"The most exciting time in the history of the sport right now."
The story of how Mick Fanning fought off a giant great white shark in the J-Bay Pro finals is leading all major news organizations, from NBC to ESPN to the BBC to ABC to NPR! And it truly is a wonderful one with wonderful footage to go along with. The punch! The thrashing! The open relief on the boat afterwards! Joe Turpel’s, “Holy shit…excuse me.” Pete Mel getting the interview like he is a Vietnam journalist, bombs whizzing overhead but eye on the prize. Amazing!
And the WSL is an equal winner. The J-Bay Pro, if you notice, is nude. It is the J-Bay Pro. Unsponsored. Unembraced by the corporate hug. How livid are all those corporations now? The news story that will play all Sunday long only has the WSL’s smiling (embarrassing and silly like wrestling) logo shining on all.
In the opening minutes of the J Bay Open, the camera fixed squarely on his broad shoulders as he considered the changing lineup, Mick Fanning was attacked by one, possibly two sharks.
The WSL, using the pussified parlance of our times, described is as “the shark incident.”
And fuck if Mick didn’t go straight for his knives! Watch the clip. It takes the champ less than a half a second to flip his board around, and attempt to fend off the prehistoric beast with the trailing edges of his fins!
He full on fights back! Squares up to the fucker. He puts his fins up, only to be get blasted by some waving shark extremity, and knocked off his board.
He’s OK, but the contest has been cancelled. Both surfers have been given a second place and the total prizemoney has been divided ($70,000 each).
It’s very early here in San Francisco and the sun’s just coming over the hill and our house is quiet, the neighbors still asleep, and I’m here losing my fucking mind because I just watched Mick Fanning fight off a fucking shark in real time in the final of the J Bay Open.
My alarm went off, I made coffee, got the stream going, and literally, wham.
“I was just sitting there and I felt something grab or get stuck in my leg rope and I instantly just jumped away,” Fanning said. “It just kept coming at my board and I was kicking and screaming. I just saw fins, I didn’t see any teeth. I was waiting for the teeth to come at me as I was swimming. I punched it in the back. I’m totally fine, I’ve got nothing wrong with me. There’s a small depression in my board and my leg rope got bitten and I’m totally tripping out.”“I was just cruising and waiting for my turn, my opportunity and I knew Julian (Wilson) was down the point,” continued Fanning. “I was just about to get moving and start paddling again and all of a sudden I had this instinct that something was behind me. I started getting pulled underwater and then the thing came up and I was on my board and it was right there. I saw the whole thing thrashing around but I was getting dragged under by my leg rope. I felt like it kicked me off but it was still there going and I was still attached to my board. I felt like I punched it a couple of times and then it was dragging me and then my leg rope broke.””I started swimming and screaming and yelling at Jules (Julian Wilson) to move as well, but he was coming at me,” said Fanning. “What a legend, coming after me. I was swimming in and I turned around and I had this thought, what happens if it comes to have another go at me, so I turned around so I could at least see it coming. Before I knew it the boat was there, the jet skis were there and we were in safely. I just can’t believe it. To walk away from that, I’m just so stoked. I want to let all my family and friends know that I’m okay.”“Mick (Fanning) was kind of out in no man’s land so I was really watching him and had my eyes on him,” said Wilson. “Mick (Fanning) was looking down the point and I saw the whole thing pop up behind him. It can up and he was wrestling it. I saw him get knocked off his board and then a wave popped up and I thought, ‘he’s gone’. I felt like I couldn’t get there quick enough. The results don’t mean anything to me, I’m just happy he’s alive. I literally thought when I was paddling for him that I wasn’t going to get there in time, especially when I saw him off his board and swimming away. I thought it was going to grab him and take him under. I’m so happy we’re both on the beach right now, I was so worried about Mick’s life.”
The live stream is dead now. It reads: thanks for watching.
“Life’s more important than a surfing contest,” said Kelly.
Who woke up in the black of night to watch the Slater-Fanning-Medina "Super Heat"?
I was up into the middle of the night waiting for the WSL “Super heat” to go. Fanning, Medina, Slater; you’re not gonna find those guys surfing together in round three very often.
