Rapture: world’s slickest surf shop!

Designer wetsuits, package-free accessories, rows of monochromatic surfboards… 

The surfboard shaper Hayden Cox and his new wife Danielle are a comely couple. Hayden is model handsome with a boyish face and when he smiles revealed are rows of gigantic snowy perfect teeth.

Danielle’s rock-star blonde hair is piled into an exquisite nest (I make a note in my pad that says “celestial radiance of her profile”) and in her Balmain leather boots she hits a little over six feet.

The pair, she, a marketing whiz, he, the designer of the most successful surfboard model of all time, the Hyptpo Krypto, enter the luxury surf shop and HaydenShapes HQ they just bankrolled.

“Well…what do you think?” Danielle asks.

Oh, reader, if I had the writerly muscle to do the joint justice. I’ll attempt a sketch.

You are in an industrial area on Sydney’s northern beaches, near the Australian outlet for Channel Islands, among boat and furniture factories, fast-food takeaways and a shopping centre that presents as a giant brown-brick cube. This isn’t Saturdays in SoHo or General Admission in Venice or Korea’s Surf Code.  Where it is ain’t glamorous. But let’s walk through the door.

The ravages of hipster cliché are a mile away here. There’s no wood. There’s no pendant lighting. Nothing vintage. No motorcycles or coffee machines. Nothing that screams the buzzword “authentic!”

Instead, it’s wall-to-wall polished concrete with an asymmetrical counter of fabricated concrete shadowed by a large screen built into the wall showing black-and-white surf films of empty waves and occasionally Craig Anderson. Surfboards of matte and polished black, and white, hang from bespoke clothing racks.


Deck pads in either black or white from Astrodeck, Octopus and Modom are relieved of their packaging and are displayed on different sized blocks of concrete.

There is a row of Saturdays Surf clothing and accessories, some Bassike and fins and wetsuit cleaner and so forth by HaydenShapes.

What steals my eye, apart from a semi-secret surfboard model that is the logical progression of the Hypto Krypto, is a small rack with wetsuits designed by Danielle. All made from three mm-thick Japanese Yamamoto rubber, with a fine internal lining.


You want to order a board?

Swing on over to the bespoke wood and leather couches and grab a Galaxy tablet. Hayden has developed a beautiful piece of design software called HSSTUDiO.

In real time, you can design your board, complete with 3-D movable pictures. Every time you tweak a dimension, your volume changes. Add a spray and it appears. Pinch and pull the surfboard image to investigate its curves from whatever angle.

When y’done, press buy and it goes straight to the counter.


If you’re tyre-kicking, strap on the VR goggles and take a tour of HS’ factory. See a board shaped. See a board glassed.

“You are in my design space with me among the dust, resin and tools,” says Hayden.

It’s a wild enough experience, a reminder, that for all the slickness and curvaceousness that surrounds, this is a surfboard shop.

About the store Hayden says: “I love the idea of being progressive and pushing the industry to evolve,” he says. “We wanted to do this differently to what people have seen before.”

“We Brazzo distroy you suck all dick!”

Race baiting is at an all time high. Who can unite us all?

Two months ago, Rory Parker predicted that dear Adriano de Souza would win both the World Surf League crown and also the Pipeline Masters (HERE). And how prescient is that? It made me very happy because I felt the little man’s tireless work ethic, his up-by-the-bootstraps pluck, his gold chain resting against hairy chest would coalesce the world under a banner of happy reconciliation (HERE).

And don’t you want a people’s champ to hold the trophy this year? Our world is very fractured. The 1% fights the 99%. Islamic radicals fight good-livin’ folk. Donald Trump fights Mexicans and Muslims and handicapped people. An ADS championship could unite us all. Don’t you want that? Don’t you wish for world peace?

I wrote at the time and then he did win and the surf world did not unite in peace but, rather, exploded into racist hyperbole. The camps shot back and forth with Brazilians preferring a generally angry/shouty FUCK YOU AUSSIE FUCK tone and non-Brazilians preferring a less obvious/more insidious type of institutionalized bigotry. Like commenting on ADS’s, but also Medina’s and Toledo’s “style” which is really just another way of saying the boys surf “non-white” no?

