops down mountainous waves over air reverses. Kirk, his Dad, lived on the North Shore for 15 years surfing the outer reefs and shaping boards for Jamie Sterling, Mark Healey and a few other guys. “It’s come a lot from my Dad,” said Russ. “He’s taught me everything I know about big waves. He makes all my boards and we talk a fair bit about board design. It’s pretty sick.”
Russ’s first experience in solid waves was a sign of things to come. “I went to Bells Beach when I was 12 and it was huge. Dad tried to paddle out from the sand but almost got washed onto The Button so we paddled out a kay or two from Centreside, the next beach over. There were only four or five guys out… they were wondering what a young kid was doing out there… I was wondering the same thing. I only got one, probably a solid 10 foot wave, but that hooked me. That was the start of it all.”
Last year Russ linked up with Kelly Slater on a mission to score slabs in the Australian desert. “He called me into one of the best waves of my life,” he said. “I could hear him yelling, ‘Go! Go! Go!’ from the channel so I knew I had to put my head down. I barely made the take off and looked up and thought, Ahh I’m way too deep. For some reason it kept pushing me through the barrel and I ended up getting blown out the end. It was pretty unreal. I’m glad I didn’t blow it in front of him. It was cool hanging with him for a few days.”
Russ told me he wants to make a career out of all this. He said he wants to chase swells as much as he can. “It’s being appreciated a lot more now, especially compared to when my Dad was young,” he reasoned.
It’s funny how things come full circle. Where Kirk helped Healey and Sterling into careers that didn’t quite exist yet, those same guys have made a future possible for Russ. Whatever comes next… for this grom, you can bet it’s gonna be big.
– Lucas Townsend
In Australia, the term “seagull” actually refers to the Silver Gull. A byword for unconstrained greed, their un-hinging jaws allow them to eat objects bigger than their own heads. The scientific name Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae comes from Greek, meaning “Australian bird capable of eating objects larger than its own head”. They were already here when Europeans turned up. It is not known how they survived before fried food and litter.
Seagulls are very common. They are now thought to be nearly as numerous as baristas, although research indicates they are more widely liked. Despite their prevalence, seagulls have made only two appearances in the history of human culture: the first was Chekov’s eponymous play, often quoted by pretentious undergrads (to extract yourself from any such conversation it is only necessary to say “He stole it – it’s just Hamlet for Russians”). The second was David Williamson’s play The Club, in which star recruit Geoff Hayward likes to play footy stoned, with this result: “Five minutes after you smoke it your head lifts right off your shoulders. I wasn’t looking out into the crowd, incidentally, I was watching a seagull. Not just an ordinary seagull. It was the prince of seagulls, dazzling me with blasts of pure white every time its wings caught the sun.”
Because of the quite serious issue of gulls being struck by balls or trampled underfoot, major arenas have tried using birds of prey to frighten them off – finally, a commercial application for the very cool hobby of falconry.
Seagulls are synonymous with the beach, but have never been accorded the sea-faring cred of the albatross or the petrel. They have about as much open-ocean gravitas as an inflatable dinghy.
From a distance, roosting gulls on the low tide rocks look remarkably like sesame seeds on a Japanese gyudon. As a result, it is possible to become very hungry through staring at them for too long while surfing. Sometimes a gull will lose a leg to a pelagic fish while sitting on the ocean’s surface. Sometimes they will fake this injury to garner sympathy. They are nothing if not adaptable.
Their sound is the sound of summer, the discordant music to our transition from carpark to sea, as they bicker and scrap over chips thrown from car windows. If ever you meet someone who can convincingly imitate a seagull’s scrrraw! shout them a wave. It’s a very difficult thing to do.
No-one has ever seen a baby seagull. Although the Wikipedia entry on Silver Gulls claims to show a photograph of juveniles, this only proves you should never do your research on Wikipedia.
– Jock Serong
... Tom Curren at J-Bay, 2009
By Kai Otton
Curren was there to surf against Occy in a Clash-of-the-Icons battle as a little side feature to the Billabong Pro World Tour event. No shit, I was more excited about seeing the Occy and Curren match-up than I was to compete at J-Bay. I was having a bit of meltdown at the time. I’d had a shitty run of results and a heat loss to Marco Polo in Brazil totally broke me.
I wasn’t in a good way. I’d let my hair get all dreaded and filthy, grew a massive beard and spent most of the first week of the waiting period hiding from people in the dunes meditating and watching the ocean.
