Italo Ferreira
And here we see last year's rookie of the year Italo Ferreira jibbing to a last-minute win against luckless Kanoa Igarashi. | Photo: WSL

Day One: Taj + Wilko’s pure homicide!

Come feel the familiar aching of tension at the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro!

What a cut-throat savage Taj Burrow is. Did you see the way the almost 38-year-old twanged with excitement in the opening heat of the Margaret River Pro, the one that’s drug aware?

If you missed it, you may watch the oddly electric marvel here. Jeremy Flores experienced a few moments of transient joy in the heat, Alex Ribeiro not so many. Both were left to make anguished sounds as they trudged back to the carpark.

Italo Ferreira took to the air like a frisbee!

Julian Wilson stomped a raucous flamenco and the judges duly nibbled at his earlobes.

Matt Wilkinson might appear to be enjoying an interior chuckle every time he’s interviewed, but in the water he’s an alley fighter. His glare is pure homicide. He’ll tear someone’s fucking head off if he even gets close to a title!

Matt Banting is a very good surfer whose style resembles an overly courteous waiter constantly bending over your table inquiring, in annoying tones, if everything is alright. He was sent to the showers by Nat Young despite an almost-nine, one of the highest scores of the day.

Do you think Gabriel Medina writes notes on pink paper and encloses them in perfumed envelopes? But who can ignore Gabriel’s bludgeon strokes and the way he blitzed the Australian and the historically significant Italian?

Who will dagger a fingernail down our spines tomorrow? Let’s watch Dawn Patrol at seven am! 

Drug Aware Margaret River Pro Men’s Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Taj Burrow (AUS) 16.34, Jeremy Flores (FRA) 16.10, Alex Ribeiro (BRA) 5.43
Heat 2: Julian Wilson (AUS) 17.10, Adam Melling (AUS) 15.47, Kai Otton (AUS) 12.06
Heat 3: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 12.67, Stuart Kennedy (AUS) 9.17, Dusty Payne (HAW) 7.60
Heat 4: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 15.67, Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 14.54, Jack Robinson (AUS) 9.70
Heat 5: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 16.70, Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 12.27, Davey Cathels (AUS) 10.16
Heat 6: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 13.10, Jacob Willcox (AUS) 12.40, Keanu Asing (HAW) 10.64
Heat 7: Michel Bourez (PYF) 14.14, Jordy Smith (ZAF) 14.04, Alejo Muniz (BRA) 13.13
Heat 8: Nat Young (USA) 15.93, Matt Banting (AUS) 15.53, Caio Ibelli (BRA) 14.60
Heat 9: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 12.84, Conner Coffin (USA) 11.26, Ryan Callinan (AUS) 10.50

Drug Aware Margaret River Pro Men’s Remaining Round 1 Match-Ups:
Heat 10: Kelly Slater (USA), Kolohe Andino (USA), Miguel Pupo (BRA)
Heat 11: John John Florence (HAW), Adrian Buchan (AUS), Sebastian Zietz (HAW)
Heat 12: Wiggolly Dantas (BRA), Josh Kerr (AUS), Jadson Andre (BRA)

A side-effect of the Melbourne pool, if the artist's rendering is correct, will be the sudden lack of crowds around Torquay every weekend. Such a win and a win! | Photo: Urbn Surf Melbourne

Melbourne Wavepool to cost $18.5 Mill!

And the exact street address? Want to know where it is?

Yesterday morning, inland surfers from Melbourne, Australia, awoke to terrific news.

The Wave Park Group, users of Wavegarden technology, chose Tullamarine, that bleak airport suburb just under twenty clicks from the city, as the site for their first Australian Wavepool. 

Clearly, this is the greatest thing Melbourne surfers have ever heard. Can you imagine living under a permanent layer of cloud, miles, hours, from ridable waves, your life squandered in cafes and restaurants, getting your kicks from watching, admittedly excellent, live music?

