JOEL TUDOR photos by Art Brewer and Brian Lentini

JOEL TUDOR

INTERVIEW BY BRIAN LENTINI
INTRODUCTION BY BRIAN LENTINI
PHOTOGRAPHY BY BRIAN LENTINI AND ART BREWER

 

I’ll never forget the morning of this interview. Joel paddled over to me at Cardiff to tell me the guy sitting across from us was big wave pioneer L.J. Richards, sixty some years old and still surfing with more style than 99 percent of the lineup. You could just tell by the tone of Joel’s voice that he was stoked. You’d think that after all his trips and run-ins with surf legends, over the years would leave him jaded, but it hasn’t in the slightest. Most surfers get more excited over a grande latte at Starbucks (although I hear that is one of Joel’s commercial weaknesses) than a cab ride with Miki Dora. Joel’s respect for the past is obvious in his style. He is an amazing surfer on long, short and all that between, Joel Tudor, a legend before the age of thirty.

What’s up with your surfboard company?
It’s my second year of doing it. I never thought it would take off like it did. I never thought major companies like Al Merrick would jump on the bandwagon.

Al Merrick jumped on the bandwagon?
If you look in the new “Surfer,” there’s an article on new boards coming out.

Boards that are like eggs and single fins?
Yeah, not that it’s anything new. There’s been a small group of people riding them for a few years. Machado rides one in that movie “Shelter.” Once one of the ‘magnificent seven’ made a genre of it, everyone said, ‘Yeah, maybe the single fin does work.’ Other guys like Rastovich and Donovan were riding them; just not the ‘magnificent seven’. I can’t really complain, because it’s creating more of a demand, but sometimes the things you guard the most and feel like are the most pure get bought out by The Gap overnight. Then you’re like, “What am I gonna do?” I’m just finding different stuff to work on.

“I’M LIKE THE BEARDED LADY OF THE CIRCUS.”

Do you ever shape your own boards?
Yeah, I shape my own boards. It’s a trip. I definitely appreciate the amount of time that people put into making surfboards. If you do it yourself, it takes nine hours. It’s a damn hard thing to do. It makes you see what’s so special about surfboards.

Who are the guys that are shaping for you now?
Stu Kenson and Bill Shrosbee shape for me. I grew up competing against Stu.

He was around the same age as you?
He was older. He’s 42. It’s weird competing against a guy who makes all of his own stuff. Not too many people shate their own boards. Then one day he said, “Can I make you a board?”

He just asked you out of the blue?
Well, he was a friend of the family so I’ve known him since I was a kid. He made me a bonzer and that inspired me to try different stuff. Donald Takayama was making me twin fins but I wasn’t getting what I really wanted. With Donald, you leave it all up to him. He’s getting you what he wants to make you rather than making what you want to ride. I had to go through so much bullshit to get a surfboard. It was just not worth it.

Has your relationship fallen off with him?
It wasn’t that it was falling off. I was at a point where I’d ridden for him for ten years. I wanted to try Dick Brewer’s and Rusty’s, not just longboards. That’s the thing. Nobody can touch Donald with longboards and I’ve ridden everything. I knew he was one of the best surfers in the day. He was as good as David, but Donald was a shaper so he wasn’t able to be in the limelight. He was awesome. It was just very difficult to get things out of him. There’s ego involved. It’s like, “You make amazing longboards. You are making the best boards that I could be riding at this moment but I want to try something different.” Then Stu was giving me boards and Donald’s feelings were getting hurt. Finally, he just got to the point where he couldn’t take it anymore. His ego got in the way. He said, “I can’t make your boards anymore. I’m over it.”

How long ago was that?
That was two-and-a-half years ago. Actually, it’s for the best. Now, I can make whatever I want. It’s a lot quicker and less stressful. I can have the guy glass it and get it to me, rather than going and kissing the laminator’s ass and the sander’s ass and spending all day getting a board.

What about Shrosbee?
Shrosbee made my dad’s boards growing up. He shaped for Con and Bing back in the day. He was the only other person that I thought of using when Donald quit making my boards. He has all of the same knowledge.

What about the Amsterdam wetsuit company?
We just do that in Japan because of the quality of rubber.

