Exclusive! ASP rips 50k from Jordy’s trembling hand!

Or, "If you obey the rules, you miss all the fun." to quote Katharine Hepburn.

Jordan Smith’s thrilling win at Trestles quickly turned sour as Beach Grit’s own weeping mascot got fined a massive 50k for wearing his Red Bull cap on the podium.

Details are still murky, because Graham Stapleberg has not returned my calls (for three years), but what we know is that Jordy was ordered to remove his headgear before taking the stage or accept a stiff penalty. Our multiple sources say, the ASP (soon WSL) possibly has a deal with Monster Energy that prohibits the wearing of Red Bull caps on the podium. This could not be independently verified because the ASP rulebook for 2014 “was not found” on its website.

Red Bull, on the other hand, has a deal with its athletes requiring them to wear Red Bull branded headgear at all times and especially on podiums. What a conundrum our hero had to face before the saltwater even dried from his skin!

He chose Red Bull, which was, in my opinion, the right choice. It is a company with money. The ASP subsequently fined him $50,000.00 because they don’t have any. And part of me likes the regulation of sponsor headgear. I get so tired of seeing some brand lackey stumbling down to the water’s edge, making sure his surf star is festooned. I like purity. I like naked, dripping wet hair. I like governing bodies standing up for clean lines. The other part thinks that the ASP might have ulterior motives. What do you think? Email Graham Stapleberg at [email protected].

(Movie) Steph wins Trestles! But how good are the gals?

How do they compare to a teenage Kelly Slater in 1990, for instance? Are they even close?

A few hours ago, Stephanie Gilmore, the 26-year-old five-time world champion, won the Swatch Pro at Trestles.

Gilmore won because she took it to the rim and didn’t pull back. How can we ever forget how pretty and pure she looked on those four-foot Lowers rights? She even took a 10 on one wave! A gleaming blur!

But for all the ecstasy surrounding Gilmore’s very good surfing (and Lakey Peterson’s passable fin throw earlier in the event), how does it compare to the men? Not the men of 2014, that’d be cruel, but the men, say, in 1990? That’s a quarter of a century ago.

The women are better than the men of 1990, surely.


Let’s compare the women’s final of 2014 with 18-year-old Kelly Slater’s final at Trestles in 1990. Click on the photo for the gal’s final. Dive in below for KS many, many years ago.

Who wins? Tell me, who wins?

How I Fucking Smashed Pottz!

Brad Gerlach on his winning technique against Martin Potter in yesterday's "Heritage Heat" at Lower Trestles… 

Oh, those crazy nerves! Can you imagine what it’d feel like to strap the lycra jersey back on and surf a heat after a Kelly Slater v Taj Burrow buzzer beater?

Yesterday afternoon, Martin Potter, the 1989 world champ, and Brad Gerlach, number two in 1991, faced off for the first time in quarter of a century at Lower Trestles. Both had quit the tour too young: Pottz at 24, Gerr at 25. Pottz had an eight-to-two heat-winning advantage. They hated each other on tour. The hottest rivalry in surfing. Boards were used like swords; leashes pulled. “I was so close to punching him (after a 1991 mid-heat confrontation),” Gerr says here (click!). “I knew a few people on tour would’ve been glad if I did.”

And then there they were. In front of us. Both in their late-forties. One, still dedicated to training and coaching; the other a tour commentator. And the nerves were obvious. Jittery take offs, trembling turns.

Gerr shook it off. His surfing flowed. Beautiful bottom turns with a hand grazing the water, top-turn combos, even a passable sorta air in the shore break. Pottz wasn’t so pretty. A too narrow stance, legs upright, an avoidance of the lip, a strategy of sitting too deep, too far out. On his best wave, a six, we saw a glimmer of that old magic, an open-face carve that was in the realm of Slater’s arc on the same section in the previous heat.

But that was it for Pottz. Gerr schooled him.

So what fun it was to call Gerr up afterward and ask him to relive the day and suggest a few ways Pottz might improve his technique. This interview was consumed by laughter so many times.

BeachGrit: Hello! Gerr!

Gerr: You bastard! You said Pottz was going to light it up!

BeachGrit: Well, fuck, you were riven by nerves too. I saw!

Gerr: Yeah, I surfed like fucking 65 fucking percent. It was so hard to control how fired up I was. I wanted more waves. I knew the more waves I rode the more I’d settle down. I’m happy about the first wave. I did a pretty good top turn. If I get one good turn, if the wave stands up, I get more, more with it. I start feeling it. And I was coming off the bottom but I was so fucking hyper my timing was off. It’s like music. I was ahead of the beat because I was so fucking excited. And then it just lulled out. And coming into the heat I had the worst fucking warmup surf ever. I paddled into a 20-wave set and then… nothing. And, I mean, that’s not necessary a bad thing. Sometimes it’s sketchy if you have a good warmup surf and then, if you don’t feel as good in the heat, you keep comparing it  to the warmup. Say, are you going to write “fuck” in every sentence?