The only thing that put a smile on my face each day was watching Curren surf Jeffreys. I’d grown up worshipping Tom, hammering VHS tapes of all his sections in Sonny Miller’s Rip Curl Search films. I loved his mysto vibe and the way he could ride just about any board and make it work. So even in my defeated state I got psyched seeing Tom there.
I’ve definitely seen more high-performance surfing in my time but to me that isn’t necessarily the best surfing. Over the course of that first week at J-Bay I was freaking on Curren’s energy and I’ve never enjoyed watching someone else surf so much. He surfed those walls with pure style and drew cool lines I’d never seen with my own eyes. He was also surfing more than anyone else there.
Just watching him made me happy and pulled me out of my funk. When his heat with Occy rolled around it was a perfect offshore day with 4 to 5 foot walls running from Boneyards through Supers.
Everyone knew they were witnessing something special and the old boys didn’t disappoint. I got crazy goosebumps when they ran down to big screams and applause form the crowd.
Tom had this board from Channel Islands called “The Tangent” that looked to be a part of him. It was a normal 6’1” shortboard and he was doing all the turns that anyone on the WCT that year were doing. I would’ve freaked if he was in the contest and drew him in a heat.
Inspired by Tom’s surfing I got my head straight and had one of my best events before being totally ripped off against Joel Parkinson in the semis. Ha!
A couple of months later I travelled to India by myself to starve my inner demons on a full detox. I didn’t eat for a week and had two colonic irrigations a day for the duration of the 10 day trip. After that trip I realised that life on Tour was pretty damn good and I’ve been loving it ever since. Cheers Tom.
Sean Doherty remembers Curren and Otto at J-Bay
In J-Bay that year I actually thought Otto might be living in the bushes overlooking the point. He was wearing this dirty khaki jacket and had the biggest ginger bushranger beard that had sticks and bugs in it. This was years before hipster beards so amongst all the clean-cut Tour guys prancing around the place he kind of stood out. He actually looked a bit like Doc, the old hermit who actually did live in the bushes at J-Bay.
The waves were flat for the first few days, so the boys were kicking the footy around a lot. There was this big open yard overlooking the point, and as soon as Otto heard the sound of the ball being kicked he’d just appear out of the scrub and grab the ball and start leaping around like Gary Ablett. Even though he’s from NSW Otto played Aussie Rules growing up, so he was calling out all the league guys about how shitty their kicking was, throwing dummy handpasses to no one, fully playing an imaginary Aussie Rules game with himself. I think he was going through some issues at the time but it was kind of hard to tell cause when he’s happy he can be a misery guts, and when he’s a misery guts he comes across happy.
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Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbot gives US president Barack Obama a malibu. Well, isn't that just dandy. Now we can all just ride off into the sunset "sharing the stoke," as it were. NOT ON OUR FUCKING WATCH! It will be a cold day in the Mentawais when we accept soap dodging politicians into the fold. SCAB! SCAB! SCAB!
Surfing in Alaska: eating seal and "shitting black," as Alex Gray puts it, and scoring mind-boggling tubes along the freezing arctic frontier. De Passage: the Reef surfing film that left me rock hard and confused.
Texas Walker Ranger comes to the Gold Coast to clean the scum from the Superbank. This week's Classic Moment takes us to the Banzai Pipeline for Californian Joey Buran's breakthrough victory in 1984.
And we finish up with pro surfing's rich list. Who is the best paid surfer in the world? We gotta say we didn't see this coming.
*This week's program also features tracks from seven surf bands that actually rip.
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SW: You get a wildcard into the men’s event of your choosing. Which do you pick?
Oh, this is really gnarly. It’s tough because the guys have great waves and watching them surf Teahupoo and Pipe is amazing but the thing is they surf those waves at eight to 12 feet whereas I only surf those waves at four to six feet, so I was gonna say Trestles but we’ve got that on Tour now, so I think something that would challenge me but not be death-defying would be J-Bay.
Would you rather have a great white swim under your board or a giant spider run across your face?
Having a shark swim under me is not okay. A spider running over my face… no worries.
You start an all-girl band with two members from the current Women’s Tour. What’s it called?
I’d have Steph Gilmore because she can play guitar and I’ve been hanging with Alessa Cuizon and she’s a great dancer and she has a voice too. We’d be called Small Fries, because it feels really catchy and I just saw it on the back of a girl’s t-shirt.
Which number, 12 or 37?
12. My favourite number is three. One plus two is three. Three times four is 12.
Who would play you in the movie of your life?
