Sam Morgan Ballina
Ain't no happy endings in Ballina. Here's Sam Morgan, 20 years old, who was hit by a shark, abruptly, late yesterday afternoon.

Ballina Pro Surfer Attacked by Shark!

Sam Morgan in induced coma at Gold Coast Hospital after being hit by a 10-footer… 

Do you remember when shark attacks were one-offs? Curios?

Not so much anymore. And Ballina, on the North Coast of NSW, and part of the zeigeist-y Byron shire, has become the epicentre of shark strikes.

Late yesterday afternoon, the pro surfer Sam Morgan, 20, was hit on the thigh by a Bull shark at Lighthouse Beach, Ballina.

Richmond LAC Inspector Nicole Bruce said Sam was in the water alone at Lighthouse Beach when the attack occurred at about 6.20pm.

“A person on the beach heard him scream and saw him stumble out of the water,” she said. “He’s come out of the water with a large bite wound to his left thigh. A passerby has administered first aid, ambulance and police were on scene soon (after). It was quite a large bite, but at this stage he seems to be stable, so hopefully he will be okay. “

Sam is currently in an induced coma at Gold Coast Hospital.

I was surprised when I heard about the attack. Not cause of sharks. Those sons of bitches ain’t leaving. I just didn’t know anyone surfed at Ballina anymore. Everyone I talk to up there has pretty much shelved their boards, surfing only when the sun is high, and there’s enough of a crowd to reduce what have become high odds.

Four months ago, bodyboarder Matt Lee was hit by a 15-foot White.

In 2008, another bodyboarder was killed there.

In February this year, the Japanese surfer Tadashi Nakahara died when he was hit by a suspected Great White at the next beach.

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

Anyway, I received this email from a local surfer and surf industry worker Shayne Banks last night. Seems to sum up the mood. He gave me permission to reprint below.

Hi Derek,

You may have already heard but there has been another shark attack at North Wall, Ballina late this afternoon. The victim was young local guy Sam Morgan.

I am feeling sick and wanted to write something so here you go; even before this last attack, twice on Saturday 7th November the North Wall crowd was sent in due to a 3-4 meter Great White swimming under people.  

I work at Alkali Fins in Ballina and had my life all set up around surfing, now it centres around work. I knew and surfed with Tadashi and we fixed his dings at Alkali. I have known Matt Lee for 15 years and spent countless hours surfing with him and many couch session with his solid crew of mates. While he was a bodyboarder at heart he stood up on fibreglass and surfed pretty well whenever the waves were not slabbing.

Leelee’s attack really rattled me; the last surf I had had before that happened ended with me being chased in at Broken Head. A shark fin appeared in the wave and was moving very aggressively left to right and then right again about 20  meters in front of me. By the time I had processed what I had seen the wave was on me. I turned and rode that sucker to the beach. The next day I was on my way to surf fun little lefts at Sharpes, I was just out of Lennox when over Triple JJJ I hear that there has been another attack at North Wall. Sharpes is looking really fun as I drive past but is completely empty with only two guys looking like they are about to paddle out. I drive to work and don’t even stop. At work I learn that the victim is Matt Lee and that he is critical. 

Seeing him at the pub the other day for his fundraiser was great but also pretty confronting as I could see first hand tooth mark scars on his legs.

I have surfed twice since Matt got bitten. Once was when my dad was up from South Oz and keen to head out for a wave. It was a full-moon and we surfed in a sea of bait fish and dolphins. One other day at Broken Head I got a few fun little peaks but it was still spooky. I don’t even know how long it has been and I don’t care to count. After living at North Wall for 5 years and surfing it pretty much every single morning that I could between 2001 -2006, surfing in Ballina may well be over for me.   

I don’t know; I could write more but I am kind of trembling as I type. Please feel free to contact me if you want to talk further about the situation here and the atmosphere among the surfing community.


Read more about the attack and the council’s response here. 

Sam Morgan – Far Nth Coast from Webster Surfboards on Vimeo.

“That shark fucked Julian up…”

This was his year. But maybe next year is his year too!

How wonderful is an older brother? I am one so I know. We are the best thing on earth. Founts of knowledge. Rocks on which to build. I ran into Julian Wilson’s older brother Bart today and we had a nice, if short, chat. Bart is a good man. Extremely funny, mischievous and quick. I have always liked him very much.

Bart (on Julian's right) is a wonderful growling wolf and the maddest hui a brother could ever have!
Bart (on Julian’s right) is a wonderful growling wolf and the maddest hui a brother could ever have!

Anyhow, Bart said, “That shark fucked Julian up….” and I cut him off, asking, “His emotions?” but no. Not his emotions. “…his world title run.” Bart continued. And wow. I had never thought of the enormity of it.

I had picked Julian Wilson to win it all this year. His surfing was sharp, building to a crescendo. The South African final against Mick he was really set to dig a heel into the neck and proclaim his arrival. But that damned shark came and tickled Mick and instead of first, Julian was handed and equal second. And even though he still has a mathematical shot at winning being crowned champ, the prettiest boy on tour lost his momentum. He started the year with a 2nd at Snapper, scored a 5th at Margies, another 2nd in Fiji and, bam, was ready to explode!

