Photo by Richard Freeman
The 10 Most Read Stories Of 2017
Stab's Greatest Hits!
Continuing this common thread of what happened last year on Stab, here are our ten most read posts of 2017. These are the stories that brought the oohs, ahhs, and double taps. The breaking news, the viral web edits, Kelly Slater doings, and, of course, the girls!
Let’s countdown! It’ll be 2018 soon and everything will change. Surely.
Photographer Rich Freeman’s first impression of Imogen is thrilling: “This girl literally rocked up on the most stealth looking motorcycle I’ve ever seen, in a black leather jacket and matte black helmet, with proportions that defied belief. It was like a Japanese manga cartoon. She pulled off this helmet and threw out this blonde mane that went down to her waist. It was actually like watching a film.”
10. “Imogen Caldwell is a rare flower in red dirt” by Jed Smith, Photography by Richard Freeman
Imogen is a perpetual Stab muse. The West Oz heartthrob is as gorgeous on a surfboard as she is in front of a lens. And, she charges. We didn’t need much persuading to bring fashion photog, Richard Freeman out to the desert to shoot Im and then run her in high gloss for our Big Book issue 88. This piece dropped online at the beginning of this year. Jump inside, let your heart feel soft.
“Wambulance!” surmised old school power surfer, Mike Cruickshank.
9. "Local surfer dunks grom at Salt Creek" by Jake Howard
Finally, an Orange County drama that doesn’t end in adultery! In April, a debate stirred. Essentially, a grom named London snaked a local at Salt Creek and in turn got “dunked.” So the age-old conversation of respecting your elders, and locals, and mom’s calling the cops down to the base of Salt Creek hill, and the police sending in helicopters, boats and patrol cars, and the general over-reactionary nature of people and the internet grew like vines on a chain link fence. A hashtag even starting to “trend”: #snakelondon. As Brendan Buckley put it in his story, “It’s time to refine localism” inspired by this event, “The end result was the most concerted effort to snake London since the second world war”
The original story threw kerosene on a situation that Stab commenter, Don Jon Florence, surmised very well:
“I honestly hate both demographics in this altercation and hope they destroy each other. On one side, a salty old failed pro who is overweight and sits out the back catching every set wave with his enormous shortboard. And then a young grom who has mom drive him to the beach, film, and tell him he's the next Kelly Slater. They both equally ruin the lineup and miss the entire point of surfing.”
8. “What the WSL doesn’t want you to know about Kelly Slater’s wave pool event” by Morgan Williamson
New developments in Kelly’s wave pool were the number one topic in surf for 2017. Any mention of the pool, the top-secret event, Kelly Slater’s name would bring clicks and polarized discussion. We had been reporting on the “surfing’s worst kept secret,” the not-so-fabled Kelly Slater’s Wave Pool event since February of this year. What we’d heard originally was that Josh Kerr wanted to bring the airshow back but under the WSL umbrella. This, in turn, triggered the notion of running a speciality WSL-sanctioned competition in Kelly’s pool. An event that would contain a better wave than the internet and ADS world title melter of 2015: 20 invitees, a weekend-long music festival, accommodation a place to get “experienced” etcetera. All of which, as the year pressed on, came somewhat to fruition. So, when it was leaked to us that an event would, in fact, be held in Kelly Slater’s pool, we reached out to the WSL with our information and received no response. This was shortly after the release of the left featuring Gerry Lopez.
7. “Breathless: Victoria Vergara” by Elliot Struck, photography by Ben Potier
Join French bombshell, and esteemed nose rider Victoria Vergara at home in black lace. This is Miss Vergara’s art of stealing attention. We shot her around her house, in the bathtub, and couldn’t help but celebrate her subtle magnificence in our most modest fashion. Come explore the romance in Victoria’s life.
On the outside, Skeleton Bay reels picture-perfect through the fog. On the inside, bodyboarder, Stefan Dryer, lays stabilised by the sand. This photo, if nothing else, is conflicting.
6. “Near-Tragedy: Eli Olson and company save a bodyboarder at Skeleton Bay” by Alan van Gysen
While we have an office in Sydney and LA, certain time zones don’t gel with our respected southern or northern hemisphere headquarters. Africa is one.
