The Great Equalizer That Is Sunset Beach

Out of sight, but in this instance I took the first one on the head and then was greeted by a second beatdown moments later.

If you are an avid subscriber to this site or subject yourself to my instagram spamming on @gqgio, you probably know that in February I took my maiden trip to Hawaii. Specifically the North Shore. AKA the epicenter of the surfing world. With many waves to tick off my personal bucket list, there was one that I knew I could potentially have an interesting connection with: Sunset Beach. Now, my pops and I are very different surfers (mostly because we grew up in completely different eras of the sport), but we’ve always had some similar styles when it comes to certain things and even mimic the same movements on occasions. On top of this, we also share the same love for some spots along the California coast, all while being one goofy foot and one regular foot. My dad’s love for Sunset Beach is one that I’ve always known about-as he claims it as his favorite wave in the world.

When there’s a shit ton of swell on the North Shore, there are a lot of spots that get overpowered with swell and don’t really work. Two breaks that can take pretty large amounts of swell are Pipeline and Sunset. Both as different as can be, I’d be lying if I said they were of equal consequence. Pipeline is probably the gnarleist wave on Earth, so it holds a bit more terror to it’s power than Sunset. With that being said, the beach and the point at sunset both know how to deliver a proper flogging. 

A massive playing field with a long paddle out, multiple peaks, and sneaky sets that can come from what seems like every angle, a longer board is pretty much demanded, not recommended. Paddling is the name of the game, and for most booking it to the channel when you see mountains of water out the back can be a common occurrence, and you’ll be thankful you are packing the extra inches. With that being said, unless it’s tiny, you can still get smacked around in the channel. In a sense, nowhere’s safe. On Top of this, unless you ride a massive board, you need to sit more inside to catch the wave on the ledge, making you even more prone to copping one on the head. I think of all my sessions, there was only one I was able to dodge every set. It’s a bit of a write of passage to take a set on the head out there. 

As an added bonus (and also annoyance), my whole time surfing out there was with the top 32 surfers in the world, as it was on the world tour schedule this year. Paddling battling them for waves? Not fun. Watching them surf smaller boards and be jealous you can? Not fun. But there is one joy I got to experience in this instance. There’s not much of a better feeling than dodging a bomb at sunset and looking over to see a world champion surfer doing the Waimea duck dive seconds before getting exploded (as bullyish as that sounds). I think everyone that’s surfed out there has been in the position, so it’s not bad karma to laugh when you see Italo or Griffin get demoed by a set. Sunset is the great equalizer. No matter your ability or alertness, it’s pretty hard to not get humbled one way or another. Not to mention it is hard as hell to surf.

How To Surf Chest High Waves (Flawlessly)

This is a post from my alternative website Welcome Progress. Before I turned off the site, I grabbed a couple pieces I liked to be redistributed here. I’ve been looking for some added inspo to grind small, cold waves back home in California. It’s been a pretty rough winter, but clips like these tend to help. 

 Surfing gutless waves is no easy task. Everywhere in the world has their off days, and more times than not you might be taking a plunge into the ocean to surf waves much smaller than you would like. Obviously, it’s all subjective to where you live. A small day on the East Coast vs West Coast vs Hawaii are all very different. But for those on the mainland, there are a ton of opportunities every year to grind less than desirable surf.

There are a couple key factors to beat the conditions and make lemons out of lemonade. First, is picking the right equipment. In recent years there really have been a lot of different small wave crafts you can hop on. From a stubbier, wide shortboard, epoxies, fishes, or whatever you fancy. Less rocker and more foam are key ways to stay afloat (literally while riding the wave). There is a sweet spot in the board design for small waves: a little more foam than a shortboard, the right size so it fits into the smaller wave face, and the rocker helping in both creating speed and catching waves. Another big factor is practicing being light on your feet. Getting up and immediately shifting weight around on your board definitely helps build that first bit of speed and get moving. Depending on the shape of the wave, you might want to surf more out of the pocket or keep it tight if it’s a reform/mushy wave in comparison to a racey beachbreak.

So when you put it all together, you get this new clip from Brother surfing his fabled T-street. One of those waves in SoCal that always has a little bump, the T is a grindy wave. Most of SC’s top talent surfs here when need be. In the above clip, it looks pretty damn fun. Chalk it up to the sight of peaky little teepees or the fact that Kolohe puts in an impressive session for the dribbly surf. But this isn’t his first rodeo- Kolohe and the T have been a winning combo for years now (see below).

Taking in the scenery: Oahu, Hawaii

Travel is one thing I maybe haven’t had the chance to do a crazy amount of in my life. And not for any particular reason, really. The places I’ve been outside the USA are sparse, but there’s plenty to see in America-especially if you’ve hopped around states and seen all the quadrants of the country. Long story short, whenever I get to take in a new zone I get excited and always tend to make sure to capture the beauty and local flavor with both my handy iphone and also my canon film camera (which unfortunately is suffering some light leaks). 

