Jordy Smith, the reigning Hurley Pro champion and world #9, will be 27 in a few months. And that’ll mark the 10-year anniversary of his stabbing in a Durban back street as he swung home from school.
Who even knew bad things could happen in that Mandela-era utopia! Wasn’t it a time of coffee-coloured rainbows and a society freed from the burden of white racism?
“I’ve been robbed at gunpoint a couple of times,” he says. “And, this time, as I was walking home I got mugged and stabbed on my right side at the bottom of the kidney. They rattled my pockets, put a gun to my head and that was it. They just thought, this is a kid, that was it. It happened so fast. I was bleeding as I got up. I was crying at the same time, ran and went to the hospital and got stitched up.”
Didn’t they ask first before sticking the knife in?
“They don’t ask, hey. They stuck the knife in and took. It’s not like, ‘Hey can I have your money?’ It’s more so, ‘Get on the fucking floor, we’re robbing you.'”
I might faint!
“It has its fricken moments, f’sure,” says Jordy. “Another time was a bunch of young kids. I wasn’t going to put up a fight. I was 15. It was pretty gnarly.”
And what does it feel like to be stabbed?
“I didn’t feel it. It didn’t go too deep. Sliced more than deep. It was a burning pain. I got such an adrenalin hit and then I started running and as I was running I felt my side and I realised what had happened.”
Does the spectre of death scare Jordy?
“I’m not afraid of death but it’s crosses your mind, like, ‘Oh my god, there’s a gun and if he pulls the trigger I’m dead.’ To be in a situation like that, you don’t think about the physical act of dying, you think about how you’re not going to live and you’re not going to see your family.”
Brock Little, Ken Bradshaw and the 25-footer that shaped both their destinies. And it still kills Kenny!
“Aaron Napoleon was just screaming at me, calling me every goddam name under the sun and just screaming ‘You go you fucking pussy, you go, go, go.’ There was no doubt in my mind I was going to make that wave.”
Reckon Brock Little ever gets sick of telling that story?
It’s the Hawaiian winter of 1990, Waimea Bay, the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau.
Look at the image and ask yourself once again. Reckon Brock Little ever gets sick of telling that story?
Well, would you?
“The thing is at big Waimea, when those big ones come through, not many people want anything to do with ‘em,” recalls Brock, now 47. “That wave came through and everyone just bolted for the horizon, everyone except (Ken) Bradshaw and me. We were side by side and both paddling for it. I took off, he took off and…”
Stop the tape… right… there.
Two careers are seconds away from taking two very different turns. One will be righteously bathed in glory for eternity; the other left to ponder what if and temporarily wander the desert like Moses, searching for internal redemption.
“The… biggest… mistake… of my competitive career was not catching that wave,” says Ken Bradshaw, now 62, and nearly a quarter of a century after the event. “He took off and fell and got all the glory, I kicked out ’cause I knew there was a much bigger one behind it. But…it just didn’t turn out. Biggest… mistake of my career.”
But back to Little.
“I knew I was in a good spot to catch that wave, just turns out I wasn’t in a good spot to ride it,” he says. “Either way, I paddled my ass off, I clearly remember just wanting it so bad and it was letting me in.”
Little manages to get to his feet and assumes the same position he’d done countless times before. “And then I hit a bump, and all of a sudden I was just skimming down the face like a rock over shallow water. And the whole time I was just looking up, thinking to myself, ‘If that lip lands on me I’m dead’. But luckily it didn’t”
Little then has a few seconds to contemplate what’s in store as he watches the lip thrown over him. “I remember thinking I was either get my ass kicked real good or I was going to die. Either way I was at peace. I put myself in that position and I was happy with that. But, and I don’t know if I was hallucinating or what at this point, I then remember being sucked up and over and for a split-second I could see the whole of Waimea Bay and I just caught a breath and I think from that point, I knew I was going to be ok.”
Thousands lining the shore of Waimea Bay see the wipe-out, but it’s the resulting image of Little, teetering on the brink of disaster that will end up on walls worldwide for years to come. “I remember walking up the beach after it, and everyone was looking at me like they’d seen a ghost,” he says. “But you know, I’m so proud of that moment. I don’t look back at it and think, ‘What the fuck was I thinking?’ I’m proud of wanting that wave and I wanted it real bad.”
Not that his reputation ever needed it, but the moment and a glorious attempt at a tube ride moments later elevates Little to the top tier of manliness among the most manliness of line-ups the world has ever known.
“It’s the same with Healey, Dorian, Jamie, Twiggy and all those guys,” says Brock. “You either have it or you don’t. You either want it or you don’t. I mean, I was in pretty good shape at the time but I knew some of my peers were training harder or what not but you’d see them out on the big days and you could see that fear in their eyes.”
As for Bradshaw…
“I don’t think I ever have gotten over that moment. And I’ve never really spoken to Brock about it either.”