He raced into the final at J-Bay, scored an fine first wave and then……sharknado. Two 13ths a 3rd and a 25th later he is 7th. Mathematical but…you know.

Julian is still a fresh 27 years old. Entering his competitive prime. And maybe next year he will, in fact, win it all. But that damned fucking shark, no? Do you think he would have won it all this year? I did. And I do.

Mason Ho

Movie: Mason Ho Bursts With Vitality!

Blow a whistle! The little Hawaiian got some new tricks… 

I wonder what would happen if we ever lost Mason Ho to the WSL. Would he still be the same Mason, clapping his opponents and flying into through those post-interviews sounding like he’d just swallowed the formula for eternal awesome?

Or would he, eventually, be so beaten down he couldn’t sit straight and, if he ever got through a heat, he’d spit out the usual boring chestnuts?

I have a feeling we’ll never have to worry. People talk about the virtues of a no-nonsense approach. I like nonsense.

Watch Mason Ho’s latest clip!

This is in brazil 5 mins from the recent contest area.
thought it was fun practicing there with no body around.
doesn’t get better then just you and a friend out surfing at such a FUN & beautiful zone.
wish it had the right air wind.

surfing – mason ho & LB
filmed by rory pringle

thanks rip curl, …lost surfboards, etnies, arnette, and sector9 !!

baby kine search


ICBM launch

An ICBM Just Flew Over My Head!

Cyrus Sutton and his brush with a nuclear-capable Trident missile in the Mojave desert…

Two days ago, the filmer and surfer Cyrus Sutton, who is currently alone in the Mojave desert working on a documentary about GMOs in Hawaii, emailed me a photo of what appeared to be a meteor shower above his head.

“This just happened?!” he said.

Social lit up, as it does, with theories that it was a nuclear bomb, maybe a comet, some kind of alien invasion or part of “secret military testing.”

I figured it was part of the annual Taurid meteor shower and told Cyrus so but, yesterday, it was revealed that it was actually a nuclear-capable Trident missile test-fired by the US Navy.

Now I’ve been around a bit, I’ve had my share of freak-outs, some drug-induced, some simply from an over-arching timidity that I just can’t seem to shake. I couldn’t even imagine what it’d be like to be alone in the desert, at sunset, when, out of nowhere, a gigantic missile roars over your head.

Cyrus does.

“The first thing that went through my mind as that it was an alien death ray or something. It was NOT a comet or a meteor,” he says.

“It was NOT a comet or a meteor. It started ascending as a glowing orange ball. Then it burst up high emitting huge radiating bubbles that looked blue green like the northern lights, its point was fierce white light like a star. It zoomed northward leaving an aurora like glow in its wake.

“It was over LA. I was 150 miles east in no-man’s land. I remember thinking of that Twilight Zone episode where the guy is in the bank vault when the nuke detonates, he goes outside to see that everyone is gone.”

“Then I thought, holy shit I’ve got to get a picture of this thing. By the time I got my camera it was blue and green and white and bubbling outward quickly eventually taking over a good part of the sky. I missed the first few shots (blurry and underexposed) fingers were trembling and I couldn’t think straight. Then I got my tripod out of the back and got some proper shots. After it disappeared only a large dab of turquoise remained where it first exploded near the band of the milky way.

“I drove 10 miles into town to poach the wifi at the local library to see what it was. There was nothing in the news but social media was lighting up. A bunch of people posted phone shots and were asking the same questions. I posted a photo asking if anyone saw it and there were reports from SF to SD and clear east to Vegas so the entire southern half of Southern California caught the show.

“On the news they are saying it was a comet or a meteor but meteors don’t rise then explode, change color and blast off into space in a piercing white light. The next day the media said it was the trusty US military testing an intercontinental ballistic missile. That makes a lot more sense. A lot of people were saying it was aliens but I don’t know. Probably some classified military star wars shit.”

Paranoia ensues! 

Photos and video here! 

Someone writes a song about it! 

I Love LA! I Love it!

My brain's about to pop!

I’ve been in LA less than twenty-four hours and my brain’s about to pop.

This is where I’m from, I’m a product of my environment. I can handle whatever phoniness the Caulfields love to claim, and status conscious bullshit don’t bother me a bit.

Why would it? Just empty nonsense. You want to live through your purchases that’s fine, don’t effect me one bit.

I miss Hawaii, that simmering violence lurking just beneath the surface. The fact that if you honk your horn at someone the moment the light turns green there’s a far better than zero chance the driver will throw it in park, drag you out the window, and bash you into the groun

But the rudeness… the million petty self-centered atrocities I’ve witnessed since I arrived late last night. I knew they were coming, that I’d need to stay calm. Let it flow off my back like water off a duck, or just pay it no never mind, move on and forget.

But I can’t.

I miss Hawaii, that simmering violence lurking just beneath the surface. The fact that if you honk your horn at someone the moment the light turns green there’s a far better than zero chance the driver will throw it in park, drag you out the window, and bash you into the ground.

Small island, tiny population.  Cross some motherfucker once, you’ll run into him again and again. There’s no escape from consequence, and that suits me just fine.

I understand LA’s not so bad. Not really. Not compared to the vast majority of the world.

But I got out, moved on, found someplace better to call home.

Thank my non existent lord and savior that I’ve only got two days left in my sentence.