[The Wavelength Drive-In Cinema is back for 2021, bringing you a range of surf cinema, cult classics and family favourites from the clifftops of Cornwall. Browse the full lineup and get your tickets here. Or, subscribe to Wavelength now to get free entry to a screening of your choice.]
North Shore gave us a fascinating look at a Hawaiian winter surf season in the mid 80’s, but what many people didn‘t realise, is that the script was all based on real life events. Soul surfing and hot dogging really are surf culture’s Cain and Able, fresh aloe for reef cuts is best administered by a local girl on horseback. Leash pulling was still a thing at the Pipemasters in 2009 when Dingo Morrison pulled Damien Hobgood’s, but most of all, most the time, out there on the North Shore most people really do treat friends mo bettah.
Now in 2021, some 35 North Shore winters having passed since we last caught a glimpse into the lives of Rick, Turtle, Chandler, Lance and Tiana, we decided it was high time for a catch up.
With a weird voice and questionable morals, American politics was always a natural choice after professional surfing. Burkhart ran for mayor of Kahuku in the late 90’s on a conservative ticket of family values, law and order and low taxation for veterans. However, rumours of his campaign’s financial irregularities and a Honolulu Star Advertiser sting implicated him in receiving illegal payments from the Kobayashi Corporation, who planned to rezone the hills behind the North Shore in the 90’s to build housing. It turns out, while kissing babies and claiming to preserve mana of the aina for future generations of keiki’s, Lance was getting envelopes full of cash handed to him in a strip bar car park in Wahiawa in return for favourable representations at the zoning committee. Despite the mayoral race loss, Burkart stood again as a Republican in the 2006 mid terms, as an advocate of 2nd Amendment gun rights, particularly about keeping assault rifles sales unregulated. Of the standard, single action pistol he said, “This gun has a single shot mentality… I need a real gun with plenty of firepower that spits out 400 rounds/minute” and “The only way to stop bad guys with guns is a good guy who rides big guns – and shoots em.” Burkhart campaigned for Trump/Pence in 2016 Presidential election, and is often seen wearing a MAGA hat while out on his SUP on Maui, where he now lives.
Sadly, despite all the promise, the shaping career never took off. Chandler, perhaps feeling (justifiably) threatened at Turtle’s precocious gun shaping prowess, never nurtured his talents, relegating him to fin box router guy when removable fin systems became the norm in the mid 90’s. Turtle had no option but to walk; he never was invited to dinner at Chandler’s, nor taught how to big wave surf. A entrepreneurial venture selling ding repair kits with take away pizzas from an ambulance at Rocky Point was going well until his business partner trousered the El Niño winter of 97/98‘s takings and ran off to Costa Rica with Turtle’s sister. Turtle slipped into the narcotics trade, and spent much of the early 2000’s being arrested on various drug charges, even serving some jail time in both California and Hawaii. Around 2007, on parole after being arrested in Honolulu for trying to steal the drum kit from the live studio at Hawaiian Public Radio during a country music broadcast, Turtle took his first step back to sobriety. His troubled relation ship with his mom, who had him when she was still a teen, turned around when a joint therapy session helped him identify that all his efforts to succeed first in the custom surfboard trade, then selling drugs, were all attempts to gain attention from his mom. Once Turtle made that realisation himself, his he had first true moment of clarity, and began to turn his life around step by step. People at the Foodland Starbucks at Shark’s Cove said he “Looked different… taller”. A bumper sticker on his ’86 Volkswagon Jetta reads ‘Cook Rice Not Ice’, and he regularly mentors local kids. He now does breath work sessions for $50/hour on the beach at Waimea, private surf lessons with groups from Turtle Bay, and occasionally mans a stall at the North Shore farmer’s market in Haleiwa selling Tibetan singing bowls, mostly in summer time. Every now and again he leaves unflattering comments on Kassia Meador’s Instagram from anonymous accounts.
