Keala Kennelly, Teahupoo, Tahiti on July 22, 2015.
Keala Kennelly, Teahupoo, Tahiti on July 22, 2015. | Photo: WSL/TIm McKenna

El Niño: “Greatest winter in history!”

Super gigantic surf on its way, says WSL…

The World Surf League sent out an extraordinary press release today detailing the super gigantic surf that will soon be appearing on Pacific shores thanks to Mr. El Nino!

“Big wave surfers from across the globe have been regularly challenging spectacular swells in recent months – producing record entries in the WSL Big Wave Awards – and continue to ready themselves for an unprecedented level of intensity during what is widely anticipated to be among the greatest winters for high surf in history.”

The greatest winter in recorded history, I’d say!

The Big Wave Awards are exciting and everyone gasps at the superhuman feats brave men and women dare. The Big Wave World Tour must not be quite as exciting because the WSL canceled all the live streams but not to worry! We’ll get to watch wonderful champs like Grant “Twiggy” Baker and Pete Mel tackle bulbous Mavericks on a live webcast because the Titans of Mavericks event is independent…

Oh wait. Ummmmmm.

Whatever. Bill Sharp, Big Wave Award director says, “Where we were 18 years ago was Wright Brothers stuff versus today’s Space Age capabilities in surf of that size.  I don’t think you’ll find a single big wave surfer who doesn’t have the sense that everything we know about the limits of both paddle and tow surfing will be heavily tested — and perhaps totally rewritten — over the next four months.”

So grab your computer to not watch live space age big wave surfing but don’t grab it yet. Surfline’s lead forecaster Kevin Wallis says the biggest stuff will most likely occur after the holidays. So you can grab your new computer that you got for Christmas (thanks Santa!) and live stream the WSL Big Wave Awards gala on March 15. Certain to be spectacular!

Who do you think will ride the biggest wave this year? Should we make a bet?

Read the rest of the press release below…


LOS ANGELES, California/USA (Thursday, November 12, 2015) – Big wave surfers from across the globe have been regularly challenging spectacular swells in recent months – producing record entries in the WSL Big Wave Awards – and continue to ready themselves for an unprecedented level of intensity during what is widely anticipated to be among the greatest winters for high surf in history.

Famously termed “too big to fail” by NASA climatologist Bill Patzert, the current El Niño weather phenomenon is among the most powerful ever recorded and is expected to wreak additional havoc around the world with exceptionally violent storms, especially over the coming winter months.

For the surf community this superheating of the North Pacific Ocean is a source of great excitement, concern and preparation. Throughout the Hawaiian Islands and along the West Coast of North America, similar previous El Niños in 1969/70, 1982/83 and 1997/98 produced the biggest waves scientifically recorded since the sport was introduced to the world. But while those years produced many swells that were also “too big to surf” the evolution of modern big wave riding techniques and equipment has totally changed the game for participants in the WSL Big Wave Awards.
Any veteran surfer will tell you that the three previous major El Niño seasons in modern history produced the most extraordinary big wave seasons of all time and we’ve all been warned that this one is of the same caliber,” said Bill Sharp, the director of the WSL Big Wave Awards. “The difference is that today the surfing community has developed the capability to potentially ride any wave the ocean can produce and has been actively training to be ready for whatever does come.”

“The waves of January and February 1998 were the biggest we’ve ever seen,” recalls Sharp, “but the idea of using watercraft to access big waves was only in its infancy and since then paddle surfing has reached another level as well. Where we were 18 years ago was Wright Brothers stuff versus today’s Space Age capabilities in surf of that size. I don’t think you’ll find a single big wave surfer who doesn’t have the sense that everything we know about the limits of both paddle and tow surfing will be heavily tested — and perhaps totally rewritten — over the next four months.”
he biggest surf recorded on any populated coastline of the world in modern times occurred on January 28, 1998 on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii. Shore-breaking waves of 40 to 50 feet forced Oahu Civil Defense to issue an unprecedented “Condition Black” alert that closed all access to Waimea Bay and all other beach areas and caused millions of dollars in damage to coastal properties. In a pioneering moment in the emergence of the tow-surfing era, few surfers on jet skis were able to reach outer reefs and experienced waves well in excess of 70 feet on the face.

Kevin Wallis, lead forecaster at, has analyzed the data of these past weather events and emphasizes that while the big wave surfing community can expect a continuation of action in the coming weeks, the full brunt of the mega-El Niño will likely occur after the holidays.

