Candid: Enslave Me Sally Fitzgibbons!

Ms Fitz has an electric smile, tan lines and an air reverse almost on tap. What's not to love?

The world tour for gals something else. An eye-blink a go, it was fierce and furious and you wouldn’t  call it pretty. Nowawdays, with Ms Enever, Ms Gilmore, Ms Moore and Ms Fitz winging and swinging, it’s cuter than any single damn time in history.

BeachGrit has always held Ms Fitzgibbons in divine awe.

And, therefore, it was in a mechanical daze that we interviewed the 24 year old…

BeachGrit: I’m going to ask some real heavy-hitting questions if that’s ok. Tell me: you like tan lines? We sure do.

MS FITZ: I’ve got tan lines! I’ve grown up as a wetsuit kid and so when I come to the tropics, I’m in bikinis and when the waves are good I’m always in boardshorts. This gets me into a little bit of drama with the tan-line police because when I take my bikini off and boardies, I still look like I’ve got a bikini on – a white one.

Tan lines are the most fashionable things ever!

Really? You’re lying!

It’s high-fashion, seventies supermodel chic. Anyone can buy an all-over spray tan. Look at Henrik Purienne or Akila Berjaoui’s photos!

Oh really? So, it’s a demonstration of authenticity!

Authentic and wild and divine!

Awww, then I’m in luck.

You’ve got the cutest damn accent. Tell me about it.

Ya know when people say you’ve got an accent but you can’t hear it? And you go to, say, America and you think you’re fitting in, but then you say something and they pick you up on it? There’s definitely an Australian English. Sometimes I tell a story and I know I’m losing people after a couple of sentences. I guess it’s unique. People always find me interesting to listen to.

May I say, your accent has changed so much. I remember you describing a wave once a few years ago and…so broad…so infused with elongated vowels!

Has it changed? A lot?

Of course it has. You’re worldly now. Now tell me about what a competitive devil you are.

I don’t like to be overly competitive but it’s been built into me! I grew up with three older brothers! You compete over everything. Like, in the backyard, you bet on everything. If you don’t make the shot you have to do this or that. I love a good challenge. I love something I can’t do and keep trying until I do it.

Is your stomach your crowning glory, even though it’s not a crown? What things do you do to it?

After I injured my back on my first year on tour I wanted to make sure my core was really strong and…ha…I guess it shaped itself.

Do you do like a zillion situps and hours of planks?

Ha! Planks…hmmph…Swiss balls… ya gotta keep it super strong so when you throw yourself into a crazy position, your back doesn’t go. Being injured and not being able to surf is the worst feeling.

I’ve spent a few decades accumulating fat. Out of personal interest, if I want to see them abs, do I gotta lay off the nasty food?

Awww! Ha! Ya gotta limit those super greasy foods. It builds up. It depends on where you store your fat, but I guess, if you want ’em, exercise and eating super healthy.

You like to drink?

No, I don’t drink.

How about a little champagne after another competitive triumph?

I love spraying champagne and I love going out but I haven’t got into drinking.

Champagne showers are the best!

A lot of the girls say that if I win a world title I’ve definitely gotta drink the champagne outta the cup.

So you will booze if you win the crown?

It’ll have to be on the cards. But, in the meantime, it’s a lifestyle choice… to enjoy going out and parting and not drinking.

Jamie O’Brien made a similar lifestyle choice. The redhaired hottie said he wouldn’t touch liquor until he won the Pipe Masters. Then he did and he hasn’t looked back. And his personality improved! From drab teetotaler to the life of every single party!

And it was all downhill from there!

Uphill! He’s so much better in conversation now!

I was joking!

Tell me about the world title thing. People tell me it was very close last year. What are you going to do to cave in Carissa’s skull this year?

The title defintely needs to be rolled back to Australia. No good having it over there in Hawaii.

Are you a lil crazy in the water? Do you hassle? Do you growl?

