Thanks (For Nothing) California, I'm Leaving
We've got boards waiting, films to premiere, and the most beautiful of all coasts to haunt—oh, Europe in Autumn, we've missed you so.
You could practically feel the entire coast of California breathe a sigh of flat-spell relief this weekend, parking along the coast from Cardiff to County Line a living nightmare. On Friday we cut out early, scrambled to piece together equipment that had been scattered over a month of non-use, forgotten beach toys in studio workspaces and friend’s garages. I went down to Malibu to check in, the entire longboard world in town under the radar for the Relik Pro, and the largest purse in California longboard history ($75k).
With a generous ten-day waiting period for even loggable waves, after biting their well-manicured nails for weeks in the lead-up, the event can now lay claim to some of the best conditions a longboard event has seen since the Duct Tape at Noosa a few years back.
At least according to those who braved the madness.
Friday night, I brought as many beers as I could carry down to the Wall, caught a few waves on CJ Nelson’s ridiculously unfair 11’6” Dead Kooks glider, and returned to find my cooler ravaged, a single beer remaining. A Harvest Moonrise closed the evening with a busy night session at First Point, and an even busier derelict parking lot scene, the overnight attendants sweetly turning a blind-eye on the vagrant camp.
I bailed. Drove home and put every half-decent shortboard I could find in the car, and made plans to seek out something a little more substantial to sink my teeth into than thoroughly burnt table scraps at ‘Bu.
And so of course we ended up at Zuma.
L.A. Woman Sunday afternoon
Drive through your suburbs
Into your blues, into your blues, yeah
Into your blue-blue Blues
Is there anything more voluptuously alluring, more devastatingly pornographic to a surfer, than throbbing shorebreak barrels? Sweltering on land, the sky cloudless and blue, throngs of co-eds littering the beach as far as the eye could see, and head-high, flaring-wide dredgers wobbling north just fifty yards from shore. As photographers Keegan Gibbs and Lyon Heron captured mind-fuckably perfect empties, while bronzing in the sun amidst throngs of high-9’s, Wheels McMuffin and I took cracks at double-up lefts, trying to recall the flexibility to grab our outside rails, taking beatings. The session left me with a shiner, a stiff neck and a raspberry smack-dab between my eyes, after trying to no-hand a hopeless one, living up to the Boggans name on the bottom turn and being driven squarely into the sand.
Photo by Keegan Gibbs
For the last month—as we’ve dug in our heels and gotten the work that needs to be done, done—we’ve endured reports from our Australian offices: springtime in Sydney arrived ripe and bountiful, pre-work sessions pushing editorial meetings late into US evenings regularly. And don’t even get us started about the US East Coast.
Saturday’s session satisfied me exactly nil. None. Nada. I drove home, struggling to crane my neck to switch lanes, and arrived to an inbox filled with photos from all over the Eastern Atlantic. Morocco. Canary Islands. Azores. Ad nauseum. Friends heading to Nazare. Friends heading to La Grav. Then Michael’s piece about depression and peak moments arrived late yesterday and… oh, fuck this waiting around, getting stiff and old, fitting it in where you can.
I began a regiment of Arnica and medicinal Cannabis oil on my neck, ordered something like ten new shortboards, and booked a flight to Bilbao at week’s end. Summer’s over, motherfuckers. Ardi galdua atzeman daiteke, aldi galdua berriz ez. Time is precious. We are young(ish), and though poor of money, we are rich in love and hospitality—and nowhere more so than Europe.
This month we’ll be delivering the goods from our brothers and sisters across the Atlantic. Oh, we have so much to show you. To France; to Spain; to Portugal!
Topa! Smashton O'Coggins, hemmed in by two of Europe's handsomest, Gony Zubizaretta and Roby D'Amico. Zarautz, 2017.
Boots are on the ground in Hossegor, and Buckley will be checking in with more, um, insights into the European scene. We’ll be premiering a film in San Sebastian* with our brothers at PUKAS— Natxo Gonzales found a wave in the desert. Makes Mick’s Snake look wormy. A fucking score. Stockly little Basque stud stole a page out of his old pal Kepa Acero’s notebook, risked life and limb for, almost literally, one wave. Was it worth it? Oh, just you wait and see.
And speaking of PUKAS, our hearts swell just thinking of seeing our Basque brethren again. This spring, we were given the PUKAS royal treatment, a full tour of the gorgeous factory, their remarkable archive of boards, shaped by the sprawling cast of characters that have enjoyed the Letamendia family’s hospitality over the past four decades. The brand is incredible, the fucking pride of Europe—gorgeous creative direction, unparalleled quality, hundreds of boards flying out their doors when the QS or CT roll through, probably the best XXL program on the planet, a commitment to new epoxy technologies, etc.
On June 19 (my 33rd birthday), I woke to photos, of their beautiful factory engulfed in a massive ball of flames, that knocked the air out of my chest. We’ll be hearing from Adur and the boys, as well as Chris Christenson, on one of the scariest days of their lives, and the largest disaster in surfboard manufacturing history. (But Stab ain’t the place for unredeemed heartbreak—the PUKAS story is a triumphant one; the Basque wouldn’t have it any other way.)
From ashes rise. Photo by Aitor Molina
Over the next month, along with surely more unreliable gossip and rumor, we’ve got a beautiful feature from a forgotten paradise, one Bill Finnegan romanced us all with in Barbarian Days. No, not Cloudbreak. Aritz Aranburu and Gony Zubizaretta bailed for The Garden of the Sea, and returned with stories of empty sessions, gorgeous craggy coastline dotted with surf. Incredible, what these Spaniards have so close, just a 200eu ticket from home.
We’ve got a profile of one of Europe’s most beloved shapers (a Connecticut Yankee happily stranded in Portugal), an interview with one of the most misanthropically brilliant and socially critical artists to ever come from the surf world, and more.
We found out the beloved Eddie won't go this year, most likely, some dispute between Quik and Red Bull and the Aikau family arriving at an impasse, it would seem.
Morgan fell in love with a two-wheeled honey (shiny pink and with pipes!), then waxed philosophic, while the Gudangs hoarded something like 650 fucking surfboards for folks in South Africa. Dooma called it like he sees it: Jordy or John, pick your horse. And y'all did. (But of course we forgot to save the results.)
With our attention squarely on the action in France, we're packing bags, but not stuffing coffins. We've got tube shooters and perfect shortboards, bottles of good vino verde on ice, and fair-eyed Spanish beauties all waiting for us.
Keep it cutty, with a little class, Stab. Hope you're getting yours, somewhere. But before I go, I must ask:
Is there something I can send you from across the sea?
From the place that I’ll be landing?
...Oh, but I just thought you might want something fine.
Either from the mountains of Madrid. Or from the coast of Barcelona?*
Editor in Chief
*How about a few more Los Angeles county mirages, from our friend Lyon Heron:
Photo by Lyon Heron
Photo by Lyon Heron
Photo by Lyon Heron