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Warning: “The Chinese are coming!”

Chas Smith

by Chas Smith

Do you think your local break is crowded now?

If you are an American then you no doubt remember the story of Paul Revere. The brave man got on a horse and rode through towns during the Revolutionary War to warn his people that the British were coming. “The British are coming! The British are coming!” he shouted and then America won the war, shaming the British, and gifting the earth Donald John Trump 200 years later.

Well, a brave journalist writing for the Gold Coast Bulletin in Southport, Queensland, is sounding the alarms once again but this time driving a Holden SV through Coolangatta while shouting “The Chinese are coming! The Chinese are coming!”

He begins his provocative piece thusly:

IF YOU thought Gold Coast surf breaks are crowded now, wait until a billion Chinese people hear about them.

Surfing, one of the Coast’s greatest attractions, is making inroads into Asia by the World Surf League ahead of the sport being included into the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The peak professional surfing body is even rumoured to open a Chinese headquarters as the sport expands into the most populated countries in the world with hundreds of millions of potential surfers.

And do you think it is true? Do you think the Chinese will take to surfing, en masse? Or even kind of en masse? Like, 300 million or so? And is the World Surf League really opening a Chinese office? The piece continues:

World Surf League Asian Regional manager Stephen Robertson said surfing was growing in India, China, the Maldives, Taiwan, Indonesia and the Philippines.

“We are making inroads into China,” he said.

“For the first time in about 50 years the government are really encouraging the people to go out and get healthy and enjoy a bit more of a lifestyle.”

Son of a bitch. This isn’t sounding good. Let’s keep going?

Gold Coast surf legend Peter Townend (aka PT) — who has been called in by the Chinese Government to coach their Olympic surf team — said there was massive potential for surfing to expand into the region leading up to the Olympics.

Shit. The Chinese are coming? The Chinese are coming? Do we dare continue?

“There are about 400 million people who live on the Chinese east coast — and there’s waves,” he said.

“I’ve seen photos, there is a whole lot of coastline which is waiting to be explored,” he said.

Mr Townend has been working with surfing in China for the past seven years inviting surfers from Hawaii, California and the Gold Coast to compete in an event riding massive tidal river waves in Hangzhou.

Mr Townend, the first surfing world champion, said the Olympics would give the sport its biggest exposure ever.

“The first guy or girl to win a gold medal will arguably be the most famous surfer in that’s ever lived,” he said.

“We’re not talking about surf fans we’re just talking about people.”

SON OF A BITCH! WE SHOULD HAVE STOPPED READING! THE CHINESE ARE COMING! THE CHINESE ARE COMING!

(P.S. Dear Chinese friends. BeachGrit will soon be offering both Mandarin and Cantonese versions.)

Adam Sandler “ass-grabbed” at Malibu!

Derek Rielly

by Derek Rielly

Comic has ass fondled by "two soft hands" after dropping in on bearded stud… 

You remember Adam Sandler, doncha? Funniest guy in the world in the nineties, not so funny now. A ravishing success in Happy Gilmore (1996). Peaked in The Wedding Singer two years later.

I swear to god, I feel on my ass, two soft hands. I’m, like, what is that weird feeling I have right now? My back is to this guy. His hands are on my ass for a little while. He’s surfing right behind me. Then he just takes me and… throws me… fifteen feet in the air. And then I’m underwater, thinking, ‘Did that guy just grab my ass?’

Anyway, a few nights ago Sandler was on The Conan O’Brien show, talking about an upcoming tour to Hawaii with fellow comics David Spade and Rob Schneider. And the talk, invariably, turned to surfing. Did he surf etc etc.

Sandler, says, yeah, well, I used to surf all the time. Before the kids.

And then he tells a wonderful story of surfing Malibu, how great it is to catch a wave, to feel it lift you and propel you shoreward. A wave comes. He wants it. Starts paddling. Gets excited ’cause he knows he can catch it. He’d seen a guy already on the wave, a bearded truck-driver, a bad ass, who’d parked this eighteen-wheeler on the beach, and figured, yeah, we’ll share.

“At this stage, catching any wave is incredible. And I stand up, I’m surfing, thinking, hey, me and the truck driver are surfing together!”

Then, “I swear to god, I feel on my ass, two soft hands. I’m, like, what is that weird feeling I have right now? My back is to this guy. His hands are on my ass for a little while. He’s surfing right behind me. Then he just takes me and… throws me… fifteen feet in the air. And then I’m underwater, thinking, ‘Did that guy just grab my ass?’ I have to deal with the fact everyone just saw a truck driver grab my ass and throw me about fifteen feet. So, I come up, everyone’s staring at me, and I look in the distance and see the truck driver peeling on the same wave, staring me down like this

Watch the whole interview here!