Recently, I got the opportunity to hop on over from Orange County to the beautiful island of Oahu in the island chain of Hawaii. I had only been once before-circa 20ish years ago. And as a surfer, the north shore of Oahu is pretty much a hajj any dedicated surfer needs to take (but more on that later). I really didn’t have much recollection of the inaugural trip, so I was excited to get back over there and take in the change of scenery. 

The landscape of Oahu is lush and green. You land in the city of Honolulu but as soon as you get on the H highway system, you are often surrounded by green on all sides. The air smells fresh. It had a refreshing breeze so we rolled with the windows down. I feel like after 5 hours on a plane any type of fresh air feels good. But this air felt especially good. 

40 minutes later and we got into the stretch of island I would spend most of my time at-the 7 mile miracle aka the north shore. So much green and blue. Seeing 10 foot waves groomed with trade (offshore) winds got the heart beating pretty quickly. What would come in the next 12 days would be tons of surfing, plenty of sightseeing, seeing old friends while making new ones, and just an overall stress-free stretch of time. It’s easy living. 

As much as I think I am a good writer and a rather descriptive one, I think some of the pictures would tell a better story. Here are a few selections from my film rolls in Hawaii:

A YEAR IN CLOSURE

It’s 8PM on a Friday. It’s actually NYE, to be precise. I take another sip of wine out of a stemless glass (they just look better). Mixtape Lil’ Wayne plays out of my Macbook speakers. I have a pretty decent speaker setup in my bedroom, but something about the old music with the rawness of kinda shit speakers strikes a cord. Now about the wine. One of my new things to try in 2022 is wine. Sure, I’ve slapped the bag and drank wine before. There have been many deadly hangovers in my day from a classic Wine Wednesday. But I’d like to get an appreciation for it-similar to my love for coffee. It’s funny though, I make a resolution to drink more alcohol even though I am trying to kick liquor of all kinds to the curb in 2022. Not for any reason other than it just makes you feel so shit the next day. Don’t worry-I’m still going out tonight. I can’t just sit at home on Fridays and Saturdays. But it’ll be light in comparison to previous years. 

The idea of resolutions I think are great. I saw somewhere on social media someone say a statement along the lines of “I don’t make resolutions because I don’t wait”. Sick man. I’m not saying I wait until the new year to actively try something either or achieve a certain goal. But I find a new year let’s you account for all happenings of the last year and focus on things you might not have gotten to put attention towards or you missed out on trying. Sometimes, it’s a challenge to do something within the year (like surf 365 surf sessions, or my new number based challenge, train 1000 rounds of boxing drills). I also feel like it’s a time at the end of the year where people are more comfortable sharing what they improve on (even though that should constantly be in conversation).

If anyone thought I was doubling down on 365 surfs as a resolution-you are wrong. It wasn’t terrible in the moment, but it was grindy. There just wasn’t enough swell this year (not that I was trying). And I knew with how I was approaching it that it probably wasn’t going to happen. The number? A little over 300. Not bad but a decent bit off. I just always try to surf when I can.

This wine is OK. In my newfound trials I have for sure found better. But I still don’t know much about it. “Banned” by Lil Wayne just came on. It’s Weezy sliding over the old N.O.R.E. beat from Banned From TV. A classic. But back to the year coming to a close. I’ve been lagging on writing, which is unfortunate because when I get in a groove with it I write my best and it just feels good to vomit on the word doc. That’s kind of what this one’s about. Just a quick journal-esque rambling before I decide to shower and head out. What else can I jam in here before it seems like some quickly written blabber (in pure honesty it is)? Upon taking one last sip and looking up, this has some decent substance to it. Self reflection, new ideas for 2022, surfing, music, and some witty sentences (self proclaimed). Check ’em all off. That’ll do. Onto 2022.

Greatness In Two Leagues: WSL X NBA

Many years ago, there was a Surfline article comparing Kelly and Kobe. Not the comparison I made, but still cool to see surf media try to branch out.

There are really only 2 sports I follow closely. First, and probably the easier one to guess, is surfing. It’s been the sport and lifestyle my existence has revolved around and something I have known since the beginning of my life. I follow the sport in all realms-competition, trending surfers, the next big things, and anything else you can think of. I work in the industry, which also helps keep me pretty tapped into the latest and greatest. But the other sport I tend to enjoy watching and try to follow a bit is basketball. Now, it’s definitely not at the level of surfing. In surfing, I watch events from the QS and tune in when I can. This would almost be the equivalent of watching a G league event (at least at the QS1000s). But I do watch a decent chunk of hoops and do like to follow the NBA. There are so many great players (much like surfing) that it’s just enjoyable to watch no matter who’s on the court (with slight exceptions). 

I feel like I recall seeing this exact article, but last Saturday as I was milling around my house I got the idea stuck in my head. Let’s compare some of my favorite or most iconic surfers to those in the NBA. It’s pretty easy to draw comparisons in the sphere of elite athletes, as no matter how different the activity could be, the mindset and work ethic stays the same. Read below if you enjoy surfing, basketball, the NBA, the WSL, or none of it and just want to read some recent words from me.

