Archive for the ‘Surfing’ Category

Sometimes DIY and low-budget surf collide to create something that wouldn’t pan out on Pinterest but does bring a bit of mirth in a way-too-serious surf scene. Cummon, who wouldn’t like kickstart a new brand of metal chain locking surf straps? Who wouldn’t like chains wrapped around their surfboard and banging on the roof of the car as they drive? While surfboard theft isn’t as common on Kauai compared to the other islands, have a feeling this won’t catch on Maui, Big Island or Oahu either (well, correction, we can kinda imagine this being a hit in Puna lol).

* metal chains surf rack

As seen in Hanalei, Kauai, Hawai’i


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When you’re a writer and need to get stuff off your chest, you have to write it down. Normally I don’t bother sharing much of the musings about so-called “famous” people, they deserve their privacy – plus shoots, in Hawaii you surf every day with someone who’s had some fleeting (or legendary) moment of fame via surf. But when that someone’s being a douche, they should be called out on it, regardless of who they are. And sure, every surfer has had their douche-y moments in the water (some are conscious of it, some not so much), but this incident was particularly entertaining. 2015 was the *gulp* 30th anniversary of the first time I ever went surfing. So to have Laird Hamilton gift me with this quote was pretty special. Here’s to purging for the new year!

“You never saw me on a short board?! Then you just started surfing!” –Laird

Surfing Hanalei Bay. It’s a pastime that some on Kauai only partake in on occasion, as it’s so often over-crowded and a bit agro. Today was one of those mellow days with fun-high surf, a relatively sparse crowd, and waves for all.

Winter fixture Laird Hamilton was out. It was early in the season and the first time I’d noticed him since his return from summering in the ‘Bu (yeah, I actually wrote that).

I was surprised to see he wasn’t on a SUP. He looked like a kid, sitting on a board he could actually sink, and I thought it refreshing (not to mention he’d be less able to hog all the waves). So when he paddled near me, after an aloha exchange, I mentioned, “I’ve never seen you on a short board.”

His mood altered split second. “Well then…”, he tisked, “you just started surfing.” He repeated it a little louder and a little more annoyed, “You never saw me on a short board?! Then you definitely just started surfing!”

Wait, um, huh… waht just happened? I waited for a crack of a smile. Nope. He wasn’t joking.

My thought process went something like: Is he thinking I think he’s never short-boarded? Does he think I never saw North Shore?  LOL. Did I accidentally threaten him in some way? Is he really so cocky as to tell a chick that she must be new to surfing because she never saw him in the water on a short board. Is this the best example of inductive reasoning gone awry?! My mind was reeling with questions!

He actually repeated it a few more times. Then went on and on about himself but at that point I couldn’t make out what he was saying. I got all caught up in the energy of the incident… this massive ego… becoming palpable… expanding way beyond the sphere of mere mortals. Maybe someone drank a lil’ too much Laird Superfood Coffee that morning?

He paddled inside, caught a wave, and the vibe out in the water mellowed.

When he made it back out, he took the opportunity to engage a few of the local guys in the pack and went off on some tangent about people who were trying to put him down. He brought up some guys who did this when he was body surfing the other day. “I was going to go in and get my fins and a french fry box… and surf it better than them.” The guys in the water kissing his okole joined in: “Yeah, yeah!” “I would have paddled in and gotten an old door” “Yeah, and beveled down the edges” “Yeah, yeah” “That would show them!” “Yeah!!!”

**Oh boi**

It wasn’t as if Laird was directing this all at me, yet it was obvious my comment – tweaked in his head – inspired the loud discussion that I was supposed to overhear. Bulleh 101. All I could think was, Girlfriend, you know better, don’t you mess with the mind of a narcissist.

After his third wave, Laird paddled back out towards me, and at that point I had to laugh it off and said, “I dunno dude, I was just saying I’ve surfed out here with you like 100 times and I’ve never seen you on a short board. That’s all. Not sure where you decided to go with that…”.

He gave me a pondering stare. Started paddling away. Then turned, paused, and said, “Ohhh, it was a complement.”

I guess I was either with him or against him.

“Uh, well, basically” I replied.

And he smiled…

So, my special quote may not have been North Shore-worthy, but it was close. And whenever there’s a good excuse to include any reference to the flick you really shouldn’t pass on the opportunity: “Burkhart you bastard!”