So, yeah, “super” heat.
Super boring heat.
Watching the three best competitive surfers in the world struggle to eke out points in wind-blown slop was depressing.
“Not the peachiest day out there,” said Ross Williams as rain fell, as the wind blew.
“A tricky, peaky situation,” said Pottz.
While thrills were scant, the mathematician Adriano De Souza, often a latte bore, calculated a score needed to beat Nat Young and Wiggolly Dantas, hucked his tail high enough, and eventually rode out.
Alejo had electric moments. He seems to have built a killing machine out of an old wheelbarrow.
Ace Buchan shoved his clean turns down Kai Otton and Julian Wilson’s throats.
Want round four in fifty-nine seconds? Watch here!
J-Bay Open Round 4 Results:
Heat 1: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 13.70, Kai Otton (AUS) 13.50, Julian Wilson (AUS) 7.77
Heat 2: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 13.00, Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 12.57, Nat Young (USA) 8.77
Heat 3: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 12.90, Kelly Slater (USA) 12.27, Mick Fanning (AUS) 9.94
Heat 4: Alejo Muniz (BRA) 14.34, Keanu Asing (HAW) 14.04, Michel Bourez (PYF) 11.27
J-Bay Open Round 5 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Kai Otton (AUS) vs. Nat Young (USA)
Heat 2: Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) vs. Julian Wilson (AUS)
Heat 3: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Michel Bourez (PYF)
Heat 4: Keanu Asing (HAW) vs. Mick Fanning (AUS)
And, strictly speaking, '76, '77 and '78 by Hugh Holland…
People are crazy for Hugh Holland’s photos. You know the ones. Those retro-gold shots of skate dogs in the dry summers of 1975 through 1978, when it looked as if the world was skating on the edge of an oasis, everything parched by the sun, when every twilight the spray from a thousand sprinklers washed dust and sand from the grey foliage.
And those skaters, sometimes without shoes and shirts, but always with long hair, and always with a ballet-like style.
If you’re in Australia, or Sydney at least, you can come and see a gallery of Hugh’s best photos, even buy one if you’ve got a little room on the plastic, at Blender Gallery in Paddington.
I lit up Hugh’s phone yesterday in Torrance, California, to talk about how he went from furniture and antique restorer to pre-eminent chronicler of the most photogenic era in skate culture and one of the most imitated and referenced photographers in fashion.
BeachGrit: I want you to describe 1975 for me…
Hugh: Hell I don’t know, it was different for sure. But it was right when the summer of love was ending, although we didn’t see it that way at the time. We thought it was sell the dawning of the age of Aquarius but it was the start of corporate powers taking over. It was the end of the period of growth. I was just getting into gear. I was 32, had my own business going, doing pretty well, and I lived in Hollywood. Things were exciting.
BeachGrit: Tell me about that first summer of 1975, that famous drought, when you started shooting skate in drained pools…
Hugh: It was hot and dry and there was much more smog then than there is now. And part of what gave the pictures that warm look was the sunsets combined with the movie film I was using. I was using movie film because it was cheaper to process. Eastman film. It had a colour all of its own that was specific. That warm, soft look of film that has become a signature for me was the film combined with the smog and the fact that I shot a lot in the late afternoon.
BeachGrit: Were the shots an immediate hit?
Hugh: No! All my photos were sitting in boxes for 30 years and hardly anybody saw them. I shot for fun. I didn’t have any idea they’d be fine art prints in the 21st century.
BeachGrit: How’d they get so famous so suddenly?
Hugh: I guess you could say it was Dov Charney, the owner of American Apparel. He saw one of my pictures at a party in New York in 2005 and he wanted to buy it right then and there. I don’t know if you know Dov…
BeachGrit: Yeah, he’s a wildman…
Hugh: Yes, he’s a wild man. Absolutely wild. He’s the president and owner of American Apparel and built a whole company and, yeah, he’s amazing. They fired him, though… anyway, he liked the seventies, he liked the way they dressed. You know, the people most interested in the skateboard series are the fashion people, the fashionistas. They like the freedom of the seventies. The way they did and didn’t dress. The toot socks and the short shorts.