I’d hope Jennifer Lawrence, I love her, I have a girl crush. She’s awesome. She’s just super cool in all her interviews and she rocks.
You have to rock either an afro or cornrows for the next year. Which do you choose?
An afro. I don’t like cornrows. An afro has a lot more ba-ba-ba-boom, it’s much more sexy. Beyoncé rocks the afro sometimes, so why not?
You get the wave of the season at Pipeline on the busiest day of the year. Do you claim it?
I would totally claim it! [Laughs] I would have my hands in the air then I’d be holding my face and be that stoked that I made it I wouldn’t care about how uncool I looked. Then me and Small Fries would play a celebration gig that night at Haleiwa Joes. That sounds like a plan.
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Big Wave World Tour
Provenance: Sunshine Beach,
Noosa Heads, QLD
Everyone’s got the photo. The one of a younger you with a catastrophic haircut, taken before anything mattered and hairdressers had eyes. It’s the one photo that no matter how cute the puppy is you’re holding, or any accessory for that matter, it doesn’t detract from the monstrosity on top. And they don’t come worse than the bowlcut. It’s the microwavable pizza of haircuts. So incredibly famous for being completely awful that it’s kinda okay. But while you cringe at the old photo of your fur explosion there’s always the sweet, sweet rejoice of knowing it’s all behind you.
But Harry Bryant’s 18 and he still loves microwavable pizza and truth is, we’re all better off for it. See, Harry’s one of those guys who’s found the balance between fun and serious. That’s a rare quality to have during the “do-or-die time for your career” when you’re trying to make it in competitive surfing with all the stretching and hooters and scores and hooters. “I’ve got a side of me that’s really dedicated to a good time with my mates but then there’s a side of me that’s wanting to do well and surf contests,” he says.
Harry’s part of a young crew of creatives on the Sunny Coast who’ve grown up watching Jake Donlan’s Runamuk Visuals take shape, a website showcasing talent from sides of the industries you may not have seen. Having been around for 10 years or so, there’s now this new wave of energy coming from the Sunny Coast. They’re filming, shooting, painting, surfing, skating and they’ve got the mediocre waves of the Sunny Coast to thank. “We’ve just come off the back of a six-month flat spell so yeah, the waves aren’t great. We do a lot of creative stuff that I suppose we don’t realise people call creative. We just get super bored and make things happen.” Whatever the idea – whether it’s playing soccer with raw chickens on his feet or dressing up in his sister’s tights for a tandem surfing exhibition – Harry seems to be the Yes Man with a character reminiscent of times gone by.
Harry’s been brought up under a watchful eye because around the corner from his house is the Nicest Guy in Surfing, Dean Brady. Brady’s taken Harry under his Boeing 747 wing and gotten all Mr. Miyagi on him. “When the surf’s good it’s all-time and me Brady always hit it. He’s been a huge influence on my whole life,” says Harry. “He’s always taught me the value of being a genuine nice bloke and that you’d be amazed where it’ll take you.”
Wax on, Harry. Wax on.
By Lucas Townsend
One of my absolute favourite things to make is my famous banana and chocolate cake. It’s a very balanced cake spiritually thanks to the yin of bananas and the yang of cocoa. This is my own personal recipe, perfected over many years of baking these suckers. Disclaimer: This cake is actually only famous in my mind when I’m eating it.
½ a thing of butter
¾ cup of brown sugar
2 cups of self raising flour
1 block of dark chocolate
2 ripe bananas
STEP 1: Put on a cool Guatemalan apron and compliment that with a rainbow headband. I also recommend playing Seasons in the Abyss by Slayer at full volume to give your cake some death metal badassness.
STEP 2: Melt your butter into a bowl and then beat in the brown sugar like Dave Lombardo beats those double kickers in War Ensemble. Melt down your chocolate into that shit as well.
STEP 3: After you’ve worked all that into a fine paste chuck in everything that’s left – the flour, bananas and eggs. Stir that gear up and marvel how something that looks heaps like a bowl of gorilla fingers will be the tastiest thing you’ve ever eaten in less than an hour.
STEP 4: Grease up your cake tin by lining it with butter then pour your gorilla fingers in to about the 1/3 mark. Have your oven on about 180 and slot your cake in on the top shelf. Then start pulling out your hair because you already want to eat your cake but you’re gonna have to wait at least 40 minutes.
STEP 5: Soon as I see the roof of my cake split I wait another 15 minutes then rip that thing out of the oven and shove it straight into my mouth, often suffering internal third degree burns because it’s that bloody molten hot. If you have the patience to let your cake sit for a while, maybe whip up some cream and get your girl to lick it off your nipples to pass the time.