Meet the cute surfer girl who swims with humpback whales
Brinkley Davies on free-diving with humpbacks (those songs!) and great whites (mystery!)…
You want to date this whale-diving, shark-loving vegan surfer-ess? Of course you do. Who isn’t captive to that strewn blond hair and those Paris fashion week black eyebrows! But, first. One thing. And it’s real important.
Don’t take her to Sea World.
This might be hard to believe but, unlike you and me, when 21-year-old Brinkley thinks of Sea World she doesn’t imagine smiling dolphins hamming it up for the kids or seals doing the craziest things with their flippers (and those salty kisses!) or Orcas and their super-cool tummy slides. Instead, she sees wretched animals torn from complex social units and condemned to the most miserable and lonely lives.
“It’s so heartbreaking to see the way they behave in the parks when you’ve seen them in the wild,” she says. “If all the parks closed tomorrow I’d be jumping for joy. My life goal would be complete.”
Anyway, I met Brinkley, who was named after the eighties super-model Christie Brinkley in case y’wondering, last July for a Stab magazine shoot that I entitled On Closer Inspection. And how close we inspected! Click here to see!
A few weeks ago she was strolling through Bondi, way out of her hometown of Moana in South Australia, but I recognised those eyebrows from a mile away, and we started talking about how she’d just come back from diving with humpback whales in Tonga. And before that, working on whale shark boat in Exmouth, Western Australia.
Brinkley spoke about the deep growls from the humpbacks that would reverberate through your body, literally shake you from the inside out, and how awesome, but awesome in its literal sense, it is to swim 100 feet down without a tank and just six pounds of weights and interact with animals some scientists believe are more intelligent than humans.
Every day Brink and her Hawaiian pal Natalie Parra, who’s on the same level of free diving as Brinkley, like four-minute static-breath hold good, would dive 80, 100 feet and just watch and listen. The pair got to know the different individuals. There were mums and their calves, sometimes with a male escort who’d be hanging around partly to protect but mostly to fuck; and singing whales that’d remain vertical underwater, heads down, tails up, singing their large hearts out.
There were close calls, of course. You can’t dive with leviathans and expect to it to be risk free. One lazy slap of a tail or a pec fin and you ain’t coming up. And Brink recalls watching one mom humpback suddenly flap its tail as its calf dived down from above. Brink doesn’t know if it was protecting its kid or it was excited to see it. Either way, it just missed.
And Brinkley laughs about the more comical aspects of free-diving such as when gravity disappears at 40-feet and you just… sink. Her pal Natalie has a GoPro clip of a whale and, there, Brinkley sails through the frame, downward.
Brinkley is five weeks away from finishing her Bachelor of Science in marine biology, a degree you can ramp up to honours with another year on campus or even a PHD if you wanna stick around uni for the rest of your youth, but Brink is going to hit the road. Or at least the ocean. She knows you don’t learn about whales and sharks by sitting in a classroom. Field studies. Yeah, that’s where it’s at.
Like at Exmouth while working on a whale shark boat. Operators are pretty quick to tell tourists there aren’t great whites or indeed any of the more dangerous makes but Brinkley saw ’em all, tigers, whites, bulls sharks, bronzes and reef sharks.
And you wanna know something? The tigers didn’t want to be bothered (they’re too busily lazily scavenging scraps), whites are aloof, bronze whalers are skittery as all hell, reef sharks are like yapping dogs and the smaller they are the more aggressive they appear to be, and bull sharks are placid unless aroused by blood or some kinda dying fish activity.
What’s next for the kid? She wants to swim with orcas, pods of pilot whales (hundreds at a time), she’s going to work on a great white dive boat in South Australia that doesn’t bait or chum to attract sharks, and therefore you see the animals in a normalised environment and not in the throes of attack, might move to Byron to dive with sharks off Julian Rocks, or maybe even Hawaii with her pal Natalie.
Makes those gals strutting around the bars in their dagger heels and with the cantilevered cans and fish pouts look kinda vapid, don’t it.
Brinkley made this clip below just for BeachGrit. The vocals are from the bull (guy humpback) and right at the end you’ll see a female charge the bull. Long story short. Bulls hang around ostensibly to protect the calf but their motive is mostly to fuck, as I mentioned earlier. And so he’ll hang at the bottom and get the kid to swim down to him so the mom follows and then… maybe… he’ll get some. But at the end the gal, furious, charges the horny bull for luring the kid away. Sista!
"One of my biggest-ever mistakes was not partying the year I didn’t re-qualify," says Cory. "I just took it all too seriously that year and I ended up not re-qualifying. I should have partied hard that year, harder than other years. It might have been the key element in re-qualifying."
Why'd the hell I give my wife a pre-nup (I ain't got nuthin!). And that year I didn't party on tour? What was I thinking?
1. GIVING MY WIFE A PRE-NUP: I presented her with a pre-nuptial agreement about a month before we were going to be married and she bailed on me 10 days before the wedding. She was over it. The pre-nup didn’t work for her. She’s my wife now, but it took about another five years of work before we got married.
