Tuesday, December 29, 2009



swine flu? Not here in Puerto! photo-www.rpmsurfer.com

Around the world, tourism is fueled by the existence of local areas of interest. Generally, tourists are lured by specific establishments or attractions when it comes to deciding on a location: restaurants, historical monuments, museums, natural wonders, etc, For traveling surfers, the attraction is simple, and that is the existence of accessible, quality waves.

From Bali to Costa Rica, entire communities have popped up seemingly overnight, thriving economies that owe most of their success to the reefs and river mouths that sculpt the waves that break on their shores. If the waves are good out front, surfers are going to want to do their business (eating, sleeping, resting, bathing, shopping, playing, and so on) as close to that break as possible. No matter how backward or third world the culture, local residents will eventually catch on to their good fortune, and create the necessary means to cash in on their local treasure. Its just like that old cheesy Kevin Costner movie, “If you build it they will come…”

Come they do, and in droves. Surfing has grown into an international sport practiced just about anywhere waves break. From the Amazon River to the Gaza Strip, people are going to the ends of the Earth to find uncrowded surf. Local economies reliant on surf tourism are growing rapidly, bringing much needed economic stimulation to regions that need it bad. Sometimes, however, events unfold that can lead these surfers to stay at home instead. In October 2002, the surf rich island of Bali was the victim of gruesome terrorist attacks on two of their most popular night clubs.

The bombs, which ripped through downtown Kuta Beach, killed 182 and injured hundreds. Among the local Indonesian deaths, scores of Australian surfers on holiday were killed in the atrocious acts of hate. Adding to the already tense, post 9-11 atmosphere of travel trepidation, this unthinkable tragedy nearly crippled the islands economy. From taxi drivers to hotel owners, everyone felt the sting, and it took a couple years for surfers to come back in significant numbers and the local economy to recover.

Before I left on my month long excursion to Puerto Escondido, in Oaxaca, Mexico, I was warned repeatedly not to go. Who was it that was so concerned with my safety? Why it was Fox News, Hillary Clinton, and even the pharmacist at Costco, who wished me luck with the “drug cartels and murderers”. Well isn’t that just pleasant.

With the deadly Swine Flu still at large, Hillary and the FDC didn’t think I should go at all, but the caring folks at Fox conveniently had 10 tips that I could use to protect myself, like, for example, “avoiding rubbing or touching your eyes and nose”. Right, I thought to myself. I wonder if they think I should surf wearing a blue surgical mask(or yellow kitchen glove a la Chris Ward) while I surf?

Despite heartfelt advice from the media, the government, and a complete stranger, I decided to go ahead with my trip. In reality, the odds of one being affected by any of the multitude of travel dangers out there are pretty slim. For the amount of people who travel to a to surf destination like, say El Salvador for instance, how many people actually die at the hands of murderous El Salvadorian Death Squads? What’s the chance of drowning during a Tsunami during a boat trip to islands of Northern Sumatra? Slim to none, yet the risk is always out there.

Savannah Shaughnessy, is a 20 year old surfer from Scotts Valley who‘s been coming down to Puerto for the last four years. She a skilled big wave surfer who comes down for months at a time to get a piece of the juicy, top to bottom waves that explode over Puerto‘s shallow sandbars like clockwork. I asked Savannah if the threat of Swine Flu or Drug Cartels influenced her choice to make the trek south this year “It didn't affect my decision too much, because I love coming here and I knew that it would be pretty safe once I got here. But it made my parents really worried! They almost didn't let me come!”

Like Savannah, there are many among the surf community who will travel just about anywhere, no matter what dangers are, just to get that opportunity to score some epic surf. While the locals business owners may have lost some profits throughout the past few months, the loyal will always return, and less people means less crowds, something any surfer knows is worth a little risk.



