Ace Buchan takes one for the screw-foots at the Drug Aware Pro Margaret River 2015… 

It hasn’t been the early season of dreams for the Australian Ace Buchan. The 32-year-old is already into his third event and it’s only today that he squeezed out a heat win.

Can you imagine?

The tour started late-February, it’s almost May, and all Ace has for his dissection of a dozen or so waves, all that travel, all that stress, all those new boards and training and whatever else, is a  pair of lasts.

The game shifted a little today.

In waves that that were ready to destroy the brave parties of three that ventured over the from the deep-water channel every half-an-hour, Ace caused plenty of commotion with an almost perfect 9.57.

So, a few hours later, when Ace gets out of the water from North Point, that performance righthander north of Margs that everyone was hoping would be the contest venue, where, today, it was six-to-eight foot and causing some hysteria, you want to know, how was your day?

“Really, really good.”

He ain’t just talking about the waves he got at North Point.

Let’s talk nine-five-seven. The Box.

“It was full on. Obviously, it was called off after our heat, so it was pretty full on. Me and Kerrsy and Keanu were sitting there chatting to Mick Fanning at the end of his heat and there were rocks popping up and it was starting to max out. Sets were coming from the south and capping on the back of the reef. You weren’t ever completely safe. It was a little bit of cat and mouse. It was tense. I’ve surfed the Box over the years but never that big and never with that much water moving. It’s a huge challenge to put yourself in the position to get one of those barrels. It takes a lot of commitment and a lot of trust in your ability.”

And so…

“Kerrsy had priority for the wave but he was further out and a little deeper. I was in a Better spot. It’s a tight take-off zone out there but I managed to be in that spot where, even if you’re only two feet away from the other guy, you’re in a much better position to take-off. I was riding a brand-new JS quad (six-one Forget Me Not with Ace’s signature fins, in case y’asking) and that wave… there was a lot going on on that wave. There was the first bit that was really thick but it was so big it didn’t pinch, it threw out. It didn’t hit that claw that comes out and gets you, that little claw that pokes its head out on every second wave.

“I got through that, nearly lost it, I hit one of the steps and went sideways, my foot came off. I tried to let go of the rail and then my foot came off so I grabbed my rail again. It looks wild on the replay. I’m out on the face and I’m still trying to make sure I complete the ride. Fuck, all those sessions at the Zone (a slab on the Central Coast) that I surf this time of the year prepared me. It’s pretty similar. You get behind it and you get under the wave if you want to make the drop.”

“I knew it was a good wave but it was one of them heats where there was so much adrenalin that two minutes before that, I had to bail on a ten-foot set on the back of the reef. Everyone else has been more stoked on it than me. When we get put in waves like that, in conditions like that, you want to test yourself and you want to know you’ve given everything.

“I was thinking, it’s heavy we’re runing the event. It’s intimdating. You have to pick your line and focus on what’s in front of you, not on all the boils and undulations in the face of the wave. It was a minefield. The wave period was so big that it was drawing so much water off the reef. No surprises they called it off.

“The most exhilerating part of that wave was the intial commitment. When there’s no turning back. When you look, paddle, go. That’s what it’s about. It’s about commiting and the feeling that it gives you.”


Drug Aware Margaret River Pro Men’s Round 1 Results:

Heat 1: John John Florence (HAW) 13.00, Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 4.46, Dusty Payne (HAW) 2.60

Heat 2: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 7.73, Jadson Andre (BRA) 3.40, Brett Simpson (USA) 0.50

Heat 3: Kelly Slater (USA) 8.20, Kai Otton (AUS) 3.33, Ricardo Christie (NZL) 3.27

Heat 4: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 15.23, Adriano de Souza (BRA) 13.50, C.J. Hobgood (USA) 4.40

Heat 5: Freddy Patacchia Jr. (HAW) 4.30, Gabriel Medina (BRA) 3.96, Alejo Muniz (BRA) 3.27

