Jack Robinson
"I first became aware of him not as small-wave guy, the way I did with Filipe, Gabe, Kolohe, and every other young pro, but as a fully-formed charger in heavy waves," says Matt Warshaw. "You see that every now and then, and it’s almost supernatural. Jeff Hakman was like that. Kong was like that. You know they put in all the hard hours to get there, but on some level its eerie to see a kid, like 16, 17 or 18, surf like a cool old vet in gnarly conditions. You expect the crazy air game. You don’t expect perfect fading bottom turns at max Sunset." | Photo: WSL

Warshaw: “Jay Davies v Jack Robbo final!”

An all West Australian, all wildcard final at Margaret River, says Matt Warshaw… 

Did you hear? Eighteen-year-old Western Australian surfer Jack Robinson will be a wildcard at the Margaret River Pro, which may or may not start in two days.

Do you remember when Jack won the Pipeline Trials last year, beating the fleshy but not fat Jamie O’Brien, and the perfect Mason Ho? The boy with the hacksaw haircut and who wasn’t even at the gate of adulthood had two of Hawaii’s best surfers scrapping for second.

I believe Jack Robinson will win Margaret River and would’ve taken the WSL’s advice to use the betting agency Ladbrokes to secure a wager, but Jack is yet to appear on the form.

Depending upon the results of the locals trials event, Jack will either have Gabriel Medina and Davey Cathels in Heat 5 or Adriano de Souza and Keanu Asing in Heat 6.

In the meantime, I asked former pro, former Surfer editor and Encyclopedia of Surfing maven Matt Warsaw for his opinion of Jack, and more…

BeachGrit: You saw Jack during the Pipe Trials? You like?

Warshaw: He was amazing at Pipe, yeah. There was a heady moment early in the Masters where I thought maybe he’d go all the way. But even more impressive to me was how well Jack rode Sunset a couple weeks earlier, I think it was the HIC Pro. Smooth as silk, patient with the bottom turn, big flexing Andy Irons carves, super comfortable with all the wobble and lurch Sunset throws as you. Awesome stuff for an 18-year-old, especially when Sunset is such an afterthought for most young pros.

I first became aware of him not as small-wave guy, the way I did with Filipe, Gabe, Kolohe, and every other young pro, but as a fully-formed charger in heavy waves. You see that every now and then, and it’s almost supernatural.

What did you think of his Hawaiian debut?

Was that his first year in Hawaii?

Actually, no. First time in the Triple Crown, maybe.

Twenty years from now he’ll have enough Triple Crown trophies to make a suspension bridge.

Is Jack the most promising teen you’ve seen since Gabriel and Filipe?

Without a doubt. Maybe because I first became aware of him not as small-wave guy, the way I did with Filipe, Gabe, Kolohe, and every other young pro, but as a fully-formed charger in heavy waves. You see that every now and then, and it’s almost supernatural. Jeff Hakman was like that. Kong was like that. You know they put in all the hard hours to get there, but on some level its eerie to see a kid, like 16, 17 or 18, surf like a cool old vet in gnarly conditions. You expect the crazy air game. You don’t expect perfect fading bottom turns at max Sunset.

And the hair. Does Jack have the best hair since… who?

George Greenough. Surfs like Andy, grooms like George. Which just feels so perfect for right now. In terms of lovability, Jack, for me, is the shining opposite of Julian Wilson.

 Margarets starts this week; can you imagine what he’ll do in his home town? 

It’s the hardest event on the schedule to predict, but Jack would have to be among the favorites.

If it’s Box, he’s unbackable, I believe. Tell me your thoughts.

I wonder if Jay Davies is getting a start this year? If its Box and North Point, and those two are on opposite sides of the draw, it’s be pretty reasonable to pick them both for the final

Did you hear the story about Gabriel not wanting to surf Box last year and having to be coaxed out by the Renato Hickel? 

What I like about that story is Renato said “Look, you’re the Champ, you have to go out,” and Gabe basically grit his teeth, nodded, and gave it a shot. It wasn’t Filipe sitting at Teahupoo and not taking off. Gabe gave it a real dig. Lost to Jay Davies, so no shame there at all.

Wilko, tell me, is it ridiculous to call him a title contender?