Travelling can be a major headache. Follow these tips to make your trip run smoothly.
As I sit here in Mexico City awaiting my transferring flight to Puerto Escondido, aka the Mexican Pipeline, I can’t help but think back on my hurried, chaotic, and frantic travel habits of years past. Missed flights, forgotten necessities, and a general spur of the moment mentality that has left me broke, late, sunburned, and stressed. Although my current excursion has had it’s share of hiccups, my skills as an internationally traveling surfer have improved drastically. Being stressed out on vacation is no fun, so I’ve drawn upon my own mistakes to provide aspiring surf hunters with five helpful hints to aid you on your search for the perfect wave.

1) Plan Ahead- This part is crucial. It’s commonly known that the earlier you book a flight somewhere, the cheaper it will be. Make sure you buy your ticket as soon as possible, your check book will thank you. While it may not save you much cash, doing the same for lodging and transportation will save you a headache upon arriving at your destination. Make a schedule for your trip, this will help keep you on track, as well as let you help you accomplish all the things you wanted to see and do.

2) Make a List- One thing about surf trips abroad, especially ones to third world or extremely isolated locales, you don’t want to show up and find that you forgot something you can’t live without. It’s the worst. If these necessities can’t be found or don’t exist where you are, you can find yourself in a world of hurt/ From being jacket-less in Alaska, to forgetting sunscreen on a trip to Fiji, the possibilities for disaster are endless. By creating a list before you pack, and checking it twice just like Santee Clause, you can avoid tragedy and make sure you have everything you need.

3) Pack Ahead of Time- Once you have drafted your list, you should make sure that you give yourself at least 2-3 days ahead of time to avoid missing something in a hurry. Who knows, you might remember the medication or favorite book you overlooked in your initial list. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve waited until the night before to pack, and more often than not, the result is disastrous.

4) Pack Lightly - While on the hunt for perfect surf in an unknown land, why would you want to lug around a bunch of stuff you don’t need.? Forget the Ipod dock and portable DVD player, these distractions will keep you from experiencing the local culture and will only slow you down. Thing about necessities, and from there try to scale back as much as possible. Bringing all your worldly possessions will improve your odds on having something lost, stolen, or destroyed.

5) Come Prepared - This final hint may seem obvious, yet is overlooked time and time again by rookie travelers. How bummed would you be if you arrived in Hawaii to cranking surf, but realized you only brought your 6’0” grovel board? Or imagine showing up in Canada during the dead of Winter with a 2 Mil short arm wetsuit. Read up on your destination, note the weather, types of surf, and local cultures, and plan accordingly.
Using these five tips I hope you can avoid learning the hard way like myself, and score in style on your next surf safari!

