Yeahhhh John John! John John Florence wins the 2017 Drug Aware Margaret River Pro! (via Surfline)

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Surfline’s “Simpo Is My Surf Coach”

On the road to surf-improvement with Brett Simpson and the Hurley Surf Club

By Dashel Pierson
  • “Patience, young grasshopper.” Sensei and an eager student paddle out to the dojo. Photo: Travis Kuhlman

  • After a quarterfinal finish at last year’s Hurley Pro Lowers, back-to-back wins at the U.S. Open, and years of competitive experience — Simpo is more-than-qualified to bring a painfully average surfer to a cut above. Stay tuned for further updates. Photo: Travis Kuhlman

 This must be what a leaked sex-tape feels like. I’ve never dabbled in erotic cinema, so I can only imagine, but still – this is awkward.

Like the bedroom, the ocean for most surfers is a place of intimacy. And as far as footage goes, especially for amateurs, both activities are best kept personal. Yet here I am, exposing my painfully mediocre waveriding to the world with unabashed transparency. I’m a streaker running on the astroturf during the Big Game, letting it all hang out on the jumbotron that is Surfline. But it isn’t for 15-minutes of bare-naked fame. It’s in pursuit of improvement through the Hurley Surf Club (HSC).

The HSC has a straightforward philosophy – when you surf better, you have more fun. By utilizing professional instruction, the folks at Hurley have brought a high-level training experience to the common surfer. And to fully immerse myself in the process, I’ve partnered with my own personal coach who’s tasked with alchemizing water into wine, turning my seriously average surfing into something a step above. Brett Simpson has stepped in as my surfing sensei.

“You must maximize what you can do on a particular wave,” says Simpo. “Sometimes you can only do what the wave produces.”

Yes, sensei.

To kick off the coaching, we began with video review. From punchy Off-the-Wall to fickle El Porto, we forced Surfline’s leading videographer to point his lens at the most plebeian of subjects – myself. A low-point in his career, for sure. And after overcoming the initial nail-on-chalkboard response normally associated with watching oneself surf, Simpo and I were able to arrive at three specific areas in need of work: posture, timing, and flow through maneuvers.

Before we brought Simpo into-the-field for hands-on coaching, we wanted to discuss the elements of my surfing we planned to focus on. And I asked him to do it with brutal honesty. But ever the nice guy, Simpo didn’t collapse my confidence entirely. Here’s what he said.

Posture: “Sometimes you’re a little too upright. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. John John has that style. But when you’re turning, you could benefit from rotating your shoulders a bit more. If you open that shoulder, you’re going to have a more open turn. It will allow your body to compensate. It will give you more speed through the turn. If you’re going into a cutback and that back arm goes high, you’re going to be able to drive through it. If it’s a smaller mushier wave, you’ve gotta get low and turn those shoulders, rotate those hips. It’s you that has to create that energy. In good waves, you can kinda get away with it a little more.”

Timing: “Timing is everything – in surfing and in life [laughs]. Sometimes you start your turn a little too early or a little too late. But you see it a lot – guys who aren’t that big, but they throw a lot of spray. Timing can make someone look more powerful than they actually are. If you hit that lip at the exact right moment, a ton of spray is going to come out of it. Where if you hit it late, there will be no spray.”

Flow: “The goal is to do the biggest turns, obviously, but I think working on flow will help you maintain your speed through maneuvers. Not bottom turning as hard will allow you to flow and keep your speed a little better. When we’re on good waves that break down the line, hard bottom turns are beneficial – you’re almost trying to wipe speed off. But in more mediocre surf – which is normally what we have here in California – we wanna be on the tip of our toes. Weight off, weight on. We want to keep up the most speed as possible.

“Your stance looks good, but you could benefit from a little more transition with your feet. You need to move up on the board when you’re pumping, then obviously back on the tail when you lay it down for a big turn. That’s what a lot of the pros do, they adjust their feet placement while on the wave. When they’re pumping down the line, that back foot is up a bit, but when they go into the turn, you want that foot back on the tailpad.”

Simpo’s suggestions made total sense, as crushing as it was to have a former CT competitor nitpick the flaws in my surfing. Bottom line, though, watching yourself surf can be painful. It’s never what you expect. It’s like an exercise in Freudian therapy – breaking down the doors of perception and headbutting the cruel reality buried beneath. And it’s never easy confronting the truth. But as Socrates famously said, “the unexamined life is not worth living.”

For myself, simply knowing a camera was pointed at me while I surfed completely altered the experience. I became self-conscious of every insecurity I ever had (hunched back, zombie rigid arms – just to name a few). But footage analysis is the best way to get better, which the Hurley Surf Club offers anyone willing to endure past the initial cringe.

And lucky for you, most sessions are kept private.