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If you haven’t read the full oxybenzone study yet, you should. It’s pretty devastating what this popular sunscreen ingredient oxybenzone is doing to our corals. This barely touches on what it does to other sea life and humans (or the negative effects of all the other toxins in these products). Ask your local stores why they are selling this crap to people and contributing to destroying the ocean ecosystems. Ask the person spraying these all over themselves and their children (and anyone around them) to read this study as well as the many articles available online about the toxicity of oxybenzone and chemical sunscreen ingredients.

FULL STUDY: Oxybenzone and Coral Toxicity

Hawaii Tribune Herald: “Sunscreen Devastating to Coral”
Huffington Post: “Sunscreens Could Be Killing the World’s Reefs, Study Says”

EWG: Guide to Sunscreens


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Hawaii Winter Heating ToasterDon’t laugh at us when we complain, it gets cold in Hawai’i.

Not ice blistering Alaska cold, but cold all the same.

Before you call us pussies, let me explain. In Hawai’i, most houses are semi-contained. Many places here have either no windows or some windows, and the rest is screened in. There’s no heat, and rarely air conditioning. So whatever the temperature is outside, is what the temperature is inside.

So while the rest of the world would have their thermostats moderating something around 65°, we’re getting nice moist chilled air swooping off the mountains below 50° nighttime through the early morning.

The past few days I’ve had to resort to toaster hand warming, running the oven and opening the door, using the still-hot saucepan (after making rice) on my belly and bones, hot showers, foot soaks, jogging in place, ThermaCare neck warmers taped on the back, wool socks and hoodies, and even stuffing my Malamute / Chow Chow under the covers, to no avail. In a few hours I’ll be in shorts and a t-shirt, and the rest of the freezing world will be jealous, but until then….

While we’re on the topic, every year on weather modification sites you will see posts about snow here. To be clear, before there were airplanes, there’s been snow on the tops of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. That doesn’t discount “geoengineering” by any means, nor does it discount the fact that even those not living near the tops of volcanos are shivering.

I might even have to bust out my long sleeve 2mil wet suit top today for our current brisk ocean temp of 75.7 – what, don’t laugh!

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No lie, everyone’s affected by the government shutdown. The Hawai’i Surf Collaborative Forecast has been suspended until appropriations have been restored. (It’s moments like these that we’re glad we have forecaster Pat Caldwell’s personal email).

Government Shutdown Surf Report

For safety purposes, they will be updating and maintaining the daily Surf Zone updates, Tides & Currents, as well as the National Buoy Center (at least the buoys that still work) – not that tourists ever pay attention to the warnings.

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AlessandraOlanow Sandy Relief surf Love4Relief


Surf Collective NYC’s Valentine’s Day eCard campaign to benefit non-profit Waves for Water’s Sandy Relief initiative focused on New York and New Jersey’s hardest hit areas, including the Rockaways and other East Coast surfing hot-spots. Send your sweetheart, crush or friend an eCard that simultaneously helps our local surf communities hit hardest by Superstorm Sandy.


Contributors include surfers from a cross section of creative fields including fashion designers Heidi Merrick and Rogan Gregory, filmmaker Mikey Detemple, photographers Alberto Guglielmi, Dane Peterson, Ryan Struck, Justin Jay, Justin Bastien, River Jordan, Zac Bush, surfboard shaper Tim Bessell, fine artist Michael de Nicola, graphic artists/illustrators Mr. Furious, Alessandra Olanow, Nick Lynn, etc.


The series of eCards will be available online on Surf Collective NYC’s website (www.surfcollectivenyc.com). Users choose from one of the images, customize the message and make a donation in the name of the recipient. Your customized messages will arrive on Valentine’s Day.


100% of the monies raised will go directly to the charity to provide hot meals, construction materials, and much more; offering a paperless, environmentally-sound way of sending some Valentine’s Day XO while helping to provide local residents with the assistance they need to rebuild the communities we love.

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I hadn’t heard of Calavera Swimwear until I wrote an article last year entitled: “Swimsuits Surfer Girls Should NOT Wear“. A number of women commented and recommended I check out Calavera, and eventually the company contacted us with an invitation to try their suits. Now, as a surfer grrl who has been designing the perfect suits and wet suits in my mind (and on paper) for the past, um, 25 years, it was nice to see a company follow through on the dream concept of suits that stay on and look hot! On top of that, they’re really good quality, made in the U.S.A., and you don’t have to close your eyes when a wahine wearing one paddles in front of you and lifts her leg for a duck dive (Brazilian bikinis have their time and place, ahem). Calavera proves you can combine sexuality and functionality – and their innovative designs address issues most female athletes have when it comes to swim/active wear. No more yanking, tugging, sore necks and worrying about being undressed by the waves. We decided it was time to chat with Anna Jerstrom, founder and designer of Calavera, about her inspiration and the evolution of swimwear for surfer girls.anna_headshot2

When did you start surfing?

