Surfer Rory Parker Dead

The Volcom surfer and not the BeachGrit writer dies.

Something very strange, and very sad, happened yesterday. The surfer Rory Parker was found dead. Likely suicide.

I never knew Rory. Despite the fact that we shared a name, were the same age, ran in similar circles, had some mutual friends, we never met. Caught a glimpse of him across the room at Banzai Sushi, in Haleiwa, a few years ago. Thought about introducing myself. Decided against it.

Rory has been an odd, reoccurring, presence in my life since I was a teen. Back when I still thought I could become a pro surfer. Before I realized it wasn’t gonna happen.

I first learned of his existence was when Volcom released Stoney Baloney. It was 1995. We were both 15. They ran an ad in Surfer with my name on it. His name, really. People saw it, some mistakenly believed it was me.

I don’t remember outright lying to anyone, but I’m sure I allowed some people to retain their misconceptions. I once heard someone exclaim, upon reading a heat sheet at a local contest, “Oh man, I’ve got Rory Parker in my heat.”

He had nothing to fear from me. Rory was a far better surfer than I could ever hope to be.

I was once hired by a magazine to write an article about the Rothman family. I was very surprised when Eddie took my call. Started calling me late at night for rambling chats. He very open, unbelievable friendly. Acted as though he knew me. Sometime around our fourth or fifth conversation he realized his mistake.

Two days ago, Kyle Barnett, the poor soul who was drugged and robbed in Bali, reminisced with me about some adventure we’d shared in Bali. But that was a different person.

Pete Taras has recounted some rumors he heard about my wild North Shore upbringing.

Richie Vaculik thought I’d trained with him, when Richie was on Oahu.

I’m fairly sure Derek thought I was him during our first six months of correspondence. (Editor’s note: I had no idea who either Rory Parker was.)

Each time it ended with the same story. “Yes, we share a name. Yes, we are the same age. I grew up in LA, moved to Oahu. He grew up on Oahu, moved to LA. It’s confusing, I know. He’s a wiry Hawaiian goofy foot. I’m an oafish haole who surfs regular. He has more tattoos and does MMA and surfs much better than me.”

Over the years it became a bit of a running joke. I was THE Rory Parker. He was the other one. Never really true. People liked that Rory Parker. Far more than they like me.

I considered reaching out to him over the years, always decided against it. I’ve caught some shit that was meant for him. I know he caught a bunch of shit that was meant for me. Once with potential legal consequences. I worried he’d be upset about it. He’d’ve had every right.

I always secretly wondered if he was as aware of me as I was of him. Was I this confusing presence always lurking in his peripheral? Or was it a one way street? Why would people mistake him for me? I’ve never done anything but write stupid stories.

I always wanted to ask.

Too late now.

Suicide is a tough subject to grapple. Such a terrible thing. A waste of a life. The wrong answer to any question. And it’s just so damn confusing. Why? Why? Why?

I understand hating myself, but I’ve never known real depression. I’ve suffered intrusive thoughts. Never true ideation.

I have no training, no understanding. Only the barest grasp of empathy. My emotions run wild but they’re just phantoms I do my best to ignore.

I’m flip and I’m quick with a quip and I truly believe that nothing matters. But right now I don’t know what the fuck to say.

Just don’t. Don’t fucking kill yourself. Life sucks all the time, but there are beautiful moments you just can’t waste. Someone always cares. Someone will always try to help.

Empty words. Pointless. I know it’s not that simple. To pretend so is naive and unfair. Outright cruel to those who struggle.

This makes me so fucking sad and I’m so fucking confused. He was a total stranger. I’ve lost nothing. I feel like I’ve lost a part of myself. I don’t understand why.

Stab and a cauldron of cowardice!

What is so scary about the existence of other surf media? Let's ask Stab!

A weird disease plagues surf media and it is a general inability to speak about, write about, address or acknowledge other surf media. I’ve always been very confused about this because all other sports, news, fashion or gossip sites regularly discuss or credit each other. Even sworn enemies like ESPN and Deadspin or Fox and CNN.

But in surf? Fearful blinders! Like, recognizing where a story/idea came from is, in some way, very embarrassing. Or scary. That the existence of other surf media is shameful. Or intimidating.

Stab is, by far and away, the largest transgressor and seems to be most afraid, regularly ripping, biting, stealing but never ever ever crediting. Very recently, for example, our own Rory Parker (who is thankfully alive and well) wrote a very funny story digging into the WSL rule book and identifying that Julian Wilson and Matt Wilkinson might be subject to fines or expulsion.