Heat 6: Mick Fanning (AUS) 14.00, Jay Davies (AUS) 10.27, Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 3.34

Heat 7: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 13.74, Josh Kerr (AUS) 8.73, Keanu Asing (HAW) 3.33

Heat 8: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 12.43, Glenn Hall (IRL) 10.50, Filipe Toledo (BRA) 8.36

Heat 9: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 15.00, Taj Burrow (AUS) 11.53, Bede Durbidge (AUS) 8.33

Heat 10: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 15.73, Adam Melling (AUS) 8.24, Kolohe Andino (USA) 5.00

Heat 11: Michel Bourez (PYF) 14.76, Nat Young (USA) 14.70, Italo Ferreira (BRA) 9.93

Heat 12: Julian Wilson (AUS) 14.60, Matt Banting (AUS) 8.30, Owen Wright (AUS) 6.80
Drug Aware Margaret River Pro Men’s Round 2 Match-ups:

Heat 1: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. Jay Davies (AUS)

Heat 2: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. Alejo Muniz (BRA)

Heat 3: Josh Kerr (AUS) vs. C.J. Hobgood (USA)

Heat 4: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Ricardo Christie (NZL)

Heat 5: Taj Burrow (AUS) vs. Brett Simpson (USA)

Heat 6: Owen Wright (AUS) vs. Dusty Payne (HAW)

Heat 7: Nat Young (USA) vs. Keanu Asing (HAW)

Heat 8: Kolohe Andino (USA) vs. Glenn Hall (IRL)

Heat 9: Bede Durbidge (AUS) vs. Adam Melling (AUS)

Heat 10: Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) vs. Italo Ferreira (BRA)

Heat 11: Jadson Andre (BRA) vs. Matt Banting (AUS)

Heat 12: Kai Otton (AUS) vs. Matt Wilkinson (AUS)

Monster and WSL in fight?

Is a marriage on the rocks?

Remember when the WSL told RedBull to beat it and became monogamous with Monster? Well, it seems like there is trouble in paradise!

Monster has been advertising more and more and more on mixed martial arts mats and less and less and less (as in not at all) on WSL webcasts. Did you watch Ronda Rousey vs. Cat Zingano in Los Angeles? Millions of people did and saw Monster’s green claw get splattered with blood. Not Ronda’s or Cat’s blood, that fight lasted all of 14 seconds and ended with a choke-out, but the blood of all the men before them (which has always seemed totally unappealing to me but, then again, Monster has always seemed unappealing to me too).

Did you watch Mick Fanning vs. Adriano de Souza at Bells? Billions of people did and saw no Monster’s green claw swirling around giant digital WSL pillars because it wasn’t there. Vanished. Gone. Our inside source tells us that Monster is “re-evaluating” but would not say whether a full divorce had taken place.

If Monster jumps out of the race does that point to diminishing numbers on WSL webcasts? Yesterday, the WSL announced a deal with NeuLion, a company that creates channels and distribution for premium paywall content. CEO Paul Speaker took some more ecstasy, maybe, and said, “NeuLion is a top-of-class partner and we’re thrilled to be bringing the unparalleled adventure, competitive drama and athleticism of professional surfing to the world with their help.”

So, officially get ready to pay for webcasts because Monster ain’t anymore because they are getting high off the blood of MMA fighters. And also would someone please tell Mr. Paul Speaker to lay off the superlatives? Mr. Paul? Are you reading? Could you drop “unparalleled adventure” and swap it with “fun-ish if you’ve got absolutely nothing else to do and/or are at work and/or….I don’t fucking know. It’s ok, I guess….if Adriano isn’t in the final or…I really don’t fucking know. It’s just ok. I guess.”?

Michel Bourez Margaret River
And it was last year that Michel Bourez, from Tahiti, laid his strong hands on Margaret River. Such splendour! | Photo: WSL

How Can I Miss The WSL if It Won’t Go Away?