You can’t get good quality rubber in America?
It’s just cooler to do stuff that you can’t get everywhere. It’s not like we are doing all of this stuff to make money. That’s not our deal. We’re creating stuff that’s fun. There is some profit in it, but we’re not going to be RipCurl. We’re trying to backlash on shit. You can spend $200 on a wetsuit and look like a fucking billboard but when you buy high end designer clothing it’s very discreet. It has its own unique style. That’s what we are trying to do for wetsuits. When someone takes a picture of you, you’re not identified by what’s on your suit. It’s more about riding the wave.

It’s like looking at the images of the ’60s
You want the images that are taken of you to be timeless. When you have logos on your wetsuit people can tell automatically when the photo was taken. It’s in contrast to being sponsored but we’re sponsored through image. Just because I’m wearing a logo when I’m surfing doesn’t mean someone is going to go out and buy something with that logo. They’re looking at how I’m riding, not what I’m wearing. I just like to keep my shit clean. Don’t brand me, you know?

What is your training schedule like?
My training schedule is surfing and skating. There are other surfers who lift weights and try and bulk up. That’s not my goal at all. It’s just a matter of staying fit and not getting lazy. I’m not trying to bulk up like a football player. I like being 145 pounds.

Do you consider yourself an advocate of the legalization of marijuana?
I’m not an advocate, but I’m definitely am a firm believer. How many trees do we cut down in a year to make paper? Hemp yields so much. You can even make gas out of it, but they refuse to allow it to be used because they’re not gonna backlash the oil industry or the cotton industry when all of these people are making a living off of it. I like to smoke pot but my belief in legalizing it is 100% environmental. It has nothing to do with wanting to get stoned. But the branding of being associated with it is what sucks. Once you say, ‘Let’s legalize hemp.’ Usually, the reaction is, ‘Oh, another stoner.’ But it’s just a fact. The government is too right-wing to even hear it. Marijuana is natural herb that can take pain away, but they don’t want to hear that, either. Sometimes it seems like a losing battle. ‘Surfer’ asked about that in that interview, “Sex, Drugs, and Rock n’ Roll”. Personally, I don’t appreciate the way they singled me out. When they called, I said, “Am I the only one that is saying anything?” They said, “No. You’re on a long list.” They named off all of these people like Nat, and said that they gave total consent. So I just fired off and then it came out, and the whole article was about what I said.

What was it you said?
All I said was, that 80-90% of everybody that surfs gets stoned. What are you gonna do? No one wants to talk about it. My use is recreational. I like to smoke and go surf, so crucify me. They didn’t even print half of the shit I said. I also said, “What’s better? Smoking a joint recreationally or drinking a beer in the parking lot, and drinking ten more beers, losing your health, getting out of shape, and drinking around your kids, and then your kids start drinking? The way they put it was, ‘Yeah, I smoke pot.’ It just didn’t come across the way I was explaining it. It’s more of a spiritual thing. It’s a lifestyle as much as you might want to bash it. It’s one of the first communicating things you see if you run into a surfer in a foreign country. He’s making hand gestures to roll a joint. It’s the passing of the peace pipe. I grew up around Nat and those guys, and Nat would say, “Take a hit. Shit. I won a world title. I won five. You think this is gonna hurt you? It’s not going to hurt at all. There are guys surfing on heroin and you’re smoking weed. Who cares? You aren’t doing anything else.” That’s how it always weighed out around those guys. They were really proud of me being stoned instead of boozing it up. If anything, it’s going to motivate you to go out even when the waves are small. Or say you’re in a contest and the waves look like shit and everyone is complaining. You can go to your car, turn on some jazz, take a hit and get amped up. You go out and have a blast. When you lose you’re like, “Who cares? I’m still surfing.” I can’t tell you how many contests I’ve been to where someone makes an ass of themselves because they lost when they could’ve just walked away and taken a puff instead of making a scene and embarrassing themselves.