It seems ridiculous, but who’s going to take him down? Mick’s out. Gabe’s already got a pair of 13ths. Filipe’s gonna be holding a third and two missed events. Adriano’s going to pick up a bunch of fifths and a couple thirds this year, but probably won’t get a win. Conner, maybe? I think he’ll hit a rough patch at some point, but who knows. Italo and Caio, from what I’ve seen, have the best shot at catching Matt. Of the nine events left, Margarets seems like the place where Wilko could stumble. Maybe Rio. But rest of the schedule looks good for him. If Micro can keep Matt on a precise methadone level of beer, not too much, not too little, and keeps his confidence up, then it’s Wilko’s title to lose.

The Devil Wears Mada!

Chapter I

The continuation of an epic unfinished surf novel! Catch up on the prologue here!


Branno sat slumped into a semicircle vinyl booth, head down, not paying attention to the brunette across the sticky Formica table. A pitcher of half-finished margarita hovered silently between them next to the memory of chips, guacamole and a wet California burrito. She was talking about something. Justin Bieber’s new music video? An emoji misunderstanding among her group of friends? He didn’t know or care because he was scrolling through Instagram and had stopped on a picture that was good. The best of the day and maybe even week. A perfect, quivering pair of tits framed just right against a messy, flowery bedspread with a rose gold iPhone 6s off to the side. Hers, no doubt.

He couldn’t see a face, the boys did a good job cutting it out, but she was for sure super wasted. Maybe even mouth breathing. He chuckled. They used to show the face too but then someone threatened a lawsuit, or some shit, so they all decided better just to focus on bits anyone cared about.

The multi-colored glass star lights twinkled above the table and a mariachi cover of Sweet Child O’ Mine floated through the air. It smelled like onions.

He and his two friends had started the account @canznthingz a few months ago as a laugh, each taking and posting photos of chicks they had brought home and in various states of blacked out undress. It was private, just for other friends, but had become something of a surf industry sensation. A bro over at SRF N TRF had even done a run of t-shirts and hats with their logo, a drunk chicken with pink panties around her ankles and a paper bag over her head.

Its popularity, though, brought problems. Someone showed someone showed one of the girls and she had gotten all lame and told someone who told someone who told Hedgy that her dad was a judge or prosecutor. Nothing came of it but now they were careful. Or more careful.

He chuckled again.

“You think that’s funny?” the brunette asked and her voice sounded hopeful.

“Ummmm, yeah babe.” He responded, knocked back into the present, and looked up for the second time since they’d been there. “Yeah. Super funny.”

She was cute enough. Maybe a six but her rig might even be a seven plus. He’d have to get through that baggy H & M sweater to know for sure. It said PEACE OFF.

She sighed, relieved, “Oh good. I thought I was boring you there for a minute.”

“Fucken needy girls…” he thought but whatever. All girls were needy some just pretended better than others that they weren’t. “Yeah funny. Rad…” he said and then put on a smokier voice. “Hey, babe, why don’t you finish that margie and then let’s go back to my place.”

He wanted to get on with his night and if he could smash this early it’d be sick because he had a thing later.

“But I was just telling you about that hot yoga class that I’ve got to go to after this and how drunk yoga should be, like, a thing too and, like…” she answered.

Fucken needy girls.

“Yeah yeah cool. Hot yoga… “ he cut her off before he had to listen to any more. “…Drunk yoga. Funny. I’ve gotta bounce anyhow. Fouled Anchors is doing a pop-up tonight and I told the bros that I’d rally soooo…”he looks over the shoulder for their waitress, or any waitress, “…rad.”

“Ummmmm, cool?” She responded, slightly confused at his instant cooling.

“…But AGENDA. You’re going, yeah?” he asked changing tact in direct response to her confusion, “I’ll be in booth F30 starting tomorrow and you should come by or whatever. It’d be cool.” It was never cool to completely jettison a six to possible seven plus.

Her face brightened. “Yeah, I’ll totally be there! I’m working the DESTROYR booth early but will defs swing by after.”

He nodded turning the temperature down, slightly, once again. “Sick.”

