Honest question: Can we be environmentalists?

Surfers are gross polluters. Can we be better?

I was at the Pipe Dreams premier last night in Huntington Beach and wow. Robbie Maddison rode a bike into medium-sized Teahupo’o. The crowd, tres moto with much Rockstar and DC and Kawasaki, seemed to very much appreciate the stunt. Hoots all around!

As a surfer, though, it was a bit off-putting. I love an absurdist fantasy come to life as much as the next man, but watching a motorcycle drop in. Watching it rip across the reef and over Tahiti’s pristine blue. Watching brrrappp-brrrrappp-brrrappp on the water turned my stomach slightly.

Now, I ain’t no great conservationist but last night made me wonder if I should be. If we should all be. Kelly Slater is. Jeff Johnson is. Cyrus Sutton is. Lots of surfers are and good for them because we depend on the natural environment as much, or more, than most other groups. But surfers travel more than most other groups too and travel is massively polluting, no? A shaping boards, even in the greenest manner possible, is pretty much poison, no?

Yes, the evil we do, as surfers, is far greater than Maddo’s evil at Teahupo’o because no one will ever do what he did again. It was a stunt. A laugh. Not a sustainably fun new hobby. We are the gross polluters. We are the yucky few.

And that got me thinking about Cecil the Lion. Zimbabwe outlawed big game hunting through most of their parks due the furor of a beloved cat being slain by a Minnesota dentist. But sometimes the yucky few are the ones you need. Hunters, with proper permits, practicing properly, etc. self-police. They take out poachers, clean up others’ messes, know more about the region, and what the region needs to be healthy, than the knee-jerk bleeding hearts at home.

Which takes me back to the ocean. I don’t litter, dump motor oil down storm drains or apply sunscreen when surfing over reef (my skin is so brown!) but I also don’t march, sign petitions or go to beach clean-ups. And I don’t give to Surfrider Foundation. I did once but then they annoyed me with incessant email featuring a worn-out, hysterical tone. Every little thing was of MAXIMUM importance to the FUTURE of the OCEAN.

It all just seems so….tiring. Stylistically tiring, emotionally tiring, physically tiring. Tiring. And annoying.

Does environmentalism have to be annoying? Hysterical? Tiring? How can I be an environmentalist and not be annoying, hysterical or tired? Is there a middle way between being oblivious and always being wagged by the tail?

How can the yucky few be better?


Mick Fanning gives $75,000 to bodyboarder!

Donates 60 Minutes appearance fee to the Ballina bodyboarder hit by a white last month… 

Well, how about this. The three-timer who has been chased hither and yon like a goat in a game of Afghan polo for his story about being publicly wrapped up by a great white at J-Bay, has dropped his $75,000 60 Minutes appearance fee into the account of bodyboarder Matt Lee, who’s still in hospital one month after being hit by a White.

Matt, 32, was surfing dreamy little wedges at Lighthouse Beach, the next beach along from where Japanese surfer Tadashi Nakahara was killed by a white in February, when the four-metre (15-foot) white hit. His two pals got him to shore where a helicopter arrived to take him to hospital on the Gold Coast, where he remains.

To make it a round $100k, Channel Nine boss Dave Gyngell, also a surfer as it happens, has added $25,000.

Read the story here! 

And watch Mick on 60 Minutes here! (Click!)

Hurricane coming to eat up Hawaii!

Big waves, big winds!

The first hurricane of the season is bearing down on the Hawaiian Islands.

(Click here!)

I’m not a fan. I’ve been living here for eight years and I’ve never gotten used to the potential for kill storms. I’m SoCal beach cities born and bred, desert makes sense to me.

The ground can shake ’til buildings fall down and I’m not gonna blink an eye. But gale-force winds and torrential downpours scare the shit out of me.

Our old place in Haleiwa had a mango tree growing up through our lanai, supporting our roof. It was pretty kick ass. Except for teeming mass of rats that fed in it then spent whatever spare time they had playing tag inside our roof.

When the wind would start howling the entire house would set to swaying and it seemed like the roof would peel off and going flying into the void at any moment. Toss thunder into the mix and I’m a nervous wreck shivering on the couch while my french bulldog tries to figure out what the big deal is.  Mr. Debs doesn’t understand we could snuff it at any moment.

Living on Kauai doesn’t help, the specter of Hurricane Iniki hangs over my head whenever the weather forecast nerds go into hype overdrive.

“It’ll probably be no big deal, Rory, relax. Of course we thought Iniki was going to pass by and it destroyed everything.”

The 2011 tsunami didn’t help my nerves. We’d evac’ed to high ground and set to drinking when someone pulled up the footage of Japan getting smoked. It was on its way to us. I passed out in a folding chair on the side of Kam Highway, woke up expecting a wasteland.