Are you bored with competitions now?
I’m not bored. I think it’s different for me. People get sick of seeing you and after a while you realize it. When you’re standing on stage and you hear the monotone slow golf clap, you feel it. After a while you’re entering contests to please your sponsors. If you’re not doing it for yourself, you tend to lose motivation. Then when my thing with Donald ended, I was just becoming bitter towards longboarding. It was like a sign that I needed to expand my surfing. Why not expand? I’ve beaten everybody on short boards. I beat Bruce Irons but that’s not legitimate because it’s a tube-riding contest. Nat went from longboards to short boards. The mentality is that I’m just a longboarder, and I want to be everything.

Do you think that the mentality will ever change?
No, because there is just too much of an inferiority complex between the two. I just hate the holding people on a pedestal because certain guys are thought to be so much better. Kelly [Slater] is great at what he does, but that’s all he does. There is so much more to surfing than just that.

Have you been doing more photo trips?
I’ve been working on film stuff. If you stay in Hawaii for a winter, you get enough work done that you don’t have to do much after that. A few good days at Pipe and you’ve got people taking your picture. If you do a few contests, it evens out. I’m like the bearded lady of the circus.

Why?
You have surfing, then you have me. I am the token photo. I can’t get bummed. I just have to appreciate it for what it is. It’s interesting because I never thought I’d see a picture of myself. A lot of the guys grew up in environments like the NSSA that had this whole structure in surfing. I didn’t get that growing up. I never went to one NSSA contest. I am so proud of that. I think I’m the only one that can say that I never competed as an amateur. When I was a kid, there was no amateur division. I started pro. I had to surf against Nuuhiwa and those guys. It was a trip. Talk about shock. Imagine that you’re 13 and you’re in a nose-riding event with David Nuuhiwa. It gave me more appreciation of style. They all had unique signature styles. You could just tap into it and pull your own individual approach. Longboarding is such a breeding ground for something unique. I was really lucky to even be there at the time. It wasn’t what it is now.

What is it now?
It has lost all touch with those guys. It has moved away from that whole mentality.

How do you feel about that?
It’s sad. It’s depressing. I did my first event in ’90 and then I did the whole ASP tour of ’91. I finished third when I was 15. That was rad. Damien Hardman, Barton Lynch and all of those guys looked out for me because I was just a little kid traveling around with them.

They were all twice as old as you were?
Beschen and those guys were a lot older than I was and they were just coming on the scene, too. I used to compete with Nat. Mark Warren competed in longboarding and so did Wayne. They were really good. They longboarded properly, stylishly. Then to see Joey Hawkins come on the scene and the whole aerial movement started. Then the modern air thing came in and it was cool, but it was still longboarding. Nose riding was still a major principle. Then it went through this major modern fad and it died. Then our whole movement of old boards came in the mid-’90s and it was going good. Nat was right in there judging. And then Nat quit in ’96. When he quit, it just went to shit.

Was that when you thought that the world title was bunk?
I didn’t care. I was over it. I didn’t think it was possible.

Did you think you were shunned by the judges?
To this day, I still think it’s a conspiracy. Longboarding was already bigger than shortboarding. Look at the foam distribution. If you ask what’s made they’ll tell you it’s 60/40. That’s a big difference but they keep it under the rug. Then it got to the point where I was going to quit and they said, “Alright. We’ll let him win one.” That was it.

It blows my mind when I read about some of the people you have lost to.
Yeah, there’s no way in hell. I look at the judges and say, “You mean to tell me that I was hanging ten and that guy is not even hanging five and he had a higher score?” I’m not one to argue. I know better. You don’t argue with judges. For anyone coming up that’s competing, don’t ever argue with a judge because you will regret it. Don’t think they won’t remember the time that you questioned their ability or called them an idiot. When you need that .5, they’ll remember that time you called them an idiot. I’ve had it happen.

You’ve bad-mouthed judges?
No, but I’ve needed a .5 difference and been shunned out. It’s frustrating. I go for the pure enjoyment. The competing part is just to please my sponsors. I could care less about hanging out with a bunch of ex-Australian surfers killing whatever art form that’s left. They’re just butchering it until you almost want to puke. I hate to be so judgmental, but I know what’s right and what’s wrong. I’m not saying that kind of surfing is wrong, but in a competitive arena where you are trying to give something an identity, it just doesn’t work. How are you giving longboarding an identity if you’re just mimicking shortboarding and not surfing nearly as well as shortboarders? You can’t make it seem interesting for TV doing the same thing that somebody like Kelly, who is ten times more exciting to watch, can do ten times better.

