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How Well Could You Surf With Just One Arm?

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

bethany hamiltonRemember that young Kauai girl that had her arm completely ripped off from the shoulder down by a 14-ft. Tiger shark while surfing near home a few years back? Chances are, even with just one arm, she is a better surfer than both you and me. And honestly, that is really nothing to be ashamed of. That same Bethany Hamilton is throwing it down harder than ever and earned herself an impressive third-place finish over the weekend at the Roxy Surf Festival held at Phillips Island, Victoria- Australia.

If you ever want to get the slightest glimpse of just what it is what this inspiring 17 yr. old has to overcome every time she paddles out, you can try something the next time you head down to your favorite-break for a little sesh’ time- Take one of your arms, put it behind your back, and then make an attempt to paddle out and see how well that works for you.

Not only has she been able to find a way to do what she loves to do most after going through something that would keep many others out of the water for a long time, but she’s doing it better than most and showing no sign of slowing down. You can try, but you will be hard-pressed to find any comparable story of an athlete in any sport losing a full limb and still being able to successfully compete and perform at such a high level in his or her sport. It just does not happen. Hamilton’s ongoing demonstration of perseverance, passion, and drive to succeed after experiencing what she did will continue to blow all of our minds as she moves throughout her surfing career. But even if she were to drop out of the tour and never pick up a board again for as long as she lives, Bethany Hamilton will forever be a main character in one of the greatest stories that could ever be told.

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The 808… Action Sports Reality At Its Finest

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

the 808After watching a re-run of Fuel TV’s “The 808″ again for the first time in months last night, I was left with the same embarrassment and sickening feeling that I had the first time I saw the original episodes that began airing last summer.The 808 sends the wrong message in so many ways. Kala Alexander tries to paint himself as the peace-keeping Sheriff of Pipe, but the reality is that he is a whistle-toting thug dispensing vigilante justice. And the execs at Fuel are knowing accomplices.

How many 16 year olds out there, surfers, skaters, snowboarders, motocrossers, watch this show and think “we need to protect our turf by any means necessary, too.” Makua Rothman, who recently just signed a deal with RVCA, punching out someone for dropping in on him shows a lack of discipline and self control that will likely end up causing him difficulty in the future (i.e. Sunny Garcia). Not only that, but had the submissive body-boarder he was kneeing and punching decided to press assault charges he would simply need to show tape of this assault to any police officer and Rothman would be in a world of trouble.

For Fuel to air this episode and all of the others that include this type of gangster mentality is irresponsible programming and is the same as condoning it. For example, viewers know that the violence on a show like The Sopranos was a scripted drama. We all new they didn’t really kill anybody. The 808 is the worst sort of reality show, because the violence is real.

The scene that included a whacked out Buttons Kaluhiokalani (who also made an appearance on “Dog The Bounty Hunter) at the Turtle Bay restaurant meeting of “Da Hui” hierarchy really left me scratching my head. Bug eyed, whacked out, and unintelligible. How did that sequence end up in the final cut? When you cut out all of the fluff this show did nothing more than glorify drug use, violence, scamming chicks, and drinking.

Fuel likes to portray itself as a hip, clean cut messenger for the world of action sports and, for the most part, they are right on. However, by putting the 808 on air for every 14 year old wanna-be to watch and learn from they are inspiring a whole new generation in the wrong way and teaching them that this is the way you need to carry yourself to make it to the next level.

And what about the other message. The one that says “We own this spot, keep out.” Hawaii has a bad enough rap for localism without this. This message is intentional on Kala’s part, I believe, in an effort to keep his own slice of the pie. So much for the “Aloha Spirit”, I guess.


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How Does a Bamboo Towel Sound?

