Category Archives: Old News but Good News

Open Book

Tyler Wright after winning the Roxy Pro Gold Coast, the first stop on the 2013 ASP Women's World Championship Tour.

Tyler Wright after winning the Roxy Pro Gold Coast, the first stop on the 2013 ASP Women’s World Championship Tour.

TYLER WRIGHT
rose to the top with nary a trace of ambition.
Her trick?
No tricks. 

The sun is yet to rise. Tyler Wright is in good spirits, carefully studying invisible waves on a barely discernible horizon. Nearby, Carissa Moore also stares seaward as Praia do Guincho in Portugal comes to life before them. They are locked in a quietly blazing battle. It’s only the top of the world that’s at stake.

Thirty hours later, Tyler’s second in the world with no hopes of climbing higher, at least not this year. She congratulates, hugs, and laughs with the woman who took the title from her hands. But you see, she never, actually, saw it as hers. She never expected to be in contention for a world championship. She found herself here. And instead of succumbing to the pressure that accompanies such a situation, Tyler simply ignored it.

At the 2013 Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, the third of a then-indeterminate number of events, Tyler and Carissa faced each other in a final for the second time that year. It was Tyler’s third in three contests. It was the start of the title race that wasn’t. Partly because the race was all but deadlocked until its conclusion, and partly because one of the top contenders wasn’t acknowledging its existence. It was early to start sniffing around for a title battle, but with a slew of head-to-heads, it was hard not to. By the time Tyler won in Rio, at the fifth event of the year, she was still saying that a world championship cup was the last thing on her mind. It seemed unfathomable that Tyler was truly indifferent to the title race. How could she be?

But her story remained consistent and her smooth exterior never once betrayed a glory-hungry monster within. So, I started to believe that there wasn’t one.  Continue reading

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Stockholm Stream of Consciousness – Unedited

from: Casey Butler
to: Casey Butler
date: Sat, Nov 15, 2014 at 11:54 AM
subject: Stockholm11.15
mailed-by: gmail.com
: Important mainly because it was sent directly to you.

Hot choc may just end up being dinner. Seems like the Scandinavian thing to do.

Lies. Actually the largest portions of anywhere here, I think. Which makes it quasi-acceptable to pay like $19 for veg risotto. Sort of.

Swedish girls have beautiful hair. And beautiful everything else.

Swedish men are the same.

Surrounded by Viking stunnahs and the thing I most miss is talking with…

Everyone here actually wears Nordic sweaters.

A woman at the table next to me quite literally has hair down to her knees. How?!

Sent while at large.

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Between A Rock and A Hard Place: New York’s Complicated, Cumbersome Surf Scene

Note: This piece was written between September 2010 and December 2012. It’s probably one of my favorite things that I’ve ever written, but it never found a home. If you enjoy reading it, please share.

The Rockstock & Barrels surf competition and music festival returns to the boardwalk at 90th Street in Rockaway, Queens on a sunny Saturday in June. The beach is full of Yankees caps and dyed black hair and intentionally disheveled-looking clothes. Their owners either ride pop-outs or no-expense-spared paragons of craftsmanship; nothing in between. They take to the waves in droves.

“It’s a circus out there on the weekends. It never used to be like this,” confides Rockaway-bred John Gutierrez as he watches hundreds of surfers jockey for chest-high waves.

“You really get everyone,” local Danny Jones says. “You get Wall Street guys that wanna rent soft tops on the weekends and you’ve got hipsters that come down with their freakin’ ripped wetsuits and their weird-shaped boards: ‘Yeah, I shaped it myself, bro.’ Old-timers, young kids…”

“Dailies.” That’s what Rock locals call visitors; interlopers who care little that this is actually someone’s home. At the end of their beach days, the sand is strewn with rubbish: Bottles, cans, you name it. You’ve never seen so much sea glass before.