It’s like watching pro ball or little league?
That’s how far off it is between the two. If you make it more of an art form and concentrate on style and all the things that longboarding was founded on: footwork, nose riding, trim, and less is more then it becomes easier for people to watch. Longboarding is grounded in a certain way and when surfers wanted to go to a different level, they cut the boards down. The surfing in ’66 when Nat Young won the world title was longboarding’s peak. They should model the judging now around the criteria of that era. The waves they held contests on were different. Everything was on point breaks.

In junior high school, you were getting out of school to travel the world with Nat Young.
I didn’t even realize it then. When you’re 15, you don’t really realize how important things are.

Do you think you weren’t appreciative then?
I was appreciative, but I was a young skateboarding punk. I had a different mentality. I definitely felt really blessed. I met Nat when I was 12 at the parking lot at Cardiff. Donald called and said, “Nat Young is gonna be at Cardiff. Be there in 15 minutes.” My dad drove me there so fast. He wanted to see him surf, too. We drove up and Nat did the gnarliest fishtail into the parking lot. He’s ruthless with cars. He drives like a maniac. He floored it, fishtailed in, got out and said, “Fucking shithouse American cars. These things suck.”

What kind of car was it?
It was a station wagon. He’s got such an intense presence. Then we went surfing and he killed it. He told my dad, “Your kid’s got a good style.” I was stoked. Two years later, I competed against him at the Life’s a Beach contest. It was in the finals of my first pro event. I was winning for twenty minutes then he put an ass whipping on us. He called me six months later and said, “I’m gonna put you in contact with these French guys. They want to meet you.” They [Oxbow] offered me such a good deal that I couldn’t say no.

What were your teachers saying about you when left school to surf?
None of them really understood at first. I had one teacher that was really cool. He was a bodyboarder I had gotten into a conflict with at Windansea. I lost my board and tagged him pretty bad. He had to get stitches, and because he was a bodyboarder, I had said some shit to him because he was in the way. I didn’t know who he was. My first day in high school, my first period class was history. He was my teacher, Mr. Brickett. He had taught my brother, too. Normally, they go in alphabetical order but he started with me. He says, “Mr. Tudor, please stand up. Do you remember me?” I didn’t even recognize him. He explained it, and I was like, “Oh, shit.” He ended up being the most understanding teacher of all.

How did your dad play into all of this?
My dad’s been surfing since 1959. In the ’60s, he had a chance to ride for Hansen. He turned it down because he didn’t want to be a professional surfer. He surfs pretty damn good so I had a good example. My brother was super good growing up.

He’s still super good.Did you finish high school?
No. I’ve been out of school since 1991. I learned way more travelling. I feel really fortunate that I got to do all this shit. My brother and my dad didn’t finish school and they’re both successful. If you believe in what you do, it will happen.

You spent eleven winters in Hawaii?
Yeah, and the localism there goes beyond anything you could fathom. It’s such a small island. Everyone knows everyone. The nearest police station is 20 minutes away. When there’s a fight, the cops don’t get there for 30 minutes. By the time they get there, its over. There’s just one beat-up person. In America, it’s like, “I’m suing you!” In Hawaii, if you’ve got a problem, fight. They solve everything with their fists. It’s like the Wild West for surfing. Any day it’s crowded, chances are you’re gonna see a fight or something that you would see on “Hard Copy.” You just get used to it after a while. I hate to say it, but in a lot of ways it’s good because it keeps things in check. People lose sight of where they’re from. There’s a reason for localism. There are a lot of dangerous people that don’t know what they’re doing and they need reprimanded. Over there, they have a real sense of structure and it works. ‘You’re not from here, you come here on vacation and think you’re gonna take over in two days, take a bunch of pictures and make your money and split? Fuck that. We’re here all year and we’re bigger than you are and you’re gonna abide by the way things work.’