BeachGrit: Only if you say it. When I spoke to you the other day (read the interview here) I trimmed a few out because it read like I was putting ’em in deliberately.

Gerr: I don’t mind saying it, I mean, we say fuck, ever second word. Anyway, so let me tell you how frothed out I was coming into the heat. I’m the cruisiest person ever. People will honk at me and I’ll say, “Have a nice day! It’s your issue!” But I did this u-turn and just as I was about to pull back into the lane I had the sense that this guy in a Mustang had sped up. If I’d gone back into the lane I would’ve hit the guy. And I looked at the guy, and I’m in my car, and I say, “Fuck! You! Dick!” That was earlier in the day. And I was, just, who am I right now? What’s going on with me? Shit! That was a tell-tale sign. But what was rad, I saw Pottz get his first wave I had all these memories flashing through me. He’s got this particular way his arms are, the way he stands, the fire on his board, and I’m looking at him and there’s no one else in the world it could be but him. And I was watching him ride this wave, and as he comes off the bottom, I scream, “Fucking hit it!” I was so psyched! So excited! I told him when we were doing that gay face-off thing, I hope you kill it out there, man. I hope you get a lot of waves.

BeachGrit: Can you describe the feeling of being, suddenly, transformed back into an ASP pro? That moment, with crowd, commentary, the whole thing?

Gerr: You just have to call on your memory of how to win. I just wish there were more waves and I wish I’d stuck that air. I was in the air and I was, like, yes, I’ve got it, I’m going to stomp this thing, and then at the last second, my head was a little bit off and I slid out. I held on in the whitewater, laying back Kelly Slater style, but fuck, I couldn’t hold it. But what else was really fun was all my friends were there and they picked me up. And that’s something that’s never happened to me before. And I looked up and the camera was right there and I yelled, “Who’s next!” I couldn’t help it and I yelled, “I want Curren!”

BeachGrit: So what did Pottz do wrong?

Gerr: Well, dude, Pottz, look, listen to his commentary. He’s not technical. I’m going to give him something, something based on truth. He has a good voice. He speaks well, he doesn’t um and ah and he has a decent vocabulary. But he should not be an analyst when it comes to technique. He doesn’t know technique. And that was apparent in the way he surfed. If he knew technique he would’ve scored higher. His focus isn’t there. He’s got a family, he’s commentating, he’s passionate about surfing, and he still surfs good, but I’m better because I’m more focussed on what it takes to be a great surfer. What he did wrong was he didn’t train hard enough. He didn’t ask people, “How do I beat Gerr?” Kelly lost some money because he bet against me. Kelly was telling Pottz, you have to do this and this, but you can’t just tell someone to do a vertical off the lip like the way you order a hamburger with lettuce and tomato on it. You can’t do that in surfing. You’ve gotta train for it. You’ve gotta know what you’re doing. That’s what I do. That’s why I’m a really good coach, I think. It was interesting because I’m actually not that good at coaching myself and (Mike) Parsons helped me today. And that was why I sat where I did. I didn’t want to get too deep and you can see the waves better when you sit wide. I knew I didn’t need the sets to beat him. I just needed to surf. I’m better than he is and that’s how it is. It’s not because I’m a better athlete, it’s because I focus it on it more than he does. He’s not training like I am.

BeachGrit: What about the specifics of his technique. That stance was tight, the legs were upright, and he seemed bound with nerves. The torso wasn’t twisting.

Gerr: Yeah, he has a narrow stance and he doesn’t move his upper body so when your stance is narrow it’s hard to bend the legs. When you’re short like he is you can get away with it to a certain extent, your centre of gravity is lower, but to be explosive and have control, you’ve gotta bend your legs and drop your ass. That’s why Jordy surfs so fucking good. His ass is on the ground! John John stands tall but when he turns he drops his butt. Dane does it better than anybody. With all that being said, I don’t know if it would be great to do a rematch. Maybe if someone coached Pottz for six months.

BeachGrit: Might you help your ol pal?

Gerr: Put it this way, if I trained Pottz, I could train Pottz to beat me. But it would take a while. It would take six months or almost a year. It’s hard to assimilate the things that you’ve learned into your surfing, for one, and then to assimilate into your surfing when you’re under pressure. Mostly, you go back instantly to old habits.

BeachGrit: Tom Curren, can you take him?