Details have been scant thus far, but a phone call to the PR company spruiking the joint, revealed these details:

It’ll cost $18.5 mill to build (the money raised privately) on a seven hectare site (with a thirty-year lease) that, right now, is the home to the Melbourne Airport Club, just across the road from the Essendon football club.

The address is  309 Melrose Dr, Tullamarine, if y’wondering. Click here to see what it looks like at the moment. 

The company claims there’ll be 300 jobs created during the build, 45 full-time when it opens in late 2017.

The pool will fill almost four hectares.

Sixty eight surfers can ride the pool every year, divided into “16 advanced level surfers, 8 intermediate level surfers and 44 beginner level surfers.”

The company “intends to source 100% of its power requirements from renewable sources.”

Costwise, they’re not a hundred per cent sure what the sting’s gonna be. Depends how it works out.

The tank in Wales, Surf Snowdonia, hits “advanced surfers” with 45 quid an hour or $US65 and Melbourne’ll probably charge something similar.

A bargain?

Yeah it is, when it saves the Victorian surfer four hours on the road to maybe find wind-blown junk in fifty degree water.

Official: The Death of Surf!

Retail giant PacSun files for bankruptcy!

Are you good at business? I’m not. Ideas, magical ideas, ping off the inside of my skull all night long. Each one worth a million dollars. Two even. They cross all manner of industries, from toys to special hairbrushes to a pocket knife that doubles as a vape pen.

In the morning, when the sun shines harsh, I realize they are all very terrible plans and I am destined to blog/write the great unfinished surf novel. It gives me some measure of comfort though to know that PacSun executives are also bad at business. The surf wear retailer filed for bankruptcy today and few tears were shed. The Los Angeles Times reports:

Beachy teen retailer Pacific Sunwear of California Inc. used to be the place to go for surf and skate apparel.

But on Thursday, the Anaheim apparel company commonly known as PacSun filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, the latest in a string of California teen activewear retailers that have struggled to adapt to changing fashion trends.

Those companies have been plagued by the same issues facing many apparel companies — the move toward online shopping instead of bricks-and-mortar stores, and the popularity of so-called fast fashion retailers, which quickly cycle through new looks and stay up-to-date with the latest styles.

“Fast fashion is killing these guys,” said Paula Rosenblum, an analyst with Retail Systems Research. “If the surf look is not in, you’ve got to pivot to another brand of styling.”

And there you have it. Surf = California Pizza Kitchen + Eddie Bauer. A smarter business man than I, and one engaged in the industry, said:
Let’s see…Publicly traded company that required unsustainable double digit growth to feed the beast. At some point the masses don’t need more surf shit and Pac Sun could simply no longer force feed it to the mainstream. This is actually the second time around where they found themselves trying to adapt to a more urban consumer because surf went soft. Happened in the mid 90’s as well.
In many ways, PacSun is the bloated poster child for the whole US surf industry: Out of touch with the core consumer, too many products, poor quality products, terrible branding, too many store fronts, etc. They also do these super cheesy private label lines that they rip off the design from the other brands and sell it at a price point. Full train wreck.
From the actual bankruptcy filings. In PacSun’s opinion, “the action sports segment of the retail industry, around which the company’s early success centered, is no longer as relevant as it had previously been.” 
Maybe it’s just the big box retailer/PacSun model is no longer relevant?
Hope springs eternal! But do you know what the great Michael Tomson, founder of Gotcha and More Core Division told me? He said, “I used to think the surf industry was a boulevard of broken dreams. Now I think it’s becoming a mass burial site.”
Would you like to invest in my company? It makes pocket knives that double as vape pens.

Surfer Gals in Bangladesh!

Decent people teaching surf, helping the fairer sex access a bright spot in a dark world…

I’m very suspicious of do-goodery. People travel across the globe, shoe-horn themselves into other cultures, try to “help.” Not a fan of that mindset, especially when the helpers are western world honkeys. We don’t have the best track record and the road to hell is well paved with good intentions.

All too often good deeds are just a mask for bad. Delusional freaks trying to switch out the entrenched barbaric superstitions for their personal brand. Cherry picked verse and supposed salvation. Ignore the depredations of today, your reward rests in eternity.

