Candid: I have Eighteen Months to Live!

The surfer turned marine Michael Kocher is dying of spine cancer. But he ain't crying about it. Here's what he plans to do… 

“To die will be such a grand adventure”

– Peter Pan

As I’ve written on Beach Grit before, I have a cancer that attacks the spinal cord. Two weeks ago, I was told treatment included an 80 per cent chance of at least partial-paralysis below the waist, sexual function included.

No surfing, no snowboarding, no swimming, no wakeboarding, no running, no walking, no fucking, no living and thus, for me, no thank you.

They’re giving me eighteen to thirty months, give or take six months on either end. Every six months that I survive the chance I’ll die in the following six months increases exponentially.

One to three years to do everything I ever wanted to do in life. It’s a brutal fucking clock, but a clock of my own making and one hat is alienating me from my friends and family. Most people don’t understand the idea of living three years to the fullest being better than living another thirty in a chair.

The choice was made, no treatment. The choice is, and was, the right choice. The choice was made with all feelings, scenarios and people taken into consideration.

Yet I find myself, day after day, defending my choice, defending my existence as a free-thinking human being. So you ask what it’s like to live with a clock on your existence? It’s the most annoying and frustrating experience of my life.

Not from the dying, I’m content with that. But how needy everyone around you gets all of a sudden. They need reassurance, they need comfort, they need explanations and everyone wants to tell you how angry they are that you would rather die on your feet, or on a surfboard, as in my case it will be, than live in a chair. How angry they are that you won’t be there to watch children grow, etc. I’m not cruel. I love them all and know that this neediness also comes from a place of love, but I’m the one who’s dying. Why is it easiest for me to accept?

Right now, it’s completely surreal since I’m still stage one and thus don’t feel sick at all, except for the flare-ups of pain in my spine now and again. But that’s why baby Jesus invented Jack and Coke and Aleve.

I have big plans for the time I have left. I’ve done more in 31 years than most people will do their entire lives. I’ve been to 37 countries, 44 states, most of the Canadian provinces and Mexican States. I’ve had dolphins play with my feet while the sun sets huge over beautiful Pacific lines. I’ve watched the sun rise over 14,000 foot peaks with people I wouldn’t replace with anyone in the world and I’ve done it all by refusing to give in.

There’s more left to be done though, more to change, more to live, more to love, more to fuck, and more to ride.

So I’ll fuck, I’ll ride, and I’ll change and I’ll do all these things while caring for the needs of everyone around me because I’m a big fucking puppy and you gotta take care of your pack.

But while I’m doing that I’ll be looking forward to that last day that we’ll call the end of pain.

The end of pain is a good thing and will be a great day.

The tall man cometh! The tall man cometh!

Owen Wright is making a run for the Fiji Pro title! Come watch a tall man play amongst the midgets!

I am a tall man, maybe 6’3, and trim. I love it. I feel genetically superior to almost everyone. I thank the Lord each morning when I wake.

Owen Wright is a taller man too, and trim. Such a specimen! And if he doesn’t thank the Lord, he should.

“Ahhh, yeah, you know, it’s not bad being tall and thin…” he says. “The best part? I like being able to walk into a club and scope all the girls, scope everyone around.”

Being taller you can. Do I think tall men are evolutionarily more advanced?

“Mmmmmmm. No, but it does seem there are so many more tall guys around now, eh? I know that being tall for me is better. I’ve always been pretty tall. I kinda grew consistently all through my life. I just grew the other week, in fact. I wasn’t 6’3, I was just under. But I measured the other day and now I am 6’3. It is funny to walk around the contest sites. A lot of the veterans are shorter guys but more of the new kids coming up are taller. And now I am officially the tallest guy on tour. When I was rehabbing my knee, Steds came into the gym and we stood back to back. I won.”

Michael J. Fox once said, “There is not a hell of a lot I can do about being short. You just gotta run with it.” Michael J. Fox starred in Teen Wolf.

Julia Child once said, “Being tall is an advantage, especially in business. People will always remember you. And if you’re in a crowd, you’ll always have some clean air to breathe.” Julia Child just makes the best boeuf bourguignon ever!

Jay Davies: “My nappy was full of beach sand!”

An incredible hunk.

Jay Davies, exceptional talent out of Western Australia, put on a show during the Marg River Pro. He cut down WSL favorites. He raged through barrels. He made people believe that a very strong man can surf very well. Watch, enjoy and then get thyself to a gym because only the strong survive. And only the good die young.

The sexiest surf photographer of all time?

History shall decide for sure but I say Ryan Miller, from New Jersey, wears the crown.

The surf photography game is cruel and unrelenting. For every Clark Little earning millions dipping a camera into Waimea’s famed shorebreak there are thousands of also-rans, crying into their soup.

In such a crowded field, even the smallest advantage can mean the difference between gallery shows and the back pages of Surfer (where the SUP practice machine ads dwell). It helps to have rich parents, in order to horde the latest REDs or Canons.