The shortboard shredders who inspire the world’s raddest wave dancer
Californian surfer Alex Knost rides logs, mid-lengths and shortboards with a kind of Bruce Lee-meets-Iggy Pop zing-shred-pow. His influences obviously extend to well beyond the surf world but we figured it’d be interesting to find out which modern day shortboarders get his mojo firing…
Ford Archbold Mushies at Night
Ford surfs for fun and fun only. He despises self promotion and rips way harder than anyone thinks. He draws unique lines and maximises the entire length of his board. I watched him paddle out in the pitch black night at big Log Cabins, and he was really high on mushrooms. No one can give him shit because to him it doesn’t exist. He’s as much Archbold as he is Ford.
Ozzie Modest Revolution
Duh… coolest dude ever. Took moon rocks with him all night, he stayed up, painted six boards with oil pastels at dawn, then paddled out at terrible Newport in California and ripped on a finless soft top. He’s my hero and another modest revolutionary.
Christian Fletcher Not A Dork
Christian’s not a dork, he tells it how it is. If I was him and had done what he’s done I’d be a prick, but he’s punk as can be and if surfers these days were more like him, the surf industry would be a better place, more radical, less self absorbed with internet garbage, less ass kissing. Oh, and he’s a Fletcher, and he skates insane, and surfed 10 years before his time. Love him like a brother.
Gavin Beschen Interior Feelings
The most modest and stylish surfer I know. I’ve seen him pack such heavy backside ones at Off the Wall. He gave Ford a free board and that is so selfless… such Aloha. His patience at Rocky Point last winter impressed me beyond belief. Unique introvert style, he surfs for interior feelings. I love that his gratification stems from that. Also his part in some Volcom movie when he surfs to Sabbath at Sunset Beach is the coolest thing ever. I have a lot of respect for him and have only spoken four words to him ever.
Chris Ward Pleasantly Raw
Surfs all day while everyone’s on Instagram. His tuberiding is unbelievable. He’s a raw talent and every interaction I’ve had with him has been a pleasant one.
Mason Ho Spirit Child
Free spirited free style charger. I love the way he uses his whole board and he seems completely unaware of any sort of consequence in the water. I watched him at low tide rights at Rockpiles and it was so shallow and heavy and he didn’t care at all. Ford turned me onto him that day, he told me to just watch and when I did my head fell off.
"KIN is you and me, the lovers and creators of art and music, the boarders and the travellers. It’s a community of like minds; a place where you can explore the world of surf, skate, snow, travel, art and music." Kinapp.com.au
By Mike Fanning
I was 15 years old and on my first surf trip with my then sponsor Quiksilver. The late, great Andrew Murphy took me down to watch The Rip Curl Pro at Bells. A few days after watching Matt Hoy’s epic win at the Pro the Skins event kicked off and we hung around to watch it.
Occy was ripping in the Pro and made the quarters but he went to a whole different place in firing waves in the Skins. To this day I’ve never seen someone dominate an event like Occy did the Skins. He didn’t have one dud heat. His surfing was so much faster and bigger than anyone else out there and all the top pros were in it, including Kelly. I definitely haven’t seen a backhand as strong at Bells since. Occ’s waves in the Skins would still be getting near-perfect scores in World Tour heats today and it was 17 years ago.
I think the thing that stood out to me was the transformation I’d seen in Occ. He had moved to the Gold Coast so as a grom I’d watched him go from his lowest point where he was massively overweight and rarely surfed to an ultra psyched ball of muscle, pumped to win events again. I knew he was good but I had no idea what he was really capable of until I saw him in that comp. It was incredible. The Skins itself was a unique event where you only counted one wave in each round and that was all Occy ever needed. He got nines all day and ended up winning $55,000 and a new car.
One wave that stood out to me had this wild foam-climb transition. Occ had this magic 6’5” channel-bottom Dahlberg that seemed to do anything he wanted. He was caught deep on this one wave and probably could have bottom turned around this big section but he just redirected, went vertical and projected a ridiculous distance to make it in front of the wave. He got that board to do some messed up things that day, he also used it the following year to win the Rip Curl Pro at Bells.
I think after that performance in the Skins and the win in 98 Occy really became synonymous with Bells, especially The Bowl. Like Kelly at Cloudbreak or Gerry at Pipe, you couldn’t think about Bells without thinking about Occ.