Rory Parker prepares himself for the ecstasy of event number three on the WSL calendar.

Nearly two months after everyone noticed, the WSL has finally decided to go public about their newest big “partnership.”

Neulion is here! It’s the best in online streaming! You can watch in 4K! (and I mean you, not me. There’s no way my Kauai internet connection can handle that shit.)

With this latest announcement the WSL creeps ever closer to becoming that gal you know on Facebook who’s always posting about how much she loves her newest guy, even though everyone knows she was sucking off someone behind the dumpster out back of McDonalds only a few weeks ago.

Here’s a cool new term for you, “Semantic Satiation”. It’s when you hear something repeated so often it loses all meaning and becomes just a series of meaningless sounds.

And speaking of meaningless sounds:

“The mantra at the WSL has always been to bring the world’s best surfing to the largest possible audience with the very best experience,” said Paul Speaker, World Surf League CEO. “Neulion is a top-of-class partner and we’re thrilled to be bringing the unparalleled adventure, competitive drama and athleticism of professional surfing to the world with their help.”

The statement smacks of PR speak, and you’d think that someone would have thought twice about using the word “mantra.” The word refers only to repetition, in no way implying a basis in fact or intention. “Mission” would have sold better, if being further removed from actual truth.

Which segues nicely into…

Speaking of empty rhetoric, following the pointless hysteria surrounding Medina’s use of an expletive during the Snapper webcast I was surprised to see the total pass given to Jordy Smith after he delivered the ol’ double middle finger salute to the judges on his way in from his quarter-final heat against Fanning.

Do I care about the protruding digits of a South African with weird nips? Of course not. But Medina had to make a public apology and got hit with some sort of secret fine, a firm smack on the bottom delivered in the name of professionalism. Completely ignoring Smith’s transgression demonstrates an inconsistency that could wreak havoc in the coming season.

How much dissent is acceptable? I don’t expect a for profit pseudo sanctioning body to be either just or fair, but I don’t think it’s asking to much to expect some consistency.

Speaking of consistency…

If the swell forecasts for the Margaret River contest are to be believed it’s looking like the third time may be the charm for the WSL. After the first two events of the year fell flat on their stupid faces the WSL desperately needs Mother Nature to cooperate and deliver something that’ll entice the non surfing masses into logging in and vegging out.

Which means the ocean had better deliver some spectacular wipeouts and provide tons of opportunities for the talking heads to refer to the life threatening nature of the surf. Is a double-overhead wave really considered “big” anymore in the context of professional surfing? I’d argue not, but that doesn’t really matter.

What does matter is that the hype machine can play up the thrills and spills at The Box or if, rumours are to be believed, the contest moves on over to the freight-train righthanders and monster ramps of North Point.

Complicating the North Point move are regulations that forbid its use as a professional venue, but, if the Hawaiian leg is any indication, the WSL is more than capable of subverting local ordinances and receiving approval for actions for which exemptions are not typically provided.

Brinkley Davies
La Mer, The Sea. | Photo: Richard Freeman/@freemanphoto

The World’s Cutest Eco-Warrior!

It's Brinkley Davies, the whale diving, ocean-saving gal. Yeah, that one…

Stories about Brinkley Davies are becoming a habit. In 2013, I wrote a story for my magazine Stab called Let’s Make Out! I was very sure of myself and wrote a buttery piece that included this description.

“Brinkley, named after the eighties actress Christie Brinkley, is surf, so surf! Her pops hand-towed her into her first waves at Yorkes when she was but four. Five years later she had given her life to the absurdity of surf: state titles, national titles, pro juniors, yeah, she did ‘em all. Her best result was an eighth, under 18s, national titles. When Brink hit 18 all the contest fever dried up. ‘Cause unless you’re going to join the tour’s swinger’s club, that’s it for a gal’s career.