And has the surf world ever been more divided down racial lines? It has always been extremely territorial, and territorial claims have, from time to time, exploded. It has also been generally classist, but has it ever been this explicitly racist? I think not.

It’ll be interesting to see if the animosity spills from online comment boards into real life. Like, will Bali’s various waves turn into mini-apocalypses with roving bands of Brazilian youth fighting roving bands of white youth? Pitchforks and things? Will it feel like West Side Story with the Jets vs. Sharks?

Is there a Brazilian surfer who can unite the camps, a shreddy Gandhi? Is there an American/Australian surfer who can? A rippy Robert Kennedy?

And, if not, who will choreograph our dance rumbles?

Can't we all just get along?
Can’t we all just get along?

Yike: “Fatal Shark Attack Imminent!”

Someone gonna die on a Byron Bay-Ballina beach in January, says shark fisherman… 

The debate about shark fishing is the oddest thing I’ve ever encountered. We mow through every living creature that has even a modicum of texture and taste in its flesh, broiled, baked, served raw on deliciously fragrant rice, but when it comes to icing a few sharks we lose our shit.

We’re in their environment, surf at your risk, etc. 

To suggest a few nets are thrown up a couple of hundred metres offshore to let the human animal swim unmolested invites ridicule and the sort of venom that has become the characteristic of the rigid left-wing mind (Just ask ’em about that Great Satan, America).

South Africa, South Australian, northern California? Yeah, sharks, we know. I keep a ledger in my head of shark attacks and keep it vigorously updated. With each new Great White attack, I lick the nib and carefully draw an imaginary pencil line through the area.

But when Australia’s north-east coast, home to Bulls and Tigers, sure, but never Whites, suddenly became insanely packed with ’em, attacks happening every other month, you’d would think, logically, maybe the government could string up a few nets?

That isn’t going to happen, of course, at least not without a few years of hand-wringing and a few more deaths.

Anyway, this morning, The Australian newspaper’s Fred Pawle interviewed  a Ballina shark fisherman. It makes for instructive reading.

Let’s examine.

“If anyone in Ballina knows sharks, it’s David Woods. A commercial fisherman, he says he caught an average of 3.8 4m-long sharks every working day for 15 years. Now, having seen a spate of people killed or mauled by sharks around the northern NSW town, he says another fatal attack is ­imminent.

“Mr Woods stopped fishing for sharks in 2009 because restrictions on catches and the paperwork involved made his business unviable. Other shark fishermen in the area have done the same.

‘I’m predicting there will be another fatal attack in January,’ he said.

“He said this was traditionally the month when large great whites migrated back down the coast. This, combined with the constant presence of juvenile great whites, tigers, bulls and bronze whalers had made the water unsafe. Asked what percentage of his catch of large sharks were species that attacked people, he said: “They all were.”

“A Department of Primary Industries spokeswoman dismissed any link between the decrease in shark fishing and the increase in attacks.

‘There is no evidence that a decrease in the commercial catch of sharks has resulted in the increased number of recent shark attacks,’ she said.

The NSW government has faced criticism over its apparent sluggish response to protecting ocean-goers, including the possible installation of shark nets on the north coast.

“Mr Woods bought his boat, designed to catch large sharks, in 2001 for $180,000. He targeted tiger and bull sharks and sold almost the whole body to various businesses: the meat went to fish fertiliser, fins were exported to China, liver and oil went to a Tasmanian smallgoods producer and the skin went to a South Australian tannery.

“At his peak, Mr Woods said, he was earning $250,000 to $300,000 a year., but he stopped fishing sharks in 2009 when the department introduced limits of 500kg a week. Now he is earning $80,000.”

“Another Ballina commercial fisherman, Paul Porter, said the worst time of year was January to March. Last year, while fishing for mackerel, often only 600m from where people were swimming, he was losing 20-30 fish a day to great whites stalking his boat. ‘The year before you’d lose maybe one a week,” he said. He estimated he lost $10,000 to $20,000 worth of fish to sharks in the three-month period.'”

Read more here!