2 GOATS- MICHAEL JORDAN AND KELLY SLATER

I could go into detail about the accolades of both of these athletes-but I don’t think I really need to. If you’ve had an ounce of interest in either sport of basketball or surfing-these are the two household names. Although their accolades are slightly different (Kelly being the leader by a mile of most world titles-Jordan not having the most titles but putting on crazy performances), the way they transcended the sport and have become larger than life is what puts them at GOAT status. Jordan blitzed the field on the court and then built one of the largest shoe empires in the world. Kelly was the first surfer to mingle with superstar status, collect the most world titles and wins ever, and still competes to this day at a high level. To me, their greatest of all time status is undeniable. 

2 PROLIFIC PLAYERS- KOBE BRYANT AND ANDY IRONS

On first glance, you may think this comparison might be linked to the fact that we lost both of these legends of the sport at an earlier age than we might have liked (both due to very different circumstances). As tragic of an ending both of these suffered, I think the thing that really puts these two icons in the world of comparison is how they performed in their respective jerseys. Andy and Kobe were both killers. No matter how nice they might have been outside competition or how close of friends they were with their opponent-when it was game time all bets were off. Raw talent mixed with this undeniable will to win made these two legends challenge some of the best athletes in their sport and come out on top. Both had an insane reign of dominance during some of the golden eras of their respective sports, and won’t be forgotten as they etched their names into the history books of surfing and basketball. 

THE GOATS OF THE PRESENT-LEBRON JAMES AND JOHN FLORENCE 

If you took a poll of 100 surfers and 100 basketball players and asked them who has been the most dominant player and surfer in the last couple years-you’d probably get ¾’s of the answer to sound like this: Lebron James and John John Florence. While it’s hard to compare the household nameness since basketball has a much broader audience-you’d be hard pressed to meet a surfer who doesn’t have JJF in their top 5. Both are super likeable and have put on jaw dropping performances over the last couple of seasons. While Lebron has more competition success, John John is no slouch and has dropped some of the gnarliest freesurf clips and insane, full production movies of recent memory. As well as becoming a back to back world champion-which is no easy feat in the world of surfing. . At the start of the WSL and NBA season, no matter what’s going on in either league, one question is always posed: Can they win another?

UNDENIABLE ABILITY (WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT) KEVIN DURANT AND GABRIEL MEDINA

In every sport, some off the field (or court [or surf]) antics can really make fans have a bitter taste in their mouth. I can’t think of two more perfect people in their respective sports for this than Kevin Durant and Gabriel Medina. Medina has been heralded as one of the greatest competitors since Kelly Slater. Some seasons, NBA analysts will claim Durant is the best player in the NBA. Both have less than ideal ways they have gotten to their championships-but you would have to be a casual fan or in denial to not believe these two are not some of the best in the sport. Whether you like it or not KD and Medina are here to stay and push the sport like the people before them did. 

THE BEST TO NEVER WIN THE CHIP- ALLEN IVERSON AND TAJ BURROW

Always the bridesmaid, but never the bride. These two are heralded as absolute legends of the sport, but will always have a chink in their armor of never winning a championship. Most fans can overlook it for the sheer impact both these athletes have had on their sport, but you have to think that it’s gotta hurt that both have gotten so close but never tasted the number one spot. 

X FACTOR THAT DOESN’T TRANSLATE TO WINS- RUSSEL WESTBROOK AND JULIAN WILSON

Much like the two above, Julian Wilson and Russell Westbrook have explosive styles during their time of play. Heralded to both be future champions, things just haven’t worked out. Julian has gotten so close he could taste it, Russell has almost made it many times. Both have put out crazy highlight reels and stats in their careers, but these accolades and numbers have not equaled a championship-yet. Julian has tapped out, but with Russell’s new teammates, I think his time is now. 

CONSISTENT EXCELLENCE- TIM DUNCAN AND MICK FANNING

The players favorite players. It seems like a lot of the current crop of top 10 surfers would cite Mick as one of their favorite surfers-thanks to a combo of solid foundational technique and competitive prowess. To be honest, I’m not sure how Tim Duncan’s peers viewed him, but the bond he had with his team and coach led him to 5 championships, all from pure fundamentals and a keen understanding of the game of basketball. Like the title says-these two just produced consistent excellence throughout the length of their careers. 

THE GREAT WITH ONLY 1 CHIP- DIRK NOWITSKI AND PARKO

One is better than none. Two top level performers of the 2010s and both retiring around the same time, Parko and Dirk both were considered masters at their strong suits in the sport-but the elusive world championship win had eluded both for a large chunk of their career. There are plenty of players that never win a championship, but the willpower of both Dirk and Parko is what drove them both to their maiden victory. Funnily enough-Parko would end up defeating Kelly Slater to earn his world title, while Dirk and his team defeated the red hot Miami Heat-led by Lebron James.

More Kobe. The time he spoke with the USA Surfing Association in leading up to the Olympics.