Update: Byron Shark Attack(s)!

Bodyboarder critical after hit at Lighthouse Beach, Ballina. Attack at Lennox. Gromfest suspended… 

Yeah, so, another surfer has been hit around Byron Bay, that zeitgeist-y place you to go to escape the madness of city life. All those rainbows, all that leashless longboarding, miles and miles away from Sydney’s rotten urbanity, but now rivalling Margaret River as the sharkiest joint in Australia.

Here’s the latest attack:

A 32-year-old bodyboarder, Matt Lee, was surfing with his pals at Lighthouse Beach, Ballina, around 10 when he was hit on the legs by a four-metre (close enough to 15-foot) Great White.

Pals helped him to the beach, paramedics stiffed the blood (it took ’em an hour to stabilise him), and he’s been airlifted to Gold Coast Hospital. He survived emergency surgery but remains in a serious condition.

(Who remembers a fatal attack at Lighthouse? Yeah, 2008, 16-year-old bodyboarder Peter Edmonds hit… twice.)

Back in February, Japanese surfer Tadashi Nakahara died when he was hit by a suspected Great White at the next beach. Out of nowhere, Tad was paddling back out when the (maybe) White hit him from below. Took off both legs. That attack happened a day after another surfer was attacked a couple of clicks up the coast at Seven Mile Beach, Lennox.

Last September, a swimmer died in waist-deep water when he was hit by a suspected Great White just near the Pass in Byron.

Today, one day after the attack at Lighthouse, a surfer was knocked off his board by a shark at Lennox Head. Uninjured, but fuck.

All beaches are now shut between Tallows and Ballina which ain’t great news for the two million or so kids at Skull Candy’s Gromfest at Lennox which has been suspended.

The Department of Primary Industries has authorised a permit for the great white, which is still hanging around (see video) to be destroyed.


Mason Ho Pipe
You wanna surf Pipe? "Don't shoulder-hop," says Mason. | Photo: Laserwolf

How to surf Pipe (and Backdoor) with Mason Ho

Three most essential tips!

Last year, the Hawaiian Mason Ho  won the Backdoor Shootout and placed second at the Volcom Pipe Pro, beating Kelly Slater in the process. The year before he owned Sunset and finished third at the Volcom Pipe Pro.

Dino Andino, father of Kolohe, has known Mason since “forever” and says that Mason has an “uncanny ability to rider the tube, to control the speed of the wave” and that, alongside John John and Jamie O, “he’s the guy out there. When it’s heavy he’s just getting started.”
Why should you even throw yourself out at the world’s best, but most dangerous, wave? What have you got to gain, anyway?
“Well, first,” says Mason, “every little surf town has that one spot where all the heavies go, where all the icons and all the tourists go, and on the North Shore it’s… Pipe.
Have I sold his qualities? Now let’s hear his three tips on how to cut yourself a slice of the greatest wave on earth, Pipeline.
1. Don’t shoulder hop at Backdoor
“Okay, this is counter-intuitive,” says Mason.”You spend the whole beginner years of your life believing the shoulder is safer. But Backdoor is dangerous on the shoulder. You’re going to take off with the lip on the shoulder. So! Kick back, wait for the best wave, and takeoff behind the peak. A bonus is you’ll actually get deep.”
2. How to make the barrel at Pipe
“It’s a series of connect-the-dots,” says Mason, who admittedly, does it better than anybody. “Everybody sees different lines but there’s always a certain line, an instinctual line. There’s bubbles, there’s a double-up, all this stuff coming down the wave. You need to draw a line across it all and just… shoot. You beat off the chop, you beat down the double-up, you ride-out the foam-ball.” Confidence?  Yeah, you need it.
3. Ride a bigger board than you think
Mason has got his act down to a point where he can ride a larger-than-average board, in his case a six-three, and catch anything. And not just the outer reef roll-ins, but even the radical inside ledges. “I like to move around when I paddle,” says Mason, who enjoys the momentum a larger board gives. “The bigger boards make it easier to roll in, sure, but it’s nice to have a big board to swing around under the ledge. I don’t die big boards all the time but they do help me get to where I want to go.”