When he was on Tour if The Bowl was six-foot plus and you drew Occy you knew you were ruined. Even when Andy, who was regarded as one of the best at Bells, came up against Occy in a quarter-final back in 2006 in beautiful waves on The Bowl Occy totally destroyed him.
It’s a big question to be asked: What’s the best surfing you’ve ever seen? I knew my answer almost instantly. I’ve seen plenty of mind-blowing surfing in competition and outside of it. But watching Occy win the Skins from the cliff top on that clear, crisp, offshore day will always be one of the highlights of my life as a surfer.
The Billabong Pro, Rio - SAMBA! From grovelly waist-high runners to green orbs from the planet zion, to some classic 1980's gamesmanship, the Rio Bong-off had it all. Meanwhile, one week after writing Slater off as a "94 year old grandma" with only days to go in his career, Ain't That Swell is leading the KE12Y bandwagon. And we're coming for the title, baby! YEAH!.
Speaking of which, what is the role of the surfing media exactly? Are we on a crusade for THE TRUTH? Are we here to EXPOSE and hold waxheads to ACCOUNT for their questionable posturings and behaviour? Jed and Vaughan Dead undergo a monday night existential crisis for y'all - live on air! Wooooo!
In lieu of the Arab Spring, Occupy, the Burmese monks vs the military junta and Thailand declaring martial law, the waxhead community has finally got its shit together and taken to the streets. We take a trip through the history of the waxhead protest movement - from the big poo in Coffs Harbour to the Waxheads 4 Change movement and the good fight being fought by former World Tour surfer, turned mixed martial artist, turned mayoral candidate, Dustin Barca, against Monsanto.
Honourable mentions: Forget about surf journalism, let's all just make noises to describe surfing - Zah! Dootz! Bannnng! Bah! Zzzant! - Peter Mel does. Oh, and let's not forget zzzzz…how else would you describe the ASP women's performance in Brazil (Zing!) Al Knost: unbearable hipster douchebag or merely a misunderstood douchebag? Or neither? An interview with jujitsu freak, Rickson Gracie (of Gracie jujitsu fame), which we poached from the ASP (take that Zosea!) And can we please have enough of this convoluted ASP ratings system as well as the endless repechage rounds. You want repechage? Bend over and we'll give you a repechage.
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So the coal seam gas thing is real. It's a real danger and it's time we all start realising it. These companies own big drills. These big drills extracts methane from coal seams underground. But they also extract large volumes of salty water to the surface in the process. Here's one problemo. This water is totally gross and contaminates underground and surface water, wreaking havoc on oceans like a giant idiot washing a gazillion cars on the road and letting all the suds wash down the drain to flow out at your local. Second problemo. These mines require heaps of wells to extract the methane in the coal seams, ultimately butchering perfectly healthy land and ruining the livelihoods of local farmers.
Now, all this is happening on the Northern NSW coast. Some of Australia's best right point breaks are under threat as well as the beautiful land that's come to charactarise the north. When you watch this clip made by Kaius Potter, total shred lord Dave Rastovich will explain with a lot more eloquence and reason and you'll find out about a peaceful protest on May 19 that you should really get involved with. But if you can't, that's cool, but promise us one thing. At very least, you'll have the conversation with a fellow surfer. Ask them whether they're okay with losing one of their favourite right point breaks they surfed that time as a kid. Educate them, stoke them out on getting involved and spread the word.
The people who’ve adorned Surfing World’s covers over 51 years are each caught in a moment of their lives – almost invariably the peak of their careers, and their physical prime. Appearing in portrait, in a barrel or high above a lip, the image is only ever a moment in a life. How the surfer got there – and where they went next – is a fascinating thing to explore.
Steve Cooney will live forever in surf culture as the 15-year-old kid who caught the first waves ever surfed at Uluwatu in Albe Falzon’s seminal surf film Morning of the Earth (yep, he’s also one of the silhouettes on the cover). A regular on surf trips up and down the coast for SW during the early 70s, Stevo scored his first cover in November 75. He continues to live and shred on Sydney’s Northern Beaches today.
SW: The early 70s must’ve been a whirlwind for you. Do you remember winding up on the cover back in November 75?
SC: I remember it well. Peter Crawford took it. I was on an orange-rail board built by Bill Cilia down at Nirvana on the Central Coast. It was a nice little board, that one. The barrel was at Dee Why Point – it wasn’t a huge day, just average size, but really nice down the inside section. Peter was sitting down there shooting. I was often photographed in the first few years after Morning of the Earth came out in 1972. I think people saw me as a free-surfer in those days, and I guess I was known for my tube riding.