Do you surf Waimaea Bay?
Yeah, but it’s too crowded. It’s a joke. It’s like watching a football game. You get your moments but it’s hard because you’ve got a lot of people just trying to make a name for themselves. They’re out there trying to kill themselves for that little picture. It’s not worth it. You can go other places that are just as fun. When I see Waimaea breaking big, I go straight to Maui. You wouldn’t believe how many people do that. Everybody bails out and catches flights to Maui.

Do you see surfing in Hawaii changing a lot?
I think that the hardcore mentality is dying out. A lot of the hardcore localism is dying with the current generation. The majority of the kids there now are second-generation transplants. Their parents moved there in the ’70s and had a kid. Surfing is not their only way out. They have other options. The other guys were kind of brutal. They were street kids that found surfing and they carried that into the water. It’s just not the same. There are still some tough kids, don’t get me wrong. There’s just not as many. It’s still intense. Some guys train all summer just waiting to surf and beat people up. They train all summer, pumping iron, doing jujitsu to be able to protect their spot. It’s pretty wild.

What was the story you were telling me about the first time you went surfing on the North Shore?
I got hassled because I was on a longboard. There were no longboarders then and I was just goofing around. I had long hair and looked about as white as you could get. All the locals were giving me shit saying, “Fucking haole, beat it!” It didn’t even phase me. Then out of the blue, this crazy tattooed guy with a zipper on his head said, “Hey, shut up!” He turned out to be Jay Adams. He just stood up for me.

Is that when you became friends with Jay?
Yeah, Jay came to my rescue because Stecyk and Skip Engblom were sponsoring me. Since I was part of the SMA [Santa Monica Airlines], he felt it was his job to look out for me. He saved me from getting sent in. I never got hassled again. Ever since, I created a friendship with Jay and paid my respects. I knew who he was. I saw him in all the old Hal Jepsen films. Jay had respect for me because his dad was an old Malibu guy, and he grew up in the longboard culture like Takayama. He got to see them surf growing up. He had an appreciation of the fact that I was surfing in a traditional manner. He gave me credit where most people wouldn’t.

SMA sponsored you for skateboarding?
Yeah. It was in Malibu, when I was 12, for surfing but then I also got sponsored for skating. I had a membership to Del Mar when I was in the first grade. I got to watch Steve Steadham skate. When I was nine years old, I got to spend Halloween with Gator at Marina Skatepark. There were only eight people there and Gator was one of them. I watched him skate the keyhole by himself. He had an argyle sweater with the sleeves torn out. He had such good style. That was a good period, but I got burnt out on it because skating died out. Skip was surfing at Malibu one day and I cut him off. I didn’t realize he could surf. He ended up getting up behind me, and caught up with me the whole way. I was like, “Whoa.” I kicked out and he paddled up to me and said, “What’s your name?” I told him my name and he said, “I make skateboards.” I was like, “Really?” He said, “I own SMA.” I knew what that was, so I said, “No way.” He says, “Give me your address. I’ll send you some stuff.” A week later I got a box with a DogTown longboard. Over the years, he was really supportive. He was always calling and checking up on me. One year, I went to Santa Cruz and this was when SCS owned SMA. He introduced me to all the guys at Independent. He introduced me to Novak and then those guys started sending me stuff. They let me skate the cannery. I had a lot of access to skate stuff. This was in the eighth grade. I was skating all the time, so I just got better and better. Then Stecyk told me I needed to go to Think. He said, “It’s a smart move. SMA is dwindling out. It’s all the same association, so make the jump.” He took me to Think, and Think was like, “Yeah. We’ll take care of you.” Then Fausto said, “Let’s do a longboard skate. There’s a good market. We’ll just do it in Japan.” Think was cool. They gave me skate ads. I’m the only surfer to ever have an Independent ad in ‘Thrasher.’ I’m skating in the ad. It was in San Francisco and I’m bombing a hill. The ad had a photo of my dad getting arrested in Malibu after the fight. It said, “Like father, like son”. It was really cool. They did a lot for me.

How did that fight go down with your dad?
One person disagreed with clearing the water for a contest, and felt they needed to make a point of interrupting the event that would have been over in three hours. The guy wanted to make a statement. He paddled out and started cutting people off during the heat. When my dad went out to confront him about it, he got real lippy. Then they started fighting. That’s pretty much exactly what happened.