What’s it like to have your head inside a living Great White? Click here!

And what’s it like to see your pal be swooped on by a White? Click here? 

Mick Fanning mom

An Open Letter To Mick Fanning…

From one grieving brother to another… 

(Editor’s note: This letter appeared on the Facebook of the Australian football player Cameron Cullen whose own brother died on a surf trip earlier this year…)

“An open letter to Mick fanning from one Aussie to another! Hi Mick, I am Cameron Cullen a 23 year old footballer playing for the Burleigh bears intrust super cup team chasing my dream of playing nrl !

In 7 days I will become a father of a little daughter to my amazing girlfriend ! This may never get to you but the reason I am writing to you is because what I witnessed today has absolutely stunned me and I cannot stop thinking about it ! About 5 months ago my brother passed away on a surfing trip in the Maldives he was my best mate and it absolutely ripped me apart !

3 days after his funeral I played a game of rugby league against tweed heads! On the field I could not stop thinking about him about the last day we spent together the last phone call we shared the picture of his body in the coffin at the viewing I cried on the field in the sheds at halftime at half time, full time I was a mess !

3 days after his funeral I played a game of rugby league against tweed heads! On the field I could not stop thinking about him about the last day we spent together the last phone call we shared the picture of his body in the coffin at the viewing I cried on the field in the sheds at halftime at half time, full time I was a mess !

And I consider myself to be pretty mentally tough I have done 3 nrl pre seasons 2 with broncos 1 with cowboys and been put through some brutal stuff but it had nothing on this ! We lost and I can’t even really remember what I did in that game! I can remember having all my family and friends on the hill supporting me but I just felt numb I was and still am struggling to cope with the fact he is really gone ! I find it hard at the moment to be motivated and inspired I find it a hard enough task to be the happy out going person I once was ! But seeing what you did today lifted me !

Not only have you been through this pain before losing a brother but to have to go through it again and find out the morning of one of your most important competitions of your career chasing a 4th title win is just unfair ! Many men tough as nails including my self would fall in a heap…

Not only have you been through this pain before losing a brother but to have to go through it again and find out the morning of one of your most important competitions of your career chasing a 4th title win is just unfair ! Many men tough as nails including my self would fall in a heap !

You went out and surfed one of the best heats at the pipe masters and won ! Keeping your title hopes alive ! You are an absolute inspiration not only to me but many people in Australia and across the world ! Thank you so much for the strength and courage that you showed today it gave me hope that I can push through this !

I’m writing this today because regardless of where you finish your world champion in my eyes !”

Conspiracy: WSL robs Mick Fanning?

Because Brazil is financing the World Surf League?

There is a particular strain of conspiracy bubbling in various surf website comment boards and it is that Brazil is the future of the World Surf League and, therefore, gifted a world champion to keep the country glued to its screens. That Gab Medina’s air, in the dying minutes of his semifinal over Mick Fanning was purposely overscored as to dash Mick’s title run and put Adriano de Souza in the driver’s seat.

I generally loathe conspiracy theory but this one is particularly egregious because it is flies in the face of logic in so so so so many ways.

A) Just imagine had Mick won. With his year he would have been invited onto every television talk show, big powerful monied holiday party, etc. It would have been free advertising for an entity that is in financial trouble. It would have put the WSL’s product in front of people that, otherwise, do not care. He was the story of the year but not really anymore because that story doesn’t have an easily digestible ending now.

B) Brazil is in even deeper financial trouble than the WSL. Its economy is crumbling under a variety of weights and the upcoming summer Olympics will steal any extra potential dollars/limelight. As a country, it is in absolutely no position to float professional surfing even with a Brazilian storm blowing at gale force.

C) The commentators’ faces when Adriano was being chaired up the beach.


And that, conspiracy theorists, is really all you need. A) and B) were just for kicks! C) is the proof! Now there is a picture worth 10000000 words!

Adriano de Souza, no matter what you feel, won the crown fair and absolutely square. What is more, the fact that he won also suggest that the judges went against the league’s best interest to be fair and absolutely square.

So I doff my gargantuan white Purps chapeau toward Santa Monica, home of the World Surf League. They got it right.