I’m mellow. I grew up in Gerroa so I like my own space. If there’s an uncrowded peak, I’m on that.. I like catching a lot of waves in the session so I’ll hunt around on the inside. In the water, I only hassle if I’m being hassled or if it’s do or die.

You’re a smiling assassin!

I am a smiling assassin, alright!

(I ask Sally about the cutest boys on tour and to rate the top five. The top four includes Kai Otton, Kelly Slater and Ace Buchan, but when Julian Wilson is mentioned, Ms Fitz lights up!)

You’ve gotta put Julian in there! He’s like the… ya know… the standout.

While his rug remains atop his crown, I would say he is the most beautiful boy in the world.

He’s very handsome, very sought after. All the girls come to the events, they don’t come to watch the surfing, they come to watch and meet Julian. They always ask the question, where’s Julian?

I wonder, do you have a motto?

Here Now and This Moment. We use it a lot in training. Don’t think too far ahead and dream.

What’s your biggest virtue?

What’s an example?

Honesty, loyalty, discipline.

Hmmmm… fun!

That’s a v good choice. I say this because I believe that anyone that can go out, dance, mingle and tremble, and not be boozed to do so is vastly superior to the rest of us drones. Now, tell me, what’s the best phone call you’ve ever received?

I got invited to go to Parliament when the Queen came to Australia.

What did you say to our beloved head of state?

I was in Barbados! But, it was one of those special calls.

I can’t believe you blew off the Queen’s invite!

I saved the invite.

What’s your favourite food?

Mango and chocolate cake. Awww, so yum, when it melts and it oozes…

Stop it! I’ll never get abs! 

note on pole at Fishery Bay, South Australia
…yeah, maybe it's a good idea to rack the sled for a while. | Photo: Brinkley Davies

Surfer Critical After Great White Attack

South Australia revives its reputation as the shark capital of the world… 

There’s a sign fashioned out of a plastic bag and taped to a pole at Fishery Bay, an easy righthander (called Right Point) near Port Lincoln in South Australia. Its message is as simple as it is a stark reminder of the animals surfers share the ocean with in the Southern Ocean.

“Surfers. Pointer attack this morning. KEEP OUT OF THE WATER.” 

If y’haven’t heard, and why would you, shark attacks are common enough in Australia now to be related to a few paragraphs on page 12 instead of the front page, a surfer is in a critical condition after having his leg taken by a great white.

Chris Blowes, 26, was sitting upright on his board among a pack of a dozen guys, a few metres from rocks, when what one witness described as a 20-foot great white attacked and swam away with his leg and surfboard.

Port Lincoln is a tuna fishing town on the Eyre Peninsula, population 14k or thereabouts. More millionaires per square click than anywhere else in Australian, too, thanks to the abundant tuna and abalone. Plenty of fish. Plenty of sharks.

It’s a tight surf pack here. A small enough place for everyone to know everyone.

The community is hurting. What do you do when it’s your local spot? How do you saddle up again?

“The whole community is pretty torn,” says Brinkley Davies, who taped the sign to the pole. “We were out at Right Point the night before and I actually forgot my fins so I was just swimming out there and I was hanging around the suck rock, and that’s where Chris got attacked the next morning. Anything can happen and the surfing community is pretty tight down here so it rattles everyone. I really hope he’s going to be alright. My thoughts go out to his friends and family who are by his side right now.”

Brinkley says she’ll surf Right Point again, “but not for a while. I mean, it’s super sharky, everyone knows that. But it was really shallow where he got attacked.”

Last May, her boyfriend Ty Swan (click here, he’s rad) was surfing round these parts when his pal got hit by a 15-foot white. He survived with one helluva story.

(Read about that attack here). 

As it happens, Ty is an abalone sheller which means “that if the abalone diver ever gets done he has to deal with the first aid of that.”


“It’s a hectic reality here,” says Brinkley.

