C.J Hobgood, breaks down the floater, what it's good for, how to do them, when to do them and what to keep in mind while pulling one off. C.J is one of my favorite surfers of all time, and in this video he breaks down the basics of pulling off a sweet floater in a way that surfers of all levels can get something from it.
In this video pro surfer Kalani Robb, takes you through the basics and mechanics of blowing the tail out on your top turn. Bustin' the fins has become a staple part of modern day surfing, As Kalani says in the video, "guys like Dayne Reynolds are doing it everywhere, but we are the guys that told em' how"
This video has a little something in it for everyone, whether you are an absolute beginner surfer, or have been surfing for years, my money says this is a must see!
Now you have seen the video, get out there and try it in the water!
"This not to be missed cinematic journey combines a powerful fusion of original Super 8mm film, photo stills and contemporary interviews... Not only does the Lotus boast Greg's stellar directing, but it also features the engaging prose of writer Jamie Brisick and the narration of esteemed Hollywood actor Jeff Bridges... A cast of truly legendary surfers."... Mike Fish,
Eastern Surf Magazine.
"Greg Schell excavates the brilliance of two of surfing's most important and perhaps most underrated filmmakers, Greg Weaver and Spyder Wills. From LSD dropping into Laguna Canyon to Buttons in Costa Rica, it's classic. Don't miss it...legendary."... Scott Bass,
Featuring Gerry Lopez, Sunny Garcia, Rob Machado,
Rory Russell, Peter King, Buttons, Chris Brown,
Donavon Frankenreiter, Craig Peterson, Kevin Naughton Stacy Peralta, Mark Occhilupo, Buddy Boy, Allen Sarlo, Ronnie Burns, Rick Griffin, Herbie Fletcher, Joey Cabell, Corky Carroll, Munga Barry, Wingnut, Joel Tudor, Steve Pezman and Randy Rarick.
Shot on location in California, Cabo San Lucas, Mauritius, Bali, Costa Rica, South Africa,
Reunion Island, Secret Reef, Maui, North Shore
and Westside Oahu.
Narration written by Jamie Brisick
Narrated by Jeff Bridges.
Contact the director Gregory Schell.
Chasing the Lotus - An Interview with Gregory Schell
by Malcolm Johnson
Gregory Schell made his name in the surf world a few years back with the release of The Far Shore, an elegant documentary about the legendary travels of Kevin Naughton and Craig Peterson. In his most recent film, Chasing the Lotus, he turns his attentions to the work of Greg Weaver and Spider Wills, the groundbreaking surf filmmakers who shot some of the most memorable footage from surfing's Age of Exploration. With the inclusion of newly-found original footage from Weaver and Wills, Chasing the Lotus is an important and multifaceted work that pays tribute to two influential artists whose images still resonate in our culture today. Schell is bringing his film to Canada for a screening at the Tofino Film Festival in October, and the trailer is online at chasingthelotus.com .
MJ: I've always found the origins of a project really interesting, especially in art or film, because it seems that beginnings and motivations play such a strong part in how projects actually turn out. How did the concept for Chasing the Lotus come about?
GS: Well, it's actually a bit of a roundabout story, but it initially started because I was asked by Fuel to create a 44-minute version of my previous film, The Far Shore, for broadcast on cable TV. They recommended a post house in L.A. where I could do the editing, and I was in there working one day when a producer came in and asked if I was the guy who'd done The Far Shore. I said that I was, and he basically just said, "well, I'm down the hall in Office 7, and I'd like to talk to you." So that was how I met Chris Bell, who became the producer of Chasing the Lotus. We started talking, and Chris told me that the girl who cut his hair was dating a guy who was an older surf filmmaker from Newport Beach, and that this guy apparently had decades worth of Super 8 footage. Chris was curious to see if I'd be interested in taking a look at some of it, and I certainly was. So he got me a copy of five minutes of this footage that had been shot by Greg Weaver. And as soon as I saw it I was instantly blown away; he had stuff of Buttons Kahuliokalani and Rory Russell at Pavones in '70, stuff of Gerry Lopez and Russell from their first trip to Bali in 74, tons and tons of other early exploration footage. So after I'd seen it, Chris asked me if I thought we could make a movie about it, and I was sure we could. A week or two later I signed a contract, and we started into production two years ago this October.
MJ: The tagline for the film is "the lost reels of Weaver and Wills." What's the story of the finding of their missing footage?
GS: That's another interesting story, actually. Back in 80 Weaver and Wills were making an effort to amass their highlight reels; they'd had an idea for a project that would be along similar lines to Chasing the Lotus, basically something that would showcase the best of their whole canon of documentary film. It was sometime around then that Weaver ended up losing this one box that contained all his best reels. It had basically all his A-list stuff. So he was obviously supremely bummed; they couldn't track the box down at all, and eventually they just thought that it was lost to the ether. So when I started working on the film and said "well, let's find these reels," it didn't seem that there was much hope. But it also happened that at the same time we were starting on the film Weaver had started remodeling his garage; one day he tore down this one storage area, and sure enough, there it was. The box had been hidden underneath another box that couldn't be seen, and the reels had actually been in house the entire time. It was serendipitous, I guess, and that's how the lost reels were finally found. That story's not actually told in Chasing the Lotus, but that was the how the lost reels came back to the light. And having them made the film just so much stronger than it would've been.
MJ: Obviously you'd been influenced by their work, and you'd been working on Chasing the Lotus already, so what was it like for you to go through the lost reels for the first time? Surely for someone who makes surf films that was a discovery on the same sort of level as finding long-lost tracks from J.J. Cale or some band like Deep Purple in their prime.
