Sabre Norris Ellen
Among today's revelations, Sabre vows to have her world title party in Vegas ("I did some research and every hotel has a buffet!", regards swimming as a particularly stupid sport even though her old boy was an Olympic bronze medallist ("I hate swimming! Swimming sucks!") and got into surfing because she saw a movie about surfing fairies. "I've always wanted to surf like the fairies," says Sabre. | Photo: EllenTV

Watch: Sabre Norris on “Ellen”!

My favourite surfer, your favourite surfer, on the insanely popular talk show… 

Six weeks ago, a TV interview with the kid surfer Sabre Norris went viral.

Sabre, of course, is the eleven-year-old from Newcastle, Australia, who rips hell on a surfboard (one of those rare gals who has air-revs and frontside 180s on tap) and a skateboard (watch her 540 when she was nine, here) and when she talks she blooms like an iris. I wasn’t exaggerating one jot when I wrote that she was my new favourite surfer (goodbye Dane, John John, Filipe etc.)

As I wrote:

You’ve got to love a pro surfer kid born without a censor button. Sabre Norris, who is eleven years old and lives in the provincial Australian city of Newcastle, got on national television yesterday morning, called her former Olympian dad “fat and said he “has to suck his gut in for photos” and admitted that, even if she comes last in the Sally Fitz contest she’s a wildcard in, is going to drop the $250 prize money on doughnuts.

So punchy! So brilliant! 

In response, Sabre sent me the loveliest letter you could ever imagine.

Sabre Norris letter

I responded that we had to make an episode of BeachGrit TV with her as the principal.

She was thrilled. We were thrilled.

But then Ms DeGeneres, who is fabulous beyond anything too, flew her and her mother Brooke to LA to shoot live in the Burbank studio a couple of weeks back and if you’re going to be on an episode of Ellen, fronting her millions of viewers, then even BeachGrit goes on hold.

Did she perform? Did the world swoon? Watch below!

How to: Become a revered surf journo!

...and influence people!

One of the most popular of the self-improvement classics is “How to Become a Revered Surf Journalist and Influence People” by Chas Smith. For those of you who have yet to read it, or for those of you who have read it and want a reminder, here is our collection of some of the best quotes from the book on the themes of relationships, advice, personal character, rapport-building, and influencing. It’s no surprise that this book is the best-selling self-improvement book of all time.

Describe your first surfboard

Oh it was love! I was maybe 10 and living in Coos Bay, Oregon but my cousins, the coolest people ever in my young mind, lived in Carlsbad. We would see them every summer and when I was ten cousin Dan, who later became a bank robber, gave me a chubby 6ft rainbow twin fin shaped, maybe, in Hawaii. I surfed every summer, after that in California but most of my learning and surfing happened on the Oregon coast God bless it.

What is going well/badly in surfing today and how can we best navigate it to have the greatest positive impact on our sport?

I think the progression is unbelievable, not only what people are doing but what the shapers are making, wetsuit tech, awesome fins, etc. Surfing has never been so fun but, on the media/WSL/brand side the fun often gets buried beneath a pile of hypocritical, fear-based, paranoia. Oh the thin skin! We are strangling what we love by refusing to laugh. Here’s looking at you, Paul Speaker! And Volcom!

What is your opinion of artificial waves and the place wave parks may hold in the future of surfing?

I think wonderful! A part of the progression that I find so joyous. For me, surfing is about the beach and, the sand, the rocks, the salt water, the sun, the smells, the entire experience more than simply about riding a wave. But I applaud those brave scientists playing God. Here’s looking at you Kelly Slater!

Can’t get enough? Read more, and advice from Derek Rielly and Matt Warshaw too at the fabulous!

SurfStitch CEO Mike Sonand and chairman Sam Weiss
This is the face of surf in 2016: SurfStitch CEO Mike Sonand and chairman Sam Weiss.

Just in: SurfStitch Turns on Founder!

Online retailer throws founder Justin Cameron under a bus in court.

Earlier today, online retailer SurfStitch sold Surf Hardware International (owners of FCS) for seventeen-million dollars. A lot of money, you’d say, except SurfStitch threw twenty-three million dollars at it one year go.

Not the dumbest biz decision in surf, of course. That award goes to Quicksilver and the $320 million they shovelled into ski biz Rossignol a decade ago. And sold three years later for $147 mill.