It also helps to be beautiful. Clark, of course, is with a million dollar Hurley smile but also Morgan Maasen with nipples so large, so brown, that to expose them in front of hungry children would be considered quite cruel. And Pete Taras hair so thick, eyes so piercing, it remains a wonder that he has remained off the cover of GQ (Greek addition) for so long.

But there is one who rises above all. The sexiest surf photographer ever? History shall decide for sure but I say Ryan Miller, from New Jersey, is the front-runner.

He is handsome, to begin with, but pairs his handsome with a leopard print bikini bottom that is just wow. His body fits into it like a weisswurst fits into its casing. He surfs it, he lounges it, he shoots in it and it can all be seen on his Instagram feed @badboyryry_

Where did it come from? Ryan says, “The bikini I picked up at Wal Mart when I was a teenager. I keep with me at all times to remember to keep it light and just have a good time. Too many sad fucks whining at these dream locations. I never want to be that guy.”

And the Instagram feed? By far the best in the game. What about it? “Instagram feed…” he says “ what it is because I’m a pretty shit photographer. If I just posted surf photos and everyone got to see all my work then people would know I was a phony. It is really just another layer of the onion. You can see my surf photos elsewhere. On Instagram I just want to make myself smile.”

And is it ever a sexy smile. Almost like dear Mona Lisa’s.

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Owen Wright perfect ten Cloudbreak
Lord smiling on you today, son! Owen Wright pats another ten-pointer on the ass.

Out: Reynolds, Slater, Day four, Fiji Pro!

Owen's perfect heat, Julian's ten-pointer and the dull thud of Dane and Kelly landing back on earth… 

The pro game is a tough play. One minute you’re sloshing around in the channel gazing at Strider’s steroidal tits, talking about your heat win, the next tears are bubbling in your eyes, hazing everything like a cotton film.

Dane Reynolds, out, to Taj Burrow in round five, but not without catching a couple of grey shacks.

And, Kelly Slater, to Italo Ferreira, for the second time this year, but this time at a wave he’s been throwing apart for 30 years. You could see the dry swallows squeezing down Kelly’s neck as he composed for his post-heat interview.

But, we got new heroes! Owen Wright surfed a perfect heat, the seventh in history. “I never thought I’d get 20 points in my life,” said Owen, his nostrils widening.

Watch here.

And here’s Kelly talking about it.

Julian Wilson went pretty nuts, too. He scored 19.43 in round four against Kelly and Taj.

And how about Joel? Remember him? Maybe 20th or something on the ratings this year. Watch him whale on this bomb. Ten!

Want some highlights?

WSL Perfect Heat Totals:

2015: Owen Wright (AUS) – Fiji Pro

2013: Joel Parkinson (AUS) – Oakley Pro Bali

2013: Kelly Slater (USA) – Volcom Fiji Pro

2011: Jeremy Flores (FRA) – Billabong Pro Tahiti

2008: Joel Parkinson (AUS) – Billabong Pipe Masters

2005: Kelly Slater (USA) – Billabong Pro Tahiti

1996: Shane Beschen (USA) – Billabong Pro Gold Coast*

* Best three waves.

Fiji Pro Remaining Round 3 Results:

Heat 7: Mick Fanning (AUS) 13.67 def. Alejo Muniz (BRA) 13.30

Heat 8: Joel Parkinson (AUS) def. Sebastian Zietz (HAW)

Heat 9: Owen Wright (AUS) def. Adrian Buchan (AUS)

Heat 10: Kai Otton (AUS) 14.97 def. Gabriel Medina (BRA) 13.77

Heat 11:Jeremy Flores (FRA) 10.60 def.  Bede Durbidge (AUS) 4.50

Heat 12: Adam Melling (AUS) 11.66 def. Filipe Toledo (BRA) 10.97

Fiji Pro Round 4 Results:

Heat 1: Julian Wilson (AUS) 19.43, Kelly Slater (USA) 14.34, Taj Burrow (AUS) 13.83

Heat 2: Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 11.30, Dane Reynolds (USA) 10.77, Italo Ferreira (BRA) 10.67

Heat 3: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 18.93, Owen Wright (AUS) 17.26, Mick Fanning (AUS) 16.60

Heat 4: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 18.70, Kai Otton (AUS) 12.10, Adam Melling (AUS) 5.83

Fiji Pro Round 5 Results:

Heat 1: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 10.97 def. Kelly Slater (USA) 7.34

Heat 2: Taj Burrow (AUS) 15.24 def. Dane Reynolds (USA) 13.66

Heat 3: Owen Wright (AUS) 20.00 def. Adam Melling (AUS) 17.70

Heat 4: Kai Otton (AUS) 14.33 def. Mick Fanning (AUS) 11.33

Fiji Pro Quarterfinal Match-Ups:

QF 1: Julian Wilson (AUS) vs. Italo Ferreira (BRA)

QF 2:  Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) vs. Taj Burrow (AUS)

QF 3: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Owen Wright (AUS)

QF 4: Jeremy Flores (FRA) vs. Kai Otton (AUS)