I was a “late bloomer” as far as surfing is concerned and didn’t discover it until adulthood. I was in the office late one night (one of many) and booked a trip to Costa Rica. I had no idea it was going to change my life so drastically but within six months, I had traded in my high-flying investment banking job for a life as a surf bum.

What inspired you to start designing your own suits?

I have always been a hobby designer, making my own clothes. When I moved to Costa Rica, the sewing machine came with me. Calavera came about from a personal frustration with the type of swimwear available on the market. Most suits just did not work for surfing. Having to adjust, check and tug all the time was really distracting.

Most of the big brands are focused on fashion apparel for the beach girl. While I love a cute bikini, there is a huge opportunity to take that cute suit and put performance at the center of the design process to make it functional. So, that’s what we did!

What’s the magic behind a Calavera suit?

Calavera is all about “under the hood” construction: fillers, tight-weave elastic, iron-on stabilizing materials, etc. These elements combine to make the fit durable but without sacrificing style. In terms of design, Calavera bikinis have loads of sass with a little punk rock thrown in.

Essentially, I am making swimwear for myself. Sure, I want to look good on my board, but I don’t want to miss the wave of my life because I was trying to adjust my bikini. So the suits are a combination of my own style and my desire to perform as a surfer. Apparently that’s an experience a lot of women can relate to.

What are some of the things that are unique to Calavera as a company?

The company represents a lifestyle, a passion and a kinship. At the heart of it are the Calavera girls – women who have decided to pursue their dreams and will let nothing stop them.

Where is Calavera made?

All the Calavera products are made in the US of A, specifically in Downtown LA. I’m trying to keep production streamlined and local in order to maintain a lighter “footprint” while supporting locally owned businesses.

What are some of the craziest situations where you have tested your Calavera bikinis? I saw something recently about a car wash…?

Yes, indeed! We bribed a car wash guy in San Jose, Costa Rica, strapped a couple of our Calavera girls on the hood of our car and drove it through the car wash. Verdict: the suit stayed on. You can see the whole thing unfold here.Calavera Poster

All Calavera designs are tested thoroughly in the water at Playa Hermosa in Costa Rica, which has some of the heaviest waves in the world.  There have definitely been some gnarly situations, but it is one of those places that literally isn’t surfable when waves get really big. But we love hearing from our customers about their experiences and exploits, so we’d welcome tales of big wave riding in Calavera designs.

Who is the Calavera team?

  • Evie Johnstone is a British native based in Costa Rica. She is on the National Circuit there and also writes a really good blog – Evie Surf – about her life in Costa Rica and as a pro surfer.
  • Jordan Hundley is currently number 38 in the world and she is the “baby” of the Calavera crew.
  • Amy Luis is the flow boarding world champion. (Check this video out of Amy sporting the Calavera rash guard. The thing doesn’t even move!)
  • Ami Berg is an amazing East Coast girl who helps train women in the special Olympics and teaches children with autism how to surf.
  • Heather Jordan is a native of Southern California who chose to postpone a shot at a full-time career in surfing in order to pursue a higher education. A well-traveled surfer, Jordan presently surfs on the UCLA women’s team and took 4th place in the College Women’s division at the NSSA National Championship.

We are also on the hunt for another crew member. But any girl who puts on her suit, paddles out determinedly and charges has the heart of a Calavera Girl.

Tell us a little about some of the riders you sponsor.

We want our customers to feel like they are part of the team; that she could be that Calavera Girl. As such, we take a slightly different approach than many brands; we want our team to be approachable and relatable. While they are all very accomplished surfers, they represent much more. They are the fearless, feminine water warriors. When the girls get together you are guaranteed to have a crazy good time, get very little sleep and make some fantastic memories.

Besides surfers (and the Queen of England), what other kinds of action-sports gals like Calavera? 

We’re thrilled that Calavera has started to spread among all kinds of water and beach sports. There are so many female athletes that struggle with the same issues as surfers and it is super exciting to see how Calavera is resonating with active women all over the world – beach volleyball players, stand-up paddlers, wake boarders, flowboarders, triathletes,  runners and many more.

I saw you added larger sized suits (DD). How is Calavera working for larger-sized surfer girls?

Avery in Calavera Pine Trees Kauai

Local Girl Avery Lookin’ Hot in Calavera’s 2013 Siren Suit; Pine Trees, Kauai

It is tougher for larger chested women to get the support they need. We have gotten a couple of feedback emails from DD ladies saying it is the first time they have ever been able to surf in a bikini, which is really rewarding for us to hear. I feel strongly that surfing and other watersports should not be about your size, and we want to try to cater to all kinds of shapes and forms. It’s about following your passion.

