Remember when Owen Wright, who is twenty seven, hovered in world title contention in 2015 before a mysterious brain injury restricted him to occasional surfs on a softboard with his girlfriend? Now, maybe a titanic rebirth! Owen just entered February's Surfest at Newcastle, Australia. O's coach Glen Hall told the Newcastle Herald "that Wright had spoken about competing at Surfest and 'wanted to be there, but he’s not quite ready yet. He’s slowly making his progress towards a comeback, but the timeframe is still unknown for everyone, even himself,' Hall said." | Photo: WSL

Just in: Owen Wright to compete on WQS!

One-time title contender enters first pro event since brain injury at Pipe!

Oh the fragility of life. One minute you’re on the cusp of greatness, every moment a pleasant surprise, every encounter fabulous, the next you’re in a hospital unable to speak or remember a damn thing.

The story of one-time world title contender Owen Wright goes something like this: Owen was surfing Pipe in the lead up to the tour’s final contest, wiped out, came in rattled, walked back to the Rip Curl house, went to sleep, woke up disoriented and was taken to hospital where he was diagnosed with concussion and bleeding on the brain. Matt Wilko was there and says O couldn’t even speak, that his “body was out of fuel. It was scary.”

Owen’s barely surfed since.

As his pal Luke Munro told the Gold Coast Bulletin,

“I’m just glued to his Instagram to see the little steps he’s been making,” Munro said. “I just don’t think anyone knew how bad Owen’s injury was at the time … everyone thought ‘He’s hit his head, he’ll be right’ but then the extent of the injuries became clear. He wasn’t able to talk. He couldn’t remember anything from the day before … he’s a guy we all thought was indestructible…”

In the interim, Owen, who is twenty seven, has fathered a daughter with his girlfriend, the musician, Kita Alexanderand according the Newcastle Herald, has fielded an entry for the WQS 6000 Maitland and Port Stephens Toyota Pro at Merewether Beach, February 20th through 26.

He’s in, entry-wise. But is he going to show?

O’s coach Glen Hall says, maybe. 

Owen, who won Surfest in 2008, “wanted to be there, but he’s not quite ready yet,” Hall told the Newcastle Herald. “He’s slowly making his progress towards a comeback, but the timeframe is still unknown for everyone, even himself. He’s just taking it easy and easing his way into it. He’s surfing and training and he’s really happy, which is a good thing. He’s past the real serious side of the brain injury and he’s in a position where he can slowly get his back into the groove.”

If O makes it, he’ll join sister Tyler, the women’s world champ, and his lil bro Mikey.

 


Parker Cohn, SB. This concrete overhang overwhelms the eye!

Watch: Seal Beach Takes No Prisoners!

Few will survive...

Have I told you about my one and only Seal Beach experience? Of course I have!

But here’s a free recap:
– Catch two waves
– Both bad
– Set comes through
– Probably a closeout
– I go
– Definitely a closeout
– Also backwash
– Pin drop
– Penetrate
– Not enough
– Sucked over
– Land on feet
– Dry sand
– Back compressed
– Accordion
– Ow
– “Karma”

Two plus months out of the water, all of it during California’s unprecedented ’15/’16 El Niño. I was miserable.

I’m technically back to 100% but feel as though I’ve aged fifteen years. After a full day of surfing, I’m sore. Old man sore. Small-guy-in-prison sore.

Seal Beach did a number on me, but something about that place makes me want more. I was sour to discover that yesterday was blitzkrieg in North OC while I was gliding into lumpy burgers at Swamis. The video below details my regret.

Part of me is glad that I missed it, as no three-foot tube is worth two months out of commission, or worse. Still another part of me has unyielding FOMO.

I’d be remiss not to congratulate Parker Cohn for nabbing the heaviest beachbreak wave I’ve seen. That thing is fucked up.

Now dig in and go sideways… quick!


"I watched Kelly amble around his house in a perpetual state of motion like a shark that would die if it stopped moving." | Photo: Justin Jay/@justinjayphoto

Series: Kelly Slater at his North Shore home!

See Kelly wear a funny outfit, feel the intense pitch of his ultra-competitiveness!

All this week, we’ve drip-fed the North Shore location work of NYC shooter Justin Jay. With the notable exception of Steve Sherman, there ain’t a soul who records the North Shore’s casual narrative as comprehensively or expertly as Justin.

Today, we peel open the curtain to the world of Kelly Slater, 11-timer etc.

(As revealed by Mr Justin Jay.)

“Kelly Slater’s living room is, basically, the backstage of the North Shore. Nestled behind a nondescript gate is his comfortably-appointed hangout for surfing’s elite. It was a rainy contest lay day and I had dropped by to give Kelly a gift print. While the other guests relaxed, exchanged stories and laughed, I watched Kelly amble around his house in a perpetual state of motion like a shark that would die if it stopped moving. Kelly disappeared into the other room for a few minutes and then returned wearing a ridiculously futuristic apparatus strapped to his shoulder, which turned out to be some sort of a high-tech muscle stimulator.

“In most scenarios, anyone entering a room wearing this contraption would be subject to ridicule. But it was painfully obvious that I didn’t have the proper status to comment about Kelly’s bizarre accessory and, clearly, it would be an act of hubris on my part to do so. Not sure how to react, I averted my eyes the floor. Benji Weatherly however, is Kelly’s peer and close friend. He also happens to be a world-class wisecracker. He couldn’t pass up the opportunity to lob some friendly barbs toward the 11-time world champion. Kelly appeared to brush off the remarks, but he did leave the room shortly after and returned wearing a plush Baja striped-blanket hoodie reminiscent of the one Jeff Spicoli wore in Fast Times, albeit perfectly fitted, and obviously quite expensive.
“Meanwhile, I eavesdropped while Kai Lenny described how his windsurfing skills came in handy while pulling airs on a 40-foot wave at Jaws. Shane Dorian lounged on the couch while his son Jackson taught Benji the fundamentals of chess. Jackson’s primer on game strategy and the significance of the King and Queen contained a few flawed interpretations. Benji was willing to keep his kid gloves on for the 10 year old and simply play along, but upon hearing the conversation, Kelly’s competitive gene kicked in. Perhaps he sensed blood in the water. He pried himself away from making his organic pancakes and strolled over to correct the young contestant and give his input on what Benji’s next move should be.”