Did this happen in the water?
Yeah, and the guy just refused to not fight back. He was a kneeboarder. He took his swim fin off and was hitting my dad with the fin like it was a knife. I rode a wave in and then he paddled back out with me. It was like walking into a human blender. He’s not giant. He’s just tough. Tough is not even the term for it. You could just look at his face and know that he’s been through some heavy shit and you’d better know how to fight. Lance paddled out with me and he took one side of the guy because he was trying to go back out. The guy kind of made the mistake of lunging at Lance, and that was all it took. He made one wrong move, and Lance just pounded him. And because fights never get videotaped from the beginning to see who initiated it, we only have video from the halfway point where there’s two guys pounding on one guy. My dad was pissed, but the guy was hitting him, too. Then they came out of the water. The guy set his kneeboard down, walked back down to the water, washed his face off, and then walked back and waited for the ambulance. Then he went into convulsions and the whole deal. He already had it planned out.

It was a fake?
Yeah, he knew what he was doing. He just waited for the ambulance. Because of that fight we lost our house and all the credit cards. It’s a pretty heavy thing when your dad goes through shit like that. His hair went from gray to white in six months. I was only 18 when it all went down.

What happened to Lance?
Lance was on welfare. There was nothing they could take from him. They had to make an example out of somebody, so they chose the working class, white suburban male. The person it hits the hardest makes the biggest impact and that’s what people want to read about. ‘Family man loses home.’ Luckily, the judges were cool enough not to sentence them. They each got three years for two felony counts. They called it two separate fights. The judge said, “I’m suspending the sentence because this is just a bar room brawl that just happened to be videotaped.” He said, “Had this been anywhere else and there were no tape, it would’ve had no relevance.” But they had video proof. It was on ‘Court TV’. Our trial was on afterward the O.J. trial every day. It was on ‘Hard Copy’. The video is a joke. I don’t get it. Luckily, it’s all over now. Everything worked out for the better. I had to pay a lot of lawyer bills, but that’s the least I can do. I definitely have a different take on violence in the water. Be discreet about it. Don’t let anyone tape it.

What do you feel about the injustice of it?
It’s hard when your dad loses his house. I can understand where the guy is coming from trying to make his statement. I’ve been in Hawaii and seen contest after contest at Pipeline. I know what it’s like wanting to surf and not being able to go out because of a women’s bodyboarding contest. I’m paying to live here, and I want to be able to surf. I know what it’s like, but at the same time, if you’re gonna start a fight, then you bring it upon yourself. I just don’t think the guy deserved anything. We lost the court case, and the civil suit. We had to pay the guy $26,000 in punitive damages on top of everything else. The lawyer’s cut was like $100,000. Then we got hit with a civil suit. We had to pay for a lawyer again at $150 an hour. We lost the house.My dad was like, “Pack your shit.”

