Michael Peterson surfer

Interview: The MP Story (part two)

The story of Michael Peterson, told again, but this time by those who knew him best.

It’s a slow morning in Byron Bay and of all the issues Sean Doherty might’ve expected to come across in that part of the world, finding someone to surf with probably wasn’t one of them.

In town to spruik his latest book, MP Untold, at the Readers and Writers Festival, Doherty’s ran through the list and came up empty…which given the current climate, might be a good thing.

“When you see an empty line up anywhere around here you know something’s wrong,” says Doherty. “I think this shark business has finally gotten to everyone. Everyone I’ve spoken to has either seen one or knows someone who has and is opting out; it’s pretty heavy.”

Of course, Doherty and his solid body of work need little in the way of spruiking, but shortly after the release of the brilliant, MP, The Life of Michael Peterson, the former Tracks editor realised there was a whole other side of MP’s story left untapped.

“I realised I fell into the trap of shaping MP’s story around the guys he surfed against as opposed the guys he hung out with,” he says. “Those were the guys he really felt at ease with and as it turns out, they were also the guys who were willing to keep his secrets.”

Indeed, it was a time where famous surfers could breeze into town; go about their business, whatever it may be, and leave, without even their mothers knowing where they’d been.

“It’s quite the juxtaposition to today’s scenario where just about every movement is mapped which is in part why the legend of MP grew to what it did,” Doherty says. “So it was a matter of following the breadcrumbs Michael had left and scooping up the little anecdotes.”

With the bullshit radar finely tuned, Doherty set about gathering the “little anecdotes” and presenting them as a series of first-person narratives, accompanied by a treasure trove of unseen photos.

“I found the people were a bit too willing to interject themselves into the story were perhaps stretching the truth a little,” says Doherty. “The guys who really struggled to offer up the stories; that’s where the gold was.”

Despite the success of the first book and the early positive response to the MP Untold, Doherty says there are “absolutely” no plans for a third instalment.

“Nah. I can rule that out entirely,” says Doherty. “I think I’ve exhausted that treasure trove, though the first book was optioned to be made into a film, so I’d like to see where that ends up.”

Which of course begs the question, who would the robust and highly efficient penman like to see cast as MP.

“The guy was a bit of a specimen, so it’d be along the lines of someone like Dave Rastovich,” says Doherty. “But if you ask Mrs MP, she’s shopping at the top end of town. She’s of the opinion Brad Pitt would fill the role quite nicely.”

Buy MP: Untold here… (it costs a little under 30 shekels).


Sharks: “It’s extraordinary. The attacks and the number.”

Everything you need to know about Byron's shark vibe, on a podcast… 

It’s very difficult to un-attach one’s lips from the teat of shark fever. It never stops! Every day, some new angle, some new bump, attack or theory or sightings.

I saw a pro surfer yesterday who’d just moved to Byron Bay and he shook his head and said, “Oh man…every…day…”

In Australia’s only national broadsheet The Australian today, Owen and Tyler Wright’s Lennox Head-based dad, Rob, says: “We’ve never seen anything like this. We’re all over it. We live up up here and we surf up here, but this is all we’re thinking about. The married guys, they’re not allowed to go surfing. The young guys with kids, they’re thinking about it all the time. Everybody is.”

According to the story, “Wright has had two sharks swim beneath his board in recent weeks. One — ‘a fricken big thing’ about 4m long with a pointy head and wide body — was chasing a fish at full speed. “It was flying, but it wasn’t after me, thankfully.”

Read more here.

And, last night, Australia’s national youth radio station, Triple J, ran a piece on how sharks were splitting the Bryon and Ballina community. The mayor, David Wright, admitted that, 12 months ago, 99 per cent of his constituency was against any kind of shark cull. Now, he says, it’s 50-50. But he admits there’s now three things you don’t talk about in polite conversation round those parts: politics, vaccination and sharks.

And it’s not just surfers getting the heebie-jeebies. In a couple of months, Australia’s version of junior lifeguards (nippers) hit the water. Two hundred kids, swimming a couple of hundred metres out into the ocean and back.

What happens if they get hit?

Listen here.

Awesome: Stadium surfing is here!

You've seen the artist renderings, now come witness the future!

Remember those pictures? Luscious watercolors featuring a stadium filled with screaming fans, surfers in the water doing triple flips, a scoreboard above their heads revealing time and score? They all come true Sept 19 in Wales, England, just a five-hour drive from the world’s third best wave (Fistral Beach, Cornwall).

Red Bull is holding UNLEASHED, a brand new event that could give us stars and will give us an option when global warming raises ocean heights, thereby erasing all other waves besides Fistral Beach, which will become the world’s best wave. Let’s dig in:

Red Bull Unleashed, a brand new surfing event set to feature some of the most progressive surfers in the world, is coming to Surf Snowdonia, Wales 18-19th September 2015. Held in the best man-made surfing lagoon ever built, a capacity crowd of 2,500 spectators will be closer to the action than at any previous surfing event.


By generating waves on demand, giving every surfer equal opportunity and without the wave lottery that can come with unpredictable ocean swells, the event will also unveil a fresh, exciting format brand new to surfing. Unhindered by having to juggle conventional surf event parameters such as ocean swell, tide and local winds, Surf Snowdonia’s lagoon offers the ideal blank canvas for surfers to express themselves.