GS: Yeah, it was really incredible, and I'm still just so stoked that I was able to be a part of it. That box had 25 reels, and each of those had 15 to 20 minutes of footage. So there was a lot to go through, and the greatest thing and this is to pay tribute to Weaver and Wills here was that back then as young guys they were interested enough to turn cameras on things other than just the waves. So the reels had tons of ethnographic elements: there were African dancers in Mauritius, Balinese locals walking up and down the cliffs, all this other National Geographic type of stuff they'd cut into the reels. The most exciting stuff to me wasn't the surfing but all this incredible B-roll footage. That stuff, I think, is what really shows the genius of Weaver and Wills, and I included as much footage from those reels as possible, both to do justice to their work as filmmakers and to illustrate what the places they were traveling to were actually like back in the 60s and 70s. And it seems strange now, but not much of that footage ever made it into the surf films they were shooting, films like Forgotten Island of Santosha and Pacific Vibrations and a few others. John Severson, to give an example, wasn't looking for that kind of footage for Pacific Vibrations; he only really wanted the surf stuff, so Wills cut the travel stuff out and assembled it in B-reel. So it was that footage I was most interested in, and a lot of what you see in Chasing the Lotus hasn't been seen in any of the major surf films. Shots like the ones of Joey Cabell are an example of that. So that footage was the real gold mine for me; at first I'd just been dealing with the regular reels, but when we found the lost ones it was suddenly like "o.k, now this is really something special."
MJ: It seems that one of the strengths of Chasing the Lotus is that it's not a static piece of film. It was obviously a conscious choice to talk to some of the well-known surfers from our current culture, and I'm curious about what your thought process was when you were deciding which of today's surfers you wanted to involve.
GS: That's a good question for sure. I think I tried to find guys who were on the freespirited and freesurfing bent. I think the soul surfer type of guys are closer than the guys on tour to what Weaver and Wills were documenting a few decades ago. So I knew I wanted to bring in guys like Rob Machado, who's got such a great perspective on things from having seen and experienced both sides. Donavon Frankenreiter as well, who's just such a complete soul freak-out kind of guy. And Sunny Garcia was really incredible to talk to as well; I interviewed him before he'd gotten into tax trouble, and it wasn't the competitive side of his life that I was interested in but his upbringing on the West Side of Oahu. That was one of the first times anyone had asked him about that on a serious level, and he really lit up when we talked; most of the time, he said, people just stuck a microphone in his face and asked him what it was like to surf Pipeline or some question like that, so he was really stoked that I was interested in his background and what it was like growing up at Yokohama Bay. I'd also gotten a hold of some great footage of Sunny surfing there in his teens, so that was obviously another reason to interview him. Randy Rarick was another example of a guy on that level who, like Weaver and Wills, had also done a huge amount of exploration. And of course we knew that we needed to interview the guys from the 60s and 70s: Lopez and Russell, Corky Carroll and Herbie Fletcher. But the reason that I chose the current guys was that their lives seemed so in line with what Weaver and Wills were shooting. Wingnut was another guy along that line. I also knew that I wanted to show a different slice of the surfing population; I didn't have a lot of interest in a film about Kelly and Andy and Bruce, or something with Laird and Jaws. That stuff just gets too saturated, and I really didn't think the world needed another video on Teahupoo or Mavericks or Jaws. I definitely don't say that degradingly, though, because the guys who make those films do it really well; I'm thrilled by those guys and the stuff they do, but with my own work I really wanted to transcend the stereotypes. I think the surf audience is intelligent enough to start digging deeper into more meaningful things, and what I really want to do is to show the different backgrounds, different pursuits and different styles of surf culture. I'm interested in the deeper aspects of the tribe of surfers, this group of connected people who are still so varied and diverse in their beliefs and what they do.
MJ: So how do you see the work of Weaver and Wills relating to what's going on today? What are the strains of our current culture that you see as some sort of continuation of what they were doing?
GS: It's funny, you know, because there are people out there who think that everything has been found and mapped and Google-identified, but the reality is that there are still so many unexplored areas and so much uncharted ground. With enough determination anyone can go out there and find empty waves. It's just a matter of being willing to put in the time to do it. The torch, I think, passed from guys like Kevin Naughton and Craig Naughton and along to guys like Lopez and Russell. That was the ethic that Weaver and Wills were shooting. And now, I mean, just look at the Long brothers, or Brian Conley deep in Baja, or the Malloy brothers at some remote slab in Ireland. Those guys all live by that same philosophy. The things that Weaver and Wills were doing have definitely transcended into today, but it comes to loggerheads when you compare that side of surfing to what goes on with competitive surfing and the WCT. The competitive side is just one aspect, and I find it interesting but not even half as compelling as the travel and exploration side. There are guys who want to go paddle out at Malibu and spots like that, they want to be seen and be in the scene, but then there are all these other surfers who you never even see, the guys who are off surfing the remote spots. But there's always a dilemma that comes along with that, which is how much you show and how much you expose. Because if you film a place enough, it's guaranteed that people will find it. And it was the same, actually, for Weaver and Wills. There's a moment in Chasing the Lotus, for example, where Weaver is talking about how he was shooting on the West Side of Oahu and this huge local guy pulled over and got out of an old Chevelle. The guy had a big long goatee, total black trunks guy, and he walked up and said, "hey, what you doing, we don't like stuff in magazines here." And Weaver basically responded that he wasn't with a magazine but was shooting film for a movie; and this is pretty classic, but the guy looked at him and said, "well, then you shoot me." We show some of that footage in Chasing the Lotus, and what was so crazy is that when I was interviewing Randy Rarick he said "oh, that's Warren Hoohuli. I know that guy." So we got his phone number and ended up finding him, and we have him in our film talking about that incident 30 years later. You have to see it to see how it turns out, but Hoohuli was one of the warlords of Yokohama Bay for almost 50 years, and during that time he went from being one of the young thugs to being one of grandfathers there. But he has this incredible attitude about it all; after the 80s things were really bad there, people were getting murdered on the West Side, and all the violence had basically reached a point where people saw it was futile. So for him, at least, it became much more about aloha and giving, and now he's one of the patron saints of the West Side, which is a really unique and really rich part of the Hawaiian Islands.
