Good morning Fresno!

Did Reddit Find Kelly Slater’s Wave Pool?

…oh you'll never guess where!

What did we do before the miracle of the internet? Before we could jam hither and yon, sharing information with the punch of a key?

For a few hours this morn, it looked like the entire world was pushed up against their laptop and phone screens, gobbling up the just-loosed video of Kelly Slater’s wave pool.

Of course, the short is low on details, Kelly choosing to eschew all references and details. Whereupon Reddit, that fabulous online bulletin board full of devoted keyboard jockeys, filled in the blanks.

Street views, satellite views, anecdotal evidence, comparison of trees, of buildings.

From stuftup: “Basically gonna confirm its the lake on the right – the one under construction in the google aerial map. Check the building styles from the street view and the screencap:

Hell, the building in the background of the screencap where you can see the two rollup doors on the left side may be the same one from the street view.

Screen Shot 2015-12-19 at 9.13.14 am

From Weatherhaboob: “It think we found it boys! I don’t like blowing up spots but this is different. I really think this is it.”



Want more on these sleuthing threads? Dive in here and here. 

Cruel: Kelly Slater steals ADS thunder!

He is an absolute master.

I was enjoying a wonderful cup of coffee this morning with ol’ pal Ashton Goggans. You remember him? He used to write great things for us here. We were speaking on all manner of fun topics, just having a good time. Then Bart Wilson, Julian’s brother, came up and we talked about more fun things until Bart said, “Have you seen Kelly’s new wave pool?”

And FUCK! There went my wonderful cup of coffee and nice sunny chat. I had to sprint home to try and toss the video on our little site. Thankfully Rory, floating in the middle of the ocean, beat me to it but my morning was still gutted. Wrecked.

Kelly Slater is an absolute master of stealing the spotlight any time it drifts, slightly, from his handsome face. He was mad at me for having a cup of coffee and not talking about him and so he released a perfect video that is burning the Internet down.

Worse still, though, is poor Adriano de Souza. Hours ago, literally hours, he was on top of it all. He was champion of the world, the first ever Brazilian Pipe Master too! He had etched his name into the record books and could sit back and be lauded for a hard-fought year.

Except he couldn’t because when he woke up this morning the lauders were glued to computer screens not watching his year’s highlights but ogling Kelly Slater’s magnificent wave.

I want to be frustrated but he is so good at it, so utterly masterful, that all I can do is stand, mouth agape, like everyone else. Oh, my mouth is not agape at the wave. It scares me in a way that I cannot explain. Like, really points to the end of the world somehow.

No, I stand in awe of Kelly Slater. 43 years old. Ended the year in 9th place. And he is still the epicenter of our world. Bravo and here’s looking at you, kid

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Kelly Slater Wave Company
"This is something I dreamt about as a kid," says Kelly. "Through rigorous science and technology, we’ve been able to design and build what some said was impossible, and many very understandably never thought would actually happen. I’m proud to say we took our time to get it right, and the first fully-working prototype of the wave now exists."

Just in: Kelly Slater Wave Pool!

And you thought it was bullshit, right?



I’ve always assumed that the Kelly Slater Wave Company was more or less bullshit. Like, a tax dodge, or some deal where a dude offered Kelly bunch of equity in exchange for his name, and used that name to slide through re-zoning deals.

Guess not, though. Kelly dropped the bomb this morning on Instagram:

Now that the world title has been decided and events for the year have finished, I’m excited to show you what I’ve been sitting on for the past couple of weeks. For nearly ten years, my team and I have been working on creating the first truly world-class, high-performance, human-made waves. This is something I dreamt about as a kid. Through rigorous science and technology, we’ve been able to design and build what some said was impossible, and many very understandably never thought would actually happen. I’m proud to say we took our time to get it right, and the first fully-working prototype of the wave now exists (a huge personal thank you to everyone in our lab and on our team for seeing this through!). I’ll be sharing more details in the coming weeks and months but I can’t wait any longer to share a film of my experience surfing the wave for the first time, almost two weeks ago. It was an insane day. I’m still a little in disbelief, and trying to process how much fun this wave is, but it certainly feels like this is going to change a lot of perceptions about human-made waves. There’s a direct link in my bio to to view the short film. Can’t wait to see other people surf it soon and show what is possible on this thing. #KSWaveCo #FreakOfTechnology#LooksLikeSuperbank but#NotCrowded!

Hot damn! Thing shits all over the Wave Garden, huh?

"I’m still a little in disbelief, and trying to process how much fun this wave is, but it certainly feels like this is going to change a lot of perceptions about human-made waves."
“I’m still a little in disbelief, and trying to process how much fun this wave is, but it certainly feels like this is going to change a lot of perceptions about human-made waves.”

Which is, at first glance, what this looks like. A much bigger, far better, many times more powerful, version of the Wave Garden. Which isn’t to say they stole ideas or anything…

But let’s keep our expectations realistic. The limited footage doesn’t address numerous factors- most importantly, is it a viable business? Costs an awful lot to generate that much power, so unless the KSWC also came up with cold fusion, sending those bombs down the line all day long is going to be unreal expensive to run.

Then there’s the more mundane problems WG’s already run into.

Water is heavy, will moving that much constantly break components? Where does the energy go? Is it going to be a half hour between waves as it settles, or be a choppy soupy mess as it runs? Why not the circle pool idea? That one was always my fave.