Of course Rory didn’t write the rule book nor did he interview anyone inside for exclusive quotes but he was the first to tie the WSL rules with surfer behavior.


Stab copied the exact same story ten-ish hours later, like it has done countless times in BeachGrit‘s short history, with no mention of Rory Parker’s name and this one finally pushed me over the edge because I love Rory Parker! I tried to comment under the story but it was apparently rejected at Stab HQ with trembling hands.

And so here we are.

It is fun that we all exist, is it not? Even The Inertia! The surf media, as far as I’m concerned, is part of the broader show and a chickenshit denial of the other’s existence is… is… well it’s weird!

What is so scary about the tiniest sliver of journalistic integrity? About mentioning inspiration or source? Is it because the Stab thinks that once readers discover other surf websites exist that they will not come back? Because SurfStitch has a directive that competitors are waiting in the bushes with sharpened knives and pretending they don’t exist, while hunkered behind high walls, is the best longterm option for the stock price?

I’m so very confused!

Come on Stab…put on your big boy pants and dance. I promise it’ll be fun!

Or funny!

Just in: Medina threatens lawsuit?

Is world number 3-ish on the warpath against your very own BeachGrit?

Did you know BeachGrit is just over two years old? We are! And thank you for coming. Thank you so very much for paying us daily visits. Oh we know there is so much we both could and should do better but we is what we is. And as of today we is the most ever!

Ex-champion Gabriel Medina, current world number three-ish, just threatened, through a maybe third party, to maybe sue because our own, wonderful, Rory Parker posted a direct translation of his Instagram post!

Do you remember?

Of course you do! Medina took to Twitter, shortly after losing a close heat and wrote:

Hora de ir pra casa. Muito triste, eu dedico ou dediquei minha vida pra isso…to cansado, cansei!

Rory Parker picked it up from there:

What does that mean? I don’t speak Portuguese. Only English. And Spanish, sorta.

Yippee for Google’s translation magic!

Time to go home. Very sad, I dedicate or have dedicated my life to it … so tired, tired!

Is this the end for Gabby? Past tense reference to his competitive career!

Crazy, so crazy.

Sure, it’s probably nothing. Just letting off some steam. Upset he got handed the short end of the stick.

Simple and not very insightful but still good. And true. Just Gabriel Medina’s own words translated into English. But then, glory of all glories, miracles straight from the heavens, an email came shooting through subjected law against beach grit. The author, a probable Brazilian surf photographer with big time legal aspirations wrote:

Medina treat to law process who lie about his future!

His email linked to this story. 

Throw it into Google Translate and it reads:

The world champion of surfing Gabriel Medina and his team , hereby clarify that there is a false statement being issued on his behalf by social and Whatsapp networks.

At no time , Gabriel or someone from his staff commented on any decisions related to their future in the World Tour .

Legal measures will be taken to ensure the integrity of the athlete and find the person responsible for false communication.

We ask , please , that ignore this absurd statement , which affects the athlete , his family, his team, his sponsors and surfing the institution.

At the moment, Gabriel Medina will not comment on the matter and is reunited with his family .

Have you ever read more delicious words? Have you?

I haven’t and am planning on getting them tattooed where Gabriel Medina has his family crest tattooed, right below where he shaves his armpit.


And this, officially, represents the high-water mark of your BeachGrit. Thank you for putting up with us. Thank you for laughing Gabriel Medina straight back into the totally shorn cave from whence he first came.

Obrigado to all!

P.S. If any of Medina’s other third parties feel like threatening hollow legal action maybe take a look around. Rip Curl doesn’t advertise here! Threaten Stab instead! They’re super sissies and cower under desks!

"I was shaking in shock," says the filmmaker Tim Bonython, pictured here at Shipsterns. "That was like nothing I've ever experienced." | Photo: Stu Gibson

Just in: Surf Filmer Nearly Killed!

Tim Bonython trapped under boat as 10-foot swell threatens to steal him to the heavens!

If you were sunning yourself on the great bluffs near Bells yesterday, you would’ve been privy to quite a show. A helicopter flying hither and yon shucking a human being and then landing on the beach to pick him up, jetskis in the water, cameramen everywhere.

The wingsuit pilot Rex Pemberton was being filmed for a documentary for Outside magazine, sponsored by Jeep, his stunt being he’d jump out of a chopper, land on a wave on a little tow-board, drop his parachute, and surf it to the beach.

It all came unstuck, however, and not in the manner in which you’d expect (Rex’s chute doesn’t open, disappears into the ocean). In a growing swell, and with all eyes on the little speck hurtling towards earth, the camera boat was caught inside by a ten-foot set. One man seriously hurt; others say they nearly drowned.