MJ: It must be an interesting experience to be making a film about filmmakers. How much influence did they have on what you were doing?
GS: Well, it was a really neat process, and what was great was that Weaver and Wills, even though they're master technicians, seemed content to let me kind of run the show. I expected them to be more critical during the making of the film, but they weren't that way at all. Weaver is classic; he only said one thing to me, which was "I don't care what you do, just promise me one thing: California has to be green, and Hawaii has to be blue." And that was it. Wills was even less demonstrative: he basically saw it and said, "well, it's just fine. A fine piece of film." In the end, they were really happy about it, and when we premiered at the X-Dance Festival they were just beaming. And that was a really rewarding thing for me, to see that they were being recognized for the work they'd put in over the years. They were always underground guys, and what I was doing with Chasing the Lotus was trying to bring what they'd done to light. It's funny, because at first they didn't even want to be interviewed on camera; that was one thing I was firm on, though, and I kept telling them that I couldn't make a documentary with just their voices. People would've been burning to see what they looked like, and they finally agreed to be seen on film. But that's how underground those guys were; they shunned the media spotlight, and they always just wanted their work to speak for itself. But the whole film was done with their approval, and it worked out well that way.
MJ: The cover for Chasing the Lotus is one of the classic old photos of Lopez, Dick Brewer and Reno Abellira. Was that an obvious choice for you?
GS: Well, we had a couple of ideas in mind for the cover. We'd gone through a bunch of photos from Weaver and Wills, and then when I was looking through some old Surfer magazines I came across the series from Dave Darling, the Maui-based photographer who took all those photos. Those guys had all gotten together one afternoon and started doing yoga, and Darling shot a whole roll of it. There's a more famous one from that series, so the one we used was an outtake. But they're in the lotus position, and the shot just seemed to say it all about that time period. It was that Eastern mystic kind of thing, and it was accompanied by the psychedelic element. Those guys were Chasing the Lotus, which basically means they were chasing forms of perfection. The Chinese consider the lotus to be the most perfect flower in the world, and it really becomes a symbol of what we all strive to find.
MJ: That's actually a really layered concept for us here as well, because there's a tradition of B.C. being referred to as Lotusland, which comes from the legend that the Lotus flower would bring you to this sort of forgetful and psychedelic and basically idyllic place. So you've called it Chasing the Lotus, but did they ever find it? How much of it was real, and how much of it was them being in the business of creating myth?
GS:I think the answer goes both ways. Weaver and Wills were the mythmakers, but along the way they definitely experienced their share of the true moments. But of course that begs the other question, which is how much of a role cosmic consciousness and LSD played in everything. Because all of a sudden in the 60s there were all these new drugs, so people were taking psychedelics and going surfing. And some people could handle it, but there were some people who you see in the film who couldn't escape from it and lost their lives. Buddy Boy Keohe is the prime example: he just did too much, it was just too much drugs, and he went from being a standout Honolua Bay surfer in the 60s, really an amazing stylist, to being a drugged-out dude who was eventually found in a dumpster in Encinitas. There are some of those tragedies that we highlight in Chasing the Lotus. But there were also those who were able to tap into the higher planes: the drugs unlocked the doors, but the point was that you weren't supposed to need the drugs to actually take you through. The doors of perception were opened, and it was up to you to walk through on your own, but some of the surfers of the time definitely tapped in and came out the other side. Herbie Fletcher talks about it in the film; they were approaching LSD in an almost scientific way, where they'd do acid and go surfing and imagine the water flow over the rails and then go in and cut down the boards and re-glass them. And that was a huge part of how the shortboard revolution came about. Even a guy like Rarick, who's super clean, says that he can't deny that Brewer and those guys were really innovative and that drugs were a part of it; those guys were the first guys to really cut down their boards and realize that surfboards should look like a teardrop to hold in at Pipeline. So a substantial part of Chasing the Lotus has to do with revealing those aspects of the surf culture of the time, and that was the world that Weaver and Wills, these real masters of their art, managed to preserve through their work.
The SURF FORUM is up and running, now we just need some loud assed surfers in there making noise when the waves aren't pumping! Join in today and shoot the shit about anything and everything. Just click the image above to get started!
Strict no spamming rule applies, so if that is your thing dont waste our time or yours!
More than 850 professional surfers and surf industry VIP’s supported the most anticipated surf event of the year, the SIMA Environmental Fund’s Waterman’s Ball, on Friday, August 22.
The event took place at the St. Regis Monarch Beach in Dana Point, Calif., and the SIMA Environmental Fund Board of Directors are confident that the final amount raised at the event will approximately match the goal of $500,000 for oceans and surf breaks around the world.
At the Ball, SIMA honored former world surfing champion Mark “Occy” Occhilupo as Waterman of the Year, musician Jackson Browne as Environmentalist of the Year, and surf contest pioneer Eduardo Arena with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Surfrider Foundation and Sierra Club’s Friends of the Foothills campaign also received Special Recognition Awards for their ongoing battle to save Trestles and stop the development of the 241 Toll Road.
