Sally Fitzgibbons
An electric smile, abs you could grate cricket balls on and the most bewitching of accents. Wait, and tan lines! What's not to love?

WSL tips a sexist hand?


Current reporting states that the WSL is making moves towards moving the start date of the men’s Fiji Pro forward a few days in order to catch a “phenomenal” swell scheduled to hit Cloudbreak this Friday. That’s nice. Nothing would suck more than another tedious series of lay days followed by guys three-to-the-beaching it in junk surf.

The only problem, Friday is the final day of the women’s event. With the ladies constantly playing second banana to their penis bearing counterparts due to overlapping waiting periods this might’ve been an opportunity to display their skills in honest to god A+ quality barreling surf. Of course, that presupposes that the WSL sees the women’s division as a legitimate sport with world-class athletes, rather than some half-assed sideshow they’re obligated to maintain to stave off feminist indignation.

Today’s decision to run the final day of the girls’ deal in crumbly onshore slop makes the WSL’s stance pretty damn clear. The women aren’t good enough surfers to deserve truly good surf. Even if they somehow luck into it, it’ll just be ripped from their grasp and handed to the men.

I wonder how the girls will feel come Friday, as they watch guys get pitted off their gourds in six-foot Cloudbreak. Will it bother them? Will they rage against the injustice of the situation? Will they ponder their place in an industry that largely portrays them as sex objects unworthy of the respect due any truly talented waterperson?

Or will they heave a sigh of relief?

Kelly Slater at Cloudbreak.
Kelly Slater at Cloudbreak. Like cream with your peach!

Interview: Ross Williams on Filipe, Kelly, Fiji!

The WSL's gun commentator analyses the tour at its mid point… 

I have never heard talk come more naturally or casually than from the mouth of Mr Ross Williams, the 43-years-old WSL commentator, and one-time tour habitué.

It has none of the tautness or deadly care that is the in the speech of his contemporaries. He is devil-may-care. He gets in an easy rhythm and he saws without cease.

The Fiji Pro, men’s division, starts in one week. I was compelled to ask Ross his opinion of what lies ahead. The following interview was made over email, which I usually hate, but which I had no choice since Ross is in Fiji and I’m in the Mentawai Island with only the smallest sliver of phone reception. Satellite internet, on the other hand (three grand a month on my vessel) was decent.

Picture yourself as the meat in this vocally inspiring sandwich. Such fun!
Picture yourself as the meat in this vocally inspiring sandwich. Such fun!

And, therefore, we begin…

BeachGrit: I was thrilled to hear from you again. I don’t what it is, or maybe I do (such zest!), but your commentary enlivens the game!  With Fiji about to boil, I do want to ask these questions. First, is Filipe, this year, the most exciting thing you’ve ever seen? Did your heart explode in Brazil when he ran down the line and punched out the ten? 

Ross: Filly is surfing out of his mind right now. The performance he put on in Brazil was radical on its own but if you think about the fact that he’s been displaying that level all the way back from the Goldie, shows me that he can sustain this circus act for the entire year. Fiji, Tahiti and Hawaii will be places where his act gets diluted a bit but I think he could definitely muster up decent results in heavier waves as well. In my opinion, he will have a shot come Pipe time to win the title.

BeachGrit: If you were still in the pro game, what would be your strategy against the kid? 

Ross: I’d personally just try to draw attention away from the airs with throwing spray. Especially in non beachbreak venues. Nothing anyone can do in rippable beachies.

BeachGrit: Fiji is a diff game to Brazil, and to Snapper and Bells and Margarets, for that matter. Four foot and under, who are the favourites?

Ross: For Cloudbreak? I’d say ADS (Adriano de Souza) and Gabriel. When it’s smaller out there they are really tough to beat.

BeachGrit: Six feet and over, who would you sling your cash on? 

Ross: Kelly, JJ (who’s out, anyway) and Owen are big favorites when it’s heavy at CB.

BeachGrit: Overall, who thrills you to watch at Cloudbreak? 

Ross: Kelly reads that wave better than anyone. He draws super aggressive lines and always maxes out the tube time with his positioning.

BeachGrit: If it moves to Restaurants, what’s your call on event favs? 

Ross: Still Kelly, but I think the goofies will be stoked, as the waves can be tricky to find the right pace.

BeachGrit: Last time, we spoke about your gun phrases, event-specific phrases you dress a contest up with. What’s on the griddle for Fiji? 

