Just in: Shark Bites Surfer!

Surfer saves pal in attack at Bombo Beach on Australia's east coast… 

It feels like forever since Australia’s been whipped into a shark frenzy. Do you remember, and you will because it’s only a year or two ago, when Western Australia appeared to’ve become unsurfable, such were the numbers of great whites?

And then it was the stretch of coast between Ballina and Byron Bay on Australia’s east coast that became ground zero for great whites. Quiet there now, too, despite warnings earlier this year that further attacks were imminent. 

Maybe it’s ’cause everyone surfs in packs, avoids dawn and dusk, and maybe it’s ’cause of all those shark spotting apps that puts the fear of god into everyone, dramatically reducing numbers.

Anyway, 22-year-old surfer Brett Connellan just lost “three quarters of his thigh” in an attack last night at Bombo Beach, a couple of hours south of Sydney.

According to news.com.au,

“A young surfer was lucky to survive a horrific shark ­attack last night after his left thigh was ripped off at Bombo Beach near Kiama on the south coast.

“It was only the heroic and quick-thinking actions of a fellow boardrider — who dragged his mate to shore and stemmed the gushing blood flow — that saved the 22-year-old’s life.

“As the victim lay barely conscious on the sand with deep puncture wounds, his friend used the leg rope of his surfboard to stop the bleeding.

“He was in a critical condition and his blood pressure was dangerously low,” ambulance Inspector Geoff Senior said. “The actions of his surfing companion kept him alive until our paramedics were able to perform a blood transfusion.”

“The victim, who last night was in a stable condition in St George Hospital, was surfing about 100m out to sea on the northern end of the beach — not far from recent sightings of large white pointers — when he was attacked about 7pm.”

Read more here. 

Suddenly discovered an interest shark repellants? Click here! 

Confession: I’m Mick Fanning!

The new WSL jersey spot inspires!

World Surf League – Mick Fanning from Tristan Houghton on Vimeo.

Can I be honest with you for one moment? Can I share a burden that weighs heavily on my heart? A dark secret? I’m a fan of the World Surf League’s jersey advertisement! I am really and not ironically! Look at how the sun shines on this beautiful mise en scene. Look at the happy, ethnically diverse faces. Look at the age range, from young to very old! Look at how enthusiastically Mick embraces them all at the end, with a warm, endearing smile. He’s an actor! A natural! If I was a casting agent and looking for the next rom-com or musical star I would look no further. He is the roguish chap with a heart of gold. A prankster who knows when it is time to hug.

Of course some religious groups might be underrepresented and also females but rude of me to even bring up because the piece is basically perfect. It represents a universe where professional surfers are bright lights. Where everyday people cheer for them like they do baseball, football or rugby teams and where that adoration is humbly returned.

Of course the jersey itself looks like abomination. A thick, lycra hideously draping piece of garbage that will only serve to gum up landfills and clog back pores but rude of me to even mention because the piece is an award-winner.

But, real quick, how is it supposed to be worn exactly? In the water? With jeans? Shorts?

But rude of me. I’m sorry. It really is an almost perfect advertisement for our Internet age. Digestible, sharable, understandable and bravos must be given where bravos are due. So bravo WSL! Bravo!

And what do you think? Are you inspired like me? Would you gladly trade in your jaded worldview for the one represented here?

Mason HO

Mason Ho: How to nail interviews!

“I got the censor button on a hundred million times…”

Who does a post-heat interview better than Mason Ho? No one, right? He vibrates like a little dog!

His shaper Matt Biolos describes him as “a saviour from the fucking corporate, straight-laced, uptight, fucking, pre-planned-interview-answer surfing world we live in today.”

So what’s the secret? What makes a kid who grew up at Sunset Beach so lucid when he gets a microphone jammed under his chin?

These, and more questions, I threw at Mason a few hours ago as he reclined, sipping tea, at his Bird Rock rental, near Bells Beach. It was a lay-day for the Rip Curl Pro, maybe the first of a few, and the interviewer finds his subject full of gusto…

BeachGrit: How do you make an interview good? 

Mason: If you want me to be completely honest, my sister scolded me pretty gnarly yesterday about my interviews so from what she said, I need to…answer… the questions. She told she saw a guy rolling his eyes behind me. I told her, “Coco, you must understand, I don’t care about the guy rolling his eyes. You must understand I’m just saying exactly what I’m thinking and I’m thinking a lot of stuff but I’m not saying all of it because I want to be a good role model.” I just want to be good. I want everything happy and good. Everything I’m thinking…is…happy and good but I don’t want to sound too happy and too good.

BeachGrit: Y’got a censor button? It don’t seem like it.

Mason: I got the censor button on a hundred million times. But then, I still want to express myself.

BeachGrit: Do you fizz with nervous energy when the microphone appears? 