Funds raised will go directly to supporting specific programs of 17 non-profit environmental organizations that address water quality and ocean pollution issues, defend beaches and surf breaks from development, and provide public education on ocean conservation. Beneficiaries include:
Surfrider Foundation, Ocean Institute, WiLDCOAST, Heal the Bay, Orange County CoastKeeper, Surfing Education Association, Alaska Wilderness League, Seymour Marine Discovery Center, Algalita Marine Research Foundation, Save the Waves Coalition, Reef Check, KAHEA: The Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance, SINADES: Natural Systems and Development Civil Association, Sierra Club’s Friends of the Foothills campaign, Santa Barbara Channelkeeper, North Shore Community Land Trust, and Assateague Coastal Trust.
“Jackson Browne said it perfectly in his acceptance speech for Environmentalist of the Year and gave me a new favorite saying; ‘A clean environment is the most basic human right,’” said Paul Naudé, president of the SIMA Environmental Fund and CEO of Billabong USA.
“Waterman’s Weekend is a meaningful and powerful event for the whole surf industry because it is a time when we can support the organizations that are preserving the very resource our industry would not survive without – the ocean. As well as concentrating on our oceanic-environment, Waterman’s Weekend is a time to recognize our honorees who have made an impact in the sport of surfing and the environment.”
Mark “Occy” Occhilupo, Waterman of the Year
Waterman of the Year, Mark “Occy” Occhilupo, has made his mark on the sport of surfing as a legendary surf icon. Coming onto the surf scene at the age of nine, Occy found his passion for the perfect wave on the beaches of Cronulla near where he grew up in southern Sydney. The
goofyfooter exploded onto the surf contest scene at age16 and began his career that would later lead to his recognition as the man with the best backhand hook.
One of the most remarkable parts of Occy’s career was his ability to surge from the depths of depression and burnout throughout the early nineties to the rebirth of his surfing career in 1996 after re-qualifying through the World Qualifying Series for the prestigious World Championship Tour. He hit the peak of his career in 1999 when he won and was crowned with the long overdue World Title. After two decades of leading the scene as a top world surfer, Occy surfed his last touring professional heat in 2007, rounding out a truly epic career that has stretched the boundaries of the sport of surfing.
Jackson Browne, Environmentalist of the Year
Best described as the first to volunteer for an environmental cause and the last to seek recognition, Jackson Browne was honored as Environmentalist of the Year for his lifelong commitment to the fragile planet. Well-known for his gift as a musical artist, Jackson utilizes his talent to raise awareness, participation, and funds for environmental causes. He strives to make the biggest impact and tailors a majority of his efforts to grass-roots environmental causes with minimal overhead, targeting the “little guy” that does the important work.
His long list of performance benefits, as well as dedication of time and resources, includes benefits for the Ventura Hillsides Conservancy, Waterkeeper Alliance, Heal The Bay – Santa Monica, and to prevent offshore drilling on the California Coast, oil and gas development in the Santa Barbara region, and opposition of nuclear development at Diablo Canyon, to name a few. An avid surfer, Jackson has made his absolute and unflinching commitment to the environment, particularly the oceans, a lifelong project.
“The qualifications for SIMA Environmentalist of the Year are extremely precise and tailored to environmental efforts as they impact the surf industry,” said Paul Naudé, president of the SIMA Environmental Fund and CEO of Billabong USA. “As a true surfer, Jackson Browne more than fulfills this prestigious role and is passionate about using his music to protect our waves. From projects like Heal The Bay to preventing offshore drilling – Jackson has made a huge impact on our coastal lines, something I know everyone in the surf industry is more than appreciative of. We are proud to call Jackson Browne our SIMA Environmentalist of the Year.”
Eduardo Arena, Lifetime Achievement Award
Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, Eduardo Arena, is acknowledged as being a World Surfing Championships contest pioneer. Eduardo is well-known for using his own resources and passion for surfing to bring together various countries and theories of surfing. In the 1960s Eduardo’s efforts in Peru helped create the platform for the first World Surfing Championships, as well as the International Surfing Federation (ISF).
Serving as the president of ISF for eight years, Eduardo was among the pioneering group of ISF officials who wrote our first modern surf judging criteria, clearly influencing and setting the tone of the way surf contests all over the world are judged today. Eduardo’s impact over the surf world is both international and extensive, and SIMA is proud to honor Eduardo Arena with the SIMA Lifetime Achievement Award.
Surfrider & Friends of the Foothills, Special Recognition Awards
Surfrider and Friends of the Foothills were honored with Special Recognition Awards. Advocating against the development of the 241 Toll Road in southern Orange County and protecting Trestles has been an ongoing battle for these two organizations. They have won some courageous victories, and will continue the long-term fight to preserve our surf and environment – including the battle to stop the Toll Road extension through Trestles. Their efforts are strongly supported and valued by the entire surf community.
“Every dollar spent on the weekend, every golfer on the links, every bid on the auctions, and every attendee at the ball made a difference for our surf breaks, ocean, and the environment,” said Dick Baker, SIMA Chairman Emeritus. “On behalf of SIMA, thank you to all of those who supported the 19th Annual Waterman’s Weekend.”
The SIMA Environmental Fund is a 501(c)(3) charitable foundation formed by the surf industry to provide support in the form of grants to environmental organizations. The annual Waterman's Weekend serves as the primary fundraiser for the SIMA Environmental Fund through the Waterman's Classic Golf Tournament and Waterman's Ball and Auction. This year's Waterman's Classic took place on Thursday, August 21, at the Monarch Beach Golf Links. The Waterman's Ball and Auction were held Friday, August 22, at The St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort & Spa in Dana Point, Calif.