“In past strong or very strong El Niño years we’ve seen a number of incredible storms, often back-to-back, very close to Hawaii and very close to the West Coast. Within these stronger systems we may see seas up to fifty to sixty feet — maybe even bigger than that — and we could experience some of the strongest storms we’ve seen in the last ten years, if not the last 30 years,” said Wallis. “These storms have been known to produce incredible numbers, with hurricane force winds blowing over vast areas of the ocean.
Typically, we would look for the peak of the swell producing activity to come in the heart of the winter, in January and February,” added Wallis. “Even for surfers who don’t want to ride a 70 foot wave, this El Niño is a unique opportunity as it can mean some of the protected breaks that need a huge swell to filter in will provide smaller but great waves.”

Additional details about what surfers can expect this season can be accessed via Surfline’s latest Official Pacific Update available HERE.

And while the North Pacific is just getting going, much of the rest of the world has been producing outrageous surf since last May, with the biggest waves and best rides being submitted as entries into the WSL Big Wave Awards. Leading contenders can be viewed at both the event website and Facebook pages.

Known as the Oscars of the high surf elite, the WSL Big Wave Awards honor the greatest achievements of each year in seven categories based on the photographic evidence. Open to all qualified surfers at any break in the world on any day of the year, this 16th annual edition features a huge increase in prize money for top finishing surfers (and the photographers who document them), more than doubling to $250,000 plus an assortment of TAG Heuer watches for key category winners. The Billabong Ride of the Year category alone will award over $100,000 to the top five surfers and shooters.

Desire: When Julian Wilson Met Ash-O

A modern fairtytale (in Emporio Armani)…

Julian Wilson and his fiancé Ashley Osborne are sensational. A four-year love affair, a proposal in Paris, just across from the leering gargoyles of the Cathédrale Notre-Dame. A man who refuses to let a friend die in the jaws of a great white; a woman whose procreative beauty steals your attention from the pages of fashion magazines. 

Her expert hands thwart his clumsiness. His athleticism offsets her fragility.

Earlier today, the website buro24.7 published a photoshoot of the lovers with an analysis of the pair’s relationship, which we’ll examine here.

How did you two meet? Who approached whom?

Ashley: We met a few times, once on the Gold Coast at a party. Jules approached me with a huge smile and a drink, I was pretty smitten but wasn’t too sure about it all as I was moving overseas.
Julian: I approached Ash to buy her a drink at the bar. Ash then proceeded to ask for one more for her friend and then once I got the drinks, Ashley and her friend disappeared into the night.
Ashley: We then ran into each other in LA randomly, but it wasn’t until the end of 2011 for New Year’s in Byron Bay that we actually started to hang out. We’ve been together ever since!


You guys come from different worlds – do you ever find it hard to understand each other’s industries?
Ashley: Yeah for sure. I used to find the fans pretty intense at times, but Jules and I are a lot closer now and those things don’t bother me anymore. Jules’s career requires a bit more involvement – there’s a lot of support that goes into it, whereas my job is pretty independent. The hardest thing has been sacrificing my work for the sake of being there to support Jules. It was hard at first – I was a bit of a workaholic, but finding a balance has helped a lot.

Does it help or hinder your relationship having different day jobs?
 It helps. They actually go pretty hand in hand, to be honest. We both need to keep fit and healthy, and my job is pretty flexible thanks to my amazing agency who has always understood our situation. It’s a pretty perfect combo!
Julian: It can be difficult at times, but I’m proud of Ash and love seeing her happy. Sometimes it means more time apart, but it works.



Read more, and see more here. 

Fanning: “Why I’ll never surf Ballina!”

You’ll never guess why. Oh, wait…

Mick Fanning could never be accused of being dim. Three world titles, maybe a fourth in a few weeks, millions of dollars reaped from a sandal that opens beer bottles as well as a cornucopia of sponsors and an ability that shows no sign of decline.

In July, as you know, he even fought off a great white shark.

Therefore, perhaps it is prudent to listen to Fanning when he says he has no plans to surf anywhere near Ballina on Australia’s north-east coast.

“I used to go down to Ballina all the time, I haven’t been down this year because of those reasons, because there’s so much activity down there,” Fanning told the radio station Nova 96.9 after yesterday’s attack on a pro surfer there. 

At the regional GQ awards in Sydney where he won the Australian man of the year, he said the rise in shark attacks was “hard to take in” and that “we need to figure out what it is and a way to deter them.”

