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Beach Grit


Podcast: Forced marriage, Wilko’s hair etc!

The Editors

by The Editors

Chas Smith and broadcaster David Scales tackle the big issues!

Recently, Chas Smith had his bi-weekly frolic with the podcaster David Scales on his show Surf Splendor. Usually, I find podcasts an ordeal, a torture likely to put me in bed for a week or longer.

Does anyone know how to cut the dead air? The gags that don’t work? The eternal diversions that stretch the things beyond an hour?

Mr Scales, however, is a passionate broadcaster, and pedant, whose fury when the rules of grammar are broken is something worth listening to. Last week, Albee Layer had his neck wrung; today it’s Martin Potter for using the world literally instead of figuratively.

(Will someone point out to Mr Scales about his own grammar crimes, such as the unstoppable onslaught of the word, like, as a filler word, the Californian semi-colon.)

Chas, meanwhile, talks about Wilko’s hair, why forced marriage is a good thing, the ideal body shape for surfers, front-foot deck grip, soft surfboards and so forth.

It’s light but it ain’t indolent.



Wow: When Pipe comes to town!

Derek Rielly

by Derek Rielly

Newcastle's Dixon Park turns into Pipe for one beautiful day!

Newcastle is a funny lil metropolis two hours drive north of Sydney. It ain’t quite rural but, despite its size, it ain’t quite city.

And so you have a swinging hipster scene, the sort that spawned Craig Anderson, contrasting with ferocious Australiana, best personified by the former CTer Matt Hoy.

What unifies Newcastle is an occasionally remarkable series of beaches. With the right swell, oowee, you could be at any world-class reef.

This photo of Dixon Park, which was taken two days ago by the Newcastle photographer Peter Boskovic, shows just how good.

“Eight-footers, no problem with that, way overhead,” says Bosko. It was a session populated by a squad (squad in the military rather than pop culture sense, as in eight to twenty four men) of less than a dozen surfers.

The usual crew says Bosko. Ryan Callinan, Chad Edser, Ryhs Smith, Travis Lynch, even sixty-six-year-old local schoolteacher Tim Laurie.

Bosko describes a wave during the session pictured where Laurie, “who absolutely fucking charges”, took off sideways into the barrel and was “absolutely imploded. Sixty-six years old, mate,” says Bosko.

The surfer inside this cabana is Paul Snow, who got barrelled so far down the line Bosko has no idea if he came out of it.

I’ve seen a lot of photos of Newcastle, Luke Egan, Hoy, Ando and so forth thrusting themselves sideways and upwards, but this image electrifies me.

It touches on that dream you have as a kid when, once, just once, your local beach turns into Pipe. And, you, having grown up surfing it, are the king for one day.

Does this photo affect you in a similar way?

Jordy Smith: “Tour’s #1 safety surfer!”


by Longtom

Writer analyses every single scoring wave of Jordy Smith at J-Bay. The results will shock!

This was supposed to happen the next day but I ran into an old friend in the carpark and a few shots of spiced rums later there we went again, no sober analysis.

Then, the local point was falling out of the sky over the weekend and the sober analysis got kicked to the kerb.

But this one is real.

Straight up, there were five or six surfers in the draw who, theoretically, could have done what Filipe did. And I include Italo, Gabby, and reluctantly Kolohe in that list, but only one other likely to do it in a heat, that being John John Florence.

But while John could have done it but didn’t, Filipe did. Not once, but twice.

John didn’t because he has been trained, both by his own hand and by his coach, to restrict the performance envelope. This is what pro surfing does. It penalises mistakes so heavily because of the format that a certain amount of conservatism is mandatory. John has learnt to surf at a lesser level than his peak best, as has every other member of the top ten. The only exception to this rule being Kelly Slater, who has learnt to surf better in competition than he does in free surfs.

Or had.

Any quasi-competent recreational surfer could ride J-Bay as beautiful as it gets and stitch together a pair of threes on best-ever rides. Any competent pointbreak surfer can ride the tube at Supers. The pro’s are expected to exploit that canvas to reach hitherto unseen levels of performance.

That is what makes Filipe’s wave, his overall performance, despite some stylistic flaws, the best in pro surfing history. The fact that he was so easily able and willing to overcome the inherent conservatism of a man-on-man heat and the pro surfing format in general.

Mick Fanning said the wave (J-Bay) is the star and we are just here to do nothing and make the wave look good.

Au contraire Michael.

Any quasi-competent recreational surfer could ride J-Bay as beautiful as it gets and stitch together a pair of threes on best-ever rides. Any competent pointbreak surfer can ride the tube at Supers. The pro’s are expected to exploit that canvas to reach hitherto unseen levels of performance.

And, by and large, they didn’t.

When you consider Andy Irons opened the final at Barra in Mexico in 2006, more than 10 years ago, with a lofty straight air as an opening move. A section connector. And you consider what Filipe did, you realise how much music has been left unplayed.

Jordy Smith is the worst safety surfer on tour. Did you notice after the Grit bought numerical analysis to the game that the WSL cribbed it? I did. This time an analysis of Jordy turn-by-turn was done. I went through every single one of his scoring waves and gave every turn a number from 1-10. Ten was the highest-risk turn, the most radical and zero was, well, falling off or doing nothing.