You were there during the fight with Nat in Australia, too?
Yeah, I feel like I’m getting the kiss of death sometimes. I’ve been around for the worst stuff ever. I was there. I was visiting him with John Peck. They hadn’t seen each other in 25 years. John Peck came to Australia and was staying with Bob Cooper. Peck and I are really close. He never had kids, so I kind of feel in a lot of ways he considers me his son. He’s crazy. He’s got long hair and a beard and looks like Jesus. He meditates and they all think he’s out there but he is totally there. So he calls and says, “I’m coming to Australia. Let’s go to Noosa and go the contests.” Then, Nat came down there to meet us but he left early. He wanted us to come up and visit the farm so we loaded up the car. It was John, my Japanese distributor and me, and the guy that does my boards. We drove up the coast and surfed Snapper rocks. We got to Nat’s and ate dinner with him that night. That day, Nat had cut his fingertips off with a grinder. One of the chairs in the house broke and he was fixing it. The phone rang and he went to answer the phone, and WHAM! It took his fingertips off on his right hand. His hand was bandaged up at dinner. Then he said, “If I don’t come out in the morning, it’s because of this fucking guy I got into a fight with. This guy’s had a thing with me for five years.” The guy is super jealous of Nat. He’s fifty years old and owns all these things. He never works and he surfs every day. This guy is on the dole. He’s actually a good surfer but he brutally pounded a few people, in the town of Angourie. Nat was saying, “If I’m not out, it’s because of this guy. I’m not in the mood to get in a hassle.” So I wake up in the morning. It’s perfect Angourie. I’m like, “John. Get up. The sun’s rising. It’s insane.” This photographer, Mark Thompson was there, so I have footage of that day. It’s really cool stuff. It’s interesting how things unfold. All morning, we were having the best time ever. It was blue skies and sunny waves. It got to be 11 o’clock, and the sun was getting to be too much. I had to go put sunscreen on, so I come in. I start to walk around the point to go to Nat’s house and get my shit. Then I see Nat coming around the point from his house. He was just looking at the waves. He was pissed because he hadn’t been out all morning. He was antsy. He was with Beau. He said, “What’s up, Morris?” He always calls me ‘Morris.’ I said, “Where have you been? It’s been going off all morning and you’re just now getting here? Did you sleep in a little bit?” He said, “Fuck you.” He goes out, gets the first wave, catches it, kills it, paddles back out and swings wide over in the bay. He spins around and gets another one. As he was spinning around to go, this guy leans over his shoulder, and yells, “Get fucked!” The guy was younger than I was. He was only 19. Then Nat paddles back out. I’m right there. Mitch is right there. Mitch says, “I’m gonna go surf.” Nat said, “I’m over it. I can get this any day.” He lives in Australia. He packs all of his stuff and he goes up the point. I go the long way, so I heard the kid yell. Mitch and I both kind of looked at each other. We were like, “Oh, this is gonna be good.” Nat doesn’t put up with any shit. I said, “I don’t want to see this.” I’ve seen this a million times. He’s going to verbally reprimand the kid. The kid is gonna shy down and not say anything. Nat paddled back out and the kid got right in his face. The bay is like an amphitheater. You can hear conversations in the water. The kid started going off yelling, “Get fucked!” He was going off, and Nat was like, “Huh? Huh?” BAM! He tagged the kid, because if the kid was gonna bring it on, then he better be ready. Nat hit him and his nose starts bleeding. The kid is the son of the guy Nat had been having problems with. Nat said, “Wise up little punk. I’ve been here since 1967. Don’t talk shit to me.” He had every right. He’s the oldest elder. It’s like mouthing off to the oldest Indian in your tribe. So, Nat popped him. The kid kept lipping off and then he started saying he was gonna call the cops. Nat said, “You want to call the cops? I’ll take you to the police station. Let’s go right now you little punk. I’ll drive you there and I’ll tell them every word you said to me and they’re gonna tell you that you deserved it.” British colonial rule is different than American law. There’s no ‘I’m gonna sue you.’ They just decide right there in the police station. Nat’s goes in with the kid and the kid’s dad is coming in behind them on his longboard.

He’s a big guy?
He’s not a big guy; he just likes to fight. It was pretty heavy.

You saw this?
No, dude, I missed it by two seconds. If I saw it, I would have run in with a rock or something. I wouldn’t have just stood there like Beau did. Anyway, they’re on the beach, and the kid and Nat are exchanging words, and the guy comes in and starts provoking Nat right away. He starts slapping him and trying to get him to fight. Nat’s got his whole hand taped up. It looks like a claw. He’s got all his fingers taped together in a rubber glove with a surf glove over it. His right hand is worthless. All he’s got is a left. He said, “Look I’m over it. I’m not fighting. This has nothing to do with you.” The guy says, “That’s my kid! Fuck you!” Nat said, “I’m not fighting with you. I’m done.” He turned his back to walk away, and the guy came from the side, and knocked him out. He broke Nat’s jaw and knocked him out cold on his back. Then the guy climbed on Nat’s chest and started beating him. He was saying, “Do you think you’re God? I’m God!” Beau said it was gnarly. Beau’s such a peaceful gentle kid. It happened so quickly that it wasn’t something that he had any control over. John wasn’t gonna go in because John is like a yogi and he’s not gonna get into a violent confrontation. Mitch, my Japanese guy is star-struck and couldn’t believe what was going on. This goes on and the guy kicks the shit out of him….

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