Tim Bonython, whom you know as the filmmaker who never misses a swell from Shipsterns to The Right to Teahupoo, was in the boat when it was hit. I called him this morning at his hotel room in Torquay to discuss. It didn’t matter that it was early. Tim’d been up since four am, reliving what happened, the existential horror of being in an upside down boat, completely unprepared for disaster.

What happened? Well, first, says Tim, you’ve gotta remember this ain’t Shipsterns or The Right or even Teahupoo where there’s a semblance of a channel even on monster days. Here, a couple of beaches up from Bells, a good set will take out the bay.

“And so we’re watching the jump,” says Tim, “and I felt like everyone was looking at him and not the surf. Five minutes before I’d told the captain to keep an eye on the ocean. It was a rising swell and I’d seen a few sets come through. When the first set came through, Rex was literally twenty seconds from landing on the ocean. The first wave was big, the second… we got hit. Everyone said, hold on, this is it! This is serious! Hold onto your cameras! 

“I bent down and barelegged my camera, behind the console, behind the captain’s legs. I could feel the boat going up, up, up, up, up, up, and feel us airborne. Then I looked up and I could see the front of the boat going over the top of us. Everything was falling backwards and… boom… suddenly I’m underneath the boat thinking, oh fucking god, this is not where I want to be. I was in the chassis of the boat, trying to feel my way out. I couldn’t fucking get out. And this is where I fucked, where I made an important mistake. My wetsuit was down around my waist, I had a t-shirt, shirt, Patagonia down jacket, a life vest and a wind jacket. All that stuff was pulling me up and I had to swim… down. My jacket’s filled with the water, my wetsuit is filing up. It took me around fifteen seconds to get out but it felt like eternity.

“I came up and there was another set. I heard someone say, Get away from the boat! I swim to the left and just avoided it. I saw the captain putting his hand up, blood coming out of his head, trying to grab the boat to stabilise himself. He was close to maybe going under and not being able to swim, his brain was telling him to hold onto something.

“Another wave came. I didn’t know which way to go. I called for help. I started to go into panic mode. Do I get rid of my shit on me? I was really in a mess. I tell ya, it was the most horrific 20 minutes of my life.”

Tim was eventually picked up and deposited on the beach.

“I was shaking with shock. That was like nothing I’ve ever experienced,” says Tim. “I’d never had the shit hit the fan like that.”

Want irony?

All those cameras and no one got the shot of the boat being hit, save for a drone.

“They were looking around, looking for the boat, they they realised, oh my god, it’s upside-down! There’s people and shit everywhere!”

Tim, of course, is a professional in the game. As were talking his masters came to pick him up for a re-shoot, this time using GoPro cameras.

Surf fans to WSL: “We will bury you!”

Has the World Surf League finally lost the handle? Let's think about it!

The most exiting professional surfing contest of the year is taking place just 30 mins north of my beachside home and I have not been once. Hurley is putting on an incredible show, by all accounts, the surf has been fun and the controversies! Flowing like surfer-owned microbrewed beers!

And so why haven’t I been? Oh many reasons and I won’t bore them with you now but let’s turn our attention, quickly, to the cacophony raining down upon the World Surf League’s bowed head!

All of Brazil is enraged. Fans of John John are livid. The second prettiest boy to ever don a singlet (Julian Wilson) is fuming and wow! Has the WSL ever faced so much criticism from so many corners?

Now, I hate to be hyperbolic here but could this be the end of this particular incantation of professional surfing? Could this be the moment when both surfers and fans demand wholesale change?

I will not push the judges under the bus, or not yet anyhow. I don’t believe in any sort of conspiracy as far as they are concerned and also think they are doing the very best they can with such an imperfect hand.

It is that imperfect hand that might have finally forced a fold.


Let’s think about it for just one moment. Does the League have enough structural integrity to move forward, as is? Will the surfers believe they are getting scored properly? Will the fans know that, when it is close, the right man will end up on top?

It seems like a 50/50 proposition at the moment which doesn’t seem workable.

Of course both surfers and fans are fickle and never satisfied. We are thin reeds that bend in the softest breeze. But it does feel like the last few days of surfing might necessitate a sea-change. The kind of across-the-board rage boiling over doesn’t happen in professional skateboarding or professional snowboarding. Of course both those things happen in static environments. The dynamism of surfing makes it fun but the system, in place, is not equipped to handle it.

And will this be the time where it finally all falls down? The watershed moment?