“Brinkley has more to give the world than cowering before competitive judging panels. She’s an animal activist, a volunteer at marine rescue centres where dolphins, seabirds and seals are rehabilitated, and at the RSPCA. Brinkley is a vegan. She eats raw foods. Survives on juices of celery, carrot and spinach, mint, lemon and ginger juice. And right now she’s in the second year of a four-year (with honours) marine biology degree.”

Such encomiums are typical of the hype that’s de rigueur in my self-propelled marketing machine. But I feel it! I really do! They are not inappropriate! Brinkley Davies’ life has been defined by beauty and a moral perfection; a life without even one day frittered away on silliness.

Six months ago, after a chance re-aquaintance in a Bondi carpark where Birnkley evealed she was on her way home to South Australia after freediving with humpback whales in Tonga, I wrote this (click!). 

Swimming with Whales, Tonga from Brinkley Davies on Vimeo.

The narrative continued two months ago, Ms Davies revealed the secret to terrifying great white sharks, whom she swims with daily from a tour boat out of her new home in Port Lincoln.


Three weeks ago, it was the Sydney photographer Richard Freeman who suggested Brinkley might make a terrific model.

“I have ideas,” he said.

These ideas involved a water-glycerin solution, a black one-piece wetsuit and a sparkling but deadly knife that could tear through the outer fabric of a great white’s fuselage.

Brinkley Davies
I’ve seen a few things. But just as I got to the garage studio of the Sydney photographer Richard Freeman I looked and saw Ms Brinkley, here, with a stare (and a knife) that seemed to offer no pity nor remorse, just carnage and death. And that opened wetsuit! And yet a sweetness shines forth. A vegan. A relentless protector of all things cute and not-so-cute in the ocean.

Brinkley was as  fascinated by the idea as Richard (and BeachGrit) and detoured to Bondi after a Reef advertising shoot with Shane Dorian and Rob Machado in Bali.

Brinkly Davies


Conversation over her week in Bondi revealed so many fascinating things. She lives in Port Lincoln with her just-as-impressive boo Ty Swan (click here!).  Brinkley’s degree in marine biology was secured in November last year (her graduation ceremony is tomorrow in Adelaide) and, lately, she’s been working on the environmental group she set up with her two pals Siena Schaar and Natalie Parra called Keiko Conservation.

The conversation never stops with Brinkley. In May, BeachGrit plans on joining her for a swim with wild orcas.

Her Instagram is here. (Click!) 

And she keeps a relentless blog against thing like captive mammals in aquariums, the culling of sharks and so forth here. (Click!) 

In the meantime, click here for the full gallery of Richard Freeman’s photos. They sing!

(Hair and makeup by Fern Madden. Click here!)

(Styling  by Nicole Adler. Click here!)

And click her for more of Richard’s work.

Teen surfer killed on Reunion Island
"You can't be mad for a kid wanting to go surf," says Jeremy Flores. "If I was that kid, I would've gone surfing too. Surfing's been prohibited for two years. But it's all we have on Reunion. The ocean is all we have."

Is this the end of surfing on Reunion Island?

Stay out of the water, says the Reunion-born WSL surfer Jeremy Flores… 

There are few things in life as predictable as shark attacks on Reunion Island, at least since a 19km marine reserve was established on the west coast in 2007.

Yesterday, Elio Canestri, 13, was surfing a fun little left-and-right reef  called Les Aigrettes, just around the corner from Cap Homard on the west coast, with his two buddies Nicolas and Lucas. The water was clear, so y’can’t blame that, it was nine am, so it wasn’t dawn or dusk.

Killed, like that. In front of his pals and five other surfers.

“All these sharks, bro, fuck, it’s the real deal,” says the Reunion-born WSL surfer Jeremy Flores. “Perfect waves. Sunny day. Eight kids in the water and the shark attacked in the middle of everyone. Can you imagine that? Can you imagine how those kids feel?”

Jeremy’s mom phoned him an hour after the attack. Her friend lives in front of the break. Saw everything.