Fashion: Nic Lamb vs. Mason Barnes!

Chas Smith

by Chas Smith

Two big wave legends (?) square off on the catwalk!

Now I really have no idea what is happening here but for some reason big wave surfers are having full on aneurysms over fashion these days. Not just like wearing labels but talking about wearing labels. And it is very confusing for me but maybe fun?

Maybe…. fun?

The phenomenon of big waves surfers + fashion first popped onto my radar with the great Shane Dorian. He made a big deal about wearing Gucci, if I recall.

More recently this video appeared of big wave surfer Nic Lamb talking about things. At the five minute mark he gets dressed for the Titans of Maverick Party and says…

“I like wearing tailored suits. I like wearing Armani tailored suits and Ferragamos. That’s how I like to dress. I like looking like a million bucks.”

But then Nathan Fletcher calls him Pee Wee Herman and it seems like it deflates poor Nic Lamb just a bit.

And then today we have Mason Barnes who also, apparently, surfs Maverick and also loooooooooves fashion. He says in a new video posted by Complex…

“I’m just as comfortable in this Gucci jacket as I am in my wetsuit. I am obsessed with fashion. Fashion makes me feel cool. My obsession is fashion and it is fashion as a whole. You can express so many different things through what you wear and I was always super interested in that.”

And great! Don’t get me wrong… it is all good and great except Nic and Mason, if you are reading may I offer a tiny bit of advice? Only drop labels ironically.

Aside from that which big wave surfer is the best dressed? I have to give it to Mason. The Gucci Ghost jacket paired over a hoodie with Chelsea boots is almost inspired!

Watch here!

Comebacks: Ben Hogan v Owen Wright!

Derek Rielly

by Derek Rielly

Two great athletes hit by buses. But whose comeback was better?

An hour or so ago, Kelly Slater raised a historical challenge on our Instagram account in regards to O Wright’s rise from brain dead-ish to number one in the world.

“Maybe a comparison to Ben Hogan winning the 1950 US Open within a year of having a near-death car accident would be timely,” he wrote.

It’s a good idea. So how about it?

Ben Hogan, who is American, was one of the best golfers who ever lived. Had a golf swing that is still studied, still copied. His book Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf is the seminal golf how-to book. Had a hell of a childhood. His dad, who was a blacksmith, sat in front of Hogan when he was nine, pointed a shotgun at his chest and killed himself.

And in 1949, when he was thirty-six, Hogan had a head-on with a Greyhound bus that veered across the road. Threw himself across his wife in the passenger seat to save her. Ended up saving his own life when the steering column punctured the driver’s seat. Still. A double-fracture of the pelvis, busted ankle, busted collar bone and near-fatal blood-clots. Doctors told him he wouldn’t walk again. He did but his legs would swell and tire whenever he walked.

The following year, Hogan won the US Open in an eighteen-hole playoff. And he won five of the next seven majors he played.

And Owen?

Oh, we all thought he was cooked after his Pipeline brain injury. His condition was a mystery. His recovery was kept secret. Last May he wrote on Instagram that he couldn’t even get to his feet when he attempted surfing.

One month after the injury in December, 2015, the Gold Coast Bulletin reported, “Serious concerns surround the health of 2015 surfing world title contender, Owen Wright… Fears that Wright is still having trouble speaking and even standing have spread throughout tight-lipped surfing community…revealed he was still struggling with amnesia just last week.”

Rumours circulated. He found a girl. Had a baby.

Would he ever surf again? The idea of Owen competing on the WCT and…winning? No one was even going down that path.

At the Quiksilver Pro, Owen beat Mick Fanning, Joel Parkinson, Conner O’Leary, Gabriel Medina and Matt Wilkinson to become the first injury wildcard in history to roll up at the season opener and win.

“At the start of February, I was sitting in the doctor’s office and there were question marks on the year,” Owen said after. “So to be sitting here right now, we just pushed hard and went hard. I confronted every fear of getting back into it. There were a lot of fears I needed to push through in order to get back into the sport and back into what pretty much took me out and could have taken me out forever. I kept going and kept doing it.”

You tell me. Hogan or Wright? Who’s got the better comeback story?

Owen Wright Wins Quik Pro Snapper!