BeachGrit: So what happened next?
Hugh: Dov got in touch with my gallery. I was living in San Francisco and the gallery said, you better make some more pictures. He’s really interested. So I ended up making some more and he bought ’em all, about 30 or so. And he made a deal to use my pictures in his American Apparel stores all over the world. That was a time when he was opening stores everywhere. He really put me on the map.
BeachGrit: You shelve a lot of cash with the American Apparel deal?
Hugh: It wasn’t very lucrative for me with Dov. It was very little I got paid. It was very little. It didn’t start for me (financially) until I got discovered by M + B Gallery in West Hollywood.
BeachGrit: What thrilled you so much about the kids you were shooting in that period?
Hugh: I was into the visuals. I liked to photograph those wild children. And they wanted to be photographed. It was perfect.
BeachGrit: Y’ever in contact with any of the kids?
Hugh: Yeah, some of ’em, the ones that are not dead.
BeachGrit: How they do feel about the popularity of the shots?
Hugh: They’re mostly fifty years old or so, or 60, yeah, and they love it. They love it. All of ’em. I haven’t had anyone who didn’t love it. It was a very good time.
BeachGrit: Did you give the kids prints?
Hugh: I have and I do, but in the seventies I gave away so many prints. I wonder if any of those vintage prints are still around. I haven’t seen or heard of any. But I made lots and gave ’em to the guys…
BeachGrit: You’ve exhibited, recently, in LA and Sydney. You notice any difference in the response to your photos?
Hugh: In Sydney, I was amazed at how young they were and how they looked like the surfers and skateboarders in the photos. In LA, it was mostly the surfers and the skaters of the past. But in Sydney, yeah, it was a very young crowd. This one girl in Sydney told me I’d been her inspiration, her big inspiration. And she told me how she got a skateboard photo of hers in a gallery and it was all because of me. She said, ‘You’re my inspiration!’ I had no idea!
BeachGrit: What do you hope your photos give us? Historic curios or something else?
Hugh: The purpose of the photos, of art, is for people to open up their own imagination of what it was like back then. I like pictures that tell a story but you’re not really sure, no one is really sure, what the true narrative is. It’s something developing and taking place in real life. I like pictures that look like they’re from a movie, that look like they’re a scene from a movie or a play. Something unfolding. Something candid.
Just in: Kelly Slater swings at “Next Level Dipshits!”
"Someone got a gun to your head to purchase a higher-end brand? Did someone say this was a high-volume, low-price play?"
Kelly Slater doesn’t lose his cool often, so when it he does it’s kinda interesting, I guess. It seems like all the bullshit about Outerknown finally got the GOAT, and he let some dork on Instagram have it. The comments have since been removed, but they read:
Get yo head str8 de man @kellyslater I don’t want to hear it’s your fault. You should have known the prices before It went live. Think about your roots. Could your mom have afforded this when you were growing up? Get real man. As a fellow Floridian I am disgusted. Way to represent surfing and surfers and sustainability. How is it sustainable when you have to spend so much money to buy at shirt? As others have said, it’s totally possible to have a sustainable eco friendly product at a lower price point. You better say something to the media soon because your credibility has gone way down by having your name associated with this shit brand.
You’re gonna use my mom against me? My mom couldn’t afford lunch when I was growing up! I didn’t have two pairs of clean socks as a teenager, literally. So please tell me what exactly is it I owe you again? Someone got a gun to your head to purchase a higher end brand item? Did someone say this was a high volume, low price play? The amount of hatred is next level from dipshits like yourself. I’m a big boy and can stand up for myself. Feel free to unfollow or be blocked. No problem. I honestly don’t mind either way. When the surf product comes out people will learn about it. If people actually want to know the story of how the brand was created and what things cost to be done on certain levels, that will come out. The personal attacks and name calling have been nothing short of unbelievable. People need to grow up.
Now to the important part, how this matters to the surf world. It doesn’t. I can’t come up with anything better today so I’m bringing the low effort TMZ level shit.
Give me a break, hammering out daily stuff can be really hard, sometimes.