For media inquires or photos from the event please contact SIMA Communications Coordinator, Mandy Johnson at Mandy@sima.com or 949.366.1164 x7.
The Surf Industry Manufacturers Association (SIMA) is the official working trade association of more than 300 surf industry suppliers. Founded in 1989, SIMA is a non-profit organization that serves to promote awareness of the surf industry and participation in the sport of surfing through public relations efforts and a variety of services, educational programs and research.
In addition, SIMA actively supports oceanic environmental efforts through its 501(c)(3) charitable environmental foundation, the SIMA Environmental Fund. In the past 18 years, SIMA's Environmental Fund has raised more than $4 million for environmental groups seeking to protect the world's oceans, beaches and waves. The SIMA Humanitarian Fund, also a 501(c)(3) charitable foundation, was established in 2006 to award grants to various surf or boardsport related social and humanitarian non-profit organizations whose efforts are focused on improving the quality of life, health and/or welfare of people.
Not long ago, Cuban surfers made surfboards by molding insulation foam from refrigerators with a cheese grater.
Now they ride the waves on second-hand surfboards donated by surfers in other countries, whose solidarity is keeping afloat one of the least known tribes in the surfing universe.
"Cuba is one of the last places not surfed in the world. It's probably like Bali was in the late 1960s," said Bob Samin, a 49-year-old Australian engineer who promotes surfing on the island.
Surfing, which does not have the official support other sports receive in Cuba, survives thanks to the tenacity of a handful of fanatics who learned the sport by imitating what they saw in foreign magazines.
Without money and with little contact with the outside world, the 100 or so surfers in Cuba shared the few boards they had, developing the cooperative ethos that once reigned among surfers elsewhere but now has been replaced by competition, said Samin.
"In the rest of the world, surfing has lost its soul, it has become very competitive. Everybody is so hyper, here is different," said Samin, who works on an oil platform in the Indian Ocean and travels every five weeks to Cuba.
He has been the driving force behind the international effort to get boards for Cubans, setting up a web page, HavanaSurf (http://www.havanasurf-cuba.com/), through which most donations have been arranged.
So far this year, Cubans have received 20 boards and another 40 are expected in coming months.
"Those who donate the boards know what it's like to be sitting on the beach, watching the waves without being able to surf," said Eduardo Valdes, leader of the Cuban Surfers Association.
"All those who come to Cuba bring some things and at the end leave even more than expected, because they realize we are good people. They even leave us clothes," he said.
The home of the 27-year-old, heavily tattooed chemist is ground zero for Cuba's surfing culture. Donated boards are stashed in his dining room, behind doors and in the garage. Surfers parade by, looking for boards or accessories like an ankle leash or surfboard wax.
The boards are given out for free to the surfers, with one condition -- no one can sell them. They can be shared, handed down or given away, but years of necessity taught Cuban surfers that things like cooperation and solidarity with their fellow surfers were more important than money.
"When I went into military service, for example, I gave my board to another surfer," Valdes explained. "That's the way it is with everything, even with a piece of wax."
Cuba is not known for big waves, but foreigners still come for the mystique of surfing in one of the few socialist countries in the world.
They visit mostly during Cuba's mild winter, when waves are more consistent. But the best surf, Cubans say, comes with the storms that punish the Caribbean each summer, most recently Tropical Storm Fay.
Valdes' eyes shine when he remembers the passage of Katrina on its way to New Orleans in 2005. The storm was a tragedy for the U.S. Gulf Coast, but a rare treat for Cuban surfers.
"We surfed about a week with waves between six and eight feet . It was perfect."
The best waves, said Samin, are at Baracoa, a colonial city at the eastern end of Cuba exposed to waves from the Atlantic Ocean. But there is also surfing right off the Malecon, Havana's broad seaside avenue.
In the past, Cuban surfers had to deal with a certain suspicion from the authorities, especially after someone escaped to Florida in 1994 on a windsurfing board.
"Even now we go to the beach and there are people who say to us: 'You're leaving? Take me with you," Valdez said.
"It's impossible to cross 90 miles in a surfboard," he said, referring to the distance between Cuba and the United States.
Cuban surfers are viewed by the surfing world as a work in progress, talented but not yet able to compete with the world's best.
"We know from reports in magazines that surfing is young in Cuba and they need international contact to improve their skills," said Karin Sierralta of the Latin American Surf Association.
Valdes said there are plenty of good Cuban surfers, but they lack the infrastructure and support needed to reach the top level.
They have not even been able to organize a local surfing competition because they don't have basics like a sound system, needed so surfers out on the waves can hear announcements.
Nor do they have the support of Cuban authorities.
Cuban sports officials put a heavy emphasis on Olympic sports, where winning medals is viewed as a victory for the socialist homeland, so surfing is not a priority.
Still, Samin has been in talks with Cuban officials, who have informally agreed he may one day coach a Cuban surf team, and he believes the time is not far off when a Cuban will compete internationally.
"Let's say it's a couple of years away," he said. "There is one guy who could do it now. He's quite good and there's a few not far behind."
"U.S. stars like Cory Lopez or Kelly Slater learned to surf on waves like these. These guys can do it," he said.
Laird and the NRDC
The Association of Professional Towsurfers (APT) was started in 2003 to support the growth and development of Tow-In Surfing. Now in its fifth year, APT has embarked on promoting world class tow-in competitions (and in the midst of a five month holding period in Chile), FUEL.TV caught up with APT President and Founder, Eric Akiskalian.
