Is this the face of surfing's demise?
Is this the face of surfing's demise?

Defeat: Wave pool goes down in flames!

Bird enthusiasts destroy mini-barrel dreams!

Wave pools, alongside Instagram cattiness, shark attacks and unsubstantiated rumor, have become the fourth pillar of BeachGrit‘s mighty empire. Who isn’t awed by what man can do if/when he puts his mind to something?

Kelly Slater’s design is, of course, leading the charge. But do you remember Surf Snowdonia in Wales? I think it might be working still. And others. Maybe.

Municipalities from San Diego to Melbourne to Austin are lining up to get their very own wave pool. What monument could possibly be complete without an accompanying mini-barrel or mushburger?

But Chicago, Illinois is bucking the trend! The Sun-Times has reported that a group of bird enthusiasts smashed the hopes/dreams of inland surfers hoping to crouch low in brown water. Lets read:

Chicago’s bird enthusiasts helped scuttle a proposal to build a wave pool designed to simulate a surfing experience on a plot of land a few hundred yards north of a lakefront bird sanctuary near Montrose Beach.

For K.C. Hoos, a 37-year-old North Sider, the rejection could draw to a close his seven-year quest to find a friendly home for the project and his dream of introducing surfing to Chicago’s masses.

It was the third time he’d been turned down from leasing a North Side spot abutting a beach.

“It was the perfect location,” Hoos said, venting frustration with what he viewed as preferential treatment for bird enthusiasts.

Hoos wanted to renovate a historic but dilapidated stone concession stand and bathroom facility that, along with a newly constructed pool and tiered patio, would have become the hub of his operation.

Long-time bird enthusiast Leslie Borns, who led the effort to fight Hoos’ latest push, was apparently informed by the park district several weeks ago that Hoos’ proposal had been rejected.

After hearing the news, she emailed supporters: “Before you start doing your happy dance, let’s reflect on the important lesson learned here – CONSTANT VIGILANCE AT ALL TIMES. We know there will be more Hooses, more Capplemans, and more blatant assaults on the free, open, public lands we have the extraordinary luck and privilege to enjoy in a huge urban area. So keep your eyes and ears open, and despite what anyone says, NEVER give up the fight.”

Who knew bird enthusiasts were so angry? So extreme? So fundamentalist? Will they be the final straw on the surf industry’s very weak back?

everything is terrible

Podcast: “Everything is Always Terrible!”

The new weekly podcast from noted writer, now broadcaster, Rory Parker… 

I enjoy podcasts. Great way to enjoy some quality background entertainment while I cook or clean the house or (theoretically) hit the gym.

Seems like everyone’s got one nowadays. Except for me. Until now. This is my podcast, Everything is Always Terrible.

It’s a work in progress. Still gotta get better at editing audio. Still need to work on cleaning up my speech mannerisms.

But it’s good. I’m proud of it.

First episode features Dave Wassel. I love Dave. Everyone loves Dave. He’s the type of surfer we all want to be. The type of man we all want to be. He’s funny and eloquent and intelligent and an absolute joy to speak with.

Give it a listen. Leave your mean comments below.

Mick Fanning JBay
Mick Fanning rides J-Bay again!

Fanning: “It was a one off…hopefully!”

Mick Fanning and his first surf since the Great White Incident of '15!

Mick Fanning has gone to South Africa early, a few days ahead of the first day of the J-Bay waiting period to tune up, get a few waves, eat exotic bbq, etc.

It was just last year that he became a household name by fending off a great white shark while Julian Wilson rushed to his side. As dramatic as it was thrilling especially seeing no one was hurt. But a thing like that must stick in the brain, no?

Maybe no. Or maybe yes. Mick says, “…a little bit of anxiety sort of came up…” before his first surf but paddled anyhow. And how moody is that sky? The way it is filmed and edited he looks like the only man in the water. Very brave.

“Moody” anyhow must be the word tacked to the great white creative boards from Rip Curl HQ over to the World Surf League’s Santa Monica campus. Did you watch their “We were always coming back…” spot that ran during Fiji? I loved everything about it.

The moodiest!

And what would it take to end your surfing career? A brush with great white death? An extra long hold down? Ellie-Jean Coffey?


Meet: The Kardashians of Australian surfing!

Move over Kim and Kanye...the Coffeys are here!

Two years ago-ish I traveled to Hossegor, France to call the Swatch Pro alongside Paul Evans, Brodie Carr and a host of wonderful friends. The surf was zero but the talent was impressive. I got drunk in the booth and maybe banned from calling future WSL events.

Two of the five Coffey sisters were there and both surfed well. Holly-Sue and Ellie-Jean. Their dad was also there half coaching half managing impressive social media accounts. I saw him telling one of them, hopefully the older of the two, to get more sexy for the cam, like to fluff up her cans or something, which was strange but also sensible.