Mason: No, I’m just so happy and trying to catch my breath. My dad was saying the other day, when you go into a heat, you’re like an artist and you get this little bit of time to out there and do all your paintings. Uh, oh… I’m doing exactly what Coco said. I’m not answering the questions again. Where was I going with that?

BeachGrit: I like it. When you surf a heat, you’re like an artist. 

Mason: You could liken it to a cooking show. The chefs have the hour to cook their meal with the certain materials. We go out in the water and our boards are our knives. And it is like painting. You paint whatever you want and then you show it to the judges. When I try to explain to my dad about the art on my boards, he always tells me not to forget the black pin-ines. It’s an analogy for surfing heats. Get arty but don’t forget the basic and fundamental things.

BeachGrit: Tell me something we don’t know about you and Bells…

Mason: Well, that first heat, I actually used one of  Dad’s boards. It was a four-fin and I’m…over… four fins and he only rides four fins. It was this funny little board he had. I barely squeaked through the heat and I didn’t rip it, I didn’t look awesome, but it was a big heat. Jeremy Flores is super gnarly, I have so much respect for him, but I squeaked through on Dad’s board. He was so stoked afterwards, “You made it through on my board! A four fin!” I said, “I will not ride that thing again.”

The next day he was, like, “I’m going to the surf shop to get you a board (the waves had doubled in size).”  He called up Neil (Ridgway, Rip Curl) and Neil said, go grab any boards you want, so Dad went in and grabbed a board off the racks. It was this six-o by 19, numbers I don’t use, got it all ready, he was psyching on it, and it was a really good board. I made the next heat and after that we were so stoked. It was such a team thing. I didn’t get to say that in any of the interviews. None of ‘em asked questions like that.

BeachGrit: I always feel like y’get wrapped up too quickly.

Mason: I think they’re saving me from myself. Sometimes I feel like I’m in a heat. You warm up, then the gold starts coming out a little later.

BeachGrit: Is there a pressure now to come up with something good? 

Mason: Nah, I mean, it’s cool when you get to, but I just try to get in and get out of here. It’d be a dream to sound more like uncle Derek (1993 world champ Derek Ho). One time we were at the bar after I’d lost a heat at the US Open, and some guy said, “Bummer you lost out there. Why did you lose?”

Uncle Derek looks at him and says, “You know what? We never lose, sometimes we just run out of time!” I was right there, bingo, and I instantly ironed that thing into my head!

BeachGrit: You’ve been in a few CTs now. What are you feeling? Is it everything you ever imagined? 

Mason: It’s not my biggest thing, sometimes, in the moment, when I’m in the contest and being interviewed and shit, it’s huge for me, which it is, but it’s not the top top top. The top priority is family. Competing’s a cool little thing to keep me healthy.

BeachGrit: Bells. Damn, that’s a tough wave. What risks will you take to win? 

Mason: The only risk is really trying to crank it harder, wrap it harder, and draw little different lines.

BeachGrit: Talk about different lines. 

Mason: At Bells, it’s part of looking at the whole. At every part of the wave there’s always the warbles. It’s fun to see these warbles all around, you’re bottom turning and stuff’s coming up and sideways. Sometimes you can connect ‘em all together, you see a little warble on the bottom and you crank it off that one a little, or softly go off it, one long line, then you’re up in the lip, there’s a cross wedge in the lip, a little tight pocket you see. If you’re an inch off it, you’re not going to do it as good as you want. When you’re into the little things, I feel like the surfing is sick. It’s sick you’re in the bubble, you’re gauging how much power you want.

And then, when you really really do it, dude, it looks… nice. 

Dear Rory: “I’m a jerk in the water!”

Surfing is very fun, totally selfish, ultimately destructive.

Dear Rory,

Why does everyone want to save the world through surfing?

or alternately

When will we fully realize the dream of saving the world through surfing?


Confused Do-good Dude

Dear Rory writes:

Surfing is such a weird activity. Not really a sport, not quite a dance. Just a form of play we engage in when energy flowing through the ocean hits land. Very fun, totally selfish, ultimately destructive. Hard to avoid the reality that our boards are toxic and our accessories are made by slaves.

I often struggle with my own identity as a surfer, as it pertains to the group. It’s an undeniable label, proficiency in the water is something that comes from a lifetime of effort. No shortcuts, no dry land training, just countless wet hours, surfing, swimming, freediving. Sometimes, like this morning, simply bobbing around like a potato and enjoying the scenery.

I think people struggle with that knowledge. It’s an ugly combo, a deep love of a natural resource and the fact that our use of it is ultimately detrimental. But nearly impossible to avoid, unless you decide to commit yourself to nude bodysurfing. Which we all know is very fun, but leads to excessive sun exposure in the most delicate of places. You ever seen the degenerates who spend all their time hanging out a nude beach? Dicks like hunks of old jerky, not something to which a rational person aspires.