Danny’s camera bag and lifeguard gear were pilfered from the beach and one of his friends was jumped somewhere in the “lower-numbered streets.” The area between Beach 32nd Street and Beach 84th Street is called Arverne-by-the-Sea. In the early 19th century, this neighborhood consisted mainly of charming (if “flimsy”) beach bungalows. When New York’s Commissioner of Public Works Robert Moses tore down inner-city housing in the mid-20th century, he re-classified Arverne’s summer rentals as year-round homes and moved the displaced residents into them. They were eventually shuffled into public housing projects, and didn’t fare well so far from their jobs. Until recently, most developers ignored Arverne, and what should be some of the most valuable land in the city is largely in tatters. Through much of Rockaway, abandoned beach-front high rises back up to low-income tenements, and many of the people who live in them–within 2,000 feet of the ocean–can’t swim.   Continue reading

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The Science Behind The Sand Behind Sandy: The Garden State’s Run of All-time Waves

Between “Superstorm” Sandy and New Year’s, the East Coast experienced a run of swell that will probably become Tri-state lore. Yes, the window of opportunity was unusually lengthy. Yes, the Mayan calendar was involved. But the main reason why we’ll be talking about Dirty Jerz’s “Doomsday swell” and its siblings for years to come is that when they hit the ravaged coastline, they turned into immaculate, occasionally monstrous waves. Waves for days, you might even say. The likes of which haven’t been seen around here in, well, possibly ever. Some may call it divine justice, but it’s more like environmental recompense: It turns out that there’s scientific evidence that Sandy is actually behind the Right Coast’s firing good fortune.

“That swell before Christmas (the “Doomsday swell”), I think that might have been the best I’ve ever seen Bay Head [New Jersey],” says Billabong rider (and local legend) Sam Hammer. “There was like a four-hour period there where I’d never seen it consistently that size with the shape it had. And it wasn’t getting smaller. That just… doesn’t happen,” he laughs. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen it look like that.”

Continue reading

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Retroactive Blogging: The 51st Rip Curl Pro Bells Easter Comp

I wrote this post about Bells a few months back…

Day 2. The sun is piercing the super translucent remnants of the marine layer mixed with wildfire haze; a virginal veil over the pristine beauty that is Victoria’s rugged coastline. It hits the gold-grey sand and wheat-coloured cliffs, refracting off of the glass-smooth faces pounding Winkipop with a deceptive grace. Overhead sets wrap ‘round the point at Rincon. Thousands of millimetres of lens are trained on the Bowl. Jet skis rear and climb peaks, dive down their spines. Julian snaps, hacks, cuts.

Day 4. Gale-force winds ravage the contest site shortly after an emotional Mick Fanning is presented with his bell trophy. As he gives an interview to Channel 9, the gusts apparently level every section of fence bearing a past champion’s photograph. Except one: Michael Peterson. Talk about eerie. The late legend was the very first champion of the Bells Easter comp in 1973.

The weather had been warm and sunny all week–atypical for Easter in Victoria, and it actually began turning during the men’s final. The clouds rolled in as the crowd on the beach shared a moment commemorating MP. “Hells Bells” played on the loudspeakers and goose bumps rose on our arms. Someone said, “It would be fitting if a ‘Cooly kid’ won this year.” This 51st year. Kelly flew and spun and stuck, but Mick rode Bells as Bells likes to be ridden–with power, style, control. And win a Cooly kid did.  Continue reading

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Billabong Odyssey & XXL Awards

The idea behind Philip Boston’s film Billabong Odyssey is really cool: assemble the world’s most notable big wave riders, dispatch them to exotic locations in search of enormous swells, and hopefully, that elusive 100-foot monster.  The documentary is a little bit choppy, but there are lots of compelling moments, like the end: Mike Parsons suffers an insane wipeout at Jaws.  A few minutes later, he catches the colossus that ends up as the film’s opening sequence.

The footage from Teahupo’o was actually one of my favorite parts; those wipeouts and over-the-falls clips are agonizing.

In related news, Billabong held its 10th Annual XXL Awards at the end of April.  The Biggest Wave Award went to Sebastian Steudtner for his ride at  Jaws on December 7th, 2009.  Check it out:

Even more related news: Read Zach Weisberg’s blog post on big wave surfing and the industry.

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