Monday, December 28, 2009



In California prior to World War 2, surfers were commonly referred to as “watermen”. According to Carin Crawford, quoted in David Rensin’s biography of the mischievous surf icon, Miki Dora, entitled All for a Few Perfect Waves these “watermen” were people who maintained a “multidimensional relationship with the ocean…and had an intimate knowledge of tides, currents, and weather patterns because their livelihood depended on it”.
These early surfers didn’t surf to get famous or rich, rather they all shared a common bond, an undying love for the ocean. Surfers back then were fishermen, swimmers, and divers, whose time in and around the water gave them not only a fantastic physique and golden tan, but an intimate and uncanny understanding of the sea.
Fast forward to modern times. Surfing has become so popular that it feels like every one and their brother(and sister, son in law, uncle, cousin, etc) has taken up the sport. Long gone are the days of surfing 90 pound redwood planks in fifty degree water in nothing but a pair of cut off Levi’s with only yourself and a couple of buddies. Surfing has grown so mainstream that one might wonder if the dedicated watermen of yesteryear remain relevant in these modern times, let alone exist at all?
While you may not read about them much in Surfer magazine, there are still a large number of surfers who have dedicated their lives to everything that is the ocean. True watermen who free dive, fish, swim, and surf in order to reinforce that passion for sea, learning to love and respect it’s power and greatness One of the ways that these oceanic Olympians train is paddleboarding.
Paddleboarding is a great way for surfers and lifeguards to train and prepare themselves for hairy situations at sea. The powerful surf and currents found in and around the Monterey Bay can punish and humble the fittest of watermen. Santa Cruz is home to a host of big-wave hellmen, who utilize paddleboarding as a training exercise, preparation for the inevitable thrashings that come with surfing giant waves.
Jay Moriarity was one of Santa Cruz’s most dedicated watermen. He paddled, swam, and dove as methods to keep his body fit so he could surf his favorite wave, the bone crushing behemoth known as Mavericks in Half Moon Bay. In an ironic twist of fate, it would be a solo free dive gone wrong off the coast of India that took him from us, tearing a hole in the heart of the Santa Cruz surf community that is still healing to this day.
In honor of Jay’s memory, an annual paddle race has give local men and women a chance to show off their paddling skills, and perpetuate the legacy of the “watermen” way of life Jay embraced during his time here on Earth with vigorous passion. The Jay race has become extremely popular and prestigious and brings in athletes from across the land.
Now, a paddle race is being organized that will surely test even the most experienced of paddlers. The Bay Crossing, which scheduled for June 27th with a 6:30 AM start time is a 27.5 mile course that starts on the East Side of the Wharf in front of the Main Beach in Santa Cruz. Participants will then paddle straight out into the Bay make a left shoulder turn at the M1 Buoy (this buoy is nearly 12 miles from the nearest point of land), and paddle to the finish in the water in front of Monterey State Beach. The event is open to individual competitors and 2-4 person teams. Paddleboards and SUP (stand-up paddleboard). Each competitor and team is required to have their own escort boat.
Not only is the race long and physically demanding, the route passes over the Monterey Canyon, an area teeming with wildlife, with such unfriendly residents such as Great White Sharks and Killer Whales. People have crossed the Bay before, but this organized event will bring a sense of prestige and will hopefully lay the foundation for a lasting tradition.
Big wave charger and accomplished paddler Zach Wormhoudt is part of the crew determined to keep the “watermen” tradition alive by organizing this unique event. By the way he throws himself over the ledge in life-threatening surf at Mavericks, you can tell he takes his training quite seriously.
You think you have what it takes? Contact the event organizers at thebaycrossing@gmail.com. However, the Crossing is only for the experienced and fit. As Wormhoudt puts it himself, “You have to do it knowing you may not make it. Although the event will be a race, almost every competitor will be aiming just to finish.”



Carl's cruisy carve

Any hardcore surfer would have to agree that Santa Cruz, California truly is Surf City, USA. What other town boasts such deep rooted historical connections to the “sport of kings“? After all, it was here that three Hawaiian princes surfed in 1885, in a number of sessions which would be known later as the mainland United State’s first encounter with the sport.

In the 1950’s Jack O’Neill revolutionized the sport by inventing the first functional wetsuits, an act which brought surfing to places people never dreamed of. With such world class surfers and waves, it’s no surprise that the town’s got so much history. This weekend, it looks as there’s some more history yet to be made. The Longboard Union Invitational Memorial Day contest, presented by the Santa Cruz Longboard Union or SCLU, kicked off yesterday at Steamer Lane.

The event pits rival longboard clubs from across California in a battle for the title, and most importantly, bragging rights. While the competition is fierce, there’s always a sense of camaraderie in air, as it gives the longboard community, which stretches up and down the west coast and also has ties on the east coast and Hawaii, a chance to catch up and hang out. According to SCLU representative Carl Olsen, “The club contests are a way for old friends to meet up, so in that way the ‘contests’ are really a giant club meeting of all the clubs”.

This time around, the contest enters it’s twenty-fifth year, making it Santa Cruz’s longest running surf contest. “It really represents the long, hard work of the older club members such as Pete Noble, Cindy Sandberg, Kim Stoner, Don Craddock and so many others working tirelessly behind the scenes to keep the event afloat, now and in the years past”, says Olsen. Olsen is one of the many Santa Cruz Longboard Union members who works hard all year preparing and organizing the yearly event, which is, as he puts it, “the glue that keeps the club together, along with a love for surfing”.