I often struggle with my own identity as a surfer, as it pertains to the group. It’s an undeniable label, proficiency in the water is something that comes from a lifetime of effort. No shortcuts, no dry land training, just countless wet hours, surfing, swimming, freediving. Sometimes, like this morning, simply bobbing around like a potato and enjoying the scenery.

Often, despite efforts to the contrary, I’m kind of a jerk in the water. I don’t like to talk much, tend to unintentionally mean mug people, answer friendly banter with terse grunts. Not because I resent the presence of others (or, at least, no more so than the norm), but because surfing is a solitary thing for me. I’m not looking to be part of a tribe, don’t have interest in meeting like minded folk. Like Groucho Marx, I’d never want to join a group that would have me as a member.

But that’s not the case for everyone. A lot of people, especially those who find the joy of riding waves later in life, want nothing more than to feel they’re part of a whole. They swallow the marketed culture hook, line, and sinker. Logo’d tees, stickered car windows, puka shell necklaces and Surfrider memberships. They’re jazzed in, they “know the feeling.” For them it’s a spiritual joining with nature, a deluded sense of fulfillment they’ve never found anywhere else. They feel like they’re onto something special, members of a magical secret club.

All completely empty claptrap, of course. Fishing, skiing, skateboarding, sailing, etc, they all scratch the same itch. Fun, kind of meditative, a moment in your daily struggles when nothing matters, you can exist in the moment.

The problem with people who actively seek fulfillment within the confines of a subculture: they’re generally stupid, and there are a hell of a lot of them. Sacrificing your individual identity in order to conform inevitably leads to groupthink, forming masses easily led by the cynical and greedy, unable to think critically because stepping out of line is grounds for exile.

Surfing as a whole has long been held hostage by the disingenuous, self-obsessed, or blatantly evil. The act of riding a wave can be relatively pure, but the business around it, and those who participate in it, are anything but. Dissenting voices are silenced, negative press is akin to murder. And, as a whole, everyone is okay with that.

Which leaves the door wide open for predators, people who possess the ability to lie with their entire body, spin “truth” from bullshit. All it takes is a quality grasp of rhetoric, words like “sustainable” and “green.” Meaningless certifications sold to bad actors, pointless initiatives that serve to funnel money into the pockets of frauds. The definition of “good” has been changed to mean doing slightly less bad. Sometimes not even that, a company can squeeze positive press out of something so simple as taking credit for the actions of others. Suck the cock of carbon offsets, as though damage done is somehow ameliorated by a stand of trees on the other side of the globe.

Groups seek leaders, and those with the ability are usually the last you’d want in charge. Too easy to swindle people, simply pander to their inherent decency, then attack anyone who points out flaws.

Surfing can’t save the world, nothing can. The best you can do is strive to be kind to those around you, and hope to hell the status quo outlasts your lifetime.

Email Dear Rory: [email protected]

Blood Feud: KS vs. Compliments!

Are you excited about Wavegarden's new Austin, Texas operation? What do think Kelly Slater feels?

If you really want your day wrecked, you can smash your hand with a hammer, drink a piña colada then lose your arm or have Kelly Slater give you a compliment.

Our 11 x world champion is an absolute master of the backhanded tribute. Commendations delivered in such a way that they sting worse than straight up curses. Just listen to him praise his competition after defeating them or losing. Ouch! He is an ace, an artist. Who could forget the way he congratulated freshly minted champ the day after he won his title?

Let’s look back at another classic. The company behind Wavegarden is set to launch a location in Austin, Texas any day now. The local surf community is thrilled, the neighborhood very excited. The eyes of the world will be upon their small hamlet. For the first time ever they get to shine!

But recall when the one in Wales opened? Very similar scenario and at that time Kelly tweeted: “Lots of talk/questions on wavegarden. Cool they made a wave but I think you’ll all be very happy when you see what we have in store. :)”

Does the knife go any deeper? Let’s examine!

First, there is the implied business of the lots of talk/questions. Of course talk/questions are bad in a business context and, of course, Kelly’s subtle prediction of failure came true! Surf Snowdonia’s Wavegarden was shuttered soon after The Kelly Slater Wavepool Company released their sexy li’l vid. Tears and unemployment gutted an already depressed Welsh landscape.

Second, there is the lack of capitalization on “wavegarden.” A classic move quietly stripping legitimacy.

Third, is the big slap. “Cool they made a wave…” Such a cold hearted slight! “Cool they made a wave…” “Cool you have a job…” “Cool he drives a car…” “Cool she got married…” “Cool they bought a house…” Can any statement that begins with “Cool they….” end in anything other than shame?

Fourth, to answer the question posed at the end of third, No! In case you were unsure though, throw a “but” into the mix! “Cool they made a wave but…”

Fifth, end the whole thing with an emoji. 🙂 Do you know what 🙂 equals? 🙁

And did you take notes? Employ what you learned right now! Text someone you hate a congratulations!