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

Riding the wave of environmental concern, an Encinitas woman is planning to open a new surf school that she says will be friendly to the ocean and eye-opening for surfers. Torrey Trust, the woman behind the new school, Surf eCo., says she’ll use environmentally sensitive materials and approaches throughout her surf classes. For instance, students will use surfboards made from a special soybean-based foam instead of fiberglass and the wax used on the boards will be organic instead of being made from petroleum. Trust even takes it to a whole new level by using towels made from bamboo (sounds soft, huh?), and sunscreen that contains minerals and organic ingredients instead of synthetic chemicals.

The inspiration for this eco-friendly surf school came after Trust visited Costa Rica and discovered much of the rain forest she had seen on a previous trip had been destroyed by illegal logging. And since making a living from these classes and lessons isn’t her motivation or concern, for every participant that signs up she will even be purchasing one-half acre of rainforest through the Nature Conservancy Rainforest Program with a goal of protecting 1000 acres of forest by the year 2010.

I may be wrong, but I don’t think the simple fact that they are going ‘green’ will by itself get people signed up for classes and lessons. I did, however, notice that their prices are fairly affordable when compared to those of other surf schools in the area and with the school shooting to keep class sizes smaller, it may be a solid opportunity for those wanting to learn to surf a chance to do so while hooking up our one sweet world in the process.

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Jordy Smith in High Demand

Monday, January 28th, 2008

jordy smithIt’s good to be Jordy Smith right now. Having already signed a seven-figure deal late last year with O’neill, the 19 yr. old Smith recently hooked a deal up with DVS shoes and is in the process of putting out his signature pair of sandals. It seems like everyone is trying to get a piece of the up-and-comer that many are calling the best young surfer to hit the tour since Slater. They have good reason too. Smith absolutely crushed the ‘QS in 2007 setting an all time points record with 14,575. His best seven results averaged an amazing 2,082 points per event, which included wins on four different continents.

With the ASP World Title being dominated by Americans, Australians and Hawaiians over the past 30 years only time will tell if Smith can follow in the footsteps of World Champions Shaun Tomson and Martin Potter by bringing the title back to South Africa one day. South Africa has always produced great surfers and it has always been hard for them traveling internationally, but Jordy is leading a new generation of rippers that are sure to shake up the rest of the surfing world. One thing that is certain, 2008 will be one of the most exciting years in history on the ASP World Tour!

o’neilljordy smith

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Keaulana, Perkins Show They Still Have What it Takes

Monday, January 28th, 2008

Bonga Perkins might be a former world champion of longboard surfing, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be a future one as well. It has been over 11 years since his world championship, but Perkins proved that he can still beat the best Hawai’i has to offer by winning the pro longboard division of the 14th annual Quiksilver Makahiki Games. The two-day event was held over the weekend at Makaha Beach on the west side of Oahu.

With so many talented young surfers making their way up through the rankings this really became a statement win for him. Being an ASP event, the Makahiki Games win for the 35 yr. old from Haleiwa earned him valuable points toward qualifying for the larger international events later this year.

Perkins wasn’t the only ’seasoned’ longboarder making a statement at Makaha though. Russ Keaulana, and former world champ as well, followed Perkins up with an impressive second-place finish. The 41 yr. old legend from right there in Makaha seemed genuinely surprised with his result. Anyone who knows Rusty though knows this is just him being humble. The Keaulana family and Makaha beach are go hand in hand. There are few, if any, who know this break better than them.

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Flying British Airways? Leave Your Surfboard and Javelin at Home!!

Monday, January 28th, 2008

Those poor British surfers. Beginning in November of last year, British Airways decided to stop carrying around certain pieces of sporting equipment due to….get this…’handling complexities.’ Of course, surfboards are right there on the list and therefore anyone choosing to fly the friendly skies with B.A. has to leave their quiver at home. Aside from surfboards, British Airways has also included these pieces of sporting equipment on their list of no-nos-

hang gliders
windsurfing boards and sails
kayaks or canoes
pole vaults

Any surfer will tell you carrying boards is a difficult and worrying process at best. The wait at any airport collection to see if your boards have made the journey in one piece is never a nice one. However, surfing in great waves on your own equipment is the best feeling you will have. The last thing you want to worry about while paddling out to an unknown break you’ve been reading and hearing about for years is breaking in a board you’ve never ridden.
I have a hard time believing that very many other airlines will follow suit and institute such a ridiculous ban. These days it’s almost impossible to even pry a second bag of dried-out peanuts out of the kung-fu grips of flight attendants. I say that’s fine, they can keep their nuts, just don’t make me paddle out to my dream-break for the first time on an unknown board!!

