Baby Cobras, Young Scribes: Chas Smith

posted by / Blogs / August 27, 2012

SURFING Mag’s Editor-At-Living-Large Chas Smith has traveled the world and brought his readers along for the ride. Always one for a good controversy, it’s no surprise that he found his start as a journalist in some of the world’s most deadly hot spots. He reported on the front lines of the 2006 Lebanon War, partied in Syrian back alleys and dodged pirates off the seas of Somalia. But not to worry, Baby Cobras. You don’t even have to leave the comfort of your home break.‬


Chas Smith


Baby CobrasI grew up reading adventure stories and dreaming of adventure. Like Lawrence of Arabia. And then I went to university and started living the dream. I studied in Cairo, I studied at Oxford. I traveled in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan…the dream! The only thing missing was my writing about these adventures. And so, after 9/11 my friends and I felt like it was time to do a massive surf trip into the belly of the beast. We chose Yemen because Bin Laden was from there and no one had ever surfed its mainland. We did it. Guns, near death, adventure. I wrote about it for Australia’s Surfing Life and thought I was a king. I thought I was Hemingway himself. When I got the issue in the mail I excitedly flipped to the story to read my words. They were embarrassing, overwrought shit and I gave up the writer ideal.

A year later my same friends and I went to Lebanon and surfed and skated. We were writing a story for Vice but my friends who could write couldn’t quite get the tone right. I gave it a stab, writing like a complete addled asshole. It worked. They liked it and when I re-read a few months later, I giggled instead of cringed. I did another Vice story from Somalia which Derek Rielly from Stab Magazine read. He liked it too and this began my writing career. I am now a complete addled asshole full time. It is amazing. I am amazing.—Chas Smith


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  • Nathan Myers

    Chas is one of the few writers in this industry that constantly surprises and impresses me. It’s no small task to develop a unique style and voice, as Charlie has. I always look forward to the next piece, and I crack up at all the internet haters jumping down his v-neck on everything he posts online, ’cause that’s exactly what he loves them to do. When a writer can get a reaction out of his readers, can get their attention one way or another… then he’s actually doing something. I’m proud to have him on the SURFING masthead. Now go on: roast him, people. We know you love it.

  • Kaipo Gomes

    Full disclosure here is what is needed to address Chas Smith and his “rise” to tabloid stardom at “ING”. To be a writer at “ING” in todays digital age does not take much. It is now a budget driven magazine and with that directive you get what you pay for. Which isn’t much. Gone are the days of having a Nick Carroll as Editor. Gone are the days under Flame of having the best photogs in the world on retainers to retain exclusivity. It is now a flash in the pan world. Proven by the turnover of staff. New photogs turn up every year and become “Senior” photogs in 3 years. Unheard of under “ING”s guiding light, Larry Moore. He set a high standard. Today it is long gone. Chas is a part of this new standard. His problem is that his writing is more about him than the subject itself. Call it what you want but it is not “hate” but more calling like it really is.

  • Scumbag steve

    I dig his writing, but the whole detail oriented excessive material (brands) descriptions found in every single piece is just a Brett Easton Ellis angle at the surf world. It’s not exactly unique. But what is I guess…

  • Norcal

    Nate…Being where your from, why would you lower yourself here? His writing is “surprising” and “impressive” like one of the boys farts. You are surprised that something smells so bad, and impressed the house doesn’t blow up! It doesn’t mean you have to like it. The “uniqueness” is actually just mean-spirited behavior you’ve grown calloused and to used to, apparently.

    Chas…the mere fact that you would use a word such as “addled” only adds to your inability to relate to, what is, the real audience of this magazine. I have read about 50% of your “work” here at “ing”. It’s narcissistic (that means self centered), and boring (that means really lame). I don’t know if they taught you those words at Harvard or in Syria.

    Finally, it is my hope that you let go of the West Hollywood/Mickey Rourke ideal you seem to be holding on to. I’m sure you’ve got some Triton buried in your garage, so you can go ride with the boy’s at Melrose on Sunday. It’s played out. You’re coming off as played-out. It’s time to find something other than writing like an asshole. If that was a choice you made at some point, you have to be careful. Because, maybe, you’re just writing as yourself now…

  • longtom

    What he said.

    The Somalian/Lebanese stuff smoked good. I never thought it was the same Chas…..thought it was someone else.

    Maybe go retro.

    I stopped reading ’cause it’s too predictable and true bile don’t rise when you see the same bait time after time.

  • Taras

    Kaipo Gomez, my fav!

    -I started contributing to Surfing Magazine in 99 and was a senior photgrapher in 2001. I must of been damn special to do so under Flame’s iron first rule you speak of. I admit, I was totally unworthy but hey, I did it! All with the help of Dr. Emmitt “Doc” Brown and his magical delorean. I went back in time just to prove you wrong.

    -Flame worked hand and hand with ASL as Nick Carroll was the editor at ASL first and foremost. I think Nick had a stint as editor for a year with Surfing, but it was short. Long term he was “Global Editor”. Sunny covers, trips with kelly, etc..Flame and Nick collaborated on everything. You always knew Nick was in the building because of his incredible smelling deodorant. I remember that being an intern at 18. Anyways…

    Let’s see, what else are you wrong about. There’s just so much. Im running out of steam, excuse the grammar errors. I have an excuse, im a photo editor, not a editor.

  • longtom

    wow 6 comments: 2 of them from the mag itself.

    Thats getting a reaction from the readers…….

    might be time to change up the rekkid.

  • Kaipo Gomes

    Looks like I struck a nerve with Pete Taras. Hate to tell you Pete but Nick Carroll was at “ING” way longer than a year. Check your facts you’re not even close. Do you get what a Senior Photog should be? Impossible to become one in 3 years. Maybe you got the Title but no way in hell did you know your way around the world’s lineups in that time. Flame guided you because of your location which you rarely ventured away from due to some mental illness. How’s that going today? Can you leave the OC without getting twitchy? How many years did you do on the North Shore in your lead up to becoming a Senior Photog? None? How’d you pay Flame back? By defecting to become the Photo Editor at Transworld Surf. Tell the readers how you and your car were welcomed back to Salt Creek by Flame. Now that’s a great story. Get your facts correct Pete.

  • Taras

    You bastard Kaipo! I spilled coffee on my shirt this morning from laughing so hard reading this. It makes me wanna go all 8 mile Eninem and be like “my mom does drugs, I did get beat up, my homeboy did shoot himself” just for the fun of it. No, you are still wrong. Nick was always Global Editor. Never the editor in house (maybe for a short time period? It’s so sad I know you but not as your name here. Let’s do lunch. On me. But it’s gotta be in Orange County.

  • Sliding Sense

    It’s truly unbelievable the number of kooks who are in relative power positions at the mags these days. What a fruit caking shame.

  • Torsten Stett

    If you want to read the most grindingly boring book ever published check out Chas Smith’s “Welcome To Paradise, Now Go To Hell.” It is basically a 239 page tome dedicated to Smith talking about his pink shirt and all kinds of non-existent “danger” swirling around him at Hawaii’s North Shore. His writing is categorized as “trash prose” which basically means unreadable, meandering, brain brutalizing junk that has no appeal to anybody. Also don’t forget to look at Smith’s cliché-laden tattoos that shout out “Hey look I’m a follower!”