(Read more about yesterday’s attack here.) 

Kolohe Andino: Barbarian at the gate

The boy heads into Rio enraged. He will probably win.

We all begin life as babies. We cry, spit up, get changed, cry and look cute. As we grow, our adoring elders wonder what we might become. Will this little monkey become a doctor? A writer? An actor? And if one of our parents is Dino Andino, then the surf masses wonder, “Will this little monkey become a professional surfer?” It is all fun. The weight of what we might someday become is not heavy on our shoulders. We are, in fact, simply a weight on someone else’s shoulders. And if our name is Kolohe Andino then we are a weight on Shane Beschen’s shoulders. But it is all pure, weightless fun. Then we grow some more and start to exhibit certain talents and if our name is Kolohe Andino, people start to prophesy because they watch what we do on a surfboard.

Kolohe now bears the heaviest heavy burden. The surf masses are critical of his every move. He is critical of his every move. This year on tour has not been kind but he seems steely-eyed. Will he achieve his potential in Rio? Will he flounder? Nobody knows. And I wonder if Kolohe ever thinks, “Son of a bitch, this bright light is hot. It used to be easy. I used to be only cute. That used to be my full-time job.” He has traversed a slightly awkward adolescence and come through the other side as a man. Broad shoulders. Razor focus. But now he also must become a top 10 surfer and win events or he will be seen as having failed. He bears the heaviest burden.

I hope he shrugs it off. And I hope he does break the top 10 and win Rio. I believe everyone who personally knows Kolohe hopes for the same thing because he is a great kid. He is also a stylish kid and, today, he might lean down and whisper in Shane Beschen’s ear, “Black Flys? Hmmmmm. Not the best choice.” Yes, I still hope the world for Kolohe Andino. His potential is still very real.

Dane Gudauskas West Bank
Three Californians go to Israel and take a day-trip to Bethlehem to inspect the West Bank barrier.

What the Gudauskas Bros got wrong about Israel

Sing-song naïveté comes to the most misunderstood country on earth… 

Yesterday, those fabulous Californians, the Gudauskas brothers, dropped their latest Down Days clip into the world. Down Days is a travel series by the swinging threesome and, so far, Pat, Dane and Tanner have brought their Endless Summer smiles and hucks to Iceland, Germany and, lately, Israel.

In this episode, the brothers fly into Tel Aviv, play smash ball, surf wedges at Hilton Beach, get boozed, eat at a local’s restaurant (“It’s Baba Ganoush, baby!”) and, it is suggested, unless I’m missing something, that they even play dirty with some pretty local gals. It’s a gas!

(Click here to watch)

But watch it fall to pieces when they hit the divided city of Jerusalem. If you ain’t hip to the history of the joint, it’s not a good idea to paint it as a conflict confected by politicians.

The brothers see the Israeli West Bank barrier, that divides Jew from Muslim, and Dane says, “It changes your perspective on a lot of different things.”

“It’s gnarly!” they agree.

In the West Bank (i.e. Palestinian) town of Bethlehem, where they’ve been advised to bring bodyguards, they interview a Christian, Claire Anastas, whose home is surrounded on three sides by the wall.

Anastas is is the dial-a-quote every media organisation from Al-Jareeza to 60 minutes calls when they want to talk about the wall.

Yeah, she don’t like it.

“We believe in peace, we have inner peace, we hope that the others will have the same and work for having peace for all people,” she says.

It’s so easy!

“The aura was going off!” yelps Pat afterwards.

You want to know why it exists, boys?

Because the Palestinians sure do like killing Jews.

Between 2000 and 2003, 73 suicide attacks came from the West Bank. Over the next few years, and in the shadow of the barrier, 12 attacks happened. Last year, Palestinians who live or work in Israel re-started their habit of stabbing and running over random Israeli citizens, including babies.

(Click here)

If America had faced the suicide bombings that confronted Israel, she would’ve bombed hell out of the joint. Instead, the Israelis built a wall.