Michael Ciaramella

by Michael Ciaramella

Do you believe in fairytales? We do!

It’s the morning of the finals! Good thing too, I’m getting tired of writing about this Snapper joint. Surf comps now come with homework, which is a recipe for making me hate them. I’m not jaded just yet, but the slopey walls of Bells Beach will surely put me over the edge.

Quarters

Joel vs. Wilko

Joel looked slooooow today. Not sure what the deal was, as he’s looked lively throughout the rest of the event, but maybe someone in the Wilko camp slipped a couple Valiums this morning. He still would have made it if Matty didn’t burn him on that one bomb. Reminiscent of Joel vs. Kelly at Kirra in 2013.

Wilko on the other hand was straight into it, full rail and full speed ahead. Matt’s vert to slide is damn endearing, I must admit. He looks glued to his board and will be difficult to beat in conditions like these.

John vs. Italo

John’s one of two guys I have remaining on my Fantasy team, so I was relieved when he strolled into that first tube-to-double-arm-layback combo. The rest of the heat was lackluster for the Hawaiian, but that high eight proved to be enough. He’ll need more to beat Wilko.

The little pipe bomb lost his explosive spark. I’ve gotta tip my cap to him though, as there’s nothing like spontaneity to keep the viewer on the edge of his seat. He may not be the best surfer or competitor, but Italo’d never have to eat Porta’s ass.

Owen vs. Connor

The Battle of the lanky screwfoots was a big disappointment. Its climax came in the dying seconds when Owen, who needed a two-something to advance, got a long, warbly right down the point. He joined all the dots but the wave was more survival than spice.

Connor followed Owen with a smaller but more aggressively surfed wave, but since Owen’s backup was higher he got the nod. Still a great result for the Cronulla rook.

Kelly vs. Gabby

An injured supergrom takes on the aged GOAT and youth reigns supreme. It was a grueling battle between an obviously-hurting Medina and a still-competitive Slater.

Gab needed a middling score in the dying minutes and surfed his last effort to a nine. Lucky he went so far above the requirement because, right behind him, Slater was busy dismantling the best wave of his heat.
Huddling in the competitors’ area after the heat, waiting for the scores to filter through, Gab and Kelly shared a moment. When Slater’s face went from anxious to disillusioned, and Gab’s from blank to elated, the viewer knew what had been decided. Out with the old, in with the new.

Semis

John vs. Wilko

With a nine-five in the opening minutes, this heat what’s John to lose. Thanks to conservative surfing, he did just that.

Wanting to back-up his opening banger, John opted to safety-surf an inside runner; banking where he should have banged, floating where he should have lofted. He got a flat six on a wave that could have delivered an eight, if only he’d surfed it with confidence.

This left the door open for a frothing Wilko who, with a high-seven on his opener, needed only a replica of his first to steal the heat. With a few minutes remaining, Wilko faked John into a dud and picked up the second wave of the set. It provided a steady wall upon which Wilko repeatedly swung his hammer for the heat win.

Gab vs. Owen

Medina looks really, really wounded. Like, he probably shouldn’t be surfing. On his highest-scoring wave, a six-something, Gab found himself stuck in the whitewater and unable to escape, likely due to his tender knee-cap. He later fell on two major opportunities to turn the heat. He needs some solid rehab before Margies.

And if Wilko isn’t enough of a Cinderella story, how bout this chap Owen Wright! The Avatar has defied the odds after a year-plus of brain damage control. His surfing hasn’t been exceptional but he’s played the competitive game to perfection, and is that not more impressive than any rodeo flip or full rote?

Final

Wilko vs. Owen

The only pair happier than Owen and Wilko are super-caddies/coaches/buffet mates Micro and Fletch. Together they’ve led their pupils to the final of the year’s first event, and both of them against the odds. Who’re they rooting for? Hard to say. It seems Wilko may have a heartier bond with both parties, but it’s hard to root against Owen, given the circumstances.

The final was slow and mostly unenthused. Even the crowd seemed disinterested, at least from this side of the monitor. Owen’s eight was the only wave that caused much of a stir, but even that ride was pretty average for professional standards. More of a comment on the waves presented than the athletes who rode them.

After not knowing whether he’d ever surf again in 2016, Owen Wright is now the world’s top rater surfer in 2017. The big guy was chaired up the beach by his loving siblings, Mikey and Tyler, and shared tearful words on the podium about his passion for surfing and love for his newfound family.

So, how did Owen manage this monumental win?

“Dad strength,” apparently!