But maybe not, maybe I’m wrong. Could it really be? Is there really no ulterior motive, just decent people teaching water safety, helping the fairer sex access a bright spot in a dark world?

Sure, Islam is wicked and misogynistic, but no more so than Christianity. Bible thumper missionary assholes looking to displace the existing regime. A means to control, build a following, find some sheep to fleece. Here’s your role, god says so. Fall in line.

Surfer girls in Bangladesh rings warning bells. Plenty of cocksuckers out there raping the positive from surfing by using it to hide their true intentions. Stinks to high heaven, false prophets running non-profits.

Went into this story looking for the angle. Who benefits? Why bother? Surfing ain’t gonna save the world, teaching impoverished girls to slide waves does no good in the long term.

None of the parents reacted well to hearing their daughters were surfing. Besides the danger, they worried about the girls’ reputations in a profoundly male-dominated society.

Neighbors gossiped. Some of the girls were harassed on the street or riding in auto-rickshaws. A few parents said young men came to their houses accusing the girls of behaving improperly.

“Men assume they’re coming to the beach to do bad stuff,” said Venessa Rude, Alam’s Bakersfield-born wife, who first came to Cox’s Bazar four years ago to volunteer for a charity.

“No one is used to seeing confident girls like this.”

Dig and dig and dig, where’s the dirt? Gotta be there, I know it! No one’s hands are clean.

But maybe not, maybe I’m wrong. Could it really be? Is there really no ulterior motive, just decent people teaching water safety, helping the fairer sex access a bright spot in a dark world?

That appears to be the case, and I couldn’t be happier to be wrong. Women get a raw deal worldwide, anything pushing for equality is good work in my book.

I’m so accustomed to feeling disillusioned, finding the bad, proving my suspicions correct. But that looks like it’s not the case.

Teaching girls to surf won’t save the world, but teaching them to defy gender roles will change it for the better.

Jeremy Flores Reunion Island

Must see: The best surf film of year!

How Reunion Island was held hostage by sharks and the people's response… 

There’s a joke going around mainland France that the country’s para-Olympian team is comprised of residents of Reunion Island. It ain’t far off the money.

When a marine reserve was created off the west coast in 2007, the joint turned into a bloodbath. A Tarantino splatterfest. Twenty attacks, including seven deaths in the last four years.

As Reunion-raised Jeremy Flores pointed out a year ago, “From generation to generation there were always fishermen and then people from overseas, environmentalists, came and they stopped fishing in a 10-kilometre area where all the shark attacks are now happening. That was eight years ago. By the time they stopped fishing the sharks didn’t have anything to fear anymore so they started coming and now it’s dead territory. They ate everything. There is no more life. There is no more turtles. There is no more fish. No more nothing. No more reef sharks. Because the bull sharks have eaten everything. And now, because there’s nothing left to eat, it’s the surfers.”

Suddenly, the natives of this idyllic island, whose leisure was almost entirely leisure based, were told they couldn’t swim, couldn’t surf, unless underwater divers were present.
Popular opinion in France, and remember this is a French department so they’re bound by the laws of the distant mothership, was that, the ocean is the shark’s domain, swimmers and surfers should accept the danger etc. Usual platitudes that forget that it was man’s intervention that cooked this catastrophe in the first place.
It wasn’t always that way.
For a time there in the nineties, Reunion was the most exotic stop on the world tour. Mountains, blue-water reef passes, pretty brown-skinned, blue-eyed gals and all bound up with all the good French bits (food culture, education, language) without any of the stiff French formality.
Anyway, Jeremy’s dad Patrick, the deputy mayor of Saint Leu, worked his ass off and, recently, got  a 610 metre net, protecting a bathing area of 84,000sq m, installed off dreamy Boucan Canot and a 500 metre net installed off Roches Noires.
Surfing is back on the menu.
This film Radical Times Ile de la Reunion documents, in a beautifully Wes Anderson kinda way, the narrative arc of an island held hostage by sharks and their response.