LAUNCH: Community Through Skateboarding is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization devoted to empowering individuals to better themselves and community through skateboarding. Their mission is to provide an environment that fosters a culture of creativity and self-expression for skateboarders of all ages.

Founded by Executive Director Andrew Weiss, LAUNCH started earlier this year when Weiss, whose passion for skateboarding began after helping to grow and support the local skateboard scene through his skateboard retail store The Market Skateshop for the past fifteen years.

“There is one important thing that skateboarding teaches that often gets overlooked. It teaches an individual the ability to cope with failure. For example, you may try a kickflip 200 times only to land it once….and when you land one it feels so good, you want to land it again only better, cleaner and faster,” says Weiss.

As the skateboarding population grows, more people will see the positive impact skateboarding has on people’s lives. LAUNCH joins other skating-focused organizations like the A.skate Foundation, a pending 501(c)3 non profit that allows children with autism to be a part of our social world through skateboarding, and Skateistan, a Kabul-based NGO and Afghanistan’s first skateboarding school dedicated to forge bonds that transcend social barriers and affect change.

Man, these organizations are diamondz… doing amazing work by utilizing skateboarding as a tool to improve people and their lives.

For more information, check out LAUNCHSKATE.ORG.

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Conceived by Hawaiian big wave surfer Shane Dorian following a near-lethal wipeout last year at Maverick’s, the Billabong V1 (for “vertical ascent”) inflatable big wave wetsuit has just received a pair of prestigious awards for design innovation.

Popular Science magazine awarded the wetsuit with a “Best of What’s New” Award and National Geographic Adventure magazine has given it their “Gear of the Year” distinction. The Billabong V1 wetsuit has also been featured in other top publications including Men’s Journal, Outside, and France’s L’Equipe.

Billabong wetsuit product manager Hub Hubbard worked with the world’s top maritime safety product manufacturer, Mustang Survival, to develop a suit with an integrated inflatable flotation bladder and CO2 cartridge that can be activated with a tug of a pull-cord. The V1 suit assists a surfer to reach the surface more swiftly after a severe wipeout, and has been called a “game-changer” in regards to big wave safety.

At this time, only Dorian has tested the suit. However, he has successfully tested prototypes in huge surf at Jaws, on Maui, Hawaii and at the legendary Cortes Bank, 100 miles off the California coast. The V1 wetsuit is now in limited production and a list of the world’s top big wave riders have already placed their orders for this winter season. It is not being sold to the general public at this time. A patent on the invention is currently pending.

“These awards are certainly a validation of the vision, time and effort put into the Billabong V1 wetsuit by both Shane Dorian and Hub Hubbard,” said Billabong USA Vice President of Marketing Graham Stapelberg. “Safety in big waves should always be the first priority, and for this reason Billabong is very proud to be associated with such an innovative product.” Continue reading

The photographs within “Surf Riot” contradict the standard imagery associated with American surf culture from the 1980s. No laid-back Adonis figures with flaxen-haired beach babes. Instead, “Surf Riot,” released in a strictly limited edition of 300 copies, with 100 specially packaged and containing a hand-numbered photographic edition, displays a youth revolt, in full dramatic color, of frenetic teens running wild.

“I knew I only had one roll of film,” New York-based British photographer Nick Waplington says, “so I was very careful about the shots.”

Waplington, who was then a 16-year-old on holiday in Los Angeles from college in Nottingham, England, carefully snapped away (with one roll of 25 exposures) to capture the fiery scene in Huntington Beach, on the final day of the Ocean Pacific Pro Surfing Championships. On that last day of August in 1986, thousands of youths went on a rampage. Waplington’s full-color photographs from that day are now on show for a month-long exhibition titled “Surf Riot” at Deyermond Art + Books in Santa Monica, California.

The action captured in his vibrant images is so impactful and immediate that you can almost feel the smoke yourself. In one, a man stands in front of a car swallowed up by thick, black smoke; in another, a man either saves a bright-yellow surfboard, facing a car-borne inferno blackening the sky, just as the Aeroméxico blaze raged in Cerritos. Other photos show the other aspects of the riot, embodying the darker side of youth.

In addition to the exhibition in Santa Monica, the shots have been collected for a limited-edition book, also titled Surf Riot, published by Little Big Man Books. Plus, limited-edition, fine-art prints of Waplington’s photographs are available.

Waplington has created a number of acclaimed photographic books including Living Room (1991), Other Edens (1993), The Wedding (1994) Safety in Numbers (1996), and Truth or Consequences (2001). Solo exhibitions include The Philadelphia Museum of Modern Art, 1992, Photographer’s Gallery, 1995, the Underwood Street Gallery, 1999, and the Whitechapel Art Gallery in 2007. In addition, Waplington’s work was exhibited at the 2001 Venice Biennale and is held within a number of international collections, not limited to the MoMA, The Guggenheim, and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

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With New York hosting the East Coast’s first ASP World Tour event this past September (the richest in history, with $300,000 going to Owen Wright for first place), we can’t help but root on “the world’s greatest city” in its renaissance as an East Coast surfing epicenter.

Of course, that event, coupled with the 4th annual New York Surf Film Festival which followed, brought over 2,500 people in attendance with numerous parties and premieres, to celebrate the wonderful sport of surfing in The Big Apple. Presented by the Barbados Tourism Authority (BTA), the NYSFF welcomed international filmmakers, avid surfers, legendary surf photographers, film buffs, and friends to Cinema Village, NYC on September 15th - 17th for a screening of more than 40 films from around the world, as well as intimate Q&A sessions.

Well, the votes are in and the Official Jury 2011 NYSFF Film Awards for outstanding workin both feature and short form film, cinematography, and soundtrack, as well as the viewer’s choice selection, were announced last month.

Congratulations to the winners:







For more information on the films, check out Also check in at for 2012 festival details and updates. Continue reading

Are you ready for the holidays? Well, if you aren’t, get ready as the festivities are beginning. First up… the second annual Surfing Santa Contest at Salt Creek beach is planned for next Saturday and Sunday, November 19th and 20th benefiting Surfers Healing and children with Autism. So, get your Holiday costumes ready!

Our very own brands, Billabong and Sector 9, are two of the sponsors.

Entry fee is $40 per person and includes the contest and a Surf Swag Bag. The Surfing Santa Contest is part of The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel’s Community Footprints program, and combined with the annual Holiday Surfboard Auction has raised more than $57,000 over the last three years.

Surfers Healing benefits people living with autism by exposing them to the unique experience of surfing. The group was founded by Israel and Danielle Paskowitz, whose son Isaiah was diagnosed with autism at age three. Surfing had a profound impact on Isaiah. Israel and Danielle decided they wanted to share this unique therapy with other autistic children so they began to host day camps at the beach where autistic children and their families could be exposed to a completely new experience of surfing.

There are several categories for the Surfing Santa Contest, and lots of chances to win holiday funds, including $1,000 going to the winner of the Flying Rudolph Big Air category. There are prizes for each additional category, including Santa’s Helpers (15 and under), Santa’s Elves (16-20 year olds), Toymakers (ages 20+), and Yule Loggers (open long board).

Go to to sign up. Ho, ho, ho! Continue reading