Are You Willing To Die For It?
Letter From The Editor: Surfing’s lost the plot—let’s get existential!
Morning, you angry mob.
The last week has been positively schizo here at Stab, each day bringing new, unforeseen dramas, tragedies, triumphs, and terrors.
Which of course is great for traffic, and we’ll get to the week’s uproars and undoings shortly, but let’s take a moment to get a little, um, existential.
Surfing is one of very few pursuits wherein the average person is, to varying degrees of severity, actually Risking Their Life.
Family, country, god, etc. notwithstanding, it’s one of the only things for which most of us would give our lives.
If you knew you were going to die surfing—not now, not tomorrow, but some distant afternoon—would you happily accept that fate? Or would you hang it all up, despite not surfing providing no guarantee you wouldn’t meet some other, more arbitrary, less noble end?
It’s hard to imagine a similar sentiment echoing from neighborhood tennis courts and pick up basketball games, let alone professional arenas, though the Western Australian Tourism Minister, Paul Papalia, was quick to draw an admittedly false equivalency, comparing the WSL’s decision to cancel the Margaret River Pro to “tennis players saying they’re not going to play the Australian Open because the weather’s too hot or something.”
What is it with the irresistible tennis analogies? Ironically enough, the Australian Open has its very own Extreme Heat Policy, and of course, being eaten by a prehistoric killing machine is a little more hair-raising than heat stroke on moist, red clay.
When we polled our readers last year—87% of whom get in the water at least once a week, with almost 40% getting a wiggle in daily (who are undoubtedly lying about said frequency)—on the subject of sharks, the findings were quite telling.
Almost 14% said they thought about sharks in the water constantly (which must be exhausting), while only 5% said the fuckers had never even crossed their minds.
A little less than half admitted they had never seen actually seen one with their own two eyes, only 3% said they’d keep surfing after seeing a fin.
And should they find themselves on the receiving end of a nibble, or enduring a proper shark encounter, 10% said they’d never step foot in the ocean again.
The rest of you bruisers claimed you’d lick your wounds and carry on.
As rumours of Margies’ cancellation began to spread, 13,625 of our Instagram followers said they should sack up and surf, while 8,885 would rather not see one of their Fantasy Team get mauled by a white pointer.
While the boys in Australia are finishing the next episode of our aptly titled “No Contest” series with Red Bull, an episode Jake Paterson called a little “soft,” considering the subject matter we’re dealing with, our LA offices have been a venerable hive, despite Senior Editor Morgan Williamson’s much-felt absence (having bailed for Beychella, but somehow missing Beyonce’s show-stealing performance, opting for “brighter lights and weirder noises…”), and Mikey Ciaramella dipping south of the border with his new Mayhem Puddle Jumper HP, the newest child-sized whip he can’t stop talking about.
Last week, inspired by infantile lineup etiquette here in the Jah-fearing US-of-A, we posed the question: Which Country’s Surfers Are The Worst To Share A Lineup With?
The results, from almost 9k of our readers, were roughly what we imagined—the Brazilian contingent getting the lion’s share of lashings at more than 50%, with Americans and Australians infuriating 15% and 10% of the rest of you, respectively—but we couldn’t have predicted the nationalist flameout that would follow, just a day later, Mikey Wright and Jesse Mendes’ parking lot dust up over a blatant back-paddling and brazen, failed attempt at a roasting sent the internet into a key bashing frenzy
After a day of internet fury and flag-waving, and more than a few death threats being hucked at Mongrel Mike, I think both Jesse and Mikey were happy to see the attention turn towards Italo and Gabby, both of whom weren’t afraid to tell the world they were very afraid of sharks, indeed.
This week, our man in France, Brendan Buckley, is flambéing up his next Speed, Power, Flow Rankings, and Rory Parker survived the flood, and got his grubby mitts on some more sensitive information coming out of Lemoore.
Meanwhile, from Seal Beach to Sunset, friends of Chas Chidester woke up on Tuesday to truly tragic news, that the once-bright and rising star had died, reportedly from an overdose, after years battling addiction. While most any surfer my age will recall Chas as a prodigiously talented grom, once touted as the Next Big Thing alongside lifelong friends, Mason Ho, Koa Rothman, and John John Florence, his struggles with opioids and subsequent run-ins with the law follows the narrative so many families living through the Opioid Crisis are familiar with. While there are lessons to be learned from Chas’ death, we’re hard-pressed to find anything more earnest and true than this:
“Chas was a great surfer and a genuine person with a big heart,” wrote Shane Beschen of Chidester. “The news of this brought me to tears and made me wish I could’ve somehow done more to help him… If you are in a bad way or dealing with heavy personal shit, you may feel no one cares, but I implore you to always reach out, because a lot more people than you think really care about you. You may not see it, because everyone is busy and has their own challenges to deal with, but if you make that call and sincerely ask for help, you will be amazed at the giving and supportive spirit your friends and loved ones will bring to the table.”
Keep it cutty, with a little class, Stab.
Editor In Chief
“I love this photo,” says Mason Ho of this brilliantly back-lit capture of his dear friend Chas Chidester, a newly free man just before Christmas, at an incredibly fickle Oahu lava reef. “I made a couple memes with it for Chas: ‘Straight out the pen and into glory!'”
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