Big Month / by craig levers

Warning; introspective and highly opinionated dribble may follow.



I've been immersed in the surf industry for the last 30 years. This has included working in surf shops and factories, but mainly it has been on the media side of things. Making magazines, editing websites, probably most significantly now making New Zealand surf books for the last 10 years. As a Kiwi surfer there is always an internal conflict, an irony if you like, about being a part of the commercial side of surfing. 

The overwhelming theme on the commercial side of surfing is always to grow the sport. The industry rationale being; if more people are surfing, you have more people to sell your wares to, you make more money, you get to go surfing more. And that's the conflict, as Kiwi surfers we are collectively selfish bastards. We want less surfers in the water so we can each get more waves. 

I've been a part of industry meetings about growing the exposure and popularity of surfing in New Zealand. For a long time the focus was on getting airtime on TV. To be honest, even during those meetings, in part being a stills photographer, a producer of print based media, but probably more importantly a selfish surfer, I felt shitty in those strategy meetings. I never shared the vision that surfing should be as big as rugby. I don't want surfing to be as big as rugby. I love surfing and it's counterculture because it ISN'T rugby. I find it weird that while surfing is proud of it's outsider and staunchly individualistic stance, many within the community crave mainstream amalgamation. 

This is probably a generational thing. While now as an older surfer I celebrate our former bad assery, and being alternative, the generations of surfers after mine don't share that rebellion against the norm. 

 The famous Windensea board riders circa '60s

The famous Windensea board riders circa '60s

To hammer home the point, or maybe over dwell on it. The first wave of modern surfers in the '50's-60's were gnarly. To commit yourself to living a surf lifestyle was to be regarded being a drop out and a loser. Time and Life magazines compared Surfing culture to Hells Angels and Junkies. Surfers celebrated this, Miki Dora famously sported Iron Crosses and Swastikas on his boards- surfers were NOT neo nazis, it was to be shocking. 

Every era of surfers rebel against the previous. The long haired, Morning Of the Earth era was a reaction to the first competition era of surfing. My New Wave/Echo Beach/Punk 80's era was a rebellion against that soul surfer era. The old fossils wore black wetsuits and clear white boards, we embraced short spiked hair, flouro panels and bright sprayed twin fins and thrusters. Surfing was so rebellious, it even rebelled against itself.     

 Just fricken orrrrsum :) 

Just fricken orrrrsum :) 

Surfing does not translate well to mainstream at the best of times anyway. We get pigeonholed as Spicoli like stoners throwing down shakas and speaking a quaint perversion of english. To be fair we don't help ourselves much in this regard. It's ironic that our dialect that is mocked is also stolen so often. 'Stoked' is now mainstream, 'Sick' is now used by non surfers as meaning good.

Over the last few weeks surfing in New Zealand has had a lot of that airtime so craved in the boardroom meetings of the late '90's. 

 When EPR's advert first aired a few weeks back he was doing this

When EPR's advert first aired a few weeks back he was doing this

The Positive one; Piha's very own golden child, well man now, Elliot Paerata-Reid's anti Drink Drive advert aired. The advert also features another Piha surfer Chris Baron. 

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This advert uses our surf culture well to get the message across. It's humorous but somewhat knowledgable e.g; using EPR and Chris, filming around Raglan, giving it a weight of authenticity.

Watch the ad HERE

The Neutral One

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Last week's, or should that be weak's, episode of Jono and Ben featured comedian Chris Parker's regular skit based on the Chris's camp adventures into straight life. The skit featured Luke Cederman which was the good bit. Even though Chris observed as it is offensive to the LGBT community when straight people camp it up, so a non surfer trying act Surfie is offensive... i;e looks stupid. He proceeded down this track. I realise it's comedy, I realise the stereotype exists and hell, nothing should sacred. But the comedian didn't explore the theme, his own skit's premise, it was a shame there wasn't more interaction with Luke. Oh well. 

The Not SOOO Bad

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Now, I'm going on the record here as stating I'm a massive fan of Kehu Butler, the whole Butler Whanau for that matter. I was stoked to see Kehu join the desk on The Project this last Tuesday evening. But THAT BEANIE....bro, Red Bull overload, was it the brand placement needed? The interview got off to a rocky start, but Kehu found his feet in the back half with some quick off the cuff replies. In the end, Kehu came across as the intelligent young athlete he is.  

In Other Media... 

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Speaking of Luke Cederman, his latest Podcast is available now. Funny as, as you'd expect. Thanks to everyone that's given me feedback about The Raglan Surf Pod Cast Ep4, it was super fun doing it.  

You can listen to the new Raglan Surf Report Podcast Ep5  HERE

From The Galleries

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Can you believe this image was made 18 years ago! It's pretty much now the PhotoCPL classic huh. Last week native Piharians the Hattons got this bewty for their new Waterview home. Stoked to help make their new home feel more like home.  

Check Out PIHA BLUE HERE.... if you want to :)