Not that sharks don’t muster near Mick’s homebreak of Snapper Rocks.

Look at this goddamn bastard. 

The difference, of course, is the Gold Coast City Council’s netting and drum line program. No fatals since 1962. Read all about it here. 


Did you know you can talk to great whites? Click here! 

Did you also know they succumb to bullet wounds? Click here! 

Brad Domke
"It's like cutting through butter with a hot knife," says Mr Domke, of surfing big waves on a skim.

Brad Domke to skim giant Nazaré

Fifty-foot waves on a skimboard?

Who can be indifferent to the charms of Brad Domke, the 25-year-old skimboarder from Wabasso in Florida? The last couple of years have offered all the excitement of Brad riding his skimboard at Teahupoo, Puerto Escondido, the Right in Western Australia and, in the next few days, the most photogenic big wave in the world, Portugal’s Nazaré.

This is Brad at Teahupoo, Tahiti, in September this year.

And Puerto Escondido, Mexico, last year.

And a little tumble from The Right in Western Australia.

On Friday, Domke will strut the enormous stage of Nazaré with his tow-pal David Langer and alongside those movie stars Garrett McNamara, German Sebastian Steudtner and Brit Andrew Cotton.

Do you have awareness of the great Nazare trench in Portugal? Oh, it’s something. Five thou’ metres deep, 230 clicks long. It shovels swells into a stretch of beach whereupon mongo peaks are created.

Friday’ll be thirty or forty or fifty foot. Who knows! Who can judge such things?

Why does he do it?

“It’ s a beautiful thing,” says Domke.

Footage as it happens.

Want to know more about tow-surfing? Click here! 


Surfers more smart than academics!

A new article points to a troubling trend in higher education. Don't worry boys! It don't effect us!

Would you like to know the best part about co-owning a li’l surf website with the great Derek Rielly? Lazily passing along unsubstantiated rumors! Would you like to know the second best part? Reading something amazing that is only very tangentially related to surfing yet posting about it anyhow!

There is, you see, an amazing article that just came out in The Atlantic called The Coddling of the American Mind (give yourself a gift and read here). It begins:

Something strange is happening at America’s colleges and universities. A movement is arising, undirected and driven largely by students, to scrub campuses clean of words, ideas, and subjects that might cause discomfort or give offense. Last December, Jeannie Suk wrote in an online article for The New Yorker about law students asking her fellow professors at Harvard not to teach rape law—or, in one case, even use the word violate (as in “that violates the law”) lest it cause students distress. In February, Laura Kipnis, a professor at Northwestern University, wrote an essay in The Chronicle of Higher Education describing a new campus politics of sexual paranoia—and was then subjected to a long investigation after students who were offended by the article and by a tweet she’d sent filed Title IX complaints against her. In June, a professor protecting himself with a pseudonym wrote an essay for Vox describing how gingerly he now has to teach. “I’m a Liberal Professor, and My Liberal Students Terrify Me,” the headline said. A number of popular comedians, including Chris Rock, have stopped performing on college campuses. Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Maher have publicly condemned the oversensitivity of college students, saying too many of them can’t take a joke.

In short, it discusses the fact that college students in the United States have turned into giant sissies, vindictively lashing out at concepts they disagree with and, at the same time, wanting to be protected from them by their complete removal from the public sphere. The authors of the piece, Greg Kukianoff and Jonathan Haidt, give an exhaustive account of this phenomenon and attribute some of its birth to kids, now college-aged, who grew up as “natives” of social media where, “(It) makes it extraordinarily easy to join crusades, express solidarity and outrage, and shun traitors.”

This social back and forth has been a part of surf media since the very first message board popped up and has continued, unabated across multiple platforms like FaceBook, Twitter and below BeachGrit’s always fascinating posts. What was refreshing to me, though, as I read, was surfers still feel ok about being racist, sexist, misogynistic, homophobic, jingoistic, small-minded, prejudiced, awful across these multiple platforms. We lob grenades back and forth all day long. Brazilians vs. Australians, old vs. young, fans of the WSL vs. detractors, Adriano de Souza haters vs. Other Adriano de Souza haters etc. And while the discussion is often base, it is very fun, no? And maybe closer to some kind of meta-truth than a clean scrubbed utterly inoffensive narrative. The Atlantic article points out that the way college students think today mirrors patterns that cause depression and anxiety. As shit as surfers can be, we ain’t that and I hope our dialogues stay loose, fast, generally uneducated, ill-informed, wildly opinionated and, above all, fun.