Jordy’s camp can rail against this and shoot the messenger or they can do the analysis themselves and face the reality. Absent an angry, belligerent Jordy, what we get is safe, low energy surfing.

As a reference point, Jordy’s standard top-turn wrap, a turn he can do with zero risk 99.99% of the time, was assigned a five. This was painstaking, tedious work. Out of 85 counted turns, 17 scored in the excellent range (eight and above) and eight of those came in a single heat (round five resurf against Conner Coffin, Jordy’s best heat by a mile).

Jordy’s average turn score came in at a very safe 6.22. That is, safe surfing.

Jordy’s camp can rail against this and shoot the messenger or they can do the analysis themselves and face the reality. Absent an angry, belligerent Jordy, what we get is safe, low energy surfing.

Sad, yes. Inevitable, no.

Nothing lights up the proud surfwriter more than going sloppy fourths on a subject. On the tens there is only one conclusion we can reach and it is well supported by the science of psychology.

A mass abrogation of executive function bought on by a sustained period of emotional over-excitement and subsequent discharge.

Translated: Judges lost their marbles after viewing too many perfect waves. You can Google all this Richie Porta. Type executive function, human decision making, effects of emotion, cognitive bias, flaws in decision making etc.

It’s all there. No blame, no judgement. What’s astounding is not when judges freak out but how often they get it right. We can wait until the next iteration of pro surfing before judging changes.

We can wait.

Until then, see you at Teahupoo.

Shark race: “TVs most hyped flop!”

Chas Smith

by Chas Smith

Who has better shark ratings... 24x gold medalist Michael Phelps or Mick Fanning?

A few nights ago, or maybe it was last night, the world’s greatest swimmer, Michael Phelps was supposed to race a great white shark to see which was faster. The program had been pumped for months. Phelps vs. Shark etc. Many people wondered how this would happen. Would Phelps swim in a cage maybe? Would there be some sort of fence?

The day finally came and the main event built up for over an hour until the very end when Michael Phelps ended up racing a computer generated shark.

Many people became very angry and put their anger on Twitter.

“Call me crazy but I thought they were gonna put Phelps up against a real shark not a simulation. I feel robbed.”

“Should’ve called it Michael Phelps vs a Computer Generated Simulation. Huge letdown.”

“Waited an hour for Michael Phelps to race a CGI shark. Discovery is receiving a strongly worded letter fur sure.”

“IT WAS A FAKE SHARK. Phelps raced a fake shark….and lost. I feel cheated.”

“#Spoiler #PhelpsVShark was essentially 58 minutes of fishing for sharks & 38 seconds of #Phelps in the water LOSING to a CGI #Shark.”

“Michael Phelps has been hyping up that he’s going to race a shark for months now. He did it tonight and it was a damn CGI shark #FakeNews”

“Phelps racing a fake shark is like when ur teacher says there’s gonna be a sub but shows up the next day”


These go on forever and Discovery is very embarrassed but shouldn’t be. Not everything is the World Surf League and not everyone is Mick Fanning. Am I right or am I right?

You Can’t Script This™

It Takes a Shark to Make a Tour™

Science: Grit gives “sense of purpose!”

Chas Smith

by Chas Smith

Sydney Morning Herald waxes eloquent about your third favorite surf website!

I must admit, as we sit on the precipice of a brand new week, that sometimes doubt creeps into my heart. Oh we, Derek and I, try to be anti-depressive each and every day. To put smiles on faces while informing, sharing, elucidating, rumor-mongering. We try to be fun but are we? Or are we just mealy-mouthed and unpleasant. Do we just rape corpses and run around with nooses.

And that doubt blossoms into depression.

But today, the august Sydney Morning Herald came to my soul’s rescue! Australia’s best, most important and oldest news source published a whole piece on The Importance of ‘Grit’ and Why Surfing is One of its Best Teachers.

I couldn’t believe my eyes as I read paragraph after paragraph of the qualities this little surf website brings to the entire world! Shall we read a few paragraphs together?

Grit describes the ability to persevere with long-term goals, sustaining interest and energy over months or years. For Joe, this meant struggling through arduous physiotherapy exercises and remaining engaged and hopeful throughout his recovery.

Research suggests that gritty people are more likely to succeed in a range of challenging situations. Grittier high school students are more likely to graduate. Grittier novice teachers are more likely to remain in the profession and gritty military cadets are more likely to make it through intense mental and physical training. The secret to this success is found in the ability to keep going when things get tough. Gritty people don’t give up and they don’t get bored.

Research also suggests that grit can be learned. Certain conditions can foster grit, allowing grit developed in one domain to transfer to other, more challenging, situations. Surfing is a good example of how grit can be gently cultivated, strengthened and then honed.

The final grit-honing element of surfing is its ability to provide a sense of purpose. Feeling purposeful – a state psychologists describe as a belief that life is meaningful and worthwhile – involves doing things that take us closer to our important goals. It usually means acting in line with our values and being part of something bigger than ourselves. This could refer to religious practice, connecting to nature or simply helping other people.

Research suggests that as levels of grit increase, so does a sense of purpose. But this doesn’t mean that gritty people are saints – just that they have an awareness of how their activities connect to a cause beyond themselves, as well as their own deeply held values.

I will carry the responsibility of giving your life purpose with honor and dignity. Thank you for trusting us.