Occy's Left
This is the sort of wave that makes you want to stand on the top of the newly refurbished seats and clap like thunder!

Surf Resort voted “Best Hotel in World!”

Dazzling Sumba resort Nihiwatu best hotel in the world say readers of Travel + Leisure magazine… 

The times are a-changing. Or they’ve changed. And it ain’t necessarily bad, at least if your credit card glows.

A few days ago, Travel + Leisure magazine announced that its readers had voted the Nihiwatu resort on Sumba, where clifftop villas overlook a sizzling lefthander which the resort claims exclusive rights to, the best hotel in the world.

It ain’t cheap, of course, but what price the sublime? The five-bedroom estate is $US12,000 a night in peak season while a starter villa is $US1500, inclusive of all food, yoga, wifi, but not, uh, surfing, which is limited to ten surfers.

Let’s examine the rate sheet.

“All surf slots are charged at USD100.00++ per day. A maximum of 1 surf slot per villa applies. If our guests are surfers we need to know how many will be surfing at the time of paying the deposit. Adjustments will be made to invoices for additional surfers according to your response. The above rate is subject to 11% government tax & 10% service charge and is non-commissionable. Please note that only registered surfers will be allowed to surf. These will have received a confirmation from the Boathouse time prior to their arrival, confirming their paid surf slot.”

How’s that Mastercard feeling? A little warm in your hands?

Study the wave, here.

Claude and Petra Graves set up Nihiwatu in 2000 before selling to American entrepreneur Chris Burch and South African hotelier James McBride in 2012. After renovations last spring, Nihiwatu was visited by Travel + Leisure magazine‘s Peter Jon Lindberg, who wrote:

I spent my week in Sumba in a state of suspended bliss, orbiting among infinity pools, natural mud baths, waterfall-fed swimming holes, glowing valleys full of rice paddies, misty mountaintop villages straight out of Tolkien, and a beach that looked as if it were airbrushed on the side of a van.

That beach is spectacular, with or without the left-hand break, and one can easily see why the Graveses pitched their tent here. It can’t have changed much in the 27 years since: every morning I’d walk the mile and a half to the end, and every morning mine were the only footprints.

Nihiwatu’s redesign—by the Bali firm Habitat 5—finds a winning balance between refined and raw. Guest villas allude to traditional Sumbanese homes, with steeply pitched thatched roofs and massive kasambi tree trunks for support columns. Sumbanese ikat tapestries and black-and-white photos of local villagers hang on ocher stone walls. Wide-angle windows overlook lush gardens and the sea beyond.

Local touches show up everywhere: bathroom sinks are hewn from slabs of roughly carved stone; wardrobes are fashioned from coconut wood. The space is natural where you want it to be, sleek where you need it—as in the seamless glide of sliding glass doors; the light switches that glow in the unfamiliar dark; or the straw paddle fan that swirls inside, not outside, your monumental canopy bed. Most striking of the new villas: the Kanatar Sumba Houses, where an outdoor shower is magically cantilevered off the second floor. All the other outdoor showers went home and cried.

Ninety-eight percent of the staff are from Sumba. Like most guests, I was assigned a butler, a jovial Sumbanese man named Simson, who arrived at 7 a.m. every morning bearing breakfast—papaya, rambutan, watermelon juice, house-made yogurt, Sumba coffee. (The foodhere is terrific, highlighting the bright, fresh flavors you crave in the tropics.) One morning Simson was limping because a scorpion had bitten him on the toe back home. “I didn’t check before putting on my sandals!” he said, as if it were his fault, not the scorpion’s. He quickly added that one seldom encounters them at Nihiwatu.

Scorpions or no, I can’t remember a resort on any island that I’ve liked more than Nihiwatu. And while it is clearly not for everyone—there are no golf carts to whisk guests around— I can’t imagine what sort of crank wouldn’t fall for the place.

As they reach out to a broader clientele, Burch and McBride are determined to honor Nihiwatu’s commitment to the island. To this day, all profits from the resort go to the Sumba Foundation. They’ve even added an on-site “Guru Village,” where doctors stay for free in exchange for volunteer work. During my visit, a team of Australian eye specialists was in residence; they spent their mornings surfing and afternoons performing cataract surgeries in local clinics.

Of course there’s an inevitable dissonance between Sumba’s privation and Nihiwatu’s privilege, between a subsistence-level economy and a butler-staffed resort. Perhaps that’s why so many guests are compelled to support the foundation and, not least, to visit Sumbanese villages. To do so is to realize how unique— and symbiotic—the relationship is between Nihiwatu and the island it calls home.”

Did you, like me, laugh a little at the reference to the butler? “…a jovial Sumbanese man named Simson… one morning Simson was limping because a scorpion had bitten him on the toe back home.”

Oh, poor Simson, the damn native, paid to be jovial, even when he’s seized with poison!

Watch the promo video here.

Radio: Scott Caan plays Chas Smith!

Kooks of Komedy is a very funny podcast. Come listen and learn who will play Mick Fanning in the film version of Welcome to Paradise, Now Go to Hell!