What was going on in your life in those years between Morning of the Earth and the cover shot?
When I went with Albe to Indo in 1971, I was 15. In between that trip and Peter’s cover shot, I’d left school and was sponsored to go surfing. Rip Curl did the wetsuits and Hutchinson’s Surfboards in Brookvale (now Byron Bay) did my boards. Paul Hutchinson in fact supplied me with boards for the trip with Albe. The Morning of the Earth board was one of his – a 5’9” rounded square single fin. I rode it in eight foot Ulus without a legrope. By 18, I was working for Tracks at Whale Beach, selling ads at first and then progressing to be art director for eight years. I did some editorial for them and took a few photos as well.
Where did your career go from there?
I stayed in publishing for many years after that – I did 16 or 17 years as senior art director with Federal Publishing Company. I left publishing about 10 years ago and I’ve worked in the car industry along the Northern Beaches ever since – I’m currently with a Mercedes dealership in Mona Vale. It’s about two minutes from home, so there’s time for a surf before work.
Good to hear you’re still in the water…
Yeah, and I’m pretty much the same kind of surfer I’ve always been. I surf a lot with my two sons; Tim, who lives in Bungan and plays with the Goons of Doom, and Jedd, who’s down at Fairlight. We go on trips together up and down the coast – it’ great.
Do you have a preference for single fins? People must associate you very strongly with a particular kind of surfing, a particular era in board design…
Well, going back, my first board was a cut-down 5’9” balsa my big brother Butch made. The smallest board I ever had was a 4’6” double-ender Shane that Butch also made. He shaped for Shane and for TF at Hot Buttered. I think I‘ve always ridden my boards shorter than what’s current. At the moment I’m riding a 5’8” Ozzy Wright thruster, a Finch 5’10” quad and a Warner 6’4”. A lot of people assume I’d still be somehow stuck on single-fins, frozen in time, but it’s not the case at all.
Do you have much involvement with surfing, are you still involved with the crew at Northy?
Yeah, I’m currently helping the North Narrabeen Boardriders to compile their 50th anniversary book, sourcing materials and helping with layout and production. I’m enjoying life at the moment. As you get older, there’s fewer things that worry you.
– Jock Serong
If you’re younger than about forty-five, chances are you’ve been raised on the terrifying notion that there’s a hole in the ozone layer above Australia. The barrier between us and the celestial inferno has always been a variety of squeezy tubes full of fragrant goo; the smell of the inside of mum’s beachbag. In chronological order, late twentieth-century beachbags contained: nothing at all, baby oil, Tanfastic, Coppertone, zinc oxide (file under ‘Paul Hogan’ and ‘terry towelling hat’), and Reef Oil (Coconut or Frangipani).
Reef Oil and Waxx-On wax were at opposite ends of the traction spectrum, but their combined use did deliver an overwhelming coconut hit. Then there was Bullfrog, named not for its amphibious qualities but for its tendency to make your eyes bulge in agony when the damn stuff found them. These days there’s no highs and lows: it’s all Guardian Chemists SPF 50+, and lately, a variety of spray-ons. Spray-ons are as boring as deodorants, although entertainingly, the makers of Banana Boat sunscreen recalled their spray-on products after a number of people caught fire after applying them.
The single-digit SPFs were the tanning equivalent of overproof Bundy. You pretty much had to ask for them under the counter. In the period of mid-range SPFs - let’s say from the Carroll and Curren World Titles through to about the rise of Slater - SPFs were all 15s and 8s. Devotees would put the 15 on the face but the 8 on the rack. This was around the time of the sunscreen spray-gun guy on the beach at Cavill Avenue, Surfers Paradise.
You’d think we’ve now entered a sober age of restraint with this sort of behaviour, but it’s a myth. There’s an Australian pharmacy chain that will – right now, today, in 2014 - sell you the SPF6 Reef Oil, so you can fry yourself like a dimmy. But wait: it comes in a gift pack with Vitamin E crème so you can try to repair the damage afterwards. Which is something akin to selling Camel Filters with an oxygen mask.
The US government’s number one expert on this stuff, by the way, is a guy named Reynold Tan. Seriously. Coppertone was invented by the Americans during the second world war. Their billboards featured a little girl being dacked by a black cocker spaniel. Jodie Foster made her acting debut as a three-year-old in a Coppertone ad, the tagline of which read: “Beautiful tan today, young-looking skin tomorrow.” It’s an oxymoron and a blatant lie, but it does have a little more joie de vivre than “Tanning is skin cells in trauma”.
