Californian surfing pioneer and founder of savage sunglass start-up famed for ‘sinister marketing campaigns, including Caligula-style parties of decadence’, dies, aged 69

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Can you spot it?

Has it really been four years since WSL Chief Commercial Officer Beth Greve was once Adweek’s Top 50 in 2014, for her success as a “provider of cool” in the teen space, was adored on BeachGrit’s Surf Ranch billboard?

As the New Yorker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Bill Finnegan wrote at the time,

“Slater saw it. He is an indefatigable online poster designer, with rare patience. On his Instagram feed, a magnet for cranks of all kinds, he’s spent years debating the flat Earth, laying out countless scientific evidence that the planet is round. He is a knowledgeable ecologist; the right-wing flamethrowers rain hellfire on him for this, and he often takes the trouble to respond to them individually. When the Backward Fins Beth billboard went viral, Slater showed a tiny bit of spite. On BeachGrit’s Instagram feed, he wrote, “Funny. Cheap. revealing character. The BeachGrit team was over the moon. They had succeeded in trolling the king.

Charlie in Lemoore, California.

As we know, Backward Fins Beth left the WSL soon after, greener pastures etc, and apart from a brief revival two years ago when we did a little apparel capsule with Vissla, the fins of the world remained resolutely pointed in the right direction.

Until the Netflix thriller, starring Chasing Mavericks star Gerard Butler, was released a few months ago.

Watch the trailer.

Do you see?

Do you see?

Fifty-three-year-old Butler from Scotland doesn’t surf, but he learned enough to paddle to Half Moon Bay for the Chasing Mavericks surf sequences and get caught inside on a big day.

In his harrowing account told to Men’s Journal,

All of a sudden, a huge set arrived. And I knew it was always a risk to do that, there was always the possibility of me getting caught inside. So the four of us are over there, and Greg Long turns around and starts shouting, “Paddle, Gerry, paddle!” I saw that wave coming from Jesus, half a mile away, and I was paddling, paddling, paddling. By the time it happened to me, I was exhausted. I had already been out for six hours, in the freezing water of Mavericks – doing stroke after stroke, paddling the waves. And like I said, I’m not a surfer, and I’m definitely not a big wave surfer. And then it got me, and it brought me down. Immediately I thought, “That’s weird,” because I wasn’t being pulled in any particular direction. I was just falling. And then I looked for my leg and realized I had lost my board. My leash had broken.

I was just spinning. I wasn’t going anywhere and I was taking water. Water kept coming into my mouth and I thought, “Why is this happening? I do not understand very well. I was already out of breath and knew I had to get up. I needed to get up quickly, but I wasn’t going anywhere. It was starting to get really uncomfortable, then I heard this big crash as another wave washed over me and the fall started again.

And then I thought, “Oh my God.” I had just done a scene earlier where I was talking about a two-wave heist and how fear and panic are the difference between life and death. When you panic out there, you die. Our second unit manager kept saying, “Dude, this is Mavericks. You panic, you die! The next minute I’m underwater and I think if I panic in any way I’m gone. All I could think was, ‘Damn, there’s a whole camera crew up there saying, ‘I think Gerry’s in serious trouble.'” until they started going, ‘Oh Shit, that could be it Gerry might not come.

And then finally, when I went up, I only stayed up for a few seconds before coming down. The next wave came and Grant Washburn was trying to get to me on a jet ski, but he couldn’t. I was about five feet from him, but the next wave came and he had to turn around and leave. And I knew what was going on, the wave would have gotten him, but when he turned around, I could see the fear on his face. I had been in a few hairy situations filming before, and Grant had been so cool, he had been there for me. This time, it’s not that he wasn’t cool, he was amazing, but to see him freak out…he wasn’t freaked out about himself, he was freaked out about me. So I come back down thinking, “If he looks like that, it’s not a good situation.”

And then I finally came back up, and Peter Mel was on the side, trying to say to me, “It’s okay, don’t worry! Be cool, it’s okay! But then another wave came and took me into the Boneyard, and just when it was going to go from really bad to even worse, Grant grabbed me and ushered me in.

And you know, I feel like I used all the wisdom and courage that I acquired in life for this movie. If I hadn’t known the importance of staying absolutely calm, I would have been screwed. Because even as the water was coming in and I wasn’t going anywhere, and it was getting so painful, I was like, ‘Remember what this movie is about. Fear is healthy, panic is deadly. And because of that thinking, I survived a two-wave heist, and it sounds cool just to say that.

Then Zach Wormhoudt sent me a note. He came in the ambulance with me, and he was amazing. All the surfers were amazing, they were all really cool. But Zach came in the ambulance with me, and he was like, “Hey man, it’s fine, no worries.” And then he emailed me the next day saying, “You know what? Very few people can ever know what it feels like to be down for so long and to be so helpless. They may think they do, but they don’t, and now you do. It was very poetic. He said it was like asking a dancer in a dance how she felt. And she can’t necessarily put that feeling into words; she just dances, just feels it. And no one can know that until they do that dance. When he said that, it really made sense to me, it was really beautiful. And that’s what has constantly surprised me – how eloquent and poetic a lot of these surfers are – the way they see life and the way they see the sea, surfing and their craft. I was really surprised by them. I could listen for days.

Phew!

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