PHOTOS: Seth and JJF in Surfline’s “Soli Bailey Wins 2017 Volcom Pipe Pro”

Check out the sneak preview photos below.  Surfline always does it right with a photo book after every event with great waves!  For the entire story, check out:

To Be Young on the North Shore: Seth Moniz leads O’Neill Wave of the Winter Breakthrough Performer Award — with one month left in event (via Surfline)


To say it’s been a busy late season on the North Shore would be an understatement. Pipe swell after Pipe swell, crazy barrel after crazy barrel. And while Derek and Michael Ho have been holding down the 50+ club, there have been no shortage of relative young ‘uns snagging their fair share.

Here’s why that matters: Running in tandem with the O’Neill Wave of the Winter and Clif Bar Overall Performance Award, the O’Neill Breakthrough Performer Award is in its second year. It’s a youth-driven category, celebrating the performance of a single surfer, 19 years old or younger, who rises above all other groms through sustained, standout performances along the Seven Mile Miracle from November through February. Last year, it was Jack Robinson who took the honor of the hardest-charging kid on the North Shore and $5,000 in cold, hard cash.

“This winter it’s been difficult to pinpoint a single surfer, as there is currently a real solid group of kids that have been charging on the North Shore,” said Ross Williams, Momentum Generation CT star-turned-WSL commentator and O’Neill Wave of the Winter judge. “Barron Mamiya, Seth Moniz, Finn McGill, and Crosby and Griffin Colapinto have been consistent all winter, charging every swell. And in the latest run of big Pipe, I’ve heard Russell Bierke was getting some bombs.”

Williams grew up surfing on the North Shore with a decidedly famous “New School” peer group that included Kelly Slater, Shane Dorian, Rob Machado, Benji Weatherly and Taylor Knox, all of whom were mentored by Hawaiian big-wave legends Todd Chesser and Brock Little. While they all went on to enjoy illustrious careers, Williams says there is nonetheless a big change from the time when his generation cut their teeth on the North Shore 25 years ago.

“These kids are so much more comfortable in solid waves at such a young age than we ever were,” he said. “At just 16 or 17, they’re surfing Pipe like they’re in their mid-twenties. There’s always been kids surfing Pipeline, but they were never getting the best waves of the day, let alone some of the best waves of the winter.”

Barron Mamiya was perhaps the early standout as Pipeline turned on for a few weeks in November. The 17-year-old was pushed into his first waves there six years ago by former Pipe Master Derek Ho, and since then, the North Shore local has pushed his way near the front of the heavy lineup.

“There’s a bunch of kids from here that are really starting to push it,” Mamiya told Surfline. “It’s cool to see and it’s really competitive, as all us young guys are trying to make a name for ourselves. I think Finn McGill has stood out this year, and he made the Pipeline Masters, which was huge for us. Makana Pang has been impressive, and Seth Moniz, too.”

Mamiya’s early lead for the O’Neill Breakthrough Performer Award was eclipsed by Seth Moniz, who now stands fairly firmly in the driver’s seat, with one month left to go. The 19-year-old scored a legit Wave of the Winter contender on Christmas Day at Pipe, emerging from the spit of a First Reef double-up with just one foot and one arm on the board.

“I knew I had to make that wave, as it was one of my best-ever waves at Pipe,” Moniz said. “This year, I have definitely felt more comfortable at Pipe than ever. It’s the first season I’ve been out there waiting for the sets and putting myself in position for the bombs. I’ve put my time in out there, and hopefully the guys in the lineup now know that I’m not there to sit on the shoulder.”

Moniz backed up his freesurfing with three 9-point rides in the Da Hui Backdoor Shootout to secure a 4th-place finish before playing a key role in saving legendary Pipe charger Kalani Chapman’s life.

But it isn’t the heroics, only Moniz’s surfing, that has him in the lead. He’s been on every swell since November, and it was over this 2016-17 season that he matured into one of the better surfers at both Backdoor and Pipe.

“This last swell, I looked around and there were so many guys I grew up with, plus young guys from California and Australia, and they were all charging, they all wanted it,” Seth finished. “So having this Breakthrough Award is really cool. Hopefully I get it, and hopefully next year I can get the Wave of the Winter.”

And while Moniz is in the lead, there’s still 30 days to go before the official event period ends — and god knows what can happen at Pipeline in a month. Stay tuned.

Is this the Biggest Alley0Oop Ever? Courtesy of JJF (via Surfline)


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Congratulations to Torrey Meister on his 4th Place finish at Vans World Cup!!! (via Surfline)

Torrey battled from Round 1 all the way into the Finals!  That’s 7 heats through 4 days of competition against the world’s best!  Great Job Torrey!  We’re stoked for you!



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