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36th Annual Pipeline Bodysurfing Classic

Friday, January 25th, 2008

Another week, another contest at Pipe… And with this world renowned break providing the perfect venue for wave-riders of all styles to prove themselves on, why not? The holding period for the 2008 Honolua Surf co. Pipeline Bodysurfing Classic starts this Sat. Jan 26 and runs until Feb. 6th. The contest is making its return after not being held in 2007 due to ‘permit conflicts’ with the ever-dysfunctional City and County of Honolulu.

Now in its 36th year, the PBC is annually one of the most exciting events. There is something about watching Pipeline being charged on what many including myself see as the purest and most intimate form of riding waves. The legend is that bodysurfing at Pipeline was long ago inspired by the dolphins seen riding the wave there long before the invention of surfboards. This competition in wave-riding at its purest form may be why the PBC has in the past not only drawn the top bodysurfers from around the world such as Todd Sells, Mark Cunningham, and Mike Stewart, but also all around water-men and surfers like Kelly Slater, Rob Machado, Tom Curren, and Donovan Frankenreiter.

It’s safe to say that whether you short-board, boogie-board, long-board, paddle-board, or use the stolen McDonalds trays (if you don’t know what I’m talking about you’ve probably never been to the beaches at Waikiki) there have been many times where you have tossed aside you plank-du-jour to swim around and catch waves simply using the contour of your body. If you have ever spent childhood days diving into the micro-barrels of shore pound that you imagined being a classic Pipeline tube, this contest realizes those visualizations. Watching the most accomplished and talented athletes around take on Pipe sans-stick is truly a sight to behold and produces classic images year after year. And for those who love to see wipe-outs of epic proportions, (let’s be honest, that includes all of us) this contest has it’s fair share and then some of bodies being picked up and slammed to the reef with no regards.

I did find it slightly curious that although this is being put on by Honolua Surf co., I could find absolutely no mention of the event whatsoever on it’s website- Honoluasurf.com . I’m not quite sure what the reasoning is behind this, but I do know that if I were sponsoring on of the largest and longest-running events in the industry I would at the very least want to make mention that the event was even taking place at all. Just a thought…

honolua surfpipeline

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Bustin’ Down the Door Set to Premier

Friday, January 25th, 2008

Over the years there have been hundreds, if not thousands, of surf documentaries made around the sport of surfing. Bustin’ Down the Door attempts to tell one of the most pivotal and important stories of them all.

Set to debut in Santa Barbara on January 27, Bustin’ Down the Door chronicles a tumultuous two-year period of competitive and cultural clashes in the mid-Seventies in surfing’s Mecca, Hawaii’s North Shore of Oahu. The film is seeking to tell the story of six legendary pioneers, cousins Shaun and Michael Tomson of South Africa and Aussies Mark Richards, Rabbit Bartholomew, Peter Townend, and Ian Cairns, as their passion drives them from their home-breaks to surfings ‘holy land’.

Coming over completely unrecognized and unknown while seeking to overtake Hawaii’s own surf-legends like Gerry Lopez and Reno Abellira, the crew faced an incredible amount of resistance and turmoil while blowing minds and revolutionizing the sport of surfing as we know it in the process. Bustin’ Down the Door is attempting to capture the drama, emotion, energy, and passion that surrounded this crucial time period of our sport in its infancy.