Gerr:  I think I’m better than Tommy in some places and Tommy’s better than me in some places. He’s beautiful to watch and he’s flexible and he’s relaxed under pressure. And he’s super duper competitive. I have a rivalry with Tom but Tom doesn’t have a rivalry with me because he beat me all the time. But, hey, the shit-talking is what got me into this heat with Pottz so I’m ready to talk some more shit! I can beat Tommy anytime in any wave. Anywhere!


The mother of bodyboarder Kyle Burden, who was killed at Bunker Bay in south-west WA.
The mother of bodyboarder Kyle Burden, who was killed at Bunker Bay in south-west WA.

This Woman’s Son Was Killed By A Shark

And now she's protesting against shark-culling in Western Australia …

Think all those images of great white sharks are doing your head in? What about all those stats? Still keen for a dawnie?

Imagine for a second, your child had met his fate in the jaws of one of those truck-sized machines at one of the prettiest beaches on earth. Which way would you swing on the great debate? Wouldn’t you want them all dead? Pulled from the ocean and strung from a crane at the end of the jetty?

Not Sharon Burden. In September 2011, her son Kyle died while surfing the pristine waters off Bunker Bay, a stretch of sand up the road a bit from Margaret River but a stone’s throw from a clump of rocks which is home to a healthy seal colony.

He’d been killed by a shark, either a bronze whaler or white pointer, either way it was big.Google the details if you must, but it ain’t pretty.

But rather than baying for blood, Sharon held firm that her son knew the risks and no peace was to be gained by blaming the shark, much less rounding up a posse and heading out to sea, guns blazing.

“If you look back at what I said to the press on the beach when Kyle died, you’ll see I was not in favour of any retribution then and my position certainly hasn’t changed,” says Sharon. “I just do not believe in the hunt and kill policy. There’s just too many holes in that argument.”

Sharon’s also a psychologist and believes the saturation of grizzly images put forward by the media this week after the EPA shut down the baited hook program is going to have a longer lasting impact than the discussion surrounding it.

“I have real concerns about what kind of impact this negative imagery and media coverage is going to have on people-particularly the children,” she says. “If you are constantly bombarding people with these images, you can’t expect there’s going to be a good outcome.  It doesn’t take much for that fear factor to be installed in kids, and it’s something they’ll carry for a very long time.”

Since her son’s death, Sharon put herself forward as an advocate against shark culling and addressed the WA State Parliament in February this year in a last ditch effort to stop the re deployment of drum lines planned for November.

It worked, but Sharon was also well aware of how the perception of her would be cast for her stance on the topic. “If you speak out against the drum-lines you’re immediately cast as a greenie. Well, no, I’m just speaking out against the drum-lines because I think we have better options and people just aren’t listening to the second part of that message.”

And those better options?

“We have been pushing for a community based model for shark mitigation programs so that local residents and councils determine what is best for their beach,” she says. “Unlike the Premier, we believe that there are strategies that could be in place within months such as the Eco-Shark Barrier, Shark Spotter program and proper signage. These strategies will not only reduce the risk of shark attacks, but also improve the safety on beaches when there are no surf lifesavers on duty.”

Sharon’s also calling for the funding set aside for the now defunct drum-line program is steered towards analysing exactly why sharks do what they do. But above all, Sharon is calling for an end to the divisive nature of the shark cull argument.

“I don’t see this (decision by the EPA) as a victory. I see it rather as a pause, and hopefully we can all put our heads together and move forward instead of getting stuck in this us and them type mentality we’ve seen this week.”


Kelly Slater’s Got A New Song (And it ain’t bad!)

Records a tale of woe with the Brazilian gal from Nouvelle Vague, Karina Zeviani…

It ain’t the voice of an angel. And the acoustic intro with bongo drums, droopy finger bass and the lil squeak box is a little too… backpacker beach party.

But this song from Kelly Slater, it takes y’some place. A place where cynicism ain’t welcome. A place where you hypnotise your gal with love and before you know it you’re flopping the ol hoagie in her face.

Sing along!


Breaking down


The thought of losing you

Oh what a mess I’ve made

Of my life


To see what I’m standing in

Know this is you wishin’

You know that I

I’m feelin’ the feelings again

You know that I

I’m feelin’ the feelings again

How could I


The way that I treated you

Is there nothing that I can do

To make things right

In our lives

I’m down on my luck again

And oh what a fool I’ve been

To know that I

I’m feelin’ the feelings again

To know that I

I’m feelin’ the feelings again

(Karina swings in here. Portuguese! BeachGrit is worldly but we ain’t got the language of samba!)

You know that I

I’m feelin’ the feelings again’

You know now I

I’m feelin’ the feelings again

fade out…

Editor’s note: The lyrics were written in 1995 after Kelly stole the world title out of Rob Machado’s trembling hands. A song of forgiveness-begged, of love lost.