Want to get to know Mason? Watch this! 

How to: put a little zing into your surf game!

Who doesn't want to get better, like, now… 

(Photo of DH at J-Bay by Steve Sherman)

You know it, oh god, yes you do. When you flick off a wave and you think… man… I just did the same turns and covered the same tracks as I did a year ago.

You can call it a rut or you can call it getting comfortable.

Whatever, it’s the fast track to boredom. It’s the first step in the decline of your surfing.

So how do we get back that feeling we used to have when every single wave presented a new and interesting canvas, when you’d go to bed at night dreaming of sections, dreaming of turns you’d never made but you knew you were close to nailing?

Here are five tips to turn your lazy ass around.

1. Get desperate

Remember Bells in 2014 when Jordy Smith needed a 9.97 to beat Julian Wilson in round five?  The scores are 17 to 12. It’s a massacre. He’s gotta surf the wave of his life to win the heat. No chance.

Forty seconds on the  clock and he strokes into a three-footer. No chance in hell is it a wave that offers a perfect score. But Jordy being Jordy, pumps down the line, finds a section and lays down a cutback that he sprinkles with the sugar of a rail held longer than usual.

Immediately he swings back up into the lip and throws the dial 180 degrees, foam climb, pump, four cutbacks into the shore break and a slightly-boned air reverse that he rides out of almost up into the Winkipop rocks. Three judges score it a 10, two don’t. Final result: 9.93.

He doesn’t win but it’s the perfect example of desperation’s enlivening effect. How do you artificially create desperation? Limit your surfs to one hour, max. 10 waves. Even if it’s pumping. Those 10 waves are all you’ve got. Make ’em count. Add a bonus extra wave if you try a move you’d never attempted before; two extras if you ride out of your new turn.


2. Surf around pro’s

After a while most of us are good enough to call ourselves one of the better surfers at our beach. We occupy the main pack, we get the sets, we feel confident. But what happens when a pro paddles out? He takes off later and deeper. He surfs faster and more critical than you thought was ever possible. And it pushes you to try harder. Whenever you can, maybe it’s around a contest, maybe there’s a pro who lives at another beach, surf around their times. You want to grow? Follow the best. Kolohe Andino still remembers Clay Marzo going ham at the 2005 NSAA’s. “I just remember thinking to myself, I really want to do that,” says Kolohe.

3. Find a new shaper

So you’ve ridden the same boards for the last five years. That’s great! Now find someone else. Unfamiliarity is a great stimulant. Ask anyone who’s fooled around a little on the side.

4. Focus on one move and nothing else

One day you’ll swing into your beach and you’ll find conditions perfect for, say, alley-oops. Problem is, you’ve never done  ’em. Steep little sections, a puffy breeze sticking your board to your feet. No cutbacks no reverses. Alley oops. Alley oops. Everything you do has to revolve around setting up the Turn You’ve Never Nailed.

5. Look stupid

During the filming of Bending Colours on Reunion Island, Jordy got one hellvua shock. All that ultra-HD footage showed just how contorted a surfer has to get to make turns. Dignity? Forget about it. “I looked like a monkey,” Jordy said after. It’s a lesson to savour. The best surfers in the world? They’ll do whatever it takes to get rad. Leave your self-consciousness in the car park.



security guards
Wanna-be authority figures, powerless chumps, lame-ass quasi-militia.

Utter Contempt: Me and security guards

Who doesn't feel a wash of contempt for these powerless chumps, these quasi-militia?

I’m back! It’s been an exciting week in Roryland, what I thought was going to be a relatively simple surgery to remove an infection in my shoulder was instead an object lesson in the utter hell that is hospitalization.