2. JERKY BOYS: Being such a jerk to my friends when I was young. We used to call my friends from down the road over to play and then we’d hide in the bushes and attack them with paintball guns, just totally obliterate them.
3. NO FUN: Not partying the year I didn’t re-qualify. It’s easy to look back and say I should done this or I shoulda done that, but if truth be told, I just took it all too seriously that year and I ended up not re-qualifying. I should have partied hard that year, harder than other years. It might have been the key element in re-qualifying.
4. BOATS AND PALS: Lending my boat to my pal Freddy. We were having this massive house party and my mate Freddy was hassling me to use the boat. It was a nice 13-footer moored by the river and Freddy was with a chick and wanted to impress her and take the boat out I was having none of it. It was a big party and I didn’t feel comfortable with anyone on the boat in the river at all. Freddy eventually became just way too much for me to deal with and I told him to just take the boat, but to be careful. So he took the boat with the girl in it and crashed it into a pylon or something and totally destroyed it. I should never have lent my boat to Freddy.
5. LOSING A PORSCHE: … by not being in contact overseas. I was away on the tour and while I was away there was a local giveaway contest and the prize was a Porsche. All the local athletes were entered in it from my area and I was entered automatically. I was away and didn’t have a worldpPhone and couldn’t take the call. The guy phoned me for 10 days and left voice messages every day saying, like, “Dude I really wanna give you this Porsche, but you have to call me.” In the end they gave the Porsche to some other person. It was this awesome Porsche, all glass on top, I don’t know which one it was, I felt too sick to take a close look at the pictures when I finally picked up his 10 voice messages
6. NOT T-BONING KELLY SLATER AT TEAHUPOO: It was a quarter-final paddle battle, I forget which year, and I was in front and on the outside. All I had to do was swing left and t-bone him into the reef and I would have had it. If I had pushed him he would have been on the reef and he wouldn’t have been able to get another wave. As it was, I didn’t, he beat me in the paddle battle, and got the next wave. He needed a big score, like an 8.9 or something and he got a 9.2 and advanced and I was left wondering why I didn’t just push him onto the reef. Big mistake.
7. GOING TO THE WORLD AMATEURS: It was a huge mistake going to the 2004 World Amateur Champs in Brazil. Pink Floyd was playing in Miami while I was going to be away and all my friends were going, but I headed for Brazil. On the night of the final concert Pink Floyd announced that that was their last-ever concert. I missed it. How did I do at the event? I can’t even remember. I think I got a second, or maybe a third, but nobody remembers a second-place finish, let alone a third.
8. FIGHTING A FOOTBALL TEAM: We were out for the night and the club had just closed and a bunch of football player jerks were causing some nasty shit with this girl, cussing her and stuff, so my mates and I went over to sort it out and to tell these dudes to back off. We all woke up in ambulances, we were black and blue and totally beaten. Looking back, the girl was just getting cussed and we took serious punishment, so we probably should have left well enough alone and just walked away. No one wants to wake up in an ambulance.
RESULTS! SHARKS MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE ATTACKED SURFER!
Slain great whites may have vomited up man's hands after being caught, says Fisheries…
The two great whites pulled out of the crystal-clear waters of Esperance, Western Australia, just hours after the attack on surfer Sean Pollard have been examined, and, well…
“We are unable to confirm whether either shark was involved in the incident,” Department of Fisheries’ principal shark scientist Dr Rory McAuley said.
Dr McAuley said while the results were inconclusive, it was not uncommon for sharks to disgorge their stomach contents when they were caught. “Jaw measurements will also help with future bite investigations. The first white shark caught is 3.46 metres long; the second white shark is 2.68 metres in length.”
The thief dropped the jewels after the robbery, m’lud! Guilty as charged!
Dr McAuley says his team of scientists gathered sections of each shark’s vertebrae, which will assist in further research. He also said that while bite marks left on Sean’s board did not match either of the sharks, “Indications are that a white shark was responsible for the injuries he received.”
He did not mention who gets to keep the jaws of either shark.
A local fishing boat operator, who asked not to be identified, told BeachGrit there was a fairly obvious connection between the migratory pattern of whales and an influx of big sharks.
“It happens every year, but, you’d have to say it seems to be worse this year. I saw one that must have been six meters a couple weeks ago” he, or she, said. “And the scary thing is, the whale season’s kinda only kicking off, still got a couple months to go.”
The operator said no one in the town was overjoyed that two sharks had been killed, everyone was happy there were two less big sharks in the water. He, or she, also said the speed in which the sharks were caught had more to do with where the Department of Fisheries boat was moored as anything else. “It’s moored at Bandy Creek which is only five k’s from where the attack happened. They were good to go and got out and got the job done. I’d love to know how they got the big one in though. The boat’s only six metres and one of the sharks was four metres.
He, or she, also thought the phrase “Humanely destroyed” put forward by authorities at the time, meant only one thing.