Of course, if you’re running the game at SurfStitch, a company that was valued at half-a-billion dollars one year ago and is sitting at fifty now, and you’re being sued by one of your shareholders who is simultaneously trying to buy you, and you’re convinced the founder of your company has brought it all on you, well, a six-million-dollar hit is nothing.

As revealed by The Australian, SurfStitch went into court today and threw its founder Justin Cameron straight under a bus.

Let’s examine.

Surfwear retailer SurfStitch has levelled a series of allegations against co-founder and former chief executive Justin Cameron that include the claim he deliberately inflated the company’s profit in the first half of fiscal 2016.

The accusations form SurfStitch’s (SRF) defence to an increasingly bitter legal battle with now suitor Coastalwatch in relation to disputed licensing deals.

Coastalcoms is a company tied to surf website Coastalwatch, which launched a failed bid for SurfStitch in November, and Crown Financial, which owns 10 per cent of SurfStitch.

While the action in 2016 had been remarkable, today’s defence launched in the District Court of Queensland puts it all in the shade, with Mr Cameron accused of abusing of his duties.

“Mr Cameron caused the company to enter into a contractual scheme with Coastalcoms and TCI, allegedly for the purpose of inflating the revenue and profit of SurfStitch for the first half of the 2016 financial year in a manner that contravened the provisions of the Corporations Act 2001,” said a SurfStitch statement to the Australian Securities Exchange.

The purported contraventions of the Corporations Act were made without the board understanding the true nature of the actions by Mr Cameron, according to SurfStitch.

“It is also alleged that, as a consequence of the alleged contractual scheme, an amount of $20.3m was included as revenue in the company’s half year financial report for FY16,” the company added.

Coastalcoms directors Kim Sundell and David Wooldridge have also been drawn into the SurfStitch defence, with allegations they both “knowingly assisted” Mr Cameron with his alleged breaches of statutory and fiduciary duties.

SurfStitch noted its allegations had yet to be proven or considered by the court.

Would these revelations suggest to you that the company might not be the safest place to park your money? And that, if you had any residual cash left in the biz, that it might be prudent to get the hell out?

If you answered yes, you are wrong! Soon after the allegations, shares shot up by almost ten per cent!

Mason Ho: “I’ll stay here houuuuuurs!”

The world's favorite surfer and the world's favorite lounge singer together at last!

Does anybody not love Mason Ho? Do you not? Of course you do! You can’t even ironically say that you don’t love him! And it is pure joy to see long form Mason Ho on the Occ-Cast!


But wait? Who is this? This thumbs down? This psychopath? This sexual predator? Police! Police! An unstable one is wandering the earth! Find him and lock him up! He is not fit to be amongst us! He is not human!

How could any sane person thumbs this down? Occy spins a magical web. Such wonderful mannerisms! Such expressiveness! And Mason there in dappled sunlight and… oh enough of my waxing on.

Just watch!

Finn McGill
Throughout our conversation Finn makes repeated references to when he "was a kid." Slightly amusing, as Finn is still far from fully developed. Slightly frustrating, because this freckled grom has already earned his way into the Pipeline Masters, a feat which nearly every surfer on Earth can only dream.

Profile: Finn McGill’s Enchanted Life!

The family exudes an aura of true love. It's not something with which I am personally familiar…

The McGill house is like something out of a dream. Tucked into the back of a jaw dropping piece of property, perfectly manicured jungle that treads the fine line between over-landscaped and overgrown, it’s all natural woods and Polynesian decor. Embracing Hawaiiana within one’s home decor is a risky business. It can easily become corny. Cookie cutter Disney-esque tiki bar theme, rather than a natural expression of the environment. But with an eye, and enough effort, it can be done.

Situated well back into Pupukea, it’s a quite trek from nearly everywhere on Oahu. Up a steep set of switchbacks, down a narrow road that’s easy to miss. The definition of peaceful quietude.

I parked at the base of their driveway, walked up to find Mike, Finn’s father, a professional photographer, hard at work adding to his homestead. Dripping sweat, he offered me a hand covered in paint. Fully dried, thank goodness.

He did not invent the McTwist.

The house is a work in progress. Certain areas stripped of paint, sanded. Giving a vibe of never ending improvement. Once a project is done he’ll no doubt find another. Mike directed me upstairs, I was greeted by Lindsay, the matriarch. Sweating from a recent workout, in the process of packing for a trip to the mainland, Mrs McGill is a tall woman whose genetics most obviously was contributed to her children’s appearance.

She’d been my contact to wrangle Finn. It’s a role to which she’s well suited as the proprietor of a Santa Monica based production house. Also, because Finn is only sixteen, and I feel awkward cold calling minors.