The waitress finally found him even though he’d had his hand in the air for an eternity and brought the bill, laying it down on the table. “Gracias” he said, ironically, though he was not sure how Mexicans did irony and shoved a twenty into the vinyl booklet. He looked at the brunette. She fished a twenty out of her Tory Burch handbag and put it on the table too. He shoved it into the vinyl booklet alongside his own. Forty dollars meant an 8% tip but whatever. The service was shit. A mariachi cover of Free Bird had just kicked on.

“Cool then…” he said hauling himself out of the booth. “See you tomorrow.”

He walked toward the door, brushing past too many succulents, without looking back to see what expression dressed her face. It wouldn’t matter. She was his now, hot yoga notwithstanding. It was just a matter of when.

Heartfelt: Refugees learn to surf!

The anti-depressive refugee story you've been waiting for!

The world’s refugee crisis is staggering. Opinions fly from both left and right about what should be done, how to stem the flow, where the souls should go and what they should do. Political ideology aside, though, it is all very sad. Very, very sad.

But this is BeachGrit and you come to be anti-depressed so guess what? Here is an anti-depressive refugee story! The Associated Press ran a piece this morning about how asylum seekers are learning to surf in Bondi, Australia. Many refugee journeys involve the ocean and not in a good way. Cramped rotten boats get tossed this way and that way by unforgiving waves. Death, fear, sadness etc.

Kind Australians teach them that the ocean is fun and they can enjoy it just like Filipe Toledo once did. Bon appétit.

They gather under the blazing sun and blue skies of an Australian beach, looking out at the water that once symbolized so much misery: Terrifying boat trips marked by sickness and death and the constant dread that their own lives might be nearing the end. But today, the sea will become their unlikely savior.

For these five asylum-seekers, a novel program introducing them to the iconic Aussie sport of surfing is helping to transform both their feelings toward the ocean and their lives and allowing them, at least for a brief time, to forget the pains of the past.

“We know that getting into the ocean and surfing makes everybody feel good,” says Brenda Miley, surf school director at Let’s Go Surfing, which is providing the lessons. “… I just think it’s a win-win because it helps build confidence, they learn some skills, they learn about being a local Aussie.”

There is a rush of nervous laughter and chitchat as the men file into the Let’s Go shop at Sydney’s famed surf haven, Bondi Beach. Inside, instructors Conrad Pattinson and Will Bigelow demonstrate how to put on wetsuits.

Amin, an asylum-seeker from Iran, flexes his muscles under the neoprene and chuckles. He has been urging his fellow Surfing Without Borders buddies along all morning, eager to get on a surfboard for the first time. But he admits his excitement is tinged with anxiety.

Like the tens of thousands of asylum-seekers who have fled to Australia in recent years, Amin’s trip involved a harrowing ocean crossing that began in Indonesia, where smugglers pack migrants into rickety boats that frequently break down or capsize. Those who survive the journey are often scarred by it.

 Amin’s memories of that trip and the relentless seasickness that came with it are dark. Today, though, he hopes to forget all that.

Down on the beach, Pattinson and Bigelow give the men a pep talk. They explain how the current works and the different parts of the surfboard.

“We’re going to make a plan to keep it safe and get heaps and heaps of waves,” Bigelow says.

Amin eyes the turquoise water, where the swells are gaining strength. He asks how far out they will go. “Not deep,” Bigelow assures him.

The students practice standing on the boards from the safety of the sand. Pattinson warns them that if they don’t use proper form, they’ll lose their balance and “do a helicopter.” At this, he circles his arms wildly. The men crack up.

Finally, it is time to hit the water. The men slide onto their boards and paddle toward a sandbar where the waves are breaking. There, the instructors help maneuver the students’ boards into the proper position. And when Amin is ready, Pattinson pushes him forward onto his first wave.

Amin presses himself up with his hands, pops into a brief, unsteady crouch and…


“Fell down, no good!” he says. Undeterred, he wipes his face, grabs his board and paddles back out.

One by one, the men make their first shaky attempts as Pattinson and Bigelow whistle and cheer. Flanked by other student surfers, they are largely indistinguishable from the rest of the rookies: Their hips wobble, their arms “do the helicopter,” they occasionally collide, and they belly flop more than they stand. But more than anyone else in the water, they laugh.

This kind of joy is exactly what the staff at Settlement Services International hoped to achieve when they launched the surf program last year. They knew their clients were grappling not only with the trauma associated with their boat journeys and the wars and persecution they had fled, but also with the anxiety of settling into a new country.


