great white shark
There's never been a better time to be an observer of great white sharks, particularly if you live on that stretch of coast between Ballina and Byron, now known as a great white shark highway. | Photo: SharkSmart

Australia’s “White Shark Highway!”

Great White sharks flock to Australia's north coast!

Is it only four weeks since the Great White’s terrific assault upon the beachgoers of Western Australia? Do you remember?

Two fatal attacks in one week, one a surfer, one a diver.

Meanwhile, on the opposite coast, from Newcastle to Byron Bay, sharks, Great Whites mostly, have closed beaches, ripped a swimmer from the shallows, killed surfers and terrorised a community built around the game of surf.

As Owen and Tyler (and Mikey) Wright’s father Rob told the Australian newspaper last year: 

“We’ve never seen anything like this. We’re all over it. We live up up here and we surf up here, but this is all we’re thinking about. The married guys, they’re not allowed to go surfing. The young guys with kids, they’re thinking about it all the time. Everybody is.”

According to the story, “Wright has had two sharks swim beneath his board in recent weeks. One — ‘a fricken big thing’ about 4m long with a pointy head and wide body — was chasing a fish at full speed. “It was flying, but it wasn’t after me, thankfully.”


And, as revealed today, again by The Australian, 

“Two white pointers have been caught using “smart” drum lines off Ballina this morning, as great whites return to the NSW north coast, which was plagued by attacks and sightings last year.

“Aerial contractors and local authorities have spotted more than a dozen great white sharks stalking north coast beaches in the past 24 hours.”

“Surfers were evacuated off Sharpes Beach, at Ballina, this morning. Great white sharks have also been spotted off Forster, Coffs Harbour, Crescent Head, Hawks Nest, Broken Head and Shelly Beach since Saturday.


“The NSW north coast has become a “white shark highway” in recent years, with the apex predators attracted close to shore by a perfect mix of water temperature, whale migration and food stocks.”

Are you, like me, thrilled by the rude good health of Australia’s great white stocks?

Are you, like me, not planning on surfing the Ballina to Byron stretch anytime soon?

Tom Browne surf
"Finally, models unzipped their bright wet suits to reveal old-fashioned bathing suits. They then left the stage, returning with coordinating Thom Browne longboards that are sure to be a hit on beaches from Okinawa to Montauk."

Fashion: Thom Browne does Surf!

New York super-designer's new collection is deeply surf!

Do you, like me, get a kick when surfing hits the fashion runway? Or does it make you heave an anguished sigh, a final nail in surfing’s coffin etc?

Last week, the New York designer Thom Browne, who made his name convincing hip New Yorkers to wear suit pants several inches too short, and lately, two thousand dollar sweat pants, kicked live a fashion show to a Beach Boys soundtrack and a surf theme.

Like pastel fireflies, squadrons of tall men dressed as parrots swarmed the stage of the Paris Event Centre, elegant fingers peeling off swim caps and suits to reveal stencilled one-piece swimsuits.

Let’s study the deeply Zoolander-esque report from Hint Fashion Magazine’s Stéphane Gaboué. 

“When the suspenseful strains of the Jaws soundtrack started on the soundtrack, a model with a shark’s head and dorsal fin roamed the runway. Then a squad of models, their faces concealed behind bathing caps, gray make-up, and sunglasses, arrived wearing capacious black tuxedos that, again, morphed into wetsuits. Once removed, they revealed the show’s main courses, the most unexpected and dressiest variations on the wetsuit, zippered in the back.


“The wetsuit theme allowed the designer to experiment with color and trompe l’oeil, for example a green mink jacket or white pants with a gigantic shark bite taken out. As usual, the craftsmanship was impressive, as some jackets were made of broderie anglaise, a green slicker had an astrakhan collar, and one tailcoat was made of satin duchesse with faille piping. Colorful brogues completed the looks. To add to the weirdness, models dressed as seagulls and parrots flapped their wings about the room, without ever taking flight.



“The parade ended with a suspenseful strip tease, with models doffing their precious raiment to reveal one-piece swimsuits. (How come swimwear has vanished from the runways?) They grabbed Thom Browne-branded surfboards while The Beach Boys’ God Only Knows blared on the soundtrack. The whole spectacle was hilarious, campy, entertaining, and at times undecipherable. And obviously, some of the clothes were difficult to imagine beyond the runway or the hands of stylists, but who cared? It was a fantasy, and it worked.”


Did it work for you too?

Does your chest inflate with pride that our little game could be so influential in fashion?

Do you want to dance a rigadoon of joy?

If all this thrills, maybe you’re the kind of stud who wants to armlock a pair of $725 surf trunks. 

BeachGrit TV: Do you know what rocker is?

Noted shaper Matt Biolos uses a "rock-o-meter" to explain the mysteries of… rocker!

I’ll be honest, I’m an absolute fool when it comes to engineering. My brain was not built to handle nuance, maybe, and so technical information gets stored in a giant confused mental warehouse. I don’t try and sort out what things really mean. I am satisfied simply knowing to what they generally refer and so the finer points are always and forever lost.

I suppose someone with my condition is generally called “retarded.”

And it was in this state that I waltzed into Matt “Mayhem” Biolos’s San Clemente shaping Mecca wearing Saint Laurent canvas sneakers done in a Bloods handkerchief motif, never-before-washed (1.5 years and counting) APC raw denim jeans with gorgeous marbling around the knee and crotch, a white Theory button up unfortunately browned at the neck, a Bread & Boxers wife-beater, Saint Laurent sunglasses (Classic 28 black w/gold lenses), a Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust from 1971 and a Saint Laurent cross bracelet sent to me by our very own Derek Rielly. I love him!