The use of zinc remains most prevalent among cricketers and surfers. Down through the decades, these two cultures have fought an unceasing fashion battle over the stuff, while no-one else buys it at all. Picture Dean Jones with the white bottom lip; Tom Carroll’s careful stripe across the bridge of his nose and cheekbones; Andrew Symons with both whitened lips forming a startled ‘O’ in the slo-mo replay; Mick Fanning completely ghosted-out in the tropics; and Shane Warne trying to be cute with a little button of white on the end of his nose.
Sunscreen could save your life. And lack of variety should never be an excuse for failing to smear the gear. There’s an American website – of course there is – selling bacon-scented sunscreen.
By Jock Serong
Did you even know Irish big wave hell man Fergal Smith had a new internet show? Neither did I but on this episode, he learns to whittle a new wooden spoon, followed of course by his world-class slab surfing. Do you even know Irish big wave hell man Fergal Smith? If the answer is no, educate yourself by clicking through to these Irish beasts and afterwards you'll feel like you know him like an old friend, that old friend you have with big wave cold water lunatic tendencies.
This is the breakdown of the latest episode from Aint That Swell founder and host Mr Jed Smith:
"Ain't That Swell also plunges deep into the freezing conjecture and robotic posturings of Mick Fanning's win at the Rip Curl Pro, Bells Beach. He is undoubtedly a master of the competitive format but is he, as they say, 'boring as bat shit?'
And what about how rattled Kelly Slater looked (and sounded) after his quarterfinal loss to John John Florence? Does the fire still burn strong in the alkaline intestinal tract of surfing's number one raw food advocate?
The 'Brazilian Storm' is preparing to rain black beans and air reverses on the world tour at the Billabong Pro, Rio, later this week. Can current world number one, Gabz Medina break the country's world title winning hoodoo? And how did they manage to skip, like, a 15 year evolutionary stage in surfing anyway? Feels like only yesterday Neco Padaratz was lighting up the WCT doldrums with his steroidal power hacks. Now they're way up in the skies. What gives?
“We are especially looking forward to the possibilities of what Surfing and StandUp Paddling can bring to our citizens in terms of good health and all around stoke and happiness. While our country might be better known for our warm culture and rich food, we have a variety of reef and beach breaks that make Surfing and StandUp Paddling possible to practice year round and to help develop world-class competitors," - that comes from Ali Elamine, the president of the Lebanese Surfing Association, on their recent admission to the International Surfing Association (ISA). We welcome our Lebanese brothers into the fold. Well may they look forward to all round stoke, and we a steady stream of world-class surfers and SUP'ers from this formerly war-torn breeding ground of terrorists.
Honorable mentions: The forlorn tale of Umina's favourite Irishman, Glen 'Micro' Hall, who makes his return to the Rio Pro as a wildcard. Child Surf Stars: How young is too young and why is Mick Fanning so off 'em? The XXL pre-teen qwerty nipple awards; the release of the epic Cloudbreak cinema-spectacular, Thundercloud; and news of the latest plague to hit Bali. First rabies, second greedy developers, and most recently the ghastly horror of Russian and Scandinavian surf schools. What could be next for our favourite Hindu paradise?"
Someplace Else is a collective of free wheelin’ fun lovin’ and talented individuals - surfers Ozzie Wright and Dylan Graves, musician Hanni El Khatib, skateboarder Andrew Brophy and artists Jeff Canham and Rose Ashton – pulled together by Corona Extra for a bus trip down the forgotten back roads of the Mexican coast. The mission was to find the common threads that bind creative souls and surprise, surprise… it’s free beer! And what brings people together better than free beer? The film drops on May 12. Stay tuned amigos...
I’m not going back to Bali this year. That’s it. Done. Selasai.
In saying that, I’ll probably still go, and will be tearing up the Sky Garden dancefloor at three in the morning first night upon my return. But last year as I sat in my second hour of traffic on Jalan Sunset with the Jalan Raya Kerobokan bottleneck still to come, I had plenty of time to ponder how little I was enjoying my annual hang out in Bali.
I didn’t want to be that guy. The guy who comes back from Bali and whines about traffic and plastic and crowds and the cost of his beer at Potato Head and how Bali isn’t like it was way back in 2009. That guy has now replaced the cultural flathead in the Bintang singlet trawling the backblocks of Kuta as the lowest form of tourist life on the island. But the pace of change is only accelerating and I’m picturing Bali in a decades time and not overly optimistic about what’s going to confront me.