Finn had been much in demand, finding a spare moment wasn’t easy. After some back and forth she found the time, pushed it back at the last minute because Finn wasn’t home. He was in Wahiawa, picking up a few new Glenn Pang shaped boards. An excusable delay if there ever was one.

If Finnegan McGill had a spirit animal it would be an adolescent yellow Labrador Retriever. Blonde haired, freckled, he’s put on a good three or four inches over the Summer. If his voice is any indication he’s still got some growing left to do. On the cusp of deepness, it still delivers the occasional high pitched crack when he’s excited.

He’s pleased with his new size.

“It just makes my surfing look bigger and more mature. It helps me out surfing against the big guys. And I’ve got longer arms, so I can paddle faster.”

Throughout our conversation Finn is amiable and open, seems genuinely happy to talk. The polar opposite of the stereotypical home schooled surf phenom. He stutters and stammers a bit, builds confidence as we go.

I ask him to explain the lineup at Pipe, tell me how to recognize a good wave. Finn did not luck his way into his first place finish in the Pipe trials. Did not three to the beach in slop. He repeatedly found the best waves, true Pipe barrels, and surfed them with aplomb. His demeanor shifts. He stops being an eager young man, becomes an expert. Clearly explains what to look for, how the wave bends and grinds.

He then reminds me that he is very young. Lacking a true grasp of consequences. “I’ve hit my head out there a few times. But it’s nothing crazy.”

His result was facilitated by a lack of expectations. Everyone wants to win, but he really only hoped to make his first heat. The entire event was a lineup of killers. A solid result at such a young age, while not without precedent, is hardly required. A solid showing and early round exit would have been praised. A first place finish blows minds.

Now ten thousand dollars richer, he plans to save the money. Possibly put it towards next year’s ‘QS campaign.

A campaign which is, if we’re honest, fraught with danger. That tour has ruined lives, and unattended teens often fair poorly. Do lasting damage to both their career, to their life. I ask Finn how he plans to manage.

“I’m gonna probably travel with some friends and stuff,” he says.

Hardly a reassuring sentiment, but it’s one his mother, who had just entered the room, quickly puts to rest.

“He won’t actually be alone. Usually the Billabong team sends someone, so he’ll be with a coach or one the team managers. Mom and Dad wont let him do it on his own. Either he’ll be with them, or he’ll be with us.”

Their respective careers give them the freedom to follow up on the promise. That and “we have a ton of frequent flier miles.”

The McGill clan as a whole comes across as so loving and supportive that it nearly seems nefarious. No family is this close, no one gets along this well. And while I’m sure that’s somewhat true, everything is always more complicated than it appears on the surface, they exude an aura of true love and togetherness. It’s not something with which I am personally familiar, but I recognize that it exists.

At one point his sister, Dax, enters the room. Dax is eighteen, very pretty, and a highly talented surfer and skateboarder in her own right.

In tow are four tiny boys bearing trophies they’d made for Finn. The Pipe Trials doesn’t provide one. I tell him these are probably better anyway.

They spend a few minutes fawning over him, wide eyed and beyond impressed. After they’ve left I ask him about the older kids he looked up to when he was their age. I then point out that’s he’s become one of the heroes he once aspired to emulate. I ask if he’s aware of the fact.

He is not. It had not crossed his mind. But, now that it has, he looks pleased.

But still humble. Always humble. On the North Shore it’s a quality that comes second only to talent on the list of what’s demanded of Pipeline surfers. At least ostensibly. Not everyone lives up to the ideal. Maybe not even most. But Finn manages to pull it off.

The last time Finn pooped his pants, or the last time he’ll to which he’ll admit, he was six years old. He was playing hide and seek, got excited, didn’t want to leave his hiding place.

Throughout our conversation Finn makes repeated references to when he “was a kid.” Slightly amusing, as Finn is still far from fully developed. Slightly frustrating, because this freckled grom has already earned his way into the Pipeline Masters, a feat which nearly every surfer on Earth can only dream.

The following day Finn faced Jordy Smith and Keanu Asing in round one of the main event. The swell was out of the northeast, the surf well below what anyone would call good.

He caught a few waves, found one very good barrel toward the end of the heat I was sure would push him into round three. But he was outpointed by turns, relegated to the repercharge.

Finn didn’t seem bothered.

Why would he be?

He entered the trials hoping to surf twice. Everything after that has been icing on the cake.