Elio Canestri
“I can’t tell you how many times I surfed that place by myself,” says Jeremy Flores. “When I heard it was a young kid, thirteen years old, I started shaking. I could picture myself at the same age, frothing with all my friends, just trying to get a surf. On Reunion, it’s a small surfing community, everyone knows each other, and I’ve lost some really close brothers to shark attacks, but this time, to be a thirteen-year-old, one of the best surfers on the island, with all his life in front of him. To die like that, so young, is terrible.”

“I can’t tell you how many times I surfed that place by myself,” says Jeremy. “When I heard it was a young kid, thirteen years old, I started shaking. I could picture myself at the same age, frothing with all my friends, just trying to get a surf. On Reunion, it’s a small surfing community, everyone knows each other, and I’ve lost some really close brothers to shark attacks, but this time, to be a thirteen-year-old, one of the best surfers on the island, with all his life in front of him. To die like that, so young, is terrible.”

Last year, Jeremy flew to Reunion for two weeks to see old pals and family. The surf pumped. And he didn’t touch his surfboard.

“It wasn’t worth it to take the risk. It took a long time for people to realise how bad the situation is. People thought it was like everywhere in the world. But, right now, we have the world record for attacks for how many people are here. It’s not like everywhere in the world.”

Jeremy ain’t down for environmental slaughter, he loves the ocean, and says he’s “aware that sharks are everywhere and that I could get attacked. But on Reunion Island, “it’s a 50-50 proposition.”

When the marine reserve was created eight years ago, Jeremy says it didn’t create a haven for pretty little fish to swish past amazed snorkelers. Instead, it became a breeding ground for bullsharks who quickly cleared the reserve of most other life.

“We used to see a lot of reef sharks and turtles,” says Jeremy. “Now it’s… dead. Bull sharks are very territorial.”

If these kinds of stories hit your radar, you’ll know that two months ago, a swimmer a 20-year-old swimmer was bitten on her leg five metres from shore in southwestern l`Etang-Sale, just south of St Leu’s dreamy lefts, and died of a cardiac arrest.

In August 2012, Fabien Bujon was surfing St Leu when a bouldogue went for him. He kicked it. Off came his foot. He went for its eyes and gills. The shark took his hand off to the wrist. With his remaining hand Fabian kept ahold of the beast’s vulnerable gills. He survived. With a limp and an empty handshake.

A year later a 15-year-old girl was killed while snorkelling five metres from shore. Only two months before that a honeymooning surfer was attacked by bull sharks in front his new wife.

In mainland France, popular television shows make jokes that the country’s Paralympic team is comprised mostly of athletes from Reunion.

Ironically, the most popular documentary doing the rounds in France at the moment is Les requins de la colère, a romanticised take on sharks. It suggests that since the movie Jaws mankind has a paranoid fear of sharks; that they aren’t a real danger.

But, y’gotta ask: Is this the end of surfing on Reunion Island? Will the concerns of well-meaning environmentalists trump those of a community whose lives are built around the ocean?

Maybe there’s a third way. Three days ago, the local government announced it had raised enough shekels to net three beaches around St Gilles. If you saw Modern Collective and Jordy Smith’s Bending Colours you’ll know it’s most famous wave, a righthander just around the corner from the town’s marina.

Jeremy says his Dad has been “working his ass off 24 hours a day” with the local government to make the nets happen. And, he says, his Dad told him to “stay out of the water until the beaches are secured.”

It ain’t real PC but you know there’ll be trolls out there saying the kid was in the sharks lair, that he knew the risks etc.

But, says Jeremy, “You can’t be mad for a kid wanting to go surf. If I was that kid, I would’ve gone surfing too. Surfing’s been prohibited for two years. But it’s all we have on Reunion. The ocean is all we have. When you take the ocean away, we have nothing.

“But if I had to stay something, I would say, stay out of the water. Stay… out… of… the… water. Stay out until the beaches are secured by nets.”