It’s not the surf. The infinite quality of the surf in Bali hasn’t changed. There’s always somewhere new to surf and a new swell to surf it on. As far as waves go, Bali is a gift that keeps on giving and no matter how many gormless kooks drift out into the line-up, there’s always somewhere to escape them if you know your shit. I’ll see your three-foot Uluwatu with a hundred guys out and raise you five-foot Nyang Nyang with a couple of cows for company. The spirit of the island also seems pretty much indefatigable. Mate, if it can survive four decades of Australian tourism it can survive pretty much anything. If you’re staying in the right places it still looks like Bali and it still feels like Bali.
But it’s the island itself that no longer seems infinite. The island of Bali actually seems to be shrinking with people and resources flooding in, a dense bintang collapsing in on itself. There are bad decisions being made daily in Bali, big decisions with repercussions far worse than my decision to party at Sky Garden. I remember back when they razed the pristine cliffs at Dreamland just on five years ago to make way for the new resort. I remember looking back down the Bukit from Padang and seeing the white cliffs being scored by bulldozers and thinking this was a sobering glance into the island’s future. Last year I took the kids down to Dreamland and was horrified by what I found. The white elephant resort was no longer white; it was rust-stained, dilapidated, abandoned. After only five years Dreamland looked more like Dresden. The worry is that boom and bust don’t run in cycles in Bali, they run hand in hand, and for every dead or dying resort, another 10 future dead or dying resorts are being built, and the island is no longer big enough to just soak it up and remain beautiful forever.
And you’ve all seen the photos of Kuta Beach doubling as an aquatic tip. A place where plastic bottles go to live forever. Local surfers are trying their best to rally and do something about it, but they’re fighting a losing battle. There’s a growing awareness amongst the Balinese that something needs to be done if they’re going to keep the essence of their island pure, but they’re up against a tsunami of development rupiah and have their work cut out for them.
Just as the island of Bali once seemed limitless, the rest of the archipelago now calls. Bali is one island, and there are a few more scattered throughout Indonesia with surf, apparently. So if Bali really is as inconvenient and overrun as you’re making out, you’ve got a few options. You can embrace it and join me at Sky Garden, or you can go somewhere else. It’s time to call your own bluff, and I’d be happy for the Balinese to start rocking a bumper sticker directed at whining Australian tourists that says something like, “Bali… if you don’t like it, leave.”
As a young kid, Marco Jay Luciano Occhilupo lost count of the number of times people told him, “Wogs don’t surf, mate!” Well, as it turns out, that particular wog surfed pretty good, so good he became the best surfer in the world. Now, to be fair, Occ’s Italian surfing bloodline was more Cronulla than Rome, and growing up as a surfer in Italy comes with a few challenges, least of which being shit surf. But 17-year-old Roman, Leo Fioravanti is giving hope to all Italian surf fans… his family, basically.
“Growing up my brother drove this little Mini car and I’d go with him surfing. The full Italian road trip.” They surfed a wave 20km out of Rome called Banzai, somewhat less frightening than the North Shore equivalent but enough to get the kid hooked on surfing. At age nine Leo went to France and surfed Hossegor, and he’s hardly been home since. He’s lived in France, California and Australia, speaks five languages, and as far as he knows is Italy’s only pro surfer. “There are a couple of other guys who surf pretty good but I think I’m it.”
I first met Leo at G-Land when he was 11, the spindly kid paddling out at Money Trees on big days. “It felt like 12,000 feet,” he recalls, “I loved it though.” The kid has always charged, and this Hawaiian winter just past, straight off the plane, Leo took the heaviest wipeout of the season at the real Banzai. “I got my big board and paddled out as the swell was picking up, and I’m just thinking okay, first day in Hawaii, one big bomb.” He got his bomb all right, falling from the lip of a 10-footer at Backdoor. “Full slow motion – hoooo – just jumped, threw my board, hit the bottom, back up and hit the bottom again. Fully lit up. Fully smashed.”
'I HAD TOO MUCH TO DREAM LAST NIGHT' follows the simplistic travels of two surfers, meeting friends along the way, on an open ended journey across an archipelago littered with islands and breaks. Connected by ribbons of tarmac and separated by deep ocean valleys these islands have been here for millennia and will continue to do so for millennia to come. An veritable eden for waves of every nature, from long reeling glassy points breaks to sketchy urchin infested waves in the middle of nowhere.