Sitting in bed all day pumped to the gills full of assorted opiates sounds like fun, but it gets old really fucking fast. Especially when you’re getting hourly blood draws and aren’t allowed to leave the hospital floor.

But I’m free now and the future looks bright. Another six weeks of pumping antibiotics into my bloodstream twice daily via the PICC line inserted in my right arm, running through a vein into my heart, but time continues to pass and it’ll be over before I know it.

I think I’m relatively easy to deal with as a patient. I’m friendly, more than a little stoic, and I follow medical direction.


Want me to take pills, hold still while you cut on me, or shoot stuff into my body all day long? Whatever, let’s do this. Tell me I’m a prisoner who’s confined to a small area because I’m all doped up and might fall down and sue the hospital?  That’s gonna be a problem. I can handle my drugs, and I’m going batshit stir crazy. The best thing for all involved is to cover your ass by telling me the rules, then pretend you don’t see me dragging an IV tree down the hall in a stupor on my way to the cafeteria to buy a root beer.

The nurses understood, the security guards did not.

I’ve got a real problem with security guards. It doesn’t take a whole lot of insight to understand why, growing up skateboarding and being hassled by the type of wannabe authority figure that embraces his position as a powerless enforcer of pointless rules has instilled in me an utter contempt for the job. To the point where I welcome any chance to engage with them. Go ahead and tell me what to do, I’m just going to ignore you.

Press the issue and I’ll tell you to go fuck yourself. Because I know the secret: they can’t actually do anything. Their entire job is built around the idea that most people will do what they’re told by a person in a uniform. But not everyone plays by those rules.

Which eventually escalated into an overweight little man telling me he was going to have me declared absent against medical advice, or something similar, meaning I would be forcibly removed from the hospital, treatment discontinued, if he saw me outside my room again.

The problem with bluffs is that people can call ’em.  I’d, eventually, die a pretty horrible death without treatment, and I had in no way checked myself out. For this guy to assert that he had the power to basically kill me because I wouldn’t listen to him didn’t sound very true. Because, of course, it was not.

It became a bright point of my stay, making his job more difficult. But, really, it was his fault.  If he wasn’t so wrapped up in his ridiculous pseudo authority we might’ve got along fine.

Confirmed: The hatred between surfers and SUPs!

Did you think it was all in your head? It's factual!

NPR, or National Public Radio, is one the United States’ most esteemed news service. Its thoughtful hosts and journalists are rarely given to fits hyperbole. They report the stories that are most important, most essential to our shared world.

And so, yesterday, when the Boston affiliate WBUR reported on the hatred boiling between surfers and SUPers, it became an official issue. The journalist went to Malibu and talked with surfers Zuma Jay, former Mayor of Malibu and surf shop owner:

“It’s just a matter of time until they ban ‘S.U.P.s. It’s just waiting for the first monster injury, or the first monster lawsuit. It should not be out there. It’s another safety hazard. They themselves may feel that that’s the experience they are feeling, being one with the wave. However, I don’t feel that way. And that’ s just my opinion. It is not surfing, even though they might think it is. They have a paddle, an extra appendage. I am not rushing out there with an extra appendage. It is just myself and my board.”

And Rain Lehel, who must be in the film industry:

“If they are in the line up, they piss me off! Because they can really get in the way and can kill you if they drop in on you. Several times I’ve been on a wave and a paddle boarder has tried to go for it and it’s almost taken my head off, so they can piss me off if I’m in the line up.”

Al Duka, a paddleboarder, responded to these claims:

“Surfers, they are very chauvinistic and paddle boarding is more difficult. Yes, because you have to stand up. As a surfer you just wait for the wave to come to you but with this you continuously have to be alert. You cannot drift off. You have to be at the moment.”

NPR did not end the story with an opinion on who is right and who is wrong in this conflict but they are generally ethical and do not pick a horse in a race. Just the facts. What do you think, though? Where will history write the mighty SUP?

Kai Lenny is amazing no matter which way you fall.
Kai Lenny is amazing no matter which way you fall.