Boys will be boys. And — given the opportunity — boys will also be sharks.
At least that’s what we learned two Saturdays ago during an Interscholastic Surfing Federation event at Seaside Reef where a scuba-diving scalawag and a three-foot fake fin sent the contest into a panic — a Jaws reenactment so convincing, some surfers remain staunch believers almost two weeks later.
“That was joke?” responded a stunned Dylan Slater yesterday afternoon. “I’d never seen a fin surfing before — I guess I still haven’t — but that thing was huge! I mean, I surfed there this weekend and was still thinking about it. They did a pretty good job.”
Pretty good?!. This is the best piece of prankery since Bigfoot wore a wristwatch. But what else would you expect from professionals like the infamous “Jim and Joe”? A pair of teenage brothers and San Diego bodyboarders who’ve already produced one popular bootleg tape of nefarious shenanigans and — by all firsthand accounts — just captured a gutwrenching coup de grace for release number two.
According to a story by Terry Rodgers in today’s San Diego Union-Tribune, upon spotting the fin the contest site became a whirl of terror as “Mothers clutched their children” and “fear swept across the beach” until “the scuba diver’s bubbles exposed the hoax ” — and nearly got them busted.
Fortunately for “Jim and Joe”, while some parents immediately started screaming for blood, organizers remained relatively understanding. “After everybody’s safe, then it’s funny.” Contest director Carolyn Kramer admits, “We didn’t find out about the kid thinking [the shark] had a diver in its mouth until the next day, and by then it was hilarious.” And ISF president Bill Harris was almost inspired. “I thought it was so good,” laughs Harris, “I wanted them to come by Cardiff when it’s crowded and run it back and forth outside for a few minutes.”
Ironically, while some have suggested the stunt may have been an anti-contest statement, one of the kids was actually a competitor. But you’ll have to learn the rest from the following interview. Despite Harris’ comment that, “I’m not sure there’s a law about impersonating a shark,” the duo still fears retribution and only agreed to speak after we promised not to reveal their true identities, a promise we intend to keep for fear of being bitten ourselves. After all, as one seasoned coach pointed out: “I’m always on the alert for the next Jim and Joe prank.”
SURFING: What’s the history of “Jim and Joe”? Is this something you’ve been into for a while?
Joe: This is actually my first one! I’m not into the f–king around and stuff, it’s all my brother.
Jim: Basically, Ennui is the little company my friends and I are goofing around with. We just do normal stuff that every kid does, but we film it and show other kids — streaking, throwing shit at cars um [laughs], uh, just duct-taping, toilet-papering. We wait by a puddle and wait for somebody to walk by and then we blast ’em. That’s called, puddle-hunting. It’s so fun [laughs] It’s just stuff we grew up doing, so we ended up filming it. It’s fun to look back. It’s like a memory.
So what brought this one along?
Jim: It was Joe’s idea. I just filmed it. We were just at dinner with my family talking about the surf contest, and he was like, “Oh I should make a shark fin and scare everyone.” And everyone at the able laughed, so ‘I was like, “Joe, you should do that.” And he was like, “Yeah, I will.” So he made this posterboard fin and picked up his scuba gear and took it out there.
Joe: Yeah. [laughs] I don’t even know if it was me, but somebody said something about a shark fin, and I just kind of ran with it
How’d long it take to make it?
Jim: 20 minutes. It looked pretty fake. Like, I knew it was fake in my mind but it still looked so real filming it. Because of the glare. It was like one o’clock so was a little glare on the water.
Joe: Yeah. I started out with a two-by-four with two fins so it looked like a real shark, but I got out at Pali’s swimming with the thing and it was like f–king dragging a piece of plywood through the water. And then this wave hit me and blew apart the bigger fin — the one in the picture wasn’t even used — so I pulled off the smaller fin and let the two-by-four go and swam on my back with the scuba gear on.
Jim: Yeah, he just slipped it under his tanks and walked around the point — nobody was really paying attention — and [laughs] paddled south from inside Swamis toward tabletops and all the students. It was so funny.
Did you have any idea of the reaction you were getting on the beach?
Jim: We kind of expected a big reaction, but not as big as what had happened.
Joe: I didn’t even think it was working. I couldn’t hear anything. I was lost in my own little world. [laughs] I come up down at Table Tops and everyone’s just standing up with their hands over their yes. I’m just like, “Oh shit, man. Maybe it worked.”
Jim: It was just frantic. [laughs] All the parents were cussing and screaming. Ohh, it was f–king hilarious. [laughs] This La Jolla kid came in just frantically screaming at me like, “Film this! Film this! There’s a f–king shark!” [laughs] He was so embarrassed afterward. I mean it was kind of a little scary because it was such a big deal – I mean, we didn’t think it was going to be that big of a deal, but I can see how it is that big of a deal.
Bummer. You missed all the action, Joe.
Joe: Getting it afterward was enough. I walked around and nobody knew it was me, so I’d ask people, “Did you see the shark?” And they’d be like, “Yeah, we think it was a diver.” [laughs]
So it’s true: they always return to the scene of the crime.
Joe: [laughs] Oh, f–k yeah. Gotta check out what happened.
Were you worried you were going to get busted?
Jim: Not really. I can pretty much weasel my way out of a lot.
Joe: What are they gonna arrest me for? The cops showed up but I just kind of layed low.
Jim: 30 kids rushed him and surrounded him and were like yelling at him and stuff. He just denied the whole thing.
Joe: I was like, “Dude, I was lobster diving guys, what the f–k are you talking about?”
Sounds like everyone on the beach pretty much got taken. Were they resentful or did they lighten up?
Joe: I figured everyone would freak out, but not as bad as they did. The moms were all pretty pissed.
Jim: Actually, it did lighten up toward the end of the contest and I was skating around with the fin on my back. A couple people were pretty pissed, which I understand, but what’re you gonna do?
Do you feel guilty at all?
Jim: No. Because nobody got hurt. Joe: Nah, it was all in good fun. [laughs]I was pretty amped off it.
Jim: Chalk one up for the bodyboarders.
What’s next on the list of potential pranks?
Jim: Nothing big. Our minds are kind of abused in that category, But there may be some crowded beaches we’ll want to cruise by this summer.
Joe: Yeah, but if you say anything derogatory about bodyboarders in the mag, I’ll hunt you down. Because I’ve seen some of the shit you write. You interview ’em nicely and then stab ’em in the back. So remember what I said. [laughs] — Matt Walker
Make sure to check out the Interscholastic Surfing Federation High School Championships this weekend at Oceanside Harbor. No sharks are expected, but watch out for those bodyboarders – they can be vicious.