Skeleton Bay is the 7th wonder of the surfing world. Those who track and strike the seemingly endless sand bottom tube at the right time return with either an unnecessary amount of POV footage, the best tubes of their lives, or both. The wave itself is heavy. And, it’s surprising stories like this don’t occur as often. This day, our fav South African lensman was in the water then on the beach when bodyboarder, Stefan Dryer, went unconscious and was rescued by Eli Olsen, Josh Moniz, Matt Bromley, and traveling surfer/ER doctor Callum Swift. We woke to a folder filled with the photos of the day, the incident and the rescue and a detailed recap of what happened. "I literally just came tearing into the hotel from the frigid, pitch-black beach," he told Stab at the time. "What a long day, and oh so cold!"
Just another mid-70's afternoon.
5. “Girl Power - 12 reasons girls look better on waves than men” by Steve Allain
This is fact. A woman on a wave is sexy. And girls have a poise atop the brine that's uncanny. So, for our Big Book issue 88, we rounded up 12 of the most magnificent photos of women on waves from Teri Melanson topless at Rocky Point to Beth Hamilton at Jaws, Kelia Moniz, Lisa Anderson, Laura Enever and many more. Tap in for this easy scroller.
4. "Kelly Slater’s Wave Factory" by Stab.
After we did our damnedest to crash Kelly Slater’s pool party, the WSL sent out a post-event press release. Inside was a link to all their footage. We sent said footage to Kevin Jansen, who pieced it together to “Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and then claimed it was the only edit from the Future Classic that you needed. It took off. Just last week, Kelly told Stab, “I’ll be honest with you... I was a bit perplexed by your guys’ persistence at the Surf Ranch but I got it afterwards and thought you guys made the sickest edit of anyone by far. My partner Jeff was super stoked on what you guys put out and felt it set the bar for WSL and others to follow.”
Perplexed? So were we when we saw a barrel in a pool.
The Instagram post that stopped the world.
How do you outrage the surf community? Take hip surf god, Dane Reynolds, and lock him in a Portuguese prison due to a lost passport. The original story, posted with Mini Blanchard’s IG got the world stirring #freedane. Later, we got on the phone with Portugal’s Nic von Rupp, who was helping smooth relations. Dane, after 48 hours, was released. However, if the situation were reversed, (a Portuguese citizen arriving at US border control sans-passport) the implications could’ve been much more severe due to that whole zero tolerance thing that’s so vogue in our current (and kinda regressing?) political climate.
Jordy Smith, Stab in the Dark 2017.
2. "Stab in the Dark with Jordy Smith" by Stab
This was the third incarceration of certainly Stab's most valuable franchise, Stab in the Dark. Both Julian Wilson and Dane Reynolds carefully selected their surf locales for their editions in Western Australia and South Africa. When we propositioned Jordy to be our mystery surfer he said, let’s go to the Ments. So we chartered a boat and Jordy powered through 12 boards (and a fit of Bali belly) in nine days. “If you wanna lose weight, go on a boat trip in the Ments,” Jordy laughed to us over coffee a few days back.
“Everything about the dock was dangerous: The whole idea, the ropes in the waves, giant plastic heavy duty industrial blocks coming at your head,” photog Tom Carey, who sat, flopped and waddled on the dock, snapping photos, dodging waves and occasionally swimming deep for cover told Stab. "It’s a miracle no one got hurt. There were some close calls but everyone walked away unscathed."
1. "The Dock" by Stab
We partnered with Volcom on this Stab concept shoot and this is the biggest story in the history of Stab, so far clocking north of 30 million views. It made the mainstream news like CNN, lit up on social media and clocked a couple million views on business sites like Business Insider, of all places. And, like almost everything we do, it had its vocal detractors. As if we left the flotsam behind the lineup in Bali when we left or the fact that this would wreck the future and purity of surfing because paddling was no longer required. Which is kinda obscene but whatevs, we digress.
The goal of this shoot was to create something so alarming that it had to arrest you in your scroll, to show something so remarkably different that you had to watch more. And, we feel there was as much buzz around this as when we hired our first wavepools for performance surfing back in 2004 or when we strapped flares to Bruce Irons' board in the Ments back in 2011.
We'll be experimenting with the Dock 2.0 in 2018 with two major changes: tubes and some Stab readers on board to participate. Stand by!