Although I’ve dabbled, I wouldn’t consider myself an avid skateboarder. That being said I was a huge fan of Dogtown and the Legend of Z-boys (the non-Hollywood documentary) and its ability to take you through the ups-and-downs during the revolutionary period of skating. In its own way Bustin’ Down the Door is seeking to do the same in telling a story that anyone with any interest at all in this great sport should hear.

With a soundtrack featuring Queen, The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, and more as well as narration by Edward Norton, Bustin’ Down the Door is combining style and substance in it’s attempt to take us through that time period. This is a journey that I cannot wait to take.

Posted in Surfing | 1 Comment »

Autopsy Shows High Level of Meth in Peter Davi’s System

Friday, January 25th, 2008

On Thursday, January 10, the Monterey County Coroner released the autopsy reports of local surfing legend Peter Davi. Davi, who passed on December 4th, 2007 during the largest day Ghost Tree has ever been surfed, was a very accomplished big wave surfer, and his death came as quite a blow to the surfing community.

According to Sheriff’s Sgt. Mike Richards, “The primary cause of death was asphyxia due to ocean drowning from surfing.” As reported by the Monterey Herald the autopsy also revealed high levels of methamphetamine in Davi’s system. The report revealed .75 milligrams per liter in his system, which is highly toxic especially considering .25 – .5 milligrams per liter are considered to be abusive . When asked if this could possibly have played a role in Davi’s death, Richards responded, that it was “possible, but we can’t say for sure.”

It is always a tragedy when the ocean claims the life of a fellow surfer. This report by the Monterey County Coroner makes this story even more heart-breaking because it is a tragedy that we now realize could possibly have been avoided. Paddling out and surfing in waves of that size is something I can barely even wrap my head around. Doing so while under the heavy influence of such a deadly drug is beyond comprehension.

Ghost Tree local Don Curry said the day started out incredibly. Thirty foot sets that stretched out to 70′+ wave faces rolled into Ghost Tree. It was the biggest Ghost Tree had ever been ridden. In the mid-morning, Davi, who was paddling into the waves, broke his leash and began swimming in. One tow team offered Davi a ride in but the surfer refused. Another tow team offered Davi a PFD but again Davi refused according to Curry. Later that afternoon surfers found Davi’s lifeless body floating in a kelp patch.

It’s impossible to know exactly how much influence this drug had on Davi’s decision to turn down the assistance offered by the tow teams and his eventual drowning. And without knowing him personally it wouldn’t be right to even begin to guess. But the knowledge that there was even the slimmest chance that his passing could possibly have been avoided makes the loss of Peter Davi that much more tragic. We can only hope that this devastating loss will help to open the eyes of surfers who may choose to paddle out in heavy conditions while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

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Governator Supports Trestles Toll Road, Closing State Beaches

Friday, January 18th, 2008

trestlesYesterday, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger issued a letter in support of the proposed Trestles toll road extension in South Orange County. The letter was issued just two weeks before a critical vote by the California Coastal Commission to determine if the proposed extension violates the California Coastal Act.

The disappointing announcement comes just six days after the California Governor unveiled his plans to close forty-eight California State Parks, including Carlsbad, San Clemente, and parts of San Onofre State Parks. Many had hoped the Governator was being insincere with his threats to shut down these state parks and beaches, but with the issuance of this letter it appears nothing is untouchable when it comes to doing whatever it takes to remedy California’s current fiscal crisis.

Beyond the unbelievable crowds that gather there almost daily, Trestles as it is is a very unique and special place. Anyone who has ever made the trek from the parking lot to this historic break knows that the implementation of the proposed road will seriously damage one of the truly unique waves in the world and a big part of California Surf history. The Surfrider Foundation activists and other opponents to the planned toll road will be gathering in Oceanside, California on February 6th for a rally outside the California Coastal Commission hearing. All members of the public are invited and encouraged to attend. You can head over to savetrestles.com for more info.

trestlessurfrider foundation

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