Jamie Brisick
The writer Jamie Brisick stars in his GoPro-equipped ode to his dead lover Gisela.

Brisick: “The Dazzling Blackness!”

Jamie Brisick's ode to a dead lover… 

(Editor’s note: The American writer Jamie Brisick lost his Brazilian wife Gisela in a traffic accident three years ago. One year after her death, he wrote The Dazzling Blackness, reprinted below, and, recently, made a short film Rhymes with Shove, “an allegory of lost love” which you can watch at the bottom of the page.)

On the morning of April 1, 2013 I woke to a text message from a friend in Rio telling me to call her “now.” I was in New York. I dialed her number. In hysterics, in guttural whimpers I’ll never ever forget, she told me that my wife had died—“She’s gone, Jamie! Gisela died! She’s gone!” Through her sobs, I could just make out that that my wife had been in an accident on her bicycle, hit by a bus on the street in Leblon.

A pain—more than a pain, a seizure, a paroxysm of breathlessness—gushed up from deep inside me. I fell out of bed and writhed on the floor. I wrapped my body around a pillow and, sobbing uncontrollably, pretended it was Gisela. I got up and lurched into the foyer of our apartment. Standing in the corner was a dress form I’d gotten her for Christmas a couple years back. It was clothed in her checked Uniqlo skirt and her powder blue corduroy blazer. I wrapped my arms around it, wrestled it to the floor, and hugged it tightly, hoping it might suddenly come to life as Gisela, the whole thing a bad dream.

So began the most difficult year of my life.

For the first week I was afraid to drink. The sorrow and grief felt like an undertow. I figured one sip might lead to several bottles. I was in shock. The world was a new and unfamiliar place. I did not want to be here. I wasn’t exactly suicidal, but there was no fight left in me. Live? Die? Flip a coin.

I signed up with a good therapist, read several books about grief/loss/depression, added 900mg of St John’s Wort to my day, ate reasonably well, exercised a lot, slept as best I could. None of it seemed to help. I felt hopeless. I didn’t care.

A month or two in I started drinking. Not a whole lot, but, say, ¾ to a full bottle of wine per night, drunk slowly, usually while writing. It wasn’t the quantity I was worried about, it was the vicious circle. I was depressed, I drank alone to quell the depression, I cried constantly, so bad I’d get a new kind of headache, a very specific “crying headache.” I’d wake in the morning with a wine/tears hangover, anxious to get through the day so I could crack the next bottle and start it all over again.

Then there was the sex part. I’d read that it in the throes of grief it’s not uncommon to feel heightened sex drive. I experienced this in a ravenous, painful way. My sad nights consisted of wine, masturbation, self-pity. I just wanted to escape the living hell that I found myself in.

And that’s how most of my 2013 went: going through the motions, a sorrow beyond anything I ever could have conceived of.

There was a push-pull. On the one hand I wanted the pain to let up. On the other, in the depths of my pain, Gisela was most vivid. If someone had said, “I can wave my magic wand and fast-forward you a couple years into the future, the rough days behind you, but of course that means you and Gisela will be further away from each other,” I’d have said without question, “No thanks.”

Typically when life gets challenging we counter with grit, we roll up our sleeves and work harder, we push back. Grief is passive. It’s a ride on which you have no control.

And on some level I took the whole thing personally. It felt as if God had set out to explicitly fuck me. If I’d have run into him on the street, I’d have walked straight up to him, hawked up bile from the depths of my broken innards, and spat it right in his face.

* * * * *

Gisela and I met in New York City in 2001. She was from Sao Paulo; I was from Los Angeles. I felt something unstoppable from the moment I met her. For her it took a while longer. We spent Carnaval 2002 together in Venice, went to Milano and Rome, fell in love. We moved to New York. Married in 2004. We made a wonderful life together, traveled all over, worked hard. She directed TV programs and documentaries; I wrote stories for magazines, books. At the center of our relationship was a giant curiosity and love for the world. We taught each other about loyalty and intimacy, how to share space. “We’re going to grow old together,” she used to say. I’ve never felt closer to another person.

Ten months before she died I went into some sort of mid-life crisis. It’s too long and complicated to get into here, but the upshot was that we were not together at the time of her passing. There was so much we had to work out. So much we were working out.