Nothing happened. That time.

Prepping is kind of fun though. Buying up all the water and toilet paper you can. The water for obvious reasons, the TP because that’s what people do here and I figure they know what’s going on.  And it’ll be a good luxury to barter if times get hard. Other than that… strike anywhere matches, glow sticks, alcohol, tons of non perishable food like Pop Tarts and cases of chili. Candles if I can remember.

I’ve got a veritable arsenal of spearguns, which I understand aren’t as good as real guns, but are all sorts of intimidating. Hawaii doesn’t have high gun ownership rates anyway, so if I equip my end times war gang with ’em we should be able to get some business done.

One thing that really kills me though, I’m not getting my Picc line (a catheter that punches antibiotics into a man) removed until Wednesday, so I’m going to miss the bomb east swell that lights up all the spots near my house.

Robbie Maddison Teahupoo
The Australian stunt biker rider Robbie Maddison, 34, has successfully ridden good-enough sized Teahupoo on a motorcycle.

Robbie Maddison actually rides Moto at Teahupoo!

…actually rides a fucking moto at Teahupoo… 

As first reported on BeachGrit (click here), it looks like Robbie Madison actually rode a fucking motorcyle at Teahupoo.

I don’t understand how it’s possible, and I won’t be surprised to learn it’s some sort of hoax, but I’ll be damned if it ain’t rad as all hell.

Australia to get 10 Wavegarden pools?

A 10-year-plan to fill the vast continent with man-made waves… 

If you saw the Snowdonia Wavegarden footage that’s been everywhere, you probably thought, when’s that fun little burger coming to my part of the world?

I live in Australia (BeachGrit has bureaus in San Francisco, San Diego, Kauai and Sydney) and got in touch with the former lawyer and investment banker, Andrew Ross, who bought the rights to Wavegarden on my piece of turf.

A few questions, none of ’em real hard.

Is Australia getting wave tanks? When? And where?

Andrew Ross, from what I can tell from the one phone call to Western Australia where he lives and where the company that he set up, Wave Park Group, is based, is an over-achiever whose giddy list of achievements, included some kind of interaction with the billionaire Richard Branson, during a year off he’d taken after running some of the biggest companies in the country.

This is where Wavegarden kicks in. When he had that year off a few years ago, it was because he’d just hit 40, had a kid, wanted to travel, surf and find some kind of inspiration for the next half of his working life.

At some point, he figured he’d like to have a swing at a surfing-based biz.

“I’ve never been associated with the surf industry,” he says. “But I’m a 35-year hardcore surfer, all my mates, we know what surfing is about, we all go to the Ments each year.”

Ross liked the aroma of the new wave pools that were suddenly appearing, in theoretical form, everywhere. He’d seen the Webber pool and got in touch with Greg Webber. Then Kelly Slater’s “people.” When he was over in Europe, he swung by the Basque country to surf the Wavegarden lagoon, its proto testing pond.

He got in and, yeah, it one of those moments he says.

Taj Burrow was surfing the right (stars!), he was surfing the left, he kicked out and told Wavegarden, “I’m writing you a cheque. This is fucking amazing.”

Ross created the company Wave Park Group, brought in pals with various complimentary skills, and made a goal to create 10 Australian Wavegardens in 10 years. Ambitious?

Baby, he’s an investment banker. It seems positively… bearish! 

The website, (click here), reeks of corporate-speak, howevs, which stings the eyes. It’s like one of those forms you get when a new CEO swings into your company and he wants to know the company’s mission, it’s vision and values, all those things that are totally mainlined in the corporate world.

Here’s a taste from the site.


Our Values serve as a compass for our actions.

Innovation and Creativity We are leading innovators in the delivery of man-made surfing experiences
Service We satisfy and delight our guests
Authenticity We create real surfing waves in a safe and welcoming environment
Quality What we do, we do well
Passion and Teamwork We are committed to serve our guests in heart and mind
Integrity We will exhibit fairness and honesty at all times
Prosperity We will generate wealth by growing an economically sustainable business

Whatever, it’s only the meaningless platitudes companies throw on their sites to fill the obvious gap of not having a product yet. But maybe soon!

Ross, who’s just been to three cities in three days, says he doesn’t want to make any premature announcements, ’cause that leads to disappointment, and he’s right, and won’t until the first site is secured and the Development Approval has gone through whatever regional planning authority it’s dealing with.

That said, “we’d be disappointed if we don’t have something to people within 12 months, potentially quite a bit shorter than that,” he says.

What interests me, is the parks are going to be owned by Wave Park.

He ain’t sub-letting the Wavegarden technology.

They’ll buy or lease the site, buy all the Wavegarden pieces that’ll then be shipped to Australia, it’ll all get put together, a few months of testing, and away it goes.