Why no mention of the reasons behind its build instead of some sing-song bullshit about brotherhood? Why didn’t you ask Claire Anastas why the Christian population has gone from 70 per cent in Bethlehem to around 15% in just 50 years? Or why Christians don’t even think about living in Gaza? It ain’t the Jews doing the persecuting on that side.

As for the barrier, no wall equals dead Jews. Talk about that.

(Click here for an easy-to-read history of Israel)

(And click here if you want to find out why Iz is such a rad surf trip.) 


Andy Irons House
…so this is how Hanalei Bay looks from the air. Y'got Julia's $30 mill crib here, the beachbreak Andy and Bruce grew up surfing (Pine Trees) in the middle and the AI Bomber a little further down the track. | Photo: Scott Valor

When Andy Irons Owned Hanalei Bay

Come inside The Champ's old house at 5494 Weke Road… 

The passage of time is a curious thing. Was it only four-and-a-half years ago that Andy Irons, the surfer who won three consecutive world titles (2002, 2003 and 2004) and then finished second for the next two years, disappeared?

And yet, over time, we move on. Images dull. Faces, once so familiar, so vivid, drift into impressionistic smudges.

Last week, I wrote about Julia Roberts selling her 30-mill crib at Hanalei Bay. And it reminded me of Andy Irons and the Hanalei Bay house he poured his entire fortune into. He was stretched. Even on a million-dollar salary it takes something to buy almost-beachfront on Kauai. And he was proud of it.

Andy Irons' house
AI’s old house at 5494 Weke Road, Hanalei Bay. “I grew up across the street in my dad’s tool shed that we turned into a bedroom and it’s four houses across from the water,” Andy told me two weeks before he died. “It’s everything I thought I wouldn’t or couldn’t have. It’s more than I could possibly fathom. No one handed it to me. I had to fucken go and do it myself. And, it’s my proudest accomplishment.”

“I call it the Hanalei Bomber. It’s radical, it’s my dream,” he told me two weeks before he died. “I grew up across the street in my dad’s tool shed that we turned into a bedroom and it’s four houses across from the water. It’s everything I thought I wouldn’t or couldn’t have. It’s more than I could possibly fathom. No one handed it to me. I had to fucken go and do it myself. And, it’s my proudest accomplishment.”

Andy’s widow had to sell the Bomber three years back. Taxes of $17,000 a year plus everything else. How can a single gal take care of that? It sold for $4.3 mill to a guy from California.

The real estate agent’s spiel was this: “Elegant Asian-inspired two story home on Kauai’s magnificent Hanalei Bay is now available for new ownership. Newly built in 2003 this 3 bedroom 3.5 Bath home is a TVR approved successful vacation rental. Another Guest house may be built on property (please verify density with County). Views of panoramic turquoise blue ocean, colorful sunsets, and majestic waterfall mountains abound. Exotic Brazilian cherrywood floor and marble stone touches compliment the home. The grand master bedroom is located on the 2nd floor. Also upstairs is the kitchen, living/dining room and powder room. The home offers two covered lanais, providing ample space for dining or lounging while gazing out to the Bay from back of home and gorgeous mountains from the front of home. The downstairs master suite and guest bedroom offer garden views. World famous “Pine Trees” surf break is right out your front door. Watch whales and world-class surfers from the wrap around lanai all winter, enjoy beautiful sailboats, and sunbathers all summer. Hanalei “town” is only a minutes walk away. This beachfront home is even better in person than the pictures can show.”

But don’t be sad! As Andy said, “You just deal with it, fuck! What if I didn’t win any world titles? What if? What if? What if the world ended yesterday, we would not be here! What if? I mean, fuck, I could drown all day in what-ifs. I’m not going to worry about tomorrow, because you don’t even know what’s going to happen right now.”

Now let’s take a little stroll through the rooms…

(Click here!)