And here, Mick Fanning, AO, and Chas Smith discuss the merits of a constitutional monarchy versus a republic before engaging in a lively debate on certain passages that appear in the Kabbalah. | Photo: Jeff Flindt

Mick Fanning’s Order of Australia medal!

Goodbye forever to Eugene! Hello Mick Fanning, AO!

Did you know Australia still toils under the yoke of the British monarchy, our necks under the jackboot of Queen Elizabeth II?

Does that strike you as odd? If you’re American, you might wonder why we cower under the gown of our American protectors, blooding our soldiers in futile wars in return, while still bowing to a hereditary ruler.

Of course, one bonus of our ties to England is the honours system: a series of awards doled out every January 26, Australia Day, to various politicians, sportsman, scientists and whomever else might’ve distinguished themselves in public life.

Of the 140 Officers of the Order of Australia (AO) awarded today, Mick Fanning stands in line, the third surfer, after Rabbit Bartholomew and Layne Beachley, to receive the handsome gold medal, which also comes with a stick pin version for daily use.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BPs6y5QDQPr/

As the Gold Coast Bulletin reports:

MICK Fanning’s mother had the privilege of being the person to inform him he was going to be appointed an Officer of the order of Australia.

She also had the joy of telling the world champion surfer what it meant.

“He wasn’t sure and when I told him it was the second top (civilian honour), he was just speechless,” Liz Osborne said of the latest — and arguably greatest — honour to have been bestowed on her baby boy.

I said ‘Mick, you’re 35 years old, people wait a lifetime for this’ and he said ‘I can’t believe how honoured I am’ and I said ‘you know what, Mick? I’m honoured that you’re my son’.

“The AO is partly because he’s three-time world champion but it’s because he does so much for everybody else. It’s for distinguished service to surfing andfor his charity work. That’s really, really important and that’s what I’m proud of.”

Fanning, who plays an active role with charities including the Starlight Foundation, Wings for Life spinal cord research and Cure for Motor Neuron Disease, said receiving the Australia Day honour was on a par with his three world titles.

I couldn’t believe it really. I’m chuffed and very honoured,” he said of joining Layne Beachley as one of the few surfers to receive the honour.

While Fanning and his mum have known about the AO for several weeks ago, in recent days they’ve been able to share the news with a few other special people.

“I’m proud of all my children, they’ve all done so well, and the best thing is my children are so proud of Mick — and that includes Sean and Peter,” Liz said of the sons who died in 1998 and 2015.

“I spoke with (my son) Edward in Bali today and he was so thrilled for Mick and my daughter (Rachel) is here and she’s excited.

“When I told Mick the news, I also said ‘I know you’re not supposed to tell anybody but I’m sure your dad would love to know’ so he rang his dad and I think he cried because he was so proud.”

John Fanning separated from the mother of his five children when Mick was two. When Liz and the kids moved from western Sydney to Ballina and later the Gold Coast, he remained down south.

“John has always supported me as their mother but I can tell you we’ve been brought much closer together through the years because of the tragedies and everything that’s happened in the family,” she said.

“It’s really nice to think that once again after 30-odd years we can talk about our children and not get angry with each other (laughs). It’s beautiful.”

As is the story Fanning’s biographer told when asked to reflect on the surfer’s qualities out of the water.

“I remember being in South Africa and meeting the local lady Primrose and her son who helped when she was diagnosed with Aids,” surf writer Tim Baker recalled.

“He paid for her medical help to get her back to health and then for her training as a nurse so she could help other people.

“Most pro surfers staying in these luxurious beachfront homes at Jeffreys Bay probably didn’t even get to know the domestic help whereas she just about became family to him.

“Mick was a bit of a wild child at a young age like a lot of surfers but the way he’s matured is a real credit to him and his mum … he’s done more than almost anyone to bring surfing to mainstream attention and in a completely positive light.”


Don't you just love Dane Reynolds at his most openly decorative, anxiety-free best? | Photo: Marine Layer

Watch: Dane Reynolds’ “Reject” Clips!

On his worst day, Dane still outshines most of the top 34...

Dane, Dane, Dane, Dane, Dane!

You captured my heart with Chapter 11, kinda lost me with the release of Former, but like Shaq in his prime you rebounded your wild free-throw and dunked it into my soul with this clip, Rejects!

So… maybe the lesson is just stick to surfing/editing?

Either way, my heart is yours once more. Nineteen minutes of witty and unique surfing the likes of which is only otherwise found in a pint-sized Hawaiian.

We know Dane’s got all the fancy moves — spins, jumps, that nose-dive layback thing — but what impressed me most were the unfamiliar lines drawn on waves we’re quite accustomed to seeing. This could be attributed to the myriad of board designs he used in the making of this film, but I believe surfing of this nature comes from nothing more than boredom with the status quo.

Dane’s always been seen as the misunderstood-artist-type. He’s introverted, avoids trends like The Plague, and seems to seek out all things weird and quirky in life. This contrarian mindset has allowed Dane to apply brush to canvas in ways never seen before. He goes up when he should go sideways, backwards when he should kick out, and somehow it all makes sense.

Oh, and all of these are B clips.

Prepared to be humorously amazed.

rejects from Marine Layer on Vimeo.