He gave us the goods on his involvement with the sport, the APT World Tour Tow-In Surfing Circuit and what it’s like being at the mercy of mother nature when you’re trying to run a pro tour. Here’s what Eric had to say…
I’ve always been drawn to the edge, being extreme and doing crazy things in life. After spending some 30+ years surfing some good-sized paddle waves, I was ready to try something very new and different. Laird Hamilton, Buzzy Kerbox, Derrick Doerner along with a few others known then as the ‘Strapped Crew’, introduced tow-in surfing in Hawaii in the early ‘90s.
It wasn’t until ’98 that the crew at Mavericks, Peter Mel, Ken Collins, Flea, Barney and others started towing on the West coast. That was when I made the decision that I was going to begin my journey but didn’t know how to get started. I knew that there would be a lot of training involved and equipment to invest in. So I bought a Yamaha PWC, started taking training courses, and baby stepped my way into it. Now, almost eight years later my journey continues and what a ride it has been to this point.
In 2000 I launched Towsurfer.com to get more involved with the sport and its athletes by promoting the big wave sessions that happened with documented photos and video clips then doing interviews with the big wave riders. That’s when I met guys like Laird Hamilton, Raimana Van Bastolaer, Peter Mel, Greg Long, Garrett McNamara, Kealii Mamala, Chuck Patterson, Scott Chandler, Don Curry, Chris ‘Brownie’ Brown, Jamie Sterling along with many others and started traveling the globe and towing with the best in the sport.
Somehow Towsurfer.com became very popular on a global level and that is when I was able to turn my interest in tow surfing into a viable business. It just kind of happened without any initial intent. Starting the Association of Professional Towsurfers, Inc., (APT) was a natural progression for me.
Being a promoter at heart, I saw a need for an organized and professional tow-in surfing tour and new a competitive circuit would become the future that would advance the sport of big wave surfing. It’s taken a good five years to create and develop the beginning stages of this tour, but with the help of my good friends Jimbeau Andrews, Co founder/Executive Director and Rodney Kilborn, VP/Event Sanctioning Director, a lot of hard work and support from the competitors, the APT has begun to carve its way in the world of extreme competitive action sports.
Of course the biggest obstacle we face with running a competitive circuit of this nature is mother nature. The APT is divided into nine global regions: Mainland USA, Hawaii, Mexico, South America, Europe, South Pacific, Australia, South Africa and Japan. The waiting periods are fairly basic. We follow the winter swells in the southern hemisphere from April to October and from October through March we monitor the winter swells in the northern hemisphere.
But in order for us to run an event, we need a solid 17'-20' deep water ground swell reading, which will produce minimum wave height requirements of 40’. We will wait for the biggest and best conditions, but sometimes they never come. Take the Red Bull Big Wave Africa competition. They just celebrated their 10-year anniversary, but have only held four events over those 10 years. It’s hit or miss in our business.
The last event we held was on Oahu in January of ’06. Right now we’ve been in a holding period in Chile for four months and have had to extend the holding period to September 15th. Thanks to our APT V.P. of Chile, Rodrigo ‘Flecha’ Escobar, he’s handling the entire Pichilemu event, and has done an amazing job organizing and getting sponsors together so that when the amber alert says it’s a go, we are ready at a moment’s notice and on a plane.
Being patient is all part of the game, especially since big giant waves are what set our tow-in surfing tour apart from the rest of the industry.
Our number one priority this year is to have the Chile event and turn it into a major success. We are currently working on this event everyday as we wait for the right swell to come. From working on media exposure, to dealing with other event promoters and other global event locations, there is a lot of communication involved as well as a degree of open mindedness necessary for all of us to work together.
The APT believes that everyone should try to make an attempt to work collectively as a group, in order to support the growth of our sport and the future for our big wave tow-in surfing tour. Our best asset today is the support from our competitors and their desire to see the tour grow. The competitors have a lot of input and we respect what they have to say. So a special thanks to all our competitors and members that continue to support our efforts.
For more information on the APT and to check out daily event forecasts and swell updates tune into protowsurfers.org.
After a highly publicised divorce trial, Christie Brinkley has found a way to unwind - surfing.
The supermodel has taken up the hobby while vacationing in Long Island, New York after ending her marriage to ex-husband Peter Cook just last month.
The 54-year-old insists hitting the waves has helped her to relax and remember her roots.
“Yes, I’ve dusted off my surfboard. When I was 13, I was a surfer girl in Malibu, putting my phonograph needle over and over on the old Beach Boys songs,” the New York Daily News quoted her, as saying.
“My kids and I love it out on the water. We get away from the crowds by kayaking out to explore the inlets and coves, and we’ve tried the new rage of standup paddling on the surfboard. “This summer I want to just slow everything down,” she added.
Five years of careful planning and patient waiting for perfect conditions paid off for Durban-born big wave surfer Grant "Twiggy" Baker when he successfully rode a 70-foot wave at an until-now-unsurfed Cape Town reef on Saturday.
Baker, the winner of 2008's Red Bull Big Wave Africa contest held at Dungeons Reef in Hout Bay late in July, took his wild ride at a reef about 2km further out to sea from Dungeons.
It is one of the biggest waves - if not the biggest - ever ridden off the African continent.
He told the Cape Times on Sunday that the mammoth wave was "definitely the biggest I've ever ridden in South Africa" and ranked alongside the biggest waves he'd tackled at several American breaks, including the famous Cortes Banks.
Baker said he and fellow big wave surfer, Greg Long, had been studying Tafelberg Reef for five years and had been waiting for perfect conditions: "a massive swell, no wind, low tide".
Long used a jetski to tow Baker into the giant set on Saturday afternoon, after the pair had already spent four hours surfing nearby Dungeons.
When he kicked into the wave, Baker said: "My adrenaline was pumping, I was hyperventilating.
"It was terrifying."
He said the wave had measured between 65 and 70 feet - the sort of size that is "very scary even for (big wave surfers)".