He had longer hair and wore leather. Paul and I made many jokes but I can’t remember any of them now. Paul do you remember any? Did we call him Billy Ray? Something like that but funnier. I spoke with him, anyhow, and he seemed alright. There had been some tragedy and he had packed his entire family up and traveled Australia in a van just surfing and Instagramming. It seemed strange but also sensible.

And now it appears all his dreams have come true. The Daily Telegraph just bestowed the highly sought after name “Kardashians of Australian Surfing” upon the family! Lets read:

They’ve been dubbed the Kardashians of Australian surfing. 

And now the Coffey siblings – Jackson, Holly-Sue, Ellie-Jean, Bonnie-Lou and Ruby-Lee – are riding the wave of success thanks to social media and their followers who want to see them live their sponsor-paid lifestyle.

The bronzed family’s success has been driven by pro-surf sisters, 21-year-old Ellie-Jean and Holly-Sue, 18, who are paid share bikini-clad photos to Instagram.

Although there are some differences between the Sydney siblings and the Los Angeles icons, their father Jason said they embrace the comparisons to the first family of reality television.

‘Say what you like about the Kardashians, they may not be very talented but at the end of the day they’re a big strong family unit,’ Jason told The Daily Telegraph

‘We’re more like the Kardashians in that sense than anything else.’

Combined, the five siblings from Sydney’s Northern Beaches have more than 900,000 followers on Instagram.

‘Free surfer’ Jackson, 21, has reached 100,000 followers on the social media while younger sisters Ruby-Lee, 16, and Bonnie-Lou, 13, boast 160,000 followers between them.

With Ellie-Jean and Holly-Sue competing on the second-tier Women’s Qualifying Series, they still acknowledge what a place on the pro-circuit would do for their profiles. 

‘If both of us were to make the tour it would be amazing for social media,’ Holly-Sue said.

And ok ok ok. Real quick, there are two things I absolutely love about this bit.

  1. Jason admitting that the Kardashians are not very talented but, apparently, have a strong family bond. I am not being ironic here. Talent is great but look at the mighty empire Derek Rielly, Rory Parker and I have built without any at all. Talent is overrated!
  2. Holly-Sue admitting that the world tour would be amazing for social media. That social media is valuable and the world tour is not. Very funny!

I wish the Coffey family nothing but wild success moving forward.

Correction: After perusing the Daily Telegraph piece I realize there are four sisters and one brother.

Correction: Coming on the heels of the sexless ESPN nude this story smacks of severe sexism. Just pretend it doesn’t when you are reading though, ok?

Chris Ward in Prison

Surrenders to authorities after violating probation… 

Ward Stories takes another sordid turn as Mr Christopher Will Ward once again finds himself behind bars.

(Many thanks to @mystomane for tweeting us the tip. Everyone else do the same. Let’s rake us some muck! This is BeachGrit: Where no standard is too low!)

Following the breadcrumbs leads us back to early last year, when the couple made quite the splash on social media. His wife, Michelle Marie, used her access to the surfer’s instagram page to post a picture of her bruised and battered face, along with text that read, “I’m a professional athlete. I love my wife. But I spread lies about her. So here’s the truth. This is how I love. Truth is here. “

battered wife

A tempestuous online presence followed, but the two soon reconciled. 

Unfortunately for Chris, marital bliss doesn’t disappear criminal charges.

Though the incident in question took place in February of last year, proceedings weren’t finalized until this past April 7th, when Ward plead guilty to inflicting corporal injury on a spouse/cohabitant, a felony.

(If you’re curious about what constitutes corporal injury under California Penal Code 273.5 you can learn more HERE. In short, it consists of violence creating a “condition of the body, such as a wound, or external or internal injury, including, but not limited to, injury as a result of strangulation or suffocation, whether of a minor or serious nature, caused by a physical force.”)

Ward was sentenced to three years probation, 60 days in Jail, eight hours of community service, enrollment in a “Batterers’ Treatment Program,” restitution, and required to make a contribution to a Victim Witness Emergency Fund.

Assuming Ward went directly to jail, and served the entire 60 days (unlikely due to California penal system overcrowding), he was released in time to commit a probation violation on June 10, the exact details of which are unclear.

His lawyers met with a judge on June 15, and on the seventeenth he surrendered himself.

Ward currently resides at the Theo Lacy Facility, a maximum security jail in the city of Orange.

But possibly not for long.

Two days ago his wife posted “So much love to you my husband, so excited for this new chapter in our lives!” on her own instagram account. Likely guaranteeing we haven’t seen the end of the saga.


Chris Ward