Not only is this year’s event a historic one, it also recognizes the importance of Santa Cruz’s history as a real “Surf City”, donating it’s proceeds to the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum, located a stone’s throw from the surf at the Lane. The museum, which has faced closure in recent years, needs all the help it can get, and this is a way for the Union, which has ties to the original Santa Cruz Surfing Club members and to the museum itself, to do it’s part to help the local treasure stay afloat. Head on over to the Lane today and check out some history in action. As junior competitor Kai Medeiros said, “It’s cool to be a part of something that’s older than me!”.




Few things seem to frighten Half Moon Bay's Jeff Clark. Decades ago, he paddled out by himself at the break which is now known as Maverick's, a spot which is considered one of the heaviest deep-water waves in the world.
Clark went on to pioneer surfing the treacherous, shark-infested waters of Maverick's, eventually honing his skills to such an extent that he learned to ride the wave switch stance. Remarkably, he managed to survive fifteen years surfing the spot all by himself, despite the bone-crunching surf and hungry great white sharks.
Approaching the 35-year reunion of his monumental discovery, Clark is facing a rare point in his life in which he is truly frightened. The reason for his trepidation? The prospect of months out of the water and the thought of missing out on the action out at the peak at Mav's.
A lifetime of surfing and sports has taken it's toll on Clark. He's had a number of operations, including back surgery, and just recently underwent a procedure to take care of chronic hip problems. The surgery was a hip resurfacing procedure, a relatively new technique that preserves the femur. The surgeon, Dr. Thomas Vail of UC San Francisco, dislocated Clarks leg to access the hip joint. Then, he smoothed out the ball and socket of the joint and put a titanium cap over the ball and in the socket, so it formed a perfectly smooth fit. The surgery went smoothly, and the surgeon discovered why Clark was in so much pain.
"In the process, he found I had no cartilage left, removed four bone spurs and one bone fragment the size of a marble. Gnarly. No wonder I was in so much pain. No one could believe I could walk, much less surf, with all that going on", said Clark of his tattered hip joint.
Fresh out of surgery, Clark is on the mend, taking it easy at his house overlooking the break at Maverick's in Half Moon Bay. To keep himself occupied and focused on recovery, Clark has created a blog to document his healing process. The site, rebuildjeffclark.blogspot.com, contains up-to-date journal entries, photos, as well as a link to an animated depiction of his surgery, which takes viewers through the entire procedure step by step.
For Clark, creating the site is a way to inspire others. He desires to, "show people what I am going through, and let them follow me to my goal to surf Mavericks again. ... I want to show that you can have a major surgery like this and still come back to be at the top of your game."
Along with providing a platform to share his story, Clark also hopes the blog helps him raise money to pay for the medical bills. With debts reaching $30,000, Clark is asking his fans and the surfing community to donate whatever they can. Everyone who makes a donation will receive a signed autograph from Clark himself.
Through physical therapy and rehabilitation, Clark hopes to be back out at Maverick's by the beginning of 2010. He's got a tough road ahead of him, yet the prospect of getting back in the ocean gives him hope.
"My first venture back into the water will likely be on a stand-up paddle, paddling around the harbor. It's a great way to tune up your balance and build core strength. Eventually I'll be working with trainer Derek Johnson of Nalu Fit, who works specifically on surf training in and out of the water," said Clark of his plans for getting his body back in surfing shape.
For the moment, the "Maverick Man" is a fish out of water.
"I'm willing to do what I have to do to be able to come back better than I was," Clark said.



