The Inertia Senior Contributor
Laird Hamilton, Good/Bad. Photo: Tim McKenna

Laird Hamilton, Good/Bad. Photo: Tim McKenna

The Inertia

The year is winding down, which means that anyone involved with words are putting their two cents into those year-end lists that never encompass the entire year. So what are your two cents? Add your 2013 Good/Bad/Ugly in the comments section below.

The Good


He’s like your inappropriate uncle who always manages to offend everyone in the room at Christmas dinner. He’s bitter, uncouth, and monomaniacal, but damn if he doesn’t say some really interesting things. Family get-togethers wouldn’t be the same without him.

Safety Measures in Big Wave Surfing

Enough near-death situations can convince even the hardest of heads that the odd contingency plan is a good idea. After years of turning away from modern gimmicks, like, you know, life vests, and uh CPR, the big wave community at large suppressed their egos and embraced new safety measures this year that include life vest and water safety training. At this rate, we might even see a professional wearing reef booties sometime this century. Probably not, though.

The Unknown Surfer from Spirit of Akasha

Among incredible performances by Stephanie Gilmore and Fergal Smith, Sam Yoon stole the show in the movie of the year, Andrew Kidman’s homage to Morning of the Earth, the obliquely titled Spirit of Akasha. Yoon shapes his own boards, rides with an old-school squat and can’t do an air to save his life. Despite, or maybe because of all this, his sections in the film are some of the best in the last decade.

Four-foot-and-under Men Who Love the Occasional 60-Footer.

If you are paid to make heats in competitions, or do airs for magazines and videos, it’s easy to post up at the pool bar when swell heights push passed twelve feet. But there are a few sick SOB’s who can’t help but do both, and we salute them: Kelly Slater, The brothers Gudauski, Adrian Buchan, John John Florence, Jeremy Flores, the Hobgoods and some I’m most definitely forgetting forgetting. These are among the few who have not forgotten that good surfers are good in every condition, not just when it’s head high and puntable.

Socially Aware Surfers

Surfers have a long and storied history of studiously ignoring any social ills that might impede their ability to get into the water – see apartheid in South Africa. It’s refreshing, then, to see a small but growing group leveraging their statuses and know-how to lead movements that stand for more than hedonism. Jon Rose is flying into disaster zones to deliver water filters to those in need, Dustin Barca, along with a supporting cast that includes Mark Healey and Kelly Slater, is leading the fight to get agribusiness to disclose what sort of pesticides they use in Hawaii, even the late Buttons Kaluhiokalani, a longtime drug abuser, became an open and vocal opponent of drug use until his death this year from cancer. If you are a gifted athlete, you don’t have to stand for anything. Maybe that’s why it’s so much cooler if you do.

John John Florence

When a child prodigy reaches adulthood without discernable psychological problems or issues with substance abuse, the entire world breathes a sigh of relief. John John Florence doesn’t need to win a World Title or ride the biggest wave, because he’s already come a very long way in a very short time and we are lucky to have him. That said, I’d love to see him getting freaky-deaky shaping his own boards.


I don’t own one and I don’t want one, but you can’t argue with this kind of success. GoPro has brought a lot of happiness to a lot of would-be surf heroes while taking the POV shot from sideshow to main attraction. How else can the average Joe get barreled on the shoulder of Mikala Jones in Indonesia?


For all the debate about wave shape, ride length, and ridiculous, pseudo-scientific measurements, it turns out that all most people care about is riding a giant, honking wave. Although behind the scenes, many in the big wave surfing community are still grumbling, (and I say let them) Nazaré is here to stay.


For most of us, surfing apocalyptic waves in near-freezing temperatures in the midst of howling, ever-changing winds is about as close to hell as we will ever get. For a select group of Irish surfers, including Paul O’Kane, Fergal Smith, Connor Maguire, and Neil and Easkey Britton, this is as good as it gets. They helped put Mullaghmore, the monstrous left point in Northwest Ireland, on the map and into our imaginations this year. I salute them for broadening the scope of my dreams and my nightmares.

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