In The House

Layday on surf-team row

Barack Obama has it wrong. The New York Times is mistaken. Wall Street is peopled with idiot buttfaces.

They all think there's a recession, and there isn't. Or so it seems after a visit to the North Shore.

Specifically, the stretch fronting Off The Wall to Pipeline is a zone of princely excess. It goes something like Rip Curl house, Oakley house, Red Bull house, 3 Billabong houses...and so forth. Houses built with t-shirt money, filled with fine wooden furniture and stainless steel, and overrun this time of year by throngs of scruffy young men with big appetites. They arrive hungry for wave, woman, food and drink, and stories to take back to the homeland of a youth well lived. Season follows season, and they never leave disappointed.

The houses look out over the sand and straight into the lineups that matter from October to March. A wave never goes unwatched by somebody important. A good ride never goes uncaptured on digital film. The houses' insides are just as impressive as the view: plush king-sized beds, game rooms, new cookware, bloated cable packages on flat-screen TVs. None of the places has a price tag south of $4 million. Some, like Volcom's Pipe mansion, are owned by the surf companies. Others are rented for the season, or in Oakley's case, year-round. They're all fabulous and all full.


A flat day finds pros of every age and nationality killing time in the lap of luxury.

Sebastian Zietz flies a remote-control fighter jet out on the beach.

Kai Barger tries to offer two female houseguests $100 to fight UFC-style for his amusement, and turns his attention to football when they decline.

Rico Jimenez mixes a smoothie while recovering from the morning's boxing workout. The Hawaiians box now, because according to Rico, too many people learned to defend against jiu jitsu grappling attacks, and the techniques became useless.

Davey Cathels and Ben Dunn watch a 50 Cent biography on VH1 at the Rip Curl pad, while Ben digs into a bag of li hing mui - Chinese dried fruit that's spiced and salted and better than sex.

Heath Joske and his beard ask around for a ride into Waikiki - anything to keep from going stir-crazy on the sleepy, 2-foot-and-windy North Shore. Heath just came 2nd to Nate Yeomans at the Coldwater Classic in Santa Cruz. It's no doubt his thick chin-fro had him fitting in well with the hippies up north. He looks like a lumberjack and f--kin' cool.

Damien Fahrenfort of South Africa eats barbecue ribs on the Billabong porch and calls them "wings," which is inaccurate but still tasty.

Laurie Towner half-watches an MSNBC investigation about an Austrian man with two families: one locked in his basement for two decades as prisoners, and the other living upstairs completely unaware. Laurie looks forward to six weeks of solid surfing followed by a snowboard trip to Sun Valley, Idaho to unwind.

Dane Ward pulverizes meat in the kitchen.

Housing assignments are carefully planned and only bestowed upon the worthy. Billabong has every bed in their three beach-front structures accounted for, down to the futon Parko's trainer will sleep on when he's here. In the A-team house, Andy and Lyndie Irons have the upstairs to themselves. Joel and Monica Parkinson are downstairs, as are Taj Burrow and Tiago Pires.

What's most astounding is the number of surfboards. They're scattered around everywhere like beer cans after a party. Some are new and unstickered, some are already snapped from the early-season swells. Hundreds of them and all white and all lying around unguarded because nobody's going to try thieving. That would be silly.


Everyone surfs even when it's small, because they don't know what else to do, and at the end of the day a house is just a house and can't really satisfy. They're all waiting for the waves to arrive and the Reef Hawaiian Pro to start back up. Until then, Seabass's toy airplane has lost its right propeller. Barger's two girls don't want to fight or give anyone a massage. Rico needs to make a Costco run, so can everyone pitch $40? Danny Fuller rides off down the bike path, because he heard Log Cabins has some air sections. And Dane Ward keeps beating his meat.