I am well aware that I have a face made for radio and a voice made for the Muppet Show which leaves really only one viable career path. Surf Journalist. Nick Carroll knows what I’m talking about. But this past Saturday found me sitting across from two men who each possess a constellation of talents.

Lachlan Patterson and Joe Praino are both very funny working comedians, very handsome and enjoy the surfing. I had heard about their side project podcast Kooks of Komedy for some time and even heard snippets before on other websites and liked but now I love because I was the guest on Saturday.

Not that I love what I have to say. Oh no no no. I am exhausted to death of own story, the damned Hezbollah capture, Mick Fanning incident etc. I feel like a fraud talking about any of it, not that those things aren’t true, but the moments that have become signposts of my career happened a lifetime ago. I don’t like looking back, generally, and especially not back a decade.

What made being on the show so great, what made me love it, were the hosts. Surfing is such a comical thing and it works best in the hands of comedians. We sat and laughed. I drank Titos and Vitamin Water and delighted in what we all have in common.

Damned surfing.

You can listen here. And visit the website for video, pictures etc.

Damned surfing!

Kelly Slater J-Bay
After 25 years of orbiting the tour, y'think Slater has plane travel down? Says it took him 28 hours to get to J-Bay, "as fast as you can get here from California without flying in a private plane. I was…flying…man!" Biz or coach? "That would be painful in economy. This is one y'gotta figure out how to get yourself into business to get here." | Photo: Peter King

#TourNotes: How to Get to J-Bay!

Who flies biz class? Who don't? Who saves a few shekels flying via London?

It’s easy to paint the professional surfer’s life as a hyper-sexed club interspersed by the glamour of international travel.

But is it, really?

Hyper-sex, yes. Buttocks crushed, necks bitten, the hot ecstasy of convulsing into the hot deep sweetness of ports previously unknown. Multiples. Multiples of multiples. And it never gets old.

The travel part really sucks, however, and acts as a counterbalance to everything else.

This short, by Peter King, who let’s be generous, is the king of this sort of iPhone-shot pop art, reveals the circuitous route our fav surfers take to get to J-Bay. It’s a typical Peter King short: fast, well-edited, disposable. I once asked him the secret to his success to which he replied:

“I’m not some 26 year old shucking and jiving my way up the marketing chain. I’m not trying to be anyone’s agent, I’m not trying to be a host of the webcast, I’m not trying to make 15 dollars on a Surfline photo. There’s no jealousy. It’s just me.”

Interestingly, Ross Williams has the worst route to J-Bay: a four-day journey via Los Angeles and London; Filipe Toledo the best, LA-NYC-JNB.

Watch here.

Gabriel crying after coming second to Julian Wilson at Portugal Rip Curl Pro

Dear Rory: “Surfing’s lost its magic!”

What does a man do when his great passion deserts him?

Dear Rory,

I am 42 years old with 30 odd years of surfing behind me and feel like I have reached a cross roads and would like some advice to move forward or backward or whatever.

Since I got my first surfboard I had been surf mad, it was all I cared about, kind of built an identity around it as embarrassing as that sounds.  I got to a reasonable level of competence, not pro level but I could surf alright, even now I still have my moments mixed in with a bit of middle aged fumbling.

At the moment I feel stale, I’m disinterested for the first time in my life.  I always said I would surf until I died but will I really?  I’ve ridden pretty standard equipment most of my life but have always dabbled with shorter fatter sort of boards even before they were accepted and actually surfed them alright, anyway peer pressure or something always kept me close to whatever everyone else was riding, even today my boards wouldn’t be too out of place at a contest at Trestles.

So I feel like I need something new, I like the idea of alternative boards but it sounds so lame, will people think I’m trying to be a hipster especially because I have a bit of a beard going on?  What style of board will relight the fire?  Any advice is appreciated.


Seaman Staines

Dear Rory says: I had another few really shit sessions recently. Bad ones. Where you’re constantly out of position, and your timing is slightly off and it’s like your body just completely forgot what it’s supposed to do.

Soul crushing shit. Like, come on already!

I deal with it by bodysurfing. That’s always fun. Great exercise. Damn hard to have a bad bodysurf.

I was out essentially swimming laps and pretending I’m a dolphin when this little kid paddles out and starts working on his shuv-its.

Little fucker had them close to wired. Over and over and over. Pop and catch, then fall. Stuck two or three, came close a million times.

Which is what high performance surfing is for normal high talent humans. Failing ten millions times in exchange for one moment of brilliance. I don’t have that patience anymore.

But there’s a big problem with moving onto alternative stuff. It’s damn hard to go back. Being used to a design that holds your hand means unforgiving boards will seem hellish. And at a certain point you’ve become that old guy who surfs really well, considering the fact that he’s all old and gross and rides a weird fun shape thing.

The whole scene reinforced an ugly creeping notion I’ve been playing with for a while. What’s the point of riding cutting edge equipment if your surfing isn’t cutting edge? You’re just making things more difficult.