Ross: All my little cheeky phrases just pop in my head at random. Most times I’m just as surprised as the people listening. Ha!

BeachGrit: The riddle of Kelly in 2015. Thrown out in terrible conditions, languishing in the middle of the tour ratings. What do you see? What are your thoughts? 

Ross: I think Kelly will be heavily energized if he wins this event. If he gets another poor result in Fiji it could really force him to check out mentally in terms of competing on tour. His surfing is on-point and still more than relevant on tour. No one would be surprised if he wins the next three events.

Scandal: Surfing Magazine outsourced?

Has yet another American institution been shipped to foreign shores?

Factory Part: Evan Geiselman from SURFING Magazine on Vimeo.

As near as I can tell, Surfing Magazine has moved their most important people (besides Pete Taras) to Bali and set up what they call “The Factory.” There filmers film, editors edit, shooters shoot and 2-3 sessions are cranked into full video parts with delightful frequency. Look at Evan G. in the clip above. Look at him flare and have fun and be cute etc. etc. Nice, no? A gorgeously simple 2 minute plus break in your day.

But Surfing‘s “The Factory” begs a larger question. How expendable will Surfing Magazine‘s most important people be in Bali? Let us be, frankly and coldly, honest. American businesses have become very rich by cutting costs and expanding margins at the expense of the talented drone. Computer work gets outsourced to India, manufacturing to China, farming to Mexico. And I will get right to the point. Are the overlords at Surfing outsourcing content production to Bali?

I was just kidding about it being a scandal. It would be smart. Anyone can do this line of work. Literally anyone. But look at Evan’s dreamy turn!

Lance's Rights Mentawai Islands
A real pretty photo of the wave called Lance's Rights, the most sought after, or at least most highly populated, wave in the Mentawai Islands. | Photo: Uge/Aquabumps

10 Crazy Things You Didn’t Know About the Mentawais!

Waves that disappear, salt-water crocs and an upcoming apocalypse! Come to the Mentawais before it all goes to hell!

It’s a surf-photo studio, these pretty little islands halfway along the Sumatran coast, neither west nor east. Their proximity to the equator, one-and-half degrees off it in most places, means y’get, mostly, desultory winds and, in season, roaring south swells, coming all the way from the tip of South Africa.

But I wonder, how much do you know about these islands that fill our magazines, that decorate our websites and provide the promotional material for every surf co and colour all performance surf films?

Did you know, for instance…

1. Doomsday approaches!

Geologists believe we have 150-year earthquake cycles. And the Mentawais are at the epicentre of the Pacific Ring of Fire where tectonic plates meet. It’s an even chance there’ll be a monster rumble within 30 years; something that’ll make the quake of 2009 look like a kid’s  party. Plenty of villagers got the message when the Boxing Day and Nias tsunamis went down a decade ago and moved shop into the hills thus surviving 2009’s quake.

2. But not the village at Greenbush

You know Greenbush? Craig Ando, Damo Hobgood, etc, riding the most picturesque of lefthand barrels? There used to be a village of 200 people right there. They got… swatted in the 2009 tsunami. The village evaporated. An entire community wiped out. Go there now and it looks like a steamroller drove through the jungle.

3. Boat SOP for surviving a tsunami

When the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004 killed quarter of a million people in 14 countries and sunk hundreds of boats, an English sailor-surveyor was in Aceh, got his boat off anchor and climbed … just… over the tsunamis. What did he learn? That you need to anchor in a minimum of seven metres of water to have a chance of survival and you need to have some kinda quick-release on your anchor. Good boats will anchor… deep. Fifteen metres or more .

4. Salt-water crocs and orcas too!

Rare in the open ocean, but it happens. They live in the estuaries that meander up the islands. If you wanna buy one, and who doesn’t, go to the right village and they’ll get you a baby for a couple of hundred thousand rupiah. Keep him on chain. Feed chicken. Little pods of orcas come by every season too (impossible to catch or buy).

5. The waves disappear!

Every time the tectonic plates shift, reefs move upwards, in feet, not inches. Back in ’91 Martin Daly took Pottz and Tom Carroll to a monster lefthander. When a quake a decade later hit, the reef moved five feet. Gone. Happens all over the chain. It’s called “uplift.” Waves appear; waves disappear.