“It’s been an awesome process selecting the athletes and coming up with a format that matches something as futuristic as surfing a head high man made wave,” said Red Bull Unleashed Sports Director and former World Championship Tour surfer Jarrad Howse. “With innovation, progression and crowd interaction as themes, I’m really excited about seeing something truly groundbreaking go down.”


A brand new innovative event format – only made possible by the on-demand nature of the waves, will see Formula 1 style leaderboard qualifying narrow a 24 surfer field down to 16 seeds, using their highest single wave scores. A series of head to head clashes will then go down, themed on medieval jousting tournaments, which, set in the beautiful Welsh countryside, with its hundreds of castles and rich folklore will be an echo of sporting combat from another time.


Each pairing of surfers will go wave for wave against each other in best of five, matchplay-style clashes to decide who advances.


Spectators can expect to witness mind-blowing performances from some of the most exciting freesurfers in the world at close range as they take on the game-changing, no waiting period format and guaranteed perfect waves in a stadium atmosphere. Tickets can be purchased from www.redbull.com/unleashed and cost £8 per person.

Jarrad Howse is excited and, of course, so am I.

Bright: The WSL’s future!

Professional surfing is almost huge!

If you come to BeachGrit regularly, and of course you do, you’ll notice a wonderfully playful tone and a flippant, though sexually charged, undercurrent when it comes to the World Surf League. We prod because we love! But lately the WSL has done us so so proud. Mick and the shark? Julian and the brave? Strider and the tits? It has been win after win after win. Sure, CEO Paul Speaker sent out a definitely possibly misguided email asking for people to Instagram, tweet, Facebook #ImWithMick but really it’s all gold!

Today, Outside Magazine, a hideous wonderful men’s interest magazine with an emphasis on Teva sandal tan lines based in Santa Fe, New Mexico Santa Fe, New Mexico wrote a piece that sings. Matt Skenazy, the author, highlighted, among other things, how the WSL is actually working. And it is. In cutting the ties sport has to traditional broadcast models, Speaker and co. are charting a brave new course. Millions of people are watching and millions more are in the wings. What Youth‘s Travis Ferre is quoted in the article as saying WSL webcast is “embarrassing” and “feels like it’s directed more toward the Ohio State football team than those who have dedicated our lives to the raddest lifestyle in the world” but he was as wrong as we were and I’m certain would sing its praises now.

Friday, Teahupo’o starts (also my birthday!) and what an amazing time it will be. There will be swell. There will be the top surfers in the world. There will be a wave used in Pizza Hut commercial, fire stunt and motorcycle stunt.

There will be millions upon millions of views.

Congrats all around!

And read Outside‘s story here!

Nate Tyler Mute

Mute: Nate Tyler on Breaking Necks and Owning Dance!

Because what else matters in life?

Nate Tyler’s movie twenty-minute film-ella Mute has appeared (you can watch it below).

And, watching Mute, which I quite like but have to admit didn’t alter my perception of performance surfing in the way Cluster did, it reminded me of the time Nate instructed me on the whys and wherefores of killing a man with your bare hands and, more practically, how to own a dance floor.

Murder on the dance floor and, literally, murder.

BeachGrit: Tell me about your beautiful dance. During any overseas holiday, you’re the owner of every dance floor.

NATE: My dad would call it Ecstatic Dance. My dad’s a DJ at Dance Church where a group of people gets together and just dances and moves however they want. They can roll off each other, roll on the ground, nobody’s judged and nobody’s embarrassed.

BeachGrit: Do you apply the same principles of Ecastatic Dance?

NATE: My mind is at ease and I’m dancing how I want.

BeachGrit: It must be a beautiful thing to see…

It’s really not.

BeachGrit: Did your SEAL bro really capture Sadaam Hussein?

NATE: No! He definitely didn’t!.

BeachGrit: It would be something to boast about…

NATE: Yeah, that would be a good one even if he did I’d never know. He’d never tell me.

BeachGrit: That would be classified.

NATE: That would be pretty classified.

BeachGrit: Has he shown you how to kill people?

NATE: I don’t put myself into any fighting situations but he keeps all that shit to himself.

BeachGrit: It would be helpful. To know how to slice throats or break necks.

NATE: You’d have to be really strong and really technical with all that.

BeachGrit: You must be strong as bear! Often, you’re mistaken for Craig Anderson, the Australian surfer. This doesn’t thrill you, at least according to the word on the street.

NATE: Yeah. I was in Mexico and they were amping that Craig was there but we never saw Craig. It was me the whole time.

BeachGrit: Did you tell them, “I had long hair first”…

NATE: I tried to tell them that. The ironic thing was, six months prior, Craig and I were at that exact same wave and the funniest thing is, people were sitting there and they’re, like, that’s Craig Anderson! And I would see that person later in the water and they’d come up and introduce themselves and then, like, act like I was Craig. And, I’d tell em, hey, I’m not Craig, and then they’d try and tell me, oh, well, Craig was here six months ago. And I was, like, “Fuck, so was I!”

BeachGrit: You’re one of the only surfers over six who doesn’t have an Insty account? Why no?

NATE: The ironic thing is, this week I have to do one. For sponsors, it’s such an outlet and I think it’s bumming ’em out that I don’t have one. I don’t have anything against it, but fuck, I never had a Facebook and I definitely never had a Twitter. I always think I keep to myself, maybe I don’t, but I definitely don’t like voicing it through the masses.