Rick’s competitive career was never going to last long; once Chandler had turned him on to the true meaning of surfing, the coloured singlet was only ever going to be a cage, barring his surfing soul from the true freedoms of wave riding. Weirdly though, whilst running a successful graphic design agency back in California, he did get into competitive paintballing in the early 2000’s, even turning semi pro. One of his main rivals in the paintball scene was B Real from Cypress Hill, also semi pro in the early 2000’s while on a break from touring his brand of weed-championing hip hop, and the pair remain friends to this day. After two failed marriages, one to Kiani and a second to an heiress of the NMB ball bearing empire, Kane came out in 2005 and today is happily married to commercial director Luke Mayhew. Rick’s surfing has remained one constant throughout his life, and he is regularly seen surfing Laguna Beach and surrounds. He has backstage passes for Cypress Hill’s Mesa Arizona gig in summer 2021 and plans a trip to surf the wave pool Tempe, AZ, Big Wave tub featured in the movie at the same time. The Tempe facility has protected status in the State of Arizona as a site of cultural and technological significance, scuppering Kalani Robb and Shane Beschen’s attempts to redevelop the facility into a new development promising to be a sustainable hub of eco pod wellness experiences, with a Stab High stipulated mental air section.
One of the few of the original North Shore crew to really cash in on the surf boom, but not as you might expect. Chandler teamed up with Bing Surfboards when longboarding was at a particularly low ebb in the early 90’s, when his loyalty to designs and aesthetics of bygone eras weren’t winning many fans among the New School. Still, with enough regulars customers ordering trad nose riders and single fin guns from Chandler/Bing Surfboards, things initially ticked over. Covetous of Rusty’s (who Chandler always considered an average shaper who pandered too much to the pros) incredible, almost instant commercial success as a clothing brand, he also launched a clothing line brand off the back of his surfboard label. Alas, the rag trade, at times, can be harder than surfling a finless board with your foot, and he essentially ended up with a back office full of boxes of unsold Hanes t-shirts and cargo shorts. Late on rent, back taxes and in an unfavourable terms with the clothing manufacturer, surfboard orders dwindling, a chance viewing of a new NBC show called Friends in Nov 1994 changed his life. After years of legal wrangling and his own team of media lawyers exorbitant fees requiring him to remortgage the Ke Nui road house featured in North Shore, twice, Warner Bros settled a rumoured seven figure sum in 2001, without ever explicitly confirming or denying that Matt LeBlanc’s character Chandler Bing was in any way based on Chandler / Bing’s head shaper.
Alex’s pro tour career continued with moderate to middling success, with a highlight winning the Pipemasters in 88, albeit in small, Beach Park conditions. In retirement, Rodgers went on to commentate for the ASP/World Surf League, and started his own modelling / talent agency specialising in professional surfers. A highly successful post career competing in the Masters also followed, where Rodgers regularly cleans up, especially in lefts. Fitness is very much key to his late competitive successes, particularly a unique exercise he claims Nelson Mandela came up with in his cell on Robben Island (although not mentioned in Long Walk To Freedom), which involves standing in a slight crouch, knees partially bent, and clenching and releasing his butt cheeks, over and over, providing a great core workout. Rodgers always had a great eye for surfboards, and moved with the times in terms of shapers of the moment, and currently has a model for the older, in shape ripper with Hayden Shapes. These days Rodgers is still everyone’s favourite webcast pundit, famed for infectious enthusiasm for professional surfing, in fact the surf world is full of stories of regular folk meeting him and him always having time to chat, ask about their surfing, even seemingly genuinely interested if their 7’8” NSP fish goes good. The one blot in his copy book has been vocal Anti Vax stance, honed one late night in November 2020 when he watched 9 straight hours of YouTube. He still surfs every day.
The day after Pipemaster event Kane gets his leash pulled by Burkart, Vince was involved in a fight that saw the black shorts take on a pair Glaswegian matlos on shore leave in Hawaii, who’d hired a car in Waikiki and driven around the island on a sightseeing trip. A routine parking disagreement at Ehukai escalated over a lost in translation misunderstanding about an overheard “Get ti” (local ointment for reef cuts, rather than the Scottish for fuck off) and saw the Easterhouse pair, despite both being under 5’6” and 9 stone, ultimately making very short work of the half dozen strong beefy surf gang. Vince immediately began to second guess a life of lineup centric aloha themed violence, became disenfranchised with the human race in general and turned towards the beautiful natural world around him in Hawaii.
As emeritus professor at School of Ocean and Earth Sciences at UH, Vince has published several papers on the migratory routes of Pacific seabirds, and was one of the first people to identify the plastic pollution issues amongst bird colonies on Midway Island. He was named One of the World’s Most Important Birders in American Birding Association Awards 2008-2013, alongside a young yet already prolific Iolo Williams. Vince still surf in Hawaii and takes boards when on birding trips to places like Namibia and Nicaragua. He has signed a book deal with Taschen called Surf Birding: The Art of Winged Stoke out early 2022, and currently hosts a monthly podcast for the Polynesian Voyaging Society.