Baker rode the wave "in a straight line for 400m".
Red Bull Big Wave Africa contest director Gary Linden, who watched Baker's feat from a jetski, said the wave had been "beyond 60 feet for sure".
He said the biggest wave ridden by a contestant at this year's Big Wave Africa contest had been between 50 and 55 feet.
Baker plans to return to Tafelberg Reef.
"I think that wave can get bigger. We'll keep watching."
A bronze bust of George Freeth -- the man credited with bringing surfing to California 100 years ago -- was stolen sometime overnight, Redondo Beach Police said Thursday morning.
The statue, created by sculptor Terry O'Donnell, who died recently, has been on the Redondo Beach Pier for 31 years.
Police have not identified any suspects and will release more information about the theft later today.
Freeth was born in 1883 and died in 1919 during the influenza pandemic.
The bust was made from old photographs of Freeth who came to the South Bay from Hawaii.
People were generally afraid of swimming in the ocean during the time Freeth arrived in California. When they saw Freeth riding the breakers, people began to venture past the waves.
Younger surfers and lifeguards have become increasingly curious about Freeth, according to a Daily Breeze story last year.
"A lot of people didn't know who he was," said Joel T. Smith, a Hermosa Beach resident who has been surifing since 1962. "Only recently have people begun to recognize his contribution. He's a direct line to what surfing is today."
Smith said Freeth also helped create the surfing lifestyle that affected everything from music to clothing.
There is a $5000 reward for the safe return of the statue!
The new look website is part of the global transition and completes a branded web identification synergy with other ASP regional branches around the world.
The new ASP Australasia website offers all the key ASP World Tour information and news, and additionally all regional information is available on ASP World Qualifying Series, ASP Pro Junior and ASP Longboard Qualifying Series events.
Online entry and membership payments for all ASP Regional events through a secure payment system remain in place, providing a secure and highly efficient method of entering events on a 24/7 basis.
The website also comprises multimedia pages including photos, press and video clips available from a broad range of ASP events.
ASP Australasia Tour Manager Glenn Best quoted today: “We are happy to be moving the ASP Australasia brand into alignment with the other regions as a branch office. Completing the transformation of the ASP Australasia website has been a major undertaking as part of the transition.”
For ASP Australasia members and the viewing public, the distinct and direct focus on ASP activities now offers a more effective website for those seeking direct ASP Australasia information, as part of the general ASP World tour user experience.
memorial is planned for surf film pioneer Bud Browne on Monday, August 25, 2008 at 7:00pm. The event will take place at Waimea Falls Park in Oahu, Hawaii. An Exhibit of Bud's photography will be on display at the Memorial.
A website has been setup with a guest book for people to go & write comments about Bud. The guest book will be displayed at the Memorial in Hawaii.For more information contact: Anna Trent Moore 805-773-9648 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Veteran Cape Town surfer Glenn Bee stole the show when he turned up as a "wave-spotter" at the big-wave surfing event at Dungeons, just eight months after narrowly escaping death.
Bee is lucky to be alive. His friend, Brian Crabb, who was cycling with him on November 25, the day of their accident, was not as lucky.
Bee, 48, and Crabb, 35, had been out training for the Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour when a bakkie ploughed into them from behind, instantly killing Crabb and leaving Bee critically injured and in a coma.
The driver, 23-year-old Liam Jelliman, stands accused of culpable homicide and reckless driving. He is also alleged to have driven away after hitting the two men.
Bee, who has been involved in the Red Bull Big Wave competition since its inception ten years ago, said he held no anger towards the driver, but that this did not make it any easier to deal with Crabb's death. "It's out of my hands; Jelliman now has to face the justice system."
Before the accident the self-employed businessman occupied his spare time with physical activities such as cycling and, more often, surfing.
He now suffers from short-term memory loss, making it impossible to work more than two days. Doctors told him that, while he would recover physically within 2009, he would never be able to taste or smell again.
For him, the most frustrating part of recovery was knowing it was a drawn-out process.
"My life feels like it is in limbo," he said.
But these drawbacks have not diminished the popular surfer's jovial side - he said he was just glad he was "still sucking air".
Lupita Salazar, 12, stood at the water's edge Wednesday in Manhattan Beach, flinching as cold waves lapped at her ankles.
Blind since birth, the slim girl wore a colorful swimsuit with a rhinestone flower applique. She was among the first in her group of 13 students from the Braille Institute in Los Angeles willing to give surfing a try.
Troy Campbell, a surfing instructor, guided Lupita's hands around the edges, or rails, of a blue 19-foot-long board set on the sand. Her best friend, Lorena Ortega, 13, who is also blind, stood nearby listening.
Lupita could feel the soft top of the board. At Campbell's instruction, she lay down on her stomach on the board, braced herself and popped up to her knees.
Campbell then took Lupita's hand and guided her out into the surf. Once again, she climbed atop the board. Although she couldn't see the waves, she could taste the difference from the chlorinated water in the pools where she normally swims. At first, she thought she could sense when a big wave was coming, but then a few small waves surprised her.
She could feel Campbell holding the back of the board to steady her. When he told her to stand, she did, and he kept holding on, bodysurfing behind the board as Lupita surfed to shore. She smiled at the feeling of the board bouncing under her.
On the shore, Lorena waited. The girls' mothers met at the hospital and became friends not long after their daughters were each born blind.
Since they were little, Lorena had often followed her more adventurous friend. Now it was her turn to surf.
Just like Lupita, she lay on a board on the beach and practiced popping up. Lorena was more tentative, whispering to the instructor. When it came time to surf, she paused at the water's edge, bent and felt a wave.