* * * * *

Here’s where grief posed the biggest challenge: For most of my life I have prided myself on living in the moment. I travel. I surf. I practice yoga. I meet new people. But the looping narrative that played in my head was the antitheses of that. I was stuck on the idea that I’d been wronged, that the world was a terrible place. And to challenge that ten times further still: I did not want to get out of it. I felt I’d earned the right to be negative, to play the victim.

In February of this year I went to Australia for two months. The new surroundings did me all kinds of good. I wrote, surfed, heard a faint voice in my head that said, Hang on, have faith, life will get better, Gisela would want to see you happy. I started caring again.

One night I was telling a good friend about all I’d been through. “There was so much unfinished business between Gisela and me,” I said. “And now all I have left is this one-way conversation with the sky.”

A light seemed to switch on in her face. “Have you ever tried meditating?” she asked, and proceeded to tell me about the couple of bad breakups she’d been through, her bout with depression, the meditation course she’d done and how it helped give her new insights into her life, how she was able to be more detached, more centered, less ragdolling through emotions.

A couple days later another close friend suggested meditation. I took it as a sign.

In March I took a three-day Vedic Meditation workshop. I’d tried to meditate in the past, but never felt like I was doing it right. I had “monkey mind,” i.e., endless chatter. The workshop taught me that this is okay, that it’s a matter of simply observing our thoughts, accepting them, then gently, lovingly directing toward quiet. There’s no real right or wrong; it’s more just the inner gaze that counts, that and doing it everyday.

For me, grief has highlighted our human need for escape—through sex, drugs, sport, TV, movies, music, et al. Meditation accesses something similar, a place where time skips, where we forget ourselves. I’ve been meditating pretty much everyday for the last month. It’s definitely helped. The sublime moments are far and few between, but with practice they seem to be happening more frequently, and lasting longer. That’s enough for me to keep at it.

fake cancer scam
Maybe you, like me, kinda dug the theatre of the scamming, the heart-melting stories. It cost me fifty bucks but I believe, money well spent.

Surf Writer’s Fake Cancer Scam!

BeachGrit bamboozled in theatrical fake cancer stunt!

Well, this is embarrassing. Very embarassing. Like one of those dreams where you’re back in seventh grade and you’re butt naked and all the kids are calling you “shrimp dick.” Only you’re not gonna wake up and feel a terrible sense of relief, because it’s not a fucking dream.

Remember Michael Kocher, the guy wrote a few pieces for your beloved BG somewhere around a year ago?

He talked about being a marine, quitting surfing to sell heroin and his struggle with terminal cancer. 

We linked to his GoFundMe account and some of you donated cash to help him with bills. I didn’t, couldn’t see the point of helping a dying man avoid debt. Hardly a problem, is it?

So, anyway, yeah, it was all bullshit.

Kocher is a cunning junkie, used everyone’s inherent decency to play the “I’m dying” card, and soaked people for some cash he could spend on his habit.

I called Kocher, currently hiding out in a hotel somewhere in Colorado, to ask him just exactly what the fuck he was thinking. Fun conversation, for all his supposed contrition it was just more narcissistic bobbing and weaving. Always trying to deflect blame, reframe the narrative.

You can listen to the half hour plus of audio HERE (The first few minutes of audio are kind of garbled, but it clears up.)

As far as BeachGrit’s culpability in the whole affair, man, I don’t even know what to say. We helped him spread his bullshit, he linked to our site on his GoFundMe page. I always suspected he was lying, didn’t say anything because I didn’t want to be the guy who calls a cancer patient a liar. But I should have. When his stories didn’t add up. When I had a million reasons to doubt his line, I kept quiet. And in doing so became party to his scam.

Which is what bothers me most about the affair. I rarely hesitate to call people out, but I didn’t this time because it might’ve made me look bad. Which was a fucking pussy move. One of which I’m a bit ashamed. Not in a rend-my-clothes-and-slit-my-wrists-way, but it’s a hard lesson learned.

As far as everyone else, people who donated, don’t feel bad. Being compassionate, wanting to help a person in need, that’s a good thing. Sure, there are predators out there who will take advantage, but not many. Which is what makes it so easy for them.

Seriously, who the fuck lies about having cancer?