You’ve probably heard the old saying, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” hundreds of times throughout your entire life and most likely thought little of it. However, surfing is a great subject to look into such a saying, and brings the question of Relativity into the picture. Back in the day, Einstein got pretty heavy into the stuff and ended up publishing some of the most important findings of our time, notably the theory of Relativity. Einstein’s groundbreaking work brought about new understandings of the Universe, including astonishing finds regarding the relationship of time and space. You may be thinking, “Wait a second, I’m just a grom! I’m more worried about eating gummy worms and painting my surfboards, than time dilation and mass-energy equivalence!”. Patience, young grasshopper! You see relativity also refers to the way two different people may have different understanding of a similar event or occurrence, hence the “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” reference. You see, surfer’s living in Florida’s pan handle region would lose their marbles upon seeing some of the average waves that roll daily through Steamer Lane in Santa Cruz, California. Likewise, many surfer’s in Hawaii, who usually feel extremely comfortable in tropical waters, will shrivel at the thought of surfing in waters under 60 degrees. On a similar note, I’ve met professional snowboarder’s who think I’m nuts for looking for life threatening waves in shark infested waters, while they comfortably fling themselves down sheer, craggy, mountainsides at breakneck speeds. Everything’s relative, and the more you grow, the more you travel, and the more people and culture you expose yourself to, you will come to realize this. Perhaps some of the experiences and friendships you make during your travels will help you look at things through the eyes of another beholder.

Saturday, December 26, 2009


Don't bog, blog!

this is the kind of random shit Dane puts on his blog, funky random and cool shit. marinelayerproductions.com

In this informational age of Twitter updates and blogging, people are increasingly utilizing the internet to allow others intimate insight into their personal lives. People like to stay connected, and more importantly they like to be informed. A growing number of these web surfers happen to be real surfers, and they are turning to the web for surf related information and content.

To address this demand, professional surfers, photographers, and surf journalists alike have begun to create their own personal websites. These sites offer news, photos, videos, as well as blogs, Involvement in these websites gives surf personalities a chance to interact with fans, increase their visibility, as well as keep everyone updated with their latest doings. Here are five surf blogs to quench your surf stoke when the waves are flat.

1. The Goods Life http://www.blog.thegoodss.com/
Twin brothers Damien and CJ Hobgood have been fixtures in the surf world for the past decade, and remain two of my favorite surfers in the world. Their innovative small wave trickery and heart stopping performances in Tahiti have solidified their place amongst the best in the world. The Goods Life offers fans up to date news, blog entries, as well as their own personal videos, which can be pretty hilarious at times.

2. Chris Burkard Photography http://www.chrisburkard.blogspot.com/
Central California’s Chris Burkard has quickly become one of the worlds most talented surf photographers. Chris recently finished the California Book Project, in which he and Eric Soderquist documented the sights and surf found within the Golden state. This blog site allows Chris a chance to show everyone where currently is, where, he’s been, and the sorts of adventures and experiences he’s had along the way.

3. Post Surf (DECEASED)http://www.postsurf.com/
Surf news and forecasting website Surfline fired writer Lewis Samuels for a piece he wrote criticizing Billabong CEO, Paul Naude. Upon being booted, Samuels took it upon himself to create a new outlet for his politically incorrect musings in the form of his new blog, Post Surf. On the site, Lewis stirs things up by calling out the surf industry and professionals alike. I think he's a prick, but while it lasted, postsurf was always a good place to go for entertainment. More on him later.

4. Dane Reynolds www.marinelayerproductions.com
Dane Reynolds is a humble human being. He never puts himself out there as "the guy", or "Check Me Out I'm Sponsored Joe Pro". This new blog is a way for Dane to express himself, to give the world an intimate look at the world as he see's it. Lot's of normal folk have blogs, so why can't Dane? He's a person just like all of us, and his photo's and musings are pretty entertaining. In the photos and videos that he posts, Mr. Reynolds not only shows us his versatility as a surfer, but his knack for nostalgia, art, and creativity. My favorite is the busted wing layback video. Pure talent

5. Peter Mel http://www.petermel.com/
Santa Cruz surf legend Peter Mel has tackled some of the largest surf to hit the West Coast, and lives to tell about it. These days, Pete is busy as an announcer in a number of international surfing events, while still finding time to fulfill his job as big wave hellman and professional surfer. On his official website, Pete posts blogs, videos, pictures, a biography, as well as an updated schedule to keep track of his whereabouts. One of my heroes.