So why not just hop onto something that’s enjoyable and, god forbid, easy to ride? The best surfer is not the one having the most fun, but there’s a nice side to getting old. Who the fuck cares about being the best surfer? Leave that to the amped and agile boiling cauldrons of testosterone with decades of crushing defeats in front of them.

But there’s a big problem with moving onto alternative stuff. It’s damn hard to go back. Being used to a design that holds your hand means unforgiving boards will seem hellish. And at a certain point you’ve become that old guy who surfs really well, considering the fact that he’s all old and gross and rides a weird fun shape thing.

But, again, who really cares?

I say do it. Doesn’t really matter what you go for. Mini simmons, hiperf log, retro plank, modern fish… whatever. In the end it’s all the same. You’ll have a blast and feel like you’re ripping and not look anywhere near as good as you feel.

Just in: The Man smashes Wavegarden!

The truth behind the Austin, Texas Wavegarden opening delay revealed!

You know the Man, don’t you? He’s the one always, like, telling you what to do and where to go and with who and when to be home. He’s the one throwing salt into your game and harshing your vibe, looking over your shoulder, nitpicking and laying down obstacle after obstacle. Traffic lights and bullshit. The Man ain’t no one’s friend. He is a bad time.

And if Wavegarden’s newest location, NLand Surf Park in Austin, Texas, didn’t already have enough problems on its plate with the Kelly Slater Wave Co. the motherfucking Man just heaped a ladleful of red tape right on top of the lack of barrel, weak crumbly mush, broken Welsh machinery and lukewarm reviews.


The surf park was supposed to open in spring of this year but has been delayed. I wondered, just days ago, if the reason was because, maybe, owner and beer magnate Doug Coors was dialing it up in order to whoop Kelly’s minibarrel. Were they working out a top-secret Teahupo’o setting? A racy J-Bay wall?

I hoped but no. The reason for the delay, as revealed by the Austin American Statesman newspaper, is a fight over the bureaucratic definition of “pool.” Let’s read!

Travis County is on the verge of a court fight with a massive, unopened surf park over a disagreement about whether the park just east of Austin needs a swimming pool permit.

The Commissioners Court last week authorized lawyers to sue the operators ofNLand Surf Park, saying the park is being built without conforming to county and state health and safety codes. The suit has not yet been filed.

“Such legal action is essential to protecting Travis County and its citizens,” County Judge Sarah Eckhardt said.

NLand Surf Park, which developers boast will be the first inland surfing facility of its kind in North America, is under construction near Texas 71, east of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. Contractors are building a lagoon the size of nine football fields that will include artificial waves for 11 surfing areas, according to NLand’s website.

The project is the brainchild of Doug Coors, a member of Colorado’s famous brewing family. Its opening date is unclear.

Attorneys for NLand and Travis County have been negotiating for months over whether the lagoon counts as a public swimming pool and, thus, requires a permit. NLand believes it does not, arguing that the rainwater-fed lagoon is more similar to a lake.

The park’s attorney, Richard Suttle, said the American-Statesman’s call was the first he had heard of Tuesday’s vote and said he was “completely blindsided” that the county would file a lawsuit before the park opened.

“This is a one-of-a-kind in the world (facility), and we are still working the logistics out on water quality,” he said.

State law defines a swimming pool as any “artificial body of water, including a spa, maintained expressly for public recreational purposes.” It requires pools to administer chlorine to keep bacteria from exceeding safe limits and meet other sanitary requirements.

NLand will treat its water with chlorine and has a water quality monitoring system to make sure the water is safe and does not exceed state bacterial standards, Suttle said. But the lagoon is too large to comply with other requirements of a pool, such as refiltering water every six hours, he said.

At least two wakeboardparks exist within Travis County, and neither has a pool permit from the city of Austin, which handles all pool permits in the city and unincorporated areas of the county. Suttle said he tried to raise that point with county officials.

“Their explanation to me was: ‘Just because someone else is speeding down I-35 and we don’t give them a ticket doesn’t mean we shouldn’t give you a ticket,’ ” he said.

Though NLand’s Facebook page continues to insist it will be open in “early summer,” Suttle said the park is months, not weeks, away from opening. A wastewater treatment plant built specifically for the site is set to be online in a few weeks, and that will make it possible to start bringing personnel to the site, he said.

The facility’s website shows job openings for a director of facilities, cafe cook, beer brewer, surf shop clerk, guest ambassador, cashier, bartender and dishwasher, as well as several surf coaches.

Travis County Commissioner Margaret Gómez, whose precinct includes the park site, declined to say what caused the move to legal action now. She called NLand an interesting project.

“They still have a lot of things to complete, but if they get it together and it’s well-run, kids love that stuff,” she said.

Fucken Margaret Gomez is such the Man. “Kids love that stuff?” Lame. But in other news, how much would someone have to pay you, per hour, to be a surf coach at NLand Surf Park? 13 dollars an hour plus unlimited crumble rides? 20 dollars an hour plus free wax and Coors Banquet beer? How much?

Desperately seeking surf coach. Will pay in both Coors and Coors Light.
Desperately seeking surf coach. Will pay in both Coors and Coors Light.