Slater’s face lighting up at the beginning of the clip is totes adorbs, the wave looks like a surf-starved teenager’s wet dream, and I’d bet dollars to donuts KS and Co is already working to figure out freshwater surfboards. Kelly Slater brand boards on Kelly Slater Brand waves.

Post-sesh Purps for power while wrapped in Outerknown’s latest. The potential for synergy is endless!

In Defense of the Tawdry

A continual tilting toward windmills!

The sun rose this morning on a new surf landscape. One where a proud little worker bee from Sao Paulo, Brazil with the letters H and D emblazoned on the nose of his surfboard (what’s HD?) stands above the blonde/bald Adonises. One where we can speak truthfully about things maybe?

I hate to keep beating this drum but just one more time, for clarity’s sake!

Yesterday early, I published details of Mick Fanning’s brother’s death. Through the day Derek and I debated its pertinence before Derek evaporated it in the afternoon and published the wonderful piece What is Newsworthy? documenting why/how we do what we do.

And in the comments a very great discussion took place, one that inspired. The whole reason I published in the first place, even though, it turned my stomach was because I am tired, exhausted even, of the surf media being a dumb ostrich. Anytime something veers into the distasteful or uncomfortable we put our collective head in the sand. It has become patently absurd especially when things are either widely reported externally and/or very very public on social media or elsewhere.

Longtom said it well. “It was bizarre (that day) hearing people giving shout outs to Mick and wondering what the fuck was going on and then watching the whole thing blow up into a huge mainstream story……like every News Bulletin I heard today featured it as the lead story, front page of New Ltd newspapers. Can’t silence something that is news to that extent, no matter how much you want to respect the family. At that point it seems ridiculous, surreal even to try.”

Derek added, succinctly, that part of BeachGrit‘s trouble when it comes to reporting uncomfortable truths is, “the architecture of our site doesn’t help. Our headlines… YELL… and give the impression we’re tap-dancing every time we post…”

Completely true. Still, one of the things I most wanted to do when we founded this little nugget was to be honest about what’s happening. Anti-depressiveness first but truthfulness also even when tawdry second!

Burt Reynolds (welcome Bo “Bandit” Darville!) added, “When you want the idea of exposing the truth to become why people read as opposed to what you feel your individual narrative can give to a story then you’ve stepped a foot wrong in my opinion.”

And he is exactly right. I don’t want to be an ugly tabloid and would never, ever report something personal and private. I have sat on more of those stories than I can count. But, again, if something is widely reported and/or impossible to ignore public then, hell, even if it turns the stomach it flies, in my opinion, because opening up the window and letting air into the stale, ultra-conservative, fearful den that is the current state of the surf has value.

Captain Clark added, ” I personally don’t think dodging the elephant in the room does anyone any good albeit done in the right way. Dodging enables the issue to fester causing regrets.” And boredom. And an utterly skewed perspective. And slow slow death.

So I will keep tilting at this damned windmill unless a super minority says, “Stop it!” And I will point back to this post, the next time, because it is not personal and it is not mean-spirited. The truth is simply nothing to fear.


What is Newsworthy?

Opinions on what should and shouldn’t be reported splits BeachGrit!

Earlier today, BeachGrit reported on the grittier details of Mick Fanning’s brother Peter’s death.

News outlets in Australia and in the UK had quoted a senior police officer confirming the likely cause of death, and BeachGrit principal Chas Smith, who has a commitment to candour, reprinted the uncomfortable news.

I woke to the story all over my Facebook, all over BeachGrit, and it belted me.

In my opinion, it ain’t in BeachGrit’s anti-depressive style to talk about anything that, while titillating and superficially popular, might cause anyone unnecessary grief or suffering.

A man loses his brother? How about we peel back a notch.

In a different context, but one that can be applied with vigour here, the writer Sebastian Junger said: “There are no journalistic ethics that transcend the value of human life. There are none. In a situation where you can save a human life, you must. There isn’t any conflict in my mind.”

Substitute “dignity” for “life” and it fits.

So, Chas and me had a back and forth all morning.

“It became a story because everyone did stories on it but no one looked it in the eye,” Chas texted me. “That’s my opinion. That’s why it ran. ”

As gatekeepers and curators of a thousand potential stories every week, the editor runs a fine line.

Four years ago, I commissioned a story on the photographer Paul Sargeant despite being told he was suicidal and that the story of his sexual assault on a surf journalist would be like pulling the trigger on a gun pointed at his head.

I thought about it for the two years it took Fred Pawle to write one of the better stories ever printed in a surfing magazine. In the end, I felt it was a story the public should know and that any further suppression of it would just prove how shifty and weak surf mags were, are.

Sometimes opening the gate can be a positive experience. Like a story I commissioned, again by Fred Pawle, on surfing’s first openly gay surfer. 

As for today’s story, Chas added “I thought lots and lots about it but I could easily be wrong.”

Yeah, we got it wrong. So wrong. Would we write anything for a few hits?

I’m not one for pulling stories (unless I’m going to get my ass sued. Hello WSL.) but this didn’t fit our game.

And so we evaporated it.

Getting it wrong, and sometimes crossing lines, is the messy, noisy, price of candour.

“It’s a demon’s game,” says Chas. “That’s what I thought and thought and thought about. The surf industry sweeps everything under the carpet. It’s what it does and that is fine because feathers don’t get ruffled but what if we all just committed to the truth for once? I get the insensitivity and it made my stomach turn too but son of a bitch. What if someone has a drug problem brother right now who read the piece and maybe thought to go talk to him? Being sensitive is wonderful. But being truthful can also be.”