6. Illegal logging is mostly over

Illegal logging was rife forever in the Mentawais. Who didn’t want some of that gorgeous Sumatran lumber? Then, two years ago, the governor of the Mentawais got sprung with $17 million in his account and was slapped in chains. Since he split, the logging has stopped.

7. Jamie O’Brien keeps a container at Lance’s Left

It contains SUPs, a jet-ski and a mother lode of surfboards. He visits a lot with his guy pals.

8. Locals won’t stay at the Bumi Minang Hotel in Padang

In the 2009 earthquake, it was pancaked. Hundreds of westerners died. Locals say it is haunted by the ghosts of all those poor souls and refuse to go there. One skipper I spoke to said he saw dozens of bodies being stacked like cord wood.

9. Overcrowding is hitting a critical mass

At least it is around the Playgrounds area, home to the well-known waves Rifles, Bank Vaults, E-Bay, Nokanduis etc. There’s at least seven resorts, various boats and innumerable home stays. Thirty people in the water? It ain’t rare. Who wants to fly, drive, fly, sail, and squat in a crowd?

10. It’s mostly Christian

Did you know that in this vast archipelago, the greatest and most wonderful concentration of muslims in the world, that the Mentawais is… Christian? Gorgeous little infidels right here in Allah’s paw! Turns out the missionaries were the only ones who could give enough of a damn to trek through the jungles and build and pay for infrastructure. The biggest structure, therefore, in this chain is a church. The payback is the Mentawais don’t receive the kind of government funding as, say, the nearby Telo islands where Islam dominates.

stephanie gilmore
The mysterious charms (but fierce eyes) of Stephanie Gilmore. Second at Snapper, second at Bells, second in the world. But, still, such order and beauty, richness and pleasure.

Stephanie Gilmore voted Waterman of the Year!

SIMA speaks!

The puppetmasters over at the Surf Industry Manufacturers Association announced today that they would be honoring our favorite salacious siren, Stephanie Gilmore, as Waterman of the Year.

Most of the time SIMA are the worst. Self-congratulatory. Self-important. Irrelevant. But they can’t be that bad if they love Stephanie as much as we do, right!?

Imagine the last 10 years of women’s surfing without Steph’s rookie CT championship run in 2007. She was untouchable, right out of the gate!

Six title later, she’s proven to be one of the more deeply interesting and rich personalities in women’s surfing.

And her sweet-as-pie demeanor hasn’t kept her from turning a few heads and causing a few shit storms. Remember this lovely, lovely ad for the Roxy Pro Biarritz in 2013! Oh the drama that ensued! Roxy got nothing but heat for the scandalous spot! The bare skin! The suggestive sauntering! Oh, Stephanie!

That spot got poor Chad Wells fired, after the “senior surf manager” got on Facebook and, in all his working class nuance, wrote “Some butchy lesbos were representing surfing (in the past). Not rigged out sexy women who are in touch with their sexuality and know exactly how they are represented and marketed. 1 well ridden wave at the end of this clip would’ve made the critics happy.”

(Read here!)

Anyhow, we loved the ad! We watched it So. Many. Times.

But beyond being “rigged out sexy” Stephanie was and is magic in the water. Beyond her gorgeous ripping in contests and clips, I’ve always loved “SINGLE”, that little clip Andrew Kidman released as part of his Spirit of Akasha. Kidman thought Gilmore’s lines at Greenmount were definitively Michael Peterson-esque, and threw Gilmore on a 6′ Parmenter channel-bottom single fin. The result was an epiphany, and resulted in a great story in The Surfer’s Journal and a gorgeous book.

(Click here!) 


Anyhow, Stephanie winning this award is some consolation for what has been an otherwise tough year, missing Margs, Rio, and now Fiji to a knee injury that she can’t seem to shake.

SIMA is throwing some sort of environmentalist award at Perry Farrell, whose music I hated when I was a kid.

Farrel was an “obvious” choice for Environmentalist of the Year because “Perry and his wife, Etty, are frequent Waterman’s Ball attendees making him the ideal recipient of the 2015 SIMA Environmentalist of the Year title. He has also been a long-time supporter of Surfrider Foundation.”

Which seems a stupid, shallow reason. Not to say Perry isn’t an environmental angel, just that SIMA’s reason seems idiotic.

And they are also posthumously giving the inimitable and sexually insatiable Doc Paskowitz a Lifetime Achievement Award, which is rad and something they should have done years ago. Because Doc was epic!

(You should read his book. Buy here!)