Surfboard shaping is, of course, a fine science. The variables are close to infinite from length to width to thickness to…ummmmm…thickness. In the first episode of Like, Bitchin! Matt explained volume and how it relates to good overall surfing. He also explained (to me) which side of the surfboard is called “the deck.”

And now here we have him explaining rocker.

Do you know what rocker is? In my confused mental warehouse it was stored under “surf shit” in the same box as “bonzer” “potato chip” and “Nia Peeples.” I knew it had something to do with the way a surfboard curves but had no idea which part of the surfboard. The nose? The tail? From rail to rail?

Matt not only teaches us what rocker is (watch me sort of pretend to know!) but why it matters.

He is very smart. And now we are all very smarter too.

Kolohe Andino (USA)
The noted patriot Kolohe Andino glories in the most star spangled banner of all!

Parker: “I Love America!”

There's never been a better time to glory in the gifts my country has given the world!

Oh, how I envy all you drunk lunatics Down Under! Thanks to the dimly understood wonder of the international dateline you get to celebrate the birth of America twice! First on the fourth by your reckoning, and also on the following day as dawn greets the birth of the greatest nation ever to blunder its way across the world stage.

There’s never been a better time to glory in all the gifts my country has bestowed upon the world. We look to a near future ruled by short-sighted, self-interested fascism, a mindset which dovetails perfectly into the typical surfer ethos.

Shout it loud and proud, “I love America!” Emphasis on loud. We’ll be taking notes. When Glorious Leader Trump takes the stage there will be hell to pay for any of you who don’t get on board but quick.

We gave the world surfing! When the Hawaiian natives were mostly dead by disease, the sport all but disappeared at the hands of mindless religious zealots, we saw the potential. “Let’s market it!” we cried. “Useless accessories, produced by slaves! Corporate profit! Let’s wrap in all in empty pseudo-spiritual rhetoric! That’ll sell!”

We invented the leash and fins and wetsuits. America defeated the Nazis and stole the secrets of polyurethane and fiberglass. The splendid US of A first dreamt up the notion of assigning points to a solo sport. Wrapped it up in a ugly little package and marketed it to the world. What would your professionals be doing without America? Working in mines? Wrangling kangaroos? Drinking themselves into oblivion while they rue the fact they were born in a second world penal colony formed to divest the UK of its criminal element?

We gave you beer and capitalism and modern standards of hygiene. We beat the King of England, so you didn’t have to.

Without the mighty USA the world wouldn’t have concepts of freedom, nor justice, nor equality. Our gracious hand has slowly but surely guided the rest of this hunk of dirt kicking and screaming toward progress.

We beat the communists by building world killers, bottled up the Japanese. Every day we heave expensive ordinance earthward. To protect your freedom! Do we get any thanks? No. But we don’t need it. Much like a parent loves an ungrateful child, we love you, Australia!

Today, and tomorrow, celebrate the United States the way your convict ancestors would have wanted you to. Get piss wasted, drive drunk. Oppress a minority. Blow something up. Rape your land of its wealth. Offshore production to an oppressive regime.

God bless America!

I will always remember my time as a submarine captain with a mixture of pride and satisfaction. I was a king of the sea.

What it feels like to captain a submarine

It's like being in a perpetual barrel!

The sea is the greatest place to ply a trade, and professional surfing is a wonderful example, but for those whose top turns do not differentiate, substantively, from their bottoms, there are many other opportunities to toil with sun in the eyes and saltwater in the hair. There is the Steinbeckian longshoreman, hardy and stout. The city lifeguard watching over bronzed youth in the throes of summer passion. The rescue diver, pulling corpses from Davey Jones’s icy grip. There is the proud submarine captain. Very few have experienced gliding a giant vessel under the surface. I am one of those few.

The submarine voyage begins with the captain pushing a button that releases a whistle and a deep, baritone voice telling the crew to secure the ship for sea, single up all lines, cast off fore, cast off aft etc. then eases the boat out of its moorings. Passengers below see bubbles, as the dive begins, down to ten fathoms, and a veritable plethora of sealife right outside their small windows. Lobsters, crabs, sea turtles. These amphibian patriarchs of the deep are direct decedents of the dinosaurs and have changed little in the past 200 million years.

Here, the submarine captain can have the most fun. His vessel is out of view and so he can bump the sub in front of him, causing the passengers to smash their faces on their small windows or press the kill switch and break down the ride for four hours while small children wail.

The captain continues right, swinging past the Matterhorn. Below, the passengers see groupers, or giant sea bass and giant clams. They have fluted shells that can weigh over a quarter of a ton. The moray eel with its powerful tooth-filled jaws ambushes unwary prey from holes and crevices in the reef.

Next comes the cave, or “polar icecaps.” Below, passengers see a graveyard of sunken ships. A stronghold of lost treasure. Here, the submarine captain can have the most fun. His vessel is out of view and so he can bump the sub in front of him, causing the passengers to smash their faces on their small windows or press the kill switch and break down the ride for four hours while small children wail. But if he doesn’t push the kill switch, Atlantis, mermaids and an underwater volcano appear. It takes a deft hand to steer through this minefield. A googley-eyed sea serpent will appear last and the captain must make emergency maneuvers but does not put it in the official log because no one would believe it anyway. And then he eases the boat back into the dock.

I will always remember my time as a submarine captain with a mixture of pride and satisfaction. My white uniform gleamed. My aviator sunglasses reflected both the Southern California sun and the lusty stares from envious men and desirous women. I was a king of the sea.