Most who came to the beach as part of the Kanoa Aquatics camp, a free program in its ninth year of teaching blind and visually impaired students to surf, were reluctant to get into the water.
Britnee Anis, 18, of Van Nuys, dragged her feet in the wet sand as assistants tried to lead her into the water.
Anis lost her sight two years ago and is also deaf. Talking through a sign language interpreter, Anis said she came to the beach Wednesday to make friends before she starts classes at the Braille Institute in the fall.
As much as the ocean scared her, new people scared her more, Anis explained.
She backed out of the water even as Lorena climbed up on a surfboard to give it a try. When the moment came to stand, Lorena made it up to her knees. Then she fell back into the water.
But she was not giving up.
Again, she floated out into the surf. Again, she climbed onto the board. Again, she heard the instructor telling her that this was the moment, time to stand.
For a brief moment, she popped up to her feet.
It felt like flying, she told Lupita afterward, clutching her friend's sun-warmed arm with a hand still wet and sandy from surfing.
"Don't do that -- you're making me colder!" Lupita said.
"I need sun," Lorena said, turning to face the light.
"I need a wetsuit," Lupita said, shivering.
On the beach under clear skies and a warm sun, the best friends said they have stayed close not because they are blind but because they have so much else in common.
Both love books (in Braille and audio), especially adventures such as the Harry Potter series. They watch Hannah Montana together, cruise shops at the mall and swim at the beach.
They are about the same height, with delicate features, rail-thin builds and long dark hair hanging down their backs. They both want to live independently one day, and realize that in order to do so, they have to push themselves to tackle new and sometimes scary experiences -- from crossing busy streets to surfing.
Lupita is louder. She dreams of traveling to Egypt some day. Lorena, the youngest of six children, is shy and quiet. Lupita, the fourth of eight children, often draws her friend out.
"My mother says I do stuff no one else dares to try," Lupita said with a shrug.
As nearby beachgoers dragged boogie boards along the sand and played volleyball, the girls talked about how big the waves seemed, how others might be afraid but the only thing that bothered them was the cold -- and the bulbous seaweed, which some children said felt like little lightbulbs.
When a teacher asked if they wanted to keep surfing, they said no. It was not that they were frustrated or tired or afraid. Their complaint was far more common for their age: They were bored. So they headed for their towels instead, more interested in talking about plans for Lupita's 13th birthday this Saturday than taking one more ride on the waves.
MARK Kelly may have helped to revolutionise the way surfboards are made and sold but there are some elements of the traditionally laid-back surfing culture that just won't rub off.
You might imagine the world's biggest surfboard supplier to be based in a big corporate office by now but, no, Kelly still boasts that his company's global headquarters remain where they were when he started off at home.
"I can still go for a surf then come back and sit here in my wet boardies with my towel around me and work and it doesn't bother anyone," he said.
Since he started his Global Surf Industries business six years ago it has evolved into three companies, with separate entities in Australia and the US and another distribution business covering the rest of the world.
It remains a tight operation with just 16 staff in Australia and the US all of whom work from home but it has a big reach, selling its 11 surfboard brands to 47 countries.
Kelly describes GSI's meteoric rise as "a hell of a ride" but declines to divulge exactly how many surfboards it now sells, saying only that it outstrips all its global competitors and is "well into eight digits". And it continues to grow at 30 to 40 per cent a year. "It adds up pretty quickly because of all the countries we sell into," he said.
Kelly, who left his previous job as international sales and marketing manager for Mona Vale surfing accessory company Surf Hardware International to start GSI, staked his business future on being able to accurately predict where the board industry needed to go and then to make it happen.
His business plan revolved around introducing factory production to an industry where traditionally everything had been handcrafted and there was little price variation to cater to different user levels.
But, critical to the plan was to find the right manufacturer. He said that happened when the owners of Cobra, the world's biggest surfboard factory in Thailand approached him to form a joint venture. It continues to own a share of GSI.
Kelly said as he plotted his future he saw a clear opportunity in an industry that had changed little in 50 years.
"I tried to visualise what the industry might be like in 10 years what were the big changes that would happen and how could I make that happen in five years, not 10 years," he said.
`This stood out because the surfboard was at the centre of this `ginormous' surf culture boom around the world, yet it was like the forgotten cousin. It was still made up of all little domestic manufacturers in this cottage industry. It was obvious that it needed a really professional player.''
He said GSI also stood out from its competitors because of its multi-brand, multi-layered approach and its quest to supply boards for every level of surfer, from beginner to high-performance.
``It's really weird, every local manufacturer wants to get the next Kelly Slater on their boards but no one at that time wanted to make boards for every 13-year-old boy or girl who wanted to learn to surf,'' he said. ``There are a lot of families out there where the kid wants to learn to surf but, do they really want to spend $1000 on a board, whereas you'll have a 40-year-old guy who has been surfing for 20 years, who really loves technology and he will have a completely different price orientation.''
Mark Kelly said because GSI was manufacturing offshore, one of its early challenges had been to differentiate itself in the market's perception from the cheaper, poorer-quality surfboards coming out of other parts of Asia.
``We really wanted to let people know that we're all surfers, we understand what the product is about, we don't make cheap boards even though we might have some boards in our range that are more economically priced,'' he said.
He said his main consideration when selecting a manufacturer apart from production capacity had not been pricing but quality concerns. ``We would have considered having them made in Australia. I have said heaps of times that we want to be with the best manufacturer in the world and if that manufacturer was in Brookvale or Connecticut we would be dealing with them, but the best factory in the world is actually in Bangkok and we choose to do business with them because they are the best. They're the only (surfboard) company I know that has an ISO 9002 certification.''