Calavera has been doing runway shows. Is it a new thing for a real surf suit to be attractive enough to show on a runway with “fashion” swimwear? How’s the experience been?

The challenge for Calavera is to communicate the functional aspects of the suit, since they are mostly hidden solutions that don’t really come across on the catwalk. Ideally, we’d put on a fashion show at a place like the Wave House in San Diego and have the flowboarder girls showcase the suits in action. One day we will pull that off!

I know a lot of women have dreamed of creating their own clothing/swim suit company; how did you get the ball rolling?

It is really just a matter of going for it. It is much like surfing – you just have to commit to that drop, even if it looks impossible – because that is the ONLY way you are actually going to make it.

How did you get the funds to start the company?

I was lucky to have a financial and business background so I could tap into my network for seed capital.

What were some of the ups and downs?

Life as an entrepreneur is full of unique rewards and challenges. Seeing a stranger wear one of your designs is definitely a high. Production, on the other hand, is riddled with challenges. You have to be able to think fast on your feet and address complications as they arise.

What is your marketing strategy?

Avery in Calavera

We love how all the tops utilize crisscross or t-backs, to avoid extra strain on the neck!

Calavera is a brand experience, a crew you join not just a bikini you put on. Our product is our core backbone, but beyond that we want to give all the female water athletes out there something to identify with. I love the phrase “Fearless Femininity” as it really captures what we are all about.

What might you say to wahines who want to start their own company?

It is important to do the research. Figure out how big the market is, what the profile of your consumer is, how much money you need to make it work, etc.  Generally there is a much higher chance of success if the product solves a problem or improves someone’s life in a novel way. The consumer is generally much more receptive to buying a solution rather than a product.

We love your website! Who does your web design?

Avery Smiles in Calavera

We surfed in the suits across Kauai. Here our girl Avery bodyboards 3-4 (Hawai’i style) shore break. No need to readjust even after close-out barrels. That’s something to smile about!

Thank you! I founded Calavera with my brother who is a very experienced e-commerce developer and strategist. The web shop is his baby and I am in awe of his creativity.

Why did you decide to only sell online? What are the advantages and disadvantages to marketing this way? When will Calavera be available in stores?

We launched online only initially because it allows us to connect directly with the consumer and start generating cash flow. Wholesale is the next phase and we’re just starting to test those waters. You have to prove sustainability and relevance in order for stores to take a chance on a new collection and having a robust online sales track record with demonstrates there is a demand for our unique brand. The disadvantage is that in doing so, you take inventory risk onto your balance sheet and as a small company it is hard to tie up your resources. Calavera has chosen to manufacture locally to ameliorate that problem, and we can refill our stock much more quickly than if we were relying on overseas factories.

What do you envision as the evolution of surfing for women? 

It is fantastic to see how surfing and other water sports are taking off among women. I think the top pro girls will continue to push the barriers, but I am also excited about the way surfing has become more mainstream and part of many active women’s lives. I have so many situations where women tell me they just started surfing and how much they love getting out in the water to de-stress from their careers and busy lives. Surfing has brought so much happiness to my life, and I get excited to see others experiencing that “surfing crush” for the first time!

What’s next for Calavera?

We are expanding into new active wear garments that look as good as they function. We’ll continue to come up with new and unique solutions that empower women to focus on performing in their chosen sport.

Can you give us any sneak peaks of new designs?

We’re launching a slew of exciting products in 2013, extending our reach a bit. We have a brand new swim top design which worked like magic when we put it to the test in Costa Rica, and we are introducing a pair of shorts and a full coverage bottom. Our best-selling “Glam” top is also getting some new sassy colors, and we are working on a one-piece with some new solutions never seen before in surf wear.

Evie 2012

The Siren suits; like a second skin!

WE’RE SOLD! We’re so smitten with this brand, we’ve decided to help them launch into Hawai’i shops. Right now you can purchase Calavera at Hanalei Surf on the North Shore of Kauai, with more stores coming soon. (Check back with us as we’ll be updating the list of HI locations.) Next time you’re in a bikini or surf shop and you don’t see Calavera on the racks, make sure to ask! And if you are a Hawai’i store owner/ buyer interested in carrying Calavera, feel free to contact us to help you set up an account or contact Calavera direct.

Wanna learn more about